1. Q: Security. Doesn't the public programming used by Voting by Phone lend itself to penetration by computer hackers intent on changing the results of the election or even just creating havoc?

A: Phone voting accepts only the 12 touch-tones (or 10 dial phone choices), not computer (modem) language. A `hacker' can't penetrate the system this way any more than they can with the buttons on an ATM machine, though our system requires more identification than an ATM.

The system will give you perhaps 3 chances to identify yourself correctly, then it hangs up. 'Havoc' in terms of tying up the system is prevented by not accepting more calls from the same phone (using caller ID, the non-blockable 911 kind) for a period of time.

2. Q: Fraud. What will prevent individuals from voting on others' numbers? This system makes the old practice of selling votes particularly easy and very difficult to detect. It is one thing for an individual to go into a number of poling places impersonating many voters. It is far easier to do this by phone.

A: The County Clerk forgets to mention how easy it is to buy or coerce absentee votes. When I get my absentee ballot in the mail, I can sign it and sell it blank. Yet, a study of all-mail elections conducted in 1984 by the Survey Research Center at Oregon State University involving 1,429 voters in 7 counties in Oregon indicates almost no fraud or abuse. According to a GAO report, this is the only such study. Absentee voting as well seems non-controversial in this regard.

Voting by phone makes it possible to publish how every voter voted without revealing their identity- by telling people the order in which they voted, and publishing them serially. This will prove to people for the first time that their votes were recorded correctly. By publishing these complete election results on computer diskette, anyone with access to a computer can verify that the announced totals are correct as well. This will gain confidence in a new system.


1. Q: How will voters be informed of their individual voter number? How can we be assured this number reaches each voter and that only the voter is using it? What if a voter doesn't receive his or her number?

A: The easy way to make sure only the proper voter gets the ID number is to have them come down to get it themselves. This makes phone voting optional, like absentee voting, and phases in the new system. The handicapped should be allowed to request that it be mailed, also like an absentee ballot.

2. Q: Many older and poor individuals do not have touch-tone phones. How will Voting by Phone provide for them?

A: There is equipment that allows dial or pulse phones to access touch-tone services. Or, any touch-tone phone in the world could be used. Phone booths are much more widespread than voting booths.

3. Q: Many people, particularly the elderly, have problems with touch-tone phone menus. When a voter has a problem in a polling place, there are judges and poll watchers there to give assistance. How is this possible with Voting by Phone?

A: Remember, phone voting is optional with our proposal. When a person comes in to get their ID number, they can request a demonstration of the previous election using a phone. Plus, our proposal requires providing a sample ballot so you can see instructions and make your choices before you call and vote, which will save much time. Further instructions could be provided by pressing * or #.

4. Q: How will spoiled ballots be accommodated?

A: If a person hangs up or is disconnected before completing the process, the vote is not counted but recorded in a separate computer file, as part of the audit trail.

5. Q: How will the system be tested prior to the election to ensure that it works properly?

A: The system can be tested by having people vote in various ways and then examining the results, just as systems are currently.

6. Q: How will the canvas board be able to canvass the vote? What audit trail will be created that will assist them in this?

A: The canvass board integrates the votes from the voting computer, absentee votes, etc. Phone votes would be one more set of results to add in. Each vote is recorded individually for the audit trail.

7. Q: What measures can be taken to eliminate the possibility of phone outages anywhere in the entire area using the system?

A: By allowing phone voting during the entire early voting period (24 days in Colorado), the chance of an outage preventing someone from voting can be made virtually zero.

8. Q: How will the system identify the state house and senate districts, RTD district, etc. in which the voter is eligible to vote?

A: The system will have a record for the proper district races each voter is eligible to vote in, based on address, just as currently- it's already in the computerized registration system.

9. Q: How will voters who moved but didn't make the address change to their voter record be able to vote in the races appropriate for their new address?

A: The voter will go to the County Building, as they must currently, to change their address and the record of which district races they are eligible for. If this is a problem for technical reasons while the election is in progress, they can vote the old way.

10. The instructions for the November 1990 test were inadequate. For example, voters were not told that the entering of their name had to be followed by a #.

A: The reason the demonstration instructions didn't tell voters to follow their name with # is because they didn't have to! We set it up so that after 4 seconds, the computer considered the name input finished. This was a demonstration only. This question shows that the County Clerk didn't try it herself, nor did her "informants".

11. Q: Many registered voters who used the system were told "We can't find you". In fact, I do not know of any registered voters who were acknowledged as being registered.

11. Perhaps the voters were registered after we bought the computer tape from the County. We couldn't afford to buy a new one for $42 every day and convert it to PC format. Hundreds of voters were acknowledged as registered. The County Clerk should call 442-2625 and try it herself- our demo has run flawlessly nearly 24 hours a day for over 6 months. [No longer- editor].

There was one bug last year that prevented people with names of less than 3 letters from being recognized for several days, which we fixed within hours of being notified. People with call waiting have problems if someone calls them while voting. They can disable the call waiting by dialing *70 before they dial our number.

We may not have all the answers but we know they exist- otherwise phone banking, shopping and CU student registration wouldn't have been around for decades. These all require identification, and are more complicated than mere vote counting. CU's registration system is vastly more complicated. Most problems are problems with people, and the solutions involve proper personnel procedures to ensure everything is open and accountable.

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