EPIC's Public Information Requests on DRE Voting Technology
Recent News |Background | Findings | EPIC's Public Information Documents | Related Links
- EPIC Obtains Documents on Election Assistance Commission Contracts to Those with Ties to the Agency: EPIC has obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request information on two contracts: Kennesaw State University, and TEM Consulting. The FOIA documents include a memo, e-mails, and proposal on the Kennesaw State University contract; and e-mails, as well as the agreement on the TEM Consulting contract. Stephen Berger is President and General Partner of TEM Consulting, and Brit Williams recently retired from Kennesaw State University are both members of the agency's technical advisory committee. (January 9, 2005)
- EPIC Obtains State Voter Registration Surveys for November 2004 Election: EPIC has obtained the entire collection of State Voter Registration Survey replies returned to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The states were asked by the EAC to provide information on their activities related to voter registration for the November 2, 2004 Election.(July 5, 2005)
- EPIC Obtains the Voting Standards Draft From the Election Assistance Commission: EPIC has obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the final draft voting technology standards submitted to the Election Assistance Commission by the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) on May 9, 2005. NIST provided technical assistance to the TGDC and recommended four appointments to that committee. NIST goals in suggesting the appointment of the four technology slots to the TGDC. (June 7, 2005)
- Publicly available meeting transcripts reveal vendor attempts to influence the standards process: Exchange between Paul Craft page 374 line 13, and the Committee Chair's reply page 375 line 6. Discussion between Paul Craft and Chair continues following the break. Committee member Davidson regarding a discussion with vendors.Note: names provided by an EPIC staffer who attended the meeting on April 21. Full transcript. (June 7, 2005)
- Past and present efforts at developing voting technology standards have familiar faces. Dr. Brittain "Brit" Williams could be considered the dean of Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) with his participation in the Federal Election Commission 1990 and 2002 voting standards development process. He is also a member of the IEEE P1583 voting standards committee. Other TGDC veterans of voting standards development include: Paul Craft, Stephen Berger, Whitney Quesenbery, and Secretary of State Donetta Davidson.
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both.-- James Madison
In our efforts to bring transparency to the state administered public elections the following records were obtained. The state public records requests were submitted to the states of Ohio, Maryland, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas. Federal Freedom of Information Act requests were submitted to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The replies thus far can be found on this page. The state replies are found at the bottom of the page. This information is provided as a service to those who would like to learn more about the effort to transition voting technology from punch card and lever voting systems to direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems. EPIC was successful in gathering information from several states on their acquisition and use of paperless DRE voting technology. The effort continues to seek information from other states on their deliberation and acquisition process for making the switch to paperless DRE voting machines.
With no independent means for voters to verify that their vote is counted as cast a proactive approach already begun by many activists around the nation ask probing questions of policymakers and decision makers about paperless DRE voting technology.
Knowledge is the best defense against fear that voting technology that is deployed for use in the November Election may be flawed. Support for this project would expand on the groundwork already begun for increasing civic and electoral participation by arming citizens with easy to understand descriptions of typical malfunctions found in currently deployed electronic voting technology and effective means for addressing these problems should they arise.
We have accomplished some success in gaining access to these public records and hope that they will be useful to local, state, and national efforts to bring transparency to the process of election administration. However, more needs to be done, and EPIC will continue to seek public records from those states, which have adopted paperless DRE voting systems.
Lack of Standards
New standards for voting technology were to be developed by the HAVA law by establishing a 14 member Technology Guidelines Development Committee (under the leadership of the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which unfortunately received no funding for this effort. The Technical Guidelines Development Committee was named in June 2004, and is in the process of developing voluntary standards for voting technology. Until these new standards are developed the old standards process applies. The current voluntary system of standards established by the Federal Election Commission in 2002, was an update of their 1990 standards, and is viewed as inadequate.
Inadequate Testing of Software
The method of testing paperless DRE voting machines has not been released to the public, but it is known that the process allows for the inclusion of secret code and the use of commercial software products without certification. Computer scientists and engineers, including the California Touch Screen Task Force and Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, have criticized this method as being extremely inadequate for ensuring election integrity when paperless DRE voting machines are used.
Prone to Defects, Errors, Poor Programming, and Architecture Configuration
While it is nearly impossible to write bug-free software, and studies conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers, Science Application International Corp. and the Raba Technologies each found glaring serious security flaws prior to the State of Maryland finalizing the purchase of the machines from Diebold. Unfortunately the Governor and Secretary of State for Maryland went forward with the purchase of the voting machines.
Vulnerability to Fraud
The Johns Hopkins study found that DRE machine security safeguards are "far below even the most minimal security standards applicable in other contexts." As a result, these systems are vulnerable to both insider and outsider attacks. While improved use of cryptography and security measures could improve some of these flaws, even thorough testing cannot reveal some types of malicious code.
Lack of Auditability
The threat of bugs and security failures are magnified by the fact that none of the DRE machines currently on the market create a hard copy of voters' results, also known as a "paper trail." The lack of a paper record of one's vote makes it impossible to verify if the computer has, indeed, recorded your vote in the system as it is shown on the screen. Furthermore, lack of a paper record makes meaningful recounts or audits impossible because any recount would simply corroborate the same count the computer made the first time and would not catch any errors. Efforts to add a physical audit capacity have been resisted not just by election administrators, but voting rights advocacy organizations
Lack of Transparency
DRE makers such as Diebold, Sequoia and ES&S refuse to make their software code available to the public to assess, nor are they willing to publicize the kind of testing they perform. California Secretary of State Kevin Shelly testified before the Election Assistance Commission during its first hearing held on May 5, 2004, that Diebold had made the claim that their DRE voting system had passed federal certification, which was later found to untrue. Secretary of State Shelly further stated that when he contacted the certifying laboratory they would not disclose any facts regarding the state of Diebold's application for certification of their DRE voting machines to him, but referred him to the company to respond to his questions.
Not all state Election Administrators are elected, most positions are appointed by the Governor of the state. On the county or local level election administrators are often filled by elected clerk positions. These election officials are often not barred from engaging in partisan political efforts, some going so far as to serve in statewide campaign positions or actively campaign for candidates. Election Administrators' relationship with voting technology vendors raises issues The communities of voters and non-voters have the right to a voting system and public election process whose honesty, accuracy, and integrity are without question. Today these fundamental rights are under assault by the local and state governments offices that are responsible for the administration of public elections. It is NCVI's goal to restore integrity in our nation's election system by arming citizens and voting advocacy groups with the knowledge that will empower them to be effective agents of change.
EPIC's DRE Public Information Requests to States
Ohio [EPIC Open Records Request Letter]
- E-Mails between the State of Ohio and Diebold regarding a demonstration and reliability of their voting equipment
- Representations made by Diebold to the State of Ohio regarding its AccuVote Voting Machine
- Wyle Laboratory Independent Testing Authority (ITA) Report on the AccuVote Voting Machine
- Wyle Laboratory Independent Testing Authority (ITA) Report on Qualification Testing of the AccuVote ES-2000 Vote Tally System
New Mexico [EPIC Open Records Request Letter]
- Wyle Document Transmittal No. 45827B Test Report 45827-01 (pdf)
- Test Report - Qualification Testing AVC Edge DRE Voting Machine Rep. #44733-01 Part 1 of 2 (pdf)
- Test Report - Qualification Testing AVC Edge DRE Voting Machine Rep. #44733-01 Part 2 of 2 (pdf)
- Test Report - Qualification Testing iVOTRONIC 2000 DRE Prec. Counter #45827-01 Part 1 of 2 (pdf)
- Test Report - Qualification Testing iVOTRONIC 2000 DRE Prec. Counter #45827-01 Part 2 of 2 (pdf)
- Test Report - Change Release Report of AVC Edge Firmware #44733-06 (pdf)
- Operations Manual Table of Contents (pdf)
- The ES&S iVotronic Voting System Operator's Manual (pdf)
- Unity Election Data Manager User's Guide (pdf)
- Unity Ballot Image Manager User's Guide (pdf)
- Unity Hardware Programming Manager User's Guide Part 1 of 3 (pdf)
- Unity Hardware Programming Manager User's Guide Part 2 of 3 (pdf)
- Unity Hardware Programming Manager User's Guide Part 3 of 3 (pdf)
- Unity Data Acquisition Manager User's Guide (pdf)
- Unity Election Reporting Manager User's Guide Part 1 of 2 (pdf)
- Unity Election Reporting Manager User's Guide Part 2 of 2 (pdf)
- iVotronic Logic and Accuracy Testing (Nov. 28, 2001) (pdf)
- Letter from Sequoia to NM Secretary of State's Office (Oct. 1, 2003) (pdf)
- Sequoia Card Activator Poll Worker's Manual (pdf)
- Sequoia Edge Audio Accessory Poll Worker's/Operator's Manual (pdf)
- Sequoia Voting Systems AVC Edge Pollworker Manual (pdf)
- AVC Edge Operator's Manual (pdf)
- EPIC's Public Records Request to Pennsylvania (pdf)
- Reply from Pennsylvania (pdf)
- Sequoia (pdf)
- Pennsylvania DRE Exams (pdf)
Texas [EPIC Open Records Request Letter]
- Communication Among TX Examiners on Certification Process(pdf)
- Communication 2002 E-mail(pdf)
- Communication 2003 E-mail (pdf)
- Diebold (pdf)
- ES&S Part 1 of 2 (pdf)
- ES&S Part 2 of 2 (pdf)
- Hart InterCivic Part 1 of 2 (pdf)
- Hart InterCivic Part 2 of 2 (pdf)
- IMARK (pdf)
- Texas Public Records Second Request and Reply (pdf)
- Technical Guidelines Committee Meeting Transcript April 2005
- EPIC's Voting Page
- National Committee for Voting Integrity
- Part One, Email Part One, memo, proposal, Part Two, Email Part Two, Agreement, Request
EPIC Privacy Page | EPIC Home Page
Last Updated: February 27, 2008
Page URL: http://www.epic.org/privacy/voting/prr_guide/default.html