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The Spectrum

Southern Utah's Home Page

Sept. 9, 2007

 

Utah's electronic touch-screen voting machines fail the voters

 

Today Utah uses invisible electronic ballots counted with trade secret software created by private companies. Yet no one manually checks, after the election, to make sure that the machine counts are correct!

 

It is a fallacy that "Utah conducts audits." Utah counties compare a few touch-screen voter verifiable paper trail rolls with a paper record printed from the same touch-screen memory card, the vote totals tape, never comparing VVPT rolls with unofficial election results from the central tabulator. For example, Utah never checks to see if ballot records are accurately copied to or tallied correctly in its central tabulators.

 

Other states, however, have audited and studied their electronic touch-screen voting machines.

New Jersey tested the printers from three touch-screen vendors and found them all deficient (inaccurately recorded the voters' intentions). On Wednesday a judge ruled that New Jersey has to replace 10,000 electronic voting machines used statewide. Princeton University found that a vote-rigging virus on a single Diebold touch-screen voting machine, the same machines that Utah uses, can spread undetectably to the central tabulator and infect all voting machines by the next election.

 

California conducted a "top-to-bottom" review of its voting systems and de-certified its Diebold touch-screens because "the physical and technological security mechanisms provided by the vendors for each of the voting systems analyzed were inadequate to ensure accuracy and integrity of the election results and of the systems that provide those results" and "due to these shortcomings some threats would be difficult, if not impossible, to remedy with election procedures."

 

Florida found that Diebold optical scan voting systems could be undetectably manipulated. Florida's legislature voted to replace its touch-screen machines with opti-scan paper ballots after digital under-votes (no votes recorded for candidates) put several election outcomes into question.

 

Ohio counties conducted independent audits of Diebold voting machines and found:

 

# about 40 percent of the touch-screens inaccurately recorded votes;

 

# An accurate vote count was not possible to establish within 100 to 200 votes due to Diebold's "JET" database being susceptible to corruption and not recommended for use by Microsoft;

 

Diebold touch-screen voting machines are not auditable on the individual machine level, so entire precincts must be audited and compared to unofficial results.

 

Florida, California, New Jersey, and Maryland are planning to retire their touch-screen digital recording electronic voting machines and use paper ballot optical scan systems.

 

Utah election officials tell us not to worry, that we should trust Utah's (secret) election procedures. Officials have begun denying public access to election records that could reveal problems with Utah's vote counts or voter rolls. Two Utah League of Women Voter members were threatened with eviction during poll closing in November 2006 for trying to take pictures of the DRE vote count tapes that other states publicly post at poll closing!

 

The U.S. House is scheduled to vote this week on The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 (H.R. 811), a bill that would require states to conduct valid publicly observable independent manual audits comparing voter verifiable paper ballots with unofficial vote counts, and replace Utah's touch-screen voting machines and give us the opportunity to purchase economical, reliable, auditable paper ballot optical scan systems by 2012.

 

Call your U.S. Representative now to ask him to vote "YES" on H.R. 811 and "NO" on the unfunded mandate amendment. There is plenty of funding, more than $1.6 billion, to cover the costs of the bill. Utah has $4.1 Million in left-over HAVA funds.

 

For more information see ElectionArchive.org, UtahCountVotes.org, and Getitstraightby2008.org

 

Kathy Dopp is the executive director of the National Election Data Archive.

 

Copyright 2007 The Spectrum. All rights reserved.