Last updated on: 4/23/2008 | Author:

Are Electronic Voting Machines More Susceptible to Fraud Than Other Types of Voting Machines?

PRO (yes)


The National Academy of Science’s 2005 report “Asking the Right Questions About Electronic Voting,” stated:

“Throughout most of the history of voting, the magnitude of fraud was strongly dependent on the number of people or on the effort required to commit fraudulent acts such as stuffing ballot boxes – larger numbers of fraudulent votes required a larger number of people. However, when computers are involved, a small number of individuals – albeit technically sophisticated individuals with high degrees of access to the internals of these computers – become capable of committing fraud on a very large scale. Furthermore, because the software of computer systems is intangible, the difficulty of detecting such attempts is greatly increased.”

2005 - National Academy of Sciences (NAS)


Ronald Crane, JD, Software Engineer, in his paper “A Deeper Look: Rebutting Shamos on e-Voting,” available online at Verified Voting Foundation’s website, wrote:

“Voting fraud is not…either present everywhere or absent everywhere; fraud comes in degrees and increments. A malicious DRE, created and distributed by one vendor to hundreds of thousands of polling places, systematically can falsify millions of votes. It is fraud on a wholesale level.

Stuffing a ballot box, in contrast, works at a retail level. A tamperer, however malicious and skilled, can stuff only as many ballots as might plausibly be cast at the polling place. While an organized group could stuff multiple ballot boxes, malicious DRE software could affect far more votes.”

2005 - Ronald E. Crane, JD


Teresa Hommel, JD, Computer Programming Consultant, wrote an article “Where’s the Paper for Each Ballot Cast?” available on her website (accessed Feb. 27, 2006), which stated:

“The concept of a ‘close election’ is related to paper ballot or mechanical ‘lever’ voting systems where fraud requires a lot of work by a large number of polling places or the central count location. With computerized fraud, one person can falsify the results of every machine in a matter of seconds and provide any margin of victory he or she wishes.”

Feb. 27, 2006 - Teresa Hommel, JD


Verified Voting Foundation’s Frequently Asked Questions section of their website (accessed Mar. 22, 2006) included the following entry:

“Election problems and outright election-rigging have occurred with systems based on paper ballots. However, good election administration can minimize these problems…Wide-scale tampering with paper ballots is quite difficult…

With paperless DREs, the risk of a large scale computer…fraud that can globally affect the outcome of an election is high…With paperless electronic voting systems, there is a real risk that security holes could affect large numbers of votes, regardless of how well the election is run otherwise.

In a well-run election, paper ballot are vastly more reliable and secure than paperless DRE machines.”

Mar. 22, 2006 - Verified Voting Foundation

CON (no)


The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report “Elections: Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems Are Under Way, But Key Activities Need to be Completed,” stated:

“Election officials note that their administrative procedures can compensate for inherent [electronic voting] system weaknesses, and they point out that there has never been a proven case of fraud involving tampering with electronic voting systems.”

2005 - US Government Accountability Office (GAO)


Michael Shamos, PhD, JD, Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote in his paper “Paper v. Electronic Voting Records – An Assessment,” published in the Proceedings of the 14th ACM Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy, 2004:

“The United States has been using direct-recording electronic voting equipment for well over 20 years without a single verified incident of successful tampering…

Every form of paper ballot that has ever been devised can and has been manipulated, in general with considerable ease. The reason is that humans are familiar with paper and its characteristics, how to mark it to look genuine and how to erase it…Other types of manipulation, such as destroying ballots or substituting other ones, require no skill at all. By contrast, altering redundant encrypted write-once computer records is impossible even for experts. So assuming that the electronic voting records are written correctly in the first place, the possibility of modifying them later is remote…

In general, the rampant problems with paper ballot [fraud] are neither acknowledged nor addressed by opponents of electronic voting, who seem oblivious to the fact that their opposition to new technology, if successful, will compel us to retain something that is much worse.”

2004 - Michael I. Shamos, PhD, JD


The Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research prepared a report for the Maryland State Board of Elections in Feb. 2006 titled “A Study of Vote Verification Technologies Part I: Technical Study,” which stated:

“No election system, regardless of the technology involved, is foolproof nor is any election system completely immune or secure from fraud and attack. Indeed, there is a long and inglorious history of election fraud in the U.S. that involves nearly all methods and technologies of voting, especially paper ballots.”

Feb. 2006 - Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (MIPAR)


The Election Technology Council’s 2004 Statement of Principles concluded:

“Although DRE systems are relatively new, voters are no doubt reassured by the fact that no known case of DRE tampering has been discovered to date. On the contrary, reports and commentators critical of touch screen voting security must couch their criticisms in the hypothetical rather than the actual.”

2004 - Election Technology Council