Daily Cal article failed to stress the danger of Pete Peterson’s ignorance of touch-screen voting machine problems

To the editor: The Oct. 12 article “Forum for secretary of state candidates hosted at International House” was very good but fell short in one area. I was at this forum. It’s on YouTube — scan for “California Secretary of State Candidate Forum at Berkeley” and see minutes 23 to 27.

I was shocked at the arrogant ignorance Pete Peterson displayed in how he dismissed our hand-filled-out paper ballots read by scanning machines — “a complete joke!” — and with how he thought the unreliable, not auditable and not recountable touch-screen voting machines — Direct Recording Electronic, or DREs — were 21st-century technology that he promised to bring to California, “transitioning from really what is 20th- if not 19th-century voting technology, which is an oxymoron into the 21st century,” Peterson said. “In almost every other state in America, they are using touch-screen technology without any problems. … It has never been shown that a DRE machine has been susceptible to fraud.”

An excellent article on DREs posted Oct. 24, “E-Votes Flip D to R in Texas, R to D in Illinois: More Trouble With Touch-Screens (2014 Edition),” convincingly says otherwise — that DREs are not just problematic but dangerous.

In contrast, Alex Padilla understood the problem with DREs. “Our elections and election results … we have to be able to audit them,” he said, meaning we must have paper ballots.  Paper ballots give you the ability to audit and recount an election. A DRE just gives you a memory card from the machine with no way to verify the machine counted correctly. I’ve been a computer programmer for more than 30 years. Anything appearing on a DRE screen has absolutely no connection to how the machine counts — or miscounts — the vote internally.  Elections are too important and worth too much for us to go back to “faith-based” vote counting. Even former president Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” Padilla understands and will protect our votes. Paperless DREs would be an election-protection disaster and a huge step backward. On this basis only, I believe we must vote for Alex Padilla for secretary of state.

Richard Tamm is the co-chair of the Voting Rights Task Force.

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