The following article (in four parts) was originally published by the Independent Newspaper of Londoin SEE... "All The President's Votes". On Sunday it was re-published here in New Zealand on the NZ Herald website. It does not appear to have been published yet in the print version of the New Zealand newspaper.
US Voting System Vulnerable To Fraud
Part 1 of a 4-part investigation by ANDREW GUMBEL of the Independent
INVESTIGATION - Something very odd happened in the mid-term elections in the US state of Georgia last November.
On the eve of the vote, opinion polls showed Roy Barnes, the incumbent Democratic governor, leading by between 9 and 11 points.
In a somewhat closer, keenly watched Senate race, polls indicated that Max Cleland, the popular Democrat up for re-election, was ahead by two to five points against his Republican challenger, Saxby Chambliss.
US voting system vulnerable to fraud - part 2
The investigating citizens then considered the nature of the software itself.
Shortly after the election, a Diebold technician named Rob Behler came forward and reported that, when the machines were about to be shipped to Georgia polling stations in the summer of 2002, they performed so erratically that their software had to be amended with a last-minute "patch".
Instead of being transmitted via disk - a potentially time-consuming process, especially since its author was in Canada, not Georgia -- the patch was posted, along with the entire election software package, on an open-access FTP [file transfer protocol] site on the internet.
US voting system vulnerable to fraud - part 3
There are two reasons why the United States is rushing to overhaul its voting systems.
The first is the Florida debacle in the Bush-Gore election; no state wants to be the centre of that kind of attention again.
And the second is the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), signed by President Bush last October, which promises an unprecedented US$3.9 billion ($6.6 billion) to the states to replace their old punchcard and lever machines.
US voting system vulnerable to fraud - part 4
The possibility of flaws in the electoral process is not something that gets discussed much in the United States. The attitude seems to be: we are the greatest democracy in the world, so the system must be fair.
That has certainly been the prevailing view in Georgia, where even leading Democrats – their prestige on the line for introducing touchscreen voting in the first place -- have fought tooth and nail to defend the integrity of the system.
In a phone interview, the head of the Georgia Technology Authority who brought Diebold machines to the state, Larry Singer, blamed the growing chorus of criticism on "fear of technology", despite the fact that many prominent critics are themselves computer scientists.