Electronic Voting Information.


In the sections below you will find useful information and links relating to electronic voting. Some of this information has been compiled by myself and others.
The deployment of electronic voting systems, particularly touchscreen systems that provide no voter-verifiable paper ballot have fundamentally changed the nature of our democracy. The machine of our democracy is no longer open to inspection by the people nor is it furnished with adequate safeguards to prevent deliberate attacks or accidental errors from corrupting our fundamental social institution. The use of closed-source, unauditable systems protected by layers of intellectual property claims has moved obscured our elections systems not just from the average citizens but from those officials whose job requires them to safeguard and certify our elections process. The basic machinery of our democracy is in the hands of corporations not citizens and in this event, what control do we really have?

Informative Websites:



Information:


In this section I list a smattering of reports or other information that I have authored or collected on the topic.
  • Voting System Verification
    • In August of 2007 it was discovered that Advanced Voting Solutions had shipped uncertified hardware and software to two Pennsylvania Counties. Some of this is discussed here and here. When coupled with demonstrated security flaws in our systems we have little choice but to verify that the software we are running is the correct software and hardware.
    • Arbitrary hardware verification is impracticable.
    • However software verification may be doable and I have written detailed recommendations here
    • A VoteAllegheny Press release summarizing the points may be found here

  • Election error reports:
  • Cost Analyses comparing Opscan and Touchscreen systems:
    • Memorandum from Miami-Dade County detailing anticipated 13 million dollar savings from junking their existing iVotronic units for optical scanners.
    • A Cost Comparison between Optical Scan and DRE counties across Florida.
    • A Cost comparison from counties in North Carolina.
    • A cost estimate for Allegheny County using data from the above Florida study.

  • Security Issues:

    To date only one of the touch-screen electronic voting systems in common use within the country has been subjected to any independent and thorough security analysis. That was the Diebold-TS system and it failed those tests miserably. Said tests indeed were conducted against the wishes of the company itself and were both illuminating and frightening in their outcome.

    Harry Hursti's report report describing his findings is online as is the report coauthored by professor Edward Feltien at Princeton University.

    The pertinent point to remember is that no other system has been given so thorough analysis as the TS. The system met all federal certifications and was certified for use in many states for more than two years before these problems surfaced. The problems described in the above reports apparently also apply to the TSX system in use in the state of Pennsylvania. That system remains in use. Any claims that other systems are safer is no more than marketing.


  • ES&S Problems:

    ES&S has had problems in several states. West Virginia faced problems with obtaining working systems in time.

    Texas faced similar problems that forced them to use paper ballots. This because ES&S failed to program the ballots in time. Texas has been using them for quite some time and, as Lester Sola concluded in the Miami-Dade Memorandum above ES&S's customers can never free themselves from dependencies on the company.

    Lawsuits have also been filed against the company in Oregon for failure to deliver accessible systems. And in Indiana for running uncertified software and concealing that fact from the state. In this lawsuit the company was forced to pay some $750,000. ES&S also deployed uncertified software and hardware here in Allegheny County but neither the county nor state government took any action against the company.


  • Circumvention of Certifications:

    While certifications are required in many states they are neither complete nor guarantees of success. And some companies have done "end-runs" around the certifications in the past or ignored them outright.

    Scoop.co.nz has an article detailing Diebold's efforts to do end-runs around certification. In this case they are discussing falsifying the screen displays. Zero prints could be falsified in much the same way by simply telling the system to print 0 irrespective of the systems' actual contents.

    ``That is why the AccuVote displays the silly ***System Test Passed*** message on boot up instead of "memory test passed", which is all it actually tests.

    No argument from me that it is pointless. You could probably get away with a batch file that prints "system test passed" for all I know. We will do something along those lines with the new unit after a memory test or whatever.''

    They also subsequently discuss the changes that have occurred between 1.11 and 1.14. They are substantial despite the company's claim that the two versions are quite close they vary substantially.


  • -16,022 votes cast:

    During the 2000 presidential election some -16,022 votes were cast for AL Gore from a precinct with less than 10,000 voters. This event and its implications are discussed here. This report includes the text of the Washington Post article on the subject as well as a CBS report on the election.

    The Diebold memos can be obtained here.