What is the latest threat to democracy? Bar-codes and ballot marking devices a.k.a. “electronic pencils.”

  • vote flipping (when an election integrity advocate used such a device in Los Angeles, the device flipped 4 out of 12 of his selections) [2],
  • inability to display all candidates on one screen (a problem reported by the state of Maryland, which had acquired such systems for all voters, but changed its mind even though the screen problem was eventually fixed) [3], and
  • vendor breach of certification requirements (as occurred with vendor Election Systems & Software, “ES&S”)[4].

Update 3/7/18:

Soon after I posted this article on Twitter, a high ranking Colorado official dismissed as “anecdotal” the BMD vote-flipping experience referenced at the start of the article, advising that he has neither seen nor heard of such problems in Colorado. He did not dispute Hursti’s concern about bar codes, but implied that Colorado’s post-election risk limiting audits rendered moot any concerns about hacking.

End Notes

  1. http://politics.myajc.com/news/state--regional-govt--politics/exclusive-details-georgia-test-use-paper-ballots-elections/YyV47c41Q2MmbMcCc5F9OL/ [discussion of recent Georgia pilot study using Ballot Marking Devices for both disabled and non-disabled voters]; https://www.kqed.org/news/10743421/l-a-county-pilot-program-imagines-the-future-of-voting
  2. http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6043 [BMD in California flipped 4 out of 12 selections]
  3. http://editions.lib.umn.edu/electionacademy/2016/02/04/too-many-candidates-maryland-seeks-to-use-paper-ballots-in-early-voting-for-april-primary/ [Maryland to use opscans instead of its new BMD’s because the BMD’s can’t display all candidates on one screen — note that this particular issue was later fixed.]
  4. http://electiondefensealliance.org/2007/08/es_s_caught_uncertified_machines_ca_decertification_may_result [ES&S caught making changes to BMD’s without obtaining certification or permission]
  5. https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/09/no_such_thing_as_an_unhackable_voting_machine.html; https://twitter.com/search?q=DeMillo%20barcodes&src=typd [Professor Richard DeMillo: “Despite the recent fascination with electronic ballot markers that print bar codes for scanning ballots, bar codes have no place in Georgia’s election system. They introduce a whole new class of vulnerabilities.”]
  6. https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images/Unedited%20Transcript%20for%20September%2012%2C%202017%20Meeting%20in%20New%20Hampshire.pdf, p. 113
  7. https://www.verifiedvoting.org/resources/vvpr-legislation/
  8. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2007/04/congress-finally-considers-aggressive-e-voting-overhaul/
  9. http://chil.rice.edu/research/pdf/EverettDissertation.pdf, pp. 2–3
  10. https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/96553/vtp_wp16.pdf?sequence=1, p. 10
  11. https://www.wired.com/2004/10/diebold-and-the-disabled/ [“In the controversy over electronic voting machines, activists for disability groups have been at the forefront of campaigns to convince counties and states to purchase touch-screen voting systems.”];http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2004/3111hava_debate.html [letter from Representative Bob Ney using the disabled community as an excuse to preclude paper trails; Ney later went to prison for accepting bribes from a lobbyist whose firm represented Diebold, a vendor of paperless voting machines]; https://www.eff.org/wp/accessibility-and-auditability-electronic-voting [“[A] recent lawsuit filed on behalf of AAPD and others claims that ‘only DRE systems, when properly equipped, are accessible and enable voters who are disabled to vote independently, unassisted and in secret.’”]; https://www.wired.com/2003/11/dust-up-over-e-vote-paper-trail/ [“The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, or CACEO, led by Shasta County Clerk Ann Reed, called the decision [to require a paper audit trail] “a major defeat for the disabled community, as well as the minority-language communities.”]; http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bal-md.machines29mar29-story.html [“Advocates for visually impaired voters are concerned that the paper trail requirement will strip them of their right to a secret ballot…”]; https://books.google.com/books?id=XR21acqXy28C&pg=PA161&lpg=PA161&dq=DREs+blind+touchscreens&source=bl&ots=bKjbw2-0WK&sig=T0sJRg83H-oaAPsNJ1tMozcKjkw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwib0dWa54_ZAhWl7YMKHZZcAEUQ6AEIVjAJ#v=onepage&q=DREs%20blind%20touchscreens&f=false , p. 161
  12. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/should-primary-voters-be-worried-about-aging-voting-machines [initially, 70% of the machines bought under HAVA were DREs]
  13. http://electiondefensealliance.org/2007/03/disability_voter_advocates_call_ban_dres [“BLIND AND DISABLED VOTER ADVOCATES, GROUPS CALL FOR ‘IMMEDIATE BAN’ OF DRE VOTING SYSTEMS!”]
  14. https://twitter.com/search?q=%40honlarryvaughn%20nobody%20points%20out&src=typd

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Jennifer Cohn

Jennifer Cohn

Attorney and Election Integrity Advocate #ProtectOurVotes #PaperBallotsNow @jennycohn1