. Specter of Stolen Elections Creates Crisis | Open Voting Consortium

Specter of Stolen Elections Creates Crisis

Beginning with the Presidential election in 2000, voters across the nation have been losing faith that the electoral system is fair and that candidates chosen to serve have been honestly elected. What you will find below are reports, many by scientific experts and from federal and state government, that chronicle hundreds of problems with the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the deficiencies of current electronic voting systems and provide proof that our election system is in crisis. The problem centers around five key issues:

Black Box Voting Secrecy: Computer programs or software that run election machines and tabulate results are secret and cannot be checked by the public. This invites corruption and there is currently no way to assure accountability.

Corporate Control: Large corporations like Diebold and ESS dominate electronic voting machine sales and control our voting software, have strong influence over processes for approving machines and control over whether testing results are even shared.

No Paper Trail: Electronic voting terminals became popular after the hanging chad scandal in the 2000 Presidential election, but many machines purchased since then have no paper ballot, which makes accurate recounts impossible. Of votes cast in the November 2004 election, 30% were on machines that couldn't be audited!

No Consistent Data to Check Results: There are 185,000 voting precincts in the U.S. and 800,000 voting machines in place, but systems consist of technology cobbled together to minimally meet a patchwork of inconsistent requirements.

Voting Access: Older style voting terminals posed major problems for the handicapped or the sight impaired. Touch screen voting systems partially remedy this problem, but introduce a whole host of other problems.

See the articles below to become fully informed on the problem or check out the OVC Solution page.

The House Judiciary Committee Staff Report (Conyer's Report)

Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio
"We have found numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election, which resulted in a significant disenfranchisement of voters. Cumulatively, these irregularities, which affected hundreds of thousand of votes and voters in Ohio, raise grave doubts regarding whether it can be said the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004, were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone federal requirements and constitutional standards........With regards to our factual finding, in brief, we find that there were massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio. In many cases these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio."

United States Government Accountability Office

Report to Congressional Requesters re: ELECTIONS
"Numerous recent studies and reports have highlighted problems with the security and reliability of electronic voting systems. While these reports often focused on problems with specific systems or jurisdictions, the concerns they raise have the potential to affect election outcomes. The numerous examples of systems with poor security controls point to a situation in which vendors may not be uniformly building security and reliability into their voting systems, and election officials may not always rigorously ensure the security and reliability of their systems when they acquire, test, operate, and manage them."

Verified Voting Foundation

Electronic Voting Systems: A Report to the National Science Foundation
This report co-authored by Dr. David Dill of Stanford University is from immediately after the November 2004 election and contains accounts of numerous problems with electronic voting machines. "Among the nearly 900 electronic voting incidents reported, the variety of types of failures, malfunctions, and errors across almost all vendors  electronic voting machine models and across most jurisdictions where electronic voting machines are deployed suggest a significant need for further inquiry. These incidents impacted at a minimum tens or hundreds of thousands of voters and, because many incidents go unreported, may represent only the tip of the iceberg of all actual incidents that occurred."

California Secretary of State

Investigation of Diebold Systems, Inc.
"Diebold: 1) marketed and sold the TSx system before it was fully functional, and before it was federally qualified; 2) misrepresented the status of the TSx system in federal testing in order to obtain state certification; 3) failed to obtain federal qualification of the TSx system despite assurances that it would; 4) failed even to pursue testing of the firmware installed on its TSx machines in California..... 5) installed uncertified software on election machines in 17 counties, 6) sought last-minute certification of allegedly essential hardware, software and firmware that had not completed federal testing; and 7) in doing so, jeopardized the conduct of the March 2004 Primary."

U.S. Count Votes

The 2004 Presidential Election: Exit Poll Error or Vote Miscount?
"This lack of an explanation and of the data that could provide an explanation of the 2004 exit poll discrepancy in one of the world s oldest democracies is unacceptable. It is a matter of the utmost national importance that detailed precinct level exit polling and election data that would allow for investigation by independent analysts, such as USCV, be released. We remain concerned that the 2004 presidential exit poll data is consistent with a pattern that would be produced by significant vote miscounts, primarily favoring Bush. We believe that U.S. election systems are vulnerable to undetected vote embezzlement and innocent miscounts."

California Voter Foundation

The Need for Transparent, Accountable and Verifiable U.S. Elections
"There are ways to verify the software that's used to count votes, but in most places it simply isn't. Now, with the onset of paperless, computerized voting systems, we are moving from voting systems that rely on some degree of software which can be checked for accuracy (but typically isn't), to systems that rely solely on software and cannot be checked for accuracy."


Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century
This book is an exhaustive look at U.S. election problems and can be purchased or downloaded from the Internet at www.blackboxvoting.org.

Harri Hurtsi

Critical Security Issues with Diebold Optical Scan Design
This report is an account of Finnish computer programmer Harri Hursti's now famous "hack" of Diebold software for the Black Box Voting organization that has caused two counties in Florida to de-certify Diebold voting machines. "The findings of this study indicate that the architecture of the Diebold Precinct-Based Optical Scan 1.94w voting system inherently supports the alteration of its basic functionality, and thus the alteration of the produced results each time an election is prepared."

Dr. Avi Rubin et al. (Johns Hopkins University)

Analysis of an Electronic Voting System (re: Diebold Machine)
"Using publicly available source code, we performed an analysis of the April 2002 snapshot of Diebold s AccuVote-TS 4.3.1 electronic voting system. We found significant security flaws: voters can trivially cast multiple ballots with no built-in traceability, administrative functions can be performed by regular voters, and the threats posed by insiders such as poll workers, software developers, and janitors is even greater. Based on our analysis of the development environment, including change logs and comments, we believe that an appropriate level of programming discipline for a project such as this was not maintained. In fact, there appears to have been little quality control in the process."

Barbara Simons

Electronic Voting Systems: the Good, the Bad, and the Stupid (Testing of Voting Systems)
"Electronic voting machine software is proprietary, the certification testing process is both secret and incomplete, and the test results are secret. The tests check only for requirements in the Federal Election Commission (FEC) guidelines. To top things off, Commercial Off The Shelf software (COTS) contained in voting systems is not examined in any of the testing, simply because FEC guidelines don't require it."

"In January 2004 a special election was held in Broward County, Florida. Only one contest was included on the ballot. Yet, of the 10,844 votes cast on ES&S (Election Systems & Software) paperless touch screen voting machines, 134 were & for no one at all. Since the winning candidate won by only 12 votes, people understandably wondered what had become of those 134 votes; there was no way of telling if some had been lost by the computer."

Dr. Duncan Buell and Dr. Carter Bays (University of South Carolina)

Electronic Voting Machines in South Carolina (re: ESS Machines)
"From what we know of the electronic systems available, we believe the current risk is much too high to be acceptable. The systems are inherently insecure; it will be a complicated process to make them secure; and we expect that few election officials, especially at the local levels, will be able to maintain the security and reliability that voters have the right to expect."

Dr. Irwin Mann (New York University)

Open Voting Systems
This is a seminal work published in 1993 on why computerized voting poses great peril to honest elections that coined the term Open Voting and now seems prophetic. "It is the security of the electoral outcome which may become most at hazard. In the absence of the installation of prudent precautions, the machine and the process shall likely be more vulnerable to large inadvertent errors, and much more ominously, to electoral fraud.......Those forms of discrepancies, error and fraud, except in many transparent cases, can be almost invisible if the software within the machine is hidden or uninterpretable. We must determine how the governance of the operation of the machine can be made accountable to the public, and provide for the integrity of our electoral process.
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