Books & Films
Below are some of the most influential books and films that have done an excellent job exposing and documenting America’s voting technology crisis.
This 2006 film, originally broadcast on HBO, investigates allegations of election fraud during the 2004 presidential election. It features research by Black Box Voting author Bev Harris, and election security analyst Harri Hursti hacking the memory card of a Diebold voting machine. Watch it all online.
Murder, Spies, and Voting Lies
This 2008 documentary tells the story of Clint Curtis, a computer programmer in Florida who was hired by a Republican legislator to write vote-rigging software.
Free for All!
This 2008 film by John Ennis takes a close look at voter suppression, partisan election administration, and suspicious technology in the 2004 Ohio presidential race.
Description: What do you do when you find 40,000 secret voting machine files on the Web? What if you knew that the devil went down to Georgia on November 5, 2002 and, in a stunning upset, tipped control of the U.S. Senate—and then you saw a folder called “rob-georgia,” looked inside and found instructions to replace Georgia’s computerized voting files right before the election?
Author Bev Harris is the 52-year-old grandma who found these files, which have now been studied by computer scientists all over the world. Black Box Voting is an all-too-true story, resulting from her investigations into the voting industry. What she learned is that modern-day voting systems are run by private, for-profit corporations, rely on a few cronies for oversight, using a certification system so fundamentally flawed that it allows machines to miscount and lose votes, with hidden back doors that enable “end runs” around the voting system.
Find out why your vote might not count—and what to do about it!
Description: Imagine for a moment that you live in a country where nobody is sure how most of the votes are counted, and there’s no reliable record for performing a recount. Imagine that machines count the votes, but nobody knows how they work. Now imagine if somebody found out that the machines were vulnerable to attack, but the agencies that operate them won’t take the steps to make them safe. If you live in America, you don’t need to imagine anything. This is the reality of electronic voting in our country.
Avi Rubin is a computer scientist at Johns Hopkins University and a specialist in systems security. He and a team of researchers studied the code that operates the machines now used in 37 states and discovered the following terrifying facts:
- The companies hired to test the election equipment for federal certification did not study the code that operates the machines and the election commissions employed no computer security analysts.
- All votes are recorded on a single removable card similar to the one in a digital camera. There is no way to determine if the card or the code that operates the machine has been tampered with.
- It’s very easy to program a machine to change votes. There’s no way to determine if that has happened.
- There were enough irregularities with the electronic voting machines used throughout the 2004 election to make anyone think twice about using them again.
Avi Rubin has testified at Congressional hearings trying to alert the government that it has put our democracy at risk by relying so heavily on voting machines without taking the proper precautions. As he has waged this battle, he has been attacked, undermined, and defamed by a prominent manufacturer. His job has been threatened, but he won’t give up until every citizen understands that at this moment, our democracy hangs in the balance.
There are simple solutions and, before you vote in the next election, Rubin wants you to know your rights. If you don’t know them and you use an electronic voting machine, you may not be voting at all.
Douglas W. Jones and Barbara Simons
Description: Broken Ballots begins with a comprehensive history of the use of technology in elections, starting with mechanical voting machines in the nineteenth century. Many of the problems that emerged then continue to plague modern electronic voting machines.
The authors go on to illustrate how both legislation and the regulatory structure governing voting equipment have been ineffective at addressing technological risks—risks that frequently outstrip the understanding of election administrators and regulators.
The result has been a series of failures where there is reason to doubt the official vote count correctly reflected the intent of the voters. Both Democrats and Republicans have been the victims of these failures. The book ends with a prescriptive summary that includes recommendations for policies and legislation to better protect the democratic process.