Teresa Hommel, 4/12/05
Fequently Asked Questions
Why Do Informed Citizens Oppose Electronic Voting?
1. Why are you against evoting?
First, electronic voting systems prevent appropriate public and multipartisan observation of vote-recording and vote-counting, which are the only way to achieve public confidence in election integrity, and the only way any democracy can achieve legitimacy of elections and its representative government. It is a disgrace that allegations of fraud were raised after our November 2004 election, and could not be either proved or disproved. It means that the legitimacy of the election, and our current government, will always be in doubt.
Second, evoting systems don't work reliably. Here is a 97-page list of documented failures of evote systems, arranged by vendor. http://www.votersunite.org/info/messupsbyvendor.asp
Also, here is an overview analysis of the recurring themes in the 97-page list of documented failures. http://www.wheresthepaper.org/RecurringThemes.htm
2. Why should evote machines be 100% audited for 100% accuracy?
This study by four Yale students shows that if only one vote is shifted per machine in a statewide race, the outcome of many races can be shifted. Only evoting technology gives one person the power to shift one vote per machine in an entire state, in a matter of seconds or minutes. Older voting technology would not have made this kind of insidious, undetectable fraud possible. http://www.wheresthepaper.org/p43-di_franco.pdf (may require Adobe 6.0, or try to download it and then click on the icon in your Windows Explorer)
Here is an analysis of the study, applying it to one state, New York, and helping to explain why if evote machines are used they must be 100% accurate. http://www.wheresthepaper.org/CACM_YaleStudy.htm
3. Why are you against privatization of elections, and what does privatization mean anyway?
Privatization of elections means that the management and staff of our boards of elections don't know how to use their own equipment, and are forced to depend on vendor technicians to manage the equipment and run elections. To avoid privatization we must ban vendor service contracts, and prohibit the purchase and use of evote systems unless Board of Elections management and staff have been trained and have achieved a suitable level of competence. We require people to prove competence before driving a car, but we let Boards of Elections use equipment that they can't control -- and there have been too many accidents with our precious democracy. Our law must require vendors to provide thorough training in the software and management of their evote systems. Our law must fund and require training of all election staff BEFORE these systems are used.
Here is an article that describes what happened in one case, Hocking County, Ohio, when non-technical elections people did not know how to manage their own computer systems. http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,66072,00.html "Ohio Recount Stirs Trouble" by Kim Zetter, Wired News, Dec. 20, 2004. See especially page 4.
4. Don’t computer systems always work?
No, in fact, 72% of software projects in a typical year, 2000, were complete or partial failures, including 23% that were completely abandoned after huge expenditures (and waste) of time and money. Regarding partial failures, if a computer system “partially” doesn’t work, that means it doesn’t work. http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20031204.html "Why the Current Touch Screen Voting Fiasco Was Pretty Much Inevitable" by Robert X. Cringely, December 4, 2003.
Anyone who works with Microsoft Windows knows that computers don’t always work!
5. Doesn’t federal certification mean that an evote system works?
This candid interview with executives of MicroVote (a company that makes evoting equipment) reveals that federal certification requires an evote system to have certain functions, such as the ability to detect overvotes and undervotes, but does not have anything to do with guaranteeing that the system works. Moreover, the states don't have the expertise to understand the federal certification process, or perform more rigorous testing at the state level.
http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=1647598&nav=0Ra7JXq2 , See the section on Testing.
6. Do evote systems cost much more than other voting technologies?
Rosemarie Myerson compared two Florida counties’ expenditures for maintaining and operating evoting systems versus paper ballots with optical scanners.. She showed that the evote county spent $1.1 million more per year. http://www.votersunite.org/info/costcomparison.asp
7. Don’t we need evoting technology to enable voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent vote, as required by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA)?
Focusing on the act of voting, and the quality of that experience, is not enough to protect citizens’ right to vote. We must take a broader view in order to ensure that all votes are actually counted. This report called "Placebo Ballots" from Demos shows that in 2004 many people had the experience of marking a provisional ballot, which was later discarded and not counted. http://www.demos-usa.org/pubs/HAVA - Placebo Ballots bw 101904.pdf
A private and independent voting experience is no benefit to voters with disabilities if they get nothing but a placebo experience and a placebo ballot.
When we use electronic voting without Voter-Verified Paper Ballots (“VVPB”) and 100% audits for 100% accuracy, every voter may rightfully question whether or not they have cast a placebo ballot. Moreover an election lacks legitimacy, due to the lack of appropriate public observation of election procedures, when computers are used without VVPB and publicly-observed audits.
Electronic ballot-marking machines such as the Automark enable voters with special needs to mark the same kind of paper ballot that is used by other voters in paper ballot/optical scan election systems, as well as for absentee and provisional voting.
8. Show me a list of provisions that should be in our law.
Our law should ban all electronic voting and vote-tabulating systems that prevents appropriate, direct, meaningful observation of vote-recording and vote-counting by multipartisan non-technical observers.
Here is a sample list of provisions required for use of electronic voting in a way that does not undermine election legitimacy, from New York state. http://www.wheresthepaper.org/NYwantsLegislationTo.htm
9. Instead of auditing evote computers, why can’t we simply compare exit polls to actual tallies in order to prove the accuracy of vote tallies?
Timely precinct vote-tally information may be difficult to obtain, due to Boards of Elections refusing to provide it, and long waits for their compliance with Freedom of Information requests. Timely accurate polling information in the major media may be corrupt. For example, it appears that CNN changed their exit poll data for Ohio after 1 AM, November 3, 2004. http://www.buzzflash.com/analysis/04/11/ana04025.html
10. How can I learn more about evoting, and the requirements of the Help America Vote Act?
Here is a 14-page overview of problems with evoting. http://www.wheresthepaper.org/Evoting_BadForDemocracy.htm
Here is the report Myth Breakers: Facts About Electronic Elections http://www.votersunite.org/MB2.pdf