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Jimmy Carter Could Never Certify a Nevada Election
Jimmy Carter Could Never Certify a Nevada Election
This article appeared in NEVADA TERRITORIAL NEWS, Vol. 1, No. 23, November 2-9, 2000.
Former President Jimmy Carter has spent much of his time since leaving the White House traveling the world as an elections observer; verifying their fairness, or lack thereof. One woman's investigation into Nevada elections has uncovered grave flaws in the security of our voting machines. The Silver State, she says, is ripe for election fraud.
Some of the world's major manufacturers of gaming machines are based in Nevada. Lois Avery, State Senate candidate for District 3, interviewed employees of one of those firms, and Voter Registrar staff in Clark and Washoe Counties, to compare the security measures taken to ensure honest gambling machines with those used to safeguard elections. What she found shocked her. Gaming machines, she discovered, are far more secure than voting machines.
The Nevada Gaming Commission stringently regulates every aspect of the programming and operation of gaming machines so that neither casinos nor patrons can cheat. Voting machines are much more laxly overseen by a hodgepodge of governmental agencies operating under a crazy-quilt of laws, statutes, and codes. She believes the possibility of rigged elections is alarmingly real.
When the current voting machines were originally installed in Clark and Washoe Counties they were Certified by an independent testing facility and then Certified by the Secretary of State. However, there has been no effort to recertify these machines after any of several "upgrades" were installed. When Mrs. Avery inquired of the Secretary of State why these program changes had not been recertified she was told that they were only "little" changes, merely getting rid of bugs from previous versions, and so did not affect the counting of votes, thus not requiring recertification. Mrs. Avery points out that in gaming machines any change, no matter how minor, requires that the machine's entire program be retested.
Another astonishing lapse of security in voting machines is the easy accessibility of the control chip containing the machine's program. In gaming machines a special key is required to gain access to the compartment that contains the chip. But in Washoe County one only has to remove five screws from a voting machine and you're in. An experienced computer person could conceivably change out the entire program in a matter of seconds! On site testing of gaming machines is regularly conducted to ensure that the chip in the machine is the one that was tested. Lois Avery learned, much to her dismay, that no such on site testing is ever conducted for voting machines. There is no way to know if the chip in any voting machine in the state is the same one the machine arrived with.
In keeping with the above, she found that the testing of the voting machines prior to an election was minimal, at best. A few weeks prior to an election the machines are "Certified" by running less than 30 pre-marked ballots through, to test the accuracy of the count. Lois has remarked on the case of gas station fraud in California where the pumps accurately counted the first gallon, which is what State regulators use to gage their accuracy, but then the program in the pump's computer chip began faking the amount pumped so as to cheat motorists by pumping less gas than the machine said. Lois points out that the voting machines in Nevada could be deliberately misprogrammed to accurately count a few initial ballots, say the first 100, then begin adjusting the count after that. Election officials running only a few test ballots could be easily fooled into Certifying the accuracy of a machine programmed to steal an election.
The icing on the cake for Lois is that the voting machines in Clark County use no paper ballots at all. There is no paper trail, no hard copy to refer back to. Should the honesty of an election in Clark County be challenged (and there have been several such challenges in the last century) an accurate recount of the actual vote would be impossible.
Lois Avery's husband owns an engineering firm and Lois has worked in that company, with computers and their programming, for many years. Her experience has led her to the conclusion that Nevada's voting machines simply cannot be trusted.
She urges that every voter in Nevada demand that these problems be corrected. Specifically, she urges that only voting machines that retain a paper ballot be used anywhere in the state; that voting machines be tested in "election" mode for a full day and verify all chips are the originally Certified ones, and are untampered with. Further, she suggests a novel measure to ensure fair elections, namely, allowing the output of the ballot scanner to be read by one additional computer for each of the political parties in an election. These measures, she thinks, would go a long way towards ensuring honest returns.
To learn more about Lois Avery and her candidacy for State Senate, click on her website http://www.AveryNiceDay.com.
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