News Release

Electronic Machines with No Paper Trail Questioned


Hartmann is author of the recent article “The Ultimate Felony Against Democracy — Privatizing the Vote” and the book Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights. He said today: “Why are we allowing corporations to exclusively handle our vote, in a secret and totally invisible way? … Particularly a private corporation founded, in one case, by a family that believes the Bible should replace the Constitution; in another case run by one of Ohio’s top Republicans; and in another case partly owned by Saudi investors? … About two years ago, I wrote a story ‘If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines,’ that exposed how Senator Chuck Hagel had, before stepping down and running for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska, been the head of the voting machine company (now ES&S) that had just computerized Nebraska’s vote. The Washington Post (1/13/97) said Hagel’s ‘Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election.’ Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska, nearly all on unauditable machines he had just sold the state.”
More Information

Hartmann added: “Congressman Rush Holt introduced a bill into Congress requiring a voter-verified paper ballot be produced by all electronic voting machines, and it’s been co-sponsored by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives. The two-year battle fought by Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay to keep it from coming to a vote, thus insuring that there will be no possible audit of the votes of about a third of the 2004 electorate…”

Investigative journalist Palast said today: “Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded. This was predictable and it was predicted. … And not all votes spoil equally. Most of those votes, say every official report, come from African-American and minority precincts. We saw this in Florida in 2000. Exit polls showed Gore with a plurality of at least 50,000, but it didn’t match the official count. That’s because the official, Secretary of State Katherine Harris, excluded 179,855 spoiled votes. … Whose cards [in 2000] were discarded? Expert statisticians investigating spoilage for the government calculated that 54 percent of the ballots thrown in the dumpster were cast by black folks. CNN said George Bush took New Mexico [in 2004] by 11,620 votes. Again, the network total added up to that miraculous, and non-existent, ‘100 percent’ of ballots cast. … New Mexico reported in the last race a spoilage rate of 2.68 percent, votes lost almost entirely in Hispanic, Native American and poor precincts — Democratic turf. From Tuesday’s vote, assuming the same ballot-loss rate, we can expect to see 18,000 ballots in the spoilage bin. Spoilage has a very Democratic look in New Mexico. Hispanic voters in the Enchanted State, who voted more than two to one for Kerry, are five times as likely to have their vote spoil as a white voter.”
More Information
The report from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission

Harris is the executive director of Black Box Voting. She said today: “[Black Box Voting will be presenting] the first in a series of public records requests, to obtain internal computer logs and other documents from 3,000 individual counties and townships. Networks called the election before anyone bothered to perform even the most rudimentary audit.”
More Information

Background information:

On Nov. 3, the Associated Press reported the story “Computer Scientists Cautious of E-Voting” which included the following interviews with computer scientists: “Many acknowledged that the hardware performed well. But software errors may have changed results, [computer scientists] said. The vast majority of touch screens in the United States do not produce paper records. And that means, critics say, that the machines could alter or delete ballots without anyone noticing. … ‘What has most concerned scientists are problems that are not observable, so the fact that no major problems were observed says nothing about the system,’ said David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. … Avi Rubin, one of the nation’s leading critics of e-voting, said he was relieved and encouraged that the machines didn’t fail en masse on Election Day. But Rubin, who worked in Maryland as a poll judge Tuesday, still supports major changes in election technology — including requirements that the machines produce paper records, and that independent researchers be permitted to examine their software for problems. ‘I’ve been saying all along that my biggest fear is that someone would program a machine to give a wrong answer,’ said Rubin, a Johns Hopkins computer scientist. ‘If that were to happen, the machine would still work fine — we just wouldn’t know it.'”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167