http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20091105/OPINION01/311059977

 

Electronic voting

Smooth process in Jefferson County

 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2009

 

The Jefferson County Board of Elections should be congratulated for the successful debut of its new electronic voting machines.

 

Throughout the county, poll workers were well trained in helping voters cast their ballots in the new system.

 

Actually, the process for individual voters was not too difficult. Voters used pens to mark their choices on paper ballots which were then fed into a machine that scanned and recorded the votes.

 

Pretty smooth. And the voting results in Jefferson County were efficiently tabulated, recorded and posted.

 

The switch to electronic machines is in compliance with the 2002 Help America Vote Act, meant to make voting accessible for the disabled and avoid the kinds of problems that developed during the 2000 presidential race.

 

The process worked well in Jefferson County. Congratulations to Republican Elections Commissioner Jerry O. Eaton and his Democratic counterpart Sean M. Hennessey for a job well done.

 

COMMENTS

 

(1)

By A Concerned VoterThu., Nov. 05 at 10:09 pm

 

Madame,

 

You really are not connected with the reality of how election computers work.

 

A TRULY Concerned Voter

 

(2)

By BevHarrisThu., Nov. 05 at 1:10 pm

 

Dear Editor:

 

Here is an opposing point of view regarding your recent editorial stating that "the Jefferson County Board of Elections should be congratulated for the successful debut of its new electronic voting machines":

 

There can be only one lens through which we can evaluate whether an election system is successful -- that of inalienable rights. The nationís historic distrust of secret tribunals and their inherent dangers to freedom is no less when applied to our public elections.

 

At least, we would hope to see you publish the opposing point of view. As pointed out by Andi Novick, an attorney with the Election Transparency Coalition, New York is a state that has (mostly) still refused to run elections using software, and legal challenges to software-driven election systems in New York are pending. For good reason: Software by its nature hides the processes by which it counts. New York has case law and statutory law in place requiring that the steps in public elections be observable. Software based systems can never satisfy the observability requirement.

 

An election is a public event and what transpires during the election is public property. "It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials."

 

Some people question the transparency argument since one doesn't see one's vote counted when they pull the lever. Yet the lever machineís manner of operation is fully knowable, without need for special expertise. By contrast, with software, neither the election officials nor the observers can know how the computer functions since any rogue code can disguise its tracks and force the machine to mimic normal behavior.

 

There would be no way to know that any of these attacks occurred; the canvass procedure would not detect any anomalies, and would just produce incorrect results.

 

Thus election officials and watchers are precluded from performing those duties that would enable them to detect and prevent fraud and have no basis to believe that the computerís totals correspond to the votes cast -- a violation of New York law. The public is precluded from being able to control or observe its own public elections, a violation of the right to liberty, by subjugating public right to know and public controls to those insiders with custody of the software and hardware.

 

A vote-counting computer can be programmed to APPEAR to be in working order when in fact it has been compromised. This is impossible with lever machines. Worse, systematic exploits can be introduced spreading to all computers in a county, compromising an entire stateís election results. This too is impossible with lever machines.

 

Certification by the State cannot prevent these exploits or cause computers to count votes in a transparent manner. Software can be programmed to appear to be in working order for testing, when in fact it has been compromised. Malicious coding will escape certification. As shown by the Black Box Voting Hursti studies, the California UC Berkeley studies, the 2006 University of Connecticut study, and the state of Ohio EVEREST study, software-driven systems can pass pre-election testing with malicious actions appearing only on Election Night.

 

Bev Harris

Director - Black Box Voting

A national, nonpartisan, nonprofit elections watchdog organization

http://www.blackboxvoting.org