Rebecca Mercuri on HAVA and Electronic Voting

The Help America Vote Act is the result of Federal legislation introduced following the 2000 Presidential election recount in Florida. The bill was stalled in Congress until after a State of Emergency was declared during Florida’s 2002 Fall Primary election that resulted from problems in the use of over $50M in newly deployed, state and NASED certified electronic voting equipment. Although the Florida situation in 2000 and 2002 indicated that elections require:
        1. Assurance that the ballots cast accurately reflect their voters’ intentions
        2. Ability to perform recounts in an unambiguous and unimpeachable fashion
these controls have not been put in place, despite the authorization of $3.8B in public expenditures.

HAVA mandated the formation of a Presidentially appointed 4-member Commission (by February 26, 2003), as well as a 14-member Technical Guidelines Development Committee and a 110-member Standards Board, but the Commission was delayed by nearly a year in formation, and as of this date, the composition of the Technical Committee and Standards Board has not been established. The HAVA Technical Guidelines Committee was supposed to have been charged with the production of a set of recommended voluntary voting system guidelines, but this has not yet occurred.  Regardless, state election officials were required to submit their HAVA plans within the deadlines or request extensions, even though guidance was completely lacking. In the meanwhile, certification continues under the program established by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) despite the fact that their 2002 voting system standard has been criticized by technologists as flawed and full of security loopholes.

Specifically, the 2002 FEC guidelines do NOT:
Credentials:  Rebecca Mercuri is internationally recognized as one of the leading experts on electronic voting.  Her 14 years of research on this subject include her present affiliation with Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and prior work at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering.  Body of work includes 24 technical papers on computer security and electronic voting, and sworn testimony for Congressional, State, and Municipal hearings as well as expert witness statements for court proceedings.  Dr. Mercuri has observed elections as a scientist, poll-worker, and committeewoman in various US States, and has provided formal comment on voting technology to the House Science Committee, Federal Election Commission and the UK Cabinet.

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