ELECTRONIC VOTE COUNTING ISSUES

(and vote verification)

(the need for random audits)

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This 'Electronic Vote Counting Issues' page

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More voting information (and maps and charts) may be added,
if I ever find time to re-visit this page.

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing,
those who count the votes decide everything."
- Joseph Stalin

Table of Contents:

(links to sections of this page, below)


End of Table of Contents.   Start of Voting Issues contents.

NOTE:
You can use an option like 'Find in This Page ...' of your web browser to find keywords on this page, such as 'executive' or 'manager' or 'ceo' or 'scan' or 'vote' or 'switch'.

INTRODUCTION to Electronic Voting Issues
(Vote Counting)

< Go to Table of Contents, above. >

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Why vote?

Given the current state of affairs, if votes in your state are to be done via electronic recording or counting (and most votes will be in 2006), votes in your state are likely to be switched

  • by electronic ballot-box stuffing

    or

  • by vote counting programs.

The votes could be switched to whatever outcome the vendors or executives or programmers of the electronic machines and programs want --- with no way for anyone to prove otherwise.

The following map indicates how inconsistent, across the states, the laws are --- in relation to

  • assuring verifiable votes ("voter-verified votes")

    and

  • assuring accurate, honest counting of votes.



This map shows states with and without
audit requirements/trails/capabilities.

If you live in

  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia, or
  • Wyoming

there is a good chance that your vote has been switched in the past --- OR it may easily be switched in the future.

And the situation isn't much better in the remaining states.

For example, Ohio specifies using a paper trail in the event of a recount. But there have been problems in Ohio, as pointed out in the 'Suspicious Events' section below. Furthermore, since Ohio is converting to electronic voting machines, many of which are Diebold machines, and Diebold resists providing paper printout for voters to verify, it is going to be impossible to perform recounts.


Much Concern By the Media about Polls ---
and no concern about how votes are counted:

I cannot believe all the TV and newspaper stories reporting on what the polls are saying --- while hardly anything is being said by 'the media' about how the votes are going to be verified and counted.

What does it matter what the polls say?!
Given the current state of things, the polls mean nothing.

Remember:

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing,
those who count the votes decide everything."


A Very Good Article

If you have not read the article "Will the next election be hacked?" in the 5 Oct 2006 Rolling Stone magazine (Jack Nicholson on cover) --- by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

BE SURE TO READ IT.

Here is a link to the on-line article at 'rollingstone.com'.

If that link is inaccessible or goes dead, here is a link to an archive of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. articles such as:

And, in case these links go dead, here is a local copy of the 'Will the next election be hacked? article.

In the remainder of this page, whenever quotes are provided from that Rolling Stone article, they will be designated as coming from 'reference <1>'.

The article is rather rambling.

This web page is meant to

  • organize that rambling (see the 'Table of Contents' above),
  • allow for searching by keywords,
  • add graphics,
  • establish a place to add information from other sources,
  • provide links to other sources.

In its rambling, the Rolling Stone article points out "irregularities" in 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections in states such as Florida, Maryland, Texas, Ohio.

Republicans control at least three of the four companies that provide most of the voting machines and vote gathering-and-counting systems. Those three companies are Diebold, ES&S (Election Systems and Software), and Hart InterCivic.

This un-objective ownership of the vote gathering and counting processes is reason enough to put into place consistent systems, in all the states, to assure that

  1. the vote-counting outcomes are audit-able, and
  2. votes can be verified, or even re-done, if significant doubts are raised.

The companies that provide voting machines and scanners also provide the computer programs and computer systems that count up the votes --- votes gathered from electronic scanners and touch-screen voting machines. This is a situation that offers too much temptation to tamper with results --- if not this year then some year in the future. There is no system of checks and balances in the U.S. voting system(s).

Most states do not even have laws spelling out EFFECTIVE audit procedures. And many states lack laws requiring paper trails that are verified by the voters as they vote. Nor is there good safe-keeping of those records, when they exist.

This situation needs to rectified --- as quickly as possible.


The cases of suspected vote-switching by vote-counting computer programs makes the words "democracy" and "freedom" seem like a joke.

Some of the 'suspected' cases have been 'indirectly verified' by means such as noting some extreme cases of 'actual' votes being far different from expected votes.

Is this what the U.S. soldiers are fighting for in Iraq?
Is this the kind of voting system that Bush wants to install in Iraq?
Thomas Jefferson et. al. must be rolling over in their graves.

It's a sad situation our children are inheriting.

This situation makes me not want to vote, because my vote, here in Virginia (which has no required paper trail nor effective-audit requirements), can easily be switched.


Because of past "irregularities" some U.S. counties require paper ballots. But there is no consistency across the country. An article in PC World (Nov 2006) "E-voting: No Fix Yet" provided the nice map above that shows the inconsistencies.

Here is a link to that on-line article.

In the remainder of this page, whenever quotes are provided from this PC World article, they will be designated as coming from 'reference <2>'.


Having no way to perform consistent audits of election results, in all counties/precincts/parishes (voting entities) of the country, is no way to run a democracy.

I don't care if the electronic voting machines are controlled and programmed by far-right-wingers --- OR far-left-wingers --- OR heaven's angels --- OR hell's angels.

No matter who controls the machines and the vote counting computer programs, there should be EFFECTIVE methods to AUDIT (confirm) election results --- at any vote counting site.

Otherwise, we do not have a democracy. Just a facade.


Corporations have auditors that audit their books --- not by going over every little expense and income item --- but by doing RANDOM checks.

So too should elections have the capability to do EFFECTIVE RANDOM checks at sites where there are irregularities.

One method:

GROUPS of 1000 ballots could be labelled with the same number. Each voter goes home knowing the number of his ballot.

If voting at a voting site comes into question :

  1. A ballot-group-number of the site is drawn, randomly.

  2. The 1000 (or thereabouts) people who had ballots with that group-number would be asked to re-vote. (If there are not at least 900 people in that group, then additional groups would be drawn and summoned to vote, to make around a thousand votes.)

  3. If the results from the thousand-or-so votes were, say, more than 5% different from the results for the whole voting site, then a re-count of the whole site would be done. (And if there are 'irregularities' in the gathering or storing of several percent or more of the site's votes, then the vote would be re-done. Anything less would be a travesty of justice.)

NOTE that the recount capability requires a paper/printed/recorded vote that was verified by the voter at election time --- and it requires safe-keeping of those records until the recount time-period (about a year or two) is over.

If the records are compromised, then the voting site should re-do the vote.

To assure our democracy, I do not think that is too much to require.


I was at a outdoor rock concert on a farm in Poinette, Wisconsin around 1970. A large fire broke out near a set of trees on the farmer's land. The people in that area quickly rose up and, by force of numbers, put out the fire in less than a minute. That little event visibly demonstrated the capability of a group of citizens to band together and do good very quickly.

Similarly, if there were a question of accuracy of election results, I have no doubt that (most of) a 1000 people would quickly respond to see what the proper results were.

And if there appeared to be a discrepancy, the voting at the site should be re-done, if necessary. I think most voters would comply to assure a valid count.


I think that most people in the U.S. really do believe in a true democracy.

I do not mind if my candidate loses --- I just want the loss to be fair and square.

I think that is what most responsible citizens in this country want.


There are a lot of videos on YouTube about the possibility that elections can be tampered with by some of the vote counting companies --- and videos about the probability that elections have been tampered with.

Example titles :

  • "Steal an election with Diebold machine in one minute"
  • "Rigged USA Elections Exposed"
  • "Ballot Box Treason"
  • "Election Fraud 2006"

These videos posted at YouTube have prompted comments such as :

"As a software developer, I will NEVER recommend electronic voting systems. That basically puts whatever is left of our democracy is the hands and control of a few - the software developers, and those who control the developers - not to mention security flaws, exploits and viruses.

I know what is possible... and too much is possible."


Here is a summary, from reference <1> :

"Today ... companies are being given unprecedented and frightening power not only to provide these [voting] machines but to store and count our votes in secret, without any real oversight."

"You do not have to believe in conspiracy theories to fear for the integrity of our electoral system : The right to vote is simply too important --- and too hard won --- to be surrendered without a fight. It is time for Americans to reclaim our democracy from private interests."

Go to Table of Contents, above.

Vote Counting - SUSPICIOUS EVENTS

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CALIFORNIA events :

The following quote comes from reference <1> :

"In San Diego [in early 2006], poll workers took machines home for unsupervised 'sleepovers' before the vote, leaving the equipment vulnerable to tampering."

More on California from reference <1> :

"In California, voters filed suit last March [2006?] to challenge the use of a Diebold touch-screen system --- a move that has ... prompted eight counties to sign affidavits saying they won't use the machine in November [2006]."


CONNECTICUT events :

Connecticut is a state that is going to do random audits after the Nov 7, 2006 elections --- somewhat like I proposed above. But I proposed 'group-numbers' on ballots --- to allow for an audit capability while preserving the privacy of each vote. Connecticut does not seem to have detailed such a system, to help assure an audit capability.

In any case, the Secretary of the State (SOTS) office, in conjunction with the University of Connecticut's Department of Computer Science and Engineering, plans to perform random audits --- by some apparently-undisclosed means.

Here, at a 'connecticutlocalpolitics' blog, is an article announcing the 2006 audit plan in Connecticut.

In case that link goes dead, here is the announcement from the Secretary of the State's office:

    "Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said today that her office and the University of Connecticut's Department of Computer Science and Engineering will perform random audits following the November 7th [2006] election in cities and towns using optical scan voting technology in place of lever machines. The audits will be done to examine how the machines worked [???] and to ensure the reliability of Connecticut's voting technology.

    Secretary Bysiewicz said her office will work with UConn Computer Science Professor Alexander Shvartsman, whose department this year formed a partnership with the Office of the Secretary of the State to assist in certification and acceptance testing of the new voting technology, as well as the citizens' group TrueVoteCT. These audits will be performed randomly in the twenty-five (25) Connecticut towns that will begin using the optical scan voting machines in place of lever machines this year."

Hopefully they will store and safe-guard a "hard-copy" trail that has been verified by the individual voters --- and hopefully they will insist on voter-verified hard-copy of each vote.

Note that the Connecticut plan proves that an audit (or re-count) is not impossibly complex or expensive to do.

It seems reasonable to require that all states/counties in the U.S. be prepared to do this kind of audit in federal elections when questions arise.

It is nice to see that there are still some people left in the country who are willing to "do the right thing" instead of thinking of inventive new names for acts and organizations that are doing the opposite of what their name implies.

Examples:
The Clean Air Act actually allows-and-facilitates-and-encourages putting more pollutants in the air --- the Healthy Forest Act promotes drilling --- HAVA (the Help America Vote Act) allows-and-facilitates-and-encourages voting systems that are bound to be abused --- etc. etc.

There are a lot of people who, over the past 400 years, have put a lot of sweat and ingenuity into many wonderful things in this country. It is disgusting when criminals (high and low) do things that undo those good works and make a mockery of them.


FLORIDA events :

The following quote comes from reference <1> :

    "... many electronic machines don't produce a paper record that can be recounted when equipment malfunctions --- an omission that practically invites malicious tampering.

    'Every board of election has staff members with the technological ability to fix an election,' Ion Sancho, an election supervisor in Leon County, Florida told me.

    'Even one corrupt staffer can throw an election. Without paper records, it could happen under my nose and there is no way I'd ever find out about it. With a few key people in the right places, it would be possible to throw a presidential election."

More from reference <1> :

In the 2000 presidential election, "electronic machines in Volusia County erroneously subtracted more than 16,000 votes from Al Gore's total."

"Later, after an internal investigation, CBS described the mistake as 'critical' in the network's decision" [to call Florida for Bush, prematurely].

"Seeing what was an apparent spike for Bush, Gore conceded the election --- then revised his decision after a campaign staffer investigated and discovered that Gore was actually ahead in Volusia by 13,000 votes."

"Investigators traced the mistake to Global Election Systems, the firm later acquired by Diebold. Two months after the election, an internal memo from Talbot Iredale, the company's master programmer, blamed the problem on a memory card that had been improperly --- and unnecessarily --- uploaded."

    "Amid the furor over hanging chads and [poorly designed] ballots in Florida, however, the 'faulty memory card' was all but forgotten.

    Instead of sharing culpability for the Florida catastrophe, voting-machine companies used their political clout to present their product as the solution.

    In October 2002, President Bush signed the 'Help America Vote Act' (HAVA), requiring states and counties to upgrade their voting systems with electronic machines and giving vast sums of money to state officials to distribute to the tightknit cabal of largely Republican vendors."

See the voting-LAWS section below, for more on HAVA.

    [The electronic voting machine company CEO's must have been laughing at how the stupid media were concentrating on 'hanging chads' instead of reporting on how electronic vote counting could be used to 'fudge' election results with no recourse to re-counts.]

More on Florida from reference <1> :

    "Electronic voting machines also caused widespread problems [in the 2004 national elections] in Florida, where Bush bested Kerry by 381,000 votes.

    When statistical experts from the University of California examined the state's official tally, they discovered a disturbing pattern:

      'The data show with 99.0 percent certainty that a county's use of electronic voting is associated with a disproportionate increase in votes for President Bush.

      Compared to counties with paper ballots, counties with electronic voting machines were significantly more likely to show increases in support for Bush between 2000 and 2004.'

    The three counties with the most discrepancies --- Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade --- were also the most heavily Democratic.

    Electronic voting machines, the report concluded, may have improperly awarded as many as 260,000 votes to Bush.

    'No matter how many factors and variables we took into consideration, the significant correlation in the votes for President Bush and electronic voting cannot be explained," said Michael Hout, a member of the National Academy of Sciences."

    "Charles Stewart III, an MIT professor who specializes in voter behavior and methodology, was initially skeptical of the study --- but was unable to find any flaw in the results.

    'You can't break it --- I've tried,' he told the Washington Post. 'There's soemthing funky in the results from the electronic-machine Democratic counties."

More on Florida from reference <1> :

    "In Florida, an astonishing new law actually makes it illegal to count paper ballots by hand after they've already been tallied by machine. But twenty-seven [27] states now require a paper trail, and others are considering similar requirements."

More on Florida in the following graph --- from 'ustogether.org' :

This graph does not indicate the election for which these discrepancies-by-county were reported. Presumably it was the 2004 presidential elections.

Note that, according to this graph, we have more to fear from the optical-scan voting method than from the touch-screen voting method.

And note that the beyond-expected-Republican-vote-totals in the counties doing optical scans were not just 10 or 20 percent beyond --- but 100, 200, 400, even 700 percent beyond the expected totals.

At that level of 'over-voting', there must be some counties in which the Republican totals must have gone well beyond the total of registered Republicans in the county.

Perhaps there may be some counties in which the Republican-vote-count exceeds the total of Republican-plus-Democrat registered voters.

I have read of at least one case where a count like that occurred --- and was 'corrected'.

I expect that, as I find time, I will be able to post more specific cases of suspicious voting events here --- for Florida and for other states.


GEORGIA events :

The following quotes come from reference <1> :

    "During the presidential election [in 2000], more than 94,000 paper ballots had gone uncounted in Georgia --- almost double the national average --- and Secretary of State Cathy Cox was under pressure to make sure every vote was recorded properly."

    "... in May 2002, officials with Cox's office signed a contract with Diebold --- paying the company a record 54 million dollars to install 19,000 electronic voting machines across the state ... its bid was the highest among nine competing vendors."

    "Diebold had only five months to install the new machines --- a 'very narrow window of time to do such a big deployment'. The old systems stored in warehouses had to be replaced with new equipment; dozens of state officials and poll workers had to be trained in how to use the touch-screen machines. ... There was only one way that the job could be done in time --- if 'the vendor had control of the environment'."

    "That is precisely what happened. In late July, to speed deployment of the new machines, Cox quietly signed an agreement with Diebold that effectively privatized Georgia's entire electoral system. The company was authorized to put together ballots, program machines and train poll workers across the state --- all without any official supervision."

    "[Diebold] ran the election. [There were] 356 people that Diebold brought into the state. Diebold opened and closed the polls and tabulated the votes. Diebold convinced Cox that it would be best if the company ran everything due to the time constraints, and in the interest of a trouble-free election, she let [Diebold] do it."

    "... in mid-August [2002], the president of Diebold's election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrived in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a 'patch', a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program."

    "Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox's agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself."

    "[Diebold employees] were told not to talk to county personnel about it. ... It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level."

    "Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties --- the state's largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, [Diebold team members] entered warehouses early in the morning ... went in at 7:30AM and were out by 11. There was a universal key to unlock the machines."

    "The patch comes on a memory card that is inserted into a machine. Eventually, all the memory cards end up on a server that tablulates the votes --- where [one] can ... alter the outcome of an election."

    "[A] program [can say] 'I want my candiate to stay ahead by three or four percent or whatever. Those programs can include a built-in delete that erases itself after it's done."

    "It is impossible to know whether the machines were rigged to alter the election in Georgia. Diebold's machines provided no paper trail, making a recount impossible.

    But the tally in Georgia that November [2002] surprised even the most seasoned political observers.

    Six days before the vote, polls showed Sen. Max Cleland, a decorated war veteran and Democratic incumbent, leading his Republican opponent Saxby Chambliss --- darling of the Christian Coalition --- by five percentage points.

    In the governor's race, Democrat Roy Barnes was running a decisive ELEVEN POINTS ahead of Republican Sonny Perdue.

    But on Election Day, Chambliss won with fifty-three percent of the vote and Perdue won with fifty-one percent."

    "Diebold insists that the patch was installed 'with the approval and oversight of the state.' But after the election, the Georgia secretary of state's office submitted a 'punch list' to Bob Urosevich [president of Diebold election systems] of 'issues and concerns related to the statewide voting system that we would like Diebold to address.' ... In a separate letter, Secretary Cox asked Urosevich about Diebold's use of substitute memory cards and defective equipment as well as widespread problems that caused machines to freeze up and improperly record votes. The state threatened to delay further payments to Diebold until 'these punch list items will be corrected and completed."

    "Diebold's response has not been made public --- but its machines remain in place for Georgia's election this fall [Nov 2006]."

In the words of a former contractor working on Diebold's installation of voting machines in Georgia, "What I saw was basically a corporate takeover of our voting system."


MARYLAND events :

The following quote comes from reference <1> :

    "As in Georgia, officials [in Maryland] granted Diebold control over much of the state's election systems during the 2002 midterm elections."

      "(In the interests of disclosure my sister [that is, the sister of Robert Kennedy Jr.] was a candidate for governor that year and lost by a margin consistent with pre-election polls.)"

    "On Election Night, when [a former consultant for Diebold] accompanied Diebold president Bob Urosevich and marketing director Mark Radke to the tabulation center in Montgomery County where the votes would be added up, he was stunned to find the room empty. 'Not a single Maryland election official was there to retrieve the memory cards', he recalls. As cards containing every vote in the county began arriving in canvas bags, the Diebold executives plugged them into a group of touch-screen tabulators linked into a central server, which was also controlled by a Diebold employee."

    " 'It would have been very easy for any one of us to take a contaminated card out of our pocket, put it into the system, and download some malicious code that would then end up in the server, impacting every other vote that went in, before and after', said [the Diebold ex-consultant]. 'We had absolute control of the tabulations. We could have fixed the election if we wanted. We had access, and that's all you need. I can honestly say that every election I saw with Diebold in charge was compromised --- if not in the count, at least in the security."

      [A NOTE from the assembler of this page:
      I do not know why the consultant continues to harp on the memory cards and software patches to voting machines. A much bigger concern, to me, is the software that does the counting --- the software on the central server --- since the people managing and writing and maintaining that software are hardly disinterested parties to the election processes and their outcomes. It would be much easier for 'interested parties' to guarantee election results by shifting/inserting/deleting votes in the server software than in thousands of memory cards. In addition, the risk of discovery is lower, and the likelihood of success in rigging the election outcome is greater.]

    "After the election, Maryland planned to install Diebold's 'AccuVote-TS' electronic machines across the entire state -- until four computer scientists at Johns Hopkins and Rice universities released an analysis of the company's software source code in July 2003."

    "'This voting system is far below even the most minimal security standards applicable in other contexts', the scientists concluded. It was, in fact, 'unsuitable for use in a general election'."

    "'With electronic machines, you can commit wholesale fraud with a single alteration of software', says Avi Rubin, a computer-science professor at Johns Hopkins who has received $7.5 million from the National Science Foundation to study electronic voting. 'There are a million little tricks when you build software that allow you to do whatever you want. If you know the precinct demographics, the machine can be programmed to recognize its precinct and strategically flip votes in elections that are several years in the future. No one will know it happened."

    "In response to the study, Maryland commissioned two additional reports on Diebold's equipment. The first was conducted by Science Applications International Corporation [SAIC] --- a company that, along with Diebold was part of an industry group that promotes electronic voting machines. SAIC conceded that Diebold's machines were 'at high risk of compromise' --- but concluded that the state's 'procedural controls and general voting environment reduce or eliminate many of the vulnerabilities identified in the Rubin report.' "

    "Despite the lack of any real 'procedural controls' during the 2002 election, Gov. Robert Ehrlich gave the state election board the go-ahead to pay $55.6 million for Diebold's AccuVote-TS system."

    "The other analysis, commissioned by the Maryland legislature, was a practical test of the systems by RABA Technologies, a consulting firm experienced in both defense and intelligence work for the federal government."

    "Computer scientists hired by RABA to hack into six of Diebold's machines discovered a major flaw: The company had built what are known as 'back doors' into the software that could enable a hacker to hide an unauthorized and malicious code in the system."

    "William Arbaugh, of the University of Maryland, gave the Diebold system an 'F' with 'the possibility of raising it to a 'C' with extra credit --- that is, if they follow the recommendations we gave them.' "

    "But according to recent e-mails obtained by Rolling Stone [magazine], Diebold not only failed to follow up on most of the recommendations, it worked to cover them up."

    " Michael Werheimer, who led the RABA study, now serves as an assistant deputy director in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence."

    " 'We made numerous recommendations that would have required Diebold to fix these issues,' he writes in one e-mail, 'but were rebuffed by the argument that the machines were physically protected and could not be altered by someone outside the established chain of custody.' "

      [A NOTE from the assembler of this page:
      The REAL problem is with those INSIDE 'the established chain of custody'.]

    "In another e-mail, Werheimer says that Diebold and state officials worked to downplay his team's dim assessment. 'We spent hours dealing with Diebold lobbyists and election officials who sought to minimize our impact,' he recalls. 'The results were risk-managed in favor of expediency and potential catastrophe.' "

    "During the 2004 presidential election, with Diebold machines in place across the state [of Maryland], things began to go wrong from the very start. A month before the vote, an abandoned Diebold machine was discovered in a bar in Baltimore. 'What's really worrisome', says [an ex-Diebold-consultant],'is that someone could get hold of all the technology --- for manipulation --- if they knew the inner workings of just one machine.' "

    "Election Day was a complete disaster. 'Countless numbers of machines were down because of what appeared to be flaws in Diebold's system,' says [the ex-Diebold-consultant], who was part of a crew of roving technicians charged with making sure that the polls were up and running. 'Memory cards overloading, machines freezing up, poll workers afraid to turn them on or off for rear of losing votes.' "

    "Then after the polls closed, Diebold technicians who showed up to collect the memory cards containing the votes found that many were missing. 'The machines are gone,' one janitor told [the ex-Diebold-consultant] --- picked up, apparently, by the vendor who had delivered them in the first place. 'There was major chaos because there were so many cards missing,' [the ex-Diebold-consultant] said."

    More on Maryland from reference <1> :

    ".. touch screen technology continues to create chaos at the polls. On September 12th [2006? or 2005?], in Maryland's first all-electronic election, voters were turned away from the polls because election officials had failed to distribute the electronic access cards needed to operate Diebold machines. By the time the cards were found on a warehouse shelf and delivered to every precinct, untold numbers of voters had lost the chance to cast ballots."


NEBRASKA events :

From reference <1> :

    " "ES&S (Election Systems and Software) in an earlier corporate incarnation was chaired by Chuck Hagel who in 1996 became the first Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from Nebraska in twenty-four years --- winning a close race in which eighty-five percent of the votes were tallied by his former company."


OHIO events :

The following quote comes from reference <1> :

    "In Ohio, --- where dirty tricks may have cost John Kerry the presidency --- a government report uncovered large and unexplained discrepancies in vote totals recorded by machines in Cuyahoga County."

    In the 2004 national election --- "In Ohio, jammed and inoperable machines were reported throughout Toledo. In heavily Democratic areas of Youngstown, nearly 100 voters pushed 'Kerry' and watched 'Bush' light up. At least twenty machines had to be recalibrated in the middle of the voting process for flipping Kerry votes to Bush. Similar 'vote hopping' was reported by voters in other states."

      [A HUMOROUS ASIDE :
      This video gives an idea of what a voter might see on a rigged touch-screen machine.

      If you have trouble playing this video with your default wmv-file-player by simply clicking on the link, right-click on the link and choose to save the link-target to your local disk. Then play the wmv-file with a wmv-player of your choice.]

    "The widespread glitches didn't deter Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell --- who also chaired Bush's re-election comapign in Ohio --- from cutting a deal in 2005 that would have guaranteed Diebold a virtual monopoly on vote counting in the state."

    "Local election officials alleged that the deal, which came only a few months after Blackwell bought nearly $10,000 in Diebold stock, was a violation of state rules requiring a fair and competitive bidding process. Facing a lawsuit, Blackwell agreed to allow other companies to provide machines as well."

    "This November [2006], voters in forty-seven [Ohio] counties will cast their ballots on Diebold machines --- in a pivotal election in which Blackwell is running as the Republican candidate for governor."

      [Sounds like Nebraska and Chuck Hagel.]


TEXAS events :

The following quote comes from reference <1> :

    "In Tarrant Count, Texas, [in early 2006, in primaries] electronic voting machines counted some ballots as many as six times, recording 100,000 more votes than were actually cast."

More on Texas from reference <1> :

    "Questions also arose in Texas in 2004. William Singer, an 'election programmer' in Tarrant County, wrote the secretary of state's office after the vote to report that ES&S pressured officials to install unapproved software during the presidential primaries."

    " 'What I was expected to do in order to 'pull off' an election,' Singer wrote, 'was far beyond the kind of practices that I believe should be standard and accepted in the election industry.' "

    "The company denies the charge, but in an e-mail this month [in 2006], Singer elaborated that ES&S employees had pushed local election officials to pressure the secretary of state to accept 'a software change at such a last minute there would be no choice, and effectively avoid certification.' "

    "Despite such reports, Texas continues to rely on ES&S. In primaries held in Jefferson County earlier this year [2006], electronic votes had to be recounted after error messages prevented workers from completing their tabulations."

    "In April, with early voting in local elections only a week away, officials across the state were still waiting to receive the programming from ES&S needed to test the machines for accuracy."

    "Calling the situation 'completely unacceptable and disturbing', Texas director of elections Ann McGeehan authorized local officials to create 'emergency paper ballots' as a backup."

    " 'We regret the unacceptable position that many political subdivisions are in due to poor performance by their contracted vendor,' McGeegan added."


Reports on voting 'events' in MULTIPLE-STATES :

Here is a PDF file that shows 51 counties in which there was evidence of mis-counts of the vote-swiching type --- between 2002 and 2006. The locations are indicated on a map of the United States. And a bibliography of newpaper reports of the occurences follows the map.

In two (2) of the counties, the vote gathering and counting was done by Diebold. In one (1) county, the vote gathering and counting was done by Hart InterCivic. In the other 48 counties, the vote gathering-counting was done by ES&S.

It seems some serious auditing of ES&S is needed. And if vote-counting-treason is discovered, their contracts should be voided and some executives should be sent to ass-pounding prison.

(Why are 'white-collar' criminals never charged --- much less sent to jail --- while a person who steals a loaf of bread to eat is sent to jail for 20 years? At most, there is a settlement 'out-of-court' with 'no admission of guilt', i.e. immunity --- and the taxpayers or stockholders have to pay any monetary penalties. It's part of the 'American Way' --- embedded in laws enacted by both Republicans and Democrats.)

Vote Counting - VENDORS, EXECUTIVES,
and other PRINCIPALS involved


(a potential Hall of Shame)

< Go to Table of Contents, above. >

< Go to Top of Page, above. >

VENDORS :

From reference <1> :
"Today [2006], eighty percent of all the ballots in America are tallied by four companies --- Diebold, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Sequoia Voting Systems, and Hart InterCivic."

"In 2004, 36 million votes were cast on their touch-screen systems, and millions more were recorded by optical-scan machines owned by the same companies that use electronic technology to tablulate paper ballots."

"The simple fact is, these machines not only break down with regularity, they are easily compromised --- by people inside, and outside the companies."

    [AN ASIDE:
    My main concern is not with the voting machines themselves but with the fact that these companies also control the actual counting of the votes. Again ... as Joseph Stalin said, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing, those who count the votes decide everything."]

"Three of the four companies have close ties to the Republican Party."

"ES&S in an earlier corporate incarnation was chaired by Chuck Hagel who in 1996 became the first Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from Nebraska in twenty-four years --- winning a close race in which eighty-five percent of the votes were tallied by his former company."

"Hart InterCivic ranks among its investors GOP loyalist Tom Hicks, who bought the Texas Rangers from George W. Bush in 1998, making Bush a millionaire fifteen times over."

"And according to campaign-finance records, Diebold, along with its employees and their families, has contributed at least $300,000 to GOP candidates and party funds since 1998 --- including more than $200,000 to the Republican National Committee. In a 2003 fund-raising e-mail, the company's then-CEO Walden O'Dell promised to deliver Ohio's electoral votes to Bush in 2004. That year, Diebold would count the votes in half of Ohio's counties"

    [AN ASIDE :
    This hardly seems to give one confidence that the votes are being counted by parties who can be objective about the outcome and resist the temptation to interfere.]

  • Diebold -
    from reference <1> :
    the world's 3rd largest seller of ATM's [in 2006] ;
    acquired Global Election Systems circa 2002 ;
    Global Election Systems was a voting-machine firm that owned the technology
    that Diebold sold to Georgia ;
    Diebold's bid in Georgia was the highest among 9 vendors.

  • Profiles of ES&S and Hart InterCivic and Sequoia will be added later.
    If you want info now, try a web search.


EXECUTIVES of voting-machine/vote-counting companies :

  • Walden O'Dell -
    CEO of Diebold [in 2002 to 2006-plus].
    In a 2003 fund-raising e-mail, Walden O'Dell promised to deliver Ohio's electoral votes to Bush in 2004. That year, Diebold would count the votes in half of Ohio's counties. O'Dell was a 'constituent' of the U.S. House district represented by Bob Ney.

  • Bob Urosevich -
    President of Diebold's election unit.
    In mid-August [2002], Bob Urosevich, arrived in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas and personally distributed a 'patch' for the software in the Georgia voting machines that Diebold was awarded a contract to install that year. In particular, the software patch was installed on voting machines in the two larges Democratic counties in Georgia --- Dekalb and Fulton. Diebold employees were told, by Urosevich, not to talk to county personnel about the patch installation.

  • Mark Radke -
    marketing director at Diebold

  • Chuck Hagel -
    former chair of the predecessor company to ES&S
    In 1996 Hagel became the first Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from Nebraska in twenty-four years --- winning a close race in which eighty-five (85) percent of the votes were tallied by his former company.

  • Executives of ES&S and Hart InterCivic and Sequoia will be added later. If you want names and info now, try a web search.


GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS :

  • Cathy Cox -
    Secretary of State in Georgia in 2002 when Diebold was chosen to install 19,000 voting machines across the state, for 54 million dollars (the highest bid among nine competing vendors).

  • Lewis Massey -
    Cathy Cox's predecessor as Secretary of State of Georgia ; became a lobbyist for Diebold (circa 2002 to 2006-plus).

  • Bob Ney -
    U.S. House of Representatives ; GOP chairman of the U.S. House Administration Committee. Ney had close ties to the now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff whose firm received at least $275,000 from Diebold to lobby for its touch-screen machines.

    Ney's former chief of staff, David DiStefano, like Abramoff, worked as a registered lobbyist for Diebold, receiving at least $180,000 from Diebold to lobby for HAVA and other 'election reform' issues.

    Ney accepted campaign contributions from DiStefano and counted Diebold's then-CEO O'Dell among his constituents.

    Ney made sure that the HAVA act strongly favored the use of Diebold's machines. Ney also made sure that Diebold and other companies would not be required to equip their machines with printers to provide paper records that could be verified by voters.

    When 212 congressmen from both parties sponsored a bill to mandate a paper trail for all votes, Ney used his position as chairman [of the U.S. House Administration Committee] to prevent the measure from even getting a hearing before his committe.

  • Robert Ehrlich -
    Governor of Maryland. During the 2002 election, Gov. Robert Ehrlich gave the state election board the go-ahead to pay $55.6 million for Diebold's AccuVote-TS system --- in spite of reports from computer scientists at Johns Hopkins, Rice University, and RABA Technologies that pointed out the dreadfully poor security of the Diebold systems. He essentially ignored the reports.

  • J. Kenneth Blackwell -
    Secretary of State of Ohio. J. Kenneth Blackwell --- who chaired Bush's re-election comapign in Ohio --- almost cut a deal in 2005 that would have guaranteed Diebold a virtual monopoly on vote counting in Ohio.

    Local election officials alleged that the deal, which came only a few months after Blackwell bought nearly $10,000 in Diebold stock, was a violation of state rules requiring a fair and competitive bidding process. Facing a lawsuit, Blackwell agreed to allow other companies to provide machines as well.

    In November 2006, voters in forty-seven counties will cast their ballots on Diebold machines --- in a pivotal election in which Blackwell is running as the Republican candidate for governor.


LOBBYISTS for voting-machine/vote-counting companies :

  • David DiStefano -
    worked as a registered lobbyist for Diebold, receiving at least $180,000 from Diebold to lobby for HAVA and other 'election reform' issues.

    DiStefano was former chief of staff for U.S. Representative (TX) Bob Ney, who is/was chairman of the House Administration Committee and who managed to grant favored treatment for Diebold in the HAVA act and who managed to kill a bill by 212 congressmen from both parties that would have mandated a paper trail for all votes.

  • Lewis Massey -
    Cathy Cox's predecessor as Secretary of State of Georgia ; became a lobbyist for Diebold (circa 2002 to 2006-plus).

[AN ASIDE :
Abramoff, DiStefano, Massey were/are lobbyists for Diebold. How many lobbyists does Diebold have anyway?]


COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS in voting-machine/vote-counting companies :

  • Talbot Iredale -
    'master programmer' for Global Election Systems, the company acquired by Diebold circa 2002.

Go to Table of Contents, above.

Vote Counting - PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

< Go to Table of Contents, above. >

< Go to Top of Page, above. >

From reference <1> :

Solution 1 :
"Indeed, there is a remarkably simple solution : equip every touch-screen machine to provide paper receipts that can be verified by voters and recounted in the event of malfunction or tampering. 'The paper is the insurance against the cheating machine,' says Rubin, the computer expert." [See Ari Rubin of Johns Hopkins above.]

"In Florida, an astonishing new law actually makes it illegal to count paper ballots by hand after they've already been tallied by machine. But twenty-seven [27] states now require a paper trail, and others are considering similar requirements."

Solution 2 :
"In New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson has instituted what many consider an even better solution: Voters use paper ballots, which are then scanned and counted electronically. 'We became one of the laughing-stock states in 2004 because the machines were defective, slow, and unreliable,' says Richardson. 'I said to myself, 'I'm not going to go through this again.' The paper-ballot system, as untechnical as it seems, is the most verifiable way we can assure Americans that their vote is counting."

    [AN IMPORTANT ASIDE:
    Electronic scanning, by itself, without audit and recount safeguards, is subject to abuse. In fact, there are reports of probable altered-counts of electronically scanned paper ballots in Florida in past elections.

Graphical evidence of those suspected altered-counts has been published and, in addition, has been posted on the web. One such graph is shown in the Florida section above.]

A cautionary statement, From reference <1> :
"Paper ballots will not completely eliminate the threat of tampering, of course --- after all, election fraud and miscounts have occurred throughout our history. As long as there has been a paper trail, however, our elections have been conducted with some measure of public scrutiny."

Go to Table of Contents, above.

Vote Counting - CRITIQUES from 'Experts'
(relatively knowledgeable people)

< Go to Table of Contents, above. >

< Go to Top of Page, above. >

From reference <1> :

"... before the 2004 [presidential] election, experts warned that electronic voting machines would undermine the integrity of the vote. 'The system we have for testing and certifying voting equipment in this country is not only broken but is virtually nonexistent,' Michael Shamos, a distinguished professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University testified before Congress that June. 'It must be re-created from scratch."

"Two months later, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team --- a division of the Department of Homeland Security --- issued a little-noticed 'cyber-security bulletin.' The alert dealt specifically with a database that Diebold uses in tabulating votes. 'A vulnerability exists due to an undocumented backdoor account,' the alert warned, citing the same kind of weakness identified by the RABA scientists [see the Maryland events section above]. The security flaw, it added, could allow 'a malicious user to modify votes.'"

"Such warnings, however, didn't stop states across the country from installing electronic voting machines for the 2004 election."

More from reference <1> :

"In October 2005, the Government Accountability Office [GAO] issued a damning report on electronic voting machines. Citing widespread irregularities and malfunctions, the government's top watchdog agency concluded that a host of weaknesses with touch-screen and optical-scan technology 'could damage the integrity of ballots, votes, and voting-system software by allowing unauthorized modifications.' "

"Some electronic systems used passwords that were 'easily guessed' or employed identical passwords for numerous systems. Software could be handled and transported with no clear chain of custody, and locks protecting computer hardware were easy to pick. Unsecured memory cards could enable individuals to 'vote multiple times, change vote totals, and produce false election reports.' "

"An even more comprehensive report released in June [2006] by the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan think tank at the New York University School of Law, echoed the GAO's findings. The report --- conducted by a task force of computer scientists and security experts from the government, universities, and the private sector --- was peer-reviewed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology."

"Electronic voting machines widely adopted since 2000, the report concluded, 'pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state, and local elections.' "

"While no instances of hacking have yet been documented, the report identified 120 security threats to three widely used machines --- the easiest method of attack being to utilize ... software that shifts votes from one candidate to another."

    [AN ASIDE :
    A very real 'hacking' or 'evil-doer' threat comes from within --- at the vote counting process --- by the executives and employees of the vote-counting systems. A system must be devised to eliminate any harm that might come because of temptations that those people might experience --- self-interest temptations or monetary temptations or whatever.]

"Computer experts have demonstrated that a successful attack would be relatively simple. In as study released on September 13th [2006], computer scientists at Princeton University created vote-stealing software that can be injected into a Diebold machine in as little as a minute, obscuring all evidence of its presence. They also created a virus that can 'infect' other units in a voting system, committing 'widespread fraud' from a single machine. Within sixty seconds, a lone [evil-doer] can own an election."

More from reference reference <1> :

"It seems insane that such clear threats [voting disruptions in Maryland and elsewhere] to our election system have not stopped the proliferation of touch-screen technology. In 2004, twenty-three [23] percent of Americans cast their votes on electronic ballots --- an increase of twelve percent over 2000. This year [2006], more than one-third of the nation's 8,000 voting jurisdictions are expected to use electronic voting technology for the first time."

Go to Table of Contents, above.

Vote Counting - LAWS (AND LOOPHOLES)

< Go to Table of Contents, above. >

< Go to Top of Page, above. >

From reference <1> :
"In October 2002, President Bush signed the 'Help America Vote Act' (HAVA), requiring states and counties to upgrade their voting systems with electronic machines and giving vast sums of money to state officials to distribute to the tightknit cabal of largely Republican vendors."

"The primary author and steward of HAVA was Rep. Bob Ney, the GOP chairman of the powerful U.S. House Administration Committee. Ney had close ties to the now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff whose firm received at least $275,000 from Diebold to lobby for its touch-screen machines."

"Ney's former chief of staff, David DiStefano, also worked as a registered lobbyist for Diebold, receiving at least $180,000 from the firm to lobby for HAVA and other 'election reform' issues."

"Ney --- who accepted campaign contributions from DiStefano [the lobbyist] and counted Diebold's then-CEO O'Dell among his constituents --- made sure that HAVA strongly favored the use of the company's machines."

"Ney also made sure that Diebold and other companies would not be required to equip their machines with printers to provide paper records that could be verified by voters."

"In a clever twist, HAVA effectively pressures every precinct to provide at least one voting device that has no paper trail --- supposedly so that vision-impaired citizens can vote in secrecy."

"The provision was backed by two little-known advocacy groups :
the National Federation of the Blind, which accepted $1 million from Diebold to build a new research institute, and the American Association of People with Disabilities, which pocketed at least $26,000 from voting-machine compnaies."

"The NFB maintained that a paper voting receipt would jeopardize its members' civil rights --- a position not shared by other groups that advocate for the blind."

"Sinking in the sewage of the Abramoff scandal, Ney agreed on September 15th [2006] to plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges --- but he has already done one last favor for his friends at Diebold. When 212 congressmen from both parties sponsored a bill to mandate a paper trail for all votes, Ney used his position as chairman [of the U.S. House Administration Committee] to prevent the measure from even getting a hearing before his committe."

"The result was that HAVA --- the chief reform effort after the 2000 [election] --- placed much of the nation's electoral system in the hands of for-profit companies. Diebold alone has sold more than 130,000 voting machines --- raking in estimated revenues of at least $230 million."

" 'This whole undertaking [HAVA] was never about voters,' says [a former Diebold contract employee]. 'It was about privatizing elections. HAVA has been turned into a corporate-revenue enhancement scheme.'

    [AN ASIDE :
    More serious than corporate-revenue-enhancement, HAVA has put the vote counting process in the hands of a few non-objective companies --- AND has actually attempted to outlaw any method of auditing the counts --- with the help of Rep. Bob Ney and others, as outlined above in a 'GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS' hall-of-shame section.]

Go to Table of Contents, above.

Vote Counting - LINKS to info sources

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Here is a link to the on-line article "Will the next election be hacked?" in Rolling Stone magazine --- denoted 'reference <1>' herein.

If that link goes dead, there are many other sites on the web that have reproduced that article --- such as at banderasnews.com and organicconsumers.org and globalresearch.ca.

The article is rather rambling, but it points out "irregularities" in 2002 and 2004 elections in states such as Florida, Maryland, Texas, Ohio.

Quotes from this article are organized in sections in this page, above.

From reference <1> :

"Voting-rights activists with the Brad Blog and Black Box Voting are getting the word out [on vote verification and vote counting issues]."

Voter Action, a nonprofit group, has helped file lawsuits in Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and New Mexico to stop the proliferation of touch-screen systems."


Here is a link to the on-line article "E-voting: No Fix Yet" in PC World magazine, denoted 'reference <2>' herein.


You could try WEB SEARCHES with various 'keywords', to find more information on vote counting issues. Examples:

You can change (or add) 'keywords' to get different results.

For example, instead of keywords such as 'fraud' or 'irregularities', you could try words like 'verify' or 'audit' or 'suspicious' or 'statistic' or 'error' or 'lawsuit' or 'illegal' or 'felony' or 'fix' or 'solution' or 'recount' or 'tabulate' or 'tally' or 'paper' or 'ballot' or 'lobbyist' or 'congress'.

Even changing the order of keywords can yield different results.

Go to Table of Contents, above.

Vote Counting - STATISTICS related to voting

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The United States has 180,000 precincts.

Here is a map that shows, by county, the types of voting available in voting locations throughout the United States in the 2004 elections. "About 28.9 percent used electronic voting machines, while 32 percent used optical scan systems, 18.6 percent used punched cards and 12.8 percent pulled levers. Fewer than 1 percent used paper ballots and systems were mixed for 6.79 percent."

Here is a PDF file that shows the types of voting available in voting locations throughout the United States --- in 2004 --- in the form of tables. This information may be used to compare to or verify the methods indicated by the 2004 map colors.

There are also graphs at the bottom of the PDF. One shows the various voting methods plotted as percent-of-counties versus year. The graph indicates that about 45 percent of counties will be using optical scanning in 2006, and about 25 percent will be using touch-screen machines. All other methods of voting are on the decline.

Here is a map that shows, by county, the types of voting available in voting locations throughout the United States in the 2000 elections --- for comparison.

Go to Table of Contents, above.

A little humor about a very serious matter :

For your reference, here is a map showing the Republican-Democrat (red-blue) percentages in the U.S. counties --- in shades of purple (gradations between red and blue) --- as determined by the vote counts (in some cases, 'enhanced' by vendors) in the 2004 national presidential election.

This map gives the 'shades of gray' within each state --- in contrast to an electoral vote map, in which each entire state would be a solid color, red or blue.

Bottom of this
ELECTRONIC VOTE COUNTING ISSUES page.

To return to a previously visited web page location, click on the Back button of your web browser, a sufficient number of times. OR, use the History-list option of your web browser.
OR ...

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Page history:

Page was created 2006 Nov 06.

Page was changed 2018 Oct 25.
(Added css and javascript to try to handle text-size for smartphones, esp. in portrait orientation.)

Page was changed 2020 Aug 29.
(Added some links to alternative sources of the 2006 'Will The Next Election Be Hacked?' article.)

Page was changed 2020 Aug 30.
(Added more links and highlighted more text.)