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Open letter to the EAC

By John Kesich  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
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I just e-mailed the following to EAC. There really should be an e-action
to get them to implement VVPB.

If anyone else cares to write, here is their contact info from

United States Election Assistance Commission
1225 New York Avenue N.W., Suite - 1100
Washington, DC 20005

(202) 566-3100

Toll Free
(866) 747-1471

(202) 566-3127

E-mail Address


You have improperly certified a whole class of voting systems known as
DREs (Direct Recording Electronic). These machines do not meet the
audit requirement mandated by HAVA 301.a.2.B.i, "The voting system
shall produce a permanent paper record with a manual audit capacity
for such system."

I ask that you rescind the certification of all systems thus
improperly certified and ensure that all systems certified in the
future meet the HAVA audit requirement. Failing that, I would like a
clear, in-depth explanation of how DREs, which do not provide the
voter an opportunity to verify the HAVA mandated paper record of their
vote, meet the HAVA audit requirement. This explanation must address
how you ensure that the vote as recorded accurately reflects the vote
as cast.

Your 2005 edition of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines explains,
"Election audit trails provide the supporting documentation for
verifying the correctness of reported election results." Surely a key
step in "verifying the correctness of reported election results" is
ensuring that the votes are recorded correctly. Yet I see nothing in
your voting standards to effect this necessary step. Instead, as far
as I can tell, you merely assume that a DRE will accurately record the
voter's choices. That is not good enough.

Reading through HAVA it is clear that Congress intended every American
to feel confident that their vote would be correctly recorded and
counted. It is also fairly clear from HAVA 301.a.2.B.ii that Congress
was misled into believing that one could devise a test to guarantee
that the various versions of the voter's ballot present in DRE systems
- the version manipulated by the voter, those stored within the system
and the printed record - were equivalent.

But, as Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, a leading electronic voting and computer
security expert, has pointed out, "Fully electronic systems do not
provide any way that the voter can truly verify that the ballot cast
corresponds to that being recorded, transmitted, or tabulated. Any
programmer can write code that displays one thing on a screen, records
something else, and prints yet another result. There is no known way
to ensure that this is not happening inside of a voting system."

The obvious solution to this problem is to allow voters to verify the
printed record. Given this fact, how can you justify certifying any
system where the voter is denied the opportunity to verify the
correctness of the printed record of their vote? This flies in the
face of common sense and the advice of the Association for Computing
Machinery, the largest organization of computer professionals. What's
more, a poll of ACM members showed 95% support the organization's
position in favor of voter-verified paper records.

While one could understand the general public, and even Congress,
being misinformed about the issue of establishing the accuracy of the
printed record and thereby underestimating the degree of blind trust
one must place in the vendors of DRE's, there is simply no excuse for
technocrats such as yourselves entrusted with implementing the
transparent and auditable elections mandated by HAVA certifying
systems which are unreasonably dependent on the competence and
integrity of the vendors.

One can walk into any supermarket, order cold cuts at the deli,
examine the printed-on-demand label, which includes all the
information you need to verify your purchase, and have it scanned at
checkout. Why should any voting system be less transparent than this?
Is the accuracy of the purchase of a pound of bologna more important
than the accuracy of our elections?

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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