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
>
>By AMAN BATHEJA
>STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
>
>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.
>
>VOTER DEADLINES
>
>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.
>
>IN THE KNOW
>
>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
><mailto:abatheja@star-telegram.com>abatheja@star-telegram.com
>
>
>
>
> 2006 Star-Telegram and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
>http://www.dfw.com
>
>
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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
this article nor is ProgressiveNews2Use endorsed
or sponsored by the originator.)

"Go to Original" links are provided as a
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Received on Sat Sep 30 23:17:08 2006

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