Saturday, September 11, 2004

Most of my postings are in the format

source - article date

I have been getting caught up on a month's backlog of postings, which is why it may look like the next posting is from August 17th.

It's actually the article I was commenting on that was from August 17 2004.
ComputerWorld - August 17, 2004
Nevada officials back e-vote systems for primary, general election

Nevada election officials are confident that an electronic voting system being used for the state's Sept. 7 primary will perform well, despite a problem that showed up in a demonstration of the technology this month in California. Nevada also plans to use the system for the general election in November.


In the California demonstration, the device worked as designed with a ballot printed in English. But when a Spanish-language ballot was used, votes for a sample proposition weren't printed on paper records.
Wired News - Aug. 20, 2004
Techies Praised for E-Vote Work

The new national elections chairman this week praised computer scientists for calling attention to security problems with e-voting machines and for helping develop new standards for building machines that will be more secure in the future.
Australian IT - August 23, 2004
Secrecy shrouds US e-vote

The three companies that certify the US' voting technologies operate in secrecy, and refuse to discuss flaws in the ATM-like machines to be used by nearly one in three voters in the presidential poll in November.

Despite concerns over whether the touchscreen machines can be trusted, the testing companies will not say publicly if they have encountered shoddy workmanship. They companies said they are committed to secrecy in their contracts with the voting machines' makers - even though tax money ultimately buys or leases the machines.

"I find it grotesque that an organisation charged with such a heavy responsibility feels no obligation to explain to anyone what it is doing," Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon computer scientist and electronic voting expert, told lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

The system for "testing and certifying voting equipment in this country is not only broken, but is virtually nonexistent," Mr Shamos said.
Toronto Star - August 29, 2004
Will computers eat their votes?

A fast-growing anti-electronic movement spearheaded by computer scientists says an electoral train wreck is in the works for Nov. 2.

And it won't be confined to Florida. They say touch screens have repeatedly been tested in various state elections over the past two years with disastrous results.

Machines routinely crashed, effectively disenfranchising thousands who couldn't return to vote later.

In some states, voters touched the screen beside candidate X only to see it indicate a vote for candidate Y. Others were offered incomplete ballots.

Local poll workers, hired for the day, hadn't a clue how to fix or restart the machines. Time and again, votes were lost.

The audit logs in one Florida precinct with several hundred registered voters indicated that not a single one of them had voted.

In a California demonstration put on by one of the machine manufacturers this month, votes on the Spanish-language ballots simply failed to register.
Wired News - Aug. 31, 2004
E-Vote Recount Rule in Dispute

Florida officials will not require any recounts of votes cast on touch-screen voting machines during Tuesday's state primary, despite a ruling by an administrative judge that counties using electronic voting are not exempt from laws requiring the re-tabulation of votes in close elections.
PR Newswire - Aug. 31 2004
LexisNexis: Expatriate Vote Could Play Role in Determining Next President

- The Pentagon dropped a $22 million pilot plan to test Internet voting for 100,000 American military personnel and civilians living overseas after lingering security concerns. A group of security consultants hired by the government to poke holes in its Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE) did just that. Their scathing report concluded that the Net is so fundamentally insecure that using it for voting in the foreseeable future threatens the integrity of the electoral process.

Emphasis mine.
News Transcript Farmingdale, NJ - September 1, 2004
Congressional hopeful seeks seat in 12th District

He supports the new electronic voting machines and said they are similar to electronic banking and bill paying.

"It is moving forward, which is what we need to do," Spadea said.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of technology.
Electronic banking works because the bank knows ALL ABOUT your money and has a vast auditing process to ensure nothing unusual happens. If there is an error, they roll back the transactions.

There is no way to audit your vote. There is no way to roll back your vote.
Only you know how you intended to vote.

The comparison is completely incorrect.
novinite.com - 3 September 2004
Bulgarian e-Vote Needs BGN 4 M

Building Bulgaria's online-voting system will cost at least 4 million levs, according to a parliament member.

The MPs have introduced a bill for e-voting in general and presidential elections, as well as in the election of Bulgarian members for the EU Parliament.

According to the bill, those who want to take part in the vote online would have to file applications three weeks earlier. A few days later, they would receive user name and password in a registered letter.

Lawmakers hope that introducing the e-vote can boost polls turnout.
UBC Centre for Public Opinion and Democracy - August 24, 2004
Electronic Voting Questioned In Kazakhstan

In May, representatives of five political parties asked Parliament to amend the electoral law that introduced the electronic voting system. The representatives said the idea could be susceptible to "manipulations." The high cost of the system—around $32 million U.S.—has also raised concerns, as opposition politicians want to invest the funds in social needs such as education and health care.
PetroleumWorld.com - September 3, 2004?
NewsMax: Even EU wouldn't accept Venezuela's election

Súmate, Venezuela's most important non-governmental election watchdog, also strongly contradicted many of Carter's claims. Carter insists that "international machines were tested in advance" and that "extra care was taken to ensure secrecy and accuracy," the Journal reported, while Súmate says that the original recall rules called for manual voting.

Chávez insisted on importing an electronic system and chose Smartmatic voting machines without a transparent bidding process. One ostensible reason for going with Smartmatic was that its machines also create paper ballots, which could be used to audit the vote. But as it turned out, an impartial audit of those ballots was not allowed.

Súmate also revealed that there was a "severe limitation to participation in the auditing required by any automated voting system: Auditing the software used by the machines was never permitted, the source code was never released, and finally, access was never allowed into the Totalization Room of CNE [National Electoral Council]."

But Carter keeps repeating in the press that Súmate had the same "quick count" as he did. This only creates confusion, because "quick count" totals are merely the sum of totals coming from Chávez-controlled voting software. The Journal says that the only way to have checked the accuracy of the government's claim of "victory" was to count ballots.

Even if an election appears to go well, electronic voting means UNENDING CHALLENGES TO THE ELECTION RESULTS.

Wired News - Aug. 23, 2004
E-Vote Rigging in Venezuela?
ContraCostaTimes.com - AP - Sep. 06, 2004
Hopeful's e-vote plight raises verification issue

RIVERSIDE -County election officials have been among the staunchest advocates of electronic voting, insisting that computers are as reliable as paper ballots.

But a dispute over a razor-thin election here suggests that important electronic data might not exist, making accurate recounts impossible in many states.

Linda Soubirous, a candidate for the Riverside County board of supervisors, lost a chance to stage a runoff by fewer than 50 votes.

When Soubirous asked to look at the computer disks and other electronic records kept during the election, county officials refused.

Critics of electronic voting say that what happened during the March primary in the sprawling county east of Los Angeles should be a wake-up call for the 50 million Americans eligible to vote electronically in November.

Undocumented software glitches, hackers, mechanical errors or deleted ballots in only a few counties could have huge implications in a presidential election likely to be a cliffhanger.

More than 100,000 paperless terminals have been installed across the nation, particularly in California, Maryland, Georgia and the battleground states of Florida, New Mexico and Nevada.

"This isn't about Riverside -- it's about our nation," said Soubirous, 42, who sued Riverside County and its registrar of voters, Mischelle Townsend, an outspoken booster of electronic voting systems.

Electronic and Internet voting means RECOUNTS ARE IMPOSSIBLE.
I don't think that's progress.
Kansas City Star - Sep. 07, 2004
E-vote advocate fights suspension from Maryland post

Lamone has been criticized in recent months over her strong advocacy of moving toward an entirely electronic voting system. The state has bought 16,000 Diebold AccuVote-TS machines, models many computer scientists decry as lacking in integrity because they provide no paper trail and could be susceptible to tampering.
Philadelphia Inquirer - Sep. 08, 2004
Nev[ada] adds paper trail to e-vote

CARSON CITY, Nev. -In what could become a model for other states, Nevada voters yesterday became the first in the nation to cast ballots in a statewide election on computers that printed paper records of electronic ballots.

As I have said before: you know what's better than a paper trail from electronic machines? Just vote on paper.
North County Times (San Diego and Riverside Counties) - September 8, 2004
Judge to rule on e-vote recount challenge within week
Columbus Ohio Free Press reprinted by Common Dreams - September 9, 2004
E-Voting: The New Battle Hymn of the Republic
Let's get together.

I do not know of any organization in Canada that is presenting a coordinated front opposing electronic/Internet voting. That's one of the reasons I created Paper Vote Canada. If you know of an organization, or you are concerned about this issue, please contact me through the Paper Vote email address or discussion group.

Friday, September 10, 2004


"Access, Integrity and Participation: Towards Responsive Electoral Processes for Ontario" (September 2004)

English (PDF)
Français (PDF)

(Thanks to Bob Bailie for pointing out this report.)

UPDATE 2004-09-12: Mr. Bailie has also pointed me to two Elections Ontario RFQs for electronic voting technology.

I have tried to restrain my comments, not always with success.

There are, however, some areas that could be considered for legislative action; for example: ...
• Permitting different voting access channels and special voting rules, including secure automated processes, and
• Providing for the Chief Election Officer to be able to adopt flexible approaches to elections, including timing adjusted to permit automation.


Secure automated processes?

Slide 41 (page 43)

Automation. The election world is headed toward voting systems that create access opportunities for all electors, without labels and without barriers.


many other electors, including those without disabilities, are also seeking innovative approaches to their voting access requirements.

As a tool of 21st-century administration, automated processes can offer increased speed, improved accuracy, greater efficiency and consistency. As a channel for service delivery, automation provides a range of opportunity for innovation in areas that could not be addressed with traditional, manual systems. Looking forward, there may soon come a point where the lack of automation becomes a barrier as a web-enabled generation comprises the majority of the electorate.


A recent legislative amendment has acknowledged the need to anticipate change. Under Section 4.1 of the Election Act, the CEO now has the authority to propose alternative approaches to voting processes for by-elections. While this statutory authority has offered some opportunities to test innovation, by-elections are unpredictable events and the new processes that can be effectively developed and implemented on short notice are limited in scope.

As we look across the world, election administrators are evaluating various technologies as possible contributors to electoral service improvements. Well-planned pilot projects in the United Kingdom over the past three years have explored a range of voting automation that includes interactive digital television, e-voting kiosks and cellular text messaging, in addition to more simple solutions such as vote-by-mail and telephone and Internet voting.

If you think Internet voting is a "simple solution" then you have no understanding whatsoever of the technical, political and societal issues involved.


If your ballot is not cast in public, I can put a gun to your head and make you vote the way I want.

If your ballot is not cast on paper, I can put a program on your computer and make you vote the way I want.

One consistent theme emerges from the reports and analyses: automation covers a much wider range of options than just Internet voting and should not be introduced without undertaking significant and in-depth study.

That is the understatement of the "21st Century".

Ontario’s electors are not averse to automation. They appear to be ready to embrace technologies such as the telephone and the Internet as tools to help them obtain information and possibly to register as an elector. This view is not as strongly held when it comes to electronic remote voting.

One reason people are not interested is because "electronic remote voting" can very easily become electronic remote vote stealing and manipulation.

Our society places few obligations upon its citizens. Going out in public every few years to cast a secret ballot is not a particularly onerous duty.

Slide 47. Page 49.

Any new approach to electoral governance through a reform of the legislation must continue to honour the CEO’s four basic pillars:
• To guarantee the fairness of elections for all participants
• To ensure that all electors have access to a secret ballot
• To ensure that administrative activity enhances the transparency of electoral processes, and
• To achieve maximum accessibility for citizen voters, candidates and citizen monitors.

You CANNOT have a secret ballot and a transparent process if you use Internet or electronic voting. Therefore, these should be excluded. QED.
comp.risks Volume 23: Issue 52 - 9 September 2004
Missouri vote-by-fax

Missouri's Secretary of State Matt Blunt (who also happens to be a candidate for the Governor of Missouri in the November election) has announced plans to allow Missouri voters in the military to send in their ballots by unencrypted e-mail. A supposedly trusted third party (Omega Technologies) will handle the unencrypted ballots and redistribute them to the appropriate ballot counters. Apparently North Dakota is also contemplating a similar scheme. Those voters will have to sign a waiver acknowledging that their votes need not be kept secret.

I usually avoid much commentary here but:

The secret ballot is key to democracy.
Anyone who proposes that people should vote by non-secret ballot is, at best, an idiot.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Slashdot - 07 September 2004
Your Rights Online: California AG Says He'll Sue Diebold
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