By Rady Ananda on 10/1/2009, 5:57pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Rady Ananda

On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled [PDF] that unauditable voting in the state does not infringe upon the fundamental right to vote and to have that vote counted. In 2002, Georgia was among the first in the nation to implement Diebold touch-screen voting machines across the entire state.

The lead plaintiff, Garland Favorito, was astounded. "This ruling essentially gives the state a license to pretend to conduct elections. Not one of the 100+ million votes that have been cast on the machines since 2002 can be audited for accuracy and correctness of vote recording." ...

"Georgia law in 2001 and 2002 required that any new machines have an independent audit trail of each vote cast. The state's own witnesses have acknowledged that the specific type of electronic voting machines we purchased and use do not have such an independent audit trail," Favorito told The BRAD BLOG. "The machines can only internally recreate selections that may or may not have been shown to the voter. Without an independent audit trail, it is impossible to determine whether the actual ballots cast on Election Day were recorded correctly."

His group, VoterGA.org, believes that "auditable electronic voting machines" exist. But software is undetectably mutable. It can change without leaving a trace; and it can do so without malice. Humidity or heat can cause an electronic system to fail, or its data to become corrupted.

There has been much research --- beginning in 2005 with computer security expert Harri Hursti's famous hacks in Leon County, Florida - which clearly show, repeatedly, that even optical scan machines can be maliciously programmed to defeat pre-election testing. So-called "Logic and Accuracy Tests" prior to elections can be subverted, without detection.

Once people submit their paper ballots on such systems --- and then those ballots are removed off site for counting --- the public chain of custody is broken and we therefore cannot rely on the paper count. Ballots should never leave the polling site before being counted. Not in any real democracy, anyway.

In our current world order, U.S. election officials have consistently chosen to ignore the science and rely on an electronic tally, preserving the ballots only for some potential future recount. Government officials offer little choice other than the public simply trust that they have protected those ballots from corruption --- the very ballots they use to assert authority.

While all of that is Orwellian enough and anathema to freedom, the Georgia Supreme Court has gone one step further. They ruled for completely secret, and entirely unverifiable vote casting and counting by allowing the worst possible technology: Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems. With those types of machines, in use across the entire Peach State, officials don't even have to pretend they kept their paper records secured --- there aren't any.

Favorito notes: "In this particular case, the previous boss of former Secretary of State [Cathy] Cox, who signed the purchase agreement, was the lobbyist for Diebold, the voting machine vendor." Diebold changed the name of its election division to Premier Election Solutions in 2007, in hopes of shaking off the horrible reputation they'd garnered after their voting systems --- both touch-screen and optical-scan paper-based systems --- were found to have failed in so many different states and scientific studies.

They've recently been acquired by their largest competitor, ES&S, which --- if the sale is allowed to go through --- would create a single voting machine company whose equipment will be used for more than two-thirds of the votes cast in the nation. Critics, including election integrity experts, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and even one of the remaining e-voting competitors still left in the market, are all challenging the sale on anti-trust grounds.

Yes, welcome to the New World Order, where corporations rule without accountability --- or auditability --- and where it seems things will be getting worse, before getting better.

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