Friday, October 08, 2004
Hawaii e-vote boycott
A coalition of concerned residents is urging voters to boycott using the state's new electronic voting machines and to stick to the standard paper ballot option when they go to the ballot booth for the general election.
Members of Safe Vote Hawai'i, which describes itself as "a coalition of Hawai'i's leading technology professionals, community activists and official election observers," said they have concerns about the integrity of the electronic machines because they do not produce an immediate "paper copy" for each vote cast.
"We feel that paper audit trails are mandatory for a safe e-voting election and we don't have any way of getting that for this election," said Jason Forrester, spokesman for the group and a senior systems analyst for SAVVIS, formerly Digital Island.
Honolulu Advertiser - October 8, 2004
Integrity of e-vote machines questioned
It had forgotten about this entire search index, for some reason.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
who shall counter the counters?
computer scientists focused on thoroughly evaluating the technical aspects of e-voting machines. This task will be left to more than 1,400 techies participating in a domestic monitoring project of the Election Protection coalition, organized by almost 60 U.S. groups.
The coalition will disperse 25,000 monitors to voting sites in 17 states around the country. One of the coalition's projects is TechWatch, run by the Verified Voting Foundation. TechWatch has recruited technology professionals to observe the operation of voting technology during tests before the election and on Election Day itself.
The Verified Voting Foundation has also developed a web-based software application that will allow coalition volunteers to respond to voting incidents in real time. The coalition runs a hot line that voters can call to report problems. When they do, hot-line operators enter the details into the Election Incident Reporting System. The system maps the problems and sends an alert to a monitoring team leader in the area, who can then dispatch a mobile response team of volunteer lawyers, techies or others to observe how the problem is handled.
The groups tested the system during the Florida primary election, when 296 hot-line calls were entered into the system, of which 18 were voting machine problems.
Another group, Votewatch, will collect statistical data on the election. Among other things, Votewatch will compare the vote tallies posted in polling places at the end of the day with cumulative unofficial counts for an entire area reported later that night. If the numbers differ, it would indicate that the counting software at individual polling places failed to count some votes. Volunteers would make note of the technology that was used at those polling places to gather statistics on the accuracy of systems.
The Election Protection coalition also includes groups that will monitor issues besides voting technology, including voter intimidation and disenfranchisement.
Does that sound to you like an improved, less-expensive voting system that people trust?
Wired News - Oct. 05, 2004
U.S. Elections Under a Microscope
visiting dignitaries try American democracy
Kwesi Addae, a fifty-three-year-old former political-science professor from Ghana and the founder of Pollwatch Africa, has monitored elections in half a dozen shenanigan-prone countries, including Togo, Nigeria, and Guinea-Bissau.
Addae, as one of twenty foreign election observers brought here this month by the left-leaning human-rights group Global Exchange, is inspecting the creaky mechanics of American democracy at close hand. He signed up for the two-week mission, he said, “out of fascination.”
In Africa, Addae had seen phantom polling stations, ruling-party rent-a-mobs, ballots bought with beer. But nothing in his experience had prepared him for the iVotronic touch-screen voting system. The iVotronic is the latest in electoral technology, a light, flat-screen computer that will be used this November in parts of Florida, among other places. ...
The observers crowded around. “You’re quite fortunate to be able to touch and feel the same thing that those voters will be using on Election Day,” a salesman from Election Systems & Software, the machine’s manufacturer, said. ...
“Let’s vote,” Addae said. ... Addae was next. He bellied up to the machine and poked at the screen. Nothing happened. Someone handed him a small cartridge—a “personalized electronic ballot,” or P.E.B. Addae examined the cartridge quizzically, then fumbled as he tried to insert it into the machine. “Put it back in for just a second,” an observer named David MacDonald, a former member of Canada’s parliament, said. “Now remove it.”
A ballot appeared on the screen. For the purposes of this demonstration, the election was a local one, and the candidates for mayor were all actors; for city council, hockey players; and for school board, musicians. For some reason, they were also all Canadians. “O.K.,” Addae said, peering over his glasses. “I want Michael J. Fox.” Passing over Neve Campbell, John Candy, and Dan Aykroyd, he touched Fox’s name, and a little green check mark appeared. Addae ran his finger down the list of candidates in other races: Gordie Howe, Ken Dryden, Bryan Adams, Shania Twain, Gordon Lightfoot. “I want Bobby Orr. I want Neil Young,” he said. When he was done, Addae punched a flashing red button marked “ vote .” The machine beeped twice, and a message appeared on the screen: “Your ballot has been cast. Thank you for voting.”
Addae shook his head. “It’s not very easy,” he said. Back home, Ghanaians still vote the old-fashioned way, by writing an “X” on a paper ballot and dropping it into a box. “Thereafter, they are counted one by one, and the figures are written down and announced,” he said.
After he was finished with the computer demonstration, he ambled across the room, where some observers were voting with paper ballots. He grabbed a ballot and filled in the bubbles next to his choices. The salesman collected twelve ballots and loaded them into a optical scanner. Whoosh —the ballots shot through. But there was a problem. The machine rejected five of the ballots, including Addae’s. The observers had used a pen instead of a No. 2 pencil. This election observer was ready to deliver his verdict: “I am not impressed at all!”
The New Yorker - 2004-10-04
The Talk of the Town - Visiting Dignitaries - Dry Run
Monday, October 04, 2004
e-voting enables the disabled
This November, Eileen Rivera Ley, 41, will vote by herself for the first time. Blind voters in Maryland and several other states will use electronic voting machines equipped with technology that allows the disabled to vote independently.
It used to get crowded whenever Rivera Ley voted. Blind, Rivera Ley had to rely on someone else to read the ballot aloud, then vote for her. That meant as many as four people -- Rivera Ley, the person who pulled the levers and election judges from both major parties as witnesses -- huddled in the voting booth.
In Canada, only one person assists you (if needed) in the voting booth; I don't think anyone observes.
Wired News - AP - Oct. 03, 2004
E-Voting Fans: The Disabled
Imagine your bank teller accepting a deposit and then saying, "Oh, you don't need a receipt. It's all in the computer." On Nov. 2, that's essentially what millions of citizens will be told when they cast ballots on new electronic voting machines. Forty-two states are poised to use this latest technology, but with only 28 days left until the presidential election, some states are still debating whether to provide a paper confirmation of each voter's choices.
Potential problems with electronic voting — and very real mishaps — have gained more public attention in recent months, and manufacturers and election officials have tried to play down concerns. But some state officials have also chosen to build in more safeguards to ensure that the electronic vote data, if corrupted either accidentally or maliciously, have a backup. That means one thing: a paper record.
USA Today - Christian Science Monitor - October 3, 2004
Observers remain uneasy over e-vote machines
this year, the City of Edmonton has rented 21 audio-electronic voting machines, which will allow citizens who can't see well to cast their ballots without help. And everyone else who votes in advance will do so electronically, too -- traditional paper ballots will be available only on election day, Oct. 18.
Electronic voting machines have been severely criticized in the U.S., where they were used for the first time in 2002. In July 2003, professors at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore released a scathing report that said the machines were open to tampering and made meaningful recounts impossible because they leave no paper trail.
But operations manager Steve Thompson, who led the project, is confident the electronic voting terminals the city is renting will perform without a hitch. He points out that the machines are independent of one another and store voting records in three separate places, including on a removable pack that can be taken from a broken machine and read in another.
"We don't believe that the failure of a single or even two or three machines would in any way jeopardize the ability to count the votes that had been cast on that machine," Thompson said.
There are no plans, however, to make electronic voting the norm. He estimates the cost of mainstream electronic voting would be about $1.25 million, a price tag he thinks council and taxpayers will find prohibitive.
For heaven's sake, the point isn't whether the votes can be read, the point is whether the votes are accurately recorded.
Edmonton Journal - September 22, 2004
Ballot machine boon for blind voters
This story points out another trend which I saw in the reports from Toronto.
In order to "save money" they like this idea of renting machines, whether it's loaning their own machines out, or using someone else's machines.
So that's great. As if the security problem wasn't hard enough, they're letting the machines change hands repeatedly.