Open Letter to the U.S. House of Representatives

From Teresa Hommel,

Sept. 4, 2007


Dear Representative:


We regret that we must oppose this bill as it is currently written, and urge you to vote against it unless it is amended to ban DREs.


We urge you to work to amend HR811 to ban DREs (with and without paper trails) and to require jurisdictions that have purchased them to replace them with paper ballots and audited optical scanners, or to use paper ballots for all federal contests. If an amendment to ban use of DREs is added to HR811, then we would support the bill.


Democracy requires ordinary citizens to be able to observe and understand election procedures (especially the recording, casting, storage, handling, and counting of votes) sufficient to attest to their propriety and honesty. No computerized voting machine can support democracy, because computers prevent the observation and understanding that provide the foundation for election credibility and the legitimacy of elected government.


When our election officials talk about "trust" instead of "observation" you know that our elections are in trouble. When vendors talk about "checks and balances" instead of how to audit their systems and easily prove that they are working correctly, our legislators should ban their equipment.


The repeated "discovery" of the same security flaws in evoting systems, year after year, is a trap. These are not "oops, an oversight" mistakes, these are designed features that facilitate and conceal insider tampering.


It would be wonderful if all citizens, including all legislators, vendors, accessibility advocates, and computer scientists, would openly recognize the basic requirements of democratic government, and take note of the fact that concealed procedures are typically corrupt. The electronic voting machines sold by ES&S, Diebold, Sequoia, and others were designed to have no mechanism to determine whether or not they were working. Isn't that enough of a tip-off?


Teresa Hommel