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View Diary: [Updated] Ohio to outlaw recounts and shield Diebold (196 comments)

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  •  I have read your comments on this issue many times (4.00)
    and I have to say that, while I respect a difference of opinion, it would seem important that the opinion be grounded in actual research.

    I've been involved with this since the 2004 election here in NC, going to protests, rallies and listening to computer experts discuss the problems.   A Republican computer expert in our state, right after the election, came to meetings and explained exactly why the election had to have been stolen. He was upset about it even though his side had won.  His friends thought he was nuts to protest, but he had some ethical issues with his party stealing the election.

    One of the things he told us was that you can program a computer so that it cannot be audited. The glitch can occur for only a few hours on election day and be  untraceable before or after.  You can program the machines to give a paper ballot that matches what the voter thought he voted for but to register a vote for someone or something else.  You can program a machine to simply switch the final totals.  Note that Kerry was predicted in the exit polls to win Ohio by 52% and Bush to get 48% (as I recall). The final totals were exactly opposite.

    Now I know you will not believe me, because I have seen you in action before.  But we happen to be in the middle of these discussions here in Watauga County, NC at this very moment. So, here is a letter from our local computer expert addressed to our local election board members.  I deleted his name because I did not get his permission to use it. However, if you would like to contact me privately, I would be happy to put you in touch with him.

    Here's his letter below:

    I am writing to provide my perspective on electronic voting machines.  My name is ------------.  For numerous months, I served as the de-facto lead geek on a working group formed immediately following the 2004 elections by the Watauga Democrats.  We focused on trying to understand what role electronic voting machines played in the election, were they secure/reliable, and what pragmatic steps might be done to improve electronic voting.   Before I make a brief recommendation I would like to note my background and the effort expended so you may be better judge the relevancy of my comments.  I have an MS in physics from Vanderbilt and I have worked for 13 years primarily for the defense industry in the areas of applied physics with particular emphasis on the development of scientific software, software/hardware systems, simulation, etc.  Much of this work involved systems accessible via the Internet so security was of prime concern.  I spent about three months (of my own time of course) working to educate myself on the issue then draft design criteria for an inexpensive, secure system (hoping NC might adopt the approach of demanding adherence to detailed technical specifications from vendors).  I spent roughly 10-15 hours per week because of my concerns regarding the accuracy, security, and lack of verifiability of the bedrock of our Democracy--our voting system.  

    Since I know you are likely receiving much more input than you would like and your choices are very limited for this purchase, I will be very brief.  Currently optical scanners are significantly more secure than DREs and I suggest our Watauga County purchase only optical scanners for now.

    I could give hundreds of detailed technical reasons why we should stay away from DREs until they meet a list of technical, testing, and procedural criteria I have begun compiling.  However, a very simple, undeniable  point regarding DREs follows.  Just because a DRE prints a particular selection on a final voter verification screen and the identical information on a paper ballot gives absolutely ZERO assurance that the DRE electronically recorded the same selection for that vote.  One has to ask oneself under what situations would the paper trail prevent or even call attention to incorrect electronic recording of a vote.  The answer is very rarely if the screen is incorrect also.  The voter can't see the electronic record, thus does not know.  Since the paper trail is only used to count each vote during a recount, etc. incorrect electronic recording would not be detected easily.

    Regarding manufacturers, I gathered information via a variety of mechanisms (not just blogs)--technical documentation when available online, even some source code that Diebold accidentally released, numerous scholarly studies conducted by academics specializing in voting research, etc.  I would strongly suggest staying away from Diebold.  Their physical security practices at their manufacturing and research facilities is abhorrent.  Their machines are also some of the least secure.

    I thank you for your time and the opportunity to express my views on electronic voting.  

    •  Have you seen this site? (4.00)
      Whoscounting.net

      I have given up on having meaningful discussions on this with some people I otherwise respect.  It's like they have their fingers in their ears and are singing lalalala to keep from hearing what you are saying.  I was corresponding with PhDs in math after the election and what they were saying is pretty much in line with what you say.  But I got little to no respect on the issue.

      The ...Bushies... don't make policies to deal with problems. ...It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do. Krugman

      by mikepridmore on Sun Dec 11, 2005 at 09:52:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  spooky (4.00)
      "You can program the machines to give a paper ballot that matches what the voter thought he voted for but to register a vote for someone or something else."

      First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ~~ Mohandas Gandhi

      by TimeTogether on Sun Dec 11, 2005 at 10:31:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  'why the election had to have been stolen' (none)
      We're probably all fried from a solid year of talking about this, so let me sincerely apologize in advance if anything I write comes across as ironic or worse.

      If your friend can indeed substantiate why the election had to have been stolen, or even probably was stolen, could you please share that? I have spent an appalling proportion of the last year looking for compelling evidence.

      It seems to me that the content of your friend's letter is pretty much in line with what DHinMI wrote above.  One can believe that Bush got more votes in Ohio and that DREs are unacceptably insecure (I dunno if DH went quite that far).

      I am pretty sure that no state was stolen by switching all the Bush votes to Kerry votes and vice versa, even in particular counties.  Might've happened in particular precincts, I suppose.  But if it happened in entire counties, it would stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

      I don't believe Ohio was stolen on DREs, because the DRE results from Ohio aren't anomalous.  I can't rule out that Ohio was stolen on DREs and on other equipment, although I think it's unlikely.

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