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for your review

Be informed, question your government officials

Pennsylvania: Coalition Calls For Improvement as Voting Machine Problems Are Reported In Primaries

CNN Broken government series
 
Lou Dobbs Tonight  Encore Presentation: America Votes 2006: War on the Middle Class
 
October 29, 2006 Guests Michael Shamos, David Dill, and Michael Vu
 
October 28, 2006
 
 
October 27, 2006 Lou Dobbs Tonight Last- Minute Efforts Underway Aimed At Reducing Risk From Electronic Voting 
 
 
October 26, 2006 Lou Dobbs Tonight Electronic Voting Machines' Testing
Unreliable
 
 
Encore Presentation: America Votes 2006: War on the Middle Class
 

Glitches, Hiccups and Human Error??

Allegheny County voters must learn new machines in just 6 weeks

Friday, April 07, 2006

By Jerome L. Sherman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After more than 40 years of casting votes on massive mechanical lever machines, Allegheny County voters now have less than six weeks to learn how to use a new generation of computerized equipment.

County officials have not yet signed a final deal with Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software, but they're already preparing a major educational campaign to familiarize 877,999 registered voters with the company's iVotronic, a touch-screen machine weighing less than 15 pounds.

That campaign likely will encompass TV ads, countywide demonstration sessions and extensive training classes for as many as 6,500 poll workers.

2nd-choice supplier of voting machines had problems elsewhere

Friday, April 07, 2006  By Dan Majors, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Today is the final day of the weeklong early-voting period before Tuesday's primary runoff election in Jefferson County, Texas.

Residents who vote today will be casting their ballots on touch-screen machines purchased from Election Systems & Software, or ES&S, the same Nebraska-based company that is selling 4,700 of the ATM-like machines to Allegheny County for use in Pennsylvania's May 16 primary.

"It's been going good," said Jefferson County Clerk Carolyn Guidry. "Turnout is low because it's a runoff election, but it's going good so far."

And yet Ms. Guidry is not happy. She's especially upset with ES&S.

Because of incomplete instructions and faulty memory cards, all of the votes cast in Jefferson County's March 7 primary had to be recounted March 13. County commissioners withheld a $1.9 million payment to ES&S and threatened legal action.

Yesterday, Amanda Brown, a spokeswoman for ES&S, said the problems have been resolved and the county made its payment.

"We're getting them up and running for their runoff election," she said.

Still, there is bad blood in Jefferson County.

"I don't call the issue resolved, because we still have equipment issues, we have training issues, and we definitely have a big customer service issue," Ms. Guidry said.

Election officials in Summit County, Ohio, are likewise concerned. They've purchased optical-scanning voting machines from ES&S for their May 2 primary, and there have been numerous headaches.

More...

 

 
Visit as many different sites as possible for viewpoints and information on this issue.
 
Verified Voting analysis of

ES&S iVotronic

Brief Description

Voters Unite.org analysis entitled: AVS Sidesteps Wireless Security Issues
 

google search results
 
Hart InterCivic eslate

Nov. 4, 2002
Tyler Hamilton at thamilt@ thestar.ca .
 
Excerpt:
 
What hit Chaum was a rather complex, but foolproof, way of creating an electronic voting machine with an audit trail. A component of that is the ability of individual voters to verify after the election that their electronic ballot has indeed been counted.

Under Chaum's system, a person selects candidates on a touch-screen terminal and presses "finish" when complete. The machine prints out an anonymous receipt on a double-layer of translucent plastic, which displays the names of candidates the voter selected. If the receipt appears accurate, the voter peels the two layers of plastic apart, and in doing so, the text printed on top of the receipt disappears. This keeps the vote secret.

Left over are two separate receipts, each encrypted with patterns of seemingly meaningless black squares and a serial number. The voter decides which of the two gets handed to an election official and shredded. The other receipt is given a special sticker and is taken home by the voter. Because the receipt is encrypted, it can't be sold.

Keep in mind that the voting machine has saved a digital version of the voter's encrypted receipt. After the election, this digital version is posted on an official government Web site. Voters can go to the site, type the serial number of their physical receipt, and see an exact image online. By comparing the images and the serial numbers, they can be sure their votes are included in the final tally. If it isn't, something's wrong.
 
 
Not so long ago, Chaum says he saw no hope for Internet voting. But after doing some consulting work with the U.S. government, he thought of some new ways that could make it work as a complement to electronic touch-screen voting.

"My ideal world would be to vote from any precinct through touch-screen voting, and where needed, have secure remote voting, which I believe is now possible," he says, giving the future a vote of confidence. Professor Mercuri at Bryn Mawr College, meanwhile, says the thought of an Internet election is "terribly horrifying."
 
 
 
TYLER HAMILTON
TECHNOLOGY REPORTER
Excerpt:
 
Critics warn, however, that overzealous politicians with new money to burn are making a bad situation even worse by jumping too quickly on the technology bandwagon. Many of those critics are technologists themselves, arguing that opportunistic companies are selling automated and online voting systems that aren't yet ready for prime time in terms of reliability, security and privacy.

"After 2000, there was this knee-jerk reaction to try to solve the problem," says cryptographer David Chaum, known as the inventor of digital cash, or eCash.

"The states bought tonnes and tonnes of these touch-screen systems. They rushed to buy, but the systems are worse than punch cards ... to me it's unbelievable."
 
More...
 
Chaum, and academic experts such as professor Rebecca Mercuri at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, maintain that the biggest problem with current electronic voting systems is that they fail to provide an audit trail. In other words, if somebody deliberately tampers with a touch-screen terminal or if software works incorrectly there is no sure way for authorities to know there is a problem. If a problem is suspected, the anonymous nature of the votes makes it virtually impossible to investigate.

"If any candidate wishes to seek a recount, the only one they will get from the touch-screen machines is a print-out of the same electronic data residing inside of the machines," wrote Mercuri in a critique of the latest Florida election.

In Mercuri's opinion, a print-out of the data doesn't cut it. She knows, with her own background in computer programming, that it's easy for one thing to be displayed on a touch screen and another thing to be saved in a machine's memory whether by mistake or as sabotage. A printout of the existing data would simply be an "Enron-style" audit, meaning what voters see is possibly a mask on the truth.
 
 
Rebecca Mercuri
Bryn Mawr
 
Rebecca Mercuri
 

Experts Have Concerns About Touch-Screen Voting

By MARGIE WYLIE
c.2002 Newhouse News Service

Excerpt:

Most DRE systems include small printers designed to churn out voting totals at day's end, but to print a copy of every ballot as it is cast is cumbersome and expensive, said Robert Naegele, a Pacific Grove, Calif., consultant and former chief technical adviser to the National Association of State Election Directors.

Chaum, to solve the problem, has created a two-layer receipt that, with the use of a scanner and a Web site, would let voters confirm their votes without revealing their identities.

While that system is reliable and secure, the specialized printers it would require are expensive.

On Tuesday, Chaum's company, SureVote, announced a version that does not require a scanner and works with the $50 printers that many DRE systems already use to print results at the end of the voting day. The technology isn't commercialized yet.

Mercuri said today's snazzy-looking touch-screen systems offer only the illusion of progress. In many cases, voting districts are better off sticking to the technology they have, or if they must switch, moving to optical scanning systems that allow paper ballots to be independently recounted, she said.

That is, until something truly innovative, such as Chaum's technology, comes along, she said.

More...

 

Unilect Patriot direct recording electronic voting machines used in Mercer, Beaver, and Greene Counties were recently decertified by the Pennsylvania Secretary of State.  verifiedvoting.org has posted the complete article "PA Secretary of the Commonwealth decertifies UniLect Patriot Voting System."  The report says that 10,000 instances of votes were reportedly not counted in 3 counties utilizing these previously certified direct recording electronic machines. 
 
Quoted material:
 
On October 1, 2004, the Department of State examined the system and found it to be operational and in proper working order. During a reexamination on Feb. 15, however, the System failed to sense screen touches multiple times and did not register nor record votes. The screen also "froze" and stopped accepting touches during the reexamination. The Department believes these malfunctions help explain why there were more than 10,000 instances where a vote was not counted in the three counties during the 2004 general election. According to a study released by Grove City College, the undercount percentages in each county were: Mercer - 7.29 percent; Greene - 4.5 percent; and Beaver - 5.25 percent.
 
From:  PA Secretary of the Commonwealth Decertifies UniLect Patriot Voting System
 
 
Commonweal Institute

Electronic Voting Machines Project

We hope that you can take the time to become informed on these issues, and inform others. ...

More with extensive links...

See full article at Wired News

Voting Machine Leaves Paper Trail 

Voting machines that print individual ballots -- an election accessory many computer scientists have clamored for -- are moving a step closer to widespread availability.

In response to concerns raised by election officials and security-minded techies, one of the largest makers of touch-screen voting machines has introduced a prototype capable of producing paper ballots. ...

"The idea is to provide a voter-verifiable ballot," said Lou Dedier, the ES&S vice president and general manager who built the original test model in his garage. Dedier said his mock-up was based on suggestions from elections administrators.

The planned rollout comes as a coalition of computer scientists, led by David Dill, a Stanford computer science professor, is lobbying election officials and voting machine manufacturers to fix security flaws in the current crop of touch-screen voting machines. The coalition believes the flaws are serious.

In particular, computing experts worry that hundreds of thousands of direct-recording electronic, or DRE, voting machines used in elections nationwide do not provide an auditable paper trail that records individual votes. In order to ensure that votes are not lost because of a computer malfunction or tampering, critics say DRE machines should be able to print and store individual ballots immediately after a vote is cast.