BLOGGED BY John Gideon ON 6/13/2007 9:35AM
If Voters Don't Notice Incorrect Votes on The Review Screen in Front of
Their Face, Why Would They Notice it on a So-Called 'Paper Trail' Printed
Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org
A new study supports the contentions of Election Integrity advocates who
oppose Rush Holt's election reform bill on the basis that it allows for the
use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting systems.
Supporters of the bill claim that the bills mandate to require so-called
"Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT) printers on such DRE systems
mitigate the concerns about the machines notorious inaccuracy and proven
tamperability. The new study strongly indicates otherwise.
In her recently released doctoral thesis, "The Usability of Electronic
Voting Machines and How Votes Can Be Changed Without Detection" [PDF], Rice
University researcher and Doctoral candidate Sarah P. Everett reveals that
review screens, presented to voters at the end of the voting process on DRE
voting machines, fail to be effective.
Of 66 participants from the general Houston population, with a median age of
45 and an even distribution of educational levels only 32% of the voters
noticed that malicious changes had been made to their review screens during
mock election testing.
A further test was accomplished with 101 participants, with an even gender
split (51 males, 50 females), a median age of 40, with most having either
some college education or holding a degree. Of those, only 37% of the
participants noticed that vote flipping had occurred on their review screens
during mock election testing.
Also shocking is that of those 101 participants 6% walked away from the
voting machine without pushing the button to cast their ballot. Instead,
they just left the voting process at the final review screen. Thus, had this
been a real election, a full 6% of the voters would not have had their
ballots counted at all.
So when only about one-third of the voters actually review their ballot on
the ballot review screen and notice problems why would anyone think that
adding a "Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail" printer to a DRE will solve any
problem? Rather than adding useless and expensive printers; why not just get
rid of these machines all together?
In fact, Ms. Everett states, when it comes the use of DRE voting systems
[A]s the situation currently stands, voters cannot be depended upon to check
the validity of their vote. Many security experts and election reform groups
are calling for VVPATs to be required on all DREs and as of the 2006
elections, nearly half of the states mandated that their DREs have paper
trails (electionline.org, 2006). However, these studies show that solutions
to DRE security problems that require voter verification of their ballots
may not solve vote-flipping problems. Users are not even checking their
ballots on the review screen that is presented directly in front of them.
The findings here suggest that it is highly unlikely that voters will detect
changes to their ballots on the VVPAT that prints out on a roll of paper
next to the machine if they are not even noticing them on a screen presented
directly in front of them.