HOW THEY STEAL YOUR VOTE
William E. Dannemeyer
Member of Congress, 1979-1992
In September, 1950, I turned 21 and have voted in just about every local, state and federal election since. I will vote in the election scheduled for November 7, 2006, and will boycott the ballot box thereafter until two things happen:
(1) The California State Legislature returns the state to paper ballots which automatically provides an audit trail; and
(2) Congress passes a law that federal elections are to take place in the 50 states of the Union with paper ballots which automatically provides an audit trail.
The internet and the electronic revolution over the last twenty years have made enormous changes in our society, including of course how we vote and how our votes are recorded. If the world had no dishonest people, who for a fee will do anything including tampering with electronic voting machines, all of us would be confident that publicly released voting results are as accurate as we can achieve.
Unfortunately, this is not our world. There is in any culture, including America, an element who ridicule the values such as honesty, integrity and justice. This element holds in derision, if not contempt, those of us who affirm these values and these shadow people, working where there is no light, are available for a price to alter election results to serve the interests of those corrupt public officials and private individuals who have created electronic voting machines which knowingly or unintentionally, take your pick, have the capacity to be altered in tabulating vote totals by persons who know how to do it. And we are now told that these thefts can be done on electronic machines now in use without anyone leaving a trail to prove that the tampering has been done.
These facts about the current structure of electronic voting machines have recently seen the light of day, not in the mainstream media, but on the internet and in a recent article by Chris Thompson in August, 2006, entitled,
“THIS DEMOCRACY IS EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES PLEASE STAND BY”
Mr. Lowell Finley, an attorney in Northern California, has lawsuits pending in California, Arizona, Colorado and New York and is preparing to file more in Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.
These lawsuits make the claim that electronic voting machines violate state laws which require reliability in how they operate in that they contain software which is vulnerable to tampering.
After the November 2004 election, Finley and his associates examined the results of the vote in New Mexico and discovered more than 10,000 extra tallies or phantom votes in the ledgers. The New Mexico legislature voted to return the state to paper ballots as soon as economically feasible.
In May 2005, an unknown Finnish computer expert, Mr. Harri Hursti, hacked into a Diebold voting machine in Florida, changed the tabulations, and programmed the memory card so the optical scanning machines display would flash:
“Are we having fun yet?
Mr. Hursti hacked in three different ways in just minutes while being supervised by local election officials testing the system.
What Mr. Hursti did shocked Aviel D. Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University who stated, “The implications of this are pretty astounding.”
In 2004, in the State of Maryland, RABA Technologies, a local computer consulting firm, ran security tests on machines to be used in the upcoming election. RABA team members were able to break into Diebold servers that tabulated voting results. This generation of servers are being used in Florida and Georgia. In addition, the claim has been made that some Diebold machines currently used in California, if activated, people might be able to hack into the system remotely . Gov. Robert Ehrlich broke a partisan stalemate to support a bill to replace Diebold machines with optical scanners that read paper ballots.
One critic of the Diebold machine made this comment:
“The architecture of the machine was built so that it makes it very easy to implement something you shouldn’t. The security has got tunnels through it, and tunnels aren’t mistakes. They’re built in. The architecture is intentional, and the architecture intentionally makes it easy to change things, why would you make it that way?”
As the November 2006 election approaches, electronic voting machines are making things worse instead of better. In Tarrant County Texas, electronic machines counted some ballots as many as six times, recording 100,000 more votes than were actually cast.
On September 24, 2006, Rollingstone.com posted an article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., entitled “Will the Next Election By Hacked?”
The United States is one of only a handful of major democracies that allow private, partisan companies to secretly count and tabulate votes using their own proprietary software. Today, eighty percent of all the ballots in America are tallied by four companies – Diebold, Election Systems and Software (ES & S), Sequoia Voting Systems and Hart Inter Civic. These machines not only break down with regularity, they are easily compromised – by people inside, and outside, the companies.
This article describes how Chris Hood, a consultant for Diebold Election Systems, in August 2002, began to wonder what was going on in the State of Georgia. During the 2000 presidential election in Georgia, 94,000 paper ballots had gone uncounted.
In May 2002, Secretary of State Cathy Cox in Georgia signed a $54 million contract with Diebold to install 19,000 electronic machines across the state. In late July, 2002, in order to get the job done on time for the November, 2002, election, Diebold in writing was granted complete control over the entire installation. This effectively privatized the election in Georgia.
Hood related that in August 2002, Bob Urosevich, the president of Diebold, arrived in Georgia for the purpose of installing a “patch” a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. Hood related that Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in De Kalb and Fulton counties, the state’s largest Democratic strongholds. Hood and others on his team entered warehouses at 7:30 AM and were done by 11:00 AM. Hood patched 56 machines and witnessed other workers patching 1,200 others. 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.
Six days before the vote, polls showed Sen. Max Cleland, Democratic incumbent leading his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, by five percentage points. In the Governor’s race, Democrat Roy Barnes was running eleven points ahead of Republican Sonny Perdue. But on election day, Chambliss won with 53% of the vote and Perdue won by 51%.
Hood stated that it was common knowledge in the Diebold company that Diebold had illegally installed uncertified software used in the 2004 presidential primaries – a charge the company denies. Hood resigned from Diebold because of the subversion he observed and became a whistle blower.
The voting machine companies bear heavy blame for the 2000 presidential election disaster. Fox news’ fateful decision to call Florida for Bush was followed minutes later by CBS and NBC. This call came after electronic machines in Volusia County erroneously subtracted more than 16,000 votes from Al Gore’s total. Actually, Gore was ahead in Volusia by 13,000 votes.
Investigators traced the mistake to Global Election Systems, a firm later acquired by Diebold. Talbot Iredide, the company’s master programmer blamed the problem on a memory card that had been improperly and unnecessarily uploaded. There is always the possibility, Iredide conceded, that the second memory card or second upload came from an unauthorized source.
Rep. Bob Ney, the GOP chairman of the U.S. House Administration Committee used his position as chairman of the committee 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. Ney also refused to set for a hearing a bill pending before his committee, co-sponsored by 212 Congressmen from both parties to mandate a paper trail for all votes.
On September 15, 2006, Ney pled guilty to federal conspiracy charges.
After the 2002 election, Maryland planned to install Diebolds Accu Vote –TS electronic machines across the state. 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 contracts and is therefore unsuitable for use in a general election.”
In October 2005, the government Accountability office issued a damning report on electronic voting machines. The report stated that these machines exhibit a host of weaknesses with their touch screen and optical-scan technology. These weaknesses could damage the integrity of ballots, votes and voting system software by allowing unauthorized modifications. Unsecured memory cards could enable individuals to “Vote multiple times, change vote totals and produce false election reports.”
In June 2006, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law issued a report which stated that electronic voting machines widely adopted since 2000 pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state and local election. While no instances of hacking have yet been documented, the report identified 120 security threats to three widely used machines – the easiest method of attacks being to utilize corrupt software that shifts votes from one candidate to another.
Avi Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins offered the suggestion that there is a simple solution to electronic voting machines. Equip every touch screen machine to provide paper receipts that can be verified by voters and recounted in the event of malfunctioning or tampering. The paper is the insurance against the cheating machine.