question on VVPAT testing in GA

From: D. C. Lapena <chito_dot_lapena_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Nov 06 2006 - 21:17:29 CST

Does anyone know specifics about the Diebold VVPATs they will be testing
here in Georgia tomorrow? We heard rumours that the models had "opaque
doors" that the voter would have to open. We would like to pass out some
flyers down here to instruct people on how they should use the machines in
case there are no instructions at the polling place. I will also be
documenting any voiced complaints on video.

any info would be appreciated

-Chito L
Savannah GA

below is article from AJC
---------------------------------------------
3 Georgia precincts to use paper trail
Officials hope experiment reassures voters

By CARLOS CAMPOS <ccampos@ajc.com>
Published on: 11/05/06

Voters in three Georgia precincts on Tuesday will see something critics of
electronic voting have demanded for years: a paper trail.

For the first time in the four years since the state began electronic
voting, about 5,000 Georgia voters will be able to review a printed record
of their ballots after making their choices by touching the computer
screens. The paper records will be tested in three precincts, one each in
Bibb, Camden and Cobb counties.
<http://www.ajc.com/search/content/metro/election06/stories/2006/11/04/metvoting_02.html>
Calvin Cruce/AJC
(ENLARGE)<http://www.ajc.com/search/content/metro/election06/stories/2006/11/04/metvoting_02.html>
Cobb County voting official *Beth Kish* loads the printer attachment to a
voting machine in a demonstration of the devices Thursday. Printouts will be
used Tuesday in a west Cobb precinct.

Officials hope the experiment will begin to dispel lingering doubts about
electronic voting, doubts that persist even though Georgia elections
officials express nearly absolute confidence in the technology.

More than 39 percent of the nation's voters on Tuesday will cast ballots on
electronic voting machines, according to a study earlier this year by
Election Data Services, Inc. Twenty-two states already require
voter-verified paper audit trails.

Elections officials generally see paper trails as an unnecessary logistical
nightmare. But they believe they've helped turn down some of the noise over
potential fraud raised by computer scientists, political organizations and
the media.

Rolling Stone magazine ran an article on the fears of potential electronic
voting fraud headlined "Will The Next Election Be Hacked?" HBO debuted a
documentary last Thursday called "Hacking Democracy." And most major
television networks have featured similar programs, including withering
criticism of electronic voting from CNN's Lou Dobbs.

For the Georgia experiment, new voting machines will be installed in each of
the three precincts and will produce an accompanying piece of paper showing
a voter's ballot choices. Voters will be able to compare their choices made
on the machine's touch screen with the piece of paper, officially known as a
voter-verified paper audit trail.

However, voters won't be allowed to take paper records with them — or even
touch them. Even so, officials hope skeptical voters will gain peace of mind
from the experiment.

Roxanne Jekot, for one, intends to remain skeptical. An outspoken opponent
of paperless electronic voting, Jekot believes the pilot project is "a
complete waste of money and effort."

Jekot, a computer programmer in Forsyth County, noted the events in Cuyahoga
County, Ohio, earlier this year as evidence that paper trails are no
cure-all. In the May primary elections there, paper ballots often failed to
match electronic tallies, an Election Science Institute report concluded.

Jekot favors a paper-based voting system that allows voters to physically
mark a ballot.

"Toss the DREs [Direct Recording Electronic voting machines used in Georgia]
in a landfill and replace them with optical scan paper ballots counted at
the precinct statewide," Jekot said.

While Jekot probably doesn't represent the views of most voters — a 2005
University of Georgia survey found that most voters believe their votes are
accurately counted by electronic voting machines — she does reflect
lingering doubts about the technology.

Such doubts frustrate state officials who have been reassuring voters about
the machines for years. Nevertheless, several computer security experts at
respected universities — most recently Princeton — have concluded that
anyone with a little computer knowledge can manipulate votes.

Elected officials on polar ends of the political spectrum, including U.S.
Reps. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) of DeKalb County and Tom Price (R-Ga.) of
north Fulton County, have questioned the reliability of the machines.

The possibility of fraud is real, computer experts say — particularly from
insiders. Mustaque Ahamad, director of the Georgia Tech Information Security
Center, said most computer scientists believe voting machines are
susceptible to tampering.

The question of whether votes can be stolen comes down to who has access to
the machines. Ahamad said he believes most elections officials and poll
workers are honest people who don't fool with election results. But skeptics
worry access to voting equipment isn't limited to trustworthy people.

Voters press issue

The voting paper trail experiment in Georgia is part of Senate Bill 500,
passed by the Georgia Legislature earlier this year. The bill's sponsor,
Sen. Bill Stephens (R-Canton), said he pushed the measure during the
legislative session after hearing concerns from constituents and "ordinary
citizens" about the potential for tampering with electronic voting machines.
The 2005 UGA survey found that voters like the idea of having a paper record
of their votes.

Stephens doesn't think the machines are as vulnerable as some suggest, but
believes electronic voting machines should be equipped with a paper audit
trail.

"I thought this was a way to do a pilot program to test whether or not this
restored any confidence to the process," said Stephens. "I'm not overly
concerned whether or not someone can hack it. I'm concerned about people's
confidence in the machines."

After the election, officials will have 30 days to conduct a hand count of
the paper ballots to check if they match the machine totals. Public hearings
will be held to discuss the results.

Elections officials, including Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox, insist
that academic studies of voting machine security don't take into account the
rigorous testing of election machines that take place before and after
elections to ensure accurate results.

Cox has also said that such studies are unrealistic because they take place
outside of an election environment where poll workers, monitors and public
elections officials are keeping a watchful eye on equipment.

Ryan Lee, of Cairo, Ga., said he has no concerns about voting machine
security, but thinks the paper backup might be a good idea. "The paper trail
would be a great safety net," Lee said. "It would take away any anxiety from
the process."

Charles Burnham of Fitzgerald said he thinks adding a paper audit trail is
unnecessary.

"They are making it more difficult than it needs to be," he said.

Touch-screen pioneer

Following the 2000 presidential election debacle in Florida that brought
terms like "hanging chads" into the American lexicon, many states rushed to
change their voting technology. Two years later, Georgia was the first in
the nation to go to a uniform electronic voting system, replacing its
patchwork of punch-card, lever, and optical scan machine systems.

Doug Chapin, director of the Election Reform Information Project in
Washington, said recently that Georgia's transition to electronic voting has
been relatively trouble-free. .

Because so much is at stake on a national level, especially a possible
takeover of the U.S. House by Democrats, both parties have assembled legal
teams to watch for voting problems, including problems with electronic
voting machines.

Complaints from lawyers in Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia raise
allegations that a summary page on the electronic machines cuts off
candidate's last name or that the machine displays a wrong name when a
candidate is selected.

For Tuesday's experiment in Georgia, Diebold Election Systems, maker of
state's electronic voting machines, lent Georgia 22 next-generation
machines, said Secretary of State spokesman Chris Riggall. Secretary of
State officials encouraged elections supervisors to pick a precinct for the
project that has a mix of black and white voters, in part because the
federal government is sensitive to the impact of voting changes on
minorities.

The Macland 01 precinct at the McEachern United Methodist Church in Powder
Springs was chosen to participate in west Cobb County, which has a good
cross-section of the county's registered voters, said Director of Elections
and Registration Sharon Dunn. With 2,528 registered voters, it is the
largest of the three test precincts but small enough to check the ballots by
a hand-count, Dunn said.

Poll workers received two hours of training on the new machines. On Election
Day, a Diebold technician and a secretary of state official will be on hand
at all three precincts,

Dunn and her assistants aren't sure how long it will take to count the paper
ballots from the precinct by hand, or how voters will react to the paper
ballot.

"We don't know," said Beth Kish, manager of Cobb elections and registration.
"That's part of the reason we're doing the project."

Camden Probate Judge Martin Gillette, who supervises elections in the
southeast coastal county, said he's prepared for the pilot project. But
Gillette thinks paper audit trails are unnecessary and he hopes the
Legislature doesn't mandate them.

"If they did that, then we would regress in our voting policies," Gillette
said. "The convenience of the machine was the whole reason it was created
that way."

The Legislature, if it chooses to make a paper trail mandatory, will have to
eventually decide whether to fund the purchase of new machines capable of
producing a paper trail, or retrofitting the current machines with the
technology. Cost estimates range from $19.5 million to $75 million.

The next secretary of state, who will be chosen by voters on Tuesday, will
also play a role in the selection of a voting platform. Both candidates,
Democrat Gail Buckner and Republican Karen Handel, say they favor a paper
trail, though neither has committed to a particular implementation plan.

Staff writer David Bennett contributed to this article.

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Received on Thu Nov 30 23:17:06 2006

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