Pamella Farley


Voter Assistance Commission, June 28, 2007


Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am here to speak about why New York City should not invest in electronic voting machines, called “DREs,” and why we should minimize our use of computers to handle our citizens’ votes. I urge this Commission to use your influence as the Voter Assistance Commission and as individuals, to urge New York State to either develop its own optical scan system, or to acquire one that is completely open-source. I further urge you to discuss with Mayor Bloomberg the urgent need to avoid acquiring DRE voting machines in New York City. 


Commercially-available electronic voting equipment, especially DREs, has not gone through the appropriate process of computer software development. First, DREs were originally designed without voter-verified paper trails or any other mechanism for independent verification of accurate function. When there is no way for anyone to find out whether a product works accurately or not, there is no market pressure on manufacturers to ensure that the product works accurately as long as it looks like it does.


Second, certification testing has been a secret and probably a sham process. Again, there has been no market pressure for certification testing to ensure that electronic voting machines work as long as they appear to.


In a January, 2004, interview with a small voting machine vendor, one executive says “The ITA (independent testing authority) has a limited scope in what they can test and check on the system. It is based on time and economics. For an independent test authority to absolutely, thoroughly test under all possible conditions that the device will operate properly they would have to spend, in my estimation, 10 times the amount of time and money as it took to develop it in the first place. And the technology changes so rapidly, by the time they get done testing it, it’s obsolete. ... Absolutely nothing will you see in the [federal] requirements that this (puts his hand on his own electronic voting machine) has to work. It has to have these functions. But it doesn’t have to work.”


Since the Ciber testing laboratory scandal in January, 2007, we know that the certification testing process for nearly 70% of electronic voting equipment in America involved little if any testing.  The consensus of testimony at the May 7, 2007, Field Hearing on "Certification and Testing of Electronic Voting Systems" held by the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives of the Committee on House Administration, U. S. House of Representatives, , was that certification testing has been “meaningless.”


I urge you to assist the voters of New York by taking a public position on these matters.

Thank you.