VULNERABLE VOTING SYSTEMS

America's electronic voting systems are aging, error-prone and vulnerable to undetectable rigging and cyber attacks.
 


OVERVIEW

The right to vote in our republic is meaningless unless our votes are counted accurately and transparently. Yet American voting systems currently rate among the worst in the world for upholding the basic principles of democratic elections.

The 2002 Federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funneled $3.9 billion to states to buy electronic voting systems from a handful of private companies whose electronic machines count votes using "proprietary" software that is legally off limits to public inspection, even by elections officials. 

These voting systems have been repeatedly proven vulnerable to manipulation, and prone to errors and malfunctions.

Quick Facts:

  • America's nearly 9000 voting jurisdictions in 50 states are a patchwork of local laws governing ballot process and machine auditing, with no uniform standards or basic principles for election integrity.
  • This lack of consistency does not foster security - as commonly stated by elections officials - but allows multiple loopholes for fraud and cyber attacks.
  • Voting machines are typically owned and operated by private companies that use trade secrets and copyright law to keep their software off limits to public inspection.
  • Nearly all American ballots, including those cast in popular vote-by-mail systems, are now processed by these electronic "black box" systems.
  • Fourteen states use Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Touchscreen voting systems with no paper ballot, making an audit of the voting results impossible. 
  • Where paper ballots are used with Optical Scanners, most states do not conduct meaningful audits of these scanners, and many fail to uphold common-sense audit standards such as randomness (precincts or races to audit are actually chosen weeks in advance) and public oversight. Some "audits" consist only of having the same voting machines print internal results again, which is not technically an audit.
  • No current pre-election tests of the machines can detect or prevent fraud through malicious code in the vote counting software.
  • Electronic voter rolls are spreading nationwide, making voting lists equally vulnerable to hacking and manipulation.
  • Looming on the horizon is Internet voting, offering no transparency or security, and the greatest opportunity for fraud, voter intimidation, and foreign hacking of our elections.
  • Currently the burden of proof of stolen elections rests on the voter or candidate. In the cases of suspicious results or rule violations, elections administrators, political parties, Secretaries of State, and Justice Department officials, often decline to take action.

Electronic voting machines consistently fail and are prone to error. They have:

  • Forced states to hold new elections
  • Added and subtracted votes not cast by voters
  • Changed voters’ choices on the screen
  • Given voters the wrong ballot
  • Passed pre-election testing and failed on election day  
  • Reversed election outcomes
  • Broken down, causing long lines during elections


Failing machines are becoming a crisis for cash-poor communities who can't replace their aging systems.

This brings an opportunity to revisit the design and cost of voting systems, choosing processes that uphold the requirements of democratic elections: transparency, accuracy, and public oversight.

Private, non-transparent e-voting systems are being banned in developed countries around the world, including Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.

  • 2012: Ireland sends their e-voting machines to a recycling center. 
  • 2009: German High Court issues landmark decision against nontransparent electronic voting, supporting the “public nature” of elections.
  • 2008: Netherlands bans e-voting, preferring paper and pencil.