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The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2009-10

October 31, 2011

Examines trends in the impact of special interest groups' spending on judicial elections, TV advertising, and implications such as threats of impeachment for unpopular decisions, attacks on merit selection systems, and danger to public election financing.

Breaking the Broadband Monopoly: How Communities Are Building the Networks They Need

May 3, 2010

Presents case studies of communities creating publicly owned telecommunication networks. Examines the benefits, including accountability, competition, and economic activity; obstacles; lessons learned; and key issues for communities and policy makers.

Post-Election Audits: Restoring Trust in Elections

August 1, 2007

With the intention of assisting legislators, election officials and the public to make sense of recent literature on post-election audits and convert it into realistic audit practices, the Brennan Center and the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at Boalt Hall School of Law (University of California Berkeley) convened a blue ribbon panel (the "Audit Panel") of statisticians, voting experts, computer scientists and several of the nation's leading election officials. Following a review of the literature and extensive consultation with the Audit Panel, the Brennan Center and the Samuelson Clinic make several practical recommendations for improving post-election audits, regardless of the audit method that a jurisdiction ultimately decides to adopt.

The Machinery of Democracy: Voting System Security, Accessibility, Usability, and Cost

October 10, 2006

This report is the final product of the first comprehensive, empirical analysis of electronic voting systems in the United States. It comes after nearly two years of study with many of the nations leading academics, election officials, economists, and security, usability and accessibility experts.Up until this point, there has been surprisingly little empirical study of voting systems in the areas of security, accessibility, usability, and cost. The result is that jurisdictions make purchasing decisions and adopt laws and procedures that have little to do with their overall goals.The Brennan Center analysis finds that there is not yet any perfect voting system or set of procedures. One system might be more affordable, but less accessible to members of the disabled community; certain election procedures might make the systems easier to use, but they compromise security. Election officials and community members should be aware of the trade-offs when choosing one voting system or set of procedures over another, and they should know how to improve the system they choose.Included in this full report is an executive summary of the Brennan Centers analysis of voting system security, voting system usability, as well as voting system accessibility and cost.The Brennan Center analysis of cost is in part based upon a review of voting system contracts provided by jurisdictions around the country and a cost calculator [no longer available]. The cost calculator and contracts should assist jurisdictions in determining the initial on ongoing costs of various voting systems.

The Machinery of Democracy: Voting System Accessibility

October 10, 2006

Traditionally, many voters with disabilities have been unable to cast their ballots without assistance from personal aides or poll workers. Those voters do not possess the range of visual, motor, and cognitive facilities typically required to operate common voting systems. For example, some are not be able to hold a pen or stylus to mark a ballot that they must see and read. Thus, the voting experience for citizens who cannot perform certain tasks reading a ballot, holding a pointer or pencil has not been equal to that of their peers without disabilities.The Help America Vote Act of 2002 took a step forward in addressing this longstanding inequity. According to HAVA, new voting systems must allow voters with disabilities to complete and cast their ballots in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters.1 In other words, as jurisdictions purchase new technologies designed to facilitate voting in a range of areas, they must ensure that new systems provide people with disabilities with an experience that mirrors the experience of other voters.This report is designed to help state and local jurisdictions improve the accessibility of their voting systems. We have not conducted any direct accessibility testing of existent technologies. Rather, we set forth a set of critical questions for election officials and voters to use when assessing available voting systems, indicate whether vendors have provided any standard or custom features designed to answer these accessibility concerns, and offer an evaluation of each architectures limitations in providing an accessible voting experience to all voters.The report thus provides a foundation of knowledge from which election officials can begin to assess a voting systems accessibility. The conclusions of this report are not presented as a substitute for the evaluation and testing of a specific manufacturers voting system to determine how accessible a system is in conjunction with a particular jurisdictions election procedures and system configuration. We urge election officials to include usability and accessibility testing in their product evaluation process.