Missouri Leadership Project

   

Coalition for Transparent and Secure Elections
...explains their concerns about the prospects of a John Diehl speakership.

The members of Missouri's Coalition for Transparent and Secure Elections, during multiple legislative sessions of the Missouri legislature, have sought to pass a bill that would ensure a reliable paper record of our vote statewide.

We lobbied the legislators at our own expense, seeking to end the use of the electronic touch screen voting machines called DREs, and make hand-marked paper ballots the official ballot statewide. The DREs (which are used widely in several urban counties, most notably St Louis) have proven to be costly and unreliable to operate, but of most concern is the completely unsuitable nature of these machines for use in something as important as an election.

This was clearly pointed out by NIST ( National Institute of Standards and Technology) in 2010, when they wrote "Simply put, the DRE architecture's inability to provide for independent audits of its electronic records makes it a poor choice for an environment in which detecting errors and fraud is important".

In other words, the experts are saying that there is no way to audit the results of an election that is performed on DREs.

The Senate version of the Paper Ballot Bill (SB 623) was passed by the Missouri Senate in March. We had worked hard to educate the Senators and were very pleased that 22 of the 24 Republican Senators had voted for it.

However, we knew that Floor Leader Diehl would be an obstacle in the House. He'd purchased the DRE machines when he was head of the St Louis Co. Board of Elections in 2006, and had traveled to Mongolia to promote electronic voting machines with the Mongolian President and Parliament in 2009 and 2010. In addition, in a brief run in with him outside his office he had told us he would never allow our bill or any other requiring paper ballots to come to the floor of the House for a vote.. When we asked “Why not?” he said it was “just intuitive” that the electronic touch screen machines were more secure.

But we did our homework; and after diligently educating and canvassing the other 162 representatives, we were certain we had the votes to pass the bill in the House.

We then met with John Diehl to try to persuade him with facts and the results of scientific studies.

Facts such as these:

  • The same ES&S iVotronic machines used in St Louis were decertified by California's SOS and thrown out in Florida.

  • Studies such as Ohio Secretary of State's Everest report, prepared by teams of computer scientists from Univ. of PA and Penn State University which pointed out that a single knowledgeable person with a magnet and a PDA can access a machine and insert a virus that can corrupt the results of an entire election without detection.

At this April meeting John Diehl showed absolutely no interest in receiving our information. He cut us off almost immediately, and to prove his theory that voting on electronic touchscreen machines was safer than voting on paper he pushed his tablet computer to our side of the desk and picked up a pen saying, "I can write on this piece of paper before you can get into my tablet and write on it."

When we tried to tell him about the numerous groups and individuals statewide who were telling us they wanted this bill because they want to have fair and verifiable elections and need surety that their votes count, he told us, "I don't care what the people want.”

Well, we DO care, and we care that the foundation for real representation is a vote that can be accurately counted and verified. In our republic all power comes from the people, and if their votes are not verifiably counted, many won't even participate.

John Diehl's actions have shown he doesn't share our priorities. If he is allowed to become Speaker, we are left with this---Missourians will most likely have to wait years more before they have statewide elections that are truly transparent and secure---elections in which the citizens are able to know that their vote has been counted correctly.

-- Laura Hausladen, Missouri’s Coalition for Transparent and Secure Elections

Please sign the No Diehl for Speaker petition!

 

What do computer scientists who have evaluated these machines say about DREs and paper ballots?

“Based on our understanding of security and computer technology, it looks like paperbased elections are the way to go.” -- Hovav Shacham, Associate Professor of Computer Science, University of California at San Diego.

“With electronic voting, scale [of potential fraud] is humongous. You can change statistically however you want in an untraceable way thousands and thousands and thousands of votes.” -- Giovanni Vigna, Professor of Computer Science, University of California at San Diego.

Doing away with paper ballots is like “eliminating the accounting department in your bank and saying there is no embezzlement.” -- David Dill, Professor of Computer Science, Rice University.

“Paper is somehow seen as old technology. But the great thing about it is that it is tangible. You canʼt audit an electron.” -- Rebecca Mercuri, Computer Forensics Expert, President, Notable Software.

Paid for by Ron Calzone