Thanks to Anna Wilson for finding this article

Who will win the election?

By John David Rose
Carolina Morning News

Think About It.

Before answering the question in the headline, consider the new electronic voting machines mandated by Congress to be in use in every voting district by 2006.

Election officers are jumping on the bandwagon just as fast as federal money is made available. So far 37 states have bought more than 40,000 of the most popular machine, the Diebold Accuvote-TS.

I'm told by Tom Hatfield, chairman of the Beaufort County Election Commission, that South Carolina has not yet made its purchase decision, but that it's imminent.

The electronic machines allow you to simply touch the screen to indicate your votes, go through some kind of confirmation process and, voila!, your vote is counted and sent to election headquarters.

There go hanging chad problems. But wait, the electronic voting machines present one not-so-small problem themselves. They can't be trusted.

Numbers of computer scientists report that the Diebold Accuvote-TS can be manipulated. It can be surreptitiously "adjusted" to favor one candidate over another. Furthermore, manipulations are not recorded and cannot be detected.

This past July, computer scientists from Johns Hopkins and Rice universities published a scathing review of the Diebold machine, declaring that the software was full of security gaps and easily open to fraud.

Federal Election Commission tests do not test for security. A computer scientist at Stanford University declares that any statements by the makers of the machines, or states buying them "that the machines are secure is hot air."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Aug. 23: "Roxanne Jekot, a 51-year-old computer program developer from Cumming, Ga., said she and a few expert friends could crack Georgia's $54 million touch-screen voting system in a matter of minutes."

Put that bit of news together with the fact that the rabidly partisan president of Diebold is on record as stating that he is "committed" to re-electing Bush (Associated Press, Aug. 28.)

To discover how serious these problems are, go to

Nothing is more important to democracy than honest elections. Any responsible public official would want to know that the voting process was as fraud-proof as possible.

Even cradle Republicans ought to be concerned with the potential for vote fraud with these new voting machines. Without a hard copy of every vote - a permanent record - how will you or anyone ever know if an election has been conducted honestly?

As Joseph Stalin reportedly said: "It's not who votes that counts, it's who counts."

There is a simple, low-cost solution. For less than $200 a machine, electronic voting machines can print out each voter's selections. The voter signs that and deposits it as a permanent record in the lock box. If fraud is suspected, a recount of the physical ballots can be made.

Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey and 30 co-sponsors (all Democrats, no Republicans have so-far joined in) have introduced the Voter Confidence Act, HR 2239, which would require a voter-verifiable audit trail on every voting system.

I urge every reader to call our South Carolina and federal representatives immediately. Tell them that a voter-verifiable paper ballot is absolutely critical. South Carolina must not purchase machines without them.

Without a paper record, no one will ever believe the next election was fair and honest. And no one should.

State Sen. Scott Richardson, 363-5000.

State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, 757-7900.

U.S. Sen. Ernest Hollings, (202) 224-6121.

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, (202) 225-2452.

John David Rose is a long-time Hilton Head Islander and political observer.