Immediately below you’ll find various responses you can expect to hear from your Secretary of State, election officials, the media, etc, followed by the facts with which to answer these disingenuous government/corporate “talking points.” (supplied by BlackBox Voting and edited.)
THE TRUTH: In some states the public is not allowed to examine the paper trail. Some machines produce a paper trail that is on very flimsy paper and is very difficult to read. Furthermore, the computer can print out whatever you might want to see and still do something completely different inside the machine. It is extremely rare that the paper trails are looked at by anyone.
TALKING POINT: In some states, after each election, some random “audits” are done, where the electronic votes are compared to paper ballots or to the paper trail for one or more races, to verify that they match.
THE TRUTH: This is not an audit, it is a spot check, and it is often controlled by the same people who program the system and control Chain of Custody for absentee ballots. These “audits” are usually done a few days after the election and the Chain of Custody has been broken. How does the public know there has been no ballot switching?
TALKING POINT: Our state has very good recount laws to ensure the accuracy of a count in close elections.
a) A recount is only performed after the ballots have been removed from public sight and the Chain of Custody has been broken. No "after the fact" recount can authenticate the original count.
b) In some states recounts are not allowed unless a candidate had “lost” by a very small percentage point.
c) In some states, a “recount” means just running the ballots through the same electronic equipment/computer again.
TALKING POINT: Our elections are run by county auditors using certified voting systems.
THE TRUTH: What this is saying is "Trust us. We will verify the election for you."
That is not the same as allowing the public to see the essential accounting itself. The right to authenticate our own elections is an inalienable right, derived from the right to self government.
According to the US Constitution, our representatives are to be chosen by the people. The People cannot transfer this right to the government. Any election run by the government must also ensure that the public can see and authenticate all essential steps.
The government cannot be in control of choosing itself.
TALKING POINT: The voting systems have been tested by independent test laboratories and when installed, cannot be changed.
b) These labs test only what the vendor tells them to test. They have also been caught omitting key tests.
c) Saying "the installations cannot be changed" does not mean "the votes cannot be altered."
d) Votes and vote totals can be altered whether or not electronic vote counting software is an approved version.
TALKING POINT: The machines are certified at the national level, tested and certified by our state and tested by the county.
Imagine this: You work as a teller at a bank. They decide to remove the video camera that shows you counting the cash. Instead, they give you a pretest to "detect whether you might tamper at some point in the future." Pretests can help detect incompetence in the election setup, but there is no pretest anywhere that can predict alteration of the count at a later date and time.
There IS a way to detect vote tampering, and it is transparency. The public must be allowed to check whether actual voted ballots match electronically reported counts.
TALKING POINT: After testing, the machines are then locked and sealed until put into use.
THE TRUTH: Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. We always hear this statement and we also regularly see that some machines weren't sealed; that they were accessed by technicians or elections insiders mid-election; or that crucial transactions are missing from or added to the vote-counting computer's audit logs.
Even if machines were sealed, since computers can only do what they are instructed to do by their administrator, locking and sealing has no bearing on inside access or actual manipulation of the count.
Historically, tampering by insiders is the most common form of election fraud.
TALKING POINT: Each election there are random audits to compare the vote counts to the actual paper ballots to make sure they match.
b) A random spot check is not protective against alteration of the count by someone with inside access. At best, spot checks may detect accidental error, but they do not detect deliberate alteration. Those controlling the spot check also control ballot Chain of Custody.
c) By the time a spot check is done, Chain of Custody is broken. No after the fact audit or recount can substitute for public right to see the original count.
e) No partial count authenticates the whole pool. The public must be able to authenticate the count of the whole, not just a part of the count.
There are all kinds of games with after-the-fact "random" spot checks. The random is not truly random; the ballots were substituted, ditched, altered before the count; the race chosen for counting is hand-picked...
f) The public is not allowed to do the spot check. It is assigned to an entity chosen by the same people who run the election.
Basically, "We will do a random spot check" means "Go away, we will authenticate this for you. You cannot authenticate it yourself."
TALKING POINT: Most voters vote on paper ballots, so do not vote on the electronic machines
THE TRUTH: More than 98% of votes in the U.S. are counted electronically. Even if you mark your vote on a paper ballot, it is almost certain your ballot will be counted by an Optical Scan Machine that is a software-driven.
TALKING POINT: Many voters vote early or by absentee ballot and those counts are checked each day to verify the number of voters match the number of ballots received/submitted.
THE TRUTH: The public cannot "verify the number of voters matches the number of ballots" with absentee voting. With absentee or early voting, the public can never see who actually put the ballot into the system.
With absentee voting, the public can only see a report generated by the same insiders who control the voting system.
With absentee voting, the count can be altered by adding, subtracting, changing, or substituting ballots before the machine counts them; and also by alteration of the electronic counting process itself, because electronic counting is hidden from the public. So is the storing of the ballots that arrive prior to the election hidden from the public.
TALKING POINT: We are committed to running fair, accurate, transparent and auditable elections.
THE TRUTH: Even though most election officials and poll workers are honest and hard-working, no state is really committed to running transparent elections because almost all the vote counting is concealed and the entire premise is that only the government can validate the election of itself. Beyond even this, in the vast majority of cases even the government is in the dark as to how the votes are really being counted, with only the insiders (corporate vendors) who program and service the computers in the know.
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Out-Of-State Corporation Offered Wisconsin Election Clerks a Deal on Touchscreen Voting Machines That Make Election Results Impossible To Verify: EDA Alerts Clerks To Dangers
For full story please open Press Release in .pdf format below.
For Immediate Release June 12th 2008
John R. Brakey, AUDIT-AZ (520) 250-2360
Jim March, BlackBoxVoting.org, 916-370-0347
Additional Background Resources Linked Below
Brewing Up Election Trouble:
Activists Respond To AZ Sec. of State Brewer’s 11-Page Letter
On 6/6/08 Arizona Secretary of State (SOS) Jan Brewer wrote an 11-page letter outlining objections to the election integrity process in Pima County. The letter followed a June 4th vote by the Pima County Board of Supervisors not to appeal a court decision establishing that computerized election databases are public records that must be released to political parties according to state law after each election.
Beginning in 2004, Pima County citizen election integrity advocates working with and within the Pima County Democratic Party were able to cooperate with the county government to achieve significantly improved election transparency and security measures that make Pima County a model for fair elections in the state and nation. With the lawsuit over, that cooperation is now picking back up.
Brewer is intent on blocking this progress. Her press release and letter reprimanding county officials (see links at the end of this document) make clear her objections to any current and future security measures. The letter is filled with misstatements and inaccuracies that echo talking points by voting machine vendors.
Brewer maintains that most of the increased election security procedures created by Pima County in cooperation are superfluous, since the state’s “statutory and procedural security, educational and
accountability requirements” assure fair and honest elections.
Her assertions don’t stand up to scrutiny.
Brewer maintains that voting equipment is vigorously tested and certified at the federal and state levels. The state’s testing and certification process amounts to little more than an ineffective “kicking the tires” of the voting equipment. The state does no “red team” type security analysis, in which qualified security professionals take a complete voting system and, acting as both voters and elections staff in separate scenarios, attempt to subvert a test election.
When “red team” testing was performed in California, every voting system failed miserably.
Brewer objects to the disabling of modems that could allow outside tampering to anyone who knows the phone number.
Brewer maintains that touch screen voting machines help disabled voters. Diebold and other providers of touch screen machines have long used the ploy of helping disabled voters to get their machines into polling places, while providing seriously substandard access. Brewer’s view of “accessibility” involves twisting disabled grandmothers into pretzels as shown.
Brewer adamantly opposes the county’s proposal to graphically scan ballots and upload them to the Internet. Brewer vastly exaggerates the cost of this “security patch” which would cost under $150,000 in Pima County. This security measure was recommended by election integrity advocates working with the Pima Democrats as a check on Diebold products, declared “fatally flawed” along with every other Brewer-approved system in open court by Pima County’s own experts. Brewer has no trouble with spending $3 million to $6 million to replace the Diebold equipment with another vendor’s garbage, making her objections based on cost ring hollow.
The Need for Election Transparency
The concerns above and many more raised by Secretary of State Jan Brewer’s letter are discussed in greater detail in our full-length report, "Brewing Trouble," linked below, but the point is clear. Brewer’s thinking does not include the concept of election transparency, where every phase of the election is open to the legally proscribed oversight by Arizona’s political parties. She apparently believes the voters should trust the state and counties to conduct fair elections. The Pima County Democratic and Libertarian Parties and Pima County’s officials are working together to create a transparent secure system – those are not opposites, they are hand-in-hand partners to a truly Democratic process.
The continuing efforts by Secretary of State Jan Brewer to impede our progress and to keep the process of counting votes a hidden and mysterious process makes us question her commitment to fair elections in Arizona.
Read Our Full-length, Point-by-point Rebuttal:
Secretary Brewer’s June 5 Press Release:
Secretary Brewer’s June 5 11-page letter to Pima County:
For Additional Context on the Pima County Election Security Lawsuit, see:
This press release circulated by Election Defense Alliance
Election Defense Alliance is a sponsored project of International Humanities Center