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   Computerized Voting Machines Mean Threat to Democracy, Say Public Policy Experts


Computerized Voting Machines Mean Threat to Democracy, Say Public Policy Experts

Special to the Chronicle

  • There is no U.S. federal government agency charged with oversight of voting systems companies.
  • There are no government standards or restrictions on who can sell and service voting machines and systems.
  • There are no federal mandatory standards or certification process for voting systems.
  • There is no federal requirement for voter-verified paper trails, a paper ballot, or independent auditability of voting systems.
  • Voting machines are relatively easy to rig and almost impossible to monitor.
  • Electronic manipulation of votes could take place before, during, and after an election. It can be done offsite and remotely.
  • Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has introduced legislation HR 2239 "The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003" to require all voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper trail.
These and other concerns about computerized voting will be discussed at a forum called "Voting Machines: A Threat To Democracy?,” to be held Sunday, September 7 from 2-5 pm at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, in Philadelphia.

Voting machines and the private companies that sell and service them control the casting and counting of votes in over 98% of all elections in the United States, and in many countries around the world. Concerns about the security and integrity of elections are mounting among computer experts, politicians, and citizens.

Most forums on this subject have concentrated on technical issues, but at this event a panel of experts will address the technical, constitutional, and political aspects of voting by machine.

The panelists include:

Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, a leading expert in voting machine security and standards, is an independent consultant, expert witness and the owner of Notable Software, Inc. in Princeton, NJ. She is also affiliated with Bryn Mawr College and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Center (EPIC) in Washington, DC., filed an amicus brief in Greidinger v. Davis, one of the leading cases on voting integrity and voter privacy. He teaches information privacy law at Georgetown University Law Center and has testified before Congress on many issues, including access to information, encryption policy, computer security, and communications privacy.

Ina Howard, a producer, writer and researcher with Greg Palast (BBC “Newsnight” reporter and author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy), is a former US director of Media Tenor International, a global media monitor based in Germany, and also worked with Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR),, the Global Information Network, and the Disinformation Company.

Lynn Landes, a freelance journalist, has specialized in voting issues for the past year, and has published articles in several online news outlets and in print publications. She has worked for the BBC, WDVR in New Jersey, and DUTV in Philadelphia.

In addition, a representative from Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ)’s office will be available at the forum to discuss legislation (HR 2239, "The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003") introduced by Holt that would require all voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper trail.

For more information about the forum, and to make reservations, call Lynn Landes at 215-629-3553 or e-mail:

For additional background on the panelists, see,,,

Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on August 15, 2003.
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