Voting Machines need a paper trail - Act Now, Please!! January 09, 2008 10:04 PM
Dear MoveOn member,
This Sunday's cover story in The New York Times Magazine makes plain the
threat: The winner of the 2008 presidential election could be decided by flawed,
insecure, and hackable electronic voting machines.1
the most prominent news coverage this issue has ever gotten, so it could be our
one last chance to get this right before the election in
Congress is poised to consider a new emergency paper ballots
bill next week—but we'll have to convince them to act right
Can you sign this
urgent petition asking local, state, and federal officials to require paper
ballots for our votes? Clicking here will add your name:
The petition says: "We must act quickly
to secure our elections with paper ballots and audits before
Elections are run at the state level, so we'll deliver your
signature and comments to local election officials in addition to members of
Electronic voting machines are so unreliable and insecure, we might elect the
wrong person president in 2008. As The New York
Times Magazine reports:
machines] fail unpredictably, and in extremely strange ways; voters report that
their choices "flip" from one candidate to another before their eyes; machines
crash or begin to count backward; votes simply vanish. (In the 80-person town of
Waldenburg, Ark., touch-screen machines tallied zero votes for one mayoral
candidate in 2006—even though he's pretty sure he voted for himself.) Most
famously, in the November 2006 Congressional election in Sarasota, Fla.,
touch-screen machines recorded an 18,000-person "undervote" for a race decided
by fewer than 400 votes.3
You can read more from
this scary report at the end of this email—and forward it along to your friends
and family. It's really compelling.
Congress hasn't been able to solve
this problem yet, but there's one more chance next week. Rep. Rush Holt of New
Jersey is expected to introduce an emergency bill to offer funding to states who
switch from unreliable electronic voting machines to paper ballots and
audits.4 We'll ultimately need a mandate for these things, but this
bill would be a crucial first step to prevent some of the most dire threats to
the 2008 election.
But to pass the bill in time, we'll need to light a
fire under Congress. At the same time, we'll have to urge local election
officials to read The New York Times Magazine
story—and replace electronic voting machines with paper ballots and
audits before November.
emergency petition to stop the threat from electronic voting machines right
away. Click here to add your name:
[ send green star]
Voting Machines need a paper trail - Act Now, Please!! (end) January 09, 2008 10:07 PM
Can You Count on Voting Machines?
By CLIVE THOMPSON, The New York Times
Magazine, January 6, 2008
Jane Platten gestured,
bleary-eyed, into the secure room filled with voting machines. It was 3 a.m. on
Nov. 7, and she had been working for 22 hours straight. "I guess we've seen how
technology can affect an election," she said. The electronic voting machines in
Cleveland were causing trouble again.
For a while, it had looked as if things would go smoothly for the Board of
Elections office in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. About 200,000 voters had trooped out
on the first Tuesday in November for the lightly attended local elections,
tapping their choices onto the county's 5,729 touch-screen voting machines. The
elections staff had collected electronic copies of the votes on memory cards and
taken them to the main office, where dozens of workers inside a secure,
glass-encased room fed them into the "GEMS server," a gleaming silver Dell
desktop computer that tallies the votes.
Then at 10 p.m., the server suddenly froze up and stopped counting votes.
Cuyahoga County technicians clustered around the computer, debating what to do.
A young, business-suited employee from Diebold—the company that makes the voting
machines used in Cuyahoga—peered into the screen and pecked at the keyboard. No
one could figure out what was wrong. So, like anyone faced with a misbehaving
computer, they simply turned it off and on again. Voilà: It started
working—until an hour later, when it crashed a second time. Again, they
rebooted. By the wee hours, the server mystery still hadn't been solved.
Worse was yet to come. When the votes were finally tallied the next day, 10
races were so close that they needed to be recounted. But when Platten went to
retrieve paper copies of each vote—generated by the Diebold machines as they
worked—she discovered that so many printers had jammed that 20 percent of the
machines involved in the recounted races lacked paper copies of some of the
votes. They weren't lost, technically speaking; Platten could hit "print" and a
machine would generate a replacement copy. But she had no way of proving that
these replacements were, indeed, what the voters had voted. She could only hope
the machines had worked correctly.
Click here to keep reading:
Then sign our urgent petition for paper ballots
the November election. Just click here to add your name:
1. "Can You Count on Voting
Machines?," The New York Times Magazine,
January 6, 2008
2. "Rep. Holt To Offer New Election Reform Proposal," National Journal Tech Daily, December 10,
3. "Can You Count on Voting Machines?," The
New York Times Magazine, January 6, 2008
4. "Rep. Rush Holt to Push for Paper Ballots and Vote Count Audits for 2008,"
AlterNet, December 27, 2007
[ send green star]