[E-voting] 11-12-07: Unauthorized vote alterations on Texas
iVotronic voting machine
cansbro at eircom.net
Tue Nov 13 08:33:22 GMT 2007
When Wharton County, Texas citizen Jim Welch voted last Tuesday, he =
watched in disbelief as the voting machine changed the vote he'd entered =
a few moments earlier.
The machine was an ES&S iVotronic touch-screen, the same model recently =
subjected to a blistering Dan Rather investigative report, but what =
Welch witnessed does not seem explainable as a manufacturing defect or =
screen calibration problem like those exposed in Rather's report.
The case has earmarks that may indicate election fraud.
"Vote-flipping" on touch-screens has been documented before. =
Manufacturers claim votes show up for a different choice than that =
chosen by the voter sometimes, explaining that this is due to =
miscalibration of the computer's touch-screen. Miscalibration somehow =
never seems to happen when you use the airport touchscreens, hopping to =
"2" bags when you press "1" bag, but according to voting machine vendors =
it is not uncommon when casting votes. A touch on one part of the =
machine can register on a different part of the machine due to screen =
miscalibrations, but this doesn't seem to explain what Welch saw.
What Welch witnessed was votes that registered CORRECTLY when he touched =
the screen, switching later to a different vote choice, when he was =
almost finished voting the full page.
Welch was stunned to see a correctly marked vote take on a life of its =
own, hopping over to a different spot while he voted on other items. He =
called an elections worker over to show him the problem. The elections =
worker helped him re-vote the ballot, and both men watched as the vote =
registered correctly, but later spontaneously altered to shift to =
another ballot choice.
What is especially interesting about this report is this: The iVotronic =
voting machines display sets of ballot questions on several different =
screens, called "pages." If a voting machine alters the vote after a =
voter has progressed to a later page, the voter /won't witness the =
movement of the vote from one selection to another./
Even if voters take the extra time to page back through every ballot =
screen in the election, they may not catch the error -- and even if they =
catch the error, both voters and poll workers may attribute it to voter =
error. Since the vote may be designed to change AFTER the page is =
turned, even paging back to "check" does not stop the vote from morphing =
back to an incorrect selection once the voter leaves the page.
What Welch saw was not a screen calibration problem because it =
registered on the screen correctly. It was not "voter error" because he =
literally watched the vote re-write itself to another selection, not =
once, but twice.
The election worker called the Wharton County elections office. Welch =
was astute enough to see that the suggested solution was not responsive =
to the real issue:
"You may continue on with this ballot if you like," said the elections =
worker after conferring with Wharton County elections personnel, "Or I =
can void this and you can start over."
This is a machine that had already demonstrated it can't be trusted. =
This is a machine that would fail the much-touted "Logic & Accuracy" =
testing purported to prove voting machines don't cheat. This is a =
machine that would not have passed certification tests had it performed =
this way for the test labs. This is a machine that has no business =
counting votes at all.
And because the iVotronic voting systems are centrally programmed, and =
the programming defines how the machine counts its votes, this is a =
machine that has single-handedly cast doubt on every other iVotronic =
voting machine in Wharton County.
Jim Welch spoke with Wharton County Clerk Judy Owens about the matter, =
and she provided answers that were even more unrelated to the problem:
"You can go back and check your vote before casting it," she pointed =
out, referring to the voter's ability to page back one by one to review =
each panel. But if the machine can alter a vote -- especially if the =
timing is such that this happens after you have moved to a new page -- =
what good will that do?
"We can print each vote out," she said, but Welch astutely questioned =
how and when votes can be printed, They aren't printed at the same time =
as the voter votes, and the printouts simply re-create what the computer =
program records, so what good is that?
*What can be done about this?*
Welch has indicated that he will be willing to file certain public =
records requests to cast more light on this issue. He is meeting with =
other public officials in an effort to get paper ballots.
*Black Box Voting* has set up a new Election Protection section of this =
Web site. Welch and other citizens can publish all documents, results, =
and reports immediately now. Each state has an area for each =
jurisdiction. Go to "Forums" and scroll to the state, choose "Election =
Protection" and scroll to the appropriate county.
Wharton County can be found here:
Three ways to upload documents:
1) Mail them to Black Box Voting and we'll scan and post
2) Fax them to our magic toll free fax number, which converts them to =
pdf format, and we'll post them. To get the magic fax number, e-mail =
crew at blackboxvoting.org <mailto:crew at blackboxvoting.org> and ask for it.
3) Self-upload the documents: Register, log in, go to state and county, =
post a message and use the "attach" feature to attach your scanned =
Black Box Voting will provide related follow-up public records request =
letters for Jim Welch and other citizens who wish to investigate this =
matter. E-mail if you'd like to get involved in this or other Election =
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