As voters head to the polls to vote, Forensicon Inc’s President, Lee Neubecker, advises those to select a paper ballot if afforded the opportunity. While reviewing Cook County, Illinois’ Request For Proposal (RFP) for a Forensic Audit of Election Equipment last year, Forensicon identified potential weaknesses in the current electronic voting equipment used by Cook County, Illinois for elections.
There is a huge potential for voter fraud in President Obama’s hometown and county based on Neubecker’s interviews with Cook County election staff. The observed movement of data from the electronic voting terminals, the AVC Edge II Plus, to the Hybride Accumulator Activator Transmitter (HAATS) lacked any reasonable audit measures and was excluded from the RFP process, leaving the vote distribution counts highly susceptible to fraud.
Only after the votes are cast and later transferred via flash storage media to the HAATS, do the votes get printed from the second consolidation machine used to combine the electronic and paper ballots.
Neubecker commented, “The process of transferring votes from the AVC Edge II Plus to the HAATS lacks common security and audit controls. My observations make me highly concerned that electronic votes may not be counted accurately, leaving Cook County voters highly susceptible to election fraud this season.”
Unlike the paper ballot machines that retain the original paper ballot and the print out generated by the Optech Insight ballot scanner, the electronic terminals solely rely on the total number of votes cast and lack a real time paper printer. The safety security seals as observed by Neubecker did not conform to common security standards. There was no clear method to identify who sealed the machine, or for that matter, if a previously prepared and sealed machine had been opened and tampered with.
“There was a lack of serialized tamper evident and signed labels used to secure the equipment. The potential exists for an election precinct judge to swap out electronic media with alternate media containing the specified number of votes cast by using an alternate distribution of votes that could skew the actual election outcome.” stated Neubecker.
Forensicon opted out of bidding on the Cook County voter forensic audit because the process as observed lacked any clear integrity. Efforts were made to reach out to the Cook County leadership in an attempt to communicate what was observed, but no response was received by governmental leadership.
Lee Neubecker, President of Forensicon, strongly urges everyone to spread the word and not use the electronic voting terminals because of the huge potential for fraud. Forensicon had made a number of recommendations to Cook County, but given the short notice on bidding for the RFP, Forensicon elected not to submit a bid on a project that appeared to be a waste of tax payer funds. Neubecker did note that the County’s purchasing staff did reach out to his firm and encouraged Forensicon to bid, despite the short notice and RFP deadline in place. Neubecker learned of the RFP bid meeting only the day before the opportunity to meet with Cook County staff to discuss the lengthy 74 page RFP.
Neubecker wanted to share some of his observations and recommendations with the public, given the lack of response thus far from Cook County Governmental staff. Some of these observations and recommendations include the following:
• The AVC Edge II Plus voting terminal machines’ storage media lacked a unique serialized number that would make it evident if the storage media contained within the voting terminal was altered.
• The universe of machines to be audited by the selected forensic firm was a small subset of the entirety with the Cook County election workers knowing in advance, which specific voting machines were to be audited.
• There was a lack of access to samples of the electronic media in its various states.
• There was not a complete audit of the flow of data and electronic media from the initial source to the ultimate election count totals (the electronic voting machine all the way through the final vote total counts).
• There was no use of statistical sampling to identify precincts where the distribution of votes from electronic machines were skewed in a statistically significant way from the total vote counts and the distribution of the paper ballots cast at the same precincts.
Please inform your friends, coworkers and family not to vote electronically if at all possible. Make sure your vote is counted and most importantly, don’t forget to vote!