Thursday, July 06, 2006

Electronic voting -- Louisiana's problem.

The Daily Advertiser printed a my letter to the editor on electronic voting, which is being phased in now in Lafayette, and apparently, across Louisiana. I've reprinted the letter below.
How secure will the e-voting machines be?

On the same day The Daily Advertiser published an article with the headline "Voters to select with touch screens" articles appeared in both USA Today and The Washington Post on the dangers of electronic voting.

USA Today headlined "Analysis finds e-voting machines vulnerable" while The Washington Post wrote "... it would take only one person, with a sophisticated technical knowledge and timely access to the software that runs the voting machines, to change the outcome" of an election.These articles seem to reflect Lafayette Clerk of Court Louis Perret's fears about electronic voting as well. Your article indicates that he was "apprehensive."

Nevertheless, your article did not address any questions about the reliability of electronic voting.
  • Who will supply the voting machines? Is there a printed auditable trail?
  • What security measures have been taken to ensure that the machines have not been "hacked?"
  • By what process were these particular voting machines chosen?

    The old machines were cumbersome and expensive to store and maintain, but they were secure.

    How secure will this new system be?

  • The clerk of court began holding practice voting today, and I was able to get an answer to at least one of my questions, and perhaps several others. The machines are manufactured by Sequoia, a subsidiary of Smartmatic, owned by a group of Venezuelan businessmen.There is an abundance of material on Sequoia on the internet and a Google search turned up the following.

    The best summation of the case against Sequoia and e-voting is by Greg Palast.
    He describes how Sequoia's machines in California managed to treat ethnic votes differently.

    Palast writes:
    I'd feel a whole lot better about democracy-in-a-box if I could get a receipt for my vote. I get a receipt for a Slurpee, I get a bank statement on my ATM withdrawals, why not a receipt for my choice for president? And by “receipt,” I don’t mean something you take out of the voting booth. That wouldn’t do much good. The “receipt” is a printed copy of your ballot with all choices marked. Put that printed paper ballot in a locked box at the polling station and—voilá!—any questions about the computer can be answered by matching them to the ballots it printed.

    But, we were told, that can’t be done.

    But it can be. Maybe not in Third World places like Florida or Ohio, but it was accomplished in Venezuela. There, President Hugo Chávez, facing a recall vote, feared that opposition governors would steal the election. All the voting booths in the nation were converted to computers that printed paper ballots—so you could see and touch your ballot (or smell and taste it, if you wished). Chávez won by a million votes—and when the Bush Administration yowled at the outcome, Chávez said, “Well, recount the votes.” A fair election with verified paper audit: one more reason to hate Hugo Chávez.

    There's plenty more to worry about. This article includes questions raised by voters in Ithaca, NY. So does this one from Montclair, NJ.

    Here's an overview from the SF Bay Area.

    In Denver, a non-partisan group is suing to prevent the use of Sequoia machines.

    The Albuquerque National reprints an AP story on the vulnerabilities of electronic voting.

    The Philadelphia Enquirer's columnist titles her latest New machines enough to make you a nonvoter

    Blogger Brad Friedman has been closely covering the problems and election thievery made possible by electronic voting. Here he provides a transcript of CNN's Lou Dobbs, who is on the warpath about this subject. Dobbs can hardly believe how sloppy some of the e-voting companies have been. One oif Friedman's funniest and scariest finds is headlined: FL Candidate Votes for Self, Sequoia Touch-Screen Voting Machine Flips Vote to Opponent!

    There's much more -- just google Sequoia voting.

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