- Voting rights group founded by the Electronic Privacy Information Center
Founded in November 2003, the National Committee for Voting Integrity (NCVI) seeks to promote discourse among election administrators, voting rights advocates, policymakers, and the general public regarding the “best methods for achieving … fair, reliable, secure, accessible, transparent, accurate, accountable, and auditable public elections.”
A project of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), NCVI opposes “the implementation of proof of citizenship and photo identification requirements for eligible electors in American elections as the means of assuring election integrity.” “Initially,” explains NCVI, “Election Day voting poll locations were a good means of authenticating voters because the people within the community are more likely to know the people who are casting ballots. Today, that is more difficult because of the mobility of the American population and the disconnected nature of neighborhoods and communities. … [We find] the proposal to increase the burden for voter participation in public elections to include restricted identification requirements to be objectionable, a barrier to the right to vote, and unnecessary in the encroachments on voters’ privacy rights.”
NCVI focuses its attention on the following program areas:
Accessibility: Reasoning from the premise that too many Americans are unable to exercise their right to vote, NCVI demands that the U.S. strive to increase voter participation “by making the processes associated with voting accessible to all citizens regardless of physical ability, language proficiency, or language of origin.”
Language: NCVI calls for the provision of ballots in many different languages: “In addition to new immigrant communities, our nation has communities who have lived in the United States for many generations, but have developed their own unique dialects or retained languages of their heritage, such as the Creole languages spoken in many of the Gulf Coast State, and the German and Dutch communities found throughout the United States. In addition to these communities there are Native America[n] tribes who speak languages that do not have a written form, which would also complicate their ability to participate in public elections if they only were provided ballots in display form …”
Voting Technology: NCVI opposes the use of touch-screen computer voting machines. In 2004 and again in 2006, the organization worked with the Brennan Center for Justice in drafting a number of electronic voting recommendations. In 2004, NCVI member Doug Jones testified before the Congressional Black Caucus about “potential election recount pitfalls and ways in which voters can make sure their ballots are tallied.” In 2006, NCVI distributed informational CDs at the annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People with recommendations for “making informed choices” regarding electronic voting systems.
Audio Technology: “Audio Technology is available to assist voters with language or physical conditions … DRE [Direct Recording Electronic] technology incorporates headphones and audio devices to assist visually impaired voters and those with language limitations or other communication challenges.”
Disenfranchisement: “Disenfranchisement, or being denied the right to vote, in the United States has a long and bitter history that has yet to be eradicated … Today those denied the opportunity to vote because of malfunctioning electronic voting technology, poorly trained poll workers, or arbitrary application of key provisions of HAVA [the Help America Vote Act] are also victims of disenfranchisement.”
In 2006 NCVI signed a letter addressed to all fifty state governors, alleging widespread disenfranchisement in that year’s primary elections and demanding the provision of Emergency Paper Ballots at every polling station in the United States. Fellow signatories included, among others, MoveOn.org Political Action, Progressive Democrats of America, TrueMajority Action.org, Senator Barbara Boxer, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., John Kerry, and Professor Mark Crispin Miller.
NCVI’s Chairman is Peter Neumann, a computer scientist at the Stanford Research Institute, where his work focuses on issues of voting-system integrity, computer systems and network security, and the social implications of technology. Neumann is also a Board of Directors member of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
Some notable NCVI Committee members include:
Lillie Coney: Ms. Coney once served as special assistant to Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) on such issues as information technology policy and election reform.
Jacalyn Kane: This special events coordinator and television commercial producer was a logistics planner for Senator Ted Kennedy’s 1980 presidential bid. Among Kane’s other prominent clients are John Kerry, the Heinz Family Foundation, and Teresa Heinz Kerry.
- Marc Rotenberg: The Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, Rotenberg once served as counsel to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. He is the former Chair of the Public Interest Registry, which hosts the online presence of numerous nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. He currently chairs the American Bar Association’s Committee on Privacy and Information Protection.
NCVI has received funding from the Bauman Family Foundation, the C.S. Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Omidyar Network Fund, the Open Society Institute, the San Francisco Foundation, and the Scherman Foundation.