RE: PRESS RELEASE DRAFT

From: Keith Copenhagen <k_at_copetech_dot_com>
Date: Fri Nov 12 2004 - 14:28:12 CST

Hope this helps....

ELECTION CRISIS AVOIDED BY PURE LUCK

Four years after America suffered through a broken election process, we
still do not have reliable systems to find the winner in a close
contest. This time, the election system hid its ugly unreliability
behind the distraction of “big enough” margins. Luckily we didn’t have
to watch as precinct after precinct failed to be able to recount without
a paper trail, or have to add up the critical hours inexplicably lost in
the audit logs.

"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, and their votes not counted.
 Despite having four years and more election failures, Decision makers
at all levels simply failed to fix clear problems in the voting system.
"Democracy cannot afford to see them botch the job again," says Dechert.
"The growing consensus is that electronic voting will work ,we need to
use
proper security measures including a voter verified paper record of the
vote, and software that is open to scrutiny. Less visible than the
lemons we were
sold as e-voting machines, are the many other weak points in the current
voting system needing immediate repair. We need to begin now on a
comprehensive
 effort to open up, and clean up the voting system so that we are not
left with unanswered questions next time."

Computer security and reliability is a complex and ever shifting area,
we shouldn’t presume that election officials can fully test all aspects
of new voting technology. For example 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 using
a touchscreen instead of a pencil to vote, but where is the question
“Did my vote count ?” All voting systems must automatically be held to
the highest standard. "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 undergo more testing and scrutiny than our
voting machines –and they have been corrupted, in a famous case,
an employee of the Gaming Control Board in the Electronic Services
Division
in Las Vegas rigged machines without even touching them. The cheating
virus
was installed by unwitting employees using an infected testing device.
The
scam was only discovered years later when the cheater became greedy and
sloppy.

"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. I’d rather not
find out What we as a nation do when we discover years later that an
election was stolen ?"

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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