Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fixing the vote (and then fixing that)

Stephen Pizzo writes:

If you can watch this entire video and still use an electronic voting machine, you deserve the government you get. If your state or district has decided to use electronic voting machines this November demand an absentee ballot today. Watch this video. Then join those of us who have decided that since paper was good enough for our Constitution, it's good enough for our vote too.
Oh, and when you're done watching the whole video... pass it along. November is only a few weeks off and the last thing Republicans want to see is either house returned to Democratic control. Because if that happens, hearings happen. And if hearings happen... well, who knows - someone(s) could go to jail. So demand a paper ballot or an absentee ballot in Nov. and leave the cheaters with a pocket full of worthless Diebold electrons.

Here's a partial transcript if you don't have time to watch right now...

Are there computer programs that can be used to secretly fix elections?


How do you know that to be the case?

Because in October of 2000, I wrote a prototype for Congressman Tom Feeney [R-FL]...

It would rig an election?

It would flip the vote, 51-49. Whoever you wanted it to go to and whichever race you wanted to win.

And would that program that you designed, be something that elections officials... could detect?

They'd never see it.

Two recent Houston Chronicle editorials detailed the concerns of fraudulent vote processing associated with Hart Intercivic's e-Slates, the DRE voting machines in use in Harris County and throughout the state. First, Stan Merriman wrote:

When the Hart voting systems were acquired in 2001, voters in Harris County thought they were being treated to the "latest and greatest" in voting system technology. This electronic system replaced a punch card system (remember hanging chads?) with the belief that we needed to enter the electronic age in the electoral process while also meeting emerging federal guidelines to simplify the voting process for our disabled citizens. ...

In the 2002 election some strange "vote flipping" incidents occurred that actually resulted in the temporary sequestering of machines reported as malfunctioning. The problem occurred with votes cast for senatorial candidates Ron Kirk and John Cornyn "flipping" to both rival party candidates. Lawyers were dispatched to scratch their heads over the cause and effect. No resolution of the situation was achieved.

This same anomaly occurred in the Kerry/Bush presidential election in 2004 in Harris County. Once again, the matter was dismissed as a "glitch" of no consequence and blamed on improper voter use. ...

In all, 1,218 voting machine complaints were filed in Texas in the 2004 general election with People For The American Way's Election Protection Division. In Harris County, 2,400 voting machine complaints were filed with a national voting advocacy group during that election.

In addition to these complaints, others were filed in Collin, Travis, Bexar and Wichita counties. Complaints included vote "transfers" (Kerry/Bush evidenced the same phenomenon reported in the 2002 and 2004 election in Harris County), lost votes, and machine and memory card failures. For the 2004 election, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Verified Voting Foundation received more complaints from Harris County than from any other voting jurisdiction in the nation.

And the Chronicle editorial board wrote:

"If folks can hack the Pentagon," Harris County Democratic Chairman Gerry Birnberg said, "they can certainly hack a machine in Harris County."

County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, a Republican, says such concerns are unfounded. "There's this kind of cavalier attitude on these folks' part that all you've got to do is just bolt on a printer and there it is," said Kaufman, who estimates that it would cost up to $8 million to buy equipment and reprogram the system with the capability to print ballots in three languages. "We're just not at a point here where we're able to do it if we wanted to, which we don't."

Well, we're just going to have to fix this, Bev. And we're going to do so first by replacing you with someone who does.

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