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Electronic Voting...

From The Nation How They Could Steal The Election This Time An excerpt...
'It's Really a Matter of Trust'

Confident, friendly, but officious, Jesse Durazo, the registrar of voters of Santa Clara County in the heart of the Silicon Valley, is typical of hundreds of local election officials who berate "the academics." This past spring, despite dire warnings from Professors Neumann of SRI and Dill of Stanford, Durazo led his county into buying 5,500 of the Sequoia AVC Edge DREs at $3,000 each ($20 million, figuring in everything). The anteroom of his county election headquarters is festooned with cheery signs such as one saying Voting Just Got Easier. He is delighted that DREs will facilitate voting by those who speak a foreign language (including Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese).

Durazo said that the AVC had first been approved by the federal government (which is not correct) and then certified by the California secretary of state. He said that providing a voter-verified ballot would open the way to "unlimited error," while computer error, in contrast, can be "quantified." As for Trojan horses smuggling in corrupt instructions, he said in a confident tone, "I don't have those fears." Stealing votes in the computers is next to impossible, he insisted, because local ballots are set up at the last minute, there are a large number of races and ballot initiatives in any one election, and the order of the candidates' positions on the ballots is rotated in different precincts.

The three sets of all the votes, kept in the computer, provide the recount, he said. Are those not just copies of each other, automatically made? Durazo exclaimed in high dudgeon: "It's a redundant perfection!... It starts with the premise that the information in the system is correct."

Alfred Gonzales, Durazo's Filipino outreach specialist for voters who speak Tagalog, demonstrated the AVC, a sign on the top of which said Try It Out Today. No More Punchcards! I voted on it and asked Gonzales how I knew for sure that my vote would be counted. "Because it will be registered in the machine, saved in the hard drive, and put on a cartridge," he said. "At the end of the day it will be in the printout of the total." How did he know the machine would do that? "Because it has been federally certified!" he said. "There is fool-proof security." Well, one more thing, I asked. There's no ballot--what if you need a recount? "It's really a matter of trusting the machine," Gonzales said. Patting the AVC gently, he intoned with pride, "It's really a matter of trust."

"These companies are basically saying 'trust us,'" Rebecca Mercuri told the New York Times. "Why should anybody trust them? That's not the way democracy is supposed to work." Douglas Kellner, a leader on the New York City Board of Elections, exclaimed at a meeting of computer specialists in Berkeley this past spring, "I think the word 'trust' ought to be banned from election administration!" Dr. Avi Rubin, computer science professor and technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, recently testified before the federal Election Assistance Commission, "The vendors, and many election officials, such as those in Maryland and Georgia, continue to insist that the machines are perfectly secure. I cannot fathom the basis for their claims. I do not know of a single computer security expert who would testify that these machines are secure."

This guy, Durazo, is in the county where I live!!

Now, for those of you who are Republican, and thus think that this is a lot of hand wringing by a bunch of sore loser Democrats - Think Again! The same methods that could be used by Republicans in positions of power and (assumed) trust, could at a later date be used by Democrats in similar positions. Suppose the election wasn't between Bush and Kerry, but between Hillary Clinton and Tom DeLay? Wouldn't you want a verifiable voter record there too? I would, and I like Hillary! (She'd have to be a really patient and tolerant person to put up with Bill's womanizing for all these years.)

Verified Voting, and assuring fair elections, is not just a "liberal" issue. It's an issue for anyone who values our franchise, our country, and our Constitution. Independant verification of the vote keeps all of us out of the grip of unscrupulous politicians, corporations, and other monied interests. Fair for one should be fair for all. We didn't have that in 2000, we didn't have it in 2002, we may not have it this year, but we need to put some serious thought and work in to assuring that the votes of all eligible voters who show up at the polls are counted, regardless of whether they are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, etc.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 24th, 2004 09:39 pm (UTC)
Completely agreed
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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