December 30, 2003

Democrats air concern on vote fraud

2+2=4

Orlando Sun-Sentinel: "I'm not a paranoid person," Wexler said. "I don't operate from a paranoid point of view." But, he said, the potential for problems is great. "Both a purposeful attack on the computer system or just a computer malfunction will put our whole democratic process in chaos," he said.
Thwart the Theft of a Second Presidential Election,
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http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/broward/sfl-cpvoting30dec30,0,4293530.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

Democrats air concern on vote fraud

By Anthony Man
Staff writer
Posted December 30 2003

Boca raton Critics warned Monday that computer error
or outright fraud easily could alter the outcome of
elections conducted on Palm Beach County's electronic
voting machines.

Vincent J. Lipsio, a software design engineer from
Gainesville, said he was not a "conspiracy theorist,"
but expressed concern about the voting equipment put
in use in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential
election

For example, he said, it would be easy for a beginning
computer science student to rig the devices so that 57
percent of all votes next fall go to President Bush --
regardless of who the voters actually select.

"There's a lot of history in American politics of
ballot box stuffing," he said. "A few deft keystrokes
and all the ballot boxes in a county get stuffed at
once."

Lipsio, who volunteers to work on voting issues for
the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers,
said there are so many potential problems with the
computer voting equipment "we will have no way of
knowing how the election really went."

U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, appeared with
Lipsio before 200 people at a Democratic event, the
Committee to Defeat Bush gathering at Florida Atlantic
University.

"I'm not a paranoid person," Wexler said. "I don't
operate from a paranoid point of view." But, he said,
the potential for problems is great. "Both a
purposeful attack on the computer system or just a
computer malfunction will put our whole democratic
process in chaos," he said.

County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore said
their analysis was deeply flawed.

"It's just a bunch of lies," she said.

LePore said it would be impossible to rig the
machines.

Someone would have to break into a secure warehouse
and tamper individually with 5,000 machines because
they aren't connected. They have no modems, so a
hacker could not meddle with them remotely.

LePore said there are extensive safeguards to ensure
the accuracy of votes cast on the electronic machines.
They are recorded in three places, and a diagnostic
test is performed after each voter uses the machine.

What's more, she added, there is so much testing of
the machines and software, starting before the state
certifies them through public tests before each
election, that any problems would be detected.

Wexler said a simple solution would eliminate doubt.

He wants all voting machines retrofitted so that a
paper printout spits out each time an electronic vote
is cast. That would allow voters to check the accuracy
of the machines and provide a backup that could be
used if a recount is necessary.

LePore said that's not a simple fix. "It's not as easy
as they think where you go to Office Depot and buy a
printer off the shelf."

Equipment and software compatible with the voting
machines has to be developed, go through testing and
get state certification.

If that ultimately happens, she said, it might cost
$600 to $1,000 for each of Palm Beach County's 5,000
voting machines. That's $3 million to $5 million.

And, she said, paper printouts would create all sorts
of problems. If they had to be counted, it would be a
messy process with 500,000 pieces of paper.

"You're injecting humans in the process again, just
like they did with the punch cards," she said.

The decision is up to the state. No one from the
Secretary of State's Office, which oversees elections,
could be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Ruth Pleva, chairwoman of The Committee to Defeat
Bush, is among the Democrats who think Bush and the
Republicans stole the 2000 election.

"They would like to steal it once more using the
corruptible electronic voting machines," said Pleva,
who lives west of Delray Beach.

LePore has become a lightning rod for Democrats since
the recount that followed the 2000 presidential
elections. Some party members think her strict
interpretation of election law helped Bush over
Democrat Al Gore in the recount process.

Pleva didn't invite LePore. "I don't have enemies at
my parties," she said.

Lipsio, a Democratic activist in his home community,
and Wexler, a sharp critic of President Bush, clearly
have partisan interests.

And the crowd was primed to hear about potential
problems with the 2004 voting. When a brief videotape
was shown early in the meeting, former Secretary of
State Katherine Harris -- instrumental in the pro-Bush
resolution of the 2000 election -- appeared on the
screen twice.

Both times her image was greeted with a chorus of
boos.

Anthony Man can be reached at aman@sun-sentinel.com or
561-832-2905.

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Copyright 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel



Posted by richard at December 30, 2003 07:02 PM