Editorials | Opinions
|Electronic Vote in the US: The Very Last Elections|
Guillermo Ramón Adames y Suari - PVNN
November 06, 2010
One of the possibilities of electronic voting is intrinsic to the US corporate system. Corporations do all sorts of things going from airplanes, agriculture, research and you name it. So things, produce and even research come from a corporation or a series of corporations. Electronic voting machines are no exception.
In the US there are 8 major companies: Advanced Voting Solutions, Danaher (Guardian), Dominion Voting, Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), Hart InterCivic, Microvote Inc. Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold, and even before owned by Dominion Voting), Sequoia Voting Systems (owned by Dominion Voting). In an article published in Banderas News, October 22, 2009, (Ohio Elections Key) is described how ES&S / Diebold represents some 80% of electronic voting technology. The article is available in my web page HERE. The list represents some 20 different voting machines.
|It is not my goal to question or evaluate the political implications for the US. My role is reduced to try to explain to the best of my knowledge, the methodology and the voting procedures hoping to call the attention of the reader and eventually the decision makers of the procedures suggested.|
Under the pressure of public opinion and nonprofit organizations, despite the fact that these companies do not furnish access to the corresponding codes, they are of “easy use” and “reliable”. Probably the most evolved machine that I analyzed is “iVotronic” from ES&S which has two security systems: The Mercury method (that can be summarized as a ballot printout) and RTAL (Real time Audit Log). One of the advantages of this machine is that the whole operation of the voter is registered (without an id). It tracks since you entered with your PEB (Personal Electronic Ballot) and registers whether you chose a candidate, went back to “the candidates page” erased your first choice and then you selected a second candidate.
This history is important as for what I know, the codes are checked on how many “candidate hits” were done in the machine and how many ballots were actually printed and everything must coincide. This information is important to the manufacturers as they receive information from the government and quite frankly government’s information is not always very clear. Particularly when there are not a clear cut difference between parties and/or supporting organizations doing publicity on one hand and a different presentation of the candidate at the machine level.
I have indicated to the corresponding voting organizations that there should be a manual describing exactly how candidates should be presented. For all candidates. These manuals should come from the government: if a list is presented, it can be interpreted by different companies differently and present (unwillingly) different criteria. In these circumstances is extremely difficult to explain that the text(s) or classification(s) are not clear and even so, many people would scream “fraud”.
The best example to illustrate problems is the 2004 election. “Everything” was fraud and to this date I have not yet found a serious article questioning the voting process as a whole and determine “where” the fraud was and prove it. First, hundreds of experts, technicians, journalists and even the same political parties or non government organizations “explained” how the fraud was made. And everything was consequence of the government. As far as the voting machines it was claimed that they were “biased”. How can anybody in their right minds question a machine computer code if it was not accessible? Today, those codes are the very heart of voting corporations. I do not share that point of view as I consider that the very heart of democracy should be transparency. So a country’s democracy lies in a “secret” computer code? Code should be widely available and corporate competition should be placed elsewhere.
So: how did they do it?
According to the information widely distributed, the distribution of electronic machines was done in a statistical fashion (machines were distributed following a uniform distribution) all across the country. This distribution reduced the possibility of biased machines to a minimum as it was an equivalent to a random assign. It was known that the PEB “could” be attacked via an infra red telephone system. So voters were invited to leave their telephones (and other electronic media) before getting to the urns to cast their vote. There was no way of entering the machines via Internet or Bluetooth. No wifi was available. All precautions were taken. Statistically the machines operated without error or blocking at 98% with a confidence level of 99%. Even at this level in which a mistake can happen, no problem was registered.
Final count was relatively fast through high speed security connections. Apparently but it was not expressly indicated, level 7 which corresponds to military security and it is supposed to be the highest level of security available today. Unfortunately at the time of this print, I was not able to get that particular information but it was briefly explained in the procedures.
It is not my goal to question or evaluate the political implications for the US. My role is reduced to try to explain to the best of my knowledge, the methodology and the voting procedures hoping to call the attention of the reader and eventually the decision makers of the procedures suggested.
Guillermo Ramón Adames y Suari is a former electoral officer of the United Nations Organization. Contact him at gui.voting(at)gmail.com.