U.S. Vote Counts Hidden From U.S. Voters

If you can't count the votes, your vote doesn't count.

Election day is November 7. Veterans Day is November 11. With so many votes concealed within bug-ridden, closed software in untrustworthy, unauditable electronic voting machines, Veterans Day will be a day of mourning and shame. We, the people, have squandered the sacrifices of our veterans by turning over our elections to voting machine manufacturers, who are then free to choose to whom they will sell or give our votes.

The vote of each individual should be secret. How the votes are handled and counted should be public. In most of the U.S., votes are nothing more than buttons pushed, with no way to determine what the button actually does at the time it is pushed. Certification of programmable machines before or after an election means absolutely nothing. In almost all of the U.S., the software running on these machines is kept secret even from government and election officials. Because of this, citizens do not have the ability to truly inspect these machines even by proxy.

The citizens of the U.S. have reliquished the very keys to our government, the foundation of democracy, our elections, to the electronic voting machine manufacturers. We have no way to verify that our vote counts, at all. All the machines will verify is that they can repeat what they were told to report. These machines are no substitute for citizens watching other citizens fill out a ballot, place a ballot in a box guarded by citizens, and citizens counting those ballots for the final tally.

Demand a return to a paper ballot. Our vote is too important to surrender to a device which can conceal what happens between a voter's press of a button and a report of numbers which may have no relationship to button presses.

So-called "paper trails" produced by the same internally secretive machines mean nothing. A programmable device merely does what it is told by whoever programs it.

An electronic voting machine is not like your ATM. When you access an ATM, you and the people who work in your bank, and the bank auditors all have access to information that can be used to cross-check the operation of the machine. A solitary voter pressing a button on an electronic voting machine has no group of people assisting in cross-checking the machine's operations. That individual vote is supposed to be secret, but only from other voters, not from the individual casting the vote. You can verify every electronic transaction with your bank. You cannot verify your transaction with a voting machine. You have no witnesses. The machine stands between you and all others. Nobody can tell if your vote was counted for your choice by that machine unless they witness you pressing the button.

Think long and hard about that. Without a secret ballot, voters can be caused to suffer consequences for their vote. Without a witness to the vote placed on an electronic voting machine, no one can verify that the machine reflects the voter's choice.

Unless voters can watch other voters place a physical object into a sealed container that is then watched by voters until opened in the presence of voters and then observe those physical ballots counted by voters, there can be no fair, free and verifiable election. A secret ballot requires public witnessing of the voting process to confirm, verify and authenticate the election.

People cannot witness electrons moving within a wire. People can witness 1 voter placing 1 vote into a container, and can do so without having to know which choice that voter made.

People cannot witness data being programmatically changed within a silicon chip. People can witness a box remaining free from tampering.

People cannot witness binary digits flipping within a computer. People can witness each other counting pieces of paper.

Electro-mechanical gadgets have no place in a public election except for communicating what voters witness.

Copyright 2006 Terry Vessels. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.