[saymaListserv] Making Votes Count: Editorial Observer: The Results Are in and the Winner Is . . . or Maybe Not

free polazzo freepolazzo at comcast.net
Sun Feb 29 10:09:08 JEST 2004

>Hi Friends,
>If the "Truth will set us Free", then what happens when our votes are now
>up for grabs to the most technologically savy folks money can buy?
>This NY Times editorial speaks to the concerns some have raised in 
>previous e mails to Atlanta Friends Meeting list.   It is reproduced below.
>I have been working in te "computer software" business for 30 years.   It 
>is a fact of business in my industry that as a deadline approaches and as 
>budgets are reached, the testing that is required is not done.   Often the 
>first 1000 or so customers are doing the "final" testing.  Just notice all 
>the patches that are updated that are for "security purposes" that we get
>from Microsoft every other week.
>If the election results are NOT monitored by those who know how computer
>systems really work and who have experience with computer security and
>testing, then we will be hearing many complaints about the results, no
>matter who wins.
>It would not be very difficult to display a preview of the ballot that
>could be read by the voter on the screen and who could then "fix"any
>mistakes they made before a final copy is printed after it is posted to the
>machine's total.   The paper ballot could then be given to a poll worker
>and saved in the event there is a question about the count.
>All computer systems need to be run parallel when they are installed if
>they are new systems in a previously paper world.
>That's the way we need to do this switch.   Let's not be penny wise and
>pound foolish with our Democracy, such that it is.
>"The greatest ally of injustice is silence"
> >Making Votes Count: Editorial Observer: The Results Are in and the Winner
> >Is . . . or Maybe Not
> >
> >February 29, 2004
> >
> >
> >Rob Behler isn't saying Max Cleland's Senate seat was
> >stolen by rigged electronic voting machines, but he insists
> >it could have been. Mr. Behler, who helped prepare
> >Georgia's machines for the 2002 election, says secret
> >computer codes were installed late in the process. Votes
> >"could have been manipulated," he says, and the election
> >thrown to the Republican, Saxby Chambliss.
> >
> >Charlie Matulka, who lost to Senator Chuck Hagel of
> >Nebraska the same year, does not trust the results in his
> >election. Most of the votes were cast on paper ballots that
> >were scanned into computerized vote-counting machines,
> >which happen to have been manufactured by a company Mr.
> >Hagel used to run. Mr. Matulka, suspicious of Senator
> >Hagel's ties to the voting machine company, demanded a hand
> >recount of the paper ballots. Nebraska law did not allow
> >it, he was informed. "This is the stealing of our
> >democracy," he says.
> >
> >Defeated candidates who think they were robbed are nothing
> >new in American politics. But modern technology is creating
> >a whole new generation of conspiracy theories - easy to
> >imagine and, unless we're careful, impossible to disprove.
> >The nation is rushing to adopt electronic voting, but there
> >is a disturbing amount of evidence that, at least in its
> >current form, it is overly vulnerable to electoral
> >mischief.
> >
> >Among the growing ranks of electronic-voting skeptics, Mr.
> >Cleland's loss in 2002 and Mr. Hagel's wins in 1996 and
> >2002 have taken on mythic status. There is no evidence the
> >wrong man is in the Senate today. The problem is, there is
> >no way to prove the right man was elected, either.
> >
> >Mr. Cleland's loss was, some say, a surprise. He was said
> >to be leading in the polls before Election Day, but ended
> >up losing decisively. Many political observers attribute
> >his loss to President Bush's strong support for Mr.
> >Chambliss, and attack ads picturing Senator Cleland with
> >Osama bin Laden. But others are suspicious of the new
> >voting machines in Georgia.
> >
> >In the summer of 2002, Mr. Behler was in a Georgia
> >warehouse, helping prepare thousands of machines for the
> >coming election. He says there were constant problems with
> >the hardware and software, and growing pressure as the
> >election drew near.
> >
> >Three times while he was there, he says, Diebold, the
> >voting machine manufacturer, sent "patches" - updates in
> >the programming - to be installed on the machines. Later,
> >he says, he heard of a fourth. Bev Harris, an
> >electronic-voting critic who runs www.blackboxvoting.org
> >and is a controversial figure in the elections world, says
> >there were eight. Diebold and Georgia insist there was only
> >one patch, which Diebold says was added "prior to the
> >election, but not last minute."
> >
> >The Georgia machines do not produce a paper record voters
> >can inspect to ensure a vote was correctly cast. But
> >Georgia says they go through three testing levels,
> >including an outside body that certifies the software. When
> >patches are added late, however, there may not be time for
> >certifying them. Georgia officials concede the one patch
> >they admit to was given only a partial examination by an
> >outside certifying body.
> >
> >Ms. Harris argues the patches could have turned Cleland
> >votes into Chambliss votes. "You can put in dynamic files
> >that self-destruct after the election," she says. "There
> >would be no evidence."
> >
> >A final piece of the conspiracy theory is that Diebold's
> >chief executive is an active Republican fund-raiser. It was
> >probably inevitable that given all the elements - late
> >changes, an end run around the vetting process, a
> >manufacturer with political ties, and a surprising outcome
> >- there would be suspicions about the results.
> >
> >Some of the same factors were present in Nebraska. In his
> >primary race in 1996, Mr. Hagel, who had lived in Virginia
> >for 20 years, beat the state attorney general by nearly two
> >to one. In the general election, he defeated the governor,
> >who had been elected two years earlier in a landslide. In
> >2002, against Mr. Matulka, he won more than 80 percent of
> >the vote.
> >
> >What gets conspiracy theorists excited is not just Mr.
> >Hagel's prodigious wins, but his job before jumping into
> >the 1996 race: heading American Information Systems, the
> >manufacturer of the machines that count 85 percent of
> >Nebraska's votes. There is a much simpler explanation than
> >electronic sabotage. Mr. Hagel's campaign in 1996 was
> >widely regarded as stronger than his rivals' campaigns. His
> >next opponent, Mr. Matulka, an unemployed construction
> >worker, was a weak candidate. But when critics like Ms.
> >Harris argue these machines could have been programmed to
> >miscount, the state should be able to come back with
> >irrefutable evidence they were not.
> >
> >A healthy democracy must avoid even the appearance of
> >corruption. The Georgia and Nebraska elections fail this
> >test. Once voting software is certified, it should not be
> >changed - not eight times, not once. A backup voting method
> >should be available, so if electronic machines fail or are
> >compromised shortly before an election, they can be
> >dropped.
> >
> >Votes must be counted by people universally perceived as
> >impartial. States should not buy machines from companies
> >that have ties to political parties, and recent company
> >executives should not be running for elections on those
> >machines.
> >
> >And every voter should see a paper receipt. This
> >"voter-verified paper trail" should be retained, and made
> >available for recounts - a low-tech check on the
> >reliability of electronic voting. Most Americans would not
> >do business with a bank that refused to provide written
> >statements or A.T.M. receipts. We should be no less
> >demanding at the polls.
> >
> >After all, as Tom Stoppard has observed, "It's not the
> >voting that's democracy, it's the counting."
> >
> ><http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/29/opinion/29SUN3.html?ex=1079061040&ei=1 
> &en=3bbec5a3720840e6>http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/29/opinion/29SUN3.html?ex=1079061040&ei=1&en=3bbec5a3720840e6
>*************************************************For other questions, 
>contact ekcooney at earthlink.net
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"The greatest ally of injustice is silence" 
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