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! Fraud Advisory !


Beware of Officials Who Attempt to Sell You Electronic Voting!

Summary: In order to prevent the hijacking of our voting process, new security measures must be implemented, to include a hand-count of ballots at polling locations. Current electronic voting scams will destroy accountability.


1. Credibility means a lot to Citizens.

2. What is wrong with current and proposed voting systems?

3. A voting "receipt" is preposterous.

4. Shouldn’t we just trust our elected officials?

5. Conclusion: What do we do?

Appendix: Utah election horror stories & other information.


1. Credibility means a lot to Citizens.

When you pick-up lunch for a friend, why do you bring back a receipt and any change? Do you worry that person believes you are dishonest? Probably not. You most likely are attempting to maintain credibility. Honesty and credibility are important to people, business, and organizations. A verifiable paper trail is the backbone of credibility.

Where then is the verifiable paper trail from important public elections? In a recent controversial Salt Lake County election, elected officials refused to allow human hands to recount ballots. This caused many to be suspicious (and rightly so) of the election results, the electronic counting machines, and program managing the machines. Elected officials cited vague election laws, claiming that hand counts were illegal. Isn’t this a red flag for credibility?

A siege is underway to take the physical ballot totally out of the hands of the citizens. Incumbent officials (who are often on the very ballots they are in charge of) are now attempting to make matters worse by force-feeding us electronic voting.



2. What is wrong with current and proposed voting systems?

There is no way to verify the computer count or program. Current laws apparently do not allow a hand count. There is no way to verify the machine countor even that the machine counting program was not somehow hacked or altered. A computer expert watching a machine counting ballots knows little more than you dobecause he has no way of knowing exactly what code is governing the computer program. In fair elections, average voters should be able to track and understand the entire voting process. (See, "How easy is it to alter a computer program?" below.)

Ballots are transported to the central voting location before being hand-counted and signed by election judges. In order to count ballots by computer, you must transport the ballots to the central counting location. This transportation makes the entire voting process highly vulnerable to corruption. Further, it is impossible to avoid impropriety as the county sheriff is occasionally on the very ballot he is charged to guard. (In Salt Lake County, Sheriff Kennard was very loose with the last ballots he was in-charge of for his own party, ending in much controversy about his actions, see Appendix: 2001 Salt Lake County Republican Party Convention.)

It takes few people to dramatically alter elections. The current process provides numerous opportunities for a very small group of people to dramatically alter an election, ranging from counting machine program manipulation to transportation to unsecured ballot boxes in the counting area. Would the current electronic counting proposal make manipulation more difficult? It would actually take fewer people to hijack an election with computers. All you need to do is access and manipulate the computer program to add ballots, take away ballots, or change ballot results.

In many elections, millions of dollars in campaign spending are at stake. That is enough to tempt the dishonest to manipulate an election. The best way to prevent them is by involving more people. The more people you involve the greater the odds that someone will talk or make a mistake. By counting votes at the voting location, we have a far greater chance of uncovering wrongdoing.



3. A voting "receipt" is preposterous.

In response to Citizen concerns, Lieutenant Governor Olene Walker stated: "It would be okay if the voting machine gave the voter a receipt."

Oh, really? Exactly what purpose would this voter "receipt" serve? Would the receipt list the persons you voted for? Where does this receipt get stored and for how long? Who would have access to those receipts? And what good is a receipt if people are denied access to a hand count, and are unable to verify the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of the computer count?

Duplicate ballots (not receipts), identical to the programmed votes, must be hand tallied by election Judges in front of citizen and candidate poll watchers and the public, at the polling locations. This would verify the computer count for that polling location. Such a count should be officially recorded, signed by the election judges, and then the ballots should be securely sealed and stored for future verification if necessary. These ballots must only be re-opened only in the presence of citizen and candidate poll watchers. With these safeguards in place, it might actually improve our elections.

If election judges are not required to count the ballots at the polling locations in front of the public to verify the totals, then we will lose control of our elections altogether. The judge’s count of the ballots must be the official count. Further, the printed ballot must not only be identical to the ballot on the computer screen, but large enough that the elderly are able to read and verify their vote with ease.



4. Shouldn’t we just trust our elected officials?

Over the years, we have given away our rights to control and oversee our elections to the same incumbents (and/or their buddies) who appear on the very ballot to be counted. Have we lost our marbles? This makes as much sense as having customers make change for themselves from the cash register of a businessand then not checking the cash register after the customer leaves.

It doesn’t much matter whether you or I feel the elected official is trustworthy. It is not fair to those elected officials who are honest to put them in the position of having their integrity questioned without any mechanism to prove that they were honest and ethical. If you happen to think highly of some of your elected officials, then you have all the more reason to demand credibility, accuracy, and accountability.

The last people who should be in charge of counting ballots for the people are government and elected officials. Think about it. Citizens who give up the right to control elections have surrendered ownership of those elections.



5. Conclusion: What do we do?

The answers are simple and would require nothing more than Citizen urging and participation:

  1. Demand of your state legislators and county officials that ballots be counted at the polling locations—by hand. (It is possible to count them with election judges already in place.) For legislator contact information, see our Elected Official Contact Information page.

  2. Demand that citizen and candidate poll watchers and the public have full, reasonable access to the entire counting process. The results and recording from each polling location should then be placed on the web for all Election Judges from the polling locations, and the public to verify the results. Any citizen affected by the results should be able to call for another hand-count.

  3. Require that absentee ballots be opened, counted, and logged on Election Day, in front of poll watchers, and the public. No storing them in boxes and unsecured rooms.

  4. Restrict paid government employees and/or elected officials from entering counting areas except in their own voting district when observing as a member of the public. This will aid in reducing the appearance of impropriety.

When the people count ballots and total the results, the symbolic and actual power of the people increases. If ballots are counted at the polling locations by Election Judges, who are citizens, with poll watchers and the public watching, elections will be fair and the specter of potential fraud will dissipate.

Again, it is far more difficult to significantly manipulate large quantities of paper ballots with many eyes watching at many locations. It takes more people to pull off the dirty deed, and more people means more chances for someone to make a mistake and get caught. If fraud is happening, only one person needs to see it to blow the whistle.

Some have argued that the logistics of hand counts at the local level would be difficult and inconvenient. Imagine how much more inconvenient it will be if we allow our elections to be manipulated completely out of our control.

Terry Trease




Appendix: Utah election horror stories & other information.

2002 Salt Lake County general election. These are my observations "poll watching" election night at the SL County elections while ballots where being counted. I arrived at the County Administration Building around noon and spoke with the Election Manager Mike Vu. After lunch they started counting absentee ballots. They opened and organized them in a way to be counted by machines that night. The ballots were fully accessible to view by poll watchers at this time.

The tour (important to understand the rest clearly).
Mike Vu appeared as though he would be very accommodating. He took us to the counting room and told us of the procedures used in operating the counting machines. Mike also explained how the machines would count the ballots, and send the data to a central computer, which in turn would display the results on the State and County Web pages. We continued the tour through the building taking the path of the ballots. Mike explained what would take place along the way.

First deputies would bring the ballots through the west cafeteria door. County workers would then sort and move the ballots to a table at the east cafeteria door by the entrance hall. A person would then take the ballots to the entrance hall to be checked. From the entrance hall the ballots would be moved to the counting prep area to be organized just outside the counting room. The trip would finally end with the ballots placed in the counting machines inside the counting room.

Would we have full access to watch the counting?
After the tour, I asked Mike if we would have full access to all these areas as poll watchers during the counting. Mike said that we would.

The counting begins and some access is denied.
At about 8 pm the county employees took the absentee ballots to the counting room. We followed right with the ballots closely observing the process. This is when Mike told us we were not allowed inside the counting room because it would be too crowded, but that we could watch from the door. I protested that we would be unable to monitor the computer from that distance and angle. There was no way to compare what was placed into the machines versus the outcome on the screen. Nevertheless, we were refused access to the counting room. We tried our best to watch from the door, but it was impossible to see the monitors.

We were refused additional access.
When the district ballots started coming in we were allowed full access to the rest of the areas as promised by Mike. That is, until Sherry Swenson (the County Clerk who was a candidate running for reelection on the very ballot to be counted) showed up in the entrance hall. Swenson told us that we were not allowed behind a certain line. I expressed that we were poll watchers and were assured full access to all areaswith the exception of the computer counting room. Swenson said that it did not matter, that we were supposed to be behind the line with everyone else. I asked Swenson how we were supposed to watch the ballots? She passed the buck by claiming Dave Yocom’s office had given those instructions (another candidate on the ballot running for re-electionand affiliated with the same party as Swenson).

We were also refused access to the cafeteria area altogether. What happened to the ballots in that area is anyone’s guess. Now all ballots coming in were as far as a hundred feet away, with no way to be viewed by poll watchers. Some ballots were handled completely out of view behind a wall.

Many questions, few answers.
Again, Swenson single-handedly denied our access and monitoring of the ballots in the entrance hall area. Yet, when these uncounted ballots were moved from the entrance hall to the counting prep area just outside the counting room—we were again granted full access to them. In fact, we could stand right next to the tables with uncounted ballots on them.

Why were we trusted enough to be there, but not where the ballots were brought into the cafeteria and entrance hall? Swenson went in and out of the counting prep area, but she herself would not go into the cafeteria or entrance hall; nor would she allow anyone other than her staff access to those locations.

The two guarded areas contained coats, purses, and many other personal articles that could have concealed ballots. Why weren’t they examined or placed in an area away from the ballots? Much of the cafeteria room was out of view of poll watchers. Why weren’t we allowed to watch?


2001 Salt Lake County Republican Party Convention. Sheriff Aaron Kennard was in charge of the ballot boxes for voting at the Salt Lake County Republican Party convention. This is interesting by itself when considering Sheriff Kennard was on the vary ballot he was again in-charge of. These are only a few of the problems at that convention:

  1. Before voting began, poll watchers were directed by the convention Chair to gather on the east side of the building. Meanwhile the ballot boxes were being brought up from down stars on the west side of the buildingout of view of poll watchers. (Note: Poll watchers are people chosen by candidates to observe and make sure elections are proper and fair.)

  2. Sheriff Kennard closed the boxes without first allowing poll watchers to verify that the ballot boxes were empty before voting.

  3. Without poll watchers present at the ballot boxes, the convention chair instructed the delegation to go vote.

  4. Ballot boxes were opened on the convention floor while voting was taking place against the wishes of many poll watchers.

  5. Sheriff Kennard opened two ballot boxes and then dumped the ballots out of one ballot box into another. When asked why he was doing such an odd and unprecedented action, Sheriff Kennard flippantly stated that he needed the ballot box at another location. Interesting... Why would Kennard need to empty one ballot box into another when both boxes had so few ballots in them? All the ballots had the same candidates on them in all voting locations, so why would the Sheriff need to empty one? To make things even more curious, Kennard slid the supposed needed ballot box under a skirted table.

  6. Under Sheriff Kennard’s supervision four more unlocked ballot boxes returned into the counting room to be counted.


2000 State Republican Party Election. Ten minutes before the credentialing tables were to close, the delegation was informed that the number of delegates credentialed was 2,996. The official delegation count was not disclosed after this—even though it is part of protocol to do so when closing the credential tables, which stayed open until 11:45 am. Many questioned how over 3,500 votes were cast in the elections. This would mean that over 500 people or 1/7 of the delegation arrived after the officiating time was to close. The fact that an extra ballot box appeared made many start to be very suspicious. This race almost forced high-ranking Senator Hatch into a primary, and decided the races of Utah’s Governor, Congressman, Senators, and other high positions.

This convention had the loosest election controls I have ever witnessed. Ballot boxes were mobile, teenage children in-charge of the boxes were directed to walk around the convention gathering ballots from delegates. Ballot boxes were swung over shoulders in a manner that ballots may have fallen out. Many people were seen gathering ballots out of trashcans in order to vote more than once. Rob Bishop, now an U.S. Congressman, was the State Party Chair and in-charge of overseeing this convention.

1999 Salt Lake County Republican Party Election. Two Republicans, Tom Draschil and Ruth Hernandez were falsely arrested for handing out harmless information on their Republican organization. They were later found innocent.

Others were harassed and prevented by police from handing out literature that targeted elected officials affiliated with the Utah Education Association. This information likely influenced elections not only in the Republican convention, as several of the candidates targeted by literature were sent to primaries. How many more would have been defeated if Sheriff Kennard, who was present and who knew what was happening, had prevented this abuse? One Citizen approached Kennard to convince him to take action to stop the police abuse. Kennard laughed and refused to take action.


Final Note: How easy is it to alter a computer program? Not long ago, I watched a news program (it was either 60 Minutes or 20/20) comparing electronic voting security in America to a home without any doors on it. This motivated me to write a small mock computer voting program to see how difficult it might be to alter the results. I ran 3 candidates with 100,000 fictitious, random votes, splitting them evenly amongst the 3 candidates. I then changed the program to program to steal 5% from one candidate and split it with the others. It took only two lines of code on my computer screen and less than 40 seconds to engineer.

Yes, that was a very simplistic program. However, hackers much smarter than I have been breaking into highly complex programs for yearssometimes just for fun. To believe there is not an incentive when enormous amounts of money and power are at stake would be worse than naive.


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