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Open letter about Utah's utter inability to do audit or recount of any sort

By Kathy Dopp, UtahCountVotes.org  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
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April 15, 2006

Representative Doug Aagard
Utah Legislative Joint Government Operations Cmte Chair

Dear Representative Doug Aagard,

On Thursday evening I had an opportunity to look at the Diebold
touchscreen voting machine paper roll printouts in Summit county
(Diebold did not provide a working version at the Mock Election). I
found that I had been misinformed on the format of the Diebold paper
roll ballot printouts.

The Good News:

The Diebold paper roll printouts do produce a ballot rather than a
transaction record and the ballot is printed in a standard format, so
while individual ballot records are not auditable (because Diebold
does not generate humanly readable random numerical keys that tie
paper to electronic records) - at least precinct and machine vote
counts are practically auditable.

The Bad News:

Neither the state of Utah, nor any Utah counties have purchased any
equipment (paper roll advancers) that are required to be able to
practically hand-count Diebold paper rolls.

Therefore no recounts or audits are, for practical purposes, possible
in Utah. I was told by a Diebold representative that they do not yet
sell a paper roll advancer, but perhaps this equipment (paper roll
advancers) can be purchased less expensively elsewhere.

It is incomprehensible that no thought was given by Diebold or by the
Utah State Election Office or by Utah's Voting Equipment Selection
Cmte, to the ability to perform audits to check the accuracy of
electronic counts or do hand recounts of vote counts. (Perhaps it is
because election officials gullibly believe that pre-election day
logic and accuracy testing is a check of vote count accuracy.)

The 2002 HAVA law did not provide enough time for a normal technical
development cycle and all currently available touchscreen
electronic-ballot voting equipment use old outdated technology. The
Diebold TSx's, by Diebold's own admission in its RFP response, do not
even meet the old 2002 federal voluntary voting system guidelines as
required by HAVA. (Diebold also claimed as "trade-secret" any of its
responses to Utah's RFP which revealed the basic technical design
flaws of its system.)

Audits must be a routine part of any voting & election system in order
to have any assurance of the correctness of invisible
electronic-ballot vote counts. Audits need to be conducted
independently of any insiders within the system (election officials or
voting machine vendor staff) in order to be considered valid. Here is
a written proposal for an independent audit for Utah that tried to
minimize the burden to Utah's election officials and taxpayers:


What computer laymen may not realize is that just because the written
text on a touchscreen and the written text on the paper roll agree
with a voter's choices, it does not follow that the invisible
electronic ballot or the barcode agrees with a voter's choices, or
that the votes are counted correctly.

It appears that Diebold has repaired (at least in Summit County) the
plug sockets so that they no longer fall out and no longer pose an
electrocution hazard (perhaps thanks to Emery County Clerk Bruce
Funk's discovery.)

The printers still lack sufficient paper guides to prevent paper jams.

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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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