Should Computers Be Used In Elections? – Part 1

(Ed note: DCT is not a politically motivated website. Normally, we would separate ourselves from this type of discussion. However, there is nothing political in this article, it is about election security and vulnerability. Our site is all about computers and related technology, hence, this publication.)

The United States is a democratic republic. We Americans elect officials to represent us in the executive and legislative branches at the federal level. The same happens at the state and local levels. This is done through free and secret elections. But as computers have become involved in elections, questions have arisen about their vulnerability and integrity. There is a recent case before the United States Supreme Court that could decide whether computers can be used in U.S. elections.


All the information below comes from congressional or county testimony, or court cases where the evidence was presented under oath. Also, I am not a lawyer, so I may be misinterpreting some of the legal language.


This is a brief background on the vulnerabilities of computer election equipment and software.

For a couple of hundred years, voting in the United States was done on paper and counted by hand or mechanical tabulators. In the late ’70s and ’80s, electronic voting machines began to be developed. In 1982, Nebraska was the first state to use an early electronic vote tabulating machine.

2000 US House Of Representatives Committee Testimony

In 2000, Clint Curtis, a programmer, was asked by the Speaker of the Florida House and a possible lobbyist for the voting machine companies to create a program to rig elections. on 12/31/2004, he testified before the U.S. House of Representatives. Here is a small clip.

ARNEBECK: Mr. Curtis, are there programs that can be used to secretly fix elections?


ARNEBECK: How do you know that to be the case?

CURTIS: Because in October of 2000, I wrote a prototype.

Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election

During the 2016 election cycle, evidence of foreign state actors seeking to influence U.S. voting emerged. Russian agents probed voting systems in all 50 states and successfully breached the voter registration systems of Arizona and Illinois. The Robert Mueller report confirmed that the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Army (GRU) targeted election software vendors, and GRU intelligence officers “targeted employees of [REDACTED], a voting technology company that developed software used by numerous U.S. counties to manage voter rolls, and installed malware on the company network.”

Massachusetts 2020 Primary

During the summer of 1978, at the age of 14, Shiva Ayyadurai volunteered at a medical school and created the first true email system. He holds four degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), including a Ph.D (he’s a smart guy). In 2020, Ayyadurai ran as a candidate for the United States Senate in Massachusetts, losing in the primary to Kevin O’Connor. But, Ayyadurai noticed that the numbers were strange. He easily won counties that were counted by hand, but he lost counties that were counted by computer, even though the counties were demographically similar.

Using statistical analysis, Ayyadurai realized that computer algorithms were being used to dilute each of his votes to 0.66, while increasing each vote cast for O’Connor to 1.2, thereby manufacturing a victory for O’Connor. Had the election not been distorted in this way, he would have won the primary with approximately 53% of the vote.

Ayyadurai sued Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Francis Galvin. Ayyadurai found out that the ballot tabulation software used by the Commonwealth included a “weighted race” feature that could assign values greater than or less than one to each vote!

The Judge found that Secretary Galvin violated his federal rights one time” … “fraudulently distorted and miscounted the votes received by plaintiff and his opponent” … [Ayyadurai] “does not allege that Secretary Galvin or others acting in concert with him committed further violations of federal law during the General Election. Nor does plaintiff allege that they are now engaging in such unlawful conduct. Because plaintiff is seeking a remedy for a single alleged past violation of federal law rather than to end an alleged ongoing, present violation, his claim is barred by the Eleventh Amendment and his case must be dismissed.”

The Eleventh Amendment limits the ability of individuals to sue in federal court against states of which they are not citizens. Since Ayyadurai was a citizen of Massachusetts, I don’t understand this ruling. The case was dismissed because Ayyadurai alleged that the fraud occurred in the election in which he was a candidate, not in other elections! Not being a lawyer, I don’t follow the logic.

  1. Should Computers Be Used In Elections? – Part 1  You are here
  2. Should Computers Be Used In Elections? – Part 2
  3. Should Computers Be Used In Elections? – Part 3

9 thoughts on “Should Computers Be Used In Elections? – Part 1”

  1. Norbert Gostischa

    As long as we have such a polarized political front, there will always be claims of corruption.
    If computers are used, it will be their fault. If AI gets involved it will be Ai’s fault.
    If things go back to doing everything manual, paper ballots, it will be blamed on corruption and political shenanigan’s. Or, it will be the chads fault.
    People control the computers and the programs used so no matter what’s used, it will be up to personal honesty to have fair and unbiased elections.
    I know I just made that last comment. It sound good but we all know, it will never happen.
    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  2. We can’t trust election integrity to Big Tech or tech of any kind unless the whole process is totally open to publicly audited processes and transparent to all citizens.

  3. Peter Thompson

    Yeah I’m not keen on electronic voting as it’s too easy to rig. I suppose though even paper can be tampered with.

  4. The use of both electronic and paper ballots allowing one to be compared against the other may be a solution

  5. CitizenJerry

    Absolutely Not! It’s way too easy for programmers to create BOTs that will create thousands/millions of phony, but real looking votes in different names, locations etc. that mimic real voters. Then what, election results will be stretched out for months until other programs and methods can verify the authenticity of every single vote?

  6. Bernard Elko

    The place where I vote uses a paper ballot which you fill out there and then place into a scanner. Also you remove an ID tab from the paper ballot before scanning it as verification of the paper ballot. I do not believe that Malware and Bots would have access to these scanned results unless of course the system became compromised but in which case the intrusion would become known and the scanned results discounted.

  7. No voting system should be connected to the internet for starters. Then a system as described by Bernard Elko should be used with the paper ballots compared to the scanner recording. Also, mail-in ballots need to be eliminated as same day registration. Both allow for massive cheating. Absentee ballots should be made available by personal request at a given government (or government designated) facility in person with verifiable proof of citizenship. If someone is out of the country for a year, they should be able to get their ballot from an US Embassy or other designated government facility. The problem with same day registration is the difficulty in verifying the person is a legal voter residing at claimed address. No drop-box voting should ever be allowed, it is amazing how the dead have voted in many election even without drop-boxes. Voter-ID (including picture) should also be required to vote.

    While voting may never made 100% fool-proof, we should strive to do so as much as possible.

  8. In the ‘good ole days’ paper ballots were quite sufficient. However today with the millions of votes cast, it is time to develop a secure computer system. Note that banks for example must be totally secure with software and hardware integrity systems to ensure money goes and comes with incredible accuracy. A voting system it follows could also be as secure. Input could be by eye scans etc. Imagine if your pension, salary, bank balance could be easily manipulated. We know this does not happen or there would be millions even billions of people getting ripped off. Common sense tells me that a computer system likewise developed for voting would be just a secure. Paper ballots today are not secure at all.

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