December 29, 2007

Dear presidential candidates: say no to paperless primaries

Posted in election audits, Elections, paper ballots, politics, voting, voting machines tagged , , , at 11:43 am by bluebanshee

Sean Flaherty of Iowans for Voting Integrity has penned an eloquent letter to the current crop of presidential hopefuls urging them to insist on paper ballots in the upcoming primaries. He calls particular attention to the well-documented problems with the paperless DRE called the iVotronic that will be used in the early-voting state of South Carolina (but this machine is also used in many other states including populous Pennsylvania, Texas, and Indiana).

Reproduced below is Sean’s well-footnoted plea to the presidential candidates to request paper for the presidential primaries.

I write to call your attention to the insecurity of South Carolina’s upcoming Presidential primary, and to respectfully urge that you request the election officials of South Carolina to use paper ballots, and conduct manual audits of electronic vote tallies in the January 19 Republican primary.

South Carolina uses a paperless touch screen system statewide, the iVotronic [1] Paperless electronic voting is reckless in any right, but the iVotronic has managed to become notorious on its own terms. Key facts:

  • A report released December 14, 2007 by Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner found “critical security vulnerabilities” in the iVotronic. The iVotronic can be accessed and manipulated by a person using only a magnet and a personal digital assistant.[2] Brunner recommends scrapping the iVotronic, along with all touch screen voting machines.[3]

  • Princeton computer scientist Edward Felten wrote of Ohio’s findings, “Even if you don’t think anyone would try to steal an election, this should still scare you. A machine with so many design errors must also be susceptible to misrecording or miscounting votes due to the ordinary glitches and errors that always plague computer systems. Even if all poll workers and voters were angels, this machine would be too risky to use.[4]

  • On December 17, Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman decertified the iVotronic. [5]

  • The Republican Party of Wharton County, Texas has decided not to use the iVotronic in its March 2008 primary. Voters noticed that the machine flipped votes in November 2007 elections.[6]

  • The iVotronic is the machine of Sarasota 2006 fame, producing thousands of undervotes in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, as well as high undervotes in other races in six Florida counties that used the machines. [1]

  • It is the same machine thar flipped votes[2] in Texas, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Florida, and yes, South Carolina, in 2006: “Douglas Jones, a computer scientist at the University of Iowa, says he’s heard similar stories from voters in several states, including one computer scientist in South Carolina who said that his attempts to vote for one candidate on the iVotronic were repeatedly changed to an opposing candidate by the time he got to the voter verification screen.”[3]

It would be a pity if a Presidential candidate drops out, claims front-runner status, or is subjected to an on-the-ropes news cycle as a result of his or her showing in an unverifiable primary election. I hope that you can influence South Carolina to make its Presidential primary a verifiable election.

[2] “E-voting Failures in the 2006 Mid-Term Elections.” Joint Report by VotersUnite, VoteTrustUSA, Pollworkers for Democracy, Voter Action.

[3] “All Four Major E-voting Machines Flip Votes in Early Voting.” By Warren Stewart.

[4] “Ohio: the Scariest E-voting Report Yet.” By Ed Felten.

[5] ”Coffman: Voting machines don’t measure up.” By Christopher Osher. Denver Post, December 17, 2007

[6] “GOP in Wharton County Back to Old Ballots.” By Alan Bernstein. Houston Chronicle, November 30, 2007.


[8] “E-voting Failures in the 2006 Mid-Term Elections.” Joint Report by VotersUnite, VoteTrustUSA, Pollworkers for Democracy, Voter Action.

[9] “All Four Major E-voting Machines Flip Votes in Early Voting.” By Warren Stewart.


1 Comment »

  1. Bill said,

    The use of the South Carolina paperless ballots is a direct violation of the States own Constitution:


    SECTION 1.

    Elections to be by secret ballot; protection of right of suffrage.

    All elections by the people shall be by secret ballot,

    but the ballots shall not be counted in secret!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The right of suffrage, as regulated in this Constitution, shall be protected by laws regulating elections and prohibiting, under adequate penalties, all undue influence from power, bribery, tumult, or improper conduct.

    You can easily verify this by googling the South Carolina Constitution.

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