Testimony of Diana Finch



New York State Board of Elections Hearing


Dec 20, 2005


My name is Diana Finch, I am a resident of the Bronx, NY.


I am a literary agent working with Greg Palast, investigative journalist and author of THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY, as well as investigations of Florida and Ohio election irregularities published in Harper's Magazine and by the BBC. I also work with Professor Steven Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania who is co-authoring a book on the discrepancies between 2004 exit polls and official vote counts And I work with Blair Bobier, lawyer and media director for The Green Party's 2004 Presidential Campaign, whose legal pursuit of a recount after the 2004 debacle in Ohio will go to trial in August 2006.


All three of these expert authors are deeply familiar with and hugely concerned by the dangers to trustworthy, secure, verifiable voting posed by DREs without paper ballots.


Computer security is impossible to control.


We all know this is true when the most secure installations in the world are broken into. American financial companies have had millions of accounts compromised and even our Department of Defense has been hacked.


These break-ins are possible because of the communications capability in the computers.


Wireless capability is as simple as adding a wireless card to one of the slots in a computer. Computer manufacturers are now making display screens with wireless capability in the screen itself, as in IBM and Toshiba laptops.  You'd never even KNOW your voting machine was communicating wirelessly; nor would poll workers.


By the time we vote again, many more wireless networks will be in use.  Partly in response to Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security has announced that the Justice Department will build a nationwide wireless communications system for federal law enforcement agencies, the Integrated Wireless Network, a program worth an estimated $2.5 billion. http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=32649&sid=28


As reported in the January 20, 2004 issue of New Scientist, a voting machine manufacturer, Diebold, did try to get a DRE machine with wireless capability certified in California for the 2004 Presidential election. Diebold spokesperson Mark Radke told New Scientist that wireless capability could be implemented "if required” simply by inserting a card and configuring the machine.


But as computer experts explain, "Wireless capability is almost ideally suited for

hackers."    Says Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore: "They no longer have to get physically close to the machines to tamper with them."


In the highly competitive atmosphere of electoral politics, we can’t just assume that everyone involved will always be a saint.  


NY State law should have banned communications capability in all computerized voting and vote tabulating equipment, should have required inspections by candidates and parties before and after elections, should have stipulated felony penalties for violations, and should have required money bonds from voting machine vendors in case elections need to be held again.


Our NY state legislature has not protected us, leaving decisions to Boards of Elections under intense sales pressure by powerful lobbyists with long strong ties to top partisan politicians in the State, and Boards of Elections that are not beholden or responsive to the public.


On the eve of the Iraq elections last week, a US Marine gave his life in Ramadi, trying to secure the country for voting. We all watched as our federal government praised the voting, with paper ballots and ink-stained fingers, as democracy in action. We saw, on tv news and in our newspapers, voting officials counting those votes, carefully and in the open.  I am here from the Bronx today to ask for the same public and transparent democracy for the great state of New York.