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The Security of Voting Systems: The Big Picture

In its report, "The Machinery of Democracy", a task force of top computer scientists concludes that all types of voting systems used in Iowa are vulnerable to error and manipulation. Pre-election testing is not enough; random manual audits of paper ballots are needed to detect error or fraud.

Security Problems Of Specific Voting Systems

2007 - The ES&S iVotronic, used in 7 Iowa counties: "Terribly Insecure" and in need of upgrades.

2006 - Diebold's TSx, used in 71 counties: A "Bombshell" Vulnerability. Johns Hopkins computer scientist "almost had a heart attack" upon learning of loophole.

2006 - Diebold:  Princeton and University of Connecticut  studies show new vulnerabilities in Diebold touchscreens and ballot scanners.  Both reports urge routine audits of voter-verified paper records.

2006 - Diebold: California's Voting System Panel Discovers "Classic" Security Flaws.

Diebold: A History of Security Flaws

The Testing of Voting Systems

The system of testing and certifying America's voting systems has been inadequate and burdened by conflicts of interest.  Recent changes keep some of the same testing overseers in positions of responsibility.

Residual Votes and Optical Scan vs. DRE Machines

 See results of a study of Iowa's 2006 residual votes at right. Click here and here for data on Ohio's residual votes in 2006 by voting system.

Voting Systems In Use In Iowa

Click here for the Secretary of State's list of voting systems used in each of Iowa's counties.  71 counties use Diebold's equipment, 28 counties use Election Systems and Software's.


About Iowans for Voting Integrity

Iowans for Voting Integrity is a nonpartisan, grassroots group of citizens working for voting systems worthy of the public trust. We support voter-marked paper ballots for all Iowa voters, ballot-marking devices to serve voters with disabilities, random hand audits to ensure accurate computer vote tallies, public disclosure of election software, the right to full public examination of election records, and the administration of elections by public employees.

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Media Release: Iowa Senate Failing to Safeguard the 2010 Vote

Action Alert: Help Safeguard the 2010 Elections In Iowa

February 24, 2010 - Your help is needed to safeguard Iowa's 2010 elections. House File 682, the work of a task force of citizens, election officials, and lawmakers, would require Iowa to conduct hand-counted audits of election results. HF 682 passed the House unanimouslyin 2009, but the bill has stalled on the Senate side. 

Click here to urge Iowa Senators to pass HF 682.

Audits are done by comparing a hand-tally of paper ballots to the machine tally, in a number of precincts selected at random. If the results don't match, further checking can be done. Unlike recounts, audits happen every time as a check and balance on the system -- not just when a particular contest is at stake. It's not difficult to do; in November 2008, audits were done in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, and a number of Illinois counties do manual audits.

New York Times editorial endorses HR 2894

June 21, 2009 - The New York Times has published a powerful editorial urging the House of Representatives to pass the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2009. "Electronic voting machines that do not produce a paper record of every vote cast cannot be trusted. In 2008, more than one-third of the states, including New Jersey and Texas, still did not require all votes to be recorded on paper. Representative Rush Holt has introduced a good bill that would ban paperless
electronic voting in all federal elections. Congress should pass it while there is still time to get ready for 2010."  Read the complete editorial (
Note: the editorial states that HR 2894 would require paper ballots for every vote cast in 2010. In fact, only some states must convert to paper ballots by 2010; until 2014, states may continue to use voting machines that currently produce a cash-register type of printout for voters to view . By 2014, all states must convert to paper ballots.)

Iowa's Residual Votes Offer a Lesson: Choose Paper for Voting

Iowans for Voting Integrity Press Release

November 6, 2007 - Voters in today's elections have a good reason to choose paper ballots over touch screen voting machines if they have the option.

A review of all statewide races in Iowa's 2006 General Election shows that voter-marked paper ballots read by optical scanners had the lowest rate of residual votes, and that use of touch screen electronic voting machines correlated with a higher residual vote rate.

Read the complete press release, as well as the full results of the study and election data used to compile results.

California's Voting Machine Review: What It Says About Iowa's Diebold Systems

August 10, 2007 -  "We are not optimistic that stricter chain-of-custody controls will prove effective in addressing the vulnerabilities identified in this report."1

That is a quote from a review commissioned by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to study the same Diebold voting systems used in 71 Iowa counties. The review team, led by David Wagner of the University of California-Berkeley, also compares the systems to an oceanliner built without watertight doors.2  Old vulnerabilities, including some that Diebold claimed to have fixed, were confirmed, and even worse problems were found. Pre-election ballot testing would not protect a county against malicious code in its systems.

California has reviewed, decertified, and conditionally recertified, the voting systems from Diebold, Sequioa, and Hart Intercivic.  Iowa uses only two voting system vendors: Diebold, and Election Systems and Software (ES&S). Bowen's office did not get ES&S code or documentation in time for the review, but will review their systems in the near future.

Bowen will soon issue new standards for hand-count ballot audits, and she is severely restricting the use of touchscreen direct-electronic voting machines.

Click here to read Secretary Bowen's decision on Diebold systems, and click here for a summary of vulnerabilities found in the review

1 Source Code Review of the Diebold Voting System," David Wagner and colleagues, p. 58

2 ""p. 20