Electronic Voting - A Non-Partisan Issue
Others Say "Voter-Verifiable Paper Trail"
--- Warnings
--- Democracy at Stake
--- Report from UK
--- Work of Bev Harris
------ Get Book Free!
--- Bev Harris's Sites
Or -- "Voter-Verifiable Paper Trail"
--- Republican Sponsors
--- Legal Support
--- Bev H. Comments
------ Diebold Gives In!
------ Bev H.Comments
--- Diebold for Bush
--- Potential Problems

"A voter-verifiable paper trail is a ballot printout marked with the voter's choices that is made while the voter is present. The voter can check it for accuracy before casting the ballot. After it is cast, the voter-verifiable paper ballot becomes a permanent record of the ballot for recount purposes." 
For more information, see Teresa Hommel's Website--


Where's the Paper Trail for Each Ballot Cast?

.....A Web Site Dedicated to Verifiable Election Results.....

Voting machines are in the news because the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) offered large sums of money to the states to replace old lever-type and punched-card voting equipment with new machines. Many states are looking at computerized "DRE" (Direct Recording Electronic) voting machines.

DREs typically resemble ATMs, with touch-screen capability and a few buttons. Election officials say that voters "like" DREs, but many voters don't trust them.

There's a security problem with DREs. Computer scientists warned Congress before HAVA passed that DRE computer technology was NOT secure enough to be used in voting machines--unless the machine created a voter-verifiable paper trail (also called a voter-verifiable audit trail).

A voter-verifiable paper trail is a ballot printout marked with the voter's choices that is made while the voter is present. The voter can check it for accuracy before casting the ballot. After it is cast, the voter-verifiable paper ballot becomes a permanent record of the ballot for recount purposes.

Even gas pumps print paper receipts! Yet, most DREs on the market today do not provide a voter-verifiable paper trail--and without it, election recounts are prevented and no one can confirm that the voting machine is functioning correctly.

Major manufacturers of DREs say that their machines can create POST-ELECTION printouts for security: a log report of the day's events, also called an audit trail, and printouts of complete marked ballots from computer memory.

But something that's printed after the election is over can't provide security, because the voter is no longer present to confirm that the printout is correct. Unless the voting machine programmers are completely incompetent, all POST-ELECTION printouts will agree with the machine's final vote counts--whether those counts are correct or wrong.


The blue display below is called the Fraudulent Voting Machine.
[Editor's Note: The blue display did not get reproduced on our site.  To try it out, go to the original site-- http://www.wheresthepaper.org/ ]
It is a teaching demonstration that shows why POST-ELECTION printouts from a computerized voting machine do not create election security. After each fraudulent election, three post-election audit trails will be displayed--one correct and two falsified. All three look equally authentic. The purpose of this demonstration is to show that unless each voter has the chance to verify a permanent, unalterable, physical record of his or her ballot choices, when the election is over there is NO way to know whether computerized voting machine results are accurate or wrong.

The Fraudulent Voting Machine will run an election with two candidates, John Doe and Mary Smith. A "machine test" will give you honest vote counts, but if you select a "real election" and enter any votes, Mary Smith will WIN and John Doe will LOSE.

To see how computers can control election results, select a REAL ELECTION. Then enter more votes for John Doe, or give both candidates the same number of votes.


To contact us, send email to admin@wheresthepaper.org

Web site created by Teresa Hommel, last updated 11/26/03

New York Women's Bar Association, September 2003

Testimony On New Voting Machines


On July 10, 2003 NYWBA member Teresa Hommel testified before the NYS Task Force on the Implementation of the Help America Vote Act. Her helpful article on HAVA appears on page 4. 

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. My expertise is in computers, and my comments deal with issues concerning the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines.

The need for a voter-verifiable paper trail. 

All computers are inherently subject to programming errors, equipment malfunction, and malicious tampering. Computer professionals know this, but we aren't the only ones.

Casual users of computers also know that computers don't work right all the time. Ask yourself, how often does your PC crash? or lock? or lose a document? 

The same kinds of problems have already occurred with DRE voting machines in various states around our country. We would be prudent to be forewarned by those experiences, and not duplicate them. That is why we need a voter-verifiable paper trail of each ballot cast. Without it, there is no way to count the votes when the computer malfunctions.

Banks give paper receipts, cash registers do, ATM machines do, even gas pumps give paper receipts. There are computer kiosks at train stations to sell tickets on paper, and at airports to print boarding passes. Printing receipts is not a big deal. But without those voter-verifiable pieces of paper from DRE voting machines, when election results are challenged, a recount is not possible.  

Democracy can't survive if we let an anonymous bunch of people count our votes in secret behind closed doors. A computer is the same as that bunch of people. American citizens should not be forced to accept the results of a computer in running our democracy.

To bring home what I am talking about, I have turned my laptop into a little voting machine. The software works two ways, either to "test the machine," or to run a "real election." When you test the machine, you will get an accurate count. But when you run a "real election," if any votes are cast, Mary Smith will always win over John Doe. [This software is now on the internet at www.wheresthepaper.org --Ed.]

In this demonstration, you can see what is going on. But if the individual votes were being cast in private, in voting booths, how would anyone know that the total counts and the authentic looking, post-election audit trail were corrupt? 

They wouldn't.

The need for computerized voting machines to go through at least the same security procedures and testing that computer systems go through before they are put into production in business and industry.

Purchasing new computer equipment is a "buyer-beware" situation. That is why in business, companies do exhaustive testing of computer systems before they "go live" in production. The old system and the new one run in parallel for at least one complete accounting cycle, so the results of the old system and the new one can be compared. Businesses that rely on computers know that if they get the wrong results, they could go out of business.

But around our great country, we see voting and elections treated with shocking disrespect. When corruption of the results occurs, the public is supposed to accept the results anyway. This is wrong. 

If we're going to get DRE voting machines, these machines should be subject to the same security testing as computers that are used in business and industry. Security means not only that there are no hackers in the system, but also that the results of normal operation are correct. We should not rely on new systems until they are shown to work, and they consistently provide a voter-verifiable paper trail by which their accurate operation can be continuously spot-checked and verified--even when there is no challenge to election results. My bank sends me a statement every month, even when I don't challenge their accounting.

The need for adequate remedies when computerized voting machines do not work properly, and election results are corrupted. 

I hope that we can learn from the experience of other states where DRE voting machines have malfunctioned, and where election results were challenged but there was no paper trail to verify the results. I hope that we don't have to duplicate those experiences.

As an American citizen, I am outraged to see our democracy and elections being treated like worthless formalities. 

I suggest that New York State require companies that sell equipment to us to post bonds, and if elections are corrupted due to malfunction of equipment, these companies should pay the cost of holding a new election.

Either the machines work and provide the voter-verifiable paper trail to prove it, or we shouldn't use them, and the company that gets our money has to take responsibility. 

The need for accessibility of voting machines.

The disabled community has been working for years to get accessible voting machines so that they can vote in private, without the need for assistance, so they can have the secret ballot that every eligible voter is supposed to have.

With the amount of money that the Help America Vote Act has allocated, we should be able to afford voting machines that are accessible as well as secure, machines that provide BOTH accessibility and a voter-verifiable physical record of each vote.

 There shouldn't be any financial or technological excuse for saying it can't be done.

 Thank you.


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