TOOLS FOR ELECTION REFORM: VOTASCOPE PROGRAM, READY-MADE PRESENTATIONS BlackBoxVoting.Org September 30, 2005
This month, BLACK BOX VOTING exposed NEW information on how elections can be manipulated. We produced the information in a visual, easy to understand format showing several real-life attack mechanisms. As the Carter-Baker panel showed in their insufficient report (more on that below), our public officials are still not dealing with real problems in election security. We need to get everyone out of denial.
You can use the file below for presentations just as is, or for guidelines on developing your own communications. You can quickly flip from page to page. The presentation is in three sections: Why voting is so important, how to evaluate the real risks, and factors in local and national election manipulation.
If you have questions about the information in the presentation, just post your questions here, and we'll provide one-on-one answers to help you and others (who probably have the same questions):
Note that the Carter-Baker panel shifted the "frame" of elections integrity. They want to "restore voter confidence", but they don't make much effort to repair the flaws themselves.
Here is our quick, point-by-point rebuttal to the Carter-Baker Report:
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT THIS?
We are often asked "what can citizens DO to repair our broken election system?" Black Box Voting is investing in real solutions to help repair our elections process. We are not waiting for new laws to be passed, new voting machines to be invented, or public officials to change their ways.
THE DO-IT-YOURSELF VOTASCOPE PROGRAM
Working with expert Harri Hursti, Black Box Voting is distributing the new "Votascope" program. It's free. It's open source. Anyone can use it to find out if their local election is ailing.*
* This is not a complete solution by any means. Right now, the Votascope program will help with absentee votes and mail-in votes. Recounts are also often done on this kind of machine.
Here's how it works:
Harri Hursti discovered that some voting machines automatically create a file that you can obtain using the Freedom of Information Act ("Public Records Requests").
This type of voting machine takes photos of each ballot, which it keeps in a file automatically. You can get these ballot photos with public records requests.
Of course, elections have a lot of ballots. The July 26 San Diego election, for example, had about 250,000 ballots, about 75,000 of which went through the kind of voting machine that takes and keeps digital photos. The recent school election in Marin County, California was all mail-in, and had about 15,750 ballots go through this kind of voting machine. It would take a long time for you to count all those ballots.
The Votascope program counts the ballots for you, using precise open source programming.
Of course, it will come with instructions. It can do many diagnostics. For example, you will be able to diagnose various election ailments with Votascope.
Example: One way to tamper with an election is to set the machine to reject or accept more votes. The Votascope program can catch this manipulation.
Votascope can also find machines that are poorly maintained, or show you if a ballot design favored one candidate over another.
Votascope will be available for free downloads at Black Box Voting beginning in mid-October, in time for the Nov. 8 elections this year! The photo files it uses to count ballots are ALREADY in voting machines; you can get them on CD or DVD; the laws you need to get them are ALREADY on the books.
The first edition of the Votascope program counts Diebold ballot images. Later editions will count images from Hart Intercivic and, if possible, ES&S.
With your help, we can soon find out how healthy (or unwell) our elections are. Here is more information on the new Votascope checkup program for voting machines:
How did we get into this mess with voting machines? Who made the decision to privatize our elections?
The Election Center and R. Doug Lewis are of interest, because this entity and this individual organized elections officials and propagandized the introduction of voting machines in the United States. The Election Center and R. Doug Lewis were involved in consolidating election officials under the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED) and overseeing the Independent Testing Labs (ITAs) that certified the current crop of tamper-friendly voting systems.
We wanted to know who started The Election Center (a private organization) and who hired R. Doug Lewis. In a recent trip to Washington D.C., we obtained copies of microfiche documents that provide this information. Here they are:
These documents show the names of all directors in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1997. R. Doug Lewis was appointed director of The Election Center in 1994, so the individuals in 1993 and 1994 would presumably be those people who hired him.
R. Doug Lewis's resume does not seem to check out. He claims he was an "assistant to the president in the White House" but he doesn't say which president. He says he ran the Texas Democratic Party and the Kansas Democratic Party, but we can find no evidence of this and no one with those parties seems to remember him.
Because we have not yet been able to confirm who he is or his whereabouts prior to the mid-1980s, we are continuing to examine his background and the role he has played in U.S. elections. We do know that he sold used computers in the late 1980s, before taking over The Election Center, taking over training of election officials, and pushing voting machines into every corner of the U.S.
We are finding fruitful information, which we are currently developing on these issues, and will post it on our Web Site as a consumer report as soon as it's ready.