Thursday, February 13, 2003

E-voting in Washington: say goodbye to election integrity

"The most important question to ask is this:

With respect to this year's all-electronic voting machines, is there any meaningful evidence that the vote you cast was correctly recorded -- that is, evidence that there were no misconfigured systems, accidents, internal fraud, etc.? For almost all of the existing systems (with the exception of one that actually incorporates the Mercuri Mechanism, namely, Avante), the answer is an UNEQUIVOCAL NO. This is an untenable situation if you believe in election integrity, IRRESPECTIVE of your party affiliations."

-- Peter G. Neumann

Electronic voting is very, very dangerous. Don't even get me started on Internet voting. There is only one known product on the marketplace that has done their homework and implemented the correct mechanism for ensuring election integrity that the research community has identified (the Mercuri Mechanism, above).

There are tons of published cases of errors and delays caused by electronic voting that has been done around the country in practice, including more votes being counted than registered voters in the precinct.

Here is one list:
And another:

Washington State is even looking at Internet Voting:

I heard and saw Sam Reed talking about an Electronic Voting pilot in Washington State on the news. Here's a press release:

This is an area that fascinates me because of all of the research that has gone into this area that public officials ignore on the dangers and how to do this correctly. They are often giving way too much credence to vendors that tell them all is safe. I would love to ask the people doing these pilots how they plan to assure voters of the integrity of the election, especially when e-voting machines are often closed-source and cannot be reverse-engineered because the companies claim trade secrets and will probably sic the DMCA on you.

When I get some time, I need to write some letters to representatives in this state. I will include these folks:

Sam Reed, Secretary of State
Dean Logan, Director of Elections ([email protected])
David M. Elliott, Assistant Director of Elections

To find the representatives in your district, check out

In the meantime, there is a petition that you can sign up with:

A ton of big-name researchers and security experts have already signed it.

And two renowned experts in electronic voting:

Rebecca Mercuri, Ph.D. (been researching for over a decade). " Her position statement:

Peter G. Neumann (moderator of the ACM Risks Forum): and a paper at
His excellent summary of the issue:

Avi Rubin has also written a paper on this topic:

NPR also just ran a segment on the risks of electronic voting during Morning Edition Feb 10, 2003

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