Fwd: Democrats question security of e-voting -- Tarrant County

From: Jerry Lobdill <lobdillj_at_charter_dot_net>
Date: Fri Sep 29 2006 - 11:45:34 CDT

>Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2006 08:45:11 -0500
>To: ProgressiveNews2Use <ProgressiveNews2Use@yahoogroups.com>
>From: Jerry Lobdill <lobdillj@charter.net>
>Subject: Democrats question security of e-voting -- Tarrant County
>Posted on Fri, Sep. 29, 2006
>Democrats question security of e-voting
>The Tarrant County Democratic Party is preparing
>a federal lawsuit against the Texas secretary of
>state's office over what it says is an unconstitutional voting system in Texas.
>At issue is the security of electronic voting
>machines used in several Texas counties,
>including Tarrant. Despite calls from some
>election experts and consumer advocates, the
>machines do not offer a backup paper record that
>could be used in case of a recount or election dispute.
>Local party Chairman Art Brender asked Secretary
>of State Roger Williams several weeks ago to
>overrule a decision by his deputy and allow
>Tarrant County election officials to provide a
>backup paper system to its new electronic voting machines.
>"I think it is essential that we provide the
>people of Tarrant County assurance that their
>vote will be counted," Brender said.
>Brender said that if he does not have a response
>by early next week -- or if his request is
>rejected -- he will file a lawsuit in federal
>court on behalf of one or more local voters
>alleging that the secretary of state's office is
>in violation of the Help America Vote Act of
>2002, which he said requires that a voting
>system produce a "permanent paper record."
>Brender said he would also seek to have the
>Texas voting system declared unconstitutional as
>a violation of the equal protection clause. In
>the case stemming from the 2000 presidential
>election, the U.S. Supreme Court found it was
>unconstitutional for different jurisdictions to
>use different methods to recount votes.
>Brender said some Texas counties use paper
>ballots while others use electronic machines
>without a verifiable paper trail, making a
>standardized recount impossible statewide.
>It would be the second lawsuit in the state over
>electronic voting, but the first in federal court.
>In June, the Texas Civil Rights Project sued the
>secretary of state's office in district court in
>Travis County, arguing that without a verifiable
>paper trail, voters couldn't be assured their
>votes would be properly counted. A trial is set for early next year.
>Providing a paper trail
>Austin-based Hart Intercivic, the company that
>makes the machines that Tarrant County now uses,
>offers an attachment to the system that would provide a verified paper trail.
>But the secretary of state must approve all
>election equipment and has not approved any
>paper trail systems, said Scott Haywood, a spokesman for Williams.
>Hart Intercivic's attachment consists of a
>continuous tape in a sealed plastic case that
>would allow the voter to check his or her vote
>on the machine against the one on the receipt.
>Once the voter casts the ballot, the tape
>advances to a clean sheet so the next voter can't see the previous ballot.
>Several other states are using similar systems, Brender said.
>Haywood said he expects that the secretary of
>state's office will stand by its earlier decision on the issue.
>The Help America Vote Act requires voting
>machines to be able to produce a paper printout
>of every ballot cast, which every electronic
>voting machine in use in Texas can already do,
>Haywood said. Nothing in the law requires that
>voters need to be able to verify their vote by
>viewing a printout of the ballot, he said.
>"Our office is certainly not against paper
>trails and giving voters the opportunity to
>review their ballot, but we haven't seen a
>system we're comfortable using and having the counties use," Haywood said.
>Haywood said the state is concerned about the
>possibility that an election worker could trace
>votes to an individual voter. Brender said that
>is unlikely, particularly if the polling place has more than one machine.
>Kimball Brace, president of Election Data
>Services, a Washington, D.C.-based political
>consulting firm that tracks election equipment
>use nationwide, said the desire to have a
>voter-verified paper trail has generally outweighed concerns of voter privacy.
>"As long as you've got multiple machines in a
>precinct, then you're OK on that issue," Brace said.
>Stephanie Klick, chairwoman of the Tarrant
>County Republican Party, has also expressed
>concerns about the new voting machines but said
>she accepts the reasoning of the secretary of state.
>"I am for [a paper trail] in concept," Klick
>said. "The problem is we need to make sure all
>bugs are out of that technology before they're implemented."
>Klick encouraged voters who are wary of the new
>machines to use a paper ballot instead. That
>option is available to people voting on Election
>Day; all early voting will be electronic.
>Nationwide concerns
>Earlier this year, 100,000 Tarrant County voters
>made history. The reason? They didn't exist.
>That incident in the March primary -- in which
>Tarrant County election officials reported
>election results with some votes counted
>multiple times -- has become a local and
>nationwide symbol of the problems that can arise
>with electronic voting machines.
>Although the overcounting was caused by human
>error and promptly corrected, those concerned
>with security say it's proof that electronic
>voting machines are susceptible to the kind of
>unaccountable errors that can change history.
>And Tarrant wasn't the only Texas county to have
>voting machine troubles in March.
>In Tom Green County, election workers mistakenly
>used the same machine for early voting and
>election day voting, leading to inaccurate
>initial vote counts, and in Webb County, the
>release of voting results was delayed when
>improperly programmed voting machines forced
>officials to count results using a slower method.
>Several advocacy groups have said that the
>integrity of the voting system is at stake and
>charged that a skillful hacker could easily change an election.
>A report released by Princeton University
>researchers recently showed them infecting a
>voting machine with a virus and then changing
>the results of a mock election in less than a minute.
>Hart Intercivic's machines are not susceptible
>to the kind of attack used in the Princeton study, the company said.
>Oct. 10 -- The deadline to register to vote.
>Oct. 23 -- Early voting begins.
>Oct. 21 -- Last day to apply for a ballot by mail.
>Nov. 3 -- Early voting ends.
>Nov. 7 -- Election Day.
>Residents can register to vote or change their
>registration at the Tarrant County
>administration building, 100 W. Weatherford,
>Room B-90, in downtown Fort Worth, or by going
>online to <http://www.tarrantcounty.com/evote>www.tarrantcounty.com/evote.
>Forum on voting machine security
>The League of Women Voters of Tarrant County
>will hold a forum on voting machine security Thursday.
>When: Oct. 5, 7 p.m.
>Where: Community room, Intermodal Transportation
>Center, Ninth and Jones Streets, downtown Fort Worth
>What: A panel discussion featuring Tarrant
>County Election Administrator Steve Raborn,
>Tarrant County Republican Party Chairwoman
>Stephanie Klick, Tarrant County Democratic Party
>Chairman Art Brender, and J.Carter Tiernan, who
>holds a doctorate in computer science
>engineering, from the University of Texas at Arlington.
>Aman Batheja, 817-390-7695
> 2006 Star-Telegram and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
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(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107,
this material is distributed without profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research
and educational purposes. ProgressiveNews2Use has
no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of
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or sponsored by the originator.)

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Received on Sat Sep 30 23:17:08 2006

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