Question Voting Machines
- Thanks to "hapi22" via Leftwing (firstname.lastname@example.org)
*Groups Question Voting Machines' Accuracy*
By Robert Tanner Associated Press Oct. 30, 2003
Doubts about the trustworthiness of electronic voting machines are
growing among election officials and computer scientists, complicating
efforts to safeguard elections after the presidential stalemate of 2000.
With just over a year to go before the next presidential race, touch
screen voting machines don't seem like the cure-all some thought they
would be. Skeptics fear they'll only produce more problems, from making
recounts less reliable to giving computer hackers a chance to sabotage
"I'm deeply concerned about this whole idea of election integrity," said
Warren Slocum, chief election officer in California's San Mateo County.
His doubts were so grave that he delayed purchasing new voting machines
and is sticking with the old ones for now.
He's not alone. While the Florida recount created momentum for revamping
the way Americans vote, slow progress on funding and federal oversight
means few people will see changes when they cast ballots next week. And
new doubts could further slow things.
In Florida's Broward County -- scene of a Bush-Gore recount of
punch-card ballots --- officials spent $17.2 million on new touch screen
equipment. Lately, they've expressed doubts about the machines'
accuracy, and have discussed purchasing an older technology for 1,000
more machines they need.
The concerns focus on:
_Voter confidence: Since most touch screen machines don't create a
separate paper receipt, or ballot, voters can't be sure the machine
accurately recorded their choice.
_Recounts: Without a separate receipt, election officials can't conduct
a reliable recount but can only return to the computer's tally.
_Election fraud: Some worry the touch screen machines aren't secure
enough and allow hackers to potentially get in and manipulate results.
"The computer science community has pretty much rallied against
electronic voting," said Stephen Ansolabahere, a voting expert at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "A disproportionate number of
computer scientists who have weighed in on this issue are opposed to
Other doubters say the solution would be "voter verifiable paper trails"
-- a paper receipt that voters can see to be confident of their choice,
that can then be securely stored, and that election officials can rely
on for recounts.
Federal election-reform legislation passed in 2002 aims to upgrade
voting systems that rely on punch-card ballots or lever machines, and to
improve voter registration, voter education and poll worker training.
States upgrading their equipment are looking at two systems: electronic
machines, with voters making their choice by touch screens similar to
ATMs; and older optical scan machines, with voters using pen and paper
to darken ovals, similar to standardized tests.
Still, North Dakota changed its plan to give officials the flexibility
to go with touch screens or optical scan machines. And the National
Association of Secretaries of State held off from embracing touch
screens at its summer meeting, pending further studies.
"This is too important to just sort of slam through," said William
Gardner, New Hampshire's secretary of state. In Congress, Rep. Rush
Holt, D-N.J., has introduced a bill that would require that all voting
machines create a paper trail.
[Rep. Rush Holt's bill http://holt.house.gov/issues2.cfm?id=5996]
Computer manufacturers and many election officials say the critics are
mistaken. They insist that security is solid and machines records are
examinable. They also say the sought-after improvements will create
other problems, such as malfunctioning machines and violating the
integrity of a voters' privacy.
[NOTE from me: It should be remarked that the CEO of Diebold Election
Systems is a Republican and a campaign supporter of President Bush, and
has promised to do everything he can to assure Mr. Bush's victory in the
next election. That sends chills up my spine.]
Slocum figures that only about a half-dozen of California's county
election commissioners share his concerns.
The complaints echo those that came up when lever machines were
introduced in the 1920s, and again when punch cards came on the scene,
said Doug Lewis, an expert at The Election Center in Houston, Texas.
"We were going to find that elections were manipulated wildly and
regularly. Yet there was never any proof that that happened anywhere in
America," Lewis said.
[NOTE from me: Yes, it has happened and Mr. Lewis is being deceptive.
For more on all the fraud committed on touch screen machines, read the
links I have added at the end of this e-mail. Also, see: "E-Vote
Software Leaked Online" at:
<<Software used by an electronic voting system manufactured by Sequoia
Voting Systems has been left unprotected on a publicly available server,
raising concerns about the possibility of vote tampering in future
The software, made available at ftp.jaguar.net, is stored on an FTP
server owned by Jaguar Computer Systems, a firm that provides election
support to a California county. The software is used for placing ballots
on voting kiosks and for storing and tabulating results for the Sequoia
AVC Edge touch-screen system. >>]
David Bear, a spokesman for Diebold Election Systems Inc., one of the
larger voting machine makers, said "the fact of the matter is, there's
empirical data to show that not only is electronic voting secure and
accurate, but voters embrace it and enjoy the experience of voting that
This week, a federal appeals court in California threw out a lawsuit
that challenged computerized voting without paper trails, finding that
no voting system can eliminate all electoral fraud.
That didn't satisfy doubters.
John Rodstrom Jr., a Broward County (Fla.) commissioner said local
officials there wanted to upgrade to optical scan machines, but were
pressured into buying more than 5,000 touch screens.
"We were forced by the Legislature to be a trailblazer," he said. "The
vendors ... they're going to tell you it's perfect and wonderful. (But)
there are a lot of issues out there that haven't been answered. It's a
scary thing." >>
Election Reform Information Project: http://electionline.org
Read this at:
"The Diebold Memos' Smoking Gun: Volusia County Memos Disclose Election
2000 Vote Fraud" at:
"An open invitation to election fraud" at:
"Computer Voting is Open to Easy Fraud, Experts Say" at:
"Global Eye -- Vanishing Act" at:
Black Box Voting at: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/
"Election fraud risks attract wide notice" at:
"The research and activism arm of BlackBoxVoting.com" at:
"All the President's votes?" at:
Johns Hopkins report "Analysis of an Electronic Voting System" at:
E-Voting: How it Can Put the Wrong Candidate in Office Common Dreams,
Sept. 3, 2003 at: http://www.commondreams.org/
The Theft of Your Vote is Just a Chip Away Thom Hartmann, July 31, 2003
How George W. Bush Won the 2004 Presidential Election Infernal Press,
September 2003 at: http://www.infernalpress.com/Columns/election.html
Now Your Vote is the Property of a Private Corporation Thom Hartmann,
March 11, 2003 at: http://www.smirkingchimp.com/print.php?sid=10536
The Diebold AccuVote TS Should be Decertified USENEX Security
Symposium, Aug. 6, 2003 at:
Who Counts the Votes? Southern Exposure, Winter 2002/2003 at:
Florida Invests $24 Million in Wireless Voting Machines Wireless News
Factor, Jan. 31, 2002 at:
Diebold Internal Mail Confirms U.S. Vote Vulnerabilities Scoop, Sept.
12, 2002 at: http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0309/S00106.htm
Voting Machine Controversy as Diebold Chief Backs Bush Cleveland Plain
Dealer, Aug. 28, 2003 at:
The Voting Machine Fiasco: SAIC, VoteHere and Diebold Online Journal,
Aug. 20, 2003 at:
Hacking Democracy? Salon.com, Feb. 20, 2003 at:
Possible Flaw Triggers Electronic Voting Concerns Houston Chronicle,
Sept. 11, 2003 at:
Piecing it Together Black Box Voting, Aug. 25, 2003 at:
Bay of Pigs 2000: The November Surprise at:
*Bill Introduced to Counter Voting Machine Fraud*
This is an article from last May, but it is as important today as it was
the day it was written.
As Mark Crispin Miller recently put it, "The Democrats could run the
most brilliant campaign in history and it wouldn't matter. They could
elect Charley Manson president with those [no-paper-trail, touch screen
Please bear in mind the software inside these touch screen voting
machines can be programmed (read: "fixed") from a remote computer, and
the local election officials would NEVER know ANYTHING had been changed,
altered, fixed, rigged.
*Bill Introduced to Counter Voting Machine Fraud*
Tuesday, 27 May 2003, 12:40 pm Press Release: www.blackboxvoting.com
This is a countermedia dispatch from HeadBlast. A ray of hope for
New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt introduced a bill to require a
mandatory paper trail for the voting process.
Voting machines with secret workings do not satisfy the minimal
requirements of transparency and verifiability of a democratic process.
This is extremely important and Holt needs a great outpouring of support
for this. There is no more important issue right now. As Mark Crispin
Miller recently put it, "The Democrats could run the most brilliant
campaign in history and it wouldn't matter. They could elect Charley
Manson president with those machines."
All members of Congress need to hear from their constituents about this.
Here is something really meaningful we can do.
* For the text of the bill, see Representative Rush Holt's website (
http://holt.house.gov/issues2.cfm?id=5996). * To contact your
congressperson, see this Congressional Database:
http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/. * The Congressional switchboard
number is (202) 224 3121.
To send support to Representative Holt, here is contact info:
Honorable Rush Holt United States House of Representatives 1019
Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515-3012 DC Phone:
202-225-5801 DC Fax: 202-225-6025 Email Address:
http://holt.house.gov/feedback.cfm?campaign=holt District Office: 50
Washington Road West Windsor, NJ 08550-1012 Voice: 609-750-9365 Fax:
For the definitive source of information on the voting machine crisis,
Here is information from the website of Congressman Rush Holt:
ON ELECTION DAY 2004, HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF YOUR VOTE IS PROPERLY
ANSWER: YOU WON'T
Rep. Rush Holt Introduces Legislation to Require All Voting Machines to
Produce a Voter-Verified Paper Trail
Washington, DC - Rep. Rush Holt today responded to the growing chorus of
concern from election reform specialists and computer security experts
about the integrity of future elections by introducing reform
legislation, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of
2003. The measure would require all voting machines to produce an actual
paper record by 2004 that voters can view to check the accuracy of their
votes and that election officials can use to verify votes in the event
of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity. Experts often
refer to this paper record as a "voter-verified paper trail."
"We cannot afford nor can we permit another major assault on the
integrity of the American electoral process," said Rep. Rush Holt.
"Imagine it's Election Day 2004. You enter your local polling place and
go to cast your vote on a brand new "touch screen" voting machine. The
screen says your vote has been counted. As you exit the voting booth,
however, you begin to wonder. How do I know if the machine actually
recorded my vote? The fact is, you don't.".
Key provisions of The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act
of 2003 include:
1) Requires all voting systems to produce a voter-verified paper record
for use in manual audits and recounts. For those using the increasingly
popular ATM-like "DRE" (Direct Recording Electronic) machines, this
requirement means the DRE would print a receipt that each voter would
verify as accurate and deposit into a lockbox for later use in a
recount. States would have until November 2003 to request additional
funds to meet this requirement.
2) Bans the use of undisclosed software and wireless communications
devices in voting systems.
3) Requires all voting systems to meet these requirements in time for
the general election in November 2004. Jurisdictions that feel their new
computer systems may not be able to meet this deadline may use an
existing paper system as an interim measure (at federal expense) in the
November 2004 election.
4) Requires that electronic voting system be provided for persons with
disabilities by January 1, 2006 -- one year earlier than currently
required by HAVA. Like the voting machines for non-disabled voters,
those used by disabled voters must also provide a mechanism for
voter-verification, though not necessarily a paper trail. Jurisdictions
unable to meet this requirement by the deadline must give disabled
voters the option to use the interim paper system with the assistance of
an aide of their choosing.
5) Requires mandatory surprise recounts in 0.5% of domestic
jurisdictions and 0.5% of overseas jurisdictions.
MikeHersh.com - http://www.mikehersh.com