[E-voting] 11-12-07: Unauthorized vote alterations on Texas iVotronic voting machine

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at eircom.net
Tue Nov 13 08:33:22 GMT 2007


http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/show.cgi?tpc=3D1954&post=3D38143#PO=
ST38143

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:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/171/70667.html

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 =

document.

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 =

Protection actions.
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