Friday, July 09, 2004

Activist (Bev Harris): E-Voting to Be a 'Train Wreck'

By RACHEL KONRAD, Associated Press Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Ambushing registrars and tracking down executives at their homes and offices, a literary publicist has uncovered conflicts of interests and security flaws inside the companies that make electronic ballot machines.

Searching the Web and poring over newspaper clippings, Bev Harris has unearthed obscure arrest records, ties to conservative political groups and other embarrassing secrets of senior executives at voting companies.

Her conclusion: there will be so many problems with the more than 100,000 paperless voting terminals to be used in the November presidential election that the fiasco will dwarf Florida's hanging chad debacle of 2000.

"We have a train wreck that's definitely going to happen," Harris said. "We have conflict of interest, we've taken the checks and balances away, and we know the votes are already being miscounted fairly frequently. This is going to be huge."

Harris, 52, didn't set out to become a muckraking voting technology expert.

Accustomed to working with manuscripts and authors in suburban Seattle, she preferred doting on her new grandchild to debating politics. She still doesn't vote regularly.

But when Harris was idly surfing the Web during a lunch break two years ago, she became obsessed with an issue essential to democracy, quickly becoming the unlikely center of a movement to ensure integrity in the nation's voting systems.

Critics say Harris, author of "Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century," is a fear-mongering grandstander and a presumptuous conspiracy theorist. The prime target of one investigation — voting equipment maker Diebold Inc. — says her antics undermine democracy.

"We must not frighten voters or inadvertently provide any type of disincentive to voting," Diebold spokesman David Bear wrote in an e-mail when asked to respond to Harris' claims that the company's software is riggable and insecure. "While security is an important issue ... improvements can and will be made."

Others question the motives behind her obsessive investigations of politicians and executives at big voting equipment companies such as Diebold, Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. and Election Systems & Services Inc.


Bev Harris has been the true leader for all American on this issue. But she is only one woman.


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