Voting Equipment and the Way Elections Are Run

By Rob Richie
Published November 7th 2009 in New York Times
[Note: This is how these two letters appeared on the New York Times website, with Mr. Richie's letter placed in contrast to Mr. Tesi's.]

To the Editor:

�Trust, Antitrust and Your Vote� (editorial, Oct. 29) does a disservice by linking antitrust concerns with the integrity of the vote in the United States.

Voting, like public education, is a local process combined with federal and state oversight and financing. More than 10,000 jurisdictions are involved in the administration of elections, with hundreds of thousands of Americans working to ensure that every vote counts.

Citizens should be confident that local officials administer fair and honest elections. As our customers, we know they are. We encourage citizens to assist their local election officials by volunteering their time in support of the election process.

We are confident that the acquisition of the United States voting machine division of Diebold will be beneficial in keeping talented people working on innovative products that help local officials run reliable elections. Elections are our passion, and we are proud of the work of our customers and employees in facilitating democracy in the United States.

Aldo Tesi
President and Chief Executive
Election Systems and Software
Omaha, Nov. 5, 2009

To the Editor:

Your Oct. 29 editorial about the dangers of consolidation in the voting equipment industry is spot on.

To ensure that the public interest is protected in our elections, however, there must be clear public ownership of the process � either directly through publicly owned voting equipment and software or at least through transparently managed, verifiable counting processes with a �public option� for any jurisdiction wary of working with existing private vendors.

Rob Richie
Executive Director, FairVote
Takoma Park, Md., Nov. 2, 2009

IRV Soars in Twin Cities, FairVote Corrects the Pundits on Meaning of Election Night '09
Election Day '09 was a roller-coaster for election reformers.  Instant runoff voting had a great night in Minnesota, where St. Paul voters chose to implement IRV for its city elections, and Minneapolis voters used IRV for the first time—with local media touting it as a big success. As the Star-Tribune noted in endorsing IRV for St. Paul, Tuesday’s elections give the Twin Cities a chance to show the whole state of Minnesota the benefits of adopting IRV. There were disappointments in Lowell and Pierce County too, but high-profile multi-candidate races in New Jersey and New York keep policymakers focused on ways to reform elections;  the Baltimore Sun and Miami Herald were among many newspapers publishing commentary from FairVote board member and former presidential candidate John Anderson on how IRV can mitigate the problems of plurality elections.

And as pundits try to make hay out of the national implications of Tuesday’s gubernatorial elections, Rob Richie in the Huffington Post concludes that the gubernatorial elections have little bearing on federal elections.