Dangers of Electronic Voting
Updated: 30 January 2017

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There are two basic ways to steal an election, both of which were in big-time play in the 2016 election:
  • Overt disenfranchisement -- There are many forms -- e.g., the Interstate Crosscheck List that assumes different people with similar names in different states are voting twice and should be scrubbed, caging whereby certified letters requiring a response are sent to addresses of people known to be not home or unlikely to open and return the letters, restricting voting places or days, providing insufficient voting machines, requiring hard-to-get id cards, etc. But all these have one thing in common -- they are overt, even if there are attempts to rationalize or hide them.
  • Covert computerized (electronic) election theft -- This involves altering the results of an election by hacking the election, whether on the individual machine-by-machine or regional tabulation level, or even (as in 2004, and attempted in 2012) a man-in-the-middle statewide attack. It is always covert.
This page deals with the latter type of fraud. For the best thorough introduction to the issue, there is no better resource than Jonathan Simon's Code Red.

  1. Maine (my state) -- can it be an example to the nation?
    Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) passed in a citizens intiative in Maine in November, 2016. It is an excellent idea which simultaneously softens the problems of non-majority (plurality) victories and the polarization of campaigns. But it comes with a price tag -- the absolute practical requirement for the use of electronic voting machines. Is it worth it? This page contains additional information that is relevant to both Maine and the general situation.
  2. Possible solutions
    1. The Ultimate Solution? -- TEVS (the Transparent Election Verification System)
      This simple system -- which can be used in any paper-ballot situation -- was devised by software engineer Mitch Trachtenberg on a grant from the federal Elections Assistance Commission and with the cooperation of Humboldt County (CA) election officials. It involves running a separate vote counting system in parallel with the official one. In each jurisdiction, after polls close, the ballots are run through an inexpensive off-the-shelf scanner under guidance of the TEVS software, which creates a digital image of each ballot. These are then processed by one or more independent organizations, using the TEVS software to put the ballot data into a public spreadsheet, from which anyone can calculate the election results. Its main disadvantage is that using it on a larger-than-county scale (e.g. statewide) basis would required infrastructure and funds that would guarantee the presence and maintenance of the independent scanners and the personnel to run them and process the results. This may have contributed to its not having been used on such a scale.
    2. Risk Limiting Audits
      These are not a guarantee against fraud, but they can limit the risk of undiscovered fraud to a given probability percentage, acting as a fairly strong disincentive to commit it.

  3. Video/Audio -- more to come
    1. Fraction Magic: the decimalization of votes
      YouTube video by Bev Harris; for details, see article, below; also, interview segments here and here
      Note: I found it difficult to follow what was being shown in this somewhat over-produced video, but what can you expect from InfoWars... Some may find it easier to follow the PDF under "Articles/Documents," below.
    2. Hacking Democracy -- An In Depth Analysis of the ES&S Voting Systems;  (YouTube,62 mins)
      (not the CBO movie, which is unavailable)
    3. Turning cheating on and off remotely (<4 mins)
    4. 2012: Rove, ORCA, and Anonymous -- segment from Thom Hartmann's show November 19, 2012  (local MP3)
      On November 6, 2012, Fox news called Ohio for Obama instead of Romney. Commentator Karl Rove objected and had what was widely termed a "meltdown," clearly expecting a repeat of the 2004 experience.
      At almost the same time of night 8 years earlier, a crash of the Ohio vote-handling servers caused the rerouting of vote data to the servers of SmartTech, in Chattanooga, Tennessee -- a Republican-connected company whose servers were under the control of Karl Rove's IT guru, Michael Connell. When the vote data came back, a large exit poll lead for Kerry had flipped to favor Bush. Connell died in a crash of his light plane in 2008, days before testifying under oath, after threats from Rove.
      A few days before Election Day 2012, the hacker group Anonymous had publicly warned Rove they were watching him, and a couple of days after the election announced they had blocked off the data tunnels Rove's ORCA program -- supposedly designed to get out the vote, but named for a killer whale -- would have needed to pull a repeat of 2004. Election integrity activist Jonathan Simon has described talking to an Anonymous member who demonstrated detailed knowledge of both the ORCA effort and other Anonymous actions, but it apparently has not been possible to prove what actually happened.
    5. Stephen Spoonamore interviews
      Spoonamore is an expert on computer fraud, working with the international financial industry to minimize and track down credit card fraud.
      1. 7-minute in-a-nutshell -- this is my audio (mp3) distillation of the points in the 2006 multipart YouTube interview below that are relevant to Maine. He concentrates on Diebold, but the basic problem Diebold epitomized back then still applies to modern systems. There is an irreduceable background "noise" of credit-card fraud of 2.5% of all transactions, so Spoonamore asserts that a 1-2% handcount of randomly selected votes would be necessary to spot any fraud.
      2. Youtube Oct 2006 interview (part 1 of 6)
      3. Youtube Sep 2008 interview (part 1 of 10)

  4. Books
    1. Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and the New American Century, Election 2016 edition, by Jonathan Simon  (Amazon)
      Why does an essentially liberal country -- as evidenced by the large number of ballot initiatives nationwide that would normally be considered "liberal" passing with large majorities -- elect conservative people who are dead set against those initiatives? This clear question-and-answer format book provides arguably the most likely answer.
      1. Excellent interviews on KPFA's Guns and Butter, covering most of Simon's salient points -- 2016, 2014
      2. summary of 11 of those points

  5. Articles/Documents -- more to come
    1. How To Rig An Election by Victoria Collier, Harpers, November 2012 (PDF 143K, Original PDF 975K)
      Fortunately, though perhaps too late, a major magazine has finally published a full-scale story of the panorama of electoral criminality that has been going on these many years. Author Victoria Collier and Harper's Magazine have taken a great risk in doing so, and they deserve the unending gratitude of those who would like elections to mean something in our "democracy."
    2. Evoting: What You Need to Know -- William Rivers Pitt interviews 3 e-vote scientific experts: Rebecca Mercuri, David Dill, and Barbara Simons, 2003 (PDF; original is no longer available)
    3. Fraction Magic: the decimalization of votes -- Bev Harris's exposure of the ultimate weakness in the GEMS software used to tabulate votes, particularly at the state level, in that it represents votes as floating point numbers (fractions) instead of integers, enabling a wide array of possible finagling to alter results. (See also video, above)
      1. series starts here (parts 6 and 7 apparently were never completed)
      2. local PDF of whole series
    4. 2016 Election
      1. Recount's letter to Federal investigators on vulnerabilities and recount violations (also to mainstream media) -- no responses.
      2. Vote count / Exit poll comparisons
        1. Presidential, Nov. 16
        2. Presidential, Nov. 11
        3. Senate, Nov. 11
      3. Democratic Primary Flaws -- This comprehensive 2016 report from Election Justice USA covers both overt disenfranchisement and electronic anomalies in many of the primary/caucus states.
      4. Hacked or Not, Audit This Election (and All Future Ones), Wired, November 23, 2016
    5. 2010 Elections
      1. Jan 2010 Massachusetts special Senatorial election -- statistical anomalies indicating hacking was likely (PDF)
    6. 2004 Election
      1. Ohio to Chattanooga: the remote theft of the 2004 election -- newly-released documents in 2011, a good intro to the subject, with links to documents.
      2. "Faulty" Exit Polls & Hackable Vote Counting Machines (Florida 2004) -- county-by-county optscan hacking
    7. How to Steal an Optical Scanner Election
      This describes general technique by which a simple programming change on a memory card can untraceably alter the outcome of an election. Whether such a change can actually be made in a given situation is the product of many variables.
    8. Democratic Denial
      The Democratic Party, despite being on the receiving end of virtually every instance of electronic election theft in history, has universally turned a deaf ear to the presentation of evidence of this theft.
    9. Antiquated voting machines vulnerable to rigging, experts say -- a 12/26/16 Boston Globe story raising the issue of vulnerability of DRE touch-screen machines. I include it here mainly to show how blind people are to the fact that scanners (or any paper trail device) are just as insecure as DREs.

  6. Websites
    1. Verified Voting -- http://verifiedvoting.org
      This is an excellent repository of technical and background information, ongoing news about voting-machine trouble, and has done a lot to organize a central hotline for problems that happen during elections
    2. Black Box Voting -- http://blackboxvoting.org
      Started when its founder, Bev Harris, found the whole secret software system of Diebold left in open public view on the Internet and turned it over to programmers, who found extensive and apparently deliberate security flaws. She's a firebrand, but the organization does good investigations and reporting. The site also has a complete book on the subject -- chapters in PDF format
    3. Code Red -- http://codered2016.com/ (redirects to codered2014)
      Jonathan Simon's site provides links to his articles and audio/video interviews, and an extensive Q&A about election integrity issues.
    4. TDMS Research -- http://tdmsresearch.com
      Theodore de Macedo Soares does an excellent job of gathering and analyzing data related to electoral integrity, from raw-exit-poll and voting-result data to state laws governing the public-records status of ballots.
    5. National Election Defense Coalition -- https://www.electiondefense.org/
      Works on Legislation and public education/organizing, with a clear outline of what is needed to "restore democracy to U.S. elections."
    6. Election Justice USA -- http://electionjustice.net/
      Gathers and analyzes election and voter data in a form intended to be useful in legal battles.
    7. Recount Now -- http://www.recountnow.org/
      Coordinating the attempts at recounting the 2016 Presidential election in Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona
    8. The Brad Blog -- http://bradblog.com
      Brad has been investigating and covering this issue for years
      1. Example: Virginia finally dumps hackable voting machines -- finally just too obvious
    9. Greg Palast -- http://gregpalast.com
      Greg is a fearless, relentless investigative reporter for the Guardian UK, formerly for the BBC (though he's American). He has a wide range of interests, but one of them is election theft, and not just of the voting machine kind. He even has a book out on the subject (as well as many others on vitally important, often-little-covered subjects.
    10. Google, StartPage or Youtube searches -- Some likely ones:
      • "voting machines" hacking
      • "stephen spoonamore" voting
      • "diebold voting machines"
      • (use your imagination)