I just voted for John Kerry at a walk-in absentee ballot polling place in
Honolulu County using an eSlate3000 (unit serial number A05A0B) made by
Hart Intercivic: http://www.hartintercivic.com
I was told by the official who gave me the choice of voting on paper or
voting electronically that the electronic voting machines weren't supposed
to be here yet, but that since they arrived in time for the 2004 election,
they were being used anyway.
Will my vote be counted? That depends on a number of unknowns, such as
whether or not the unit on which my vote was cast subsequently
malfunctions, rendering the entire vote tabulating memory card corrupt.
I did not receive a paper printout following the submission of my
Excluding the obvious possibility that fraud may occur, either to stuff the
electronic 'ballot box' with false votes, or to intentionally destroy or
fail to count votes for a particular candidate, there are risks inherent to
electronic voting that do not exist in the same way with paper ballots. And
although there are technical safeguards possible that seem like common
sense, these safeguards continue to be ignored. Why?
Will we ever see common sense safeguards added to the electronic voting
A search for known security vulnerabilities or potential flaws in voting
equipment manufactured and sold by Hart InterCivic turns up:
Prior to casting my vote, I provided a written 'application' to vote
containing my current address and other contact information. Election
officials have every bit of information necessary to inform me in the event
of a memory card failure or other malfunction that causes my electronic
vote not to be counted properly.
We know the very equipment that I just used to cast my vote has
malfunctioned in the past. There have never been any reports that any voter
has ever been allowed to revote following the loss of their electronic vote
database record. Why not?
I find it absurd that common sense solutions to electronic voting problems
are not being used. The vote I just cast could be made available for my
anonymous review after it has been counted. For that matter, all votes made
by all voters could be aggregated and published such that any voter could
confirm that the vote that was counted was in fact the vote that they cast.
Such a safeguard would ensure that no fraud could occur without timely
detection by those voters who are directly affected, and no vote would go
uncounted or be miscounted by mistake unless voters choose not to perform
such data validation.
If we're going to allow these electronic voting devices in our elections,
then we the people must be empowered to become the all volunteer quality
assurance army that validates the data output.
Reasonable people can live with the necessity to trust election officials
to be honest, and the criminal justice procedures to hold them accountable
when they are not, but who are we supposed to hold accountable when
equipment failures and flawed computer disaster recovery planning result in
the secret exclusion of members of the public from access to their right to
If anyone has any further information about Hart InterCivic and the
eSlate3000, please contact me directly.
jasonc () science org
Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.