Newsletter 4 - 23 September 2006
From Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet
TNO against publication
TNO-ITSEF, a security evaluations company in The Netherlands, resists publication of its test reports regarding voting computers. Imagine that everybody could read how the tests are done and what the conclusions are. TNO-ITSEF wrote a letter to the ministry of the Interior in which the company asks to keep the reports secret in response to a Freedom of Information Act by “We don't trust voting computers”.
TNO-ITSEF has been assigned by the Dutch government to certify voting computers using specific technical criteria in Dutch law. If the voting computers pass certification they can be used during elections. This does not mean that the voting computers are secure and cannot be manipulated, the criteria in Dutch law do not cover any of these issues. Even more bizarre is that when testing voting computers, TNO-ITSEF does not work the government. Its customers are the makers of voting computers in The Netherlands: Nedap-Groenendaal and SDU. TNO-ITSEF doesn't even send the complete test reports to the Dutch government. The ministry is already satisfied with a single sheet of paper stating the certification.
The director of TNO-ITSEF, Dr.Ir.D.J. Out, objects to publication of the documents in his letter of 27 July 2006 to the ministry. “They [the documents] contain personnel confidential information, among other things the names of our employees and company secrets (about our practices, intellectual property, etc.).” As a matter of fact, the maker of the voting computer (Nedap) also objects to publication, says Out. “Also in our contracts with Nedap it has been explicitly indicated that no publication will take place.” It is of course completely normal that the manufacturer of voting computers has complete control over what the Dutch voter can read about its products. Moreover, the reports have not been meant to inform mere mortals. “The TNO reports have not been written, each in itself at any time, to inform any person.” The letter from TNO has been made public by the ministry of the Interior as a result of another Freedom of Information Act request by “We don't trust voting computers”.
Letter of TNO (as an appendix in a decision from the ministry of the Interior, 5 September 2006, Dutch)
Ministry is starting to have doubts
The Dutch ministry of the Interior admits voting computers can be manipulated. But the ministry also says the computers are 'sufficiently secure', according to the Dutch newspaper 'Algemeen Dagblad'.
The ministry is deviating from earlier statements that were very adamant about the security of voting computers. "In my opinion, voting machines used in The Netherlands are secure" said minister De Graaf in response to parliamentary questions in 2004. And in 2005 minister Pechtold similarly stated "In contrast to an election using paper ballots, it is not possible to doubt whether the votes were correctly counted during an election using voting machines."
If it were up to “We don't trust voting computers”, the ministry would be retracting a lot more statements regarding the presumed security of voting computers.
Algemeen Dagblad: Election fraud possible (15 September. 2006, Dutch)
Answer to parliamentary questions by Haverkamp and Spies (1 April 2004, Dutch)
Answer to parliamentary questions by De Wit (9 June 2005, Dutch)
Through its election newsletter, Nedap-Groenendaal is warning municipalities to be extra careful during the next parliamentary elections.
Under the header "Wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet.nl" Nedap writes: "There is reason to believe that the integrity of the voting process will receive more attention than usual during these next elections. Thus it is very important that the correct procedures are adhered to."
Nedap then supplies a list of guidelines regarding the storage of voting computers or parts thereof. According to Nedap, "Prepared voting computers need to be stored under guard or in a well-secured location" and "programming unit and key as well as ballot modules need to be stored in the safe". Nedap is also asking for information: "if you have recently been asked whether someone could loan a voting machine, then we'd like to know. Please mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org." Apparently Nedap is very concerned we get pour hands on their equipment. Which makes you wonder...
Interesting information surrounding Nedap-Groenendaal can of course always be mailed to
Election bulletin nr. 2, 11 September, Parliamentary Elections 2006 (Dutch)
Voting computers wanted!
"Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet" is urgently looking for voting computers to buy, loan or lease, we don't care. Which municipality would like to know how secure these voting computers really are? We'll find out for you. Do you have a Nedap-Groenendaal or an SDU NewVote on offer? We'll come to collect it. Incomplete is not a problem. Accessories are also welcome: spare parts, documentation, training material, software, etc. Contact us for a competitive offer.
After reading this newsletter and the "Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet" website, voters will no doubt have second thoughts about voting on computers. But for those that want to exercise their constitutional rights, not voting is simply not an option.
Fortunately, 12 of the 458 municipalities in The Netherlands still use paper ballots. Do you want to make sure that your 2006 parliamentary vote is properly counted? Then join us in voting in one of the following municipalities: Leeuweradeel (Fr), Meijel (Lb), Nederlek (ZH), Neerijnen (Gld), Oirschot (NB), Ooststellingwerf (Fr), Schermer (NH), Schijndel (NB), Sint Anthonis (NB), Zeevang (NH), Zoeterwoude (ZH), Zuidhorn (GR).
During national elections (for both the national and European parliament) a voter pass can be used to cast your vote anywhere in The Netherlands. So if you wish to vote in a different municipality than the one you are registered in, you will need a voter pass. A voter pass is the regular voter card that was mailed to you, marked with the stamp of your municipality and a signature of the mayor. Voter passes are free.
Once in possession of a voter pass, you can vote in one of these 12 municipalities. "Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet" will have detailed information on how to obtain a voter pass on the website soon. We are also planning to stimulate voting tourism by organising group travel to a nice and quiet municipality in the middle of the country. We predict the local tourist office will be ecstatic about voting tourism and will strongly reject any plans to introduce voting computers there.
More information will be on the website and in this newsletter!
Foundation “We don't trust voting computers” established
On 29 August the foundation “We don't trust voting computers” has been established. Members of the board are: Rop Gonggrijp (chair), Barry Wels (treasurer), Anne Marie Oostveen (secretary) en Peter Knoppers. The goal of the foundation, according to the statutes, is: to advance, defend, and research verifiable and transparent elections, with specific focus to the obstacles imposed by electronic voting.
Maurice Wessling has been employed full-time for the foundation.
“We don't trust voting computers” is a non-profit, non-partisan foundation seated in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The foundation aims to advance, defend, and research verifiable and transparent elections, with specific focus to the obstacles imposed by electronic voting.
“We don't trust voting computers”
1098 EJ Amsterdam
The foundation can be best reached by e-mail:
phone +31 20 4636394