Public Hearing

New York Certifies Electronic Voting Machines


NYS Certifies Non-Compliant Voting Machines

Commentary by Howard Stanislevic  
Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Editor's Note:
The NYS Board Of Elections certified both the Dominion ImageCast and the ES&S Electronic voting systems at 1:10 p.m. today (Dec. 15th, 2009),  noting in the process that the machines were still "non-compliant."  The state passed an additional resolution requiring the operations department to work with the two vendors to bring the machines into full compliance.

NY Board of Elections Says Ballot Scanners Switched Votes in 2009 General Election

by Howard Stanislevic

The Help America Vote Act does not require computerized vote counting. But earlier this year in U. S. District Court, the New York State Board of Elections (SBoE) and the U. S. Department of Justice agreed that the Board would certify a new optical scan computerized voting system by December 15, 2009. As that date approaches, the Board is displaying a dismissive attitude toward the risks and problems encountered with the systems they say they will certify.

At a November 12th State Senate Elections Committee hearing in New York City, SBoE Co-Chair Douglas Kellner testified about what he called "glitches" in the programming in one of the new systems that went undetected by Erie County election officials in the 2009 general election. Only after officials noticed some anomalous election results, did they realize their system's configuration files had been compromised.

If future election results are not so anomalous, there is a strong chance such errors will not be detected at all.


At the hearing, Commissioner Kellner confirmed our worst fears about e-vote counting (see his testimony below). Kellner stated that in Erie County, during the process of entering ballot programming data, vote switching between candidates had been programmed into the computer (Election Management System or EMS) that, in turn, programed the county's optical scanners. The scanners then proceeded to switch the votes at the polls as the ballots were cast on election day. This real-time vote switching was undetectable by voters, poll workers or other election officials.

Kellner said in this case the vote switching was detected later because the election results appeared to be implausible. The scanners supposedly failed their pre-election Logic and Accuracy test due to the vote-switching problem. That's good, but county election officials ignored the results of their own tests and held the election using the vote-switching configuration anyway

Commissioner Kellner also stated that this county, which uses ES&S systems, was among the best in the 2009 "pilot" elections (held with real voters and candidates). We don't doubt his word that the errors were eventually corrected. But if Erie was one of the best counties, we'd hate to see one of the worst counties that participated in this experiment.

Different Vendors, Same Design

Different vendors employ the same architecture of centralized EMS programming and configuration. Both of New York's new voting systems (including accessible ballot marking devices) are programmed this way for each election. There are no "stand-alone" voting devices in New York, except the lever voting machines. It is disingenuous to claim otherwise.

Even if the Logic and Accuracy testing had been done properly and had not been ignored, there is no guarantee that vote switching would have been detected. Computer scientists have proved that such tests can be rigged to perform correctly at any time, while the machines can be rigged to switch votes during the election without detection. Under such conditions, subtle manipulations of vote counts, whether intentional or not, would not be detected.

Major Changes Proposed for Hawaii Election Code

Source: Honolulu 

Citizen lawsuit challenging Internet voting prompted code review 

Hawaii Proposes Major Revision of Election Rules

By Craig Gima, Star-Bulletin, Dec 10, 2009

The state Office of Elections hopes to complete as early as next month the first major revision since 2000 of the rules
Proposed Rule Changes

Public Hearing 12.10.09
10 a.m.
Keoni Ana Building Videoconference Center,
Room 302
1177 Alakea St.

People can also testify at video conference centers on the neighbor islands in:

» Hilo at the Hilo State Office Building;

» Kona at the Hawaii County Council Kona Office;

» Wailuku at the Wailuku Judiciary Building and;

» Lihue at the Lihue State Office Building

Written testimony can be e-mailed to: elections[at]hawaii[dot]gov

or faxed to (808) 453-6006.

Written testimony will be accepted for the next two days.


Detailed Comparison of Existing Rules to Proposed Changes

Notice of public hearing
[ Download PDF

Proposed rules to be adopted
[ Download PDF

Comparison of election rules
[ Download PDF
governing how elections are held in Hawaii.

The proposed rules cover new voting systems and electronic voting, mail-in elections, absentee voting and even the process to make election rules.

The rule changes were prompted in part by a Maui lawsuit challenging the use of electronic voting machines and the sending of election results through the Internet or telephone lines.

Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza decided that the state needs to hold a public hearing to come up with administrative rules governing electronic voting before new voting machines can be used in next year's elections.

As a result, the Office of Elections suspended the selection of a company to supply voting machines for the 2010 elections.

Chief Election Officer Kevin Cronin, who is resigning at the end of the month, hopes the rules can be finalized in January or February, which would allow the state to sign a contract for the new machines this spring.

A public hearing on the rules is scheduled for today.

Any major changes to the proposed rules could require another public hearing and may push the voting machine contract into the summer, leaving only a few months or weeks for voters and election officials to become familiar with the system before the Sept. 18 primary.

A status conference is scheduled for tomorrow on Maui, said Lance Collins, the attorney who filed the lawsuit.

Collins said he's not sure that the proposed rules "completely address all the concerns" in the lawsuit and said the issue of electronic voting and proper funding to make sure next year's elections go smoothly may need to be taken up by the Legislature.

"This (upcoming election) is a slow-moving train wreck and we're still far enough away that we can get everything off the track," Collins said.

Cronin said today's hearing will "allow the public and anyone interested to help make the administrative rules better for everybody." He said the rules need updating, adding that some of them date back to the time when the lieutenant governor ran elections.

Bob Babson, the lead plaintiff in the Maui lawsuit, said he is opposed to sending any election results via the Internet or telephone lines.

"It's not secure," Babson said. "They could easily just put it on a jet and fly it over."

A new section on holding elections by mail is based on Honolulu's experience with two recent special elections held by mail to find replacements for Duke Bainum and Barbara Marshall on the City Council, said Glen Takahashi, the city's election administrator.

Takahashi said he's mostly in support of the rule changes. But some county election officials were hoping to see more specific language about transmitting information and have concerns about a rule waiving the requirement for an absentee voter application in special cases.
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