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Open Voting Consortium Remedies For Elections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Election Officials still making critical mistakes: Open Voting Consortium plans remedies.

GRANITE BAY, CALIFORNIA - The Open Voting Consortium (OVC) will introduce legislation state-by-state to ban paperless voting and require that computer source code (the instructions given to computers) used in elections be made public. OVC will also begin to make their low-cost secure public software available for use in public elections.

Four years after America suffered through a broken election process, we still do not have reliable election systems to count the votes accurately. "Paperless voting is a disaster," says Alan Dechert, President of the Open Voting Consortium. In one case alone on November 2nd, some 4,500 votes were lost from a single electronic voting machine in North Carolina. "Secrecy of procedures, such as failure to post precinct totals for public viewing at the end of the Election Day, and refusal to allow observation of ballot counting, has generated distrust in our voting system."

In April of this year, with public acclaim, Open Voting Consortium demonstrated a prototype of their voting system. OVC is transitioning from an all-volunteer group of scientists and engineers to a professional organization with a strong legislative component, delivering voting system solutions. Secure Open Voting solutions will also save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Despite four years and more election failures, decision-makers at all levels neglected to fix the obvious flaws in the voting system. Long lines and registration problems discouraged countless citizens from voting. For the tens of millions of votes cast on paperless systems, we have no meaningful way to audit the count.

"Our democracy has been weakened," says Dechert. "Electronic voting will work; however, it will require proper security measures comparable to those used in business. Voter verified paper record of the vote, full audits of ballots and tallies, and software that is open to scrutiny is essential. We need to begin now on a comprehensive effort to open up, and clean up our election system so that we are not left with unanswered questions again next time."

Computer security and reliability is a complex and ever changing area.

Election officials cannot fully test all aspects of new voting technology. In a 60 Minutes program last month, Conny McCormack, Registrar of Voters for Los Angeles County, said, "Voters love them," in reference to paperless touchscreen voting machines.

"Would they ask questions about the safety of a medical procedure of patients or of doctors?" asked Professor Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins in a recent Computerworld interview. "They should ask computer security experts about computer security questions, not end users, who may like the look and feel of the machines but have no way of knowing if they are really secure."

Ms. McCormack dismissed the threat of vote tampering with paperless systems. She stated that it would be too obvious for a voter to tamper with a system in the voting booth. However, this incorrectly characterizes the risks inherent to paperless voting systems - risks that include simple programming errors as well as deliberate tampering.

"With so much at stake in elections, there is a real threat of a malicious insider rigging voting machines," says Dechert. "Slot machines undergo more testing and scrutiny than our voting machines - and they have been corrupted in spite of this testing: In one famous case, an employee of the Gaming Control Board in the Electronic Services Division in Las Vegas rigged machines without even touching them. The cheating virus was installed by unwitting employees using an infected testing device. The scam was only discovered years later. Electronic ballots can be similarly altered without a trace."

The Open Voting Consortium is a Nonprofit California Corporation dedicated to the development, maintenance, and delivery of open voting systems for use in public elections. OVC architecture will enable,

- An open and secure replacement of faulty election management software

- Electronic voting machine to generate a humanly readable optically scanable ballot

- Quick initial tabulation from precincts integrated with countywide and statewide systems

- A voter verified paper ballot that can be checked even by reading impaired voters

- Paper ballots checked against the electronic record

- The programs, hardware and all aspects of the OVC system are publicly available so that any system integrator can build voting systems, and provide maintenance or training.

- Vendors to compete based on services provided rather than proprietary hardware and software thus providing savings to taxpayers

Contact: Alan Dechert, alan@OpenVoting.org 916-791-0456

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