Avi Rubin is a professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University who is famous for bringing to light vulnerabilities in Diebold Election Systems’s Accuvote electronic voting machines.
(read about his book about the experience: Brave new ballot; The battle to safeguard democracy in the age of electronic voting)
Avi has expressed his support for HR811.
I support Holt’s bill. I know that many activists, including several who have contacted me today, are opposed to this bill because it does not entirely ban DREs. However, at the moment, I believe that we need this bill to pass. It would outlaw the voting systems used in places like Maryland and Georgia and, I believe, 13 other states that have entirely paperless voting.
What’s sorely lacking right now are paper trails and mandatory audits. Holt provides these. I do hold out hope that some day we will be able to utilize the added benefits of end to end cryptographic systems. But right now, the Holt bill is the best measure I can foresee to have a realistic chance of eliminating the paperless DREs that I may have to vote on next November 4th.
Following is point of view that I have come to adopt, from Woody Smith:
“Here is the Number One Law, the Paramount Law, the Single Most Important Law, the Prime Directive, if you will:
Where elections are concerned, if there is a way to cheat, no matter how well concealed it may be, a cheater will find the way.
Corollary: The higher the stakes, the quicker and more certainly the way to cheat will be found.
THERE IS NO WAY — absolutely no POSSIBLE way — to design a machine that cannot be rigged. This is true whether the machine is mechanical or electronic, or whether or not it is designed with the best of intentions. Our voting vendors, most notably Diebold, have never demonstrated that they have the best of intentions.
Elections without paper ballots cannot provide a permanent record that can be observed to verify the results. People who vote by machine — with or without a paper record — cannot know with confidence that their ballot was recorded as they intended. A “paper receipt” is absolutely no guarantee unless it is the actual instrument of voting — the ballot itself. A machine can tabulate a vote any way it is programmed to count it irrespective of how the voter voted, and produce a “receipt” that says anything the programmer of the machine wants it to say. The “receipt” can faithfully display how the voter cast his or her votes, while the machine tabulates the vote completely differently out of sight, out of mind.
We hear much talk of “provisional ballots,” as for people without photo IDs. How about “provisional counts,” provided by machines, if indeed they perform any useful function at all, but with all machine counts regarded as UNOFFICIAL, with the official tally only being obtained by a more painstaking, but more reliable, manual effort before bipartisan witnesses, and only regarded as official with the provisional and manual counts agree. When they do NOT agree, further manual counts will be required until an EXTREMELY high degree of confidence in the results is obtained.
Those who have stolen three of our last four elections have a very real reason to continue their ways, and fight to maintain in our system the vulnerabilities that they have been so successful in exploiting. I personally would prefer that they did not.
“Receipts” are WORSE than useless. They are a recipe for such tried and true types of fraud as vote buying and voter intimidation.
For the disabled, for whose needs so many people now feign such unctuous concern, ballot marking devices could be devised, but their privacy will be compromised by any conceivable system anyhow. How do they read their “receipt?” Until that blessed day arrives when we can restore sight to the blind, their lives are doomed to encounter areas of compromise that, though regrettable, are nonetheless unavoidable. The sighted among us really ought to try to help rather than, as the proponents of DREs are doing, pander to and attempt to exploit their disabilities.”