Sunday, November 2, 2008

Digest of electronic voting threats to Tuesday's election

The integrity of Tuesday's election is under threat. The threat lies in electronic voting machines. The majority of the news reports on electronic voting machine errors involve votes from the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama. We have begun to see a pattern of "vote-flipping," or vote-switching," from Barack Obama to John McCain. Television talk show host and media executive, Oprah Winfrey experienced voting on a machine that did not register her vote. As we see in a video at the upper right, she recounts her frustration with the voting machine.

While we are presently seeing more concern about Democratic votes flipping to the Republican candidate, corruption of vote integrity can swing either way. Just as this writer will doubt a McCain victory (after near universal polls giving safe margins to Obama), voters can doubt the legitimacy of Democratic victories. Republicans can doubt the legitimacy of the Democratic sweep of 2006; and they can cry foul this Tuesday should Obama win.
As a matter of principle, the electronic machines should be scrapped. We should return to the lever machines. These machines are still in use in New York City. They have served New York with very few major glitches for generations. We should not blindly rush to technology, simply because it is new. Technology-fetish is jeopardizing the legitimacy of our electoral democracy.

And now the digest of electronic voting trouble, with a mind to recent news:

Brennan Center and other places researched the vulnerabilities issue.
The generic term for electronic voting machines appears to be: digital recording electronic systems (DRE).
All states have electronic systems, except New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. These states have combinations of electronic systems and more traditional systems. Only New York State retains lever pulling machines. Oregon has optically scanned mail-in ballots.
Click here for Pew Center on the States' chart on voting systems, by state,

“Colorado Independent” reports: County Clerk in one Colorado county quarantines voting machines.

Research sponsored by Common Cause:
--which cites June 2006 Brennan Center report on vulnerablities of machine hacking.

Cause of vote flipping.

Viruses can be planted in the ES&S machines.
As of May 2008, fears that machine could be virus-infected.

Some battleground –including Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania-- states use computers that were demonstrated in previous elections to have machines that were vulnerable to hacking:
2006 HBO documentary that documented problems that indicate problems with machines' integrity: Hacking Democracy.

iVotronic machines deemed vulnerable to virus-hacking and vote-flipping: “More confirmation of vote flipping by e-voting machines,” Under the Dome, April 19, 2007.

16 states carry the vulnerable iVotronic machines:
Suspicions that there is coincidence of where certain candidates do well, and where there are patterns of problematic voting: per Bev Harris, of "I'm supposed to be nonpartisan," Harris said. "But I looked at a dozen states way before the primaries that I identified would have problems, and it's almost a 100 percent correlation with where (Sen. Hillary) Clinton has done well."Faulty Machines Ready to Count Your Vote,” Miller-McCune, May 12, 2008.

One Colorado county quarantined a problematic voting machine: Bradblog, 10/30/08 .

Other vote problems:
“Vote-Fraud Fears Fall Before Disenfranchisement Fear,” Miller-McCune, October 24, 2008, The decisions, either by judges or secretaries of state, bring to a close several of the legal battles detailed in the latest compendium of swing-state disputes reported earlier this week, and focus on the right to vote trumping the fear of fraud.

Voters for winning candidates have more confidence in integrity of system in counting their vote, than voters for losing candidates: “Do Americans Trust Their Voting System? Miller-McCune, October 29, 2008 .

Distrustful citizens conduct their own exit polls: “Citizen Exit Poll Driven by Distrust” October 31, 2008 .

Democratic National Committee attention to issues of machines' vulnerability to hacking or flipping: none.
Major media, such as national television networks to these issues is null. Only more marginal outlets are giving attention to this issue. Type a Google news searches of the words "vote flipping" with the quote marks closing the quote. You will get minor media outlets. The most notable media outlets giving attention to the story include: MarketWatch, CNN International, Guardian [UK], and one New York Times story (albeit, at the date of October 24, this is dated; there needs to be an update on this story). There are no other nationally known newspapers, no major television networks giving attention to the story.
Where there is hardly any TV news attention, there is hardly any public consciousness on the issue.

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