Maturin42's Blog

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Note to Rep. Bennett Bozeman

The following letter was sent to Maryland Delegate Bennett Bozeman following a brief conversation about electronic voting and the issues around that problem.

Representative Bennett Bozeman
Delegate, District 38B

Rep. Bozeman:
I enjoyed your presentation to the Democratic Club last evening, and
appreciated you talking with me briefly after the meeting. I am the
organizer of Salisbury Democracy for America, and one of the producers
of "BackTalk", on PAC-14. I and a few others of us are scheduled to go
to a meeting of a new national organization fighting the
corporatization of our voting machinery.

The web site and statistical analysis I was talking about can be found
at, and the specific analysis of the
Edison-Mitofsky exit polls can be downloaded here:

This report, entitled Response to the Edison/Mitofsky Election System
2004 Report shows the little-known and almost unreported fact that the
polling organization adjusted their observed exit polls that showed
Kerry winning by using "actual" tabulated votes to water down the poll
data. Edison/Mitofsky assumed that the reported data from the polls
reflected the real voter intent and never questioned whether there
might be something wrong with the reported vote. This is in glaring
contrast to the administration reaction to similar circumstances in
Ukraine where exit polls were used to challenge the validity of the
vote and actually caused a re-vote.

This report also explodes the "shy republican" theory initially
advanced to explain the exit poll data showing a 3% Kerry victory that
turned into a 2.5% Bush win at the polls, by using the pollster's own
data to show that the more Republican the district, the higher response

What this has to do with electronic voting - and non-paper methods of
tabulating votes in general - is that there was a strong correlation
between the exit polls and actual results in those jurisdictions using
paper ballots and where recounts could be conducted. In key states
where no meaningful audit capability existed, a strong shift toward
Bush was observed. (5.5% on average)

The report concludes its summary as follows:

"Well-documented security vulnerabilities and accuracy issues have
affected voting equipment as far back as the late 1960s, and history
shows that partisan election officials have long possessed the power
to suppress and otherwise distort the vote counts. The recent and
ongoing proliferation of sophisticated computerized vote recording and
tallying equipment, much of it unverifiable and hence "faith-based",
dramatically augments the opportunities for wholesale and
outcome-determinative distortions of the vote counting process. That
the lion's share of this equipment is developed, provided, and
serviced by partisan private corporations only amplifies these serious
CERTAINLY WARRANTS FURTHER INQUIRY (emphasis mine). The absence of any
statistically-plausible explanation for the discrepancy between
Edison/Mitofsky’s exit poll data and the official presidential vote
tally is an unanswered question of vital national importance that
demands a thorough and unflinching investigation." --Response to the
Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004 Report, web site.

The dominance of technology in vote-counting raises suspicion at every
node in the process. Lack of routine validation of the numbers
reported by the equipment is a weakness that can be exploited in any
number of ways - "Back Doors" into tally machines or databases, trojan
horse programs that can be introduced by maintenance activities, or
rogue software that is incorporated as sleeper chips or modules that
can be activated by remote signal or a touch-screen pattern are all
well-understood by computer experts, but not much at all by the
lay-person (accounting for the overwhelming opposition of computer
experts to the e-voting movement, unless they are SELLING the
equipment). Essentially, the further the technology departs from marks
on paper that are counted by humans who watch each other, the more
opportunities there are for electronic mischief that is undetectable to
the outside observer. In most races, the larger the margin in the
reported results, the less likely anyone is to check any part of it.
The friends of honest elections are transparency of the process (the
more technology, the less transparency), non-partisan election
officials, and an audit process that routinely checks on reported
results. The enemies are partisanship, layers of opaque technology, and
lack of audit ability or no use of routine audits.

To the people who understand the issue, the lack of governmental
action, especially by Democrats, is incomprehensible. Many of us are
convinced that if the trend toward e-voting continues, Democrats will
be a permanent minority party, and most campaign funds will be wasted

Thank you,

Shelton F. Lankford

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