Monday, August 28, 2006

Voting system reviews are needed

I have been receiving requests for help analyzing voting systems, and the number of requests are increasing now that primary season is heating up. Some of these requests are from parties representing losing candidates and some are from concerned citizens. I don't have the bandwidth to analyze these systems, and I'm already maxed out on travel. It's very frustrating to hear how many people feel they need their voting systems analyzed by experts, without being able to help them all. I know that many people, such as Doug Jones, Dan Wallach, and David Wagner are already assisting several jurisdictions with such analyses, but there are many places out there that are not getting any help. Here is the request I received today, for example:

    Dear Mr Rubin,

    Please find enclosed information regarding our election challenge in Memphis. We have sought help from others because of the diebold usage and the magnitude of improprieties that occurred during early voting and on election day including voter fraud. Your help is urgently needed to either recommend someone or to come yourself to review information on the machines. We were given your name by Mr. Dill at Please contact me at once either via email or by calling me at 901.550-1306.

    Shep Wilbun

What is really needed is a resource such as a pool of technical people who can quickly descend upon any location, and who have the expertise to do computer forensics, as well as an understanding of elections and election law. Unfortunately such people are (to quote Fred Brooks) as rare as hen's teeth. If anybody has any ideas of what can be done to respond to this and other such requests, please post them in the comments below. My graduate students are all working at full capacity and cannot drop everything to help with these events, and in general, it seems that finding technical help, especially in remote locations such as Memphis, is virtually impossible on short notice. This is a real problem.