Voice of the Voters this evening featured five guests within the hour: Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, and Dan Lopresti of Lehigh University, who discussed the Evaluation & Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards & Testing (EVEREST) report, a review of voting systems used in Ohio and throughout the country, which found “critical security failures.”
Also interviewed were two members of the Ohio Election Justice Campaign, Patty Shaffer and Mary Ann Lupo, on their reactions to the SoS’s interview and tenure. Finally John Gideon made a brief appearance with some interesting news.
Brunner was the “centerpiece” of the evening because of the shocking report EVEREST just released in Ohio, which revealed that the results accepted on election night 2004 in Ohio were definitely invalid. A bombshell in the realm of voting integrity still sidestepped by the media, although it is getting harder to ignore (see below for more).
The most critical points to emerge from the EVEREST study, said Brunner, was that the security of the voting machines studied was not up to industry standard, being vulnerable to viruses and other forms of invasion and that the attrition rate of the machines is quick—and evident although they were only purchased in 2005.
In fact, said the SoS, none of the systems tested well.
The machines were fatally flawed, said Mary Ann, beyond repair. The certification process did not include the criteria used in California, Brunner added. The recommendations were made by Brunner, her staff, researchers, testers, and twelve election officials—six Republicans and six Democrats.
One recommendation was to take the matter to the state legislature for suggestions on how to improve processes and come up with better solutions.
Indeed, corroborated Mary Ann, as Abe Lincoln said, “The elections belong to the people.”
Checks and balances apply, as do reliability, accuracy, and trust.
The recommendations include early voting up to fifteen days prior to election day; paper ballots, Automark, and center-based (rather than precinct-based) optical scanners.
The “second chance” clause in HAVA allows for finding under- and overvotes and attention to these before sending corrected ballots to the central tabulating location, where totals will be kept.
Why not precinct-based? asked Mary Ann.
Because in a central location there is more security from any sort of attacks; access is controlled better than in individual precincts, which are so numerous. The memory card from each machine goes to the central server. There observers can witness the vote-counting process: how many votes were printed, spoiled, voted on, or not voted on, a sum that should equal the total original number of ballots.
Will you approach the machine vendors to recap costs? asked Mary Ann, undoubtedly thinking about lawsuits in California and elsewhere where Americans voted on equipment obviously “not quite ready for prime time.”
Said Brenner, we will need to purchase new equipment, which will be possible by November 2008 but not for the earlier primary. Governor Richardson of New Mexico was able to provide his entire state with optical scanners to replace the dysfunctional DREs in less than a year.
As to the best audit system, the SoS said that in view of all the literature and research on best practices, they want to test votes on each machine, but random selection by experts makes the most sense.