BlueHummingbird News - Archive

Election 2002:

At California Voter Foundation:
Paper or Plastic?
In the search for solutions to California's voting problems, 'modern' touchscreen systems pose new set of worries
Op-Ed by Kim Alexander in the San Diego Union Tribune, October 20, 2002
As the next election approaches, many California voters may be wondering if the equipment they'll be using on Nov. 5 is reliable. Voters who cast ballots on old-fashioned, Votomatic-style punch cards will be checking for chad, while those who vote on new, "modern" touchscreen voting systems may well be checking for a paper trail.
There won't be one.
That's because touchscreen voting, as is currently certified in California, does not require there to be a paper trail. "Modern" means paperless - no more ballots inserted into a locked box, just data stored on a machine. ...
The paper-based voting system, though less efficient, has many strengths that the touchscreen systems do not have. Paper-based systems allow voters to make their choices on a piece of paper that is then inserted into a locked box and exists as physical proof of how they actually voted. This kind of security is transparent and understandable to even the most unsophisticated of voters. With touchscreen voting, the technology that secures the election is not in plain sight as is the case with a locked ballot box, but instead is hidden from voters inside voting machines, the workings of which are beyond the comprehension of most people. The software that runs voting systems certified in California is proprietary and not available for public inspection. ...

At, Nov. 1, 2002:
Jeb Bush's secret weapon
94,000 people on a voter "purge" list -- half of them African-American -- continue to be banned from voting in Florida, even though the state knows the list is wildly inaccurate.
By Greg Palast

From BuzzFlash: Interview with Greg Palast, November 4, 2002 -
Greg Palast, Author of "Best Democracy Money Can Buy," Exposes the Continued Suppression of Florida's Black Vote in Election 2002

" ... 94,000 people -- over half of them African American --have been on a "scrub list" in Florida, which meant they were blocked from voting in the 2000 election. Remember, Al Gore lost by "537" votes. The thing is, most of them were legally allowed to vote and were prevented from voting by Katherine Harris, former Florida Secretary of State, and Jeb Bush, in a failed attempt to root out felons. Instead, they blocked legal voters from casting ballots and having their voices heard. Well, certainly Florida would have made sure that all those people who could legally vote, would have their constitutional freedoms restored by this Nov. 5th to vote in the election, right? Wrong. Florida won't get to it until the beginning of January 2003. McBride and Jeb Bush are dead even. According to Palast, perhaps as many as 91,000 should have their names taken off the "scrub list" and be legally permitted to vote this Tuesday, Nov. 5th. Something is rotten in the state of Florida. This weekend, BuzzFlash interviewed Greg Palast about this shocking revelation and the blatant ongoing assault on democracy. ...

BUZZFLASH: Doesn't electronic, touch screen voting actually improve the chances for large scale election fraud? Votes can more easily be lost with a little "software glitch" or Democratic votes could become Republican votes and who would know the difference?
PALAST: Hell, yes. The "touch" screens are made by ES&S, chosen by Katherine Harris, congressional candidate. The lobbyist for that company is Sandy Mortham, founder of Women for Jeb -- and Harris’ predecessor as Secretary of State. It was Mortham that began the hunt for black voters in 1998. These Mortha-matic machines -- surprise, surprise --failed to work in Black precincts. And there was no paper ballot back-up. ... "

From Nov. 5, 2002
Voting into the void
New touch-screen voting machines may look spiffy, but some experts say they can't be trusted.

From US Newswire: 5 Nov 2002 17:01
Election Protection: Touch-Screeen Problems
Election Protection Media Advisory: Touch-Screen Problems Could Be Mis-Registering Votes; Problems Reported In a Number of Precincts


Also the Herald Tribune: (FL) 11/06/02

" ... Problems were reported with nearly 50 touch-screen machines in Broward County, at six places with optical scanners in Jacksonville and at a single precinct in each of three Central Florida counties. Several Sarasota County voters complained that when they pressed the touch screen to vote for a Democratic candidate, the Republican candidate was picked instead. ... "

From AP at the Houston Chronical: (TX) Nov. 7, 2002, 3:08PM
Chip glitch hands victory to wrong candidate
ABILENE - A Scurry County election error reversed the outcomes in two commissioner races. A defective computer chip in the county's optical scanner misread ballots Tuesday night and incorrectly tallied a landslide victory for Republicans. Democrats actually won by wide margins. ...

Published on Friday, January 31, 2003 by
"If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines"
by Thom Hartmann
" ... You'd think the computers that handle our cherished ballots would be open and their software and programming available for public scrutiny. You'd think there would be a paper trail of the vote, which could be followed and audited if a there was evidence of voting fraud or if exit polls disagreed with computerized vote counts. You'd be wrong. .."
"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected," wrote Thomas Paine over 200 years ago. "To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery.."
By Bev Harris, 2/5/03
Georgia: 22,000 Voting Machines Got a Program Fix, Right Before the Election.
— Bev Harris, author of Black Box Voting: Ballot-Tampering in the 21st Century.

From Salon: Feb. 20, 2003
Hacking democracy?
Computerized vote-counting machines are sweeping the country. But they can be hacked -- and right now there's no way to be sure they haven't been.
By Farhad Manjoo

From The Mercury News, Opinion: Posted on Fri, Feb. 21, 2003
Suddenly a paper trail is possible
IN a major turn of events, all three voting machine makers competing for Santa Clara County's contract have told election officials that they're prepared to offer paper copies of touch-screen ballots for voters to inspect. Better yet, they'll include this feature at no cost to the county. The vendors' concession is a big victory for computer scientists who've been clamoring for a voter-verifiable paper audit. ...

From AP at MSNBC: Feb. 25, 2003
Critics call for electronic voting halt
Computer scientists say systems too vulnerable to fraud

From New York Newsday: April 16, 2003
Officials Reject Plan to Fix Voting Machines
By Stephanie Saul STAFF WRITER
The city won't fix its broken voting machines after all, and one elections commissioner alleged it's because Republicans want to keep voters confused. The Board of Elections yesterday reversed a plan that would have repaired devices on the 7,000 machines, which people accidentally left without voting. ... The broken devices are believed to be the cause of an estimated 60,000 lost votes in the 2000 presidential race, according to a Newsday analysis. ... Kellner estimated that 80 percent of those votes would have gone for Democratic candidates. ... Kellner said the city could fix 98 percent of the voting machines in-house with parts that cost less than $20,000.

From Congressman Rush Holt (NJ):
Rep. Rush Holt Introduces Legislation to Require All Voting Machines To Produce A Voter-Verified Paper Trail
Washington, DC – Rep. Rush Holt today responded to the growing chorus of concern from election reform specialists and computer security experts about the integrity of future elections by introducing reform legislation, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003. The measure would require all voting machines to produce an actual paper record by 2004 that voters can view to check the accuracy of their votes and that election officials can use to verify votes in the event of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity. Experts often refer to this paper record as a “voter-verified paper trail.” ...
“Voting should not be an act of blind faith. It should be an act of record,” said Rep Rush Holt. “But current law does nothing to protect the integrity of our elections against computer malfunction, computer hackers, or any other potential irregularities.” There have already been several examples of computer error in elections. In the 2002 election, brand new computer voting systems used in Florida lost over 100,000 votes due to a software error. Errors and irregularities were also reported in New Jersey, Missouri, Georgia, Texas, and at least 10 other states. “A recount requires that there be a reliable record to check,” said Holt. “Without an actual paper record that each voter can confidentially inspect, faulty or hacked computer systems will simply spit out the same faulty or hacked result. Every vote in every election matters. We can and should do this in time for the 2004 federal election.” ...

At Scoop (NZ): Tuesday, 8 July 2003, 6:20 pm
Inside A U.S. Election Vote Counting Program
Article: Bev Harris

From What Really Happened:
" ... Who chooses what government we live under? Those who cast the votes, or as Stalin observed, those who count them? Do We The People pick those who govern us, or does a private company, owned by the CIA controlled media, and operating without any public oversight? ... "

From The NYT: July 24, 2003
Computer Voting Is Open to Easy Fraud, Experts Say
The software that runs many high-tech voting machines contains serious flaws that would allow voters to cast extra votes and permit poll workers to alter ballots without being detected, computer security researchers said yesterday. "We found some stunning, stunning flaws," said Aviel D. Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, who led a team that examined the software from Diebold Election Systems, which has about 33,000 voting machines operating in the United States. The systems, in which voters are given computer-chip-bearing smart cards to operate the machines, could be tricked by anyone with $100 worth of computer equipment, said Adam Stubblefield, a co-author of the paper. "With what we found, practically anyone in the country — from a teenager on up — could produce these smart cards that could allow someone to vote as many times as they like," Mr. Stubblefield said. ...
The list of flaws in the Diebold software is long, according to the paper, which is online at Among other things, the researchers said, ballots could be altered by anyone with access to a machine, so that a voter might think he is casting a ballot for one candidate while the vote is recorded for an opponent. ...

From MSNBC: 07/24/03
E-voting flaws risk ballot fraud
Scientists warn of big security holes in version of software

From Scoop (NZ):
Friday, 25 July 2003, 2:03 pm

From The NYT: July 31, 2003
Suit Says Machines Missed 60,000 Votes in 2000 Race
The votes of as many as 60,000 people in New York City may not have been counted in the 2000 presidential election because of an adjustment made to city voting machines back in 1964, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday by advocacy groups. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Working Families Party and a group of community advocates and minority voters, accuses the city and state boards of elections of disenfranchising these voters, who represented about 2.7 percent of the overall city turnout. The advocates say voters in poor and immigrant communities were more likely to have been among those whose votes had not been counted. ...

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