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California study reinforces need in the Granite State to rid ourselves of secret vote counting technology

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Last week California's Secretary of State released a report on testing that she had ordered for computerized voting machines used in California elections. The testing included Diebold optical scanners like those used in 55% of our New Hampshire polling places.

California ran "red team" tests, meant to expose vulnerabilities in the face of intended tampering and fraud. From the report:

Each "red team" was to try to compromise the accuracy, security, and integrity of the voting systems without making assumptions about compensating controls or procedural mitigation measures that vendors, the Secretary of State, or individual counties may have adopted. The red teams demonstrated that, under these conditions, the technology and security of all three systems could be compromised.

California's tests proved the computerized voting equipment used in our elections have no place in a democratic society. They are, in fact, designed with back doors to facilitate election tampering.

Where there are elections, there is intent to commit fraud. The difference between hand count and computerized elections is the scale and opportunity to commit fraud. The old saw about the ballot boxes that end up in the harbor doesn't acknowledge that where hand count elections provide opportunities for retail fraud, computerized elections offer one stop shopping for wholesale fraud.

In New Hampshire we learned the hard way from the phone jamming scandal, that fraud is typically executed by insiders, often at a high level with access to money and control. California's tests prove the ease in which this can occur with computerized technology:

Consider an attack that replaces the firmware of a voting system with firmware that is malicious. Developing the malicious firmware, and building the software mechanism to install it, requires an expert or team of experts. But carrying out the attack requires only access to a voting system (i.e., someone voting) and not technical expertise.

The computerized voting industry claims that keeping secret the technology counting our votes "protects" the vote count. California's report puts this myth soundly to rest:

T he red teams wish again to emphasize the inadequacy of "security through obscurity" as a key defensive mechanism. No security mechanism should ever depend on secrecy. At best, secrecy should be a single security mechanism in a layer of defensive security mechanisms.

Why are New Hampshire citizens allowing the continued use of these machines in our elections?

We pride ourselves on being first in the nation, yet 55% of our polling places continue to use secret vote counting technology!

Every city and town in New Hampshire has the legal right and responsibility to choose its method of state-approved vote counting. In New Hampshire, we have only two approved methods: hand count or Diebold-count.

We can, and should, all say no to Diebold.

In March, 2006, the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission disregarded more than four hours of public testimony and re-approved Diebold optical scanning machines for use in the Granite State.

The Commission applied no standard for approval other than their stated fear that we could not run our elections without them. Only two city clerks testified in favor of approving the machines, giving the same reason: fear of running elections without them.

The Commission approved vote counting technology "protected" by trade secrecy laws; even election officials are not allowed to see how our votes are being counted. They approved secret vote counting (a hallmark of fascism, not democracy), even after they were presented with countless reports and the vendor's own admission of known defects and risks in the equipment.

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