August 12th, 2004 Statement to the Utah Voting Equipment Selection Committee
Honorable Gentlemen and Ladies,
I am quite concerned that Utah is rushing into a decision that if not given thorough and proper attention will leave open the possibility for corruption, error and outright criminal takeover of the very backbone of our Democracy - free, honest elections. Computerization of the voting process has great promise to aid in the elimination of future fiascos such as occurred in this country in 2000. At the same time, as has already been demonstrated repeatedly around the country, new dangers are a real threat to the voting process and honest results. (For a summary of recent miscounts and malfunctions see: Electronics in Recent Elections through March 2004). Utah's current process for implementing electronic voting, I believe, is off course. With only two responses to the RFP, both from companies with systems proven to be prone to hacking and that do not provide verifiable results, the State needs to re-evaluate the process. In the meantime this rush to implementation should be halted immediately and an entirely fresh process begun taking into account the input of computer experts, review of the disastrous results that have occurred in other parts of the country and consultations with other states that are dealing with the same problem.
I believe it is imperative that we have voter-verifiable ballots that can be audited and re-counted if necessary and open-source computer programming to allow for fair and honest elections. Security and accuracy should be your number priority in establishing a new voting system and it appears that is not presently the case. California voters recently won their case in Federal Court requiring voter-verified paper ballots with electronic voting machines creating Federal case law and my understanding is that Utah is not considering this option. If so, the state will find itself in court if it rushes into this decision. A great source of information on various voting systems is available here: Voters Unite MythBreakers Report, I urge you all to take the time now to review the information. You are charged with a great responsibility, there is perhaps no greater responsibility to a democracy than the guarantee of free and honest elections.
Please act now to stop a catastrophe before it is too late.
Robin E. Beasley, Robin.Beasley@esieng.com
1922 E. Southbridge Way
Sandy, UT 84093