Privatization of Voting Machines Threatens Wisconsin Election Integrity

Last week Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, the state’s election authority, held two public meetings to demonstrate new electronic voting machines to be used in Wisconsin. Dozens of citizens concerned about election integrity attended the demonstrations and tried to raise their questions, but most were told that the meeting was simply for demonstrating the machines, not for discussing the larger political context in which they are being used. Here is the response of Attorney Jim Mueller, Director of Wisconsin Counts.  -Editors

ES&S DS200 that was shown to be easily hackable by a member of the public.

Nathaniel E. Robinson
Election Division Administrator
Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

Dear Mr. Robinson,

At last Thursday’s meeting of the Wisconsin Election Administration Council, Council members and citizens were encouraged to provide ratings and comments about the E S & S Unity 3.2.00 Rev 3 Voting System. My concerns about the system are contained in 6 items that appear near the end of this communication.

I would like to broaden this communication from one about a particular voting system to one about the decreased transparency and the privatization of our election system that have occurred.

In Wisconsin, as elsewhere in the nation, there has been a concerted push by corporate interests to eliminate the public counting of votes. This privatization of our election processes has been advanced by laws and rules that:

1) Require the use of electronic voting systems (the systems were lobbied for by the private organizations that manufacture, sell, program and maintain them),

2) Permit the programming to be kept secret,

3) Prevent sworn election inspectors from auditing the tabulated results.

4) Make it impossible for Citizen Audits to occur before results are finalized.

5) Prevent a manual counting of votes in a recount.

With the use of electronic voting systems there have been reports of mistakes and many more reports of improbable results. Numerous studies including several from major universities and other credible organization have demonstrated the vulnerability of the electronic voting systems (see for a few examples).

Under Wisconsin Statute 15.607, you as the Administrator of the Election Division appoint the members of the Wisconsin Election Administration Council. You presently have 13 government officials/employees, 3 members representing special needs voters and 2 members representing organizations that advocate for public interests (League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and Citizen Action of Wisconsin). To my knowledge neither of the two public interest groups has focused on the election integrity issues surrounding the use of electronic voting systems.

Following the recount of the 2011 Supreme Court Election in Wisconsin, several groups formed to advocate for the open public counting of votes and improved security in order to protect the fundamental right of electors to have their vote accurately determined, recorded and reported.

Mark Manganaro, salesman for ES&S in a defensive posture. He was unable to answer specific technical questions that the audience asked.

At the Wednesday and Thursday presentations of the E S & S system, it was individuals from the election protection community who:

1) Determined that the plastic spring loaded pivot hinged cover protecting the memory device could be easily removed without the key.

2) Found that it was possible to replace the systems thumb drive memory device with commonly available ones.

3) Asked questions that determined that wireless modems can be added by snapping a “board” into place.

4) Questioned the assertion that the systems memory device could not be easily erased.

5) Confirmed that the system can capture images of all of the ballots and that the images could be uploaded to the internet for public verification of the totals.

6) Asked the Company Representative if E S & S would make their programming code available as Dominium is doing (per the Reps statement at the May 15th GAB meeting).

In order to protect the integrity of our elections, the Government Accountability Board needs the input of people who investigate and ask questions of the types listed above. I request that you appoint one or members of this election protection community to the Council as soon as possible.


Jim Mueller
Co-Founder and Director of Wisconsin Counts

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