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November 16, 2003

VOTING MACHINE UPDATE....As I've mentioned before, I'm not much of a believer in conspiracy theories when it comes to electronic voting machines, but stuff like this could change my mind:

Legislation that could add voter-verified paper ballots to controversial touch-screen electronic voting machines remains stalled in a House committee, despite 61 cosponsors.

....The legislation, called the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003, introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) in May, would require that the machines, generically called direct recording electronic (DRE) machines, print out a paper record of each vote so the voter can make sure it is correct. The printed ballot would be stored at the polling place and used if a manual recount or an audit of the results is needed.

Although the bill has attracted 61 cosponsors — all Democrats — it is still in the House Administration Committee. The bill has yet to attract any Republican support, according to Holt's staff.

Conspiracy theories or not, no piece of technology is perfect and a paper trail is a good idea in case of software failure or a simple need to do a recount.

So why won't Republicans support this measure? This is the farthest thing from a partisan issue that I can imagine.

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 16, 2003 06:14 PM | TrackBack


Comments

I apologize if it is off-topics but a text drew my attention:

"The group has claimed responsibility for other incidents in the past, including the August blackouts in the eastern United States and Canada"

So the blackouts from August in Canada and the US were a terrorist attack now?

http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/11/16/turkey.explosion/index.html

There is a huge campaign of disinformation. Honestly I don't know what to beleive anymore but certainly not your medias.

And there is no way to link the bombing in UAE with the one in Turkey.
What the hell is going on in the USSA?

"We have always proved Islam and Judaism can live harmoniously in a peaceful manner, in a co-existence," Alkas said. "I do presume that these are coming from outside, not within the country."

NO, it is wrong. The extremist group is called IBDA-C and they do live in Turkey. The organisation was sleeping since their chief Salih Mirzabeyoglu was arrested in 1998.

I don't know what is going on but one more time, they are trying to filter information in the US.
Is it normal?

Posted by: Frenchy at November 16, 2003 06:17 PM | PERMALINK

So why won't Republicans support this measure?

Because they aren't interested in an accurate vote count if they think they will benefit more from an inaccurate one.

The simplest explanation is usually correct.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey at November 16, 2003 06:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

This is a serious, serious issue.

In October, Wired Magazine reported that the machines used in Alameda county (and elsewhere) were ""at high risk of compromise" due to security flaws in the software".


And then we see that Alameda County Recall Votes indicated that every single voter voted on the Yes/No Recall question. A 0.0% "non-response" statistic is highly questionable. At least one voter should've (accidentally) skipped that question in a county as large as Alameda.

For people who know how software works, it would be very easy to add a little line of code that says:

IF XVote == NIL, THEN Xvote == YES;

In english, this little line of code would check whether somebody voted "yes" or "no" to the recall. If a voter mistakenly left the response blank, the system would automatically change it to a vote for "Yes". This would be somewhat difficult to notice unless human vote certifiers are looking specifically for this type of data.

I'm not saying that the Alameda County software was hacked. It's possible, just like it's possible that every voter responded accurately and correctly. IF I was going to attempt this type of hack, I would add another little line of code that would skip every 1 of 10 blank Yes/No Recall prompts in order to leave a very small 0.1% No Vote Cast statistic.

A paper trail is absolutely necessary since the entire nation will eventually vote electronically. The real trouble won't be in large elections covered by the national media. It will be a problem in the smaller elections that people don't pay any attention to.

Posted by: Frugal Liberal at November 16, 2003 06:51 PM | PERMALINK

For crying out loud, let it go, Kev. Lighten up, and let it go.

The how's and why's of electronic voting are something you'll (certaintly) never understand, Kev. Frankly, it's none of your business, either. Don't be paranoid. They know what they are doing, and what they're doing is looking out for ALL our best interests.

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at November 16, 2003 06:56 PM | PERMALINK

"So why won't Republicans support this measure?"
My guess: they've been told not to by DeLay. Without central orders, you'd expect some split on the issue. As for DeLay's reasons, well.

Posted by: John Isbell at November 16, 2003 07:00 PM | PERMALINK

One more time. These are not "conspiracy theories." There are only two questions here:

1) Would they fix the election?
2) Could they fix the election?

All the evidence seems to indicate that right now the answer to 2) is yes. And if you think the answer to 1) is no, you haven't been paying attention.

Posted by: englishprofessor at November 16, 2003 07:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin >"...So why won't Republicans support this measure?"

Why should they ?

Their "massaging" of votes "worked" very well in the last two elections so why facilitate any changes that might generate a more "realistic" outcome

remember...many of the voting machines are running MSWindows & MSAccess so we all "know" that there isn`t any possibility of "bugs" in the software

HA HA HA HA !!!

MillionthMonkey>"...The simplest explanation is usually correct."

EXACTLY !

Posted by: daCascadian at November 16, 2003 07:04 PM | PERMALINK

Who benafits from no paper trail? The people that dont want a recount. In the last presidential election it was the republicans that did not want a recount. Remember that Diebold is owned by Bush pioneer Walley Odell. Who said I will bring home the votes for GWB. We need a paper trail!

Posted by: chef at November 16, 2003 07:12 PM | PERMALINK

people have been fixing elections since they existed. This technology just makes it easy. No one has a problem throwing around charges of "election fraud" normally, but for some reason when technology is involved it's a "conspiracy."

I have no idea if the magic vote counting machines have been rigged, but if they haven't yet they sure as hell will be at some point - by either party.

Posted by: Atrios at November 16, 2003 07:13 PM | PERMALINK

as a general rule, as the world's alleged leading democracy one would think we would institute the most tamper-resistant technology possible, not the most easily tampered with.

No paper trail, separate accounting, easy wireless-LAN db access -- these things are designed to be tampered with if the stories are accurate.

Posted by: Troy at November 16, 2003 07:16 PM | PERMALINK

Click here for more info.

Posted by: Will at November 16, 2003 07:26 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, that link should be www.verifiedvoting.com

Posted by: Will at November 16, 2003 07:27 PM | PERMALINK

Shoot... www.verifiedvoting.org

And that's all.

Posted by: Will at November 16, 2003 07:28 PM | PERMALINK

so, uh. how exactly are we defining conspiracy here?

I ask that because "conspiracy theory" seems like an awful loaded term for something that only needs 20 or 30 people deciding informally (and perfectly legally I might add) that they will actively discourage voter-verifiable voting machines.

Posted by: radish at November 16, 2003 07:28 PM | PERMALINK

As a lifelong resident of Chicago and Cook county a paper trail sounds like a good idea to me. Sometimes we even catch the more outrageous cheating and someone gets fired or prosecuted but I don't see that happening with paperless voting.

Posted by: mark safranski at November 16, 2003 07:43 PM | PERMALINK

Another theory for why no Republicans have signed on is that Diebold opposes the bill and the Diebold president is a large Republican contributor and leads the Bush 2004 organization in Ohio.

Posted by: cafl at November 16, 2003 07:45 PM | PERMALINK

"no piece of technology is perfect and a paper trail is a good idea in case of software failure or a simple need to do a recount."

Don't worry about it Kevin - if anything needs to fixed in this country, someone else will fix it - we don't have to worry.

Posted by: dorsano at November 16, 2003 07:46 PM | PERMALINK

Why would we need a federal law on this? Isn't this exactly the sort of decisions that we should be deciding on a state by state basis?

Posted by: Damon at November 16, 2003 07:47 PM | PERMALINK

The Diebold system is written in C/C++ with no safeguards against buffer overflows (the most well-known type of hack attack). In my network programming class, we tapped our own lines with a sniffer, caught our own passwords, and even executed buffer attacks (not buffer attacks over a network, but an executable attack saved to a file). I just can not believe that this system wasn't written in C# (or Java).


The entire Diebold system is a combination of first and third party software. Without full disclosure of all the relevant code, it is impossible to know whether a programmer left a backdoor to the system or not.

Smartcards and smartcard readers can be bought easily and cheaply over the internet. With only one modified card, a voter could cast multiple votes or even change previously made votes. With a smart card reader, one could easily duplicate a smart card with administrator priviliges.

Scared yet? These are only some of the issues that have been raised by software and security engineers, and Diebold's responses have been less than fully reassuring. They might be able to engineer a fool-proof system, but we should demand a paper trail until then.

Posted by: Frugal Liberal at November 16, 2003 07:48 PM | PERMALINK

All three e-voting firms are major Republican donors, not just Diebold.

Read up on Georgia's bizarre election last year. Somehow exit polls proved to be completely wrong and the Republicans won with very suspicious last minute upsets.

For fun Google "diebold 18181" also.

Posted by: Old Hat at November 16, 2003 07:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's important to remember Stalin's famous dictum "The people who vote don't count, the people who count the votes do."

Posted by: Old Hat at November 16, 2003 07:54 PM | PERMALINK

They know the game is rigged.

Posted by: Palolo lolo at November 16, 2003 08:07 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Frugal Liberal comment. Does anyone know of someone in Alameda county who intended to leave the "Recall/No Recall" question blank?

Posted by: &y at November 16, 2003 08:09 PM | PERMALINK

Verified Voting says Rep Chris Cox (R-CA) is interested although he hasn't signed on yet. People from his district need to start calling and writing in. Cox, btw, is one of the most tech friendly politicians in office. With his support this will pass.

Posted by: Joanne McNeil at November 16, 2003 08:23 PM | PERMALINK

LoL Old Hat. YOU ARE SO RIGHT ABOUT IT!
Honestly, I am sorry, I do not beleive the US of A is a democracy for many many reasons, it is just a retrocession of power between Republicans and Democrats and vice-and-versa, they have still the same ideology ( I am neither R or D): taking over the world for the interest of the USA, oops, I mean for the interests of the oligarchic president with his own interests: money belongs to my money since I am the president.
Democrats or republicans have only a different way to express their feelings. And let me tell you something guys, I don't care, I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT CARE during the next election in 2004 even if it is a democrat who asks Europe to go help the USA in Iraq, the EU will tell you to get lost. In Europe I am a democrat but I do not share anymore the ideas of the american democrats either. In Europe we are about to do a universal social security to protect european people from dying while the republicans in the USA are sucking dry the budget of the social security to finance the war in Iraq and the space agency program to launch nuclear bombs on "terrorist states" with your savings! God Bless America? Nah sooner or later you guys are going to be in misery.
At least the republicans have the guts to talk about it (PNAC), the Democrats always denied it.
Jimmy Carter must be shiting in his pants right now to fight against civil liberties, he was indeed the first one to introduce his philosophy of global dominiation in the US, and the following guys after them... ahem ... god bless them but they should have never been president of the USA: they got parkinson disease or got stuck with sex addiction or alcoholism or cocaine addiction.
Then the US ask Europe we do not care about their values. Of course we don't give a flying A about your values because:
#1 We live in Europe, so we don't see your values
#2 Your gov has different views about Democracy and wants to fuck up the greek philosophy
#3 What in the hell are you doing over there anyway by colonizing indian territories?
#4 We know your gov always lied since the founding fathers constitution
#5 Your gov does not understand anything about secularism
#6 Your gov is the enemy of peace in the world
#7 Europe count on your own common personnal sense
:)
...etc...etc


Posted by: Frenchy at November 16, 2003 08:50 PM | PERMALINK

I suggest to rapatriat all the Americans in Europe since they are in enemy territories.

Posted by: Frenchy at November 16, 2003 08:55 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the voting machines in California, it is not that complicated: Arnold paid Davis to be governor, because there was a lawsuit with ACLU (not UCLA) and the lawsuit is not pending anymore.
Otherwise it would make Arnold illegal to be the governator of California.
Any precision is welcome please.

Posted by: Frenchy at November 16, 2003 08:59 PM | PERMALINK

IF XVote == NIL, THEN Xvote == YES;

In english, this little line of code would check whether somebody voted "yes" or "no" to the recall. If a voter mistakenly left the response blank, the system would automatically change it to a vote for "Yes". This would be somewhat difficult to notice unless human vote certifiers are looking specifically for this type of data.

Actually, it would be incredibly easy to notice, wouldn't it? This is like saying that 1 lb of C4 is hard to notice because it's so small. Once it's used, you can't miss it.

Posted by: MattJ at November 16, 2003 09:06 PM | PERMALINK

Frenchy, you have a very simplistic view of the world and American politics. I'm obviously not going to change your opinion about the Democratic party so I won't bother punching holes in your argument/rant.

Posted by: Old Hat at November 16, 2003 09:16 PM | PERMALINK

Another precision:
Regarding your Founding Fathers constitution, during 1786, it was created because your so-called fathers bought off the southern states (three-fifth) to support the very same constitution. The southern states - who of course owed slaves - manipulated your constitution so that it can be legal and the founding fathers had to erease one line:
- Humans are equal in rights for the common good.
THIS LINE HAS BEEN EREASED FROM YOUR CONSTITUTION SINCE THE BEGINNING. (common sense).
It is after 1954 (Thank you Martin Luther King) that your country decided to do amendments.
I am sorry, you gov is a fucking fascist country.
It took you what? almost 200 years to know about that, and now we can't erease that and the american troops of course are being toppled in Iraq because of that shit. No wonder why the american troops are the enemy.
Oh well, I pray to god that Mexicans will take over California and Texas to declared it a mexican state. And that will happen.

Disclaimer: fucking is legitimate when the Bush adminstration is wrong, even with international laws.
For example in the US we can say that Bush is a nazi without being attacked for defamation. I mean it.
:)
I also declare your constitution illegal with universal laws.

Posted by: Frenchy at November 16, 2003 09:16 PM | PERMALINK

Voters who wanted to create chaos could falsely claim the paper record did not accurately reflect their votes. "And we couldn't prove it at all," she said. "At some point, you've got to trust the system."

Oh those crazy old people voters that want to "create chaos"...

And Diebold was just telling congress that many voters hhave been asking for paper trails in their machines but of course the young law student of were on this one and it seems that poor Atrios is not the only one that gets Cease and Desist letters

November 04, 2003

E-Voting: Does the "E" Mean End of Democracy?
ambimb

Activists and scholars have been highly critical of electronic voting, and particularly the electronic voting made possible by the software and equipment manufactured by Diebold, one of the top-three e-voting companies in the U.S. Apparently, Diebold's machines are so easy to hack that they're "an open invitation to election fraud." Now, according to this NPR report, hackers have discovered thousands of internal Diebold memos in which Diebold employees acknowledge not only that their voting machines are easy to tamper with, but that they routinely faked demonstrations of the equipment to convince election officials that the system was reliable. (You should be able to find the memos from here.) Of course, Diebold doesn't like the fact that its dirty laundry is being passed around the internet, so it's sending cease and desist letters to get people to take down the evidence. Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing Diebold for an injunction to stop the cease and desist actions.

What's fascinating to me is how little coverage this is getting in mainstream media. The very heart of democracy is at stake here—the fairness and reliability of the one person, one vote foundation on which our democracy is built—and it's hardly a blip on the mass radar screen.

Happy election day, everyone. Don't forget to vote.

06:58 AM | Cites

And this gem:

"Instead of paying lawyers to threaten its critics, Diebold should invest in creating electronic voting machines that include voter-verified paper ballots and other security protections," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn.

Yeah I think so too.

Posted by: Cheryl at November 16, 2003 09:22 PM | PERMALINK

The link again.

And Diebold was just telling congress that many voters hhave been asking for paper trails in their machines but of course the young law student of en banc were on this one and it seems that poor Atrios is not the only one that gets Cease and Desist letters>/i>

Posted by: Cheryl at November 16, 2003 09:25 PM | PERMALINK

One thing to ask is why we can't have the same level of assurance with our voting machines as with our bank accounts? You go to an ATM machine and get a receipt and then later you get a monthly report to reconcile what is happening with your account. So why is it so hard for them to provide the same level of assurance with our vote?

Especially Diebold -- who actually manufacture the sizeable number of the ATM machines with printers.

Posted by: Mary at November 16, 2003 09:27 PM | PERMALINK

Old Hat, I have a very large vision of politics, and I traveled all over the world. I know every culture: tribes, atheists, terrorists (?), anarchists, christian, jewish, muslim, mixed up with moderate and radical (only seen in the US of course). I think you should not look at the US itself but the rest of the world from the outside and not the inside. I don't live in the US, although I lived in this lying country; it does not matter if you are a D or R, what matters is how we can balance this world RIGHT? Unilateralism is a distorted vision that will cost the US lots of broken feathers to the bald eagle: this eagle is necrophagous and will always attack us by behind anyway. If you don't see it then I am sorry.
And by the way, I am European with lots of other backgrounds. I don't talk for my country, fuck France if it can make you happy, let's hang Chirac too, BUT also fuck the USA and their Presidents.

Posted by: Frenchy at November 16, 2003 09:27 PM | PERMALINK

Let me add my standard paranoid point.

At this point it seems almost certain that Democrats (rightly) will question, and possibly challenge in the courts, close votes or suspicious votes counted on Diebold or other suspect machines. Since these machines are in wide use, this means that a large number of state, local, and federal elections will be in doubt.

Even if the Republicans are NOT all in on a voting-machine conspiracy, they have to be making preparations for these Democratic challenges and protests. On past performance we can be sure that their response will be a savage counterattack accusing Democrats of paranoia, hating America, hating the voters, hating democracy and freedom, etc., etc.

Where this all ends up is unpredictable, but it sounds like a constitutional crisis (worse than 2000) to me. And at this point I think that we can count on all of the legit media caving in and giving the Republicans what they demand.

Anything else I can do to cheer you up? And if you disagree with what I'm saying, kindly be specific.

Posted by: Zizka at November 16, 2003 09:33 PM | PERMALINK

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

Posted by: Anarch at November 16, 2003 09:38 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. Just to put everything in perspective, there does exist an alternative system which would avoid all these problems. It's called paper ballots. Voters use a #2 pencil to mark their votes on these ballots. After the polls close, people read the ballots and tally the votes. It's a little slower, but maybe we can learn to live with that.

When I was a boy I walked to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways, and my parents used paper ballots when they voted. You're lucky to have me around to tell you about this stuff.

Posted by: Zizka at November 16, 2003 09:39 PM | PERMALINK

Here is what I offer:
I want to cut off judeo-christian religion, you guys can't have that in the US, unless you want terrorist attacks all over the world and in the US (who knows where).
Oh if I am a christian then I can feel jewish too and vice-and-versa? NOP. I am sorry, if I am jewish I will ask my partner who's Christian to be converted to my religion, and if I am Christian then I will have to be converted to Jewish religion? Of course if I am jewish/christian I will have to convert to the muslim religion if I want an arabic woman?
Don't you see it does not make sense at all?
We are all equal in religions. Sorry, all of us. If a religion thinks it is superior to the other one, then we can kick their butts, UNLESS we were ourselves wrong in our own religion.
Unless you prove me otherwise, Jewish and muslim religion have never been that tolerant when it comes to christianism right? So what the hell are the neocons doing at the american gov?
Judeo-christianism? I'm christino-muslim (catholic). YEP catholics and muslims have lots of common things, but they may have forgot to tell you about that in the US during the History.

REVISIONNIST HISTORIANS YOU SUCK
:)

Posted by: Frenchy at November 16, 2003 09:43 PM | PERMALINK

There NEVER should be an electronic voting system without a printed-out, signed-off voter copy to the pollers.

Why?

Security. These idiots in the Republican Party want to run a Microsoft voting operation, it would seem (all apologies to Microsoft).

When people make a selection, it should be reshown to them on the screen. Then, they see their choice, and select OK.

If it's not OK, then they back up and choose again. This eliminates bad selections.

The only way to assure this, through law, to work properly is to assure that when a selection is made, it is stored to the database, and THEN reshown on screen. The database itself would be READ ONLY, but would allow multiple selections.

These multiple selections, or corrections, would have to be signed by the voter, on the paper receipt, after the voting is concluded.

An algorhythm would keep track of when the electronic voting was taking place, and would be traceable to when the voter was actually logged in to the polling place by the polling worker.

A workable security system, simple and not expensive. Implement it.

Posted by: freelixir at November 16, 2003 09:55 PM | PERMALINK

Frenchy, get back over to Misha where you belong will ya?

We miss good trolls like you.

Posted by: spc67 at November 16, 2003 09:56 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, I'm a "troll", according to Julia over at Sisyphus Shrugged, who has banned me, so you shouldn't listen to me.

Be aware.

And beware liberals banning liberals. It's bad relations.

Posted by: freelixir at November 16, 2003 09:57 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, that has nothing to do with Frenchy.

Posted by: freelixir at November 16, 2003 09:59 PM | PERMALINK

Frenchy, two words on the presence of radicals -- Le Pen.

But I cede that on many levels, America fails as a democracy and is too arrogant to to look itself in the mirror. In saying that, many of the ideas of the Founding Fathers provide an excellent basis for secular democracy.

On Diebold and facsimilies, to use a Howard Deanism, we can do better than this. Why has some innovative person not come up with the ideal touch-screen voting machine (and I think it goes beyond the need for a paper trail)? This is a fundamental issue, nay opportunity, facing all democracies, so where is the international contest to design the best and brightest machine?

Posted by: Chris at November 16, 2003 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Mary: the simplest reason that we don't just give receipts at voting time is that if you have a receipt, you can prove who you voted for; and if you can prove who you voted for, you can be coerced. If your ballot is secret regardless of your expressed wishes, you can't be coerced.

Posted by: DonBoy at November 16, 2003 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why is the voting deal so hard in the US? Here in Sweden, we vote without levers, pens, pencils, hole-pokers or touch screens. Yet every four years, we get a full an accurate accounting, with verifiable paper trail (it's all about paper ballots in envelopes, after all) within 24 hours of polls closing - usually within 6.

Yes, there's only 9 million people in Sweden, but surely the logistics of something like this would scale linearily on a per-capita basis - meaning that cost/manpower should be exactly the same per voter, regardless if population size.

I just don't know why all US voting systems I have seen described seem determined to make things more difficult - and that includs touch screens.

Posted by: Teaflax at November 16, 2003 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Frenchy, two words on the presence of radicals -- Le Pen."
At worse case scenario, Le Pen would have been removed by its own people, trust me. He has the same ideas than the Bush administration. We are responsible people in France. We would have killed him or hung him by the bawls, not a problem. We are RESISTANTS.


SPC67, who is Misha? I'm not trawling anybody, I've always been honest. I say what is on my heart wether people like it or not, that's the way it is.


Posted by: Frenchy at November 16, 2003 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Teaflax, from a technology pov, I find it sad reflecting upon the frankenstein Microsoft-based machines that states are settling on. All that money could have been used to develop the definitive e-voting system that is affordable for even the poorest districts. Where is the innovation? Where is the openness? Americans have really dropped the ball on this.

Posted by: Chris at November 16, 2003 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

I know that "le pen" (he does not deserve cap locks on his name) is a fantastic name to count the election sufrages.
Nevertheless he will never count the elections.
:)

Posted by: Frenchy at November 16, 2003 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Frenchy, I don't think the US really learned the lessons of facism/nazism as deeply as Europeans (esp. those that were occupied, though not too much less those that were bombed to shreds), rather the istant need to confront the Soviets after the war created a more left-fearing culture. How close to facism will Bush get if he secures a second term?

Posted by: Chris at November 16, 2003 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Frenchy, before you start trashing the United States and everything American, please remember France's own atrocious record on human rights. I point to French adventurism in Algeria and the rest o colonial Africa and Southeast Asia as examples. Only one year ago, France nominated a neo-Nazi as a candidate for prime minister. I needn't remind you of France's miserable record during the Vichy years either. France was the only state in Europe to turn over Jews to the Gestapo *before* the Nazis asked for them, to speak nothing of your government's do-nothing approach to the recent wave of virulent anti-Semitism and synagogue bombings.

Your absurd "declaration" that the U.S. Constitution is "invalid" is inflammatory and stupid. I doubt you've bothered to read the documents.

There's something quite disturbing about your belief that you understand how the world works in all of its intricacies. The stunning arrogance of your statement that you "understand all cultures" speaks for itself. You're not a sage, you're not learned. But you are good at writing incoherant rants against the bogeymen you see in the world.

Go shoot your mouth off somewhere else.

Posted by: Old Hat at November 16, 2003 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, Frenchy, the French are all "RESISTANTS" like all of those more-than-willing collaborators in Vichy. Of course, after the Allies liberated your country, everyone was a member of the resistance. Don't give me that crap about "RESISTANTS," Frenchy, the idea that Le Pen even made the run-off election was alarming and deeply disturbing in itself. Clean your own house before you start criticizing other people.

Posted by: Old Hat at November 16, 2003 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

This type of odious neo-Marxism, in any form, Gallic or otherwise, is a bunch of horseshit and it's nauseating. Any ideology that proclaims to have an answer to every problem (like the ironclad ideology lurking behind Frenchy's spewings) is inherantly anti-democratic.

Posted by: Old Hat at November 16, 2003 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

DonBoy,
A receipt in this instance no more requires a machine to print your name on it than paper ballots do. Have you ever written your name at the top of one of those? I sure as hell haven't.


The people I know who lean Republican (and who have expressed an opinion on the matter) very much want a fail-safe in place like this as well. Maybe it's just living in Florida that's done it to them. As for me, I remember during the last gubanatorial race out here, there were some problems in the primaries with machines not being tabulated, at all, and Reno thinking that was big in her downfall.
It can't be only a Republican plot, if the democrats in Broward county chose that method of voting, can it? There are other alternatives that other counties use in Florida.

Posted by: Nony Mouse at November 16, 2003 11:20 PM | PERMALINK


Re: Frugal Liberal comment. Does anyone know of someone in Alameda county who intended to leave the "Recall/No Recall" question blank?

Actually, there were three counties that scored a 0.0%. Alameda, Kern, and Plumas. If I was a journalist, I'd certainly try to do some snooping. Skipping this question would probably be more of a mistake than intentional. I guess. I wouldn't know, because I don't live in California and didn't participate in the Recall.


Actually, it would be incredibly easy to notice, wouldn't it? This is like saying that 1 lb of C4 is hard to notice because it's so small. Once it's used, you can't miss it.

Mattj,

Not exactly. Not if you know how to crack the code (which was hacked this summer), create your own source executable, and then find an accomplice who will volunteer (no background check) to be an election supervisor. Swap executables during the election and replace the original when the last voter leaves.

Here's the problem, there is a chance that this could get discovered. If so, there's no paper trail available to even do a recount. A revote would be necessary, but that's usually the last thing that you would want.


Posted by: Frugal Liberal at November 16, 2003 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Why would the news want to cover something icky like vote fraud when there's Laci Peterson and Kobe Bryant to fuss about?

Posted by: Old Hat at November 16, 2003 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Volokh Conspiracy has blogged on the Alameda and Plumas votes. They were a mistake on the officials who submitted the data.

However...

There's plenty more on the blog that supports our main fears here.

Posted by: Frugal Liberal at November 17, 2003 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Why is the voting deal so hard in the US?

What you are seeing with the Diebold et al voting systems is the sorry, pathetic state of software development in America. Diebold is not at all interested in providing a service to democracy. They are not interested in providing good software, either. Why should they be? No American politicians have demanded good voting software.

So Diebold built the cheapest, most pathetic excuse of a voting system they could. Why? Because that maximizes their profits. There may or may not be a concerted effort on their part to enact fraud in the voting process. But they are making damn sure the existing system is a) 100% proprietary, and b) very, very error-prone, so that they can have a stream of revenue, in perpetuity, by making the taxpayers pay for fixes to the software.

That is the standard business model for US software companies. Most US software firms are just barely a notch above snake-oil salesmen.

And if we don't do something about this, we will most certainly be seeing politicians in office who were not voted in by the people (if we already haven't). Make note of this: it is not a hypothetical. Regardless of the honesty of Diebold and crew, the software is so bad that it is 100% certain that it will be cracked, and a non-elected person will take office.

Posted by: Timothy Klein at November 17, 2003 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

I remember this came up on Tacitus a while ago, and I asked why is there not a federal standard for voting? I got a succession of answers from right-wingers, most of which was either "State's rights" or "It's too hard!" The first is tautologous, the second is absurd.

The US should use the most reliable method known in the world: paper ballots. It wouldn't be profitable, it wouldn't look like supertechnology, but it would work. The idea that we "must" use e-voting is ridiculous.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 17, 2003 01:24 AM | PERMALINK

Frenchy, you haven't been to America, true? Things are not quite how you see them in the media. There are millions upon millions of Americans who think Bush is a dangerous man too--and they are gearing up for the elections. Keep watching; the pendulum will swing back to a more balanced sane place soon. At least I hope so. If not, can I stay at your place in France from 2005-2008, mon frere? LOL.

Regarding the electronic voting, it is not and has never been a conspiracy theory to ask "Why the hell aren't we just doing things the way they should be done?" It's just common sense.

A paper record and auditable results should be a no-brainer. The fact that Republicans aren't calling out for common sense methods and safequards is what is conspicuous here. Not the doubt and suspicion of voters. This is, ultimately, not a partisan issue. It a basic democracy issue--and Republicans who get in the way of it are going to get steamrolled.

The question I have is how to effectively raise hell about this BEFORE 2004? I'm tired of the American Left being Johnny-come-lately to serious problems that were visible to all. Why do we wait for a damn crisis?

My checklist of actions to take this week are as follows:
1. Call my Republican congressman and ask what his position is on electronic voting.
2. E-mail CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN about why they aren't covering this question now.
3. Tell 5 friends about this issue.
4, Call a local talk radio show and try to get this in there somehow.

Posted by: Tim B. at November 17, 2003 01:26 AM | PERMALINK

Well, yes, Timothy, I understand that the e-voting system sucks because Diebold are money grubbers/idiots. But *all* US voting systems I've seen seem flawed and overly difficult.

I just don't see the need nor the point to computerize the voting process - for a multitude of reasons. I'm sure that the money spent on Diebold machines, etc., could cover the printing of paper ballots, and tearable envelopes (for fast counting) for generations to come - *especially* in a two-party state (which is exactly 100% better than a one-party state, but that's another issue entirely).

We Swedes pick up paper ballots - one for each party represented in the election. Then we retire behind a screen, pick one of the ballots and put in an envelope. The envelope has a small half circle cut out of the side - the part of the ballot visible does not indicate the vote, just that there is only ONE piece of paper in the envelope. You are checked off on two separate voter rolls as the election offical takes the envelope and puts in the ballot box.

Later, the ballot box is opened,and the envelopes' tear-off edges make it a cinch to get the ballots out and counted.

There - that's it. No ambiguity, no high OR low-tech gadgets needed, full recountability possible and - as I noted - except in very, very rare cases, there is a full accounting before midnight on voting day.

Which is why I am positively mystified that this is so damned difficult to emulate.

Posted by: Teaflax at November 17, 2003 01:28 AM | PERMALINK

Which is why I am positively mystified that this is so damned difficult to emulate.

Posted by: Timothy Klein at November 17, 2003 01:59 AM | PERMALINK

It is worth remembering that there was a recount in the 2000 presidential elections - in New Mexico. The Repuglicans forced the recount. For some reason everyone forgets this one.

Posted by: McDruid at November 17, 2003 02:23 AM | PERMALINK

Not a single Republican is with the paper trail proposal, eh? The only rationale that sounds logical is Zizka's above, because, barring direct vote fraud through the machines, the lack of a paper trail doesn't necessarily benefit the Repubs.

If you look at the Republican platform they advocate all sorts of little obstacles to be placed in the way of voting: repeal of the motor voter law, they resist election-day registration, they want stiffer ID requirements, etc. I guess their research shows that the poor generally don't have their shit together to the degree that the more well off do, so any extra hurdle they can add will disproportionately benefit them.

I know the electronic voting machines are unequally distributed, with more in the wealthier counties, maybe the answer lies in there. But I can't see it.

Posted by: andrew at November 17, 2003 02:56 AM | PERMALINK

Teaflax: The slight problem with that system as implemented in the US is that we generally have a multitude of different positions open at any given election, and we vote by candidate rather than by party. [Although the latter option is always offered AFAIK.] I would point out, however, that the Wisconsin system (well, the Dane county system; dunno if it's the whole state) seems pretty damn foolproof. You get a ballot with the names and, next to their names, a blank space between two lines like this:

* *

To select the person you vote for, simply take a black pen and connect the dots like so:

*-----*

[Sorry about the spacing in the first picture. Stupid broken not-quite-HTML in the comments here...]

You then place the ballot in a scanner, which sucks it in and pings to let you -- and everyone else -- know it's been read. Simple, no fuss, no muss; takes a grand total of two minutes if you're really taking your time. And it's got an automatic recount system built in: ain't no way anyone's mistaking who the votes were for.

I'd prefer it if you also got a meaningful receipt (I think you get a little slip of paper noting that you -have- voted, but not one that shows who you voted for), but beyond that, I've never had *any* problems with the voting here whatsoever.

Posted by: Anarch at November 17, 2003 03:12 AM | PERMALINK

Receipts are meaningless. Most voters don't look at their ballot after voting, (Which is why the error rate can be so high with punch cards.) you suppose they're going to go over a receipt? The machine can change their votes, print a receipt accurately reflecting that fact, and the tiny minority who notice that the receipt doesn't reflect the way they intended to vote will simply assume they hit the wrong key. Or, at least, won't be able to prove that wasn't what happened.

So the receipts will accurately reflect the rigged totals.

The only way to be sure the voting isn't rigged is to either have the voter mark the ballot themselves, or make the machine so stupid and inflexible that it can't be hacked. And the latter is very difficult to achieve, when you can package so much logic into a little chip, and just print a fake ID number on it.

I'd say anyone who's really concerned about ballot fraud has to support optical scan technology. AND exibit some real concern about the integrity of the voter rolls, and the handling of absentee ballots, too! It's kind of silly to be concerned about the machines, and not whether everyone who votes is who they claim they are.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at November 17, 2003 04:16 AM | PERMALINK

1. Man, the Democrats really ought to hammer away at this issue next year. Is there any way to make it look bad for them? They don't have to claim that large-scale systematic vote-fixing is going on, just ask why Republicans don't want to prevent it.

2. Yes, Frenchy's trash talk is unfair, but keep in mind he's been hearing "surrender-monkey" yelping from US right-wing warbloggers for months.

Posted by: Matt McIrvin at November 17, 2003 05:15 AM | PERMALINK

So Diebold built the cheapest, most pathetic excuse of a voting system they could. Why? Because that maximizes their profits.

The leaked Diebold information shows an out-of control (and, sadly, typical) software project: overworked programmers, lack of proper development tools, mistrust of management, disregard for testing, bad coding and database design, last minute bug fixes during real-time use of the product.

But Diebold, like every other software company, can see the solution. Outsource the project to India!

Posted by: Jon Meltzer at November 17, 2003 05:31 AM | PERMALINK

It's kind of silly to be concerned about the machines, and not whether everyone who votes is who they claim they are.

no, because it's a lot harder to fudge the vote with ringers walking in, compared to just a couple of unaudited keypresses and mouse clicks over wireless LAN from a notebook in the back room., and the damage can be a lot, lot greater in the latter case.

Posted by: Troy at November 17, 2003 05:58 AM | PERMALINK

Well, in any case...keep reading the stories about electoral results...they are fantastic examples of stuff that statistically shouldn't happen.

Posted by: serial catowner at November 17, 2003 06:00 AM | PERMALINK

I believe that way up-thread somebody pointed out the correct answer: the States do elections, not the Federal government.

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 06:21 AM | PERMALINK

There's a better way no one in this thread has touched on. A touch screen system that does nothing but turn out a properly marked paper ballot - properly punched holes, darkened circles, OCR, bar codes - details are unimportant. The ballot will also print the names of the people voted for. Then that becomes the official ballot and is put into the ballot box. Easy to count, easy to re-count, voter-verifiable, easy to test before the polls open, probably compatible with present tallying systems, etc. Whatever process a state or community uses now to verify and control the voter going into the booth can be used as is; no need for smart cards or something else new. I'm a software quality engineer and would have much more confidence in this medium-tech solution than anything else.

Posted by: Irwin at November 17, 2003 06:31 AM | PERMALINK

If George Soros wants to make himself useful he can start by funding a massive advertising campaign to educate the American people about e-voter fraud.

When the most benign explanation for something is shameless corruption (i.e. the GOP overlooking Diebold's shoddy product in exchange for campaign contributions) it is a sad day in America.

Voter fraud is is one more example of the GOP using cognitive dissonance as a political tactic. Come up with a scheme so outlandish (the GOP cheating on a massive scale) that people are unwilling to even entertain its possibility even when presented with massive piles of evidence.

Posted by: space at November 17, 2003 06:42 AM | PERMALINK

I believe that way up-thread somebody pointed out the correct answer: the States do elections, not the Federal government.

Sorry, but people in State A have a vested interest in States B, C, and D holding fair and accurate elections. Yes, states get wide latitude in impllementing who they choose, but the Federal govenrment has a right to prevent wide-spread cheating.

Posted by: space at November 17, 2003 06:47 AM | PERMALINK

this blows my f*cking mind...every single report that came out after the 2000 election was very clear on the need for an audit trail...

Posted by: praktike at November 17, 2003 06:49 AM | PERMALINK

There are whole bunches of holes with paperless voting, and I don't understand why it is being pursued.

If you supplied an anonymous receipt (as explained above, if you are IDed in the receipt then you can be coerced to vote a certain way) for later vote verification it should be both machine and people readable. But if you are going to do that, why not use the optical ballots mentioned above as both the ballot and the receipt for auditing?

Posted by: Tripp at November 17, 2003 06:50 AM | PERMALINK

Electronic voting at this point is a solution without a problem. Why is it being proposed at all? Partly normal graft and corruption and (I bet) partly to get quicker counts so election-eve TV is more successful.

Posted by: Zizka at November 17, 2003 07:00 AM | PERMALINK

the Federal govenrment has a right to prevent wide-spread cheating.

I will quote from the Constitution: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators. , and for president Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors

All power of elections was given to the States with the caveat that the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations in the case of Senators and Representatives. Which then brings us to the question of States Rights which Repubs generally support. States have more elections to do than just the Federal stuff so I don't really know why the Feds ought to get involved.

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 07:13 AM | PERMALINK

I should probably point out that I think that voting with no paper trail is a grave mistake.

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 07:15 AM | PERMALINK

Ron wrote: States have more elections to do than just the Federal stuff so I don't really know why the Feds ought to get involved.

Because the right to vote is mandated federally, and the states should therefore not be granted the right to prevent voters from voting or from having their votes counted.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 17, 2003 07:19 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder when the Dems are gonna do a filibuster on behalf of the 280 million Americans disenfranchised by rigged voting machines. The Dems blocked 4 justices. The GOP is protecting a quarter billion injustices.

Posted by: Cowboy Kahlil at November 17, 2003 07:19 AM | PERMALINK

Why is it being proposed at all?

never underestimate the power of personal laziness.

two mouse clicks, and viola -- a night's work is done!

Posted by: Troy at November 17, 2003 07:33 AM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac
The House of Representatives is chosen by the People of the several States, Senators were originally chosen by State Legislatures, amended to popular vote. Presidential Electors are appointed by State Legislatures in such Manner as the Legislature therof may direct

So, the Constitution now calls for popular vote for Congress. But the actual elections are left to the States.

the states should therefore not be granted the right to prevent voters from voting or from having their votes counted.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. It is just that I believe it is the responsibility of the States to do this, not the Feds.

OT It has moved to archive, but I have replied on the "Liberal Hatred" post from Friday.

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 07:38 AM | PERMALINK

Troy, ringers don't necessarily have to walk in, they can just be non-existant people, and one guy in a back room filling out absentee ballots. Though retail ballot fraud CAN throw a close election. I'd be a lot more impressed with Democratic concerns about disenfranchisement, if you guys cared more about fraudulent registrations; If I vote for candidate A, and somebody's poodle votes for candidate B, I've been disenfranchised just as effectively as though I'd been prevented from entering the voting booth, only I'm a lot less likely to know it and be able to raise a stink.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at November 17, 2003 08:10 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody know if moveon.org is going to get interested in this bill?

They need to.

Posted by: Brautigan at November 17, 2003 08:10 AM | PERMALINK

Ron: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof

Exactly! If a state legislature prescribes that voting shall be conducted by state-wide elections with each citizen of a state voting for electors, then clearly electors selcted by, say...the CEO of Diebold have not been chosen in the manner prescribed by the legislature. Any any such selection is clearly unconstitutional.

In other words, states can choose to conduct elections however they see fit. But once having chosen, the Federal government has a constitutional right to make sure that the election occurs in the manner so chosen.

Posted by: space at November 17, 2003 08:12 AM | PERMALINK

Ron -- the functional rationale for a national standard of verifiability for the machines is that the new ones are almost all being bought with the several billion dollars of FEDERAL money under the law passed in 2001 after the FL 200 debacle.

If you want a constitutional rationale, you can find it in both the one-man, one-vote decision (Reynolds v. Sims), and the Article IV, Section 4 provision that "The United States shall guarantee to each State a republican form of government..."

In case you're wondering, that doesn't mean what the CEO of Diebold wants it to mean...

Posted by: Steady Eddie at November 17, 2003 08:17 AM | PERMALINK

space
I'm not in favor of voting fraud. But voting has always been done by States. They have about two hundred years of practice. There is no reason to get the Feds involved.

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 08:22 AM | PERMALINK

Steady Eddie
I have an opinion on the size of a Federal Government that could give the States billions for something the States are supposed to be doing, too. But it isn't relevant here.

As for one-man, one-vote, republican form of government: I agree with all that; as I said, I do not support voting fraud. But the onus is on the States, not on the Feds.

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 08:27 AM | PERMALINK

To make everyone happy, set the bill so that any state that does not have a verifyable paper trail does not get any federal money to improve their voting systems. Personally I don't see the point of having a printed reciept for the person voting. If you can hack the system you can set the system to print out the correct vote while recording the altered vote in any official entries. The problem is in touchscreens in general.

Posted by: Damon at November 17, 2003 08:39 AM | PERMALINK

There was a great piece done on electronic voting recently on the public radio program This American Life. The episode is called "The Annoying Gap Between Theory ... and Practice". It very succinctly describes the major problems with the electronic machines (some of which I hadn't heard about and I'm fairly well read on the issue).

You can listen for free at http://www.thislife.org. It's the first half hour.

Posted by: Tony at November 17, 2003 08:40 AM | PERMALINK

To make everyone happy, set the bill so that any state that does not have a verifyable paper trail does not get any federal money to improve their voting systems.

It's better than pre-emptively telling the States what they can do, but a still better idea would be to let the People of the several States work with their State Legislatures.

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 08:54 AM | PERMALINK

The Constitution of the United States, Article IV:

"Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government"

Congress clearly has the power to make appropriate regulation to ensure that our elections are clean and fair.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 17, 2003 09:11 AM | PERMALINK

Ron -- I read your earlier posts, and I'm not accusing you of supporting vote fraud. I believe you agree that the problem is the lack of accountability in an unverifiable system. The biggest problem there -- and the reason Kevin properly says that this really isn't a partisan issue -- isn't in who is in anyone's opinion likeliest to steal votes, but the fact that the many holes in the system permit vote-stealing so easily.

After Reynolds, States are required to count each vote equally, which necessarily includes the obligation to have an objectively neutral and secure means of counting. After Bush v. Gore, there is NO constitutional basis left for arguing that this is left to the States.

Re the receipt issue, there's some confusion above by others suggesting that the receipt would leave people open to coercion etc., or that it could be gamed by corrupt software just as the machines could. But no one has suggested that voters would retain the receipts themselves after voting -- that never happens anywhere today, nor should it. The receipts indicating the vote would be the voter's real-time check, and would then be turned in just as paper or punch-card or optical-scan ballots are today. Under Holt's bill, all of the receipts would be retained for the possibility of a recount, and 1/2% of them would automatically be randomly sampled for a audit on the accuracy of the touch-screen results. Because the sampling would be random within the voting jurisdiction, a vote-stealer in or out of Diebold would have to expect the audit could occur at any precinct, and thus the audit would eliminate the potential for having a clean result in certain precincts but a stolen result everywhere else.

Posted by: Steady Eddie at November 17, 2003 09:11 AM | PERMALINK

My point re the receipts is simply that they don't guarantee no fraud, because there are ways to rig the vote where the receipt and the electronic record agree. Just have the machine pseudo-randomly create "data entry errors" in favor of one of the candidates, and rely on not all the voters noticing them. Sure, this can't turn a landslide around without becoming conspicuous, but the fraudster who's content with just providing his favorite candidate with an edge will probably get away with it.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at November 17, 2003 09:30 AM | PERMALINK

Brett, I don't know that it's really possible to create a fraud-proof system. What's been pointed out is that a paperless system whose 'audit trail' consists only of electronic records created/maintained by secret software is on the 'guaranteed fraud' end of the spectrum.

Posted by: Barry at November 17, 2003 09:34 AM | PERMALINK
One thing to ask is why we can't have the same level of assurance with our voting machines as with our bank accounts? You go to an ATM machine and get a receipt and then later you get a monthly report to reconcile what is happening with your account. So why is it so hard for them to provide the same level of assurance with our vote?

Because the after-the-fact personal paper confirmation of what was counted (rather than a voter-verified paper record at time of voting that was part of the election record and not traceable back to an individual voter) would allow buying and selling of votes, which would be against the purpose of having a secret ballot.

We do need a paper trail, but it can't be on quite the same level as an ATM.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 17, 2003 09:56 AM | PERMALINK

Steady Eddie
I agree with everything you say in your first 2 paragraphs. And I also agree that this is a bipartisan issue.

But Mr. Drum was wondering why no Repubs support this, and I believe it is a State vs Fed issue for them.

As for the mechanics of an audit trail, I'm for whatever works.

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Paper printouts are worse than meaningless because they would provide false comfort in the veracity of the electronic vote. It would be nothing to program the voting machines for the paper printout to always be what the voter voted, while at the same time changing the votes of the electronic tally (and who's scouring the code to see that it doesn't do this - no one).

The paper would only be useful in those rare cases when the electronic tally was questioned and a sufficient case made for a manual recount. But since the electronic voting with papaer printout is so fool proof that it even lets voters check their vote, the case for a hand recount would be almost insurmountable (why count the paper, the voter's vote has already been proven correct).

The law of unintended consequence rules!

Posted by: danuube at November 17, 2003 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

But Mr. Drum was wondering why no Repubs support this, and I believe it is a State vs Fed issue for them.

perhaps, but how that squares with the partisan Gore v. Bush decision of 12/12/2000 remains to be elucidated.

Posted by: Troy at November 17, 2003 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

More info:
Open Source" Activism resources:

Concise, hard-hitting summary of the problem Microsoft Word: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVPrimer.doc
PDF: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVPrimer.pdf
Straight text: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVPrimer.txt

NEW! Guidelines for Citizen Election Monitors - What to look for
Microsoft Word: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/ElectionMonitoring.doc
PDF: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/ElectionMonitoring.pdf
Straight text: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/ElectionMonitoring.txt

NEW! "Just the facts" handout
http://www.speakingformyself.net/wyomingdissent/bbvflyer.pdf

List of counties that use Diebold
(as of Feb 2003)
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/mfr.pdf

Posted by: Kathryn at November 17, 2003 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

MoveOn about six weeks ago were soliciting issues to campaign on. I'd bet they still listen.
I receive a couple of mailings a year from some liberal voting thing whose name escapes me, with a list of issues checklist. They NEVER have a space about e-voting. They're still talking about hanging chads, the stupid f**ks. It would be nice to see them get past last year's battles.
I write e-voting in big print all over the form and mail it back.

Posted by: John Isbell at November 17, 2003 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Troy
I was wondering how long this thread would go before this got brought up.

However, since I won't change your mind, you won't change my mind, and neither one of us will change history, I will not get into it.

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

I should have added in my comment above, democracy is dead if corporate America is trusted to count our vote.

Posted by: Kathryn at November 17, 2003 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

But Mr. Drum was wondering why no Repubs support this, and I believe it is a State vs Fed issue for them.

You really believe this, Ron? Have you heard any National Republicans say this out loud?

I haven't heard much of anything from them on this one. The simplest explanation is that they don't want to piss of a very large donor: the CEO of Diebold, who opposes the bill.

Posted by: Timothy Klein at November 17, 2003 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Timothy Klein
Nope, haven't heard them say it, but it makes sense to me. And I'm just positive that my beloved Repubs would not be selling the voters down the river. I know that Repub bashing is big business here, but still...

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 11:02 AM | PERMALINK
Paper printouts are worse than meaningless because they would provide false comfort in the veracity of the electronic vote. It would be nothing to program the voting machines for the paper printout to always be what the voter voted, while at the same time changing the votes of the electronic tally (and who's scouring the code to see that it doesn't do this - no one).

If the papers were kept, and were public records subject to inspection, it would provide the security of the electronic count being challengable and verifiably accurate or inaccurate.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 17, 2003 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Can you explain what you're referring to in terms of "conspiracy theories"? Is there any question that these companies are run by right-wingers? Is there any question they've failed to operate properly in the past, especially Florida and Georgia? Is there any question that uncertified software has been used in them during elections? Is there any question that they don't keep an actual record of what votes were cast? What about this needs more clarification for you to understand HOW MUCH MORE important an issue this is than the Iraq war, Plame, etc, important as they are?

Posted by: benj at November 17, 2003 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

How about, instead of all this bickering, we BAN the e-voting machines, forever. Why not use some more recent technology. i.e. - voice activation software, voice-voting. You say the name of your candidate. Straight up, your voice, with your vote, logged together in an indisputable combination of vote & receipt. Or is that totally not feasible?

Posted by: benj at November 17, 2003 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

That would pretty much be the end of secret balloting.

There is one company which makes non-evil voting machines: Avante.

Also, I recommend that anyone interested in this wander around Dr. Mercuri's website, which is a treasure trove of information.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 17, 2003 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Bush v Gore should put to rest the idea that Republicans think vote issues should be settled by the states themselves. Bush was the plaintiff to the US Supreme Court regarding a state voting matter, if you recall.

The most charitable reading is that the Republicans don't want to piss off their huge donors. In other words, bribery is the most charitable possible explanation.

Posted by: eyelessgame at November 17, 2003 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Graf from CommonDreams.org by Thom Hartmann--

Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his company's computer-controlled voting machines showed he'd won stunning upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election." According to Bev Harris of www.blackboxvoting.com, Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska.

Six years later Hagel ran again, this time against Democrat Charlie Matulka in 2002, and won in a landslide. As his hagel.senate.gov website says, Hagel "was re-elected to his second term in the United States Senate on November 5, 2002 with 83% of the vote. That represents the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska."

I would think 83% of the vote would be a red flag. cleve

Posted by: cleve at November 17, 2003 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Well, why don't Democrats support ID requirements for voting? That should be completely non-partisan as well, given the importance of preventing voter fraud and given how incredibly easy it would be for people to bring their IDs along, and given that the only conceivable reason that someone would refuse to produce ID is because they are trying some funny business. So why don't Democrats support measures like that?

Posted by: Joe M. at November 17, 2003 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

So, if you want pieces of paper for auditing purposes, why not have people cast ordinary paper ballots and skip the expensive and untrustworthy digital voting equipment altogether?

Why make things more complicated than necessary?

Democrats, if you want Republican support for this bill, try including some provisions to make voter fraud a little more difficult (e.g. get rid of the "motor voter" provisions that tie in so nicely with Mr. Davis's automatic drivers' licenses for illegal aliens).

Posted by: Person of Choler at November 17, 2003 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Steady Eddie, we may not consider it a partisan issue, but the status of the VCIA suggests that Tom DeLay, for whatever reason, feels otherwise. Of course, absent any empirical evidence that inauditable, court-decided elections benefit the Republican party more than the Democratic party, we can still assert that...

The simplest explanation is that they don't want to piss of a very large donor: the CEO of Diebold, who opposes the bill.

well, yeah, it may be that the CEO of Diebold has a preference for non-auditable machines, but that doesn't give us an actual explanation. Frankly, the least sinister explanation you can get out of that is the rather doubtful argument that Diebold makes more profit selling weakly protected voting machines. Doubtful, since you would expect a more expensive, auditable machine which includes a printer to offer a higher markup rather than a lower one, but not impossible.

actually, I think Ron's state's rights hypothesis is perfectly plausible, since the equal protection precedents only apply within a given state. So... let's see who's first to challenge a state law banning non-DRE equipment...

Posted by: radish at November 17, 2003 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Well, why don't Democrats support ID requirements for voting?

this is a good point, and in practice it's a policy I agree with, to the extent that I think the states should as a matter of policy provide photo ID cards for free.

however, the answer to your question is that it would violate the 24th amendment if implemented at the federal level, since any state where you can't get a free state ID would be levying a de facto poll tax. the 24th could be got around with a mandate that privately-issued ID cards were acceptable, but that just opens up a horrible collection of procedural and bureaucratic issues...

I have mixed feelings about the motor voter legislation, but on balance I think it's a good thing, the occurence of fraud being far outweighed by the increase in legitimate enfranchisement.

Posted by: radish at November 17, 2003 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised that no one has brought up the Fairfax , Va election. The Dems won by a surprising margin -- but nine electronic machines failed, so the Republicans sued for a recount or a revote. The margin was so large that those malfunctioning machines had no bearing on the election. Maybe Tom Delay needs to read the Washington Post more closely.
Funny, DC of all places actually has a new system that I think might work pretty well. you draw a line between two bars for scanning. maybe if someone draws a line too faintly would it fail, but at least there's a solid record! I think you have to redo the whole ballot if you mess up, rather than erase...

Posted by: lou at November 17, 2003 01:41 PM | PERMALINK
Well, why don't Democrats support ID requirements for voting? That should be completely non-partisan as well, given the importance of preventing voter fraud and given how incredibly easy it would be for people to bring their IDs along, and given that the only conceivable reason that someone would refuse to produce ID is because they are trying some funny business. So why don't Democrats support measures like that?

Unless states start isssuing free ID's, an ID requirement would be an (unconstitutional) poll tax, and even if they did, it might still be of limited enforceability, constitutionally.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 17, 2003 02:25 PM | PERMALINK
How about, instead of all this bickering, we BAN the e-voting machines, forever. Why not use some more recent technology. i.e. - voice activation software, voice-voting. You say the name of your candidate. Straight up, your voice, with your vote, logged together in an indisputable combination of vote & receipt. Or is that totally not feasible?

Totally. And of limited utility. And has the problem of negating the secret ballot.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 17, 2003 02:28 PM | PERMALINK

I think the larger issue is why Republicans don't seem to be concerned about paperless e-voting.

If it was just a states' rights issue - dubious in this case, anyway - we would see Republicans staqrting a flurry of legislation on the state level. But I haven't seen that. In fact, I haven't seen a single Republican voice the slightest bit of concern over a system compromised by sloppy code, MS Access, and Windows.

Posted by: space at November 17, 2003 02:59 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know about you all, but where I live, it was the Democrats who pushed for the stupid touch screen machines. The Republicans didn't want to spend the money. Now (go figure), everyone is realizing what a stupid idea it was.

Optical scanners with paper ballots are much cheaper, almost as easy to use, and leave a paper trail. And we had them. Now they're gone. Dumb.

Posted by: Tom at November 17, 2003 03:12 PM | PERMALINK
I'm not in favor of voting fraud. But voting has always been done by States. They have about two hundred years of practice. There is no reason to get the Feds involved.
If George Bush agreed with you, Al Gore would be president. (Remember, the State Supreme Court said "Count the ballots!") Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 17, 2003 03:28 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew lazarus
I will refer you to my 10:39AM comment.

Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2003 03:39 PM | PERMALINK

I have put together an extensive research on the voting machines matter. It is in the unique form of Point and HARD EVIDENCE that PROVES each point.

Even though you may be familiar with much of this material you must see how this organization indicts these systems beyond the shadow of any doubt.

Voting machines are only beginning to reach some main stream media such as CBS News:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/11/11/politics/main583042.shtml


First, you should become aware that a voting machine company named Diebold has foolishly started a war with college student activists from Colleges and major Universities all over the US. This is a war it cannot win and will expose the shortcomings of that company's voting machine software to the mainstream media! This is an awesome development!

Go to this website and be amazed:

http://why-war.com/features/2003/10/diebold.html

Diebold is NOT THE ONLY VOTING MACHINE COMPANY WITH INADEQUATE VOTING SAFEGUARDS!

(NOTE: Many INDIVIDUAL Republicans are concerned about this voting problem!)

Somewhere, at a voting machine company, a secretly fanatical programmer pecks away at his computer to introduce code that will rig the 2004 election. He is a "lone wolf" working not at the behest of his employer or any political party but for his own motives, because he knows he can never be caught!

Who am I? A retired software engineer in Houston, Texas (NASA) who became an instant activist when I found out how incompetently the designs of the new voting machines were! I am not some loony chicken little type, but rather a proven software systems expert.

There is HARD EVIDENCE to support the following claims!

To be understood, I have written these provable claims in bold, clear terms, they are:

1. Election officials are being forced to buy incorrectly certified voting equipment. There will be new certification requirements for 2004. These machines will surely fail the necessary re-certification for 2004.

2. The voting process is being controlled in such a way that the 2004 elections could be rigged.

3. This is done by controlling both the voting machine companies and the "independent" certification laboratories so that the machines could be secretly rigged for voter fraud without any chance of detection.

4. The paper ballot solution, being proposed by many computer scientists, will not work to prevent fraud in many cases, so it is only one of many safeguards needed! In general, no existing touch screen voting machine has an ADEQUATE verifiable audit trail.

5. The needed safeguards will never be implemented before 2004 unless the majority of American voters becomes convinced that they are needed!!! Currently this is not happening.


Claim 1 Hard Evidence

1. Election officials are being forced to buy incorrectly certified voting equipment. There will be new certification requirements for 2004. These machines will surely fail the necessary re-certification for 2004.

In Maryland and in Kansas there is incontrovertible evidence that new FULLY CERTIFIED touchscreen voting machines had such serious security flaws that they have required significant modifications in voting procedures and software security. These examples demonstrate that the CURRENT certification process is seriously flawed.

Maryland's situation is a textbook case:

40,000 Diebold Corporation Election Systems' files were left on an unsecured website which was discovered and made available to curious computer scientists. The computer scientists were amazed and concerned at what they saw!

Maryland had its Diebold voting machines certified and tested by both the manufacturer and the usual certification laboratories. However, when a bunch of computer scientists at the John Hopkins University created a big flap in the State's media, the Governor had another company (SAIC) examine the Diebold secret source code. The SAIC report was only partially made available with the rest "redacted". Translation, "redacted" in this case means "information that is embarrassing to Diebold or the State or both".

A Washington Post Article about the SAIC report said this:

"An independent review released yesterday found 328 security weaknesses, 26 of them critical, in the computerized voting system Maryland has just purchased, flaws that could leave elections open to tampering or allow software glitches to go undetected. "

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=& contentId=A60825-2003Sep24Found=true

THIS IS AFTER FULL CERTIFICATION BY THESE CERTIFICATION LABORATORIES, Wyle Laboratories and Ciber, the independent authorities that originally tested the Diebold system! This proves, FOR SURE, that the labs certification was truly inadequate!

Follow up!
http://www.sunspot.net/news/local/bal-md.diebold14nov14,0,3307906.story


Claims 2 and 3 Hard evidence and strong circumstantial evidence

2. The voting process is being controlled in such a way that the 2004 elections could be rigged.

3. This is done by controlling both the voting machine companies and the "independent" certification laboratories so that the machines could be secretly rigged for voter fraud without any chance of detection.

Bob Urosevich, a close Bush supporter, is CEO of Diebold Election Systems and is also the founder of ES&S, a competing voting machine company. Together these two companies are responsible for tallying around 80% of votes cast in the United States. Also significant, from what we can determine about the architecture of the software, is that its basic structure was specifically a creation of Mr Urosevich's company I-Mark.

For more background on Diebold Systems connections to the Republican Party see:

Diebold - The Face Of Modern Ballot Tampering
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0211/S00081.htm

Meanwhile Presidential wannabee and Republican Party United States Senator Chuck Hagel has been directly connected to ES&S via his campaign finance director, Michael McCarthy, who has admitted that Senator Hagel still owns a beneficial interest in the ES&S parent company, the McCarthy Group.

Senate Ethics Director Resigns; Senator Hagel Admits Owning Voting Machine Company
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0301/S00166.htm

Certification laboratories are called Independent Testing Laboratories (ITA) and have connections to Diebold and thus to the Republicans:

Brit Williams, the Georgia-based voting machine technologist at Kennesaw State University, who was instrumental in bringing the Diebold touch-screen voting to Georgia. Williams was a consultant to the Federal Election Commission during the development of the FEC Voting System Standards in 1990 and 2002. He also chairs the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) Voting Systems Board Technical Committee and consults for several states, including Virginia.

Certification Process Problems

The way the certification process works at the moment goes like this. There is a list of Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) which are private testing companies certified by the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED) to test and certify elections systems hardware, firmware and software. The company making the system applies to NASED for certification. The company picks one or more ITAs to test their system, and pays them a substantial a fee to to do so. Here we have an inherent conflict of interest.

There are currently two ITAs which handle most of the certification; Wyle Labs which certifies only the hardware and firmware; and Ciber, Inc. which certifies only software.

Wyle labís testing is limited to repetition testing -- they devise routines to test functionality and run those tests over many cycles.

Ciber, Inc. is one of only two companies in existence willing to certify software since the court decision making the software source code a trade secret, and the only one apparently to actually certify any Diebold software. Ciber, Inc. claims the means it uses to test the software to ensure it meets NASED standards are trade secrets. Therefore, not only can we not see the code ourselves, we are not even allowed to know how the software is tested to be certified.

Ciber is only the latest of several companies to successively do software testing, each one with the same director, a man by the name of Shawn Southworth. As mentioned above, Ciber, Inc. does not answer questions directly about its testing processes, and REFERS all questions to The NASED Election Center. Election Center Director R. Doug Lewis declines to answer questions about testing processes. No one really knows the background of Southworth, and R. Doug Lewis' background is known only to the extent of his press releases from The Election Center.

This organizational arrangement has therefore created a tremendous amount of secrecy surrounding the certification process.

Thus, Brit Williams is the connection center between The FEC, NASED, and R. Doug Lewis.

Brit Williams was involved in the Georgia patches!
Brit williams lies proved by RobGeorgia
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/williams.htm

Now with the voting machine code secret and the testing secret, If there were any lines of computer code for rigging elections in those systems there is no way we can know except to TRUST the Republican companies.

Actual case of TRUSTING the Republican owned Diebold Corporation:
Once an election official buys this junk they don't want to admit they screwed up. The Democratic Secretary of state of Georgia replaced all machines in the state with Diebold. In 2002 the polls said that a Democrat would win the Govenorship but instead a Republican won, same with several other races there, Republicans won. THERE WAS NO WAY TO PROVE they did not with these machines! But pretty suspicious! Secretary of State claims she single handedly has taken Georgia into the 21 century! Yeh! the Republican "New American Century"!

More examples of extremely suspicious voting results that cannot be resolved because of voting machines that have no truly auditable results can be found in Black Box voting Chapter 2 at this (and other) websites:
http://bitn-babylon5.com/Politics/bbv_chapter-2.pdf


Claim 4 Hard evidence

4. The paper ballot solution, being proposed by many computer scientists, will not work to prevent fraud in many cases, so it is only one of many safeguards needed! In general, no existing touch screen voting machine has an ADEQUATE verifiable audit trail.

A voter verified paper ballot is one that is printed out after touch screen voting by a voter. The voter verifies that the paper record has the same choices as he selected on the touch screen and then he does not sign the paper ballot which is to be an old fashioned secret paper ballot, instead he places it into an old fashioned ballot box.

So, why bother to have a computerized voting machine then? To provide a backup in case the electronic records are accidentally erased or for use in case of a recount.

However, by far the most important value of these paper ballots is for use in special surprise audits of the voting system to prove that no computer fraud has occurred!

Now let us look at a Kansas real world example:

Posted on Sun, Sep. 21, 2003

By FINN BULLERS
The Kansas City Star

Exerpt:

"The county's election system is not connected to the Internet, avoiding a possible external attack, she said. The election office's main computer is not connected to a network and is locked in a room with a surveillance camera trained on it at all times. Schmidt has the only key to the room.

We really are like a bank and are locked up and secure; she said. People can't just be wandering around in the polling place and step up and vote undetected. We can balance our votes, like money, at the end of each day at every polling location and then trace it through audit tapes.

A shaky maiden run

Johnson County encountered problems, however, when it used the touchscreen machines for the first time in a live election.

The county agreed in 2001 to buy 860 touchscreen machines for $3 million. The county will spend an additional $600,000 for 200 machines next year.

In the April 2002 municipal elections, some modems used to transmit results from polling places to the central election office failed. The county no longer transmits results from polling places to the central election office via modem; cartridges that record results are hand-delivered to the office.

Also, results were misreported in six races. The system miscounted hundreds of votes, and a re-count was ordered.

The hand re-count was done by printing an image of each ballot recorded by the touchscreen machines. No outcomes changed after the re-count.

Schmidt said the voting machines worked fine, but problems arose when the results were fed into the main computer.

We really can't answer what went wrong, Schmidt said at the time. In a recent interview, she referred all technical questions to Diebold.

Diebold investigated the problem and said in a news release issued at the time that a software error had led to the election night problem."

The problem appears not to have been in the Accuvote-TS Ballot Stations. If so, then even if the system had accurate printed paper ballots as required by H.R. 2239, they would have corresponded with the ballot stations but the vote inaccuracies may have occurred in the Host and MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN CAUGHT BY THE H.R. 2230 PAPER BALLOT SCHEME!

4. The paper ballot solution, being proposed by many computer scientists, will not work in many cases, so it is only one of many safeguards needed!

Guess what! Paper Ballots are not enough! Why?

Fraud by ballot box requires a lot of effort to make up false ballots and stuff them in there, a few hundred at a time. Only useful to a crook if an election is close. Now, however, even if the election is not close, only one click of a mouse can instantly transfer 100 million votes to the wrong side!

Thus if the election results are not close, they could still be fraudulent, but no one would be willing to do a recount without some sort of evidence of the fraud, which will not be available with these machines!

From Russ Holt's staff:

"HR 2239 does not alter state recount laws as they pertain to recounts conducted at the request of a candidate."

"If HR 2239 passes, it will override any State law to the contrary with respect to recounts (or with respect to any other provision in HR 2239). Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution reads as follows:

"The Times, Places and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing [sic] Senators."

If Congress mandates a voter verified paper trail (by passing HR 2239), States cannot conduct elections for federal office on equipment that does not produce one. If Congress mandates mandatory spot HAND recounts of the voter verified records in a percentage of contests, no State law to the contrary can prevent one. If a State law (I have been told Nebraska has one such as this) says recounts many only be counted in exactly the same manner as the original count, and the original count was by the computer, that doesn't matter. The mandatory spot recount will still (under HR 2239) be conducted BY HAND, on the voter verified records.

The percentage of recounts to be conducted was chosen by Rush in consideration of, on the one hand, what percentage would provide a meaningful deterrent, and on the other hand, what percentage could realistically be passed in this Congress.

H.R. 2239:

"SEC. 7. REQUIREMENT FOR MANDATORY RECOUNTS

The Election Assistance Commission shall conduct manual mandatory surprise recounts of the voter-verified records of each election for Federal office (and, at the option of the State or jurisdiction involved, of elections for State and local office) in .5 percent of the jurisdictions in each State and .5 percent of the overseas jurisdictions in which voter-verified records are preserved in accordance with this section immediately following each general election for Federal office, and shall promptly publish the results of those recounts. The treatment of the results of the recount shall be governed by applicable Federal, State, or local law, except that any individual who is a citizen of the jurisdiction involved may file an appeal with the Commission if the individual believes that such law does not provide a fair remedy."

This extremely small percentage could easily MISS catching a miscount!

HERE is the weakest point that the voter verified paper ballot solution that has been proposed in house amendment H.R. 2239 (bottled up in committee) has.

The standard configuration of a Diebold AccuVote-TS™ system is best understood by an analogy with a system that is familiar to people who surf the internet.

The Host Computer at the Election Officials' headquarters functions quite like an internet service provider (ISP). The voting machines (Accuvote-TS Ballot Stations) are computers which have modems that can dial up the Host computer, after the elections close, to upload the voting data.

The Host Computer also can access the internet in a fashion somewhat similar to an ISP.

That is the Diebold voting system in a nutshell. The actual system is somewhat more complex but this analogy is all one needs to understand the main issues involved.

Now the GEM's Access database is located in that HOST computer.

That paper ballot solution with its .5 % manual surprise counts would allow an audit trail only if the voting stations recorded database records that included the data from each anonymous secret ballot and which voting station it came from. Summary data and an identifier for each voting station all to be uploaded to the Host.

Presently, it appears that the only data sent to the Host is station voting sums and not the detail I mentioned!

Never-the-less, if that were changed to what I would want, then when we get to the Host we have to ask if the uploaded data indeed agrees with what is in the voting stations. How do we audit/prove that? Then that data, of course, has to be summed to give the final vote tallies. How do we audit/prove that those sums are valid? There are solutions to these questions but none have been implemented in the current crop of voting machines.

We hold these truths to be self evident. That contrary to common law a voting system must be assumed guilty of being rigged until proven innocent. That the mechanism for proving that innocence is a verified by multiple means audit trail that starts with the voter verified paper ballots and is built throughout the voting system's structure. This audit trail should be the primary design focus of the entire voting system design. Failure to provide such a VOTER VERIFIED AUDIT TRAIL is evidence of extreme incompetence in voting system design. It is the very minimum one would expect from a voting system!

So why haven't the voting machine manufacturers done this? Either they have hired inexperienced and or incompetent software developers or perhaps they have more sinister motives! This is not just my opinion! It is the opinion of literally THOUSANDS of professional software developers and prestigious University computer scientists across the USA and the world. For example, the oldest and rather large professional society of computer software and hardware professionals, the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM), which normally prefers to stay clear of political matters, has come out with a strong statement supporting the voter verified paper ballot and audit trail.


The biggest problem to getting action is this:

1. In congress the Republicans normally act according to orders from their leadership. That leadership sees no need for H.R. 2239, the verified paper ballot initiative proposed by the Democrats.

2. So with the Republicans against it H.R. 2239 has no chance in hell to be passed, and there is no chance that they will change their minds unless there is a massive demand for it from the majority of the voting public.

3. Since to the naive there is no "sky is falling" urgency, so what little coverage of the topic is done by the mainstream press will be a fair and balanced tepid presentation between the trust worthy voting machine companies versus the crazy radical "cry wolf" computer scientists. (God, that is so backwards!)

4. That will likely continue until the 2004 elections are close. At which point the mainstream press will reckon, that with the elections close, this controversy will now attract viewers and readers and there may even be enough public outcry to get H.R. 2239 passed but it will be way too late for the critical 2004 elections since there will be not enough time to install all those printers and other software in time for the elections, so that is when the sky falls!


Claim 5 Hard indisputable evidence

5. The needed safeguards will never be implemented before 2004 unless the majority of American voters becomes convinced that they are needed!!! Currently this is not happening.

A Strategy for Regaining Our Voting Rights:

Among the large number of problems that need to be addressed about computerized voting machines, the FIRST ONE, really, should be to get standards and government over-site of the National Independent testing laboratories (ITAs) that certify these machines. THE ELECTION OFFICIALS HIDE BEHIND THAT CERTIFICATION saying we are just silly people making much ado about perfect and certified machines. OBVIOUSLY, IF THE VOTING MACHINES ARE DECERTIFIED THEN THEY WILL UNFORTUNATELY APPEAR TO BE THE FOOLISH LOOKING ONES!

Lynn Landes writes:

"Congress has failed to safeguard our right to vote. Instead, they passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that gives billions of dollars to the states to purchase voting machines, while failing to require any mandatory safeguards or standards. Meanwhile, misguided voting rights groups are SUING for the right to use the latest most sophisticated computerized voting equipment which is the easiest to rig by the fewest number of technicians." (Lynn Landes)

These recommendations in the "Ad Hoc Touch Screen Task Force Report " commissioned by the Democratic California Secretary of State Kevin Shelly is a wonderful description of the things that need to be done in terms of both federal and state law. NOTICE that in the report, the California Task Force tried to contact some ITAs and they refused! Wonder why? The recommendations should be a good starting point. The report can be found at.

http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/taskforce_report_4.htm

Quoting Dr. Rebecca Mercuri,

"The Presidentially appointed 4-member HAVA Election Assistance Commission, in addition to approving each of the state plans, will also be responsible for administering a host of other tasks, not the least of which include overseeing a 14-member Technical Guidelines Development Committee and a 110-member Standards Board, and making provisions for "testing, certification, decertification, and recertification of voting system hardware and software by accredited laboratories." The Technical Guidelines Committee must produce a set of recommended voluntary voting system guidelines nine months after appointment, and it is understood that these guidelines would be the ones used by the laboratories in their certification and testing processes.

Only problem is, the HAVA Commission has yet to be appointed (it was supposed to have been created by February 26, 2003). As well, none of the HAVA Committees and Boards were established. Thus, the Technical Guidelines are unlikely to be available by the time that state implementation plans are due. This has resulted in the states contracting to purchase voting systems that can not possibly be HAVA compliant, since there does not yet exist any HAVA standards." (Dr. Rebecca Mercuri)

Now, if and when, Bush does appoint the HAVA commissioners, etc. he will probably try to appoint people who concur with the existing Republican voting machine companies and Republican ITAs. CLEARLY THAT WOULD BE TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE! We would be right back on square one.

A "failure is not an option" strategy to beat the Republican's excessive control over these voting machines:

What we need is to take immediate, vigorous, and non-stop action until this issue is properly resolved!

In particular, for Democrats, that means finding people with CONNECTIONS who are VIP enough to talk directly with NATIONAL Democratic campaign ISSUE strategists and convince them that all this is REAL in the sense that if nothing is done, we can kiss our democracy goodbye! If this voting machine problem was pushed by most Democratic Candidates as a number one MAJOR, won't go away, repeated and repeated (as the Republicans do) issue, it will be forced into the major media and more and more citizens will begin to take it seriously and eventually develop enough pressure to get H.R. 2239 and other needed reforms passed and most importantly IMPLEMENTED!


Look at the magnitude of the problem. They don't want to put it into the media as a campaign issue, but If they do not, it will not get into the mainstream press, if it does not get into the mainstream, the neo-cons take over!

Example: General Wesley Clark's Campaign's take on this!

I suggest each of us do some research on this if we're serious about it. And before we do anything, we remove the discussion from the Wesley Clark Weblog space. This has nothing to do with his campaign and we do not want to create suspicions that this is occurring as political retribution for 2000 presidential election. This is because we are favor a fair and accountable election process that is transparent. This is a nonpartisan issue.

That said, I suggest a couple of people start doing in-depth research as to the background and history of the articles and try to find out as much as possible. At the same time, we should contact other organizations (perhaps involved in the 2000 recount - just for their information, not their opinions) and ask how they proceeded and any advice they may have. Then we approach the press.

Once we become more than a blip on "local" radar screens, and find conclusive evidence that the election process has been tampered with, we can perhaps team up with other organizations and petition Congress to investigate and submit to state attorney generals.

If we succeed, we not only demonstrate our resolve towards a transparent democracy but also show those in power that in the end they are still accountable to the electorate.

Posted by: Steph4Clark at September 12, 2003 04:23 PM | Link

The whole discussion is found at:
http://wesleyclarkweblog.com/archives/000339.html

The Democratic candidates, except for Dean, are scared to death to say anything about a conspiracy to commit computer fraud or anything that seems to be payback for Florida! They say it must be a bipartisan issue!

So Mr. Bipartisan, here is what you can say!

"Magic Words" to put heavy public pressure on Republicans to do the right thing!

"I call on our Republican Colleagues to join us in making our voting systems secure from compromise!

Thousands of software experts across the U.S. and the world say that the current computerized systems are easily open to compromise from both internal and external sources.

They say that without an EXTERNAL voter verified computer audit trail, if a compromise occurs, it will be undetectable, and voter tally errors could not be corrected by recounts that have only internal or computerized backups.

Therefore, I feel sure that our distinguished Republican Colleagues want to join us to prevent our Democracy from being so exposed!"


Now if the Republicans come back with whatever excuse for not doing this then there is a counter to each one and after the counter the candidate can say:

"Why? Why? Do our distinguished Republican Colleagues want to leave our Democracy so exposed?"

Maybe citizens will begin to wonder why!

For extensive facts and details about voting machine fraud see the free Book at:
http://www.blackboxvoting.com/ or http://www.blackboxvoting.org/

Other very revealing and informative links:

A superb example of how to rig a voting machine system is at this web address:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0307/S00064.htm

http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0307/S00078.htm

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/348035553

http://www.notablesoftware.com/evote.html

http://liberty.hypermart.net/Newsletter/3/4_The_2004_Election_Has_Alread y_Been_Rigged.htm

http://www.eff.org/Activism/E-voting/IEEE/

http://www.hermes-press.com/Voting/vote_rig.htm

http://truthout.org/docs_03/102003A.shtml

The Australians use open source software with open source Unix!

"The only possible motive I can see for disabling some of the security mechanisms and features in their system is to be able to rig elections," Quinn said. "It is, at best, bad programming; at worst, the system has been designed to rig an election."

"I can't imagine what it must be like to be an American in the midst of this and watching what's going on," Quinn added. "Democracy is for the voters, not for the companies making the machines.... I would really like to think that when it finally seeps in to the collective American psyche that their sacred Democracy has been so blatantly abused, they will get mad."

http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,61045,00.html

FIN


Posted by: ConcernedVoter at November 17, 2003 07:14 PM | PERMALINK

Radish, Voter ID = poll tax? Does this mean that it is impossible to register voters and to guarantee that they only vote once per election, and that they are alive when their ballots are cast?

Posted by: Person of Choler at November 17, 2003 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

voter eligibility is orthogonal to the e-vote debate. Why do you keep bringing it up?

Posted by: Troy at November 18, 2003 03:14 AM | PERMALINK
Radish, Voter ID = poll tax? Does this mean that it is impossible to register voters and to guarantee that they only vote once per election, and that they are alive when their ballots are cast?

If voter registration is free, its not a tax. Government IDs generally aren't free.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 18, 2003 07:23 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding my proposed way printed receipts could be circumvented, by causing a pseudo "error" favoring one candidate, have you heard the news from Fairfax, VA? Voting machines malfunctioning in exactly that way...

Troy, Voter eligiblity is NOT orthoganal to this debate; Allowing ineligible and non-existant people to be registered to vote, enables ballot fraud as much as lousy design of electronic voting machines. As does, for that matter, retaining registration for real, qualified people, who can simply be relied upon not to bother to vote. Why obsess about one way elections can be stolen, while blowing off another?

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at November 18, 2003 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

seems to me the fundamental issue, not that the issues talked about aren't important, is that we are allowing our voting to be administered by prviate corporations. No public involvment or oversight, let alone public ownership. That ain't right.

Posted by: Bruce at November 18, 2003 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Bruce
I don't think so. Given 2 scenarios:
1) Touch screen, electronic voting.
2) Manual voting, hand counted.

Both of these scenarios have the potential for involvement by private companies. Voting machines of any type are manufactured by private companies, and ballots are printed by private companies. In both scenarios, steps must be taken to insure that the equipment performs as intended. The verification will likely be more difficult with touch screen machines.

However, only the first scenario leaves the option of not having an audit trail. Any time there are physical ballots that can be hand counted, there will be that audit trail. (I suppose the counter could burn the votes after counting, but that would be an obvious violation).

If you substitute screen layout on a touch screen machine with ballot design for any other process, the difference between touch screen and anything else is trivial. So there is as much public oversight with touch screen as with any other method.

The ease of widespread tampering and lack of audit trail are the difference.

Posted by: Ron at November 18, 2003 01:21 PM | PERMALINK

So there is as much public oversight with touch screen

not when the internals are trade-secret and otherwise IP-protectd.

Posted by: Troy at November 18, 2003 01:54 PM | PERMALINK

Troy
That's true, if the internals are trade-secret. Which would be stupid to allow.

Nothing is hacker proof, the better answer is transparent so hacks can be found.

Posted by: Ron at November 18, 2003 02:17 PM | PERMALINK

"So there is as much public oversight with touch screen"

That statement is sooo incredibly naïve!

Would you guys please read my post above! Learn the real proven truth!

It includes this:

"An independent review released yesterday found 328 security weaknesses, 26 of them critical, in the computerized voting system Maryland has just purchased, flaws that could leave elections open to tampering or allow software glitches to go undetected. "

THIS IS AFTER FULL CERTIFICATION BY THESE CERTIFICATION LABORATORIES, Wyle Laboratories and Ciber, the independent authorities that originally tested the Diebold system! This proves, FOR SURE, that the labs certification was truly inadequate!

Please answer me after you have checked my post above!


Posted by: ConcernedVoter at November 18, 2003 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

Ron:
If you substitute screen layout on a touch screen machine with ballot design for any other process, the difference between touch screen and anything else is trivial. So there is as much public oversight with touch screen as with any other method.

The ease of widespread tampering and lack of audit trail are the difference.

Gotta disagree with you there. Even with an audit trail, proprietary, binary-only code is very, very difficult to inspect (if not impossible). One really only has the word of the company with binary code -- there is no way to know if the software is hiding something, intentionally or not. The audit trail is just a susceptable to bugs as anything else. If you can't read the code, you don't know that it works.

If my tax dollars are going to buy voting machines, I want the code to those machine open the public, for all to see.

Posted by: Timothy Klein at November 19, 2003 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

Major breakthrough! Foolish opponents of verified voting lose!

Friday, November 21, 2003

CALIFORNIA FIRST STATE IN NATION TO REQUIRE VERIFIABLE ELECTRONIC VOTING

"The Secretary of State's order is of historical importance," said Dr. Dill. "The entire country has been watching to see what California is going to do. We are such a big market for voting equipment that vendors are sure to produce equipment to meet our requirements, and those machines will be available everywhere else in the country."

More details here!
http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,61334,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1


Congressional Research Service ˜ CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Election Reform and Electronic
Voting Systems (DREs):
Analysis of Security Issues
Senior Specialist in Science and Technology

http://www.epic.org/privacy/voting/crsreport.pdf

Very thorough analysis for your Senators and Representatives! Both Republican and Democratic.

Recommended for all!

Posted by: ConcernedVoter at November 23, 2003 07:12 PM | PERMALINK

Why do these comments stop in November 2003? What happened to all of you? Does anyone know of injunctions filed to stop the use of electronic voting machines that do not have a voter-verified paper trail? Please post if you do.

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