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We all know that computers some times have a mind of their own, they are subject to programming errors, software bugs, hackers, viruses, and even random unexplained glitches. You may not have thought about them in this way, but electronic voting machines are also computers. Can we really trust them?
Computers will do what the people who programs it instructs it to do, An unscrupulous programmer or hacker could modify the voting machines or the tabulating software to take your vote, and to give it to another candidate, while still showing a message on the display screen indicating your vote was correctly cast for your choice of candidate.
Something of this nature would be totally undetectable unless you can review each line of the source code or collection of instructions which tell the machine how to work.
I campaigned against the selection of the Microvote Infinity voting machines which Montgomery County eventually purchased for use in the upcoming election. I was seriously concerned about machines accuracy and auditability. I am not totally against electronic voting machine, instead I am very much in favor of having a voter verified paper audit trail.
A voter verified paper audit trail means that when you cast your vote, the machine prints out a receipt which you review for accuracy and then it is placed in locked ballot box and can be audited if there is any doubts about the election. Currently most voting machines do not have this feature or do not have it enabled. While this would not be foolproof, it would give us a way to reconstruct an election which resulted from a faulty voting machine or from an intentional manipulation of the vote totals.
So we said this to our elected officials on the county commission:
You might think it is some kind of a conspiracy theory to believe that someone might have an interest in overriding the will of the people of the United States as expressed by their vote? Watch this video and then see if you can still believe that:
These machines have a history of glitches and errors.
In June 2004, the machines we are going to use registered 1500 more ballots than the number of voters who were recorded as voting.
In July, 2004 the machines we are going to use were unable to be tabulated and it required a manual extraction. I wonder how you can manually extract votes from a machine which is malfunctioning and still have faith in the reliability of the tally.
In May 2005 in Sumner County, Tennessee with the machines we are going to use, a machine had an error which resulted in it locking up and the votes on the machine being unable to be properly tabulated on election night. The next day they were recovered after calling in a technician who extracted the votes. The technician and machine were in public view at all times. My question is was the machine in question watched the entire time from the point it malfunctioned to the point where the technician extracted the votes, does this also include throughout the night until the technician arrived?
This year in Grant County Indiana they had issues tabulating the votes which made them restart the counting process and re-enter 771 absentee ballots. I am not sure if this is Microvote related or not. I know the county in question used Microvote machines, however the problem may have been in the machines or in the tabulating software.
A great quote I recently saw was:
This is something we should heed.
Knowing what you now know, can you truthfully say that you have absolute faith in the accuracy and accountability of the vote you cast on these machines. Because we are trusting these machines to be the voice of our Democracy by allowing them to handle the most important function that the citizens of our nation perform, voting.
We need a voter verified paper audit trail. While it may be too late for this years elections, we can enact this into law sometime in the next 2 years, and thus have protected ourselves in time for the 2008 elections!
Bill Larson is is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave.
You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.
TopicsActivism, Commentary, Infinity, Local Politics, Microvote, Voting Machines
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