'Touch'screen voting ripe for fraud
By ERNEST HANCOCK SPECIAL TO THE TRIBUNE (The link from this article is no longer active and is, thus, not included)
Until voting computers are randomly validated with paper ballots at a high enough percentage (say, 100 percent?) to ensure their accuracy, I choose not to believe that the people support what has happened to their government.
I have seen close up how lawmakers and government representatives justify the most ludicrous expenditures in obscene amounts, but these spenders are never in more unison than in their opposition to any real effort to guarantee the accuracy of the vote, as if the truth would threaten their existence.
On July 24, the New York Times article screamed the headline, "Computer voting is open to easy fraud, experts say." The article was a result of a study published by computer experts at Johns Hopkins and Rice universities.
The article is best summed up by its quote from an expert in computer security at SRI International, Peter G. Neumann, who referred to the study as ''just the tip of the iceberg'' of problems with electronic voting systems.
Douglas W. Jones, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, said he was shocked to discover flaws cited in Mr. Rubin 's paper that he had mentioned to the system's developers about five years ago as a state elections official. ''To find that such flaws have not been corrected in half a decade is awful,'' Jones said.
On Aug. 12, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News hit the Internet with a Washington Post story, "Report suggests threat of electronic vote fraud." "In California, the electronic voting debate surfaced months before the Hopkins report, when Santa Clara County supervisors in January were about to adopt a touchscreen system for 730,000 registered voters in the heart of Silicon Valley. They were stopped by an 11th-hour appeal from Stanford University computer scientist David Dill, who collected 300-plus signatures from top scientists and technologists nationwide on a petition urging that the machines, which they said could easily be hacked, produce a paper ballot as a backup."
The president of MIT, Charles Vest, and the president of Caltech, David Baltimore, have their computer sciences departments engaged in creating a system that, " . . . should be tamper-resistant and should minimize the prospect of manipulation and fraud." Well, I should hope so.
Vote fraud is a global problem. Countries are far easier to conquer with a "memory stick" than with a tank. And these quiet wars have their equivalent of the "military industrial complex." This industry is the beneficiary of the billions provided by Congress' Help America Vote Act that has a favorite method of voting - paperless touch screens.
Arizona law does not allow for the manual validation of computer software that counted an election. And with the paperless option selected by the secretary of state, we won't be able to. It makes you wonder what the real goal is, doesn't it?
Vote counting software should be the most open function of government. I hope you join me in demanding to know why it isn't. Because if voting is a fraud, we might be left with believing in each other - instead of placing our trust in anyone with a shiny badge, a clipboard and a gun.