July 20, 2004 Contacts: Madeline Hervey - Common Cause (214) 802-5977
Press Advisory Suzy Woodford - Common Cause (512) 971-4839
RICE UNIVERSITY COMPUTER EXPERT DR. DAN WALLACH COUNTERS TEXAS SECRETARY OF STATE CONNOR'S CLAIMS THAT TEXAS ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEMS IN 13 COUNTIES ARE SAFE
Citizens' Groups Deliver 21,053 Petition Signatures to Secretary Of State Geoffrey Connor Calling For a Safe Verified Vote by 11/2/04
Yesterday a representative of Sec retary of State Geoffrey Connor was presented with 21,053 petition signatures of Texas citizens who are concerned that their votes will not be recorded and counted accurately, asking for Connor to ensure the safety of their vote and for verifiability of their vote at the polls 11/02/94. The coalition of groups that gathered and presented the signatures wants voting rights protected by decertifying the use of electronic voting machines because of security concerns, or by adding the capability for voters to verify their vote on a paper ballot.
Dr. Dan Wallach, assistant professor of computer science at Rice Universitiy and an expert in computer security, states, in response to Secretary of State Connor's recent assurance to the public of the safety of electronic voting:
" The State of Texas's certification process and requirements are outdated, and do not address many serious concerns with paperless electronic voti ng systems. The certification bodies we rely upon to review the e-voting software state that they meet minimal Federal requirements; they do not state that the systems will be robust against election fraud.
" Texas's own examiners, despite being provided with the source code, admit that they do not have sufficient time to read it.
" Furthermore, the 'real-time audit log' and summary screen that Texas requires do nothing to protect against the threat of corrupt software in the voting machine. Such software could display the correct results to the voter and on the audit log, but record something entirely different in the computer's memory. If such corruption were to happen, there would be no way, after the fact, to reconstruct the actual intent of the voter.
" This is why computer scientists, activists, and other concerned citizens are pushing for a voter-verifiable audit trail -- a printed paper ballot that the voter can read, verify, and deposit in the ballot box. That piece of paper would be the primary record of the voter's intent, and could be counted mechanically or manually, allowing a variety of options for recounting the votes in a contested election.
" Today, many Texans already vote on optical scan paper ballots, which satisfy the requirements of a voter-verifiable audit trail. Furthermore, with precinct-based scanners, optical scan ballots have been found to have significantly higher accuracy than the current generation of DRE (electronic voting) systems. They're cheaper as well. "
These local Texas voting issues, publicized to the media and lawmakers at a press conference July 13th, 2004 in Austin at the state capitol by a coalition of citizens' groups--not "special interest groups", as the Secretary of State has referred to them in a recent statement--center on protecting citizens' voting rights. The Secretary of State is being asked to decertify electronic voting machines currently in use in 13 counties in Texas, and to revert to already certified ballots read by using optical scan machines currently in use in Texas, or to mandate voting on a paper ballot as is done with absentee ballots.
Secretary of State Connor, in reference to the press conference held last week by the coalition, stated that "some wish to cast a cloud over our elections or create a sense of uncertainty and paranoia" by questioning the safety and accountability of electronic voting. There are many who do, indeed, have a sense of mistrust and uncertainty that their vote will count in the November election if electronic voting goes forward without vigorous safety measures that hold everyone accountable. 21,053 Texans who signed the petition just submitted to the Secretary of State are certainly very concerned about the safety of their votes, as are, undoubtedly, many others. For this reason they petitioned Secretary of State C onnor to revert to paper ballots.
Other Secretaries of State across the country are taking aggressive preventative measures to protect their citizens from the security concerns that have been mentioned. Several states, including Nevada, Ohio and California, have disallowed paperless electronic voting in some or all of their counties, citing security flaws with the electronic voting machines as the reason, several of them being the same voting equipment used in Texas.
"In August, according to Texas law, Mr. Connor has the opportunity to take action to assure Texas voters that their votes WILL count by decertifying these e-voting machines unless they add the paper ballot for voter verifiability at the polls", said Vickie Karp, National Chair of the Coalition for Visible Ballots. "Texas statutes on voting equipment say that it must 'operate safely, efficiently, and accurately'; and that it 'is safe from fraudulent or unauthorized& amp; lt; EM> manipulation'. The current electronic systems do not satisfy Texas statute requirements and should be replaced. The audit log referred to by Secretary of State Connor in a recent press release is only a summary and recounting of votes cast; currently in 13 counties in Texas, there is no real and verifiable record of how those votes were cast."
"Secretary Connor should mandate the use of optical scan ballot systems that are already certified in Texas and order the use of these systems in the 13 counties instead of using the electronic voting systems that do not allow the voter to verify the true intent of their vote." Ms. Karp states. "There is no excuse for inaction. The August certification meeting is the time to do the right thing for Texas voters."
Among the citizens' groups who sponsored the petition drive are: Common Cause, MoveOn.org, True Majority.org, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Democracy For America, Working Assets, and Verified Voting.org. They were joined by Public Citizen, Drive Democracy, Texas Safe Voting.org, Coalition For Visible Ballots, Campaigns for People, Black Box Voting.org, The ACLU of Texas, EFF-Austin, and Austin Code Pink. PLEASE SEE A TTACHED :
July 19, 2004
Texas Secretary of State
P.O. Box 12697
Austin, TX 78711
Dear Secretary Connor,
On Friday, July 19, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell barred three counties from completing a purchase of Diebold electronic voting systems, requiring the counties to continue to use their existing systems.
Blackwell banned the deployment of the new Diebold Systems after a second round of testing failed to remedy serious security flaws shown in studies commissioned by the State of Ohio and conducted by computer security consultancies Compuware and Infosentry.
Similar security flaws have been reported by studies performed by consultants at SAIC for the State of Maryland, and academic researchers for the IEEE Security and Privacy Symposium and Magazine.
Given this development, we would like to request that the Secretary of State:
Enjoin the deployment of new electronic voting systems until the concerns raised by reports in Ohio and other states have been addressed
Commission an independent study in the State of Texas to examine the security and auditability of the electronic voting system and voting process
Review for State certification electronic voting systems that provide a voter-verifiable paper ballot, which provide assurance of a valid recount in case of security issues
Director, ACLU-TX Cyberliberties Project
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cincinnati Post/Associated Press
New York Times
Compuware news release regarding flaws in security of leading evoting systems
Compuware Report showing flaws in security of leading evoting systems http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/hava/files/compuware.pdf
2004 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (Oakland, California), May 2004.
Analysis of an Electronic Voting System, Tadayoshi Kohno, Adam Stubblefield, Aviel D. Rubin, Dan S. Wallach,
IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine Hack-a-Vote: Demonstrating Security Issues with Electronic Voting Systems, Jonathan Bannet, David W. Price, Algis Rudys, Justin Singer, Dan S. Wallach
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