Monday, May 18, 2009

A Further Look Into Voting Machines

This Weds., May 20th, at 9:00 pm, we are going to continue our Live Chat conversation on the problems with electronic voting machines, and problems with voting in general, in this country. Kathleen Wynne, of Hand Count Paper Ballots Now mentioned a colleague of hers recently, Richard Hayes Phillips, author of Witness To A Crime: A Citizen's Audit Of An American Election (also available at His findings are astonishing, and by that, I mean, FRIGHTENING.

Below is a video of a speech Mr. Phillips gave in Seattle in September, 2008. It is long, I grant you, which is why I am putting it up today so you can take the time to watch it when you have time. That being said, his talk is so compelling, the time flies by. The information it contains is shocking. What we have heard about what happened in Ohio in 2004 is but a drop in the bucket compared to Mr. Phillips' findings. Oh, and I should add, he is being humble when he says he is simply a musician and hiker (he helps to make trails). He has four degrees, and was a university professor.

Now I understand that, at least in India, the voting by electronic machines has not been as flawed as it has been, according to fellow NQ writer, pm317. But there seems to be some differences there insofar as their machines are made in keeping with government regulations. Since Diebold (now ES&S) and other companies claim their software is proprietary and NO ONE can know what's in there, I think there is a difference from the get-go between the two countries. Moreover, according to the post:
Diebold system works on Microsoft software, it has no seals on locks and panels to detect a tempering. It has a keyboard interface (!!!) and the server was tested to have “Blaster” virus. One report on Wired says a lady stumbled upon some files from Diebold, and found that the votes were stored in MS Access files. It also has a PCMCIA SanDisk card for local storage. A touchscreen GUI and a network connection to send the results to a server after encrypting it with DES.

The Indian EVM is just plain circuit, with some assembly code. A few LEDs, and two Seven Segment LED displays. One EVM can list 16 candidates, but up to 4 EVMs can be Linked to accommodate 64 candidates. (In a country of a billion people its possible to have 64 candidates for one single constituency.)

That's a big difference in terms of security. It's an interesting read, and adds to this conversation.

At this point, though, it seems that our elections as they stand are fatally flawed, especially as you listen to Mr. Phillips' experiences. What do you think? Come to our Live Chat at 9:00pm on Weds., May 20th to discuss this critical issue.


Mary Ellen said...

It's amazing how little security the government chooses to have when it comes to our voting machines, and yet we are subjected to being ex-rayed in airports so security could view our naked bodies in some back room (supposedly checking for weapons). Do we have any Constitutional rights left? Any??

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, ME -

I have been thinking of you so much. I didn't want to pester you with more emails, but I hope you know that...

And well, um, apparently NO is the answer to your question. The Constitution seems to have become a quaint little document of the past...