Pitfalls on the Road to an Honest Vote
In 1996, despite Clark Countys record population
growth, voter participation fell 21 percent under 1992 levelsin large part because
of problems with the countys widely criticized directly recorded electronic (DRE)
Sequoia Pacific computerized voting machines. Below, Lois Gross itemizes why many voters
doubt the integrity of the countys system.
DRE will give the same count every time, though that may be the count contested. There is
no physical, separate ballot to check against.
Machine may have been damaged in some way
For example, a worker makes a mistake in preparation of machines access control
buttons on the control on the side of the machine.
Voter presses ENTRY key too soon.
A voter who has not been properly instructed, or does not understand
instructions, or is in some way impaired or hurried, can easily make the mistake of
pressing the ENTRY key after the first vote, thinking, perhaps, each vote must be so
entered. What will happen is that all further votes will not be accepted by the machine,
and the voter may not ever know it.
Voter accidentally presses the wrong button.
Voter may know wrong candidate button has been pressed, but nothing can be
done. In this case, as well as the one above, the voter using a ballot for the optical
scan machine can request and sign for a new ballot and the incorrect one is destroyed.
Voter presses button and nothing lights up
signifying accepted vote; no vote accepted.
Voter may not report. Improperly working machine may not be taken out of
service or problem corrected. Voter may report and correction may or may not be done.
Voter votes for Candidate A and machine
records a vote for Candidate B.
Voter will not know change has been programmed into machines computer.
Voter votes and forgets to press ENTRY button.
When the machine is then readied for the next voter, the first voters
choices are lost. Or, the next voter could effectively make changes to first voters
selections before pressing "Enter vote," and making his or her own selection.
Software lost, changed or damaged in
transit, or just disappears.
With the optical scanner methodology, by comparison, the vote on the
physical paper ballot is always available to be rechecked and recounted.
Count of DRE numerical code on tape
incorrectly entered and all subsequent counts are wrong.
Numerical code is confusing and in blocks of numbers not easilyif at
allunderstandable to the layman poll watcher.
Count not taken at precinct.
There is much less opportunity for fraud if counts are taken for each
precinct before tape is sent to an area where all precincts are counted. The optical-scan
ballot is counted at the second it is slipped into the box by the voter.
Software is tampered with before election.
Software was secretly written to rig the election. Ways to write software
to slant an election are limited only by the programmers imagination and range from
the pedestrian (programmed to pass testing early, then, at a certain hour, or upon certain
electronic stimuli, change procedures) to the exotic.
Software tampered with during election, by
Software tampered with during a "glitch," when no
"outsider" is permitted to watch "correction."
Worker enters booth to help voter and votes
for voter, who may not know this has been done.
Cartridges exchanged on way to counting.
Files changed during counting.
Hidden modem (internal) accepts electronic
messages to control vote from outside.
Software programmed in one or more of many
ways that change, manipulate and/or subvert the vote. Example: software can be
written to perform correctly for any pre-vote test, but later, when a highly unusual vote
is registered by an accomplice, "kick in" to a manipulated vote pattern.
Voter leaves polling place because of long
Lois Gross is a member of the
Nevada Policy Research Institute's Advisory Council.