Pennsylvania's Primary: Paperless and Unverifiable
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By Verified Voting Foundation
April 15, 2008
Pennsylvania's Presidential primary on April 22 will be essentially unrecountable, unverifiable, and unauditable - an irony, because state law requires manual audits of a statistical sample of ballots cast in elections.
85% of Pennsylvania's voters live in counties in which paperless
electronic voting is the only method of voting at the polling place.
Absentee voting requires an excuse in Pennsylvania, and there is no
early voting period, so the polling-place equipment will tabulate the
vast majority of the votes in the primary. Pennsylvania's Secretary of
State has judged that reel-to-reel paper trail printers compromise
voter privacy, and none of Pennsylvania's direct-recording electronic
(DRE) systems offer voter-verifiable paper records.
The availabilty of emergency paper ballots is also a cause of serious concern. Current election law does not specify a given amount of emergency paper ballots. The Secretary of State's office has suggested that enough emergency ballots for 20% of registered voters be available. We hope that all counties print sufficient ballots, given the expectation of high turnout.
Here is a summary of the voting systems used in Pennsylvania:
- According to the Secretary of State's most current voter registration statistics,
Pennsylvania has 8,326,564 registered voters. 7,064,129 voters are
registered in the 51 counties in which paperless electronic voting is
the only method of voting at the polling places.
the 51 counties which use paperless machines, 25 use the paperless
ES&S iVotronic touch screen machine as the principal voting system.
These counties have over 2.6 million registered voters, comprising 32%
of the registered voters in the state. After the state of Ohio's EVEREST
voting system review was published, Edward Felten, head of the Center
for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, wrote that
the iVotronic is "too risky to use in elections."
counties, with over 900,000 registered voters, use the Diebold/Premier
TSx touch screen as the voting system. California Secretary of State
Debra Bowen disallowed the TSx for use as a primary voting system for
multiple and grave security vulnerabilities, as well as threats to
voter privacy. See Secretary Bowen's withdrawal of approval here, and the full reports of the review teams.
- 6 counties, with over 2.3 million voters, use the push-button Shouptronic voting machine.
- 750,000 voters will use the Sequoia Advantage, which apparently miscounted party turnout New Jersey's February 5 primary. New Jersey county election officials called for an independent investigation of the machine
discrepancy. 104,000 voters in York County use the Sequoia AVC Edge, also disallowed for use as a primary system in California.
voters in Blair County will use the Hart Intercivic eSlate as the
primary system. The eSlate was also found vulnerable in the EVEREST (p. 228-230) and the California top-to-bottom review.
a complete reading of the California and Ohio reviews will reveal, all
of the optical systems used in Pennsylvania have serious security
vulnerabilities. But optical scan systems offer a record of the votes
that is independent of the software in the machine. And Pennsylvania
law, 25 P.S. 3031.17,
offers the best defense against these vulnerabilities: a random manual
audit of ballots cast in an election. Only the counties with paper ballots
can implement this law in a meaningful way.
under 1.2 million voters live in counties in which optically scanned
paper ballots are the primary voting system. 740,000 voters live in
four counties which use blended systems, with DREs used for accessible
voting systems. 420,000 voters live in the 12 counties that use optical
scan systems with a ballot-marking device for accessibility.
Although November is looming nearer, Lackawanna County decided in March 2008 to switch to an optical
scan/ballot-marker solution in time for the April 22 primary.
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