E-Voting News and Analysis, from the Experts

Saturday October 30, 2004

Welcome

Filed under: — Felten @ 2:08 pm PDT

Welcome to evoting-experts.com, a central source of up-to-date information and insight about e-voting, straight from some of the leading independent experts on computerized voting technology. Our distinguished panelists will post messages on the site continuously through election day and afterward.

This is a non-partisan site. Our goal here is not to advance any political agenda, but to help ensure that all votes are counted fairly and accurately, and to provide honest expert commentary to the public and the press.

(Panelists speak only for themselves, and not for their employers or other panelists.)

7 Comments »

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  1. New E-voting Blog
    Computer Scientists David Dill, Ed Felten, Joe Hall, Avi Rubin, Barbara Simons, Adam Stubblefield, and Dan Wallach have joined forces at evoting-experts.com to post news and commentary on e-voting issues (just in time for election day). The site has on…

    Trackback by Computing Research Policy Blog — Sunday October 31, 2004 @ 9:57 pm PST

  2. E-Voting experts launch group web log
    Some American e-Voting experts have launched a group blog at evoting-experts.com. So far it is understandably focused on specific e-Voting issues in the USA.

    Trackback by Ryano Stuff — Monday November 01, 2004 @ 11:10 am PST

  3. I made a short political satire about the Florida Election Shenanigans.

    It’s called, “It’s A Slam Dunk!”
    “It’s funny”
    - Ron Halpern, Moxie Productions

    Check it out at:
    http://www.electricpco.com/viewer2.asp?SlamDunk

    If you like it, forward the link.

    Comment by Ron Halpern — Monday November 01, 2004 @ 9:32 pm PST

  4. as a volunteer poll greeter we saw and heard of several incidents in nc and elsewhere where someone would vote a staright deomcratic ticket and they press review and it would pop up republican. the machines were shut down but how easy would this be to randomly program say 5% off all machines this way?

    Comment by BOB GILBERT — Wednesday November 03, 2004 @ 2:01 am PST

  5. Your expertise is needed by our government. If you haven’t already consider going directly to congress people and asking for a grant to investigate electronic voting. Or perhaps Mr. Soros or President Carter’s foundation would fund your research so that you could take sabbaticals and solve this problem. We are depending on you!

    Siobhan Kolar
    Mom of 4 children who would like to have their vote counted no matter who made the machines or what state they are living in

    Comment by Siobhan Kolar — Tuesday November 09, 2004 @ 10:24 am PST

  6. Something is wrong here. I don’t know if anyone has told you that the 11/11/04 article does not display until I run the mouse over it.

    Thanks,

    Carolynn

    Comment by Carolynn Carson — Friday November 12, 2004 @ 12:35 pm PST

  7. November 21, 2004

    From: Bob Babson, 3371 Keha Drive, Kihei, Hawaii 96753. (808) 874-1166 babsonb001@hawaii.rr.com

    Subject: Voting in America

    In America, every vote should be counted correctly. Following the General Election on November 2, 2004, we have learned that there were numerous incidents of evoting machines malfunctioning and/or being tampered with. Congress is being asked to investigate. In the name of preserving democracy itself, the purpose of this email is to outline two courses of action which will help prevent future voting fraud in all 50 states:

    FIRST COURSE OF ACTION: Every citizen in every state should urge their state legislators to pass a law in their state to vote like they do in Oregon. The best way to make voting honest in every state is to simply vote like they do in Oregon. Everyone in Oregon votes by “mail in” ballot filled out in ink. Therefore, there is a paper ballot in case a recount is necessary. All 50 states already have absentee ballots, so why not just expand it to be 100%. Also, it saves millions of dollars because no precincts are set up and far fewer optical scanners need to be purchased. And, there are no long lines at the precincts because there are no precincts. You simply drop your ballot in the mail. To see how simple it is to vote in Oregon, please go to Google and enter the key words: “voting Oregon” and read the articles that come up. Official State and County web sites explain everything. If it is a close race, or if the optical scanner breaks down, malfunctions, etc., all ballots would be available for a recount. This is why it is so important to have a paper ballot.

    In addition to voting like they do in Oregon, as an absolute safeguard that the optical scanners and flash memory card readers are counting all votes correctly, ballots should be processed in batches of 1,000 to 5,000 ballots depending on the size of the vote. At the end of each batch, totals should be printed out and noted in a master log book in ink and the optical scanner and flash memory card readers should then be reset to zero in preparation for the next batch of ballots. Tapes from each batch should be numbered and sealed off in case of future recounts or investigations. In order to absolutely test the accuracy of the optical scanners and flash memory card readers, county election officials should prepare 100 test ballots and count them manually. Then this test batch of 100 ballots should be run at the beginning of the vote count, during the vote count (between batches once or twice) and at the end of the vote count. Each time the test batch is run, results should be compared to the known manual count results. There should be no discrepancies. If there is a discrepancy, then the vote count should be halted on that optical scanner and an investigation started immediately to determine why the optical scanner is not counting correctly.

    The entire above procedure should be done in the presence of public citizens as observers representing Republicans, Democrats, Independents, media, etc. They should not be allowed to interfere in any way, but should be allowed to take notes and protest to the designated election official in charge if they witness an irregularity. They should be allowed to witness and inspect the tapes from each batch and note that they were correctly entered into the master log book for each candidate. The master log book should have a page for each candidate where the tape number, optical scanner number and votes for the candidate would be entered in ink. When all votes are counted, the total votes for each candidate would be added up in the master log book. Each page could then be certified (signed by three elections officials of different parties) and then be faxed from county election headquarters to state election headquarters. Each page could then be photocopied for permanent county records and for release to the media and the original master log book could then be forwarded (driven by county election officials in a sealed container) to the State election headquarters to be a final double check to the faxed copies received earlier. The State election headquarters would also have a master log book for state wide and/or multi-county candidates such as President, Governor, Senator, Representative, etc. The results faxed in from each county would be entered into the state master log book in ink and added up to get final state results. Again, this should be done in the presence of public citizens representing Republicans, Democrats, Independents, media, etc. It should not be done on a computer because computers can malfunction, be misprogrammed, etc.

    After the election, election officials should automatically manually recount any election where the outcome was close. In addition, county election officials should randomly select several of the major races such as for President, Senator, Representative, Governor, etc., and manually count some of the batches and compare the results to the entry in the county master log book. If the second count does not match the first count exactly, then an investigation should immediately be started. Also, even if it is not a close race, citizens, media, etc., who are willing to pay for the cost of a recount should be allowed to request a recount either using the optical scanners or doing it manually. This is the only way democracy itself can be preserved. The cost of a recount is absolutely worth it.

    All computer programmers know that it is possible to write code that will “self destruct” at a later time using the clock in the computer. So it is possible to program the computer to miscount ballots during election day and then self destruct thereby eliminating the evidence. The above system of batch processing ballots absolutely removes this possibility since the test batches will be run before, during and after the main run. The current system of running one huge batch on election day allows the programmers to miscount votes for their candidate and then self destruct the code leaving no evidence of the crime in the software should it later be examined by court order, etc.

    Ideally, the software in all optical scanners and flash memory card readers should be examined by state election officials or computer experts hired by the state to make sure they are programmed correctly. If the optical scanner manufacturer will not allow anyone to see their software, then the state should not buy their optical scanners

    The above tests are absolutely necessary to preserve democracy itself since most if not all makers of the evoting machines will not allow anyone to see the software that runs them and hence allows them the opportunity to misprogram them to favor one candidate over another. They claim that it is “intellectual property” and their “trade secrets” must be protected like a patent or copyright. The truth is that these programs are far more simple than the software that runs bank ATM’s, grocery store cash registers and gas station pumps where customers use a credit card. Until election officials can inspect the software, the before, during, and after tests must be run to protect democracy and insure that every vote is counted correctly.

    THE SECOND COURSE OF ACTION: One way to learn once and for all if the software in an evoting machine is honest is for citizens in all 50 states who voted on malfunctioning evoting machines as reported in newspapers to file lawsuits in all states where evoting machines have malfunctioned and ask the judge to take into court custody the evoting machines in question and to then appoint a nonpartisan “special master” with expertise in computers to examine the malfunctioning machines in question to learn exactly why they malfunctioned and weather or not it was an accident or premeditated voter fraud. I believe the judge would clearly rule for this course of action to preserve democracy itself. The special master could be ordered by the judge to not disclose any “intellectual property” secrets, but to examine the software to make sure it is properly programmed and tamper proof and report back to the judge all findings. If misprogramming and/or tampering were found by the special master, then criminal proceedings should begin immediately for possible voting fraud. Testimony under oath should be taken from all parties involved and all other normal discovery should also take place. Everyday in all 50 states courts hear cases that have to do with intellectual property rights and said rights are protected and not compromised. The above court actions investigating why evoting machines have malfunctioned could very well turn out to be the most important legal actions of our time, indeed, preserving democracy itself.

    If any voting fraud was found in the above described legal actions, then the manufacturer could be sued in every state where that voting machine was used to also determine if voting fraud took place there. Voters everywhere the machine is used would have “probable cause” to suspect that possibly their vote was not counted right either, and therefore could ask a judge to once again take into court custody the voting machines in question and hire a “special master” to determine if voting fraud took place.

    IN SUMMARY: If we are to preserve democracy we must act now as described above. If you agree with this email, please feel free to forward it on to your friends and organizations that can take action. The 2006 elections are only two years away, and if we want every vote to be counted correctly, we must act now. Thank you for working hard to protect democracy. Our children and grandchildren will be the beneficiaries of a free and Democratic America!

    Bob Babson

    Comment by Bob Babson — Sunday November 21, 2004 @ 6:45 pm PST

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