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Unplugged Election: California bans electronic voting.
National Review Online ^
| May 03, 2004
| John R. Lott Jr.
Posted on 05/03/2004 10:49:47 AM PDT by xsysmgr
Claiming that fraud threatened the upcoming presidential election, California's Secretary of State Kevin Shelley dropped a bombshell last Friday. Just six months before a presidential election, he banned counties from using 43,000 electronic voting machines this fall unless paper receipts are provided and a long list of other conditions fulfilled. County registrars were in a state of shock predicting that the move this late in the year spelled chaos.
The momentum behind Shelley's decision has been building for some time. Last month Democrats on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights claimed electronic voting machines meant: "We're ending up in '04 with the very same problems and issues that were there before."
Senators Hillary Clinton and Bob Graham, as well as Congressmen Rush Holt and Tom Davis, recently introduced legislation to help prevent any fraud by requiring that electronic machines have paper-recording devices. Florida Congressman Robert Wexler has even brought a lawsuit because he worries that the Bush brothers will steal the election again, this time using electronic machines.
State and federal governments have spent billions of dollars to replace punch-card machines with electronic machines. Yet, instead of improving the election process, the claims of fraud may poison the political debate for years to come.
Bill Maher's jokes may be funny: "Some 13-year-old hacker in Finland is going to hand the presidency to Kylie Minogue!" And, more seriously, Senator Clinton warns Democrats how "hacking" can easily "skew our elections" and points out that a Republican is the second largest manufacturer of electronic voting machines.
While scary, the stories have one major problem: None of the systems is hooked up to the Internet. The electronic voting machines are stand-alone units. Hacking into them is impossible.
After the election, most electronic voting machines transfer the election results to a compact disc or some other "read only" format. These CDs are then taken to a central location where they are read into a computer. In the 20-plus years that these machines have been used, in many counties all across the country, there has never been a verified case of tampering.
When computer scientists warn of possible tampering with voting machines, they are not talking about hacking, but about someone physically breaking open the lock on each individual machine and reprogramming it. Even if those breaking into the machines overcome the tamper-proof seals without being noticed, going through one computer at a time hardly seems like the way to steal most elections.
And even if such tampering were to occur, it would become readily apparent as the precinct election workers checked the machines for accuracy with sample votes both before and after the election.
Some machines are even randomly chosen to test during the day just in case their programs have been set to only miscount votes during voting hours. If the programming switches, say, one out of every ten votes, it would show up when sample votes are fed into the machines.
A few electronic voting machines, along with even more optical scans, offer election officials the option to collect vote counts using encrypted modems in addition to removable read-only memory. Michael Wertheimer, a security expert commissioned by the state of Maryland to evaluate electronic voting security, reportedly "broke into the computer at the state Board of Elections" during a test and "completely" changed the election results.
Yet the tampering wasn't under real-world conditions, it used an old system, and it really didn't change the results. Not only does a hacker have to know what telephone number to call, bypass the modem encryption, and determine the password within a very narrow time frame, but two sets of calls reportedly from the same precinct would raise a red flag. Even if all those things go wrong, the original data in the voting machines would not be compromised, and it would still be possible to conduct an accurate recount.
Interestingly, no politicians so far have raised these same concerns about optical scans even though this threat involves hacking a central computer, not electronic voting machines.
So what about the claim that electronic voting machines make recounts impossible because they lack paper records? Each electronic voting machine contains multiple redundant memories that are "read only." These unalterable memories are just as available to be rechecked as paper records.
Paper ballots add nothing, except generating unnecessary costs. Possible computer crashes or corrupted data are taken care of by multiple redundant memory systems, some of which cannot be altered but are "read only." These memories are constantly checked for any differences.
Given all the fraud that has occurred with paper records over the years, it is remarkable that they are now held up as the gold standard. Take just one example of how paper records could be misleading. Suppose that voters are given a chance to double-check their electronic ballots and signal that they are either correct or not. If incorrect, the machine prints out a statement voiding the original receipt and voters are allowed to vote again. If the programming fraud is rampant, as critics claim, a machine could simply void the paper record after the voter has left and then print out a new receipt.
The irony is that the politicians who complained the loudest about how punch-card machines and hanging chads in Florida disenfranched voters are now complaining the loudest about what they earlier insisted was the "cure." Conspiracy theories may rally the political faithful, but at the risk of even greater hostility and mistrust among voters.
John R. Lott Jr., a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served as the statistical expert for the minority report produced by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the Florida 2000 election.
posted on 05/03/2004 10:49:47 AM PDT
Oh man, the Rats are bumming out now!
posted on 05/03/2004 10:51:42 AM PDT
(Un-PC even to "Conservatives!" - Right makes right)
These are the same people who claimed chads produced fraud. What they are really unhappy with is they can't fix the tally to produce the outcome they want.
posted on 05/03/2004 10:54:08 AM PDT
(In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
I have a friend in the Republican party here in FL. When they did the first recount in 2000, she told me to look for tons of votes for Gore to come out of the woodwork.
"They have them stacked in closets", she said. "Look for every county run by Democrats to suddenly find just enough votes to trigger a recount."
Pinellas alone found 400 votes that morning.
This is not a Left/Right issue, it is an American issue. There absolutely SHOULD be a paper report generated to keep the dirtbags on both sides honest.
posted on 05/03/2004 10:58:07 AM PDT
I'm really not the type for conspiracy theory, but when you have a company whose head has publicly stated he'll do everything he can to get Bush reelected, whose company has already shown complete disregard for the regulations concerning the certification of these machines, plus sloppy programming and procedures in the machines, yes, I do get a bit worried.
Not that I want Kerry to win, but Bush should win fairly.
The fix is in. And you thought 2000 was a cluster?
I can't believe I'm agreeing with anything California decides, but this is a good call on their part.
In Albuquerque on election night 2000, the press noticed a problem with the vote tally coming from early voter returns. There were more votes being counted than there were actual votes. (in the presidential election only) And the extra votes were going to Gore. Many of the broken-glass voters went to the polls early there because they could not wait to see Clinton/Gore folks out of power fast enough. The early returns were overwhelmingly for Bush once the votes were recounted. However, the folks who voted on election day could not have their votes recounted because they voted on touch screens. After watching all the recounts and what-not that kept adding 500 votes on one day and several hundred more another day, I had no faith in the 2000 election results. I do not believe Gore won the popular vote. Too much cheatin' going on all over the country.
posted on 05/03/2004 11:11:54 AM PDT
LOL, the Rats still haven't figured out how we cheat. Those idiots still believe Reagan won by a landslide. The only way Clinton won was because we didn't cheat enough. I sure hope the Rats never figure out how we do it....
This is great news! Now if only other states would follow the lead.
posted on 05/03/2004 11:16:42 AM PDT
"Last month Democrats on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights claimed electronic voting machines meant: "We're ending up in '04 with the very same problems and issues that were there before."
Well of COURSE you are! You've got the same people trying to vote Dimocrat!
posted on 05/03/2004 11:18:15 AM PDT
The Dems finally realized they couldn't find anyone they could "trust" smart enough to get into the systems. The Horror!
Probably found many who would do it for them, but want to much to do it. Think of the blackmail possibilities. Real evidence too, not just unsubstantiated claims. You're talking billions, not millions. Maybe a Senatorship or being on the Supreme Court.
posted on 05/03/2004 11:22:21 AM PDT
(If "Iris7" upsets or intrigues you, see my Freeper home page for a nice explanatory essay.)
Unplugged Election: California bans electronic voting...........County registrars were in a state of shock predicting that the move this late in the year spelled chaos.
....Even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then....The State of California hardly ever does anything right, but in this case....right on!,LOF&N(land of fruits and nuts). I don't even want electronic voting machines spitting out paper receipts.....I want paper ballots with a square to place an X for the candidate/issue of your choice.
It is harder and more risky for politicians of all stripes to tamper with the vote since they must "change" each and every ballot to make a change in an election. Whole ballot boxes must disappear or be "stuffed"...erasure marks show up really well....to many people would have to be bribed....whereas electronic voting can be massively changed by setting the proper bit from a 1 to a zero.
Paper ballots may slow the outcome of the vote somewhat....but I doubt that no one would seriously mind knowing that the outcome of the vote is honest.
Of course, paper ballots would bum out the politicians who hope for the "right" outocme.
posted on 05/03/2004 11:26:28 AM PDT
by B.O. Plenty
(god, I hate politicians)
"If the programming switches, say, one out of every ten votes, it would show up when sample votes are fed into the machines."
What if the program is written to check the totals at say 6:59 pm and swap the totals of Candidates A and B if the wrong one is ahead? The algorithms are proprietary and not open to scrutiny by the public.
posted on 05/03/2004 11:42:45 AM PDT
by Blood of Tyrants
(Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn't be, in its eyes, a slave.)
Senator Clinton warns Democrats how "hacking" can easily "skew our elections" and points out that a Republican is the second largest manufacturer of electronic voting machines.
So did she forget to mention that the largest manufacturer of voting machines is a Democrat ?? Seems like that is what is implied here ... lol
posted on 05/03/2004 11:42:51 AM PDT
What the Rats are REALLY worried about is that they COULDN'T tamper with the vote by "finding" boxes full of votes that go 99% Kerry.
I agree. All voting machines need to have a paper printout that the voter can see but not touch to verify that the machine registered a vote for the correct person. Before the elections are certified, a seperate human count MUST be done on at least a sample basis, say 1 in 10 machines selected at random must have it's total verified manually.
posted on 05/03/2004 11:56:39 AM PDT
by Blood of Tyrants
(Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn't be, in its eyes, a slave.)
"County registrars were in a state of shock predicting that the move this late in the year spelled chaos."
posted on 05/03/2004 12:48:36 PM PDT
(Babes should wear Bullet Bras - www.BulletBras.net)
To: xsysmgr; All
posted on 05/03/2004 3:26:45 PM PDT
Thanks for posting this. You saved me the work.
posted on 05/03/2004 5:31:26 PM PDT
(Xin loi min oi)
To: upchuck; fourdeuce82d; Travis McGee; El Gato; JudyB1938; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; ..
Another article about electronic voting by an author I'm inclined to trust. Ronnie said it best, "trust but verify".
posted on 05/03/2004 5:35:13 PM PDT
(Xin loi min oi)
In the 20-plus years that these machines have been used, in many counties all across the country, there has never been a verified case of tampering.
The key words here being 'a verified case of tampering'.
It goes along with my theory that the greatest hackers in the world are unknown. Getting caught, like Mitnick, would seem to be an indication that you're NOT the best hacker. And if you got caught rigging a voting machine, then you're not much of a voting-machine rigger.
posted on 05/03/2004 5:37:03 PM PDT
(Hi, I'm with the government. We're going to make you like your neighbor.)
Paper ballots add nothing, except generating unnecessary costs.
What? Don't I get a receipt? Will I be able to go to the registrar, hand over my receipt, and ask to be shown my ballot?
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