From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Fri Nov 12 2004 - 13:28:37 CST

This is pretty rough right now. Please give me your input now... I want to
finish this today.

Alan D.


Four years after America learned its voting system was broken, we still do
not have a system that can reliably determine the winner in an extremely
close contest. This time, a larger margin masked the flaws.

"We don't know how many votes were lost due to mismanagement or fraud, but
it appears that George Bush got enough votes to overcome the slop in the
voting system," says Alan Dechert, President of the Open Voting Consortium.
In one case alone, some 4,500 votes were lost from a single electronic
voting machine in North Carolina. "Paperless voting is a disaster waiting
to happen. If that had happened in a swing state anywhere near as close as
Florida in 2000, we'd be right back in the Supreme Court to find out who
won. We must not count on being so lucky in the future, praying for
elections that aren't so close. We must have a voting system where every
vote is counted and where the count can be clearly verified."

Long lines, registration problems, and a multitude of other problems meant
that countless voters were disenfranchised. Decision makers at all levels
simply failed to correct voting system faults these past four years.
"Democracy cannot afford to see them botch the job again," says Dechert.
"There is a growing consensus that electronic voting will work if we take
proper security measures including a voter verified paper record of the
vote, and software that is open to scrutiny. Besides the pollsite voting
machines, there are many other faults in the voting system that need
immediate attention. We need to begin now on a comprehensive effort to
de-privatize, open up, and clean up the voting system so that we are not in
a similar situation next time."

Typically, election officials are unqualified to evaluate new voting
technology. In a 60 Minutes program last month, Conny McCormack, Registrar
of Voters for Los Angeles County, said "Voters love them," in reference to
paperless touchscreen voting machines. Voters may or may not love them --
surveys show that some voters love them while others are rightfully
distrustful. In any case, the machines need closer scrutiny. "Would they
ask questions about the safety of a medical procedure of patients or of
doctors?" asked Professor Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins in a recent
Computerworld interview. "They should ask computer security experts about
computer security questions, not end users, who may like the look and feel
of the machines but have no way of knowing if they are really secure."

Dr. Rubin, who also appeared on the same 60 Minutes program, has advocated
the use of electronic voting machines that also produce a voter verifiable
paper record of the vote.

Ms. McCormack dismissed the threat of vote tampering with paperless systems.
She feels it would be too obvious for a voter to tamper with a system in the
voting booth. This misses the real threat of a malicious insider rigging
the machines. Slot machines -- which undergo more testing and scrutiny than
voting machines -- have been rigged from time to time. In one famous case,
an employee of the Gaming Control Board in the Electronic Services Division
in Las Vegas rigged machines without touching them. The cheating program
was installed by unwitting employees using a rigged testing device. The
scam was only discovered years later when the perpetrator became greedy and

"With so much at stake in elections, the malicious insider threat is very
high," says Dechert. "Ms. McCormack says, 'there is no evidence,' but we
may not see any evidence until long after Election Day. What contingency
plans do election officials have should it be discovered later that an
election was rigged?"

The Open Voting Consortium is a Nonprofit California Corporation dedicated
to the development, maintenance, and delivery of open voting systems for use
in public elections.
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Received on Tue Nov 30 23:17:29 2004

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