August 12th, 2004 Statement to the Utah Voting Equipment Selection Committee
Members of the committee,
My name is Annette Rose. My education includes a BS in Computer Science.
I am concerned about the current rush to acquire computer voting equipment by the State of Utah. I understand the current Utah RFP does not include the stipulation for a voter-verified paper receipt. This type of security safeguard has been available for over 10 years, invented by computer scientist Rebecca Mercuri, now a research fellow at Harvard.
The right to vote is the basis of democracy. But the democratic process is subverted if votes are not properly counted. The democratic process is lost if votes cannot be verified.
There is a problem when private companies take over a public process, such as our voting system, yet want to conceal the mechanism for the process. For a viable democracy, there must be transparency in public processes. There is a problem when a private voting machine company is a heavy contributor to one of the political parties. And whose CEO has promised to "deliver the votes" for that party.
Any voting system that Utah purchases must have open source code, allow independent verification, and produce a voter-verifiable paper trail to ensure the public's most basic right is preserved.
Let me quote from Dr. David Dill, computer science professor at Stanford:
"Why am I always being asked to prove these systems aren't secure? The burden of proof ought to be on the vendor.
You ask about the hardware. 'Secret.'
The software. 'Secret.'
What's the cryptography? 'Can't tell you because that'll compromise the secrecy of the machines.'
Federal testing procedures: 'Secret.'
Results of the tests? 'Secret.'
Basically, we are required to have blind faith."
The last time I checked, voting was not a religion. And I don't want my votes going to bit heaven.
Currently, three private companies are conducting secretive security tests of voting systems, but are using voluntary standards and are being paid by the companies whose equipment they are testing. Then they falsely assure states and voters of the security of the system. Who can trust this method?
If the voting equipment selected by the State of Utah does not include a voter-verifiable paper trail, which can be counted by a method other than the initial device, then I will personally visit every household in my precinct, and as many other's as I have time for, to convince voters to use an absentee ballot, which is verifiable.
BS Medical Technology
BS Computer Science
1773 E. 1300 S.
Salt Lake City, UT 84108