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THE ASSEMBLY

CHAIR
Assembly Steering Committee

STATE OF NEW YORK

COMMITTEES
Agriculture
Education
Election Law
Environmental Conservation
Higher Education

ALBANY
BARBARA LIFTON
Member of Assembly
th
125 District

MEMBER
Legislative Commission on Rural Resources

November 28, 2016
Loretta Lynch
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-000
Dear Attorney General Lynch:
I am writing to request an audit of the 2016 election, both the voting machines and the chronic and
continuing matter of voter disenfranchisement through purging. Our elections are being called into question
by national figures. President -elect Donald Trump continues to say, as of today, that millions of Americans
have voted fraudulently. And people on the left – particularly Jill Stein of the Green Party - have called for a
recount in three states, due to her concerns about possible hacking and disenfranchisement, as I understand
the Green Party request. Now a recount will happen in one and perhaps other states, but I am greatly
concerned that this limited recount will not restore the trust that is required in a strong democracy.
Just a bit of background: When New York State, under then-Governor George Pataki, was implementing the
Help America Vote Act (HAVA) from 2003-2008, I was on the Assembly Committee on Elections (and still
am). When the new state election law was signed, I was appointed by the Assembly Speaker to represent
him on the advisory committee to the State Board of Elections throughout the regulatory process, which
included the critical issues of computer security, both technical and chain of custody, and the actual
choosing of vendors who met our strong state standards. In other words, I spent an enormous amount of
time over five years studying this issue and monitoring New York’s progress.
I got involved in this matter because I was greatly disturbed about both the politicization and secrecy of
Governor Pataki’s HAVA Task Force and the completely inadequate Task Force proposal, which, among
other things, called for a state driver’s license as the only election ID, a form of ID which 3.4 million New
Yorkers did not possess. We spent approximately two years in a long, heated battle, under a great deal of
pressure from editorial boards and a federal judge, as we fought, successfully, for many important
protections with the voting machines -- and the franchise -- for all New Yorkers.
But that process also left me deeply concerned about the voting machines in other states. As our Board of
Elections cancelled the contract of the computer security firm that was testing the prototype voting
machines for doing an unacceptable job of testing, I learned that that same firm had “certified” voting
machines in numerous other states. Ever since the federal government passed HAVA in 2002, there have
been serious concerns raised, both by computer security experts and ordinary citizens, about the security and
functionality of the new computerized voting machines. Our nation’s top computer security experts at MIT
ALBANY OFFICE: Room 555, Legislative Office Building, Albany, New York 12248 • 518-455-5444
DISTRICT OFFICE: 106 East Court Street, Ithaca, New York 14850 • 607-277-8030
EMAIL: liftonb@assembly.state.ny.us

to ensure that the vast majority of the public trusts the election results. and Palast is very concerned that Voter Crosscheck lists may have been used to illegally purge tens of thousands of voters in at least some of the many states that participate in that program. given their earlier hacks of Democratic computers. well-functioning democracy is what the average American perceives to be the case. For example. There have been serious charges of partisan domestic hacking since HAVA was implemented. first and last name and date of birth.back to each state.and other institutions have long urged that the federal government conduct routine audits of all federal elections. using the due diligence required before purging any voter. there has been very important reporting over the past few months by reporter Greg Palast. eat your spinach. Instead. and my experience in New York State argues against such broad discretion in federal elections. to make the matches. we should be doing audits.000 possible purges. Even though some experts dismiss those concerns. the New York Board of Elections had pared their list to only 30. The technology magazine WIRE has written about this critical issue many times. since the Crosscheck Program uses our voter database. In addition to the issue of possibly-compromised computer voting machines.. because the New York State Board of Elections. or about 3. Unfortunately. in my view. Auditing the entire national election would require checking an estimated half a percent of paper ballots. Rivest of MIT and University of Berkeley statistician Philip Stark.000 sent back from Crosscheck. After making inquiries.” In a transparent democracy. in his book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. audits. an astonishing number. I recently learned. where they are matched against each other. admitted to in court by Katherine Harris and the state of Florida in their settlement with the NAACP and People for the American Way. Nevertheless I am urging that New York never participate in this program again. Then they would send that list of matches – and possible purges -. WIRE recently quoted a computer security expert Poorvi Vora of George Washington University who says: “Brush your teeth. and now many seem to have great concern about Russian hacking.3 % of our database. Such purging would be in addition to the purging done by voter-caging. . This number is a far cry from the 400. simply as a matter of course.recently been reporting on the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program. it had about 400.000 matched names that might then be eligible for purging. who catalogued. I am happy to say that New York State seems to be carefully abiding by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993. according to Dr. I have grave concerns about Voter Crosscheck purging. I recently learned. so the lists being sent back to all those states. I am told that New York was merely testing the Crosscheck program for accuracy and no purging has occurred in New York under this program. run by Kris Kobach. I don’t see why our federal government would let such pervasive doubts stand rather than disproving them through a forensic computer audit. what really matters in a transparent. the deliberate. audit your elections. are faulty in the extreme. the Kansas Secretary of State. whereby 29 states send their entire state voter databases to Arkansas and then Kris Kobach in Kansas. Palast has more. such as middle initial. already acknowledged and halted by several federal judges just before the November 8 th election. date of voter registration. have been left to the discretion of any given state. etc. ostensibly to find people who might be registered to vote in more than one state. Using many more data points. In fact. and the nature of those audits. and the concern about possible Russian hacking is likely widespread. illegal purging of tens of thousands of voters in Florida in 2000. Mr. the Crosscheck Program only uses a couple of data points. an expected number for a state of about 20 million people and a state from which new entrants to the country move to other states with greater-than-normal frequency. to create what are clearly extremely faulty lists for other states. when New York State’s list that came back from Kansas. and other states’ databases. was doing a trial-run of this national purging program.

but one has to wonder why states would continue to participate in a program that produced such very faulty lists in the first place.The reason I am asking the Department of Justice to audit this component of the election is that I have been unable to verify. Assembly Committee on Election Law Media . There is a reason we have recounts and audits in election law. and I believe they are necessary now. Sincerely. I strongly urge that your Department of Justice put these many concerns to rest by conducting any and all necessary audits of the November 2016 election. as has New York State. Speaker. that the many other participating states are employing the same due diligence required by the NVRA.S. Lifton Member of Assembly 125th District Cc: Carl Heastie. so that may be why many states decided to use it. I certainly hope that they are. Chair. they are meant to be used when necessary. Many thanks for your consideration of this most-essential matter. Barbara S. which I am told. Again. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Michael Cusick. in the short time I have been aware of the Crosscheck Program.S. especially when the ERIC list-matching program is available. has a very high accuracy rate of over 99%. I have been told that the Crosscheck Program is free and ERIC is not. Senator Charles Schumer U. NewYork State Assembly U.