How America's Votes Will be Counted (or not) in 2006 and Beyond...Unless Something is Done About it.
You've heard the reports of the new Diebold touch-screen voting machines which have recently been updated to include a so-called "voter-verified paper trail."
You may also have heard how the printers they've added to produce these "paper trails" on their previously-paperless touch-screen voting machines are reported to jam up in test after test --- like the one last summer in California [PDF] where some 33% of such machines failed due to screen freezes, software failures and paper jams.
You may have heard that Diebold actually includes a magnifying glass with each machine to help voters see these tiny, virtually unreadable "paper trails."
You may even have heard how the virtually uncountable thermal paper rolls, which scroll back into the machine after supposedly being "verified" by the voter, have turned up blank on some of the busiest machines at the end of Election Day --- as occurred in Lucas County, OH during the November 2005 Election in Toledo.
Now, for the first time, a hands-on examination of actual Diebold Accu-Vote TSx "election-ready" machines in Utah --- where the newly state-approved and purchased machines are just now being delivered across the state --- has been conducted by Security Innovations and computer security expert Harri Hursti. The examination was done in Emery County, UT with the approval of the county's elected official in charge of elections, Clerk-Recorder Bruce Funk.
Hursti's complete findings are soon to be released by BlackBoxVoting.org (BBV) who helped to organize the precedent setting examination where, for the first time, independent experts have been allowed to actually study the very touch-screen voting machines being deployed around our country this year for use in the up-coming 2006 Elections. Normally, these machines are guarded by secret non-disclosure agreements of Voting Machine Companies and the mandates of government officials who have allowed these machines and their software, incredibly, to remain the "proprietary" secret of the companies paid to run our public elections.
BBV has already disclosed over the weekend one or two of the items discovered in the initial examination. One of them, in fact, is so "shocking" that it would seem to merit a complete recall of these TSx machines solely on consumer safety grounds!
Amongst the findings from the landmark study conducted last week in Utah that they've shared exclusively with The BRAD BLOG is a first-hand glimpse at the printer module now added to Diebold's Accu-Vote TS machines in light of the national outcry for "paper trails" to be produced when votes are cast in American elections.
These "afterthought" printer modules, and the "paper trails" they produce --- which are largely uncountable and uncounted by election officials not to mention unreadable by mere human mortals --- have failed in all sorts of test situations.
Most states require no actual counting or meaningful audit or even cursory review of these toilet-paper "paper trails" (distinct from a countable paper ballot.) Some states (hello, Florida!) even disallow the hand-counting of such "paper trails" by law! So how well the printing modules actually work, is almost beside the point. Their main purpose seems largely to be instilling a false sense of security in the voter that their vote will actually be counted and counted accurately.
To be clear: These devices provide no assurance that ones votes will actually be counted accurately --- or even at all.
Here then, for first time ever, is a close-up photographic look at how these printers actually work --- or don't as the case may be --- and what it is that Diebold and the other Voting Machine Companies who produce such poorly designed hardware and software to tally the votes in America's democracy, are currently shipping to virtually every state in the union for their 2006 rollout.
We'll see an actual printer-jam in progress, reasons for why it may occur so frequently on Diebold's Accu-Vote TSx machines, and a close-up look at the plastic "fresnel lens" (a cheap Cracker Jack prize-like magnifying glass) which is included with each machine's printer --- theoretically to help voters read their own "paper trail."
The photos which follow are all of the same machine, with the same section of jammed "paper trail" never touched or moved throughout the series of photos.
The following photographs, and the bulk of the information contained in the descriptions of same were provided exclusively to The BRAD BLOG by Republican BlackBoxVoting.org investigator, Jim March as he and the rest of the BBV team were leaving Utah on Sunday afternoon after their first close-up look at the Diebold Accu-Vote TSx...
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