From Kat:
Big Pharma ought love it!

April 12, 2006
Electronic voting fears calmed by computer whiz

Amid doubts about the reliability and security of electronic voting machines, there is Michael Shamos.

Shamos, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, puts electronic machines through the paces for the state of Pennsylvania.

He was in the news a couple of weeks ago when he tested Montgomery County’s 1996-vintage electronic machines, which had been upgraded to meet the demands of federal law. Shamos found some bugs in the county system, which got another chance for certification on Tuesday.

In a telephone interview last week, Shamos said a possible solution was for the county to still use the individual Sequoia machines, which worked fine, but add the numbers from each machine by using something other than Sequoia’s vote-counting software, which did not.

He said people opposed to electronic voting sometimes jump on such problems. ”Any irregularity is trumped up to be, ‘See, I told you these machines were no good.”’

I asked Shamos if there was anything he could say to the people of Bucks County, who soon will switch from mechanical to electronic voting machines (even if it’s not in time for the coming primary election). He said his style is not to give blanket endorsements of electronic voting to make people feel better. ”If the objective is to make the voters feel better,” Shamos said, ”you can do that by giving them Valium at the polling place.”

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No Comments to “Expert urges Valium for nervous voters”

  • I had no idea drugs were the solution for people who, with good reason, think these electronic voting machines are a bad idea. I feel comforted now.

  • Soma…nice going professor, that should help us adjust to the system.

  • This was in Investor’s Business Daily Last Week. Quite frightening.

    Hugo Wants Your Vote
    Posted 4/5/2006

    Elections: If 9-11 taught us anything, it was to be wary of asym- metrical threats from hostile entities no matter what size. We might just get ambushed again if the Venezuelan government ends up controlling our elections.

    Don’t think it can’t happen. A Venezuelan-linked company called Smartmatic has bought out a U.S. electronic voting device firm called Sequoia, which holds contracts for elections in Chicago and elsewhere.

    U.S. foreign investment bureaucrats aren’t worried because no military secrets are involved. But that kind of thinking can blindside our democratic institutions as we look for threats to our hardware.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is the foremost meddler in foreign elections in the Western hemisphere and has been accused of secretly financing candidates in Peru, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Mexico. Why wouldn’t he be interested in influencing vote outcomes here?

    He’s already trying to influence our politics through a congressional lobbying effort and a cheap fuel program for welfare recipients explicitly linked to congressional participation.

    These and other shenanigans signal interest in influencing perceptions in the U.S.

    There’s plenty of domestic white noise about electronic machines to cloud the issue. But the problems Chavez could cause are in a different league.

    Even as regulators dismiss security threats, the performance of Smartmatic in Venezuela’s own elections raises questions.

    For example, 82% of voters there sat out last December’s Smartmatic-operational congressional race on shattered confidence in the system.

    The Smartmatic machines are capable of controlling the speed at which votes are transmitted, creating long lines to discourage voting. They can also instantaneously tally as results come in, giving favored sides information to manipulate turnout.

    Mathematicians accuse them of flipping results. And combined with fingerprint machines, they can match votes to voters, violating ballot secrecy.

    There may be no problem with Smartmatic working U.S. elections, but just wait for a close call and see how credible the result will be. With as many problems as U.S. elections have seen, the one thing it doesn’t need is to import Venezuela’s electoral wreckage.

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