Tag Archives: electronic voting machines

Time for House Democrats to Enact Voting Reform!

Time is running out for voting reform by Congress says the New York Times in an editorial. What is going on? Why are Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representatives still not moving forward on correcting these problems?

From Democracy Now 11/26/2006

“In Florida, election officials in Sarasota County have begun a review of touch-screen voting machines used in the recent election. They are testing the machines in order to determine why more than 18,000 ballots in the county registered no votes in the highly contested Congressional race between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings. The undercount was almost 15 % of ballots cast – far higher than in neighboring areas. Buchanan, with 369 votes more than Jennings, was certified the winner last week”

Time/CNN July 31, 2007

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.)—Florida’s optical scan voting machines are still flawed, despite efforts to fix them, and they could allow poll workers to tamper with the election results, according to a government-ordered study obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press …
The lab found, for example, that someone with only brief access to a machine could replace a memory card with one preprogramed to read one candidate’s votes as counting for another, essentially switching the candidates and showing the loser winning in that precinct. “The attack can be carried out with a reasonably low probability of detection assuming that audits with paper ballots are infrequent,” the report said.

Machinist.Salon.com 7/31/2007>

A team of hackers commissioned by California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen managed to hack into electronic voting machines made by three of the four largest suppliers in the industry, Diebold, Hart InterCivic, and Sequoia Voting Systems. After thoroughly testing each of these systems, the team — led by Matthew Bishop, a computer science professor at the University of California, Davis — found “several scenarios in which … weaknesses could be exploited to affect the correct recording, reporting, and tallying of votes.”

As noted in the New York Times editorial:

Electronic voting machines in their current form simply cannot be trusted ….The most important protection against electronic voting fraud is the voter-verified paper trail, a paper record that the voter can check to make sure that it properly reflects his or her choices. There should then be mandatory audits of a significant number of these paper records to ensure that the results tallied on the voting machines match the votes recorded on paper. Mr. Holt’s bill would require that every voting machine produce a paper record of every vote cast in a federal election, and it would mandate random audits. It would also prohibit the use of wireless and Internet technology, which are especially vulnerable to hackers.”

Unfortunately as noted in the The New York Times on July 20, 2007, the House is proposing a compromise on the original Holt Bill.

“House Democratic officials say they are now working on compromise legislation that could allow hundreds of counties in 20 states to simply add tiny, cash-register-style printers to their touch-screen machines for the 2008 and 2010 elections, while waiting for manufacturers to develop better technology by 2012….the proposed compromise is a blow to some computer scientists and other activists, who would like to get rid of the touch-screen machines used by nearly 40 percent of American voters. They had hoped that a tighter deadline would force states and localities to quickly shift from touch-screens to optical-scan systems, in which ballots are marked by the voters themselves rather than being generated by computers”

Compromise and weakening of the Holt bill is not what is needed now. Voting integrity is critical to help ensure voter confidence and trust in the accuracy and validity of our elections. It is a sad commentary on the state of American democracy that we can’t even guarantee the accuracy of our electoral process seven years after the fiasco election of 2000 that found the Republican majority of the US Supreme Court selecting George Bush as President.

Democrats in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate have no excuse. They run the show now and are bungling a critical issue of electoral integrity and voter confidence in the US election process. I urge readers to contact their US Representative and US Senators and urge they act now to reform the electoral voting process in time for the 2008 elections.Urgethem not to weaken and water down the Holt Bill.

You can send an e-mail to your Representative here:

Electronic Freedom Frontier – “Tell Congress to Support e-voting Reform!”

Moveon.org political action- “Ban Paperless Voting”

Conspicuously absent from the list of 211 sponsors of Rep. Holt’s HB 811 is Congressman Brian Baird. Washington State’s other 5 Democratic Congressmen – Dicks, Larsen, Inslee, McDermott and Smith are sponsors of the bill. Baird’s nonsponsorship of the bill put him in camp with the other non-sponsors in this state – the Republican delegation of Reichert, McMorris-Rodgers and Hastings. Voters in Baird’s District of SW Washington need to ask him to become a sponsor of the bill.


Forty Per Cent of Votes Cast in November Won’t be Able to be Verified!

According to the New York Times this last Sunday about forty percent of registered voters nationally” are expected to cast their ballots on paperless touch-screen voting machines in November. At stake in November are votes on all 435 House of Representatives seats and one third of the U.S. Senate. At stake is whether Republicans or Democrats control one or both Houses of Congress.

The concern, the NY Times notes, is that many local officials fear that the lack of a paper trail will leave no way to verify votes in case of fraud or computer failure “. There can be no recount with electronic voting machines without a paper trail.

Do voters have a reason to be concerned? The NY Times says that “about one-third of all precincts nationwide are using the electronic voting technology for the first time, raising the chance of problems at the polls as workers struggle to adjust to the new system.”

The Washington Post likewise points to voting problems this year. Overall “more than 80 percent of voters will use electronic voting machines, and a third of all precincts this year are using the technology for the first time.”

The Post cites 4 different catagories of problems and highlights recent developments

1. electronic voting machines – We have previously written about tampering with voting machines and also voter machine malfunctions.
see The Winner is Behind the Voting Machine Screen or “My God, Who Really Won?”<
also “Was the Georgia 2002 Election Stolen?
2. new voter registration requirements that disenfranchise legitimate voters
3. new voter id requirements at the polls which work to stop legitimate voters from voting
4. provisional ballots – where questioned registration has impeded voting.

The Republicans have essentially worked hard to put roadblocks up to prevent legitimate voters from voting. There are not specific instances of any kind of major, much less minor, voter fraud in terms of unregistered voters voting. Illegal immigrants voting has been pushed as a hot button issue, but think about it. If you were an illegal immigrant why would you risk the chance of being caught and deported? The issue has been manufactured by the Republicans as part of their campaign strategy to justify impediments to voting, which affect the elderly, recent legal immigrants that become citizens and poor the most. The reason – these people are more likely to vote Democratic.

Greg Palast writes of another major factor helping to destroy voter confidence in fair honest elections in “ Recipe for a Cooked Election” on the YES Magazine website.

A nasty little secret of American democracy is that, in every national election, ballots cast are simply thrown in the garbage. Most are called “spoiled,” supposedly unreadable, damaged, invalid. They just don”t get counted. This “spoilage” has occurred for decades, but it reached unprecedented heights in the last two presidential elections. In the 2004 election, for example, more than three million ballots were never counted”

Palast discussed four major issues here:

1.provisional ballots being rejected
2. spoiled ballots
3. absentee ballots uncounted
4. voters being barred from voting

Public confidence in the validity of our voting process and the legitimacy of our elections are called into question by this mess. With a close election in November and the makeup of Congress in the balance, election officials in charge of our voting need to act now to correct these problems.

The stakes are too high to ignore. What is happening is reducing voter confidence in fair and honest elections. People have good reason to doubt that their votes are really being counted. They have good reason to question whether elections are really honest and fair.

The stakes are too high for people to think that if an election can be rigged, that it really won’t, because this is America. Many people have learned the hard way that leaving a door unlocked is a temption for someone to enter it. Electronic voting without a paper trail needs to end. And unnecessary impediments to citizens voting is undemocratic. We need to encourage more people to participate in their democracy, not put up unnecessary roadblocks.

Was the 2002 Georgia Election Stolen?

Robert F Kennedy’s new article in Rolling Stone is a must read for anyone concerned about election integrity and democracy in America. I urge that you read his full article.

The following excerpt is what a former Diebold consultant said happened in Georgia in 2002. After reading it tell me why a Grand Jury should not be convened to investigate whether or not Georgia’s election was stolen.

“Chris Hood remembers the day in August 2002 that he began to question what was really going on in Georgia. An African-American whose parents fought for voting rights in the South during the 1960s, Hood was proud to be working as a consultant for Diebold Election Systems, helping the company promote its new electronic voting machines. During the presidential election two years earlier, more than 94,000 paper ballots had gone uncounted in Georgia –almost double the national average – and Secretary of State Cathy Cox was under pressure to make sure every vote was recorded properly.
Hood had been present in May 2002, when officials with Cox’s office signed a contract with Diebold – paying the company a record $54 million to install 19,000 electronic voting machines across the state. At a restaurant inside Atlanta’s Marriott Hotel, he noticed the firm’s CEO, Walden O’Dell, checking Diebold’s stock price on a laptop computer every five minutes, waiting for a bounce from the announcement.

Hood wondered why Diebold, the world’s third-largest seller of ATMs, had been awarded the contract. The company had barely completed its acquisition of Global Election Systems, a voting-machine firm that owned the technology Diebold was promising to sell Georgia. And its bid was the highest among nine competing vendors. Whispers within the company hinted that a fix was in.
The Diebold executives had a news conference planned on the day of the award,” Hood recalls, “and we were instructed to stay in our hotel rooms until just hours before the announcement. They didn’t want the competitors to know and possibly file a protest” about the lack of a fair bidding process. It certainly didn’t hurt that Diebold had political clout: Cox’s predecessor as secretary of state, Lewis Massey, was now a lobbyist for the company. The problem was, Diebold had only five months to install the new machines – a “very narrow window of time to do such a big deployment,” Hood notes. The old systems stored in warehouses had to be replaced with new equipment; dozens of state officials and poll workers had to be trained in how to use the touch-screen machines. “It was pretty much an impossible task,” Hood recalls. There was only one way, he adds, that the job could be done in time – if “the vendor had control over the entire environment.” That is precisely what happened. In late July, to speed deployment of the new machines, Cox quietly signed an agreement with Diebold that effectively privatized Georgia’s entire electoral system. The company was authorized to put together ballots, program machines and train poll workers across the state – all without any official supervision. “We ran the election,” says Hood. “We had 356 people that Diebold brought into the state. Diebold opened and closed the polls and tabulated the votes. Diebold convinced Cox that it would be best if the company ran everything due to the time constraints, and in the interest of a trouble-free election, she let us do it.”

Then, one muggy day in mid-August, Hood was surprised to see the president of Diebold’s election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrive in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a “patch,” a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. “We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn’t do,” Hood says. “The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done.”

Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox’s agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself. “It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state,” Hood told me. “We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level.”

According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties – the state’s largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. “We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11,” Hood says. “There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it’s easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The State gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way.” Hood personally patched fifty-six machines and witnessed the patch being applied to more than 1,200 others.
The patch comes on a memory card that is inserted into a machine. Eventually, all the memory cards end up on a server that tabulates the votes – where the patch can be programmed to alter the outcome of an election. “There could be a hidden program on a memory card that adjusts everything to the preferred election results,” Hood says. “Your program says, ‘I want my candidate to stay ahead by three or four percent or whatever.’ Those programs can include a built-in delete that erases itself after it’s done.”

It is impossible to know whether the machines were rigged to alter the election in Georgia: Diebold’s machines provided no paper trail, making a recount impossible. But the tally in Georgia that November surprised even the most seasoned political observers. Six days before the vote, polls showed Sen. Max Cleland, a decorated war veteran and Democratic incumbent, leading his Republican opponent Saxby Chambliss – darling of the Christian Coalition – by five percentage points. In the governor’s race, Democrat Roy Barnes was running a decisive eleven points ahead of Republican Sonny Perdue. But on Election Day, Chambliss won with fifty-three percent of the vote, and Perdue won with fifty-one percent.

Read Kennedy’s full article at Rolling Stone.

Daily Kos comments on Kennedy’s article

The Winner is Behind the Voting Machine Screen or "My God, Who Really Won?"

Electronic voting machines without verifiable paper voting trails are the winners. Whoever controls the machines decides the vote in the end. Robert F Kennedy, Jr. presents new evidence that electronic voting machines can’t be trusted. ( 9/23 -link now corrected for most recent story) This new evidence mandates that a formal grand jury investigation be initiated into voter fraud.

Our current voting system is a scandal. Many states, including Washington State,use electronic voting machines in one form or another to determine election results. And the public really has no reason to trust the election results controlled by secret code behind the voting screen that can be tampered with and rigged to fix elections. Without a paper record to verify accuracy, only the person who wrote the code knows who really won.

In a just released article in the current edition of Rolling Stone magazine, Kennedy picks up his attack on the disaster that continues to confront the voting public. His new article is entitled Will the Next Election be Hacked? Fresh disasters at the polls — and new evidence from an industry insider –prove that electronic voting machines can’t be trusted”

As Kennedy notes, “The United States is one of only a handful of major democracies that allow private, partisan companies to secretly count and tabulate votes using their own proprietary software. Today, eighty percent of all the ballots in America are tallied by four companies – Diebold, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Sequoia Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic.”

This article provides insider testimony from a former Diebold consultant that the 2002 Georgia election that saw the defeat of Democrat Senator Max Cleland and the Democratic candidate for Governor Roy Barnes was probably rigged. A last minute patch was secretly installed on Diebold machines. With no paper trail, only the machines programmed by Diebold, tallied the final vote.

Earlier this month, tests run by the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University demonstrated just how such a patch could rig an election. The patch would not be active when the machine is tested, would activate when votes are being taken, and would erase itself when voting was done so no trace would be available. Watch the videos yourself.

Kennedy’s article is a must read! After his previous article last spring in Rolling Stone questioning “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?”, there was some pickup of it by the traditional media but there was no significant follow-up. In that article he detailed how votes were suppressed in Ohio and elsewhere to benefit Republicans.

His current article continues his investigation with what happened in Georgia in 2002 and discusses numerous other electronic voting machine problems . The inside account by a former Diebold consultant alone should be enough to require that a formal investigation be initiated. Because Congress is run by the Republicans, they have no incentive or motivation to pursue what appears to me to be a major scandal. Any investigation needs to be independent of Republican control. That’s why I suggested a Grand Jury investigation.

Will the traditional media continue to ignore this scandal or will it start doing some investigation and reporting on its’ own? When Media gets concentrated in the hands of a few large corporations and those corporations support the powers to be, investigative journalism and truth gets knocked aside. Time for the blogs to roll with this!

See also these recent blog posts:

Hotel Minibar Key Opens Diebold Voting Machine by CORRENTEWIRE.COM
Diebold Touch Pad Voting: Backdoor to Fraud by BLACK BOX VOTING
Who’s Fixing Elections? Sequoia-Smartmatic-Unisys by CHRISTOPHER BOLLYN
Vote Machine Fraud Challenge Reaches Supreme Court by ECOTALK.ORG
Diebold VoteFraud Conspiracy Whistleblower Arrest by PETER SOBY JR.
Florida Dumps Diebold Voting (Fraud) Machines by BLACK BOX VOTING