Fwd: EJF newsletter - Electronic voting - A national disgrace and evolving disaster 9/10/06

From: Kathy Dopp <kathy_dot_dopp_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Sep 11 2006 - 12:00:10 CDT

Dr. Charles Corry is a PhD Engineer who lives in Colorado Springs, CO. Dr.
Corry has been a member of the U.S. IEEE engineering working group on voting
systems. This email and his web site on voting problems, is the result of
over two years of his work on voting system problems.

If for any reason the embedded links in this email don't work after I
forward it, you might contact Dr. Corry for a copy. I do not agree with
everything that Dr.Corry says, but I highly recommend his work on voting
system problems.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dr. Charles E. Corry <ccorry@ejfi.org>
Date: Sep 10, 2006 8:08 PM
Subject: EJF newsletter - Electronic voting - A national disgrace and
evolving disaster 9/10/06
To: EJF comments <comments@ejfi.org>

 *Introduction to voting problems* <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-4.htm>
    The waste of $4 billion dollars by the U.S. federal government is hardly
noteworthy today. Probably that much was wasted within a month after
Hurricane Katrina last year, or on Halliburton in Iraq. But it is virtually
certain that the $4+ billion federal and state governments have spent under
the Help America Vote (for Bush) Act
<http://www.fec.gov/hava/hava.htm>mandating electronic voting and
statewide voter registration databases is
among the most damaging waste our government has ever financed. A small
fraction of the problems generated by electronic voting and statewide voter
registration databases is documented on the Equal Justice Foundation (EJF)
site Vote Fraud and Election Issues <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting.htm>.
    Elections have always been gamed and rigged, of which the Chicago Rules
of Election Fraud <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-10.htm> are but one
example. However, the forced introduction of electronic voting machines and
statewide voter registration databases has made that possible on a scale and
with ease previously unimaginable.
     For those unfamiliar with elections, Prof. Doug Jones Brief Illustrated
History of Voting <http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/%7Ejones/voting/pictures/> might
serve as a starting point. For more details on Stealing
is John Fund's book. If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty of
election fraud and stealing elections then Bev Harris' Black Box
Voting<http://www.blackboxvoting.org/>is probably your first choice,
though the EJF tabulates many
other web sites <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-124.htm> of interest.
     Since its inception the EJF and I, as an individual, and working with
other groups have been attempting to insure fair and honest elections
utilizing a secret ballot with one, and only one vote for each eligible
citizen that is openly and accurately counted.

*Essays on voting problems* <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-12.htm>
    Electronic voting was introduced with few meaningful standards and
virtually no safeguards. Toward correcting that in June 2001 the Institute
of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) formed a working group
dedicated to developing rigid standards for electronic precinct
Remarkably, standards for central tabulators, voter registration databases,
and other election problems were not considered. I joined that committee in
November 2001 and worked on it until it was dissolved in January 2006
because the broad range of experts on the committee could not agree on
workable standards for such basic issues as security, among other problems.
In fact, I was one of only 6 out of 31 experts to vote to try and continue
trying to develop workable standards. Keep in mind that IEEE sets most
standards for electrical, electronic, and computer equipment, about 1,300 of
them. So today there are only voluntary
standards<http://www.eac.gov/voting_standards.asp>for voting equipment
that virtually all experts on the subject have grave
concerns about and, in practice, are proving dysfunctional.
    I still hear from the uninformed that if ATMs work so reliably, what is
the problem with electronic voting. David
Jefferson<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-13.htm>outlines why that
idea is a non-starter.
    Probably the leading expert on computer voting is Prof. Doug Jones with
the University of Iowa. If you are not familiar with his work then Thoughts
On Computers In Voting <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-19.htm> should be
required reading. He puts forth this frightening, and all too probable

     "If I wanted to fix an election, not this year, but four years from
now, what I might do is quit my job at the University of Iowa and go to work
for Microsoft, seeking to insinuate myself into the group that maintains the
central elements of the window manager. It sounds like it might be fun, even
if the job I'd need would largely involve maintenance of code that's been
stable for years.

      My goal: I want to modify the code that instantiates a* "radio button
widget"* in a window on the screen. The specific function I want to add is:
If the date is the first Tuesday after the first monday in a year divisible
by 4, and if the window contains text containing the string* "straight
party,"* and if the radio buttons contain, at least, the strings* "democrat"
* and* "republican,"* one time in ten, at random, switch the button label
containing the substring* "democrat"* with any of the other labels, at

       Of course, I would make every effort to obfuscate my code. Obfuscated
coding is a highly developed art! Having done so, what I'd have accomplished
is a version of windows that would swing 10 percent of the straight party
votes from the Democratic party to the other parties, selected at random.
This would be very hard to detect in the election results, it would be
unlikely to be detected during testing, and yet, it could swing many

*Direct Recording Electronic (DRE)
*Stupidity is an elemental force for which no earthquake is a match.*
Karl Kraus
    Nothing has eroded voter confidence more than touchscreen DRE voting
machines. Companies such as Diebold have been caught in Bald Face Lies About
Black Box Voting Machines <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-29.htm>. Most
essays about computer voting problems involve Diebold (our index currently
list 74) <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-128.htm#D>. But Diebold is
hardly the only one and humorist Dave
Barry<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-38.htm>has satirized problems
with ES&S iVotronic machines, for which one suggested
use is making artificial reefs (we currently index 29 problem
     Many Americans may support the artificial reef idea and we present many
articles on why they should. For example, the New York Times compared
the security
of electronic voting machines to
gambling<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-35.htm>in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, gambling comes out a long way ahead.
    Another method of proposed electronic voting was via the
In 2001 I played a major
stopping passage of a bill to allow Internet voting in Colorado.
Internet voting is a hydra-headed monster and by 2003 the Department of
Defense(DoD) had created the SERVE program ostensibly to make it easier for
servicemen and women to vote. Of course, to do this they contracted
with an offshore
company, Accenture <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-33.htm#offshore>,
about which there is more later. Probably to their own surprise, a committee
of experts <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-33.htm#serve> managed to kill
this ill-conceived boondoggle. Undeterred by reality, the DoD and several
states then began an even more insecure program of voting by electronic mail
(email). Despite citizen and expert testimony, in 2006 Colorado passed
legislation to allow email voting. And the day after the state election
director, Billy Compton, Esq., pushed the legislation through the Colorado
House he resigned to head up the state Democratic political committee,
leaving the implementation of his folly to others. Launched September 1,
2006, the Federal Voting Alternative Program
(FVAP)<http://www.fvap.gov/ivas/fvap_state_menu.html>site now shows
you how to hack the vote for any state from anywhere.
   The basic reason given for the necessity of DREs was that they would
provide unassisted access for handicapped voters. However, when blind voters
tried them in an election <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-39.htm> the
machines didn't work any better for them than for the rest of the population
despite a $1 million payoff by Diebold to the Federation for the
And the only handicap most current DREs accommodate is vision impairment so
major, and costly upgrades will be required in the future again, and again,
and again, and again,* ad infinitum*, at taxpayer expense.
     If you still think DRE voting is a good idea may I suggest you dig
deeper into this chapter <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-27.htm>. And
these are just a few of the known problems.

*Trust our election officials?* <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-46.htm>
     Trust in our election officials has also been deeply eroded in
conjunction with electronic voting. For the most part these individuals lack
any technical education or training whatsoever and are now tasked to run
sophisticated computer systems about which they have no knowledge and only
the most rudimentary
When the inevitable problems arise they then have little recourse but to
fall back on what their vendors tell them. Election officials have also
proven singularly resistant to listening to citizens and experts, e.g., Dr.
Rebecca Mercuri <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-5.htm#critic>, and it is
extremely difficult, and often impossible, to distinguish between official
incompetence and fraud.
      Also, in many cases election officials are violating state and federal
laws, with kickbacks from vendors, bribery, theft, etc., not uncommon. These
crimes have involved at least one Secretary of
bribery and kickbacks to at least two state election
charges of theft, forgery, and embezzlement against an IT technician of the
Denver Election Commission <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-57.htm>,
misconduct ranging from sexual harassment by the female UN Elections
Chief<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-64.htm>to the Arapahoe
County, Colorado, clerk <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-54.htm>.
     And when citizen activists have attempted to ensure honest elections in
the face of gross incompetence, if not actual malfeasance in office, they
have been threatened with arrest <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-60.htm>.
    To reassure the public that all is well and they can sleep soundly,
election officials constantly claim that electronic voting machines are
rigorously tested by Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs). Unfortunately,
that is simply one more prevarication as discussed by Dr. Avi Rubin in The
Dirty Little Secrets of Voting System Testing
     If you still have unbounded faith in election officials you may want to
look at some of the other articles in this
Most election officials are honest, hardworking, and doing the best they can
with the time and money they have. But very few have the technical staff,
funding, and ability to properly manage, test, and operate electronic voting
machines in a secure and reliable manner.

*Lies, damn lies, and mail in
     For election fraud it is unquestionable that "no excuse" absentee
ballots and mail in elections, combined with mail in voter registration, is
the method of choice at present for election fraud. I've outlined Why Mail
Ballots Are A Bad Idea <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-70.htm> but under
the guise of "increasing voter turnout," election officials and others keep
pushing this practice. Since only "active voters" are sent ballots in mail
in elections <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-103.htm> I've often wondered
how disenfranchising roughly one third of the registered voters could
possibly increase "voter turnout"?
     In 2002, working in concert with Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot
Election Results (CAMBER)<http://www.users.qwest.net/%7Ealkolwicz/index.html>,
the Equal Justice Foundation <http://www.ejfi.org> played a significant role
in defeating Amendment 28 that would have required all elections in Colorado
to be by mail only. And that success was achieved in the face of $1.3
million dollar funding by the Bighorn Center
<http://www.bighorncenter.org/>attempting to pass the amendment.
     Oregon has used mail in elections since 2000 and their experience is
often cited by election officials in favor of such elections. Prof. Melody
Rose <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-72.htm> and Thomas
Hargrove<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-73.htm>give us a more
independent view that isn't so rosy (bad puns included).
      There are also the usual problems with election officials and fraud as
absentee ballots are collected and counted by back-room politicians as
described in Absentee Voting Practices Result In Felony Charges Against
Orlando, Florida Mayor, Judge, Campaign Manager, And
     While there are clearly voters, e.g., deployed military personnel, who
need absentee ballots, the practice must be more closely controlled and
limited than is presently done.

*Pitfalls of statewide voter registration
*One man's overzealous purge is another man's inauguration.*
*Greg Palast*
    There are grave questions of national security involved in allowing
foreign companies and individuals to program and control American elections.
Diebold's programmers are based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and
undoubtedly employ a variety of Indian and Chinese workers. Sequoia is owned
by a Venezuelan company. But the biggest known problems have arisen with
states contracting to develop statewide voter registration databases with
Bermuda-based, son of Arthur Anderson of Enron infamy, Accenture, who have
proven themselves to be the epitome of
National security questions are completely ignored, however.
     In many locations death has proven little impediment to dedicated
voters and Colorado is no exception<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-89.htm>
   Then there is the "urge to purge" so popular with various secretaries of
state. Greg Palast examines problems in
Florida<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-84.htm>but the problems are
spreading and mandated by the HAVA requirement that all
states develop and maintain a central voter registration database. However,
the development and maintenance of a relational database requires a high
order of intelligence regarding spatial relationships, something sadly
lacking in virtually all election officials. And, as noted above, election
officials have proven extremely resistant to accepting outside review or
     In fact, in Colorado the Secretary of State has adopted the
tactic of appointing
committees of the
naming them Blue Ribbon Commissions to review subjects they know
or nothing about. Then the commission only hears input from vendors. These
are often the same vendors noted elsewhere who have been giving kickbacks
and bribes, or who have distinguished themselves by their
     With identity theft <http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/> one of the
fastest growing crimes in America, election officials have basically ignored
the risks inherent in voter registration databases either for election fraud
or identity theft. Nor has any concern for citizen privacy been addressed.
Thus, the loss this year of 150,000 voter records in Denver,
was not a surprise or, apparently, of major concern.
    Jeff Jacoby provides a summary of these problems in How To Steal An
Election <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-87.htm> wherein he notes that
he was able to register his wife's cat as a voter in Cook County, Illinois,
Norfolk County, Massachusetts, and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and then request
absentee ballots from all three venues. He still has the ballots.

*Building better ballot boxes* <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-92.htm>
      To lead off this chapter I've outlined Bad Ideas For Voting that Just
Keep Coming <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-93.htm>. Of course electronic
voting <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-93.htm#electronic> leads the list
but those of you who think optical
superior to DREs should probably think again (the
index lists 25 problem areas
<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-128.htm#O>). Voting
centers <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-93.htm#voting> also prove to be a
bad idea, with problems ranging from parking to the requirement for
electronic poll books that demand even more trust in computers. Some have
even gone so far as to suggest we do away with secret
In any case this section probably gores many election official's favorite
oxes, as intended.
     One of America's leading experts on electronic voting, Dr. Rebecca
Mercuri, reviews whether electronic voting is A Better Ballot
Box?<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-95.htm>I suggest you draw your
own conclusions but at present I don't think she is
much more optimistic about electronic voting, as presently implemented, than
I am.

*Election problems by year*
      A series of evolving chapters document a few of the election problems
by year for 2002 <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-96.htm>,
, 2004 <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-106.htm>,
and 2006 <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-118.htm>. These chapters are far
from complete and probably never will be. However, I simply had to stop
adding problems so I could get the site updated and
      Various articles discuss problems with exit polling, optical scanners,
undervotes particularly with DREs and straight-party tickets, crooked
election officials, how voters are disenfranchised, how ballots often have
to be hand counted after voting machines and election officials screw
up<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-105.htm>(why not hand
count them in the first place
<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-117.htm>and save time and
expense?), how vote
counts don't add up <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-111.htm> (Diebold
again and a pretty face seems to be an advantage for being appointed
Secretary of State or an election director), voting
stealth elections <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-119.htm>, and so
on,*ad nauseam

*Election web sites and problems*<http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-123.htm>
     The last chapter lists the web sites of election activists and
a tabulation which has expanded enormously since I first started working on
election problems six years ago. Then there is a list of most of the
bodies and associations <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-125.htm> related
to elections, many of whom are working diligently to cover up the problems
of electronic voting. There is also a rogues gallery listing voting
equipment manufacturers <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-126.htm> with
some links to more prominent reports and investigations included. It is
probably worth noting that Diebold voting machines have flunked every
security test ever undertaken. It is extremely unlikely that any of the
other manufacturer's machines would fare any better.
     The last section in this chapter lists Electronic Voting Equipment
Problems By State And County <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-126.htm> for
38 states at present. I again emphasize that this is a partial list and I
simply had to cut off additions at some point in order to get the site
updated. At the end of this section I've provided a summary of various
problems <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-127.htm#summary> I see over and
over again. The summary is broken into sections covering general and
problems with the central
, DRE or touchscreen voting
and optical scanners <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-127.htm#optical>.

     All in all electronic voting systems don't exhibit the reliability and
trustworthiness of a Game Boy toy. Yet we have been forced to put our most
fundamental freedom in the hands of a few opportunistic vendors with no
meaningful standards for security, accuracy, reliability, or usability.
     There are many areas where the use of computers seems both logical and
necessary in elections. Geographic Information Systems
(GIS)<http://erg.usgs.gov/isb/pubs/gis_poster/>play a fundamental role
today in defining election districts, designing and
printing ballots is done much easier with a computer, tabulating and
analyzing election results, and even relational databases for voter
registration are all valid applications, even if misused and not understood
by election officials charged with developing and maintaining them.
      However, it has become clear that no combination of current technology
and procedures can reliably and securely be used to count ballots either in
a polling place, for early voting, or absentee/mail in ballots. The gold
standard for counting ballots remains a hand count of hand-marked paper
ballots. Machines are currently available to help handicapped voters mark
and verify paper ballots and those machines are infinitely preferable to
DREs in terms of trust, accuracy, cost, and reliability.
      This isn't simply my opinion. Either every major newspaper and
magazine, columnist, author, and expert who have examined electronic voting
in detail are wrong, or our election officials and voting machine
manufacturers have perpetrated an incredible fraud upon our most cherished
and basic right to a democratically-elected government.
*Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.*
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Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.
Equal Justice Foundation http://www.ejfi.org/
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Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906-5820
Personal home page: http://corry.ws
Curriculum vitae:

*The good men may do separately is small compared with what they may do

*Benjamin Franklin*

Kathy Dopp
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