Friday, April 22, 2005

Top 10 Reasons for Paper Ballots on Evoting Machines

NATIONAL COALITION FOR VERIFIED VOTING (NCVV)
ARKANSAS HEADQUARTERS

TOP 10 REASONS FOR PAPER BALLOTS ON EVOTING MACHINES


1. EVOTING MACHINES ARE NOT RELIABLE. Electronic voting machines have broken down, frozen up, mistabulated votes, loaded electronic ballots sideways, issued 'ghost votes', and even subtracted votes across the nation. There are thousands of examples of machine failure. These reports are far too numerous to ignore and show a serious problem regarding the functionality of electronic voting machines. See votersunite.org for more information.

2. EVOTING MACHINES NOT VIRUS/HACKER PROOF. Many of our nation's vote tabulations are transmitted on central vote tabulators (which are just laptop computers) via the internet on Windows operating systems. Many other evoting machines are connected to the Internet separately. There are currently over 68,000 viruses, worms and trojan horse viruses of which many open ports allowing hackers in via remote access on Windows Operating Systems. The internet is simply too unsecured to place vulnerable votes on this system. Two vendors were found to have stored vote totals unsecured on the internet. Transmitting the vote totals via wireless means is just as insecure. Wireless phones can get viruses, e.g. Nokia and wireless systems have been hacked. e.g. T-Mobile.

3. PROGRAMMING 'SOURCE CODE' IS SECRET. The programming code or source code gives the machines their instructions. The 'source codes' or programming by the vendor is 'proprietary' and owned solely by the vendor. These programming codes cannot be examined by local election officials. There are currently machines used in actual elections with flawed source code that has not been repaired by the vendor even though they are aware of the flaw. e.g. FL and AR. A former NASA computer scientist testified before the House Judiciary Committee in Dec. 2004 that a 'flag' could be programmed in the source code, causing the vote count to be flipped to the other candidate. There is no way to insure the integrity of the programming, or to insure that honest programming mistakes are not made.

4. VOTES CAST RUN RISK OF NOT BEING COUNTED. There is no way to assure that the vote cast is actually the vote that is recorded in the data cartridge inside the machine.
For example, the touchscreen could show Candidate X, the paper receipt could show Candidate X and the data cartridge shows the vote was actually cast for Candidate Y. Just as bad are the instances of machines 'flipping' the vote and giving the incorrect totals to another candidate. This occurs frequently on both optical scanners and touchscreens. Machines in Mahoning Co, OH recorded -25 million votes cast. That's not possible. There is no way to verify the vote was cast correctly.

5. THE VOTE IN DATA CARTRIDGE IS 'CERTIFIED' BY ITA'S. ITA's or Independent Testing Authorities are certifying the vote count in secret. Wyle Labs, one of the ITA's is the very same lab that certified one well known vendor's machines that were later found by the Johns Hopkins Computer Security report to be ' seriously and significantly flawed'. How do we know these ITA's are trustworthy? We don't.


6. THE MACHINES ARE PROGRAMMED BY THE VENDORS. They are only 'configured' locally by the election officials, with local election data entered by officials. Votes could possibly be pre-programmed before the election or a simple mistake in programming could occur. e.g. Texas 2002, in three races the vote totals for three different candidates were exactly the same, 18,181. In 2004, North Carolina experienced similar coincidences - with a Senatorial candidate (D) and Presidential candidate (R) receiving the same number of votes: 177,324. Is this programming error, or is this coincidence? Coincidence is unlikely.

7. 'SMART CARDS' ALLOW MULTIPLE VOTES. This is another startling discovery stated the in Johns Hopkins Computer Security Report. In Arkansas, during a local county demonstration involving touchscreen voting machines
the commissioner involved in the voting machine demonstration was allowed to vote twice with the 'smart card'. During the 30 minute demonstration, the touchscreens also failed to operate twice. In 2004 a 'smart card' containing votes had to be sent to Canada in order to extract the vote totals, as local election officials could not extract them , nor did they receive needed technical assistance to do so. How do we know the votes extracted from Canada were correct? We don't. American vote totals have no business being sent to Canada or any other country for that matter.

8. MEMORY ON VOTING MACHINES TOO SMALL. In both N. Carolina and Florida 2004, the the main vote tabulator began to SUBTRACT votes upon reaching the magic number 32,767. Voting machines are supposed to add votes, never subtract them. This was due to a software bug. (See #10) and will affect either optical scanners or touchscreens. In North Carolina, one vendor indicated the memory capacity was 10,500 votes on the touchscreen machine. In reality, the machine memory could only hold 3,005 votes resulting in 4,438 votes that were simply lost.

9. MACHINE CALIBRATION 'IFFY' AT BEST. Untrained election officials, or unscrupulous individuals can easily mis-calibrate the touchscreen settings causing the vote for the candidate touched on the screen to be cast for the opposite candidate. This is machine failure and involves human error factor as well. Voters are not educated about the machine calibration, and are not aware they can request to see the screen 'test' to insure the electronic ballot loads properly and the screen highlights the correct candidate prior to casting their vote. Another troubling aspect of touchscreen voting includes inserting a 'triggering mechanism' into the code/calibration in which the voter placing their fingers in a certain combination on the screen could cause the machine to flip the vote to the other candidate.

10. MACHINES LOSE ELECTION DATA. The Republican gubernatorial race in Florida during the 2002 election completely disappeared, removing any record of the vote count. There was no paper record of the election to use as a backup when this occurred. It was discovered a year later that this was a result of a software flaw or 'bug'. The bug also caused the machines to count votes from machines than were not used in the precincts, and were in fact locked away in a warehouse. The vendor had been aware of this software bug for at least one year, has made no effort to repair it and continues to sell these machines and software to the states. In 2005, it was further discovered that the software bug was responsible for the machines not counting votes in the past six FL elections.

SUMMATION: Electronic voting machines have been touted to be easy to use, giving quick election results with no mechanical breakdowns. This is simply not the case. These electronic voting machines have proven to incorrectly tally votes, cost counties more money, take longer to complete elections and cost states millions in recounts (when they can perform one). These are just some of the many reasons why having a paper ballot is a necessity. It is imperative that these machines be equipped with paper ballot (vvpb) audit capacity to insure that every vote cast on them is in fact cast, counted and can be recounted if necessary. Paper ballots/receipts on these unreliable machines will not fix this broken system, however at the very least an audit of the election can be performed to see if the receipts match the machine totals.

*We haven't covered maintenance or repair. Replacement batteries can cost in upwards of $100,000 for 6 -8 batteries. e.g Colorado. What county can afford that expense?

NCVV Contact Information:

Lisa Burks
National Coordinator
National Coalition for Verified Voting (NCVV)
Arkansas Headquarters
lburks@conwaycorp.net

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