Uncertified Hardware/Software Ran in Our Primary
Allegheny County Board of Election
Richard King, Ph.D.
June 2nd, 2006
Subject: Primary Concerns
1) Uncertified Hardware
Allegheny County's recent primary was run on two different types of
iVotronic machines. One machine type is referred to by ES&S as "the
ADA model" which has "ADA scroll buttons" and received state
certification upon the recommendation of Dr. Michael Shamos. The
other model is not the "ADA Model" as specified by Dr. Shamos in his
certification report as it lacks the "ADA scroll buttons". These two
different machines differ in their physical form, in the screen
changes that occur during the set up for each new voter by the poll
worker, and in the physical method by which the voter completes the
voting process. Only the “ADA model” was certified for use in Federal
and State elections by Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth,
Mr. Pedro Cortes.
2) Uncertified Software
We have four poll tapes produced during our recent primary. One of
these poll tapes indicates that the software version used on the
Personal Electronic Ballot (PEB) device differs from the version
certified by the state0. The Secretary of the Commonwealth certified
PEB firmware version 1.07 for use in Pennsylvania’s elections.
Version 1.05 is not certified for use in Pennsylvania’s elections. A
follow up review of records including more than 100 precincts, did
not find another instance of the uncertified version (1.05) of firmware.
3) Lack of Process for Verification of the Software
The county has provided assurances of the will and resources to
verify that the software received from ES&S is identical to the
software certified by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Since a
poll tape indicates that uncertified software was used, and since an
official of our Allegheny County's Division of Elections indicated in
court testimony that the county would not be verifying the software
as that certified by the state, we are curious about the nature of
the software that has run our recent primary.
*** Therefore voters of Allegheny County are requesting that an
expert review the software on the two different machines to verify
that it is same as that certified by the Secretary of the
Why should voters believe software accurately casts and counts
ballots when the ballots were cast on uncertified hardware and/or
uncertified software? ES&S has run uncertified software in other
states such as California and Indiana. At present in Allegheny
County, some minimal assurance of the integrity of our elections
could be provided software verification. However, many computer
security experts agree that given the current state of the art of
eVoting, only the use of Voter Verified Paper Records with Routine
Audits can secure eVoting with respect to reliability and tamper
4) Zero Print Tapes as safeguards to e-ballot stuffing
a) From our record review, we know iVotronics can and do print zero
tapes on election day regardless of whether or not votes for the
ongoing election are already on the machines. I'm told that the
iVotronic is the only voting machine allowed to do so in
Pennsylvania. We know zero tapes were printed through the use of a
"Secret Administrative Code" as late as 2:30 PM during the day of the
b) Records indicate that the iVotronic machines also print zero tapes
that look like regular zero tapes - except that the tapes indicate
that the "Number of Terminals Open" can be equal to ZERO; (or 1, 2,
or 3 machines). If zero terminals are open, does a zero print
indicate that the voting data banks are really being assessed or not?
c) Zero tapes are required by law to be posted in the precinct
because they are supposed to be a basis for believing that the
machine contains no votes prior to the beginning of the election.
The question arises, "What assurances do zero print tapes provide?"
Particularly if they can be printed at anytime during the election
or even after the election by a secret administrative code?
5) Discrepancies between poll books and eVotes cast ("Missing Ballots")
According to legislative candidate Ed Gainey (24th district), a
review of poll records commonly indicated discrepancies between the
number of voters signed into the district register and the number of
voters who voted in the precinct. What happened to these ballots?
6) The lack of safeguard in the optical scan central count process
The risks of fraud in central count optical scan are well known. My
understanding is that in the event of a recount, PA law requires that
a ballot box cannot be opened without notifying all the interested
parties, a judge of elections and an observer appointed by the
court. Given these sage precautions, is it advisable that the
optical scan central count process was not provided with similar
7) The absence of Voter-Verified Paper Ballots with Routine Audits to
safeguard the reliability and security of eVoting.
The Association for Computing Machinery is the largest professional
association of computer technologists. ACM issued a policy statement
“that e-voting systems enable voters to inspect a physical (e.g.,
paper) record to verify the accuracy of their vote, and to serve as
an independent check on the record produced and stored by the system.
In addition, those records should be made permanent, not based solely
in computer memory, to allow for an accurate recount.”
8) The Opportunity: Renegotiate the County’s Voting Machine Contract
The Board of Election has unanimously endorsed voter-verification and
accessible voting. The BOE can now purchase the most completely
accessible and voter verifiable voting system from ES&S in time for
the November election.
The voting machines to be used in November’s election have yet to be
manufactured. The breach of the voting machine contract by use of
uncertified hardware and software in Allegheny County elections frees
the county from the present contract and presents a tremendous
opportunity for the county to renegotiate with ES&S. ES&S can
provide accessible, voter-verifiable, re-countable and more cost-
effective voting equipment. ES&S can deliver Automarks and Precinct
Based Optical Scan voting machines for November’s election. The
voters of Allegheny County will benefit from the most accessible,
verifiable, auditable, robust, safeguard-able and cost-effective
Respectfully and Appreciatively,
Richard King, Ph.D.
Richard King, Ph.D.
Links for Pennsylvania HB2000/SB977:
Voter Verified Paper Records with Routine Audits
www.PA-VerifiedVoting.org (locate&email your legislators)
www.VotePA.us (Listserve for voting reform activists)
democracyforberks.com/countmyvote (List of co-sponsors)