Electronic Voting

This page mainly covers ORG's Electionwatch mission in 2007. Other resources are available:

Executive Summary

Open the lid of an electronic voting machine and look inside; what you will see is a computer, much like an ordinary desktop PC or Mac. Because they are computers, e-voting machines are susceptible to familiar computer problems such as crashes, bugs, mysterious malfunctions, data tampering, and even computer viruses. The question is not whether we can eliminate these problems – we cannot – but how we will cope with them.

Unlike ordinary desktop computers, e-voting systems are entrusted with the most important process of our democracy – collecting and counting votes – and must perform that process accurately, reliably, accessibly, and securely. Trust in election outcomes is necessary for our electoral system to work, but the political system often does not lend itself easily to trusting relationships. Voting technologies must help to build this trust. Today’s e-voting infrastructure is not up to the task, but tomorrow’s can be.

What's happening in the UK

On October 17th the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the Electoral Commission officially announced a prospectus for electoral pilots in May 2007. Pilots can include:

  • Internet voting
  • Telephone voting
  • Polling place electronic voting machines
  • Electronic counting
  • Administrative innovations such as early voting

Explicitly excluded are text message voting, digital TV voting and all-postal voting.

Local authorities have been given until 17th November to apply to run a pilot in their area, although it's clear that at least some authorities were already preparing their applications before the announcement.

This announcement comes at a time when e-voting has been increasingly recognised around the world as a threat to democratic elections.

What can we do about it?

At the moment we are waiting for the Department for Constitutional Affairs to announce which suppliers have been accepted into a four-year framework of pilots. We don't know which suppliers and local authorities have applied to take part. An announcement is due before the end of 2006. More info

In the meantime you can write to your MP using WriteToThem expressing your concern about the UK's renewed push to introduce electronic voting. Present the issues and problems with e-voting (see below for more) and ask your MP to make your views known to the Department for Constitutional Affairs. Every message to an MP is important in raising awareness of this issue with politicians.

Where are Pilots going to happen?

Location Internet Voting Telephone Voting Electronic Counting Advance Voting (Electronic)
Bedford Borough Council x
Breckland District Council x
Dover District Council x
Rushmoor Borough Council x x
Sheffield City Council x x
Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council x x x
South Bucks District Council x x x x
Stratford-on-Avon District Council x
Swindon Borough Council x x x
Warwick District Council x

Note: Bedford Borough Council, Broxbourne Council, Gateshead Council and Sunderland City Council will be piloting paper based advanced voting.

Brighton & Hove and Camden Councils ruled out pilots thanks to people contacting their councillors. According to Darren Johnson, a Green London Assembly member, there are no London elections for 2007 and 2008 GLA elections will use electronic counting once again, but the Assembly Elections Review Committee decided that e-voting would not be appropriate in 2008.

The Issues

Democracy depends upon a fair, accurate, and transparent electoral process with outcomes that can be independently verified. Conventional voting accomplishes many of these goals - private polling stations enable citizens to cast their votes anonymously, election day scrutineers offer independent oversight, and paper-based ballots provide a verifiable outcome that can be re-counted if necessary.

Electronic voting, particularly remote from supervised polling stations, threatens the hard-fought secrecy which protects voters from coercion, peer pressure and bullying. By breaking the secrecy of the ballot, it breaches the United Nations and European Human Rights treaties as well as our own UK Human Rights Act. Another point worth noting is that the Representation of the People Act specifically calls for the tieing of a voter to their vote under judicial review. Also the RPA takes precedence over ALL other legislation, including DPA, human rights acts etc.

Watt, B. (2002). Implementing Electronic Voting. ODPM. PDF version

Electronic voting is a hard computer science problem. The software needs to be able to authenticate voters are being real voters, allowed to vote who haven't already voted. It also needs to allow a vote to be cast in secret, so you cannot link who voted with how they voted. You also need to prevent ballot stuffing by using a method to ensure that ballots are valid, unique and from an authenticated voter - while not giving up the voter's privacy. Around all this is needed some kind of audit trail which can reveal any failed or successful manipulations, this trail must be detailed and permanent, but again cannot break the secrecy and privacy of the votes.

This is in complete contrast to electronic commerce where customers give up their privacy to help the website they are buying from mitigate fraud. Anonymous purchases are not permitted, you must provide your address, credit card number (which links to a whole set of your information again) and so on. E-commerce's success does not mean that e-voting is possible.

Putting aside the large technical problems inherent in building an electronic voting system for a moment, just the idea of an electronic audit trail is highly problematic. For election results to be a successful contribution to democracy participants (voters, candidates, observers, media etc) need to, in the majority at least, have faith in the integrity of the result. It is very difficult to prove, even to a computer scientist let alone candidates and voters, that an electronic audit trail definitively shows that an election result has not been tampered with in some way. This assumes that the audit trail covers all aspects of the e-voting process. In one UK e-voting pilot ward-level results were manually copied from one system into an Excel spreadsheet for the final results calculation - not only is such a process ripe for error or manipulation, it is entirely outside of the e-voting system's audit trail.

More on the use of Excel in UK voting pilots and other problems in Kitcat, J. (2003) The uncertain nature of elections to come. PDF version

Solutions

Paper Audit Trail

A voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is a necessary safeguard given the state of the art today. With these paper trails, as with other voting technologies, we must get the details right – poorly designed paper trails can be unreliable or hard to use, or can compromise the secrecy of the ballot – but a well designed paper trail can improve security and enhance voter confidence, without compromising accessibility.

One aspect of a well-implemented VVPAT system is that the electronic and paper records must be compared to each other. We do not need to verify every paper record, just enough to detect large-scale fraud. Unless an election is very close – which will probably trigger a full recount anyway – checking a few percent of ballots will suffice. Similarly, it is not necessary for every voter to read and verify the paper record of his vote; as long as even a few voters do so, any tampering widespread enough to be significant will be easily detected.

Publicly readable software

The idea of using a free software system in voting machines is sometimes mistakenly proposed as a solution. Richard Stallman explains why this is not a solution: "The danger is that someone could fiddle the software so that it cheats on the vote. You cannot prevent this by studying the source code of the program that conducts the election, because the program that actually runs during the election may be different."[1]

Edward Felten at Princeton University and Aviel Ruben at John Hopkins University have said “We believe that the question of whether DREs based on commodity hardware and operating systems should ever be used in elections needs serious consideration by government and election officials. As computer security experts, we believe that the known dangers and potentially unknown vulnerabilities are too great. We should not put our-selves in a position where, in the middle of primary season, the security of our voting systems comes into credible and legitimate question.” at The background to these comments is available on Felten's blog. The software instructions that run the voting machines should not be a secret.

Independent analyses

Independent analyses, by experts neither paid by nor reporting to voting machine vendors, have discovered many areas for improvement in today’s technologies, yet most vendors systematically try to prevent such analyses.

Other

Diebold

In 2003, a manufacturer of electronic voting machines used in the US election, Diebold Inc, notified the internet service provider of Swarthmore University that material that infringed their copyright had been posted online by a group of students, and demanded this material be taken down. The infringing materials turned out to be internal memos from Diebold discussing serious defects in the company's product, memos for which Diebold claimed to own the copyright. On a vital issue to any healthy democracy, instead of opening the debate, Diebold chose to quash it in the easiest way it could.

This may be the worst security flaw we have seen in touch screen voting machines,. says Open Voting Foundation president, Alan Dechert. Upon examining the inner workings of one of the most popular paperless touch screen voting machines used in public elections in the United States, it has been determined that with the flip of a single switch inside, the machine can behave in a completely different manner compared to the tested and certified version.

UK History

The UK was a laggard in introducing the secret paper ballot method known as the paper ballot. It took fifty years of hard campaigning in and out of Parliament before the 1872 Ballot Act changed British voting from the hugely corrupted viva voce (spoken aloud) system to a secret paper-based system. Even then there was a sunset clause and the changes did not become permanent until 1882.

King William IV had opposed the secret ballot, telling a minister that he opposed it because it 'would be inconsistent with the manly spirit and free avowal of opinion which distinguished the people of England' (Park, 1931, pp56). Much opposition was based on the notion that voting in secret was 'ungentlemanly'. But with ever widening suffrage pressure grew and with the success of the secret ballot abroad, change became hard to resist.

For more on the history of the secret ballot in the UK, see:
Asquith, H. H. (1888). The Ballot in England. Political Science Quarterly, 3(4), 654-81.
Brent, P. (2006). The Australian ballot: Not the secret ballot. Australian Journal of Political Science, 41(1), 39-50. online
Park, J. H. (1931). England's Controversy over the Secret Ballot. Political Science Quarterly, 46(1), 51-86.

The Representation of the People Act (2000) enabled new voting methods to be piloted in elections. Since that time we have seen numerous pilots in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 (e-counting only, not e-voting) each has been evaluated by the Electoral Commission. Pilot Evaluation Reports

There was a minor consultation on whether e-voting and all-postal voting should be used in the 2004 European Elections, but truly the only public open-ended consultation on e-voting in general was the 2002 e-democracy consultation (which disappeared without much trace).

September 2005 Harriet Harman MP, a minister responsible said to Radio 4 that

"We just think that the time is not right for it (e-voting) at the moment. We talked to a lot of people, we listened to a lot of views including from the Conservative Party. The general consensus seemed to be that the time is not right for it at the moment. So we are not going ahead with the pilots that we were planning to run otherwise in the May 2006 council elections."

Links

Organisations

Video

Documents

Constitutional Rights Clinic Rutgers School of Law - Newark, October 2014. Conclution: Internet voting should never be permitted, especially in emergencies when governmental infrastructure is already compromised

Books

  • Brave New Ballot: The Battle to Safeguard Democracy in the Age of Electronic Voting by Aviel D. Rubin (Morgan Road Books, 2006)
  • What Went Wrong In Ohio: The Conyers Report On The 2004 Presidential Election by John Conyers, Anita Miller (Editor), (Academy Chicago Publishers, May 2005)
  • Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century by Bev Harris with David Allen (Pan Nine Publishing, 2003).
  • Steal this Vote: Dirty Elections and Rotten History of Democracy in America by Andrew Gumbel (Nation Books, 2005)
  • Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression by Spencer Overton (W.W. Norton & Company, 2006)
  • The History and Politics of Voting Technology by Roy G Saltman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

People

News

2008

2008-10-28 - IT Vibe - Is e-voting being kicked into touch by the government?
Summary: As we reported earlier today, on one hand the government seems to be very keen to introduce new technology into the police force but the same cannot be said of the electoral system in the UK. Despite much mention and research into e-voting it has been confirmed that the authorities will not be putting forward any e-voting bills in 2008 or 2009.
2008-10-27 - Computing - Government rules out e-voting for 2009
Summary: The government has ruled out e-voting for 2009 elections, according to Michael Wills, minister for justice. There may be further testing of the technology in non-statutory elections, he said, but it will not be used for the 2009 European or local elections. ... E-voting pilots have attracted criticism in recent years for not being secure or accurate enough.
2008-10-23 - Parliamentary written answer - Michael Wills - Electronic Voting
Summary: The Government do not plan to introduce e-voting for the 2009 European or local elections. The way forward more generally on e-voting will be informed by the valuable experience gained from earlier pilots, analysis of the responses to the election day consultation, and further development work including the possible further testing of e-voting solutions in non-statutory elections.
2008-10-23 - Parliamentary written answer - Michael Wills - Electronic Voting
Summary: Detailed budgets for future years have not yet been specifically allocated. Further work on remote electronic voting will be funded as necessary from existing budgets agreed for Electoral Modernisation, subject to ministerial and HM Treasury approval. The Government are currently taking stock of the previous work on remote e-voting, including the experience gained in earlier pilots, and the responses to the consultation on election day, to inform the way forward.
2008-10-16 - Computing - E-voting security concerns remain
Author: Rosalie Marshall
Summary: The lack of trust that surrounds electronic voting systems can only be repaired by the vendors that provide the machines, according to a report by analyst Datamonitor. "As partners in ensuring the conduct of democratic elections, and with the industry at a pivotal stage, there is a very real need for vendors to work closely with election officials and computer scientists to ensure that the technology they are supplying is used in a secure manner," said Datamonitor analyst Ben Madgett in the report. ... Jason Kitcat, who often contributes research and advice to debates surrounding voting, e-voting and democracy, said: "In the limits of current technology, it is not worth the risk." Kitcat believes that before voting machines can become an integral part of the democratic process, their source code needs to be trusted. And since all software can pick up bugs, even equipment owned by Nasa, the voting process should remain on paper. He also pointed to the "outrageous" cost of the machines.
2008-08-26 - The Register - E-voting outfit confesses vote-dropping software bug
Author: Dan Goodin
Summary: error that can drop votes before they are tallied. ... Premier, which used to go by the name Diebold, fessed up to the bug after Ohio elections officials complained of irregularities during primary elections in March. After first blaming the problems on human error and bugs in anti-virus software, Premier now admits they were caused by the logic error. The logic error has been part of the software for 10 years.
2008-07-29 - Open Rights Group - Next election for Mayor of London to be counted manually?
Summary: Will the 2012 election for Mayor of London be counted manually? Yes, at least, that's the assumption the UK's elections watchdog would like City Hall to make. The Electoral Commission's report into the London Elections has called for the Greater London Returning Officer to carry out a cost benefit analysis of options for counting ballot papers at the 2012 elections "as a matter of urgency" (mirroring the key recommendation from ORG's recent report), and to start from the assumption that the vote will be counted manually.
2008-07-28 - The Electoral Commission - The Greater London Authority elections 2008 - Report on the administration of the 1 May 2008 elections
Summary: The Commission is seriously concerned about the lack of access to the partial audits of the system done by KPMG, the excuse (as has been the case in the US) being software vendors' desire to protect commercial secrets. It is simply inexcusable for a key element of an electoral process to be a commercial secret - it totally kills transparency. "We recognise that commercial suppliers... may wish to protect their commercial interests. However, such wishes should never take priority over the interests of electors"
2008-07-02 - Open Rights Group - May 2008 Election Report
Summary: There is insufficient evidence available to allow independent observers to state reliably whether the results declared in the May 2008 elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly are an accurate representation of voters’ intentions. Given these findings, the Open Rights Group (ORG) remains opposed to the introduction of e-counting in the United Kingdom, unless adopting ORG’s recommendations for increasing the transparency around e-counting can be proved cost effective.
2008-04-30 - The Register - How scanners and PCs will choose London's mayor
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: "We could do a sample manual recount, but if it turned up a problem, we wouldn't be able to do anything about it, which would be the quickest way to collapse voter confidence in the result," Bennet told us. This is an anathema to campaigners like Mercuri. "The law should always include some percentage of manual audit and there always must be a way that a problem with the check should trigger an investigation, possibly resulting in the discarding of the electronic totals." And she is not the only one who thinks the electronic count should be audited. Becky Hogge, executive director of the Open Rights Group, says that ORG is campaigning for the law to be changed to make a manual recount of a statistically significant sample to be mandatory in all electronically counted elections.

2007

2007-11-29 - The Guardian - Dear PM, please be more daring with e-democracy
Author: Michael Cross
Summary: Nearly a quarter of a million people have registered an electronic plea that the Red Arrows aerobatic team be allowed to open the 2012 Olympics. It's the most popular campaign running at the Downing Street e-petitions site, which celebrates its first birthday this month. The Red Arrows petition has one flaw. The story that the team has been banned as "too British" for the Olympics originated in The Sun - and, the government says, is complete tosh. That's the trouble with e-democracy. Citizens make up their own minds whom to believe, and it's not necessarily the government. ... It's now time to get a bit more daring with e-democracy. By that, I don't mean e-voting - the government's enthusiasm for piloting a fundamentally flawed procedure is baffling - but e-democracy in the sense of a conversation. And as we are a representative democracy, the place to start this conversation is at the Palace of Westminster.
2007-11-19 - Bedford Today - Government claims computer vote count success
Summary: A row over Bedford's experiment in high-tech voting has been resurrected, after the Government described the pilot scheme as a success. ... But electronic watchdog the Open Rights Group (ORG) claimed the experiment had been a failure, which threatened to undermine democracy. ... Concerns on the night were so serious that at 10pm representatives from the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups collectively called for a manual recount of the votes, only to be refused. Becky Hodge, executive director of the ORG, said: "Elections are one of the most complicated areas it is possible to conceive of to which to apply digital technology."
2007-11-19 - Computer Active - e-Voting ruled out in the short term
Summary: Electoral Commission chief executive Peter Wardle has ruled out e-voting in Britain and called for radical changes to electoral law and practice before e-counting is used again. He was commenting during a Parliamentary inquiry into what went wrong during the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May when 149,000 votes went "missing", which co-incidentally resulted in a Scottish National Party administration replacing Labour in Edinburgh. "We think e-voting is not a mature technology yet and does not command sufficient confidence to be deployed," said Wardle, whose comments follow an independent report which also rules out e-voting in the short term.
2007-11-16 - Electronics Weekly - e-voting is not yet a mature technology - Electoral Commission
Author: Bill Jacobs
Summary: Peter Wardle, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, admitted to MPs last week that UK elections may not be ready for e-voting and e-counting following the chaos at the Scottish Parliament polls. He told the Scottish Affairs Committee of the Commons enquiry into the fiasco: "We think e-voting is not a mature technology yet and does not command sufficient confidence to be deployed.
2007-11-15 - Computerworld Uk - Fundamental failings in e-voting, says Open Rights group
Author: Tash Shifrin
Summary: A digital rights campaign group has warned that the government is ignoring fundamental failings in its trials of electronic voting technology. The group, which organised volunteers to monitor e-voting and e-counting pilots in the May elections, hit out at the government’s rejection of the Electoral Commission’s call to halt electronic voting trials. The Electoral Commission issued a series of reports on Ministry of Justice pilot schemes allowing internet and telephone voting and electronic counting in last May’s local elections. It warned that electronic voting had generally worked from an operational point of view but "the level of risk placed on the availability and integrity of the electoral process was unacceptable". Becky Hogge, the Open Rights Group's executive director, said: "Every voter expects their vote to count, and to count once. Until there is consensus that that expectation can be met, remote electronic voting should be reserved for the purposes for which it is fit - naming cats on Blue Peter and voting on the X factor."
2007-11-14 - Monsters and Critics - Germans abandon plan for 2008 electronic voting
Summary: Plans to conduct Germany's first entirely digital election have been abandoned, Hamburg electoral office spokesman Ralf Kunz said Wednesday. The electronic voting system bought for a 2008 legislative election in the city state of Hamburg was meant to calculate an instant result as soon as polls closed. But political parties in the state said they were not convinced yet that the 'digital pen' was proof against tampering. Electronic voting with various systems such as touch-screens is common in the United States and the Netherlands, but has been controversial round the world.
2007-11-13 - ZDNet - Government dismisses call to halt e-voting
Author: Simon Aughton
Summary: The Open Rights Group has condemned the UK government's decision to continue with e-voting, despite calls from the Electoral Commission to abandon the scheme. The commission, which oversees all elections in the UK, called on the government in August to suspend internet voting until the current system had been modernised and made more secure.
2007-11-12 - Kable - Government rejects retreat on e-voting
Summary: The government has dismissed the Electoral Commission's call to pull back from e-voting. The government has rejected the Commission's view that no further e-voting pilots should take place until the government has a comprehensive electoral modernisation framework covering the role of e-voting. ... Election counting took place in Breckland, Dover, South Bucks, Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick. But problems in three of these areas resulted in the e-count being abandoned in favour of a traditional manual count. Problems with the collation of scanned vote papers also affected elections in Scotland.
2007-11-06 - Easten Daily Press - London mayor vote uses 'fiasco' e-system
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: With missing votes and massively delayed results, the electronic count during the Breckland elections this year was hardly an unbridled success. But just months after the election fiasco - which saw the council abandon the unreliable “e-count” in favour of a traditional manual one - it has been announced that the same system will be used in the London mayoral and assembly elections next year.
2007-10-26 - The Register - Scottish poll probe: e-counting gets mixed reviews
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: Investigators looking into the cock-up that was the May elections in Scotland have issued their final report. Looking at the media coverage, you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd given the whole thing a clean bill of health. ... but it isn't the full and complete picture. ... But the final recommendation is: "The report strongly recommends against introducing electronic voting for the 2011 elections, until the electronic counting problems from the 2007 elections are resolved."
2007-10-25 - The Scotsman - City wins £100k discount for election fiasco
Author: Ian Swanson
Summary: City council bosses have secured more than £100,000 in compensation from the company behind the electronic count at this year's elections. The agreement comes almost six months after the fiasco that saw postal votes failing to arrive on time and election results delayed for hours because of problems with the counting software.
2007-10-24 - IT PRO - Scots election review critical of e-counting IT
Author: Miya Knights
Summary: The Electoral Commission has published a damning report on the breakdown of procedures that led to chaos during the Scottish local and parliamentary election counts earlier this year. Widespread reports of 'technical glitches' with a computerised vote counting system used live for the first time during the May elections led to delayed results in at least nine constituencies, while some 150,000 votes were excluded.
2007-10-24 - The Guardian - Voters treated as afterthought in ballot fiasco, says inquiry
Author: Severin Carrell
Summary: A series of reforms to voting which caused chaos in the Scottish elections in May are to be scrapped after an independent inquiry accused political parties of nakedly "partisan" self-interest when they introduced the new measures. ... In the Commons, Mr Browne agreed it was a mistake to hold polls for both the Scottish parliament and every Scottish council on the same night while also introducing electronic counting, a complex new voting system for councils and a new ballot paper for the parliament ... He accepted that the two elections needed to be "de-coupled" and held on separate days, and that separate papers for the regional lists and constituency votes in the Scottish parliament election should be reinstated - a measure which meant electronic counting of parliamentary ballot papers could then be abandoned.
2007-10-23 - Conservative Party Press Release - Electoral Commission report is damning indictment of Labour's meddling in electoral process
Author: Nick Herbert MP
Summary:Commenting further on the Electoral Commission report published today on the Scottish Elections, Shadow Justice Secretary Nick Herbert said: "This report is a damning indictment of Labour's meddling in the electoral process. Concerns that we voiced over voting changes being pushed through by Labour were brushed aside, with catastrophic consequences for the democratic process. There is now an urgent need for measures to protect the integrity of the ballot, including individual voter registration and a moratorium on e-voting experiments." "The most concerning aspect of this report must be the devastating finding that Government Ministers put partisan interests ahead of those of voters when making decisions on electoral matters. This is not simply a Scottish issue: the man responsible for this interference is Labour's election co-ordinator. This report once again brings into question whether Labour can be trusted with the democratic process".
2007-10-01 - The Register - Dutch pull the plug on e-voting
Author: Jan Libbenga
Summary: A Dutch judge has declared the use of Nedap e-voting machines in recent Dutch elections unlawful. The 9,000 Nedap-made machines used in the November and March elections were not adequately authorised and at least one type of Nedap machine wasn't even certified. Despite the ruling, the election results will remain valid. ... The Dutch have also call a end to e-voting until paper trails can be added.
2007-09-04 - The Herald - The juries are still out
Summary: The Herald welcomes the plan to consider electoral reforms such as weekend voting, it is time the government recognised the corrosive effects of both flawed electronic voting systems in Scotland and a first-past-the-post voting system for Westminster that effectively disenfranchises millions of voters in safe seats.
2007-09-03 - BBC News - How machines took over the election
Author: Kenneth Macdonald
Summary: All kinds of voter confusion on the day. All sorts of technical problems on the night and into the next morning. And by the end of a long, long election night, 146,000 rejected ballots. ... Then the machines took over. It is not just the parties and candidates who didn't know this was going on - never mind the voters. Some of the returning officers didn't know either. ... There's also the bigger question of what this does to the public's already battered confidence in electronic counting. This was a democratic election in which even the candidates, never mind the voters, were not told that machines would be deciding whether thousands of votes would be rejected.
2007-09-03 - BBC News - Ballots 'rejected automatically'
Summary: An investigation has established that the Scotland Office ordered the machines to reject some kinds of ballots automatically. They never appeared on the screens to be challenged by the parties or adjudicated by returning officers. Tens of thousands of votes in the Holyrood election were rejected by the counting machines without any human adjudication, BBC Scotland has learned.
2007-09-03 - The Guardian comment is free - An easy gesture
Summary: Lowering the voting age is no quick-fix solution to the problem of low turnout. It would not help the under-30s who change address too often for the electoral roll to keep up with them. It would do nothing to address the perception that - in general elections, at least - voting is a waste of time except in marginal constituencies. It is no substitute for taking steps to ensure telephone and internet voting are truly secure, as the Electoral Commission recommended a month ago. The hard work of getting young people on the roll and voting deserves better than an easy gesture.
2007-08-09 - Dereham Times - Damning report on Breckland poll fiasco
Summary: A damning report by a watchdog says the chaotic breakdown of polling in Breckland at the May local elections damaged public confidence in the voting process. ... The count in Breckland district was dogged by a series of problems that led to the electronic count being abandoned in favour of a manual one. The final votes were counted more than 100 hours after polling stations shut.
2007-08-06 - Computerworld UK - E-voting must stop, warns Electoral Commission
Author: Tash Shifrin
Summary: Security and reliability 'needs to be improved'. The Electoral Commission has called for a halt to electronic voting unless major changes are made to the way the voting systems are implemented and secured. ... A report by independent observers from the Open Rights Group, published in June, painted a grim picture of crashed computers and concerns about the systems' security and reliability. The group’s concerns are echoed in the new reports.
2007-08-03 - The Inquirer - E-voting comedy of errors in Shakespeare's Stratford
Author: Andrew Thomas
Summary: A trial of e-voting in the local council elections of this May ended in chaos as the electronic votes were chucked out following a catalogue of errors and the whole thing was recounted by hand, delaying results by several days.
2007-08-02 - The Register - UK watchdog calls for an end to 'piecemeal' e-voting trials
Author: John Leyden
Summary: The Electoral Commission has called for the end of "piecemeal" telephone and internet voting pilots in the UK until improvements in security and testing are put in place. The independent voting watchdog said on Thursday that further trials have little merit until the government has set out a strategy for modernising the electoral system and making it more secure. The Open Rights Group - a pressure group whose volunteers monitored the May elections - welcomed the commission's proposed moratorium on testing, but said this was insufficient. Electronic voting schemes are inherently flawed and ought to be sidelined, it argues. "We're pleased that the commission has recognised the desperate need for public debate about the role technology might play in our electoral system. We're also satisfied that the detail of the commission's reports... but we're disappointed that the fundamental challenges in using computers for elections have not been fully recognised by the report."
2007-08-02 - ZDNet - Halt e-voting, says Electoral Commission
Author: David Meyer
Summary: Trials of electronic voting and vote-counting should be halted until the government can come up with a good reason for using the technology, the Electoral Commission has said ... A spokesperson for the Commission told ZDNet.co.uk on Thursday that a "robust electoral modernisation strategy" was needed to justify any further exploration of e-voting. "There is not a clear direction and a clear reason [for e-voting and e-counting]," the spokesperson said. This stance was echoed by Jason Kitcat of the Open Rights Group, an organisation that monitored the latest round of e-voting trials. "[The report] shows a complete lack of strategy as to why we're doing this," he told ZDNet.co.uk. "No strategic plan has been published or consulted on, and there has been no consultation to parties or candidates or the general public. There is no clarity on what [the government] want."
2007-08-02 - PC PRO - Government urged to halt internet voting trials
Summary: The Electoral Commission has urged the UK Government to halt trials of telephone and internet voting. The organisation responsible for monitoring elections across the country believes that recent pilot tests in local elections have shown that the electoral system needs to be modernised and made more secure before e-voting is re-introduced. ... The Commission's findings were welcomed by the Open Rights Group (ORG), which opposed the recent e-voting trials. Executive director Becky Hogge claims that the Commission's report echoes the conclusions of ORG's own monitoring teams. "We're pleased that the Commission has recognised the desperate need for public debate about the role technology might play in our electoral system," she says. However she is concerned that the report does not address "fundamental" issues highlighted in ORG's e-voting briefing pack, namely that e-voting "is an incredibly complex and very expensive technology that introduces new risks, doubts, and opportunities for fraud and failure".
2007-08-02 - BBC News - Halt e-voting, says election body
Summary: Web and phone voting pilots should be stopped until security and testing have been improved, the Electoral Commission has said. It said much has been learnt from recent pilots, but added that "there is little merit" in holding more. ... Concerns were raised about low public confidence in the security of internet and phone voting, accessibility, and technical difficulties. The commission called on the government to publish a strategy for modernising the electoral process - including changes to improve security. ... The Open Rights Group (ORG) said: "The government does not seem to be learning the lessons of previous pilots." "We believe this technology is not appropriate for public elections, and now is the time for a public debate."
2007-08-02 - The Guardian - Electronic voting not safe, warns election watchdog
Author: Will Woodward
Summary: Trials designed to increase turnout in local elections this year by allowing telephone and internet voting had a "significant and unacceptable" security risk, the Electoral Commission says today. According to the elections watchdog, the government should halt pilots of telephone and internet voting until they are more secure.
2007-07-06 - Bedford Today - Watchdog lays into election experiment
Author: Ben Raza
Summary: Government's e-counting pilot threatened to undermine faith in democracy, says report. ... A new report by electronic watchdog the Open Rights Group (ORG) has revealed a long list of further concerns. ... Concerns on the night were so serious that at 10pm representatives from the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups collectively called for a manual recount of the votes, only to be turned down by returning officer Shaun Field.
2007-07-05 - BBC News - E-voters 'not boosting turnout'
Summary: Internet and phone voting does not seem to boost turnout at local elections in England, according to BBC analysis. Analysis of pilot projects since 2002 suggests that those people who voted online would have voted anyway. BBC political research editor David Cowling said postal voting was the only option which seemed to boost turnout. ... In June the Open Rights Group warned e-voting could undermine British democracy and called for it to be abandoned until it was to be proved reliable. The group said e-voting did not allow people to see how their votes were recorded or counted, making oversight of elections "impossible" and open to fraud.
2007-06-30 - New Scientist - Electronic polling gets vote of no confidence
Summary: Trials of e-voting machines and optical scanners used to count paper ballots were held during local elections last month in England and Scotland. In a report into the trials released last week, the London-based Open Rights Group says it cannot express confidence in the results of ballots which use such systems. Observers spotted a host of problems with e-voting machines, including insecure software, error messages and poorly designed encoded receipts. Malfunctions and software errors delayed counts using optical scanners and, in some cases, electronic counts differed widely from manual ones. From issue 2610 of New Scientist magazine, page 25
2007-06-25 - silicon.com - Call for e-voting to be scrapped amid security fears
Author: Andy McCue
Summary: Official observers express "deep concerns" after May election trials. Privacy campaigners have called for any further e-voting trials to be scrapped after uncovering evidence of poor security, inadequate audit trails, equipment failures and an over-dependence on technology suppliers during the May local elections. The Open Rights Group (ORG) had a team of 25 officially accredited election observers at the e-voting and e-counting pilots and has expressed "deep concern" about the use of the technology in a report of its findings.
2007-06-22 - BBC News - E-vote 'threat' to UK democracy
Summary: British democracy could be undermined by moves to use electronic voting in elections, warns a report. The risks involved in swapping paper ballots for touch screens far outweigh any benefits they may have, says the Open Rights Group report. It based its conclusions on reports from observers who watched e-voting trials in May's local elections.
2007-06-22 - newswireless.net - net.wars: Many hidden returns
Author: Wendy M Grossman
Summary: This week, the Open Rights Group released its report on the May 7 electronic voting pilots, conducted during by-elections in various locations in England and across all of Scotland. ORG observed these as closely as it could through the eyes of 25 volunteers. Much of the report should be familiar to anyone who's read about similar trials and pilot projects in the US and elsewhere (especially the UK's own 2003 trials). There were technical problems when equipment failed or had to be rebooted. There were people problems, when both voters and officials were uncertain how to make machines work. There were security issues, as when ORG observers found PCs and switches with open ports and no one watching them. And there were design problems, when ballot layouts confused voters into spoiling ballots. Sound familiar?
2007-06-21 - Slashdot - E-Voting Report Finds Problems with Modern Elections
Summary: The Open Rights Group has released a report on challenges faced by voting technology. Using the May 2007 Scottish/English elections as a testbed, researchers have collated hundreds of observations into a verdict on voting in the digital age. 'The report provides a comprehensive look at elections that used e-counting or e-voting technologies. As a result of the report's findings ORG cannot express confidence in the results for the areas we observed. This is not a declaration we take lightly but, despite having had accredited observers on location, having interviewed local authorities and having filed Freedom of Information requests, ORG is still not able to verify if votes were counted accurately and as voters intended.' The report is available online in pdf format for download."
2007-06-21 - Kable - Report gives thumbs down to e-voting
Summary: The Open Rights Group (ORG) has given a vote of no confidence to the recent round of e-voting pilots. It published a report on 20 June 2007 that includes scathing criticisms of the way e-voting and e-counting proceeded at a number of sites during the local government elections last month. ORG said it cannot express confidence in the results declared in the areas observed, and remains opposed to the introduction of e-voting and e-counting in the UK. The group – a non-governmental organisation that deals with information management and privacy issues – was given accredited observer status at the elections by the Electoral Commission. It placed observers at sites in England and Scotland to record how the pilots performed. The report says there is an underlying problem with e-voting being a "black box system" where the mechanisms for recording and tabulating the vote are hidden from the voter. This makes public scrutiny impossible and leaves statutory elections open to error and fraud.
2007-06-21 - CIO - Report Slams U.K. E-voting Trials
Author: Jeremy Kirk
Summary: The United Kingdom's trial of e-voting and e-counting technologies during last month's local elections resulted in crashed computers and technicians scratching their heads while posing new concerns about the systems' security and reliability, a new report has concluded. In one area of England, a manual recount performed after e-counting equipment was abandoned because of delays turned up a raft of uncounted votes, said Jason Kitcat, e-voting coordinator for the Open Rights Group, which deployed observers to polling sites in England and Scotland.
2007-06-21 - Computer World - Report slams May elections e-voting trials
Author: Jeremy Kirk
Summary: The e-voting and e-counting technologies piloted in last month's local elections crashed computers and raised concerns about the systems' security and reliability, a new report has concluded. ... But observers from the Open Rights Group found that in one area of England, a manual recount – carried out after e-counting equipment was abandoned due to delays – turned up a raft of uncounted votes. The group, which has been critical of e-voting and e-counting, has submitted its 64-page report to the Electoral Commission, which will publish its own report on the pilot e-voting schemes on 3 August.
2007-06-21 - PC Advicer - Election e-voting trials slammed
Author: Jeremy Kirk
Summary: Trials of e-voting and e-counting technologies during last month's local elections resulted in crashed computers and new concerns about the systems' security and reliability, a report has concluded. ... In one area a manual recount performed after e-counting equipment was abandoned because of delays turned up a raft of uncounted votes, said Jason Kitcat, e-voting coordinator for the Open Rights Group, which deployed observers to polling sites in England and Scotland. The Open Rights Group, which has been critical of e-voting and e-counting, has submitted its 64-page report to the UK Electoral Commission, which will publish its own report on the trials on August 3.
2007-06-21 - Sheffield Star - High-tech voting system branded a flop
Author: Lucy Ashton
Summary: Telephone and internet voting in Sheffield's local elections has been branded a flop and criticised for being "open to error and fraud". The Open Rights Group, which aims to protect people's privacy and identity, has released a report which condemns the new voting methods, which have been tried out by a number of councils, including Sheffield.
2007-06-20 - Swindon Advertiser - Borough's elec-chronic voting under scrutiny
Summary: The borough council's election results have been called into question in a damning report. The Open Rights Group queried the results after computer problems plagued Swindon's e-voting trial. But the council has insisted the outcome of the May 3 elections was accurate.
2007-06-20 - The Register - Open Rights Group recounts e-voting horror story
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: The Open Rights Group (ORG) has condemned the May 2007 pilots of e-voting and electronic vote counting in the English and Scottish local elections, saying the technology involved is simply not suitable for use in statutory elections. "We came into this not as a blank sheet," ORG e-voting coordinator Jason Kitcat concedes. "But even so, the scale of the problems was unexpected." He argues that the kinds of mistakes and oversights witnessed by the ORG's observers will lead to a decay in trust in the electoral system.
2007-06-20 - Swindon Advertiser - Town's e-voting "unreliable"
Author: Kevin Burchall
Summary: Computer experts have described laptop computers used in the town's local elections as "unreliable". The Open Rights Group said it could not express confidence in the election results recorded in areas where it observed the counting of votes. ... Alan Winchcombe, the town's deputy returning officer, blamed the problems on a lack of time to implement the computerised voting systems.
2007-06-20 - The Guardian - Counting error almost gave Labour Scottish election victory
Author: David Hencke and Bobbie Johnson
Summary: The misreading of a computer file by exhausted vote counters almost gave Jack McConnell a Labour victory in the Scottish parliamentary elections last month, an official observer's report into the election has revealed. ... The report, put together by digital advocacy organisation the Open Rights Group, claims that there were serious technical problems in electronic votes across the country in the local and regional elections on May 3. ... "I think our findings confirm that e-voting and e-counting are not ready for this," said Jason Kitcat, campaign coordinator with ORG. "There were so many candidates who were concerned that they could not see what going on, and the number of problems show that this technology is not suitable."
2007-06-20 - Norfolk Eastern Daily Press - Scathing report on Brecks election farce
Summary: Electronic voting trials which created farcical scenes in Norfolk and other areas of Britain during last month's local elections are today criticised in a scathing report by computer experts. ... As the Open Rights Group issued its report about "serious concerns" over electronic voting technology, Breckland Council admitted "difficulties would have to be ironed out" before it would use e-counting again. ... It said it could not express confidence in the election results recorded in areas where it watched the counting of votes. The report found the only ward in England where votes were counted both manually and electronically - Dereham Humbletoft ward in Breckland - the number of ballots recorded was 56pc higher when counted by hand rather than by machine.
2007-06-20 - Channel 4 - Thumbs down to e-voting
Summary: Computer experts invited to observe last month's elections raised "serious concerns" over the use of new electronic voting technology in a report. The Open Rights Group (ORG) said it could not express confidence in the election results recorded in areas where it observed the counting of votes.
2007-06-20 - Daily Mail - 'Serious concerns' that e-voting will lead to more spoilt votes
Summary: Computer experts have raised "serious concerns" over the use of electronic voting technology, a report released reveals. The Open Rights Group said it is opposed to the introduction of e-voting and e-counting after it oversaw last month's local elections.
2007-06-20 - Channel 4 News - 'Serious concerns' over e-voting
Summary: Computer experts invited to observe last month's elections have raised "serious concerns" over the use of new electronic voting technology. ... The ORG raised concerns that e-voting elections are "open to error and fraud" because they use "black box systems" where the mechanisms for recording and tabulating the vote are hidden away, making public scrutiny impossible. The lack of reliable "audit trails" allowing counts to be checked meant that there was "no meaningful way to verify that voters' intentions had been accurately counted".
2007-06-20 - The Guardian - Thumbs down to e-voting
Summary: Computer experts invited to observe last month's elections raised "serious concerns" over the use of new electronic voting technology in a report. The Open Rights Group (ORG) said it could not express confidence in the election results recorded in areas where it observed the counting of votes.
2007-05-25 - The Irish Times - Traditional way of counting still best for elections
Author: John Bowman
Summary: John Bowman, who will anchor RTÉ television's election coverage, argues that manual voting is a unique opportunity to see democracy in action. ... Public confidence in e-voting has been severely dented. One man can take much of the credit, Joe McCarthy, the computer engineer to whom Irish democracy owes a special indebtedness for his forensic investigation into the electronic voting system piloted in three constituencies in 2002. The Progressive Democrats voted at their 2006 annual conference to abandon electronic voting. Michael McDowell has admitted that he is not "mad keen" on it and has a personal preference for paper ballots. "I regard the paper system as having a lot of merit. People trust it and understand it, and watching extended counts on television is educational. These are all merits that shouldn't be forgotten." ... As Joe McCarthy has said: "The count is a public spectacle: the exercise of democracy shouldn't be a secret."
2007-05-24 - The Times - Result may take days as Ireland votes with a ‘stupid old pencil’
Author: David Sharrock
Summary: Under lock and key, stored in a hangar on a coastal military base: thousands of electronic voting machines, purchased at a cost of more than €50 million three years ago. And the expense is rising. Storage of the 7,500 Dutch-made machinery costs another €1 million (£685,000) a year. ... They were mothballed after the independent Commission on Electronic Voting said, before the 2004 local and European elections, that it did not have confidence in them. Last year, in another report, the commission raised further questions about the security of the machines. ... Mr Ahern blamed the opposition for raising political objections to the “perfect” voting machines.
2007-05-24 - The Guardian - Irish voters go to the polls
Author: Owen Bowcott
Summary: ... Candidates name appear in alphabetical order on the single-transferable voting papers. Electronic voting machines - due to have been introduced nationwide - were abandoned several years ago after it was shown that their accuracy could not be verified by a paper trail. The unused machines cost €52m (£35m).
2007-05-22 - The Star News - High-tech ballot methods fail to woo voters
Author: Lucy Ashton
Summary: Only a third of people in most Sheffield wards bothered to vote in the local elections - despite £1 million spent on encouraging people to the polls. ... Voters in Sheffield could use the telephone, internet, an early polling station at the Town Hall or postal votes as well as their local polling station. But the overall turnout was just 36 per cent, a slight increase on 34.5 per cent last year. ... Sheffield was among a number of councils given extra Government cash to spend on encouraging people to vote. The Government says the aim was to test how well telephone and internet voting worked, rather than how many people used these methods.
2007-05-21 - BBC - Vote inquiry wants public views
Summary: The international expert who is to carry out the inquiry into the Scottish election voting fiasco will ask members of the public to submit their views. He hopes to complete his inquiries into both the Holyrood and local government elections by the end of August. ... More than 140,000 votes were discounted in the 3 May elections. ... He has been tasked with examining issues including the high number of rejected ballots, the electronic counting process and the controversial decision to hold local elections on the same day as the Holyrood vote.
2007-05-17 - The Register - Slammer turns Florida election result into worm food
Author: Dan Goodin
Summary: New concerns about the accuracy of electronic voting in Sarasota County, Florida are being raised after a published report documented how the county's main database system came under attack from a virulent worm. The county server was breached on the first day of early voting in the 2006 election, which included a now-disputed race for a seat in the US House of Representatives. The attack code was a variant of the infamous Slammer worm that penetrated the county's server, which unbelievably, was missing five years worth of security patches, according to an article painstakingly reported by investigative journalist Brad Friedman. The breach crippled the county's entire network, including the electronic voting system, where net connectivity was disrupted for two hours. Those trying to vote during the outage were turned away.
2007-05-15 - BBC - Clue over voter ballot confusion
Summary: Another clue has emerged as to why more than 140,000 ballots were rejected in the Scottish elections. ... It was feared there would be too many on the ballot paper to permit electronic counting. So in both regions arrows designed to help voters put one cross in each column were scrapped. It meant thousands of voters went to the polling booths expecting to see one design of ballot paper and were faced with another.
2007-05-11 - Aldershot News and Mail - Tories tighten their grip on the borough
Author: Marcus Mabberley
Summary: The Conservatives tightened their stranglehold on Rushmoor Borough Council by gaining two seats from the Liberal Democrats in last week’s local elections. Voters had the chance to be part of a government pilot scheme and cast their ballot online. More than 6,700 people registered to do so, but only 3,827 actually exercised their democratic right and voted. Andrew Colver, the council’s head of democratic services, said it was too early to judge internet voting. He said: "I think the only way you can truly test if internet voting is secure and practical in the long term is to test it over a number of years." Overall, only 35.2% of those eligible to vote did so, compared with 36% last year.
2007-05-11 - OpEdNews - The globalization of electronic election theft
Author: Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
Summary: From Ohio and California to Scotland and France, the disputes surrounding electronic voting machines have gone truly global. E-voting machines have already been extensively studied and condemned by a wide range of expert committees, commissions and colleges, including the General Accountability Office, the Carter-Baker Commission, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, Stanford University and others. Rigging of a recount in Cleveland has resulted in two felony convictions. ... Now the issue has spread worldwide. Widespread cries of theft and fraud erupted in Ukraine, just before the US 2004 election. A forced re-vote ousted the "official" winner. In Mexico, leftists contend the recent presidential election there was stolen just as Bush did it in the US, with some of the same personnel pulling it off. Now similar cries are coming from Scotland and France. May 3 elections in Scotland using new electronic counting systems resulted in as many as 100,000 votes being classed as "spoilt papers." (About 90,000 such ballots from Ohio 2004 remain uncounted to this day).
2007-05-10 - ComputerworldUK - Scottish election debacle caused by fragmented databases
Author: Tash Shifrin
Summary: The sheer volume of spoilt ballot papers in the Scottish elections last week led to technical problems with electronic counting systems that delayed the results and caused angry debate in both the Scottish Parliament and House of Commons, according to the technology provider. Supplier DRS, which attributed the delays in five areas to data consolidation problems and "fragmentation" of databases, has given Computerworld UK a more detailed explanation of the problems it encountered, though its internal inquiry continues.
2007-05-10 - The Guardian - Campaign promises the web can't keep
Author: Charles Arthur
Summary: ... Putting a site on the web is a means, not an end. The idea that creating websites will persuade voters is one that politicians find seductive; the idea of internet voting (whose flaws we discussed last week in Hacking the online ballot box) flows naturally from it. The reality, though, is that you still need persuasive arguments; to change the world you still need direct contact with those who move the levers of power (politicians, in the case of lobbyists; the public, in the case of would-be politicians).
2007-05-10 - PublicTechnology.net - Open Rights Group reports problems in every election they have monitored
Summary: Open Rights Group observers have reported problems in every election they have monitored. Accredited by the Electoral Commission Open Rights Group observers monitored elections in Bedford, Rushmoor, Sheffield, Shrewsbury & Atcham, Stratford-upon-Avon, Swindon, and South Bucks in England as well as Edinburgh, Glasgow and East Dunbartonshire in Scotland. "Our monitors have been working incredibly hard tracking a range of technical and procedural issues that have arisen," says Jason Kitcat, e-voting coordinator for the Open Rights Group. "We are following up on all these problems with the authorities and vendors so that we can provide a complete picture in our observation report on these elections." The Open Rights Group opposes the introduction of e-voting into the UK's democratic process.
2007-05-09 - Belfast Today - Electronic voting could be way forward
Author: Peter Emerson
Summary: In the wake of the Scottish elections, our own chief electoral officer has said Northern Ireland is not going to use electronic voting; not yet, anyway. To some extent, the trouble was caused by having a paper vote and only an electronic count. If the system had been an electronic vote plus count, then lots of relatively minor problems could have been eliminated at source. ... With any form of electronic democracy, therefore, there should still be a polling station. In the secrecy of the polling booth, the voter should have an electronic vote such that, when he/she presses the button, it produces a printed hand-out which the voter then puts into a ballot box. Thus, in case of technical failure or whatever, there is always the possibility of a hand-count. Secondly, the voter can be sure that the machine has registered his vote correctly. And it also means that he leaves the polling station with absolutely no evidence as to how he has voted.
2007-05-09 - The Herald - Scotland 2007: a ‘Third World’ election?
Author: Peter Flynn
Summary: Analyses of the recent Scottish elections have criticised the system of proportional representation (PR), the holding of different elections on the same day, the use of one ballot paper for different purposes and the failures of an electronic system. There have also been derogatory references to a bungled performance, more akin to a "Third World" electoral system than one to be expected in Scotland.
2007-05-08 - The Guardian - SNP demands Alexander's resignation
Author: Matthew Tempest
Summary: The SNP called on the Scottish secretary, Douglas Alexander, to resign today over the chaos that engulfed last week's Holyrood elections and led to more than 100,000 spoilt votes. ... Mr Alexander also warned MPs against believing reports of 100,000 spoilt ballot papers, saying a final tally had yet to be established. ... And he insisted that none of the simulations with new electronic counting machines had thrown up the sort of delays and problems exposed on Thursday night.
2007-05-08 - PublicTechnology.net - Dover District Council has success in electronic vote-counting election pilot
Summary: Dover District Council led the way on 3 May as one of 13 Local Authorities across the country selected to run Government pilot schemes - and is delighted at the successful delivery of the electronic system used to count the votes. ... Louise Cooke, Democratic Services Manager at DDC said: "Not only was e-counting a success but there was a 5% increase in voter turnout over the 2003 election. The use of this technology helped us to deliver accurate results in a shorter time."
2007-05-08 - Leamington Observer - Voters won't pay for election chaos
Author: Ed Holmes
Summary: The chaotic and hugely flawed local elections which took six days to complete, will not be paid for by the local taxpayer. The bill for costs built-up during the manual re-count of every ballot paper, will be covered by the Department for Constitutional Affairs which chose the Warwick and Stratford Districts to trial a faulty electronic counting system supplied by software giants Software AG and Canadian company Dominion Voting. It has also come to light that two other councils in Norfolk and Kent which were using the equipment and software, also had to resort to a full manual count.
2007-05-07 - Channel 4 News - E-counting 'unlikely' in Province
Summary: It is unlikely that Northern Ireland will have electronic counting in elections in the near future, the chief electoral officer for the province has admitted.
2007-05-07 - IT Week - Why e-voting won't save democracy
Author: Phil Muncaster
Summary: One of the reasons why e-voting has been trumpeted as the saviour of democracy – give them a system so easy they don’t even have to leave the house to do it. Problem is it really isn’t good enough yet, as US precedent has shown. But as usual the government took has taken no notice and tried it anyway, in 17 local authorities to be precise. And guess what…electoral turnout jumped by a massive 4 percent. Could it be that the public is also unconvinced about the accuracy of the technology?
2007-05-06 - Swindon Advertiser - Voting shambles blamed on rush
Author: Sarah Hilley
Summary: A lack of time to plan computerised voting has been blamed for problems that Swindon residents faced on polling day. Counting officers had to revert to old-fashioned pen and paper when wireless connections failed at Covingham and Lawn polling stations. E-voting coordinator at Open Rights Group, Jason Kitcat, said: "We were aware of problems with regards to the conduct of the count." "We have been very concerned by the numbers of areas in which problems have been reported."
Note: Anne Snelgrove MP said the shambles of Thursday night has turned her against the new system.
2007-05-05 - Daily Mail - Kinnock's £33,000 job with computer firm in poll fiasco
Author: Jonathan Oliver
Summary: Neil Kinnock has been drawn into the Scottish election debacle as it emerged he had been paid £33,000 as a director of the firm responsible for the faulty vote-counting machines. The former Labour leader faced embarrassment after the £8.9million system supplied by DRS Data Services was blamed for critical delays and errors in the ballot for the Holyrood parliament. The Electoral Commission has launched a full-scale inquiry into the reasons why 100,000 ballot papers were recorded as 'spoiled' and seven counts had to be suspended.
2007-05-04 - BBC - Double-check over e-vote problem
Summary: The Tories have held on to control of Swindon Borough Council. The authority was expected to be one of the first to report, after trialling e-voting. A problem with feeding back results from two online voting stations forced the council to double check no one had been able to vote twice.
2007-05-04 - Kent News - Electronic vote counting a success, says Dover town hall
Summary: While the attempted electronic counting of votes in Scotland caused electoral chaos, a similar experiment in Dover went without a hitch on Thursday night. Dover District Council used electronic scanning to count ballot papers and worked with company Opt2Vote to ensure the results were announced in the early hours of Friday. Officials say the pilot scheme "used innovations designed to improve participation and access to elections, enhance security and improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of elections". The experiment is being evaluated by the Electoral Commission.
2007-05-04 - This is Wiltshire - Computer glitch delays election results
Author: Matt Jackson
Summary: Candidates and supporters were left on tenterhooks at the Oasis as the new on-line voting system suffered a technical setback. A breakdown in the wireless voting system meant electronic results were delivered two hours late. Earlier today the connectivity system, a secure server that collects on-line votes, failed completely at polling stations in Covingham and The Lawns.
2007-05-04 - Go All The Way Florida - Florida moves to paper ballots!
Summary: In a historic vote, the Florida House today unanimously passed CS/HB 537, already passed in the Senate, that provides almost all voters paper ballots in time for the 2008 Presidential election, and bans paperless DREs outright by 2012. The bill now goes to the Governor where he’s sure to sign it since it’s his initiative.
2007-05-04 - The Guardian - The morning after
Author: Iain Macwhirter
Summary: And as dawn breaks over Scotland, here is the picture so far: In the lead is the Spoiled Ballot Paper party, with more than 100,000 votes, closely followed by the Computer Cock-Up party, and coming up in third place, the Lost Postal Votes party.
2007-05-04 - The Scotsman - The Election: What went wrong?
Author: Paul Riddell
Summary: It was a night that will be remembered less for the eventual winner than for the fiasco surrounding what ought to have been a simple process: counting the votes. The introduction of a new electronic counting system combined with a new single ballot paper for both the constituency and top-up list votes for the Scottish Parliament resulted in delays to scores of counts and thousands of spoiled votes.
2007-05-04 - The Scotsman - What a fiasco
Summary: The Scottish Parliament elections descended into chaos today as up to one in ten votes were lost to spoiled ballot papers and counts were abandoned following technical problems. The count in Edinburgh was called off early this morning with only two of the city's six constituency seats declared after the new electronic counting system failed. The count in the Capital was due to resume at midday.
2007-05-04 - UTV - Electronic voting saves 'significant' time says electoral officer
Summary: Northern Ireland is considering counting its future election votes electronically. Chief electoral officer in the north, Douglas Bain, made the claim as he observed electronic vote counting in the Scottish parliament election in Glasgow.
2007-05-04 - ComputerworldUK - Computer problems delay Scottish election results
Author: Tash Shifrin
Summary: The results of Scotland’s elections have been thrown into chaos and results delayed by technical problems with the newly introduced electronic counting system. The Electoral Commission announced a full independent review as it emerged that counting in elections for the Scottish Parliament and local government had been delayed in many areas of the country. ... Data privacy campaign the Open Rights Group said its independent observers had noted problems both in Scotland and in England, where 12 local authority areas piloted new voting and counting technologies including internet and telephone voting. The group’s e-voting coordinator, Jason Kitcat, said: “Our observers can confirm that they are reporting problems in Scotland and England in areas where there are new technologies.” Observers had seen “a similar type of problem” with electronic counting in England to that in Scotland, “and some problems with internet and phone voting as well”, he said
2007-05-04 - Sun - Scot election chaos probe
Summary: AN investigation is to be launched into the voting chaos which beset the Holyrood elections. The independent Electoral Commission will carry out a statutory review into the election. The move was announced by the Scotland Office who said “serious technical failures” had delayed the announcement of results in several areas. A spokesman said: "In the first instance, these failures must be investigated by DRS (the company behind the vote-counting technology) and relevant returning offices against the timing targets set in the supply contract." He added: "We share the public’s concern about the high number of rejected ballot papers."
2007-05-04 - Kable - Scotland's elections have been hit by problems with electronic vote counting
Summary: A spokesperson for the Scotland Office confirmed to GC News on 4 May 2007 that the Scottish Parliament and local authority elections of the previous day had run into problems with the technology used for counting votes. The scanning of vote papers had apparently worked smoothly, but there had been difficulties with the collation. Subsequently, results that were due in overnight were not expected until early afternoon.
2007-05-04 - BBC - 'Urgent' review of election chaos
Summary: An urgent review of the conduct of the Holyrood election has been ordered by the Scotland Office. The polls have been hit by major problems with seven counts suspended and an unprecedented number of spoilt ballot papers recorded. ... A statement from the Scotland Office said it was important that the Electoral Commission looked into the issues "as a matter of urgency". ... It said that the Scotland Office shared the public's concern about the high number of rejected ballot papers. The Scotland Office said these failures must be investigated by DRS, the company which operates the electronic counting system. "The independent Electoral Commission will undertake a statutory review into the conduct of this election," it said. "It is important that they look as a matter of urgency into delays in postal ballots, the high number of spoiled ballot papers, and the performance of the electronic counting machines."
2007-05-04 - BBC - Glitches force council recounts
Summary: Five English councils trialling new ways of electronic voting have been forced to hold recounts after a series of glitches. Warwick, Stratford and Breckland district councils suffered delays as scanning machines performed poorly. Computer crashes hit systems in South Buckinghamshire and Swindon. All five councils are conducting recounts by hand. The government said no votes would be lost, with delays the only problem suffered.
2007-05-04 - 24dash.com - Councils abandon election results over counting system glitch
Author: Ian Morgan
Summary: Three Midlands councils were forced to abandon their election results because of problems with new electronic counting machines. Warwick and Stratford district councils as well as Warwick Town Council will be counting votes by hand later today. The councils were taking part in the pilot of a new electronic counting system.
2007-05-03 - The Guardian - Hacking the online ballot box
Author: Danny Bradbury
Summary: Today, some councils will offer voting via the internet. But exactly how accountable, secure, and desirable are the online polling systems? ... In spite of security evaluations carried out by both the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) and the Electoral Commission, the Guardian revealed yesterday that independent experts have identified flaws in at least two of the projects in this year's election pilots, calling them "catastrophically weak" and claiming it would be "trivial" to manipulate votes in some districts testing the software. The Guardian has been shown a number of web pages with example exploits against online voting pages operated by Intelivote Systems, the small Canadian firm which provided the technology for ES&S, a giant election services company managing the project for both Rushmoor and South Bucks. ... Nevertheless, Jason Kitcat, voting campaign coordinator at UK e-democracy organisation the Open Rights Group worries that the lack of a paper trail makes oversight difficult and threatens democracy. "You can't see anything, and because it's digital, copying a million votes is as easy as copying one vote," he argues.
2007-05-02 - The Guardian - Government cancelled e-vote schemes amid security fears
Author: Bobbie Johnson and David Hencke
Summary: The government cancelled a number of pilot internet voting projects amid security concerns, it has emerged. The news comes as election officials rejected claims that some of the systems being used in tomorrow's elections were unsafe. Allegations of loopholes in one voting system were uncovered by a team of senior internet security experts. The group claims there is "catastrophically weak" security in the software provided by Intelivote Systems Inc, a Canadian company contracted to roll out electronic voting services in England. ... An internal risk assessment, produced by the DCA and obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act, has revealed problems in up to 70 e-voting pilots projects originally proposed for tomorrow's elections.
2007-05-02 - 10 Downing Street - Morning press briefing from the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman
Summary: Asked if the Government was at all concerned over the possible issues with recent electronic voting, the PMOS said what the Government was anxious to do is keep up to date with all the possible mechanisms to encourage people to vote. At the same time we try and ensure the safeguards are there to ensure that the system is secure and that is why we work very closely with the Electoral Commission and others, but those safeguards are there and this is a matter that is kept under constantly under review.
2007-05-02 - Guardian - Online elections: the clear and present danger
Author: Charles Arthur
Summary: This morning's paper has an article by Bobbie and Danny Bradbury, one of our regular contributors to Technology, about flaws discovered in the online voting systems being tested by a number of local authorities for the elections being held tomorrow (Thurs). There's a great deal more behind this than we can safely detail here, but suffice to say that we have been sent links detailing precise weaknesses and methods that might be used to crack, hack and otherwise alter what's recorded by the online systems. Systems, let's remind ourselves, that might count in narrow contests tomorrow. At the least, it would give a losing candidate something to argue in court
2007-05-02 - The Register - E-voting as secure as an insecure thing
Author: John Oates
Summary: Twelve councils are piloting voting over the internet in the local elections on Thursday, and the government has accepted there may be security problems with the system. The Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) says it is aware of security holes, but still reckons it will be secure enough.
2007-05-02 - Guardian - Ballot secrets
Author: Simon Ardizzone
Summary: Hi-tech voting is profoundly suspect ... The problems with the technology can be mitigated, but the UK government does not seem to have learned the lessons from America. There will be no independent testing of these machines, no independent review of the computer software or hardware, no auditing of results to ensure that votes have been counted correctly. And we will be using secret software. This is effectively a privatisation of our elections, as technically un-savvy election officials hand over the running of the elections to the companies that make the voting systems.
2007-05-02 - Guardian - Security fear over internet voting
Author: Bobbie Johnson and Danny Bradbury
Summary: The government yesterday admitted that it was aware of security concerns about internet votes being cast in local elections in England tomorrow.
2007-05-02 - Radio 4 - Today programme
Summary: ... Richard Price "I think its much easier and simpler to resort to fraud with electronic voting ... I think electronic voting at the moment is open to serious abuse" ... Bridget Prentice MP "I went yesterday to Swindon to see the pilots that they are doing on electronic voting and I was very impressed by the work that the council officials, the electoral administrators where doing there and the number of people who had pre registered to vote on-line, in fact there is every reason to believe that because of all the checks and balances that are put in to electronic voting that in some ways it is an even more secure system than postal voting and the one thing we did say was we would try the pilots out, we must be confident that electronic voting is at least as secure as any other traditional system." ... "The pilots that have been run in the cause of the past couple of weeks and obviously tomorrow on the elections by the local authorities, my officials are in touch with them on a regular bases, we think the system is secure we believe that when people vote on-line they will be able to vote securely they will even be able in Swindon for example they will be able to check after 10 o'Clock tomorrow night that their vote has been cast and it has been accepted, so I think that we are putting in place as secure and robust a system as we possibly can."
2007-05-01 - The Guardian - Vote early, vote often
Author: David Hencke
Summary: New registration and counting procedures to be used in this week's local elections could be a disaster. ... Similarly, new laws and regulations have allowed independent observers to check out new e-voting and e-counting procedures as a safeguard against fraud and to protect voter security. But again newly accredited observers have found they cannot by right have access to council computers and e-counting centres because officials forgot to give them powers to demand it. So at the moment one group of 30 observers from the Open Rights Group have to beg councils - already fearful they could be criticised if they get things wrong - for access to vital areas. While in Scotland e-counting for the parliamentary elections are being entrusted to an American company without full auditing and trials.
2007-05-01 - The Register - Observers forced to 'negotiate' for evote access
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: Independent observers are being blocked from properly observing the trials of electronic voting at the UK's forthcoming local elections. Jason Kitcat, e-voting coordinator for the Open Rights Group (ORG), says that one of the councils involved in the pilots of electronic and remote voting technologies has refused to allow the ORG's observers access to the servers on which the votes will be stored and counted. He declined to name the council concerned.
2007-05-01 - ITPro - Experts cast doubts over electronic voting in UK elections
Author: Rene Millman
Summary: Pilot schemes to allow voting by telephone and internet get go ahead for 3 May polls but UK will experience same security problems as US, according to expert. Concerns are mounting over electronic voting at this year's local elections with security experts claiming that the controversy that engulfed US elections could also happen in the UK.
2007-04-30 - Times - E-votes put wrong name next to the Labour rose
Author: Sam Coates
Summary: The first signs of problems with this year’s internet voting trials have been discovered, with a candidate’s name matched to the wrong party logo. ... Concerns have emerged about the way the systems have been introduced rapidly and secretly. The Open Rights Group-monitoring organ-isation believes that internet voting systems are vulnerable to attacks on the server where the vote is stored and on the computer used to cast the ballot.
2007-04-30 - The Guardian - Council poll monitors fear e-vote fraud
Author: David Hencke
Summary: Some councils are refusing independent observers full access to e-voting and e-counting centres for Thursday's elections, raising the fear that the experiments will not be monitored for potential fraud and breaches of voter privacy. The Guardian has learned that 30 independent observers accredited by the Electoral Commission are having to negotiate with councils on how much access they will get because ministers forgot to grant them the legal right to demand access to council servers and e-counting centres. ... Jason Kitcat, e-voting coordinator for the Open Rights Group, accredited by the commission, said yesterday: "All of them have agreed in principle that we can come but we are relying on grace and favour agreements on where we can go."
2007-04-27 - Yorkshire Post - Postal vote chaos fears as computer checks fail
Author: John Roberts
Summary: The local council elections in Yorkshire next week could be plunged into chaos because software designed to combat postal vote fraud is not working properly, experts fear. Two councils in the region have already scrapped plans to check postal voter signatures by computer because the equipment is failing. They have chosen instead to do it by hand. Last night the returning officer at another authority told the Yorkshire Post its software was still being tested and could also be abandoned in favour of time-consuming manual checks.
2007-04-27 - Kable - Commission calls for voting feedback
Summary: The Electoral Commission has asked for responses to the voting pilots in next week's council elections. The pilots will take in a number of practices, including internet voting and electronic counting.
2007-04-27 - The Register - Survey: young Brits ready to embrace evoting
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: As Britain braces for its latest foray into the world of electronic, remote and even internet voting, a survey has found that almost half of us think we'd be more likely to vote if we could do it online.
2007-04-27 - Computing - Public warms to e-voting
Author: Tom Young
Summary: With the UK local elections set to take place on 3 May, 46 per cent of citizens say that e-voting would make them more likely to vote, according to a study from ntl:Telewest Business.
2007-04-26 - eGov monitor - Internet voting proves popular with silver surfers
Author: Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council
Summary: Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council has reported high levels of interest in its e-voting pilot. As at 25 April 2007 over 800 people had voted using the telephone or internet. ... Gareth Owens, Deputy Returning Officer, said "Many people believe that electronic voting will appeal more to younger people. This time around we have been asking people for their date of birth as part of the security arrangements, and we have found that it is actually older voters who are using the system most. Indeed on one day we had 3 octogenarians visit the polling station in the Pride Hill shopping centre."
2007-04-24 - The Register - French politicians vote non to voting machines
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: Voting machines are not going down well with the political classes in France. The machines were involved in widespread problems on Sunday's ballot and, according to reports, several of the country's political parties have demanded that the technology be withdrawn.
2007-04-23 - PC Advicer - UK group pushes to monitor e-voting
Author: Jeremy Kirk
Summary: A UK group is pressing for access to monitor UK local elections next month, where a range of e-voting and counting technologies will be used. The Open Rights Group, a London-based non-governmental group, expects to hear from local government authorities and vendors in the next few days whether they'll have access to polling and counting areas on election day on 3 May.
2007-04-23 - Computeractive - Local elections get digital observers
Author: Anthony Dhanendran
Summary: Open Rights Group sends monitors to polling stations in England and Wales. Electoral observers in England an Wales will be monitoring May's local elections to make sure trials of electronic voting methods are going as planned. The Open Rights Group, which campaigns for digital rights in the UK, is to send volunteers to monitor proceedings at 30 local authorities.
2007-04-21 - BBC - Turnout soars in key French vote
Summary: ... Some 1.5 million voters will use electronic voting machines for the first time, criticised by the socialists and some other opposition parties as ...
2007-04-20 - ElectronicNews.net - For the record 20 April
Author: Maxim Kelly
Summary: The Open Rights Group will be sending 30 observers to monitor electronic voting pilot schemes in upcoming UK elections in May. The group said voter privacy, vulnerability to fraud and general electoral transparency of e-voting will be under close scrutiny. Observers will travel to several English electoral pilot schemes, which are deploying internet voting, telephone voting and electronic counting technologies, and will also be monitoring Scottish elections where e-counting is set to be deployed widely for the first time.
2007-04-20 - Info World - Group pushes to monitor U.K. e-voting next month
Author: Jeremy Kirk
Summary: U.K. group has questioned the security and accuracy of e-voting systems. A U.K. group is pressing for access to monitor local elections next month, where a range of e-voting and counting technologies will be used.
2007-04-20 - Computer World UK - Watchdog group presses to monitor e-voting in May elections
Author: Jeremy Kirk
Summary: A group of digital rights and privacy campaigners is pressing for access to monitor next month’s local elections, where a range of e-voting and counting technologies will be used. ... The 3 May elections mark a significant test for e-voting technologies. But new methods of voting and counting introduced since 2000 have raised concerns over privacy, security and the ability to perform recounts - as have e-voting systems deployed elsewhere in the world.
2007-04-20 - The Register - ORG plots e-voting observation
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: Digital rights activist, the Open Rights Group (ORG), says it will be sending 30 observers to monitor the UK's trial of electronic voting technologies in the May 2007 local elections. The team is meeting with the Electoral Commission this morning, where it says it expects its "observer status" will be accredited.
2007-04-20 - Kable - Fears over election IT
Summary: A representative of electoral administrators has warned that councils could struggle to count votes in next month's elections because of problems with untried electoral software. John Turner, the chief executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, told GC News on 20 April 2007 that a new system for vote counting may not be up to the job. He said it has been introduced without proper testing, and that software houses have had to come up with "bolt on" systems for tracking postal votes.
2007-04-19 - Wired - Ohio Audit Says Diebold Vote Database May Have Been Corrupted
Author: Kim Zetter
Summary: Vote totals in two separate databases that should have been identical had different totals. Tables in the database contained elements that were missing date and time stamps that would indicate when information was entered. Entries that did have date/time stamps showed a January 1, 1970 date. MS says the database engine is vulnerable to corruption.
2007-04-19 - ComputerworldUK - French protesters sue to stop use of e-voting machines
Author: Peter Sayer
Summary: Campaigners have filed suit to prevent the use of electronic voting machines in the forthcoming French presidential election. They say the machines do not meet the legal requirements set out by the country's Constitutional Council.
2007-04-18 - BBC - Doubts raised over e-count system
Summary: Concerns have been raised about the counting of next month's Holyrood and council elections. It is expected to be the UK's biggest test yet of the electronic vote counting system. Experts from the United States have told BBC Scotland the Scottish system lacks enough independent safeguards. However, Deputy Scottish Secretary David Cairns said the system had been thoroughly tested and a hand recount was still an option if things go wrong.
2007-04-18 - Channel 4 News - Fears over e-counting system
Summary: Fears have been raised by US experts about the electronic counting of the Holyrood and local election results. ... Computer scientist Dr Rebecca Mercury, who gave evidence in the court case which followed the disputed vote in Florida at the 2000 US presidential elections, told the BBC's Newsnight Scotland programme: "It is a problem that we have with this anonymity and auditability that these two things cannot exist in the same computable system and this is something that is a computer science fact, it is not just a theory.
2007-04-18 - Scotsman - Fears raised over election's electronic counting system
Summary: Fears have been raised by US experts about the use of electronic counting for next month's Holyrood and council elections. They claimed the system, to be used in Scotland for the first time, lacks independent safeguards which would guarantee voter confidence.
2007-04-12 - Drinker Biddle - Court Recognizes Pennsylvania Voters' Right to Reliable, Secure Voting Machines
Summary: A Pennsylvania court held late today that voters have a right under the commonweath’s constitution to reliable and secure voting systems and can challenge the use of electronic voting machines “that provide no way for Electors to know whether their votes will be recognized” through voter verification or independent audit. The ruling by the Commonweath Court allows the continuation of a suit filed last year by 26 individual Pennsylvania voters against the Secretary of State that challenged the certification of Direct Electronic Voting systems (DREs) used in 56 counties across the state. The 4-3 decision was sharply critical of the Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s actions in certifying the DREs. Judge Rochelle Friedman, who authored the majority opinion, noted the certification was the result of "deficient examination criteria" which "do not approximate those that are customary in the information technology industry for systems that require a high level of security." "Because Electors have no way of knowing whether their votes will be honestly counted by DREs that are not reliable or secure and that provide no means for vote verification or vote audit," the voters sufficiently raised a violation of the Pennsylvania constitution in their suit, the court declared. "Across the country, both state legislatures and Congress are realizing that DRE voting systems cannot be trusted," said Michael Churchill, a lawyer with PILCOP. "More and more states are requiring optical scan paper ballots that voters mark directly or through a ballot-marking device." ... In the voters’ complaint, they alleged that the DREs failed during elections in Pennsylvania and in other states by losing votes, registering votes for one candidate when the voter was attempting to vote for another candidate; causing high “undervote” rates; failing to register votes when the ballot contained only one question; counting votes twice; failing to print “zero tapes” to demonstrate that no lawful votes were stored on the machine prior to the election; printing “zero tapes” after votes had been cases; reporting phantom votes and other irregularities. Schneider noted that last fall’s elections across the country showed the unreliability of the machines. “The 2006 elections demonstrated that DREs repeatedly failed by breaking down, switching votes, losing votes and not providing the security necessary for a functional democracy,” she said. Holly Jacobson, co-director at Voter Action, noted that good alternatives exist to the unreliable electronic voting machines: “Paper balloting, with ballot marking devices for the disabled, is a more secure and accountable option, which is why states like Michigan and New Mexico and others, in addition to hundreds of counties around the country, switched in time for last November’s elections.”
2007-03-10 - The Register - US Gov warned on messed up e-voting systems
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: As the UK braces for electronic voting trials in the next round of local elections, the US Government Audit Office (GAO) has warned that e-voting systems could undermine the integrity of the whole election process if not properly managed.
2007-03-07 - The Register - Volunteers sought to scrutinise UK e-voting trials
Author: John Leyden
Summary: A campaign group is seeking volunteers to scrutinse e-voting trials during May's local elections in the UK. The Open Rights Group (ORG) is looking for people prepared to "devote their day to democracy" and become an Electoral Commission accredited election observer for the e-voting pilots on Thursday 3 May. The ORG will provide full instructions to volunteers on what they'll be expected to do on the day, and tips on what to look out for in the operation of e-voting machines.
2007-03-02 - The Times - Ministers ignore e-voting fraud warning
Author: Sam Coates
Summary: The Government has brushed aside the Electoral Commission and given the go-ahead for trials of vote-counting by internet and electronic methods, despite being warned of “considerable concerns”, The Times has learnt.
2007-02-28 - The Register - Watchdog boss blasts Britain's e-voting plans
Author: Lewis Page
Summary: The chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life yesterday delivered a stinging attack on attempts to modernise the British voting system. Speaking to the annual seminar of the Association of Electoral Administrators in Brighton, Sir Alistair Graham suggested that electoral fraud has increased sharply as a result of postal voting, and that e-voting should be postponed or scrapped.
2007-02-28 - This is London - Dump e-voting to stop fraud, Labour warned
Summary: The anti-sleaze watchdog has delivered a scathing attack on Labour's "obsession" with trendy voting methods. Sir Alistair Graham warned that Internet and telephone voting should be abandoned until ministers get a grip on electoral fraud.
2007-02-27 - BBC - Polling experiments 'high risk'
Summary: Internet and phone voting pilots planned for local elections in May should be suspended until polling security is improved, a watchdog says. Sir Alistair Graham, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said the "integrity" of the current system needed to be safeguarded first.
2007-02-27 - 24dash - 'Modern' voting offers opportunities for fraud
Author: Ian Morgan
Summary: Internet and telephone voting should be dumped until ministers get a grip on electoral fraud, a top sleaze watchdog will say today. Sir Alistair Graham, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, will accuse the Government of being "obsessed" with modernisation at the expense of secure voting.
2007-02-27 - Computer Weekly - Is e-voting a threat to our democracy?
Author: Jason Kitcat
Summary: Despite serious problems in other countries, the UK will hold electronic voting pilots in 14 local authorities during the May 2007 elections. I believe e-voting threatens the integrity of our elections, as current e-voting systems cannot deliver secure, trusted election results ... Jason Kitcat is e-voting campaign coordinator for the Open Rights Group
2007-02-13 - BBC World Service - Anti E-Voting
Author: Gareth Mitchell
Summary: Electronic voting is getting plenty of attention at the moment - with automated polling machines playing a big part in recent mid term elections in the United States and especially December's presidential election in Venezuela. A growing band of activists say that e-voting doesn't work. A group of them gathered in London at the Open Rights Groups e-voting sessions last week to discuss the issue, so Gareth went to meet them to hear their concerns.
2007-02-10 - The Guardian - Just a bellow - or a roar of public rage?
Author: Simon Hoggart
Summary: I had a fascinating lunch this week with a woman called Rebecca Mercuri from Philadelphia, who earns her crust as a expert forensic witness on computing. ... She also pointed out the incredible shortcomings of electronic voting which can be - and is - fiddled in dozens of different ways. The stakes are high, there is nothing approaching a foolproof system, and so naturally our government - which seems to be mesmerised by anything to do with computers - wants to bring it here. Meanwhile, in Florida they are going back to paper and pencil. Florida - home of the hanging chads! A paper ballot, filled in person, honestly administered, is overwhelmingly the best system there is. Of course our lot will plough on with the new technology, just as they did with postal ballots, even when the whole thing was shown to be as crooked as a £3 coin.
2007-02-09 - The Register - E-voting pilots don't make sense
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: Last week, the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) made public the list of local authorities that will be piloting both supervised and remote electronic voting schemes in the May 2007 local elections, despite concerns over unproven technologies and the lack of an audit trail. ... Despite our best efforts, the DCA was not inclined to elaborate on what has changed in the 18 months since the time was declared "not right" for evoting. ... There is also no evidence to support the assertion that voting machines or internet voting will increase voter turnout, something the government keeps wheeling out as its reason for modernising the voting system. If anything, it the trials conducted so far indicate the reverse, according to Jason Kitcat of the Open Rights Group. He says that his investigations have revealed that an apathetic electorate actually stayed home in greater numbers during previous evoting trials.
2007-02-04 - The Sunday Times - Prepare for election fraud
Author: Sir Alistair Graham (The Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life)
Summary: My concern is that while there appears to be clear evidence that electoral fraud is a growing problem, the department, in the interests of making 'voting more convenient', is pushing ahead with pilot schemes on forms of voting that are, at present, even less secure than postal voting.
2007-02-01 - The New York Times - Florida to Shift Voting System With Paper Trail
Author: Abby Goodnough and Christopher Drew
Summary: Gov. Charlie Crist announced plans on Thursday to abandon the touch-screen voting machines that many of Florida’s counties installed after the disputed 2000 presidential election. The state will instead adopt a system of casting paper ballots counted by scanning machines in time for the 2008 presidential election.
2007-02-01 - npr - Florida Move Would Back Up Electronic Voting
Author: Greg Allen
Summary: Florida, famous for its election snafus, is taking steps to put that history behind it. The state's new Republican governor, Charlie Crist, says he wants to require the use of paper ballots in all 67of the state's counties. That would mean phasing out the use of touch-screen voting machines, which currently count nearly half the ballots cast in Florida. (Also links to audio report on the issue with interviews)
2007-01-31 - British Computer Society - E-voting pilot schemes announced
Summary: The government has announced that it is to trial the use of e-voting systems at local government elections in May. ... However, the scheme has been criticised by digital rights organisation the Open Rights Group amid concerns over security. It also said that problems with e-voting in other countries, such as Italy and the Netherlands, should show the government that it is a problematic issue in terms of computer science.
2007-01-31 - ZDNet - Digital rights group slams e-voting
Author: David Meyer
Summary: Digital rights activists have attacked the UK government over its plan to trial e-voting in the upcoming local elections. According to the Open Rights Group (ORG), the technology "threatens the integrity of our elections". In a statement issued on Tuesday, the group claimed that e-voting "does not allow for meaningful vote audits and recounts", suggesting that it would make fraud easier to perpetrate. "E-voting is a black box," ORG's Jason Kitcat told ZDNet UK on Tuesday, explaining that "you can't see what the software [behind it] is doing" and suggesting that this secrecy was deliberate on the part of the companies selling the software to the government.
2007-01-30 - BBC Five Live - "Pods and Blogs" show
Summary: Bruce Schneier of BT Counterpane being interviewed about about the wisdom of e-voting pilots in the UK. He explains to the interviewer in non-technical terms the dangers of internet and phone voting. Starts approximately 5 minutes in.
2007-01-30 - PC Pro - Open Rights Group opposes e-voting plans
Author: Simon Aughton
Summary: The Open Rights Group (ORG) has condemned the Government's decision to introduce e-voting in selected areas of the UK for the 2007 elections. The digital rights campaign group said that there are serious questions over the security, accuracy and reliability of the technology that will be used.
2007-01-30 - eGov Monitor - The Open Rights Group opposes e-voting pilots
Summary: Despite serious problems with e-voting in other countries, the UK will hold electronic voting pilots in selected local authorities during the May 2007 elections. e-voting is a technology that threatens the integrity of our elections. The Open Rights Group opposes its introduction into our democratic process.
2007-01-29 - Slashdot - British E-Voting Pilots Announced
Summary: The Department for Constitutional Affairs has announced it is going to trial Electronic voting ... The Open Rights Group (Think British EFF) have responded by saying 'E-voting threatens the integrity of our elections and we oppose its use in our democracy.'
2007-01-29 - Kable - e-Voting returns
Summary: The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has announced electronic voting pilots for the May 2007 local authority elections ... The announcement attracted criticism from the civil liberties organisation Open Rights Group. It described the move as ill conceived and said it would undermine, rather than strengthen, the democratic process. "Such systems open the door to voter coercion and vote buying as well as potential electronic attack from anywhere in the world," it said in a statement. "They rely on commercial confidentiality, rather than explicit and accepted computer protocols, to maintain voter privacy. And they do not allow for meaningful vote audits and recounts."
2007-01-29 - Department for Constitutional Affairs - New pilot schemes will help people vote more conveniently at the Local Government Elections in thirteen local authorities in England in May 2007
Summary: ... Electronic voting using the internet and/or telephone ... The pilots will test the effectiveness of innovations designed to improve participation and access to elections, enhance security and improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of election processes. These schemes build on a programme of work to modernise elections, which began in 2000.
2007-01-25 - Boing Boing - Diebold voting machine key copied from pic on Diebold site
Author: Xeni Jardin
Summary: Someone has made a copy of the key which opens ALL Diebold e-voting machines from a picture on the company's own website. The working keys were confirmed by Princeton scientists, the same people who discovered that a simple virus hack on the Diebold machines could steal an election.
2007-01-10 - inside Bay Area - E-voting opponent accepts state job
Author: Ian Hoffman
Summary: A Berkeley lawyer who has fought electronic voting in California and a half-dozen other states has been tapped by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen as her deputy in charge of voting machinery. "Lowell's appointment to one of the nation's most important state positions, overseeing election standards and voting machine certification for approximately one-fifth of the nation's voters, is a victory for Voter Action, election integrity advocates and voters across the United States," wrote Holly Jacobson.
2007-01-06 - ars technica - Report outlines midterm e-voting failures
Author: Jon Stokes
Summary: A report on the November midterms released this past week by three different e-voting activist groups describes problems with electronic voting machines in 36 states. The report, entitled E-Voting Failures in the 2006 Mid-Term Elections: A Sampling of Problems Across the Nation is based on reports made to a non-partisan hotline that operated the day of the November 7 midterm elections. Calls to the hotline yielded 1022 separate incident reports, the vast majority of which concerned problems with direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines like the Diebold Accuvote model described in my article on how to steal an election. Problems were also reported with scanners and electronic ballot markers, but DREs made up the bulk of the complaints.
2007-01-05 - The Register - New fraud concerns over Dutch ballot computers
Author: Jan Libbenga
Summary: A Dutch plan to use e-voting computers by manufacturer Sdu for the coming provincial elections in March has met with fierce criticism. In October Dutch intelligence service AIVD tested over 1200 e-voting machine by Sdu and found them unreliable ...
2007-01-05 - The Register - E-vote systems certifier de-certified
Author: Thomas C Greene
Summary: The leading certifier of US electronic voting systems, Colorado outfit Ciber, Inc., is no longer permitted to issue certifications, after federal investigators discovered appallingly haphazard testing regimes, the New York Times reports
2007-01-04 - The New York Times - U.S. Bars Lab From Testing Electronic Voting
Author: Christopher Drew
Summary: A laboratory that has tested most of the USA's electronic voting systems has been temporarily barred from approving new machines after federal officials found that it was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests... Experts on voting systems say the Ciber problems underscore long-standing worries about lax inspections in the secretive world of voting-machine testing. The action by the federal Election Assistance Commission seems certain to fan growing concerns about the reliability and security of the devices.

2006

2006-12-31 - JasonKitcat.com - Here comes 2007, and no word on the pilots
Author: Jason Kitcat
Summary: What are the good elections people of the Department for Constitutional Affairs doing? I haven't the foggiest. They haven't updated their website since 19th October. But the timetable they published in the prospectus for the 2007 pilots said that decisions would be made on applications by 7th December. ... The published timetable was already ridiculously tight but now with slips like this the time available for implementation is bordering on the insane. About the same as the previous e-voting pilots then!
2006-12-21 - Guardian - Paper Jams Hamper Electronic Voting
Author: Stephen Manning
Summary: The paper ballots and hanging chads that marred the 2000 presidential election have almost vanished from polling places, replaced by electronic-voting machines that are supposed to eliminate recount chaos. But now election directors have a new worry: printer jams.
2006-12-21 - Guardian - Congress Asked to Intervene in Fla. Race
Author: David Royse
Summary: The Democrat who narrowly lost to a Republican in the race to replace Rep. Katherine Harris asked Congress on Wednesday for an investigation. The state has declared that Democrat Christine Jennings lost to Republican Vern Buchanan by 369 votes. But 18,000 Sarasota County electronic ballots did not record a choice in the race, and Jennings contends that the number is abnormally high and that the machines lost the votes.
2006-12-13 - Computer World - Report blames Denver election woes on flawed software
Author: Todd Weiss
Summary: Poor software design, serious IT management inefficiencies and an untested deployment of a critical application were all major factors in last month's Election Day problems in Denver, according to a scathing report from an IT consultant. The problems led to hours-long delays for voters looking to cast ballots and raised questions about the overall efficacy of e-voting.
2006-12-09 - ars technica - Changes ahead for e-voting; FL-13 controversy continues
Author: Jon Stokes
Summary: When the Democrats take power next year, they'll be considering legislation that federally mandates that all electronic voting machines produce some sort of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT). This would essentially outlaw touchscreen-only machines, a move that would see many counties either scrapping their touchscreens entirely or scrambling for a way to attach printers to the devices.
2006-12-08 - The New York Times - Changes Are Expected in Voting by 2008 Election
Author: Ian Urbina
Summary: By the 2008 presidential election, voters around the country are likely to see sweeping changes in how they cast their ballots and how those ballots are counted, including an end to the use of most electronic voting machines without a paper trail, federal voting officials and legislators say.
2006-12-08 - The Independent - Eight months on, Italy recounts its votes
Author: Peter Popham
Summary: In the film, a computer programmer in Florida who has claimed under oath in an American court that his employer asked him to write software to alter votes on electronic voting machines, explains how it could be done.
2006-12-04 - New Statesman - Two skinny lattes and a vote, please
Author: Becky Hogge
Summary: E-voting could make casting a ballot as easy as buying a coffee. Becky Hogge has reservations
2006-12-01 - The Guardian - Federal Agency Faults Voting Machines
Summary: Paperless electronic voting machines in widespread use across the country may be vulnerable to errors or sabotage and cannot be made secure, a draft report by a federal agency said.
2006-11-30 - Slashdot - Feds to Recommend Paper Trail for Electronic Votes
Summary: The National Institute of Standards and Technology is going to recommend the decertification of all electronic voting machines that don't create paper records. Although it sounds like this recommendation may have been in the works for a while, the recent issues in Sarasota, FL (18,000 missing votes) have brought the issue a higher profile.
2006-11-29 - Agenzia Giornalistic Italia - Amato, Stop to electronic voting
Summary: On behalf of the Italian Prime Minister's office, Interior Minister Giuliano Amato announced "We decided to stop the electronic voting machine". "Let's stick to voting and counting physically because less easy to falsify"
2006-11-28 - SiliconValley.com - E-voting stirs suspicion in Venezuela, but officials say safeguards in place
Summary: Under pressure from opponents of President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's elections council has adopted safeguards for the country's electronic voting machines to prevent tampering in Sunday's election. The opposition boycotted Venezuela's legislative elections a year ago, saying it couldn't trust that the electronic machines would be used fairly. But after thorough checks of hardware and software and some key concessions by electoral officials, presidential challenger Manuel Rosales says he's satisfied -- as long as the agreed-upon rules are respected.
2006-11-22 - The Sunday Times - Scrap €52m e-voting system, says councillor
Author: Mark Tighe
Summary: Just after Bertie Ahern defended electronic voting and said elections after 2007 should be done without “stupid aul pencils”, a Fianna Fail councillor has broken ranks and called for the current e-voting system to be scrapped. Damien Blake, the outgoing mayor of Letterkenny, has said the €52m spent on electronic voting should now be written off as a “sunk cost”. It would be “bewildering” to use a system that Dutch hackers last month demonstrated could be compromised by someone with access to the machines, he believes. “Minister Dick Roche has said he will only implement the current e-voting system once it has the full confidence of the public and I don’t think that will ever happen,” said Blake.
2006-11-21 - EFF - Sarasota Voters File Lawsuit for Re-vote in Congressional Race
Author: Matt Zimmerman
Summary: Voters from Sarasota County announced today that they are filing suit in state court in Tallahassee asking for a re-vote in Florida's 13th congressional district. The suit alleges that thousands of citizens were disenfranchised when massive undervotes plagued the tight congressional race between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan. In a high-profile battle over former Rep. Katherine Harris' seat, the result was decided by 363 votes, yet over 18,000 ballots cast on Sarasota County's e-voting machines registered no vote in the race, an exceptional anomaly in the State.
2006-11-21 - The New York Times - Winner Named for Florida Seat; Loser Files Suit
Author: Terry Aguayo
Summary: A Republican House candidate was named the winner on Monday in a disputed race in Sarasota where thousands of votes may have been lost by electronic machines, and the Democratic candidate immediately sued for a new election.
2006-11-21 - EFF - Florida Voters to Sue for Re-vote in Sarasota Congressional Race
Author: Matt Zimmerman
Summary: The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Voter Action, People For the American Way Foundation, and the ACLU of Florida will hold a press conference tomorrow to announce a lawsuit calling for a re-vote in Sarasota County's portion of Florida's 13th Congressional District.
2006-11-20 - Electronic Privacy Information Center - With Some Electronic Voting Systems, Not All Votes Count
Summary: This month, Spotlight shines on electronic voting systems, many of which will be used for the first time during mid-term elections on November 7.1 There are myriad problems associated with the use of electronic voting systems, but though there are safeguards, most of the local election jurisdictions have not put these in place.
2006-11-20 - Slashdot - Hugh Thompson Answers Voting Machine Security Questions
Author: Herbert H. Thompson
Summary: Slashdot readers posed a series of questions for Herbert H. Thompson, here are his answers.
2006-11-18 - The Guardian - Votes Still Being Counted in House Races
Author: Robert Tanner
Summary: And in Florida, a judge is holding hearings over ballots used by electronic voting machines that recorded a much higher number of undervotes in the close contest to replace GOP Rep. Katherine Harris. The Associated Press called that race for Republican Vern Buchanan.
2006-11-17 - eGov monitor - EC gives green light to launch 30 new eTEN projects
Summary: ... Some of the project examples already supported by eTEN include ePoll, an electronic voting and polling system, which is now being piloted in three member states
2006-11-16 - Wired - Vote Early, Vote Often
Author: Bruce Schneier
Summary: Imagine this, after the election, someone discovers rogue software in the voting machines that flipped some votes from A to B. Or someone gets caught vote tampering -- changing the data on electronic memory cards. The problem is that the original data is lost forever; all we have is the hacked vote.
2006-11-16 - Ulster Herald - The elephant in the room
Summary: Bertie Ahern has given his support to electronic voting machines, and claims that Ireland is the joke of the Western world with its reliance on "ould pencils". Two out of three voters in the US last week used ould pencils, and the only complaints arose in States where electronic voting was employed.
2006-11-15 - The Guardian - House Member Wants E-Voting Paper Trail
Author: Donna De La Cruz
Summary: Citing the disputed vote in a Florida congressional district, a Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday urged Congress to approve his measure requiring a paper trail for electronic voting. Rep. Rush Holt, sponsor of the bill, said the inaccuracy of electronic touch-screen voting machines ``poses a direct threat to the integrity of our electoral system.
2006-11-15 - Tampa Bay's 10 - Buchanan still ahead, but activists want re-vote
Summary: Tired elections staffers will report to work Thursday morning for the second recount in the Buchanan-Jennings race. (There where no paper record kept so a recount is pointless)
2006-11-15 - Market Day - Voters want their paper ballots back
Summary: A Florida county is dumping its touch-screen voting machines in favor of paper ballots.
2006-11-14 - tpmmuckraker.com - In FL-13, Court Battle Begins As Counting Continues
Author: Paul Kiel
Summary: Lawyers for Democratic House candidate Christine Jennings threw down the gauntlet yesterday, asking a state court to secure electronic voting machines and data used in the election. The move would preserve the equipment in Florida's Sarasota County for scrutiny by Jennings' legal team. A hearing on the suit is scheduled for this afternoon.
2006-11-14 - ars technica - Electronic voting: the silent catastrophe
Author: Jon Stokes
Summary: Though you wouldn't know it from watching the election night and post-election coverage on the Cable news shows, preliminary reports from local papers and from a host of electronic voting activist groups and researchers indicate that there were widespread and significant problems with the new electronic voting machines used in the November 7th mid-terms. The many groups who're working on collecting and summarizing the information gleaned from nationwide hotlines and poll watching efforts have a ton of data to sort through, but a few of the broader outlines are clear already.
2006-11-13 - Forbes - Did Your Vote Get Counted?
Author: Bruce Schneier
Summary: Last week in Florida's 13th Congressional district, the victory margin was only 386 votes out of 153,000. There'll be a mandatory lawyered-up recount, but it won't include the almost 18,000 votes that seem to have disappeared. The electronic voting machines didn't include them in their final tallies, and there's no backup to use for the recount. The district will pick a winner to send to Washington, but it won't be because they are sure the majority voted for him. Maybe the majority did, and maybe it didn't. There's no way to know. Electronic voting machines represent a grave threat to fair and accurate elections, a threat that every American--Republican, Democrat or independent--should be concerned about. Because they're computer-based, the deliberate or accidental actions of a few can swing an entire election. The solution: Paper ballots, which can be verified by voters and recounted if necessary.
2006-11-12 - The Register - E-voting worries focus on failures, not fraud
Author: Robert Lemos
Summary: Major electronic voting machine problems occurred in at least six US states during the country's midterm elections, underscoring that system failure, not fraud, is the biggest issue facing future races, voting-rights activists and technologists said this week.
2006-11-09 - Tom Waton - Pull the plug on electronic voting?
Author: Tom Waton MP
Summary: A third of all Americans used electronic equipment to vote in the elections. Malfunctions or glitches were reported in at least five states. This is not the first time that serious doubts have been raised about electronic voting machines in the USA - so much so that a campaign has been launched to go back to the old style pen and paper for the 2008 presidential elections. I hope the electoral commission people are not thinking of going down the same route in the UK
2006-11-08 - BBC - Can the US trust its voting machines?
Author: Laura Smith-Spark
Summary: Critics claim electronic voting machines are vulnerable to hacking. Millions of people will expect to hear the US mid-term results within hours of the close of polling. But as problems are reported with new voting technology, could their wait be prolonged?
2006-11-08 - Computer World - An open letter to Diebold president and CEO Thomas Swidarski
Author: Robert L. Mitchell
Summary: E-voting is not like banking, where problems are often hidden and taken care of by working with institutional customers behind the scenes. The only way to regain your credibility is to open up. These steps will help Diebold - and other e-voting system vendors - get back on track.
2006-11-07 - CIO Insight - E-Voting Glitches Abound: Five States with the Biggest Problems
Author: Debra D'Agostino
Summary: Reports of problems with electronic voting systems were widespread during yesterday's midterm election. Here's a look at the nation's biggest foul-ups.
2006-11-07 - EFF - Electronic Voting Machine Headaches Shut Out Citizens
Summary: Delays Mean Long Lines for Voters in Florida, Utah, and Other States. San Francisco - Problems with electronic voting machine failures kept some polls from opening, created long lines, and left many voters puzzled about whether their votes were counted in Tuesday's high stakes election.
2006-11-07 - Boing Boing - Electronic voting irregularities reported. How much impact?
Summary: Much information pouring out on the topic from many sources, in many precincts. I'll try to update this post as much as possible with pointers our readers send in.
2006-11-07 - CNN - Polling places turn to paper ballots after glitches
Summary: Programming errors and inexperience dealing with electronic voting machines frustrated poll workers in hundreds of precincts early Tuesday, delaying voters in Indiana, Ohio and Florida and leaving some with little choice but to use paper ballots instead.
2006-11-07 - ars technica - Chicago e-voting problems
Author: Jon "Hannibal" Stokes
Summary: I just got back from my local precinct, which offers both optical scan ballots and touchscreen options. I asked to use the one available touchscreen (a Sequoia Edge2), but apparently it has been frozen all morning. There's a card stuck in the machine, and no one can get it out.
2006-11-07 - CNET News - E-voting glitches disrupt election day
Author: Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache
Summary: Reports of glitches in electronic voting machines on Tuesday marred a closely watched election that could shift the balance of power in the U.S. Congress. From Colorado to Florida, glitches blamed on human error or computer malfunctions yielded long lines and led some precincts to resort temporarily to paper ballots.
2006-11-06 - Computer World - E-voting problems mount; poll closings delayed in some places
Summary: E-voting glitches in states across the U.S. slowed voting in the midterm elections today, and in numerous places, judges were asked to keep polls open later than normal to give people extra time to cast their ballots. One e-voting critic working with the non-profit group Common Cause said the biggest complaint coming in from voters on a national hot line was of "vote-flipping." He called the breadth of that problem a "national disgrace."
2006-11-06 - ars technica - Pre-election e-voting news round-up
Author: Jon Stokes
Summary: What follows is a short round-up of a few titbits of last-minute e-voting news.
2006-11-03 - MSNBC - E-Voting grows, concerns remain
Author: Bob Sullivan
Summary: Thompson was sitting outside the California Secretary of State’s Office, ready to demonstrate that electronic voting machines could be fooled into miscounting ballots, but there was a glitch. A “60 Minutes” camera crew was on site and eager to film the demonstration, but state officials baulked at the melodrama and refused to allow the crew in. The meeting was almost cancelled.
2006-11-02 - Huffington Post - The Two Faces of Diebold
Author: Rebecca Abrahams
Summary: Stunning document surfaces to show that America's #1 voting machine manufacturer hides security and operation flaws from the state of Maryland and the Country.
2006-11-02 - The Register - Diebold slams HBO Hacking Democracy documentary
Author: Gavin Clarke
Summary: A campaign by Diebold to torpedo a TV documentary investigating its controversial e-voting machines looks set to backfire. ... According to reports, the Diebold duo have not seen Hacking Democracy
2006-11-01 - Bloomberg News - Diebold demands that HBO cancel documentary on voting machines
Author: Michael Janofsky
Summary: Film saying they can be manipulated 'inaccurate'. Diebold Inc. insisted that cable network HBO cancel a documentary that questions the integrity of its voting machines, calling the program inaccurate and unfair. The program, "Hacking Democracy," is scheduled to debut Thursday, , five days before the 2006 U.S. midterm elections. The film claims that Diebold voting machines aren't tamper-proof and can be manipulated to change voting results.
2006-11-01 - cbs5 - California E-Voting Machine Allows Multiple Votes
Author: Allen Martin
Summary: Voting machines sold to 21 different counties in California could allow people to vote more than once, state election officials warn in a notice to counties. They are not going to fix the problem instead election officials have been told to keep a close eye the systems as a yellow button on the back of each machine can be pushed and potentially allow someone to vote more than once.
2006-11-01 - ars technica - Primary and early e-voting problems point to gathering storm
Author: Jon Stokes
Summary: two major new reports from independent research groups detail the myriad security breaches, and procedural and technical problems in the 2006 Ohio primaries; stories from early voting in Texas indicate that the paperless DREs in at least two counties may have a partisan bias; another major new report from the University of Connecticut details a whole raft of security vulnerabilities in Diebold's optical scan voting machines; finally, BlackBoxVoting.org has released "push this, pull here" instructions for multiple voting on a Sequoia DRE, no hacking skills necessary.
2006-11-01 - Computer World - E-voting state by state: What you need to know
Author: Angela Gunn
Summary: Two years after the controversy-plagued 2004 elections, four years after HAVA (the Help America Vote Act) was passed, and six years after the Supreme Court and America romanced the hanging chad, experts are bracing for yet another wave of challenges to regional vote-counting systems.
2006-11-?? - ACM Queue - A Conversation with Douglas W. Jones and Peter G. Neumann - Does technology help or hinder election integrity?
Summary: Two of the most prominent and experienced academic voices on voting technology discuss the issues for ACM Queue.
2006-10-31 - The Register - Florida ballot terminals favor Republicans
Author: Thomas C Greene
Summary: Florida voters using electronic ballot machines are having persistent problems choosing Democrats in early elections, the Miami Herald reports.
2006-10-31 - The Register - 1,200 Dutch e-voting machines vulnerable to hacking
Author: Jan Libbenga
Summary: Dutch intelligence service AIVD has ruled 1,200 e-voting computers inadequate for next month's national elections after testing showed the machines could be be easily intercepted from 20 to 30 metres away.
2006-10-30 - International Herald Tribune - Dutch government scraps plans to use voting computers in 35 cities including Amsterdam
Summary: Voters in Amsterdam and 34 other Dutch cities may be using paper and pencil instead of computerized voting machines in national elections next month. The government on Monday banned the use of one common type of computer voting machine, fearing that secret ballots may not be kept secret. It ordered a review of all electronic machines after the Nov. 22 election.
2006-10-24 - Slashdot - Quebec Bans Electronic Voting
Summary: "The Chief Electoral Officer of Québec tabled an evaluation report that makes a troubling diagnosis of the problems that occurred during the municipal elections of November 6, 2005, in some of the 162 Québec municipalities that used electronic voting. He says: "Not only did the systems fail, but the corrective measure proposed were insufficient, poorly adapted and often came too late." There was a moratorium on electronic voting prior to the November 6 election, it will be extented for future elections."
2006-10-25 - ars technica - One bad apple
Author: Jon "Hannibal" Stokes
Summary: What if I told you that it would take only one person—one highly motivated, but only moderately skilled bad apple, with either authorized or unauthorized access to the right company's internal computer network—to steal a statewide election?
2006-10-25 - ars technica - How to steal an election by hacking the vote
Author: Jon "Hannibal" Stokes
Summary: When it comes to reporting on electronic voting, it is very difficult to find a good way to convey to the non-technical public how well and truly messed up the current system is. So now it's time to hit the panic button: in this article, we're going to show you how to steal an election.
2006-10-25 - Slashdot - Quebec Bans Electronic Voting
Summary: The Chief Electoral Officer of Québec tabled an evaluation report that makes a troubling diagnosis of the problems that occurred during the municipal elections of November 6, 2005, in some of the 162 Québec municipalities that used electronic voting. He says: "Not only did the systems fail, but the corrective measure proposed were insufficient, poorly adapted and often came too late." There was a moratorium on electronic voting prior to the November 6 election, it will be extended for future elections.
2006-10-24 - The Register - Irish e-voting emerges from the crypt
Author: Thomas C Greene
Summary: After spending €52m on a computerised voting scheme that doesn't work reliably, and warehousing the kit at a cost of about €800,000 per year, the Irish government would like to revive the technology so that the country's reputation doesn't suffer.
2006-10-23 - Toronto Star - Time To Cast A Vote Against E-Voting
Author: Michael Geist
Summary: A leading Canadian academic, Dr Michael Geist, argues against the introduction of e-voting in Ontario. Electronic voting machines are similarly prone to error. Last year the City of Montreal implemented an electronic voting system that was later characterized as a "debacle" with delays, equipment malfunctions, and erroneous results. The City acknowledged that some of the electronic voting machines were "lemons" - voting too quickly caused the machines to breakdown, while 45,000 ballots were counted twice (an error corrected before the results were announced).
2006-10-22 - Tuppenceworth.ie blog - Journalists: Here Is An Actual E-Voting Story
Author: Simon McGarr
Summary: Damien Blake, a FF County Councillor from Donegal appeared in today’s Sunday Times for stating the obvious- that the electronic voting system the government spent €52 million on buying and continues to spend €2000 euro a day storing should never be used. "I am unaware of any impartial, independent person who knows what they are talking about, who is willing to back using the system we have in any form for a future election.", he says. It’s good that his comments have been picked up and spread more widely.
2006-10-18 - Wired - Building a Better Voting Machine
Author: Kim Zetter
Summary: Wired News spoke with two of the top computer scientists in the field, UC Berkeley's David Wagner and Princeton's Ed Felten, and came up with a wish list of features we would include in a voting machine, if we were asked to create one. These recommendations can't guarantee clean results on their own. Voting machines, no matter how secure, are no remedy for poor election procedures and ill-conceived election laws. So our system would include thorough auditing and verification capabilities and require faithful adherence to good election practices, as wells as topnotch usability and security features.
2006-10-18 - The Register - More e-voting pilots proposed
Author: Mark Ballard
Summary: The Department of Constitutional Affairs is urging local authorities to pilot e-voting schemes in the May 2007 local elections. ... It did not address the serious security concerns of e-voting systems, covered extensively on this website.
2006-10-17 - eGov Monitor - Applications sought to pilot electoral innovations in 2007
Summary: Local authorities in England were today invited to run pilots testing out different voting methods at the May 2007 local elections. The different methods of voting include:remote electronic voting (internet and telephone), e-voting kiosks in supervised locations, including processes which support electors voting from any polling station, electronic counting of votes, advance (early) voting.
2006-10-17 - Silicon.com - E-voting pilots on the way
Author: Andy McCue
Summary: The government is to trial electronic and internet voting at the local authority elections in England next May. The Department for Constitutional Affairs is looking for local authorities to run pilots testing different voting methods at the elections, including internet and telephone voting, e-voting kiosks and electronic counting of votes.
2006-10-16 - COMPUTERWORLD - New Military Voting Process Lacks Security
Author: Marc Songini
Summary: An electronic system set up last month by the U.S. Department of Defense to help overseas soldiers and other military personnel and contractors cast ballots in U.S. elections lacks security safeguards. Votes are submitted by unencrypted e-mail or fax machine.
2006-10-14 - Slashdot - Dutch Securing E-voting After Being Pwned
Summary: After the Dutch we-don't-trust-voting-computers foundation demonstrated glaring security holes in Dutch voting computers last week, the Dutch government has ordered (Dutch) all software to be replaced, all hardware to be checked, unflashable firmware to be installed, and an iron seal to be placed on voting machines. A certification institute will double-check all measures, and on election day will cull random machines to check them for accuracy. The Dutch intelligence service AIVD has been approached to consult on the radio emissions issue. Furthermore, foreign observers will monitor the upcoming elections on November 22nd. But the action group is still not confident (Dutch) that all problems are solved.
2006-10-10 - ZDNet - Voting electronically? Be very afraid!
Author: Phil Windley
Summary: This November's election marks the first widespread use of electronic voting in the US. There is considerable concern among computer security professionals and others that electronic voting is not secure and evidence keeps mounting that the current crop of machines are not secure as they could be.
2006-10-09 - The Inquirer - European voting machines flawed, easily manipulated
Summary: A paper published on a Web site named, "Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet" (translation: We don't trust voting machines) details a bunch of flaws researchers claim to uncovered in machines used in Holland Germany and France. Researchers spent a month looking into the way the machines work and concluded: "Anyone, when given brief access to the devices at any time before the election, can gain complete and virtually undetectable control over the election results."
2006-10-08 - The Sunday Times - Hackers show up flaws in e-voting
Author: Mark Tighe
Summary: Dutch hackers who last week breached the security of electronic-voting machines say they can detect which way a person has voted from 25 metres away.Using a receiver the hackers say they can pick up “accidental” radio transmissions from the machines that provide a unique fingerprint for each candidate.
2006-10-06 - ars technica - Don't touch the Diebold touchscreen machines
Author: Ryan Paul
Summary: Last month, we reported on yet another election botched by defective Diebold voting machines. Maryland primaries were plagued by machine crashes and human error, leading Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to insist that the state shelve the $100 million voting machines and return to paper ballots until the problems could be resolved. The state Board of Elections administrator vowed to "work around the clock" and put pressure on Diebold to ensure that the machines worked for the upcoming election. During a mock election yesterday intended to test Diebold's latest fixes, the problems continued but with much less severity.
2006-10-05 - Rolling Stone - Will The Next Election Be Hacked?
Author: Robert F Kennedy Jr
Summary: A comprehensively damning view of e-voting problems in the U.S. Also worth reading at the end are the letter from Diebold and Kennedy Jr's response.
2006-10-05 - The Register - Play chess on your nearest e-voting machine
Summary: IT professionals in the Netherlands have demonstrated that the type of e-voting machines chosen by the Irish government for election counts can be secretly hacked.
2006-10-01 - abc News - Who's Counting: Hacking Diebold Voting Machines
Author: John Allen Paulos
Summary: Elections and electronic voting machines invite consideration of the following thought experiment. You go to your local voting station, walk into the booth, pull the curtain, and see a well-dressed man standing inside with a little note pad. He asks whom you're voting for, appears to record what you say in his note pad, tells you he'll add your vote to his running total, thanks you, and asks you to send the next voter into the booth.
2006-09-24 - The New York Times - Officials Wary of Electronic Voting Machines
Author: Ian Urbina
Summary: A growing number of state and local officials are getting cold feet about electronic voting technology, and many are making last-minute efforts to limit or reverse the rollout of new machines in the November elections.
2006-09-24 - The New York Time - The Big Gamble on Electronic Voting
Author: Randall Stross
Summary: One brand of machine leads in market share by a sizable margin: the AccuVote, made by Diebold Election Systems. Two weeks ago, however, Diebold suffered one of the worst kinds of public embarrassment for a company that began in 1859 by making safes and vaults. ... noticed that the key to the machine’s memory card slot ... the key turned out to be a standard industrial part used in simple locks for office furniture, computer cases, jukeboxes — and hotel minibars.
2006-09-22 - ars technica - Maryland governor calls for paper ballots
Author: Ryan Paul
Summary: In the aftermath of a problem-filled primary election caused by defective Diebold voting machines in Maryland, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. insists that the state should return to paper ballots in order to ensure that the upcoming November election is valid and unhindered by technological failures. After spending over $100 million on the dysfunctional voting machines, livid state officials are voicing strong resistance to a potential change in plans.
2006-09-18 - Boing Boing - Diebold voting machines opened with hotel minibar key
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: The key that controls access to a standard Diebold voting machine is a common key that can be ordered from the Internet, also used to open hotel minibars.
2006-09-13 - ars technica - Researchers find (more) severe flaws in Diebold voting machines
Author: Ryan Paul
Summary: A group of Princeton computer scientists has published a study that examines flaws and vulnerabilities in Diebold's AccuVote-TS voting machines. Complete with a video that demonstrates the ease with which the electronic voting machine can be compromised ...
2006-09-13 - BoingBoing - Princeton researchers show how to steal an election with Diebold machines
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: Princeton security researchers Ariel J. Feldman, J. Alex Halderman, and Edward W. Felten have taken apart one of Diebold's notorious voting machines and done a thorough security analysis of its workings. They showed that they could easily install software on the machine that would allow an attacker to steal votes from one candidate and give them to another -- they showed that this would be undetectable, and easily done. They've published a paper and an amazing, disturbing video showing how this could be done.
2006-09-06 - Slashdot - Hardware Hacking a Voting Machine in 4 Minutes
Summary: Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org has acquired an actual Diebold Acu-vote ballot scanner. Rummaging through King County's trash, she managed to get her hands on some of their tags and seals. She has since demonstrated a successful penetration of the seals without breaking them ... all in under 4 minutes with no training or technical skills required. There's a nice how-to with photos over at Verified Voting New Mexico.
2006-08-01 - The Register - Diebold voting machine hack exposed
Author: John Leyden
Summary: Much has been written (in these pages and elsewhere) about the shortcomings of Diebold's electronic voting technology, but researchers at the Open Voting Foundation have come up with what they argue is the most serious flaw in electronic voting technology yet documented.
2006-06-29 - ars technica - New e-voting study shows it's really easy to steal an election
Author: Jon Hannibal Stokes
Summary: The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU's law school released the most comprehensive study to date on the state of electronic voting. The extensive report is a painful read for anyone concerned about the future of democracy, because it shows just how brain-dead easy it is to rig an election with three popular electronic voting systems: direct recording electronic (DRE), DRE with voter verified paper trail, and precinct count optical scan.
2006-07-02 - The Sunday Times - €52m voting system fails to pass test
Author: Richard Oakley
Summary: The Irish government will come under increased pressure over the controversial €52m electronic voting system with the publication this week of an investigation into its accuracy and secrecy. It is understood that an independent commission will say the system cannot be used in its current form, and will outline a number of necessary changes. This will mean further tests and delays, while the e-voting bill rises by almost €1m a year.
2006-05-12 - SecurityFocus - Diebold voting systems critically flawed
Author: Michael Shamos
Summary: The call --from election watchdog BlackBoxVoting.org-- described a critical vulnerability in Diebold Election Systems' touchscreen voting systems that could allow any person with access to a voting terminal the ability to completely change the system code or ballot file on the system. As a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and adviser to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on electronic voting, Shamos realized that, at the very least, a workaround for the flaw needed to be in place by Pennsylvania's next election--at the time, less than three weeks away.
2006-05-10 - EDRI-gram - Alarming results from Italian experimental e-voting
Author: Andrea Glorioso
Summary: Italian e-voting trial casts an alarming shadow over the reliability of the system used and of the "human element" involved.
2006-04-16 - The Sunday Times - Ireland - ‘Paper trail’ wanted for vote
Author: Richard Oakley
Summary: THE government will face increased pressure to fit printers to its electronic voting machines when a commission set up to investigate the system publishes its findings. The independent Commission on Electronic Voting (CEV) is expected to highlight the use of printers as a means of increasing public trust in electronic voting, when it reports in a few months. The €51m system is in storage pending the outcome of tests
2006-02-15 - ZDNet - Government 'has no timetable' for e-voting
Author: Andy McCue
Summary: The government will not use electronic voting technology in local elections this year because of concerns about security.
2006-01-16 - Speech to the Hansard Society - A new deal for democracy
Author: Harriet Harman MP Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs
Summary: The Government has conducted considerable research into remote electronic voting. This research is primarily conducted through pilots under S. 10 of the Representation of the People Act 2000. There have been 27 e-voting pilots in 2002 and 2003 and these were all evaluated by The Electoral Commission who reported on each of the pilots as well as publishing a strategic evaluation. As part of the work being done on electoral modernisation there is ongoing consideration of e-voting technologies used worldwide and their performance in pilots and elections.

2005

2005-12-17 - The Free Press - Diebold hack proven in county test!
Author: Glenn Yeagley
Summary: Due to contractual non-performance and security design issues, Leon County (Florida) supervisor of elections Ion Sancho told Black Box Voting that he will never again use Diebold in an election. He has requested funds to replace the Diebold system from the county. He will issue a formal announcement to this effect shortly.
2005-02-02 - The Guardian - Political machinations
Author: Michael Meacher MP (Labour)
Summary: The government is keen to deploy e-voting despite evidence of ballot rigging.

2004

2004-12-08 - openDemocracy - True democracy needs a voting trail
Author: Margaret McGaley
Summary: Margaret McGaley led a successful campaign – Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Voting – to persuade Ireland that it is people, not computers, who vote. She explains how e–communication won the day for verified votes
2004-10-31 - The Sunday Times - Ireland - Independent group to test electronic voting
Author: Richard Oakley
Summary: The Irish government has reached a deal with the company behind the controversial electronic voting system in order to test its accuracy for the first time. More than six months after the Commission on Electronic Voting refused to sanction the use of electronic machines in the local and European elections, it is only now getting the information it needs to test the system.
2004-05-11 - The Register - UK gov planning switch to e-voting for 2007?
Author: John Lettice
Summary: Despite a fairly wide-ranging 'not ready for prime-time' verdict on electronic voting pilots last year, the UK Government looks set to press ahead with plans for its general introduction in elections from 2007 on.
2004-03-29 - Wired - How E-Voting Threatens Democracy
Author: Kim Zetter
Summary: In January 2003, voting activist Bev Harris was holed up in the basement of her three-story house in Renton, Washington, searching the Internet for an electronic voting machine manual, when she made a startling discovery.

2003

2003-08-04 - eGov monitor - Does the UK need E-Voting?
Author: Richard Allan MP
Summary: There is no doubt that remote electronic voting offers a convenience that would be appreciated by many people. I am pleased that the report of the Electoral Commission makes it clear that we should not link e-voting to turnout. There has been too much hype around e-voting in the past as somehow of itself turning people on to politics as usual. But we do need to weigh up the benefits of this added convenience against the costs of the new systems and the potential risks they pose to confidence in the election results. The pilots to date have been very expensive and not always well managed. Worse still, there is no evidence yet that open audit trails have been implemented that would allow all the participants in an electronic election to verify the results. Until this has been done then we face the risk of the worst possible outcome for an election, a contested result where the election system itself cannot be publicly shown to be sound.