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By Michael Richardson on 1/24/2007 10:56am PT  

Guest Blogged by Michael Richardson

Election Assistance Commission Executive Director Thomas Wilkey moved to the EAC after serving on the National Association of State Election Directors Voting System Board, which he chaired.

Wilkey's current boss at the EAC is Donetta Davidson, Chair of the federal commission. Davidson is a former president of NASED and served with Wilkey on the Voting System Board, which was tasked with certifying "independent testing authorities" to perform tests on electronic voting machines used throughout America.

In 2002, the Help America Vote Act transferred testing responsibility from NASED to the EAC, which took over the duties in July 2006. When it came time to issue interim accreditation to the test labs, EAC technical specialists found that Ciber, Inc. had failed to adequately document security testing while under NASED's certification. Serving "ex officio" on the Voting Systems Board, headed by Wilkey, was Shawn Southworth of Ciber.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has since recommended to the EAC that two other test labs perform the work formerly done by Ciber. Davidson, who twice testified before Congressional hearings last year on voting machine certification, failed to disclose the problems with the Ciber test lab to members of Congress. Senator Diane Feinstein has since asked Wilkey to explain why Ciber was not issued interim accreditation and why the public and election officials around the country were not notified before the November 2006 elections.

During the six months of secrecy from the EAC about the test lab ban, Ciber founder Bobby Stevenson sold $1.6 million worth of stock in the company. Ciber CEO Mac Slinglend also did some insider trading unloading $115,000 worth of the stock while the public was unaware of the EAC action against the company.

The failures of Ciber testing that led to the denial of interim accreditation were not under the EAC watch but instead arose under certification by Wilkey's NASED's Voting Systems Board.

Can EAC Chair Davidson be counted on to properly supervise her new subordinate? Maybe not, according to emails obtained by BlackBoxVoting from 2004 when both served on the NASED certification panel. Email traffic between the pair raise questions about their relationship.

On July 15, 2004 at 2:21 pm, Wilkey emailed Davidson: "You are actually reading your emails...WOW!!! Yes I will see you on Saturday. I get in about 9 pm so we will have a nightcap if you are not out partying on Bourbon Street. Love, Your New York Brother."

Two weeks later on July 29, 2004, after the nightcaps in New Orleans, Davidson sent Wilkey an email: "My Dearest Brother, Life has not slowed down, but I am staying out of trouble. Hope to talk to you soon, on the PHONE. That way I get to hear your voice. Love your Sis."

Now the cozy relationship between the two former NASED regulators can blossom at EAC where Wilkey reports to Davidson.

Wilkey's role in certifying electronic voting machines goes back a long way. According to his official agency biography, Wilkey helped draft the first voting system standards in country back in 1983 while working with the Federal Elections Commission.

"An early proponent of the creation of the National Association of State Election Directors, Wilkey has served as secretary, treasurer, vice-president and was elected president for 1996-1997. In January, Wilkey was named chair of NASED's Independent Test Authority Accreditation Board, which reviews and approves laboratories and technical groups for the testing of voting systems under NASED's national accreditation program. He was reappointed chair in 2000."

Wilkey's watchdog role over voting system security also gained him appointment to an advisory board of the Department of Defense's Federal Voting Assistance Program, which assists six million military and overseas voters. Ciber, one of Wilkey's NASED approved test labs, since banned, conducted the security testing of the FVAP computer system.

Now "New York Brother" and "Sis" are tasked with protecting the voting machine security for the entire nation. The earlier role of the two EAC leaders in oversight of Ciber's lax work that led to non-accreditation may well be the subject of Congressional hearings before the year is out.




By Michael Richardson on 1/18/2007 12:44pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Michael Richardson

The efforts of the Election Assistance Commission to accredit test laboratories for the nation's electronic voting machines have left the country with only two labs, SysTest and Wyle, operating on interim approval; and one laboratory, Ciber, left unaccredited since the National Association of State Election Directors got out of the certification business last year.

Published reports indicate the Ciber lab was denied interim accreditation last summer for a history of inadequate quality assurance and inability to document that critical tests were performed. The EAC is saying little about the matter to the media and has now been requested by Senator Diane Feinstein to explain why Ciber was not accredited and why disclosure of that fact was kept from election officials around the nation.

EAC regulatory staff might just want to peek at Ciber's website where they will discover that the banned Ciber lab has merged its testing division with EAC approved Wyle lab. Ciber boasts, "The CIBER-Wyle team is your single source for independent voting machine testing."

"With the growing demand for premier independent software/hardware testing of Voting Machines, CIBER and Wyle have joined forces are now offering the quality independent testing solutions needed for voting machine systems supporting the Election Assistance Commission standards."

"Our teams, co-located in Huntsville, Alabama, have now integrated best of breed testing solutions, CIBER for software testing and Wyle for their hardware testing capabilities. By teaming we now offer complete independent voting system testing solutions for voting system vendors and for state governments."

"We combined the two most experienced labs and staffs in the country into one efficient organization. We provide a co-located testing facility on one campus for all your testing needs. Successfully tested and recommended for certification the industry leaders in voting systems. Specialized support for prequalification testing and anomaly resolution/verification."

The Ciber website also has a pitch for state business as well as electronic voting machines vendors but they should have used a grammar check. "The CIBER-Wyle team will help you to make sure that your election is run with little or no room for criticism. They will assist in areas such as assuring that you have the current certified copy of your voting vendor's hardware and software and that you will have implemented a set of state voting standards that will meet the [sic] with the majority of the voters' approval, taking into consideration the usability and accessibility of the voting system."

Ciber's role in testing of voting technology was more than issuing reports to vendors and states, like Florida, which rely upon Ciber reports for their technology advice to local election officials. Despite the growing number of reports about inadequate testing, now leaking out about Ciber's failures, which reveal long-standing problems of deficiency, the test lab also serviced the Department of Defense.

Ciber's self-promotional web page about the Federal Voting Assistance Program provides Senator Feinstein with new areas needing review for sloppy work on the voting system that assists military voters.

"The scope of the work included testing and validation of both the system's functionality and security....based on our certification as an Independent Test Authority, CIBER was awarded this work....Ciber performed system security penetration assessments....Based on this work, CIBER documented system exposures and vulnerabilities. Periodic penetration assessment continued during system operation."

The merger of the two "independent" test labs into one team raises red flags about Wyle's interim EAC accreditation status; while Ciber's voting security testing for the Defense Department, based on its earlier NASED certification, may soon be getting review by Congress.




The EAC and Its Outgoing Commissioner Paul DeGregorio's Campaign to Plant Misinformation in the American Media...
By John Gideon on 1/16/2007 6:05am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, Executive Director, VotersUnite.Org

In the weeks following last November's mid-term election, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) sent retiring Commissioner Paul DeGregorio out to cheerlead and to make the voters feel warm and cozy about the election.

The Commissioner keeps telling the voters that we should have confidence in the election process. He constantly states that everything worked just fine except for isolated incidents. Meanwhile, he ignores the facts about failures that happened across the nation. He ignores data such as that which is reported in "E-Voting Failures in the 2006 Mid-Term Elections" written by VotersUnite, VoteTrustUSA, VoterAction and Pollworkers For Democracy.

Early last week Commissioner DeGregorio had an Op-Ed posted by a McClatchy-Tribune News Service newspaper in Mississippi. In this Op-Ed he opens with the following paragraph:

The 2006 election was a success: Most of the millions of Americans who cast their ballots did so with confidence. Despite some isolated problems, exit polls showed that in 98 percent of U.S. jurisdictions, the process worked so well that voter confidence rose to levels not seen since before Election 2000.

My immediate attention was brought to the mention of an exit poll which showed that 98 percent of voters had a confidence level not seen since before 'Election 2000'. This was news to me and I wanted to see this exit poll so I sent an email to the EAC's spokeswoman, Jeannie Layson:

To: jlayson
From: John Gideon
Subject: DeGregorio Op-Ed
Cc:

In the op-ed that Commissioner DeGregorio has written for the McClatchy-Tribune News Service he says, "Despite some isolated problems, exit polls showed that in 98 percent of U.S. jurisdictions, the process worked so well that voter confidence rose to levels not seen since before Election 2000."

Who conducted that national exit-poll and where are the results posted? I think that is an important piece of information and would like to discuss it with my colleagues and perhaps write an article on the results.

I'm a little surprised that the EAC considers over 18,000 under-votes in Sarasota Co., Florida as an isolated problem. Or over 18,000 voters walking away without voting in Denver, Colorado. Or the just revealed news that Sequoia and David Orr in Chicago/Cook Co. have admitted to failures, including using voting equipment that was never tested, that cost voters their voices. Or any of the 1022 incidents in over 300 jurisdictions in 36 state that were reported in the VotersUnite/VoteTrustUSA/VoterAction/Pollworkers For Democracy report on the recent election.

Thank you

Here is the remarkable response I received back from Ms. Layson...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Michael Richardson on 1/13/2007 8:35am PT  

Guest Logged By Michael Richardson

Last week Christopher Drew of the New York Times informed a shocked nation that the leading "independent testing authority" of electronic voting machines, Ciber, Inc. of Greenwood Village, Colorado had not been following its own quality-control procedures and could not document that it completed required tests for reliability and security.

The federal Election Assistance Commission, which accredited the Ciber testing lab, secretly pulled its interim accreditation last year, without informing the public or election officials relying on Ciber's results. Independent testing centers, including Ciber, are not really independent at all and are funded by voting machine vendors to whom they issue their testing reports and only recently have come under federal scrutiny.

The EAC has yet to explain why it withheld the accreditation of Ciber from the voting public and the omission has entangled the controversial election oversight panel in the growing national distrust of electronic voting machines and may threaten its continued existence.

How many voting machines might be affected by the lax security inspections of Ciber?

Respected electronic voting machine authority and self-described "politechnologist" Joseph Hall did some digging. "The answer was not something I would have predicted...I knew Ciber did a good deal of software ITA testing, but it looks like, in terms of voting system deployment, that Ciber qualified the voting systems used by 68.5% of the registered voters (67.9% of precincts) in the 2006 election."

Hall explained the difficulty he encountered to acquire his data. "Since the test reports are not public, it is difficult to find information about who tested what when."

Undeterred by the veil of secrecy surrounding the testing of electronic voting machines, Hall used old testing identifiers, called NASED numbers, to track the deployment of voting machines around the nation. Ciber tested any machine that had a NASED number beginning with the digit "1".

"With this key piece of information, we can use published lists of qualified voting systems to determine which models were qualified by Ciber." explains Hall. Discovering that Ciber tested the vast majority of machines in the country Hall says, "In fact, it is much more simple to list which systems were not qualified by Ciber."

Hall concludes, "I suppose it would have been completely impractical to decertify all these systems. Even decertifying those systems in which the qualification testing Ciber performed was specifically lacking would likely be a significant double-digit percentage of voting systems used by registered voters."

One thing the ITA laboratories, or any other testing agency, cannot determine is if an electronic voting machine has been rigged with malicious self-deleting software code. All voting machines and optical scan vote-counters are subject to being hacked with self-deleting code that cannot be detected with any test. Self-deleting software code does its dirty deeds, including flipping or erasing votes, and then deletes itself erasing any sign of tampering.

A growing number of election integrity advocates are realizing that software technology has no place in the election systems of our country because of the inability to even detect mischief. The solution that is emerging is both simple and obvious, a return to time-tested hand-counting of paper ballots.




Federal Commission Admits There is Paperwork on 'Barred' Voting Machine Testing Lab, Will Release 'When the Process is Complete'
Lab Was Secretly Refused Credentials in July, State and Local Voting Officials Were Kept in Dark Throughout November Elections Until NYTimes' Revelations...
By John Gideon on 1/9/2007 4:20pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, Executive Director, VotersUnite.Org

Moving the ball forward a bit in regard to New York Times' stunning report last week that Ciber was refused interim accreditation last July. I've been able to learn a bit more about the existence of the paperwork concerning that denial of accreditation.

The refusal, according to the Times front page exclusive last week, was due to an inspection the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) conducted at the lab. Ciber is one of the three e-voting test labs or Independent Testing Authoritys (ITAs) which are paid by the Voting Machine Companies themselves to test their hardware and software prior to federal certification.

But contradictions have been flowing from the EAC in the considerable fallout from the Times report which revealed the commission not only failed to accredit Ciber, they also failed to tell the public, or even state and local Elections Officials who used the systems approved by Ciber for last November's election. What nobody --- except the EAC knew --- was that, according to the Times Ciber "was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests."

While at first the EAC had denied there was any paperwork documenting the reasons why they had denied interim accreditation to Ciber, I've now been able to learn from an EAC source that such paperwork actually exists. The EAC has simply, again, withheld it from the public. So far. I was then able to get confirmation about it from an EAC spokesperson, along with a hint as to when the world might get to see the actual reasons they withheld accreditation from the private testing lab...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Action Taken Months Ago But Not Disclosed by Compromised U.S. Election Assistance Commission!
UPDATE: Company Reported to be a Big Republican Donor, CEO Dumped Shares of Stock Just Before Year's End!
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2007 7:19pm PT  

A front page blockbuster set for tomorrow's New York Times reveals that one of the three approved labs which make up the so-called Independent Testing Authority (ITA) responsible for testing all electronic voting systems prior to certification has been barred from testing by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC).

The Times reports that Ciber Inc. was barred from further testing last summer, but that the EAC failed to disclose the information to the public.

Thousands of electronic voting machines "okayed" by the Ciber labs were in use last November, despite what the Times reports as a failure by the company to follow quality-control procedures and an inability to "document that it was conducting all the required tests."

As The BRAD BLOG reported earlier today, thousands of reports of e-voting machine failures were documented across the country in a report released this week by a number of non-partisan election watchdog organizations.

Ciber is one of three companies selected and paid for by the Voting Machine Companies themselves to secretly test their electronic voting systems. The results of the testing by the ITA labs and the documented failures or successes are never released to the public.

As the Times is now reporting on their website:

A laboratory that has tested most of the nation's electronic voting systems has been temporarily barred from approving new machines after federal officials found that it was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests.

The company, Ciber Inc. of Greenwood Village, Colo., has also come under fire from analysts hired by the state of New York over its plans to test new voting machines for the state. New York could eventually spend $200 million to replace its aging lever devices.

Experts on voting systems say the Ciber problems underscore long-standing worries about lax inspections in the secretive world of voting-machine testing. The action by the federal Election Assistance Commission seems certain to fan growing concerns about the reliability and security of the devices.

The commission acted last summer, but the problem was not disclosed then. Officials at the commission and Ciber confirmed the action in recent interviews.
...
Experts say the deficiencies of the laboratory suggest that crucial features like the vote-counting software and security against hacking may not have been thoroughly tested on many machines now in use.

“What’s scary is that we’ve been using systems in elections that Ciber had certified, and this calls into question those systems that they tested,” said Aviel D. Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins.
...
Even though Washington and the states have spent billions to install the new technologies, the machine manufacturers have always paid for the tests that assess how well they work, and little has been disclosed about any flaws that were discovered.

While The BRAD BLOG has documented myriad failures on electronic voting machines over the last several months and years, we've also documented the dreadful failure of the EAC to perform oversight and the fact that they have been wholly compromised by partisan appointments, including their current (though outgoing) chairman Paul DiGrigorio and have withheld important reports from the public when the information revealed in them was not to the liking of the Republicans who head the committee.

As well, we ran shocking excerpts from an exclusive interview with the first head of the EAC, DeForest Soaries, detailing his unhappiness with both the White House and the Republican-led Congress to properly fund the commission formed by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 to oversee the certification of voting systems and other related matters. Soaries was appointed by George W. Bush and charged, in the shocking interview, that there are "no standards" for the voting equipment in use in America, that the White House and Congress misled him about the commission and "made things worse through the passage of the Help America Vote Act," and that due to underfunding and lack of attention, America now has an "inability to trust the technology that we use" in elections which he says are "ripe for stealing."

The excerpts we ran were from a network news interview with Soaries which was never aired by the network.

UPDATE: Lambert from Correntwire has some excellent details on Ciber's big money ties to the Republican party. He's critical of the Times' failure to point that out given they supplied some $72,000 to Republican candidates between 2001 and 2004. As well, he's got an excellent catch concerning the fact that Ciber's CEO dumped a bunch of stock just before year's end, leading Lambert to ask, "Insider trading, anyone?"

FURTHER UPDATE: Howard Stanislavic detailed a number of flaws discovered in Ciber's testing processes in New York last October at VoteTrustUSA.org. Needless to say, the Times gave him no credit for having beat them to a number of the items they reported in their story tonight. We feel ya, Howard.

(Hat-tip RAW STORY who had the early scoop on the Times story.)




A Democracy Fellow and EAC Commissioned Researcher Says the Right is 'Propagating a Myth' in Order to Pass Disenfranchising Laws Said to Combat the Phony Perception They've Created
Not One Case of Voter Fraud Found by RNC in 2006...
By Tova Andrea Wang on 12/8/2006 8:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by Tova Andrea Wang, a Democracy Fellow at The Century Foundation.

ED NOTE: Ms. Wang was chosen by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) to provide research and analysis for a report on "voter fraud." That report --- about which an early "status report" version [PDF] leaked out after the EAC, apparently unhappy with the findings, failed to release it publicly --- showed little or no actual evidence of "voter fraud" in America. The EAC finally released their "final version" of the report [PDF] on December 7th, retitled with a freshly coined phrase: "Election Crimes."

Over the past month, the silence has been deafening.

For the past few years, many on the Right have been vociferously propagating the myth that voter fraud at the polling place is a rampant problem of crisis proportions. But we haven’t heard from them lately. In fact, as far as my research can discover (Nexis and Google news searches of multiple relevant terms), there has not been one confirmed report of any of these types of incidents in the 2006 election. Not one. Even the Republican National Committee’s vote fraud watch operation in their list of complaints from the 2006 election could not come up with one such case.

If you’ve been listening to the likes of John Fund, Thor Hearne, Ken Mehlman, and John Lott, you would think non-citizens are lining up to vote at the polls, mischievous partisans are voting multiple times by impersonating other voters, and dead people are voting in polling places across the country. In order to justify their argument that we need all voters to present government issued photo identification at the polls, they claim that this type of fraud is the biggest problem our electoral system confronts. They have been building and building this argument, hammering and hammering away at it to the point that it has now become the prevailing belief of the American public.

I won’t go into the recitation of all of the previous research that has been done on what a nonexistent problem polling place fraud is and the fraudulent disenfranchisement narrow voter identification requirements cause among perfectly eligible voters—disproportionately minorities, the poor, the elderly, and voters with disabilities (who by the way, according to conventional wisdom, are also all disproportionately Democratic voters). However, confronted with this continuously growing mountain of evidence undermining their case, it has been interesting to observe the evolution of the Right’s spinning of this issue of late.

In recent months, even before this election, slowly recognizing the remarkable weakness of their substantive argument, conservatives’ new tack has been to say that even if its true that there is not much polling place fraud, the simple fact that the American people believe it is occurring is a problem itself in that it is causing them to lose confidence in the election system. Well, no wonder they have the misguided belief that this is a problem—that’s the message the Right has been hammering away at them over the last few years. In any case, the argument goes that we need identification requirements not because they will in actuality do anything to enhance the integrity of the voting process, but because we need to reassure people who have the perception the process is corrupt.

Let me provide just a few examples of this...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Founder of Phony Anti-Democracy GOP Front Group, Bush/Cheney Operative, Welcomed Again as 'Expert' at America's Federal Elections Oversight Commission Hearings...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2006 4:30pm PT  

Need any more proof that the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) which was formed by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is hopelessly compromised and utterly ineffective beyond repair?

Here's the agenda [PDF] for their Dec. 7th "Public Meeting." On Panel 2 for the "Assessing the 2006 Election" is, of course, the wholly discredited, democracy-loathing, high-level GOP operative scam artist and Bush/Cheney '04 national counsel, Mark F. "Thor" Hearne. Again.

Apparently he has a bought and paid for permanent seat at the table, next to his St. Louis colleague and partner in Anti-Americanism, the outgoing EAC chair Paul DeGregorio.

You'll note Hearne no longer even bills himself as being the founder of the phony, self-declared "non-partisan" "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR) anymore since his GOP front group astroturf organization --- created solely to deflect from real Election Fraud concerns and push a contrived "epidemic" of Voter Fraud on an unsuspecting public so as to establish disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at polls across the country --- has been so thoroughly discredited. (You're welcome.)

As I frequently say, this democracy ain't gonna save itself. Particularly with cretins such as "Thor" doing all they can to game your American democracy for their own contemptible partisan interests.




By John Gideon on 10/28/2006 1:22pm PT  

Blogged By John Gideon, 28 October 2006

Still over a week from election day and already the problems are piling up. Meanwhile the vendors and their shills are making excuses and attempting to sell the voting public a line of garbage. Among the shills is a federal agency, the Election Assistance Commission, that is supposed to assist the voter and, instead, has sent their chairman out on the road to defend the vendors.

In a blog posted yesterday, Brad said it well:

"The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) is a complete and utter failure. The current commissioner, Paul DeGregorio, has done nothing to instill confidence in elections or provide a lick of oversight in the deployment and use of these voting systems across the nation in the Midterm Election. In his latest interviews and editorials, he is reprehensibly doing nothing but echoing Voting Machine Company propaganda and Election Officials who choose to be apologists for them."

In a rebuttal to DeGregorios' opinion piece in the Tallahassee Democrat Avi Rubin, Johns-Hopkins Professor, computer scientist and author of "Brave New Ballot" had this to say in his blog:

"I have not seen any reason to trust our nation's voting equipment. Trusting it just because an election official says we should is not good enough for me. I want to trust a system because I don't believe it can be compromised, not because someone implies that not trusting it is not patriotic."

In The Mean Time Across The Nation...

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Current Chairman Paul DeGregorio Now Running a Desperate Misinformation Propaganda Campaign Just Days Before Election...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2006 1:33pm PT  

I only have a second as I've got to hit the road to get up to Santa Barbara to speak at tonight's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner (along w/ Wes Clark), so I'll try to be quick about it...

The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) is a complete and utter failure. The current commissioner, Paul DeGregorio, has done nothing to instill confidence in elections or provide a lick of oversight in the deployment and use of these voting systems across the nation in the Midterm Election. In his latest interviews and editorials, he is reprehensibly doing nothing but echoing Voting Machine Company propaganda and Election Officials who choose to be apologists for them.

See DeGregorio's latest editorial here from the Tallahassee Democrat, in which he posts completely unfounded and unsupported "opinion" in contradiction of virtually all scientific evidence.

Contrast DeGregorio's nonsense with the comments of his predecessor, the honest, Bush-appointed, non-crony, Rev. DeForest Soaries, from this unaired network interview, in which he flatly states there are no standards for electronic voting systems in place and that 'elections in America are ripe for stealing.'

The EAC, under the "leadership" of DeGregorio, has become hopelessly compromised as he's allowed even the disinformation experts, such as "Thor" Hearne from the phony GOP front-group "American Center for Voting Rights," to set the agenda for the commission. Note that DeGregorio and Hearne are old St. Louis GOP colleagues. What a scam.

Below are a few choice pieces of information unsubstantiated horse excrement, from DeGregorio's editorial yesterday.

On this one point only, I can actually agree with DeGregorio: "Americans should be confident that their vote will be counted, whether they touch a screen or fill in an oval."

Yes, they should be confident, but they have absolutely no basis for that at this time, thanks to folks like you, Paul. Your words do not give such confidence. Transparency gives confidence. We've had quite enough "faith-based elections" in this country. Anyway, read on for some of DeGregorio's most shamelessly misleading garbage... (You can contact the EAC here.)

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Bush-Appointed Soaries: 'The Republican-led Congress and the Republican White House have failed...The public should be outraged.'
By John Gideon on 10/24/2006 8:22am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.Org


In this segment Lou interviewed two ex-Commissioners of the Election Assistance Commission. Ex-Chairman Deforest Soaries and Ex-Assistant Chairman Ray Martinez. As revealed in an earlier interview reported by BradBlog, Chairman Soaries is speaking out and speaking out loudly.

Of note in tonight's interview is this exchange:

Well, I think we're worse off because in 2000, at least we knew what we didn't know. And the hanging chad became center stage in 2000. Today six years later after spending $2.5 billion, we don't know what we don't know. We don't know about security, we don't know enough because the EAC never got enough money for research. The Congress passed a law that authorized $30 billion for research. EAC to this date has received zero of those dollars. The Republican party...

DOBBS: Zero.

SOARIES: The Republican-led Congress and the Republican White House have failed. And what Ray and I were invited to do was really a charade. And I think the public, as Ray said, should be outraged and demand results from the local to the federal level.

The text-transcript of Monday's segment on Lou Dobbs Tonight follows in full...

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Former Chair Says He 'Was Deceived', EAC and Federal Efforts for Election Reform 'A Charade', 'Travesty'!
In Stark Contrast to Current EAC Chair, Rev. DeForest Soaries Blasts White House, Congress in Transcript of Unaired Interview from Major Broadcast Network!
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2006 7:35am PT  

The BRAD BLOG has obtained an EXCLUSIVE partial transcript from a recent, unaired interview by a major broadcast network with former U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) chair Rev. DeForest Soaries.

Soaries was appointed by George W. Bush as the first chair of the commission created by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in the wake of the 2000 Presidential Election Debacle. In the interview, available here for the first time, Soaries excoriates both Congress and the White House, referring to their dedication to reforming American election issues as "a charade" and "a travesty," and says the system now in place is "ripe for stealing elections and for fraud."

Having resigned from the commission in April of 2005, Soaries goes on to explain that he believes he was "deceived" by both the White House and Congress, and that neither were ever "really serious about election reform."

The explosive comments are the latest evidence highlighting serious deficiencies in the federal body, created by HAVA for oversight of elections systems, including new electronic voting devices, and standards for the use and security of those systems.

In the unaired interview, conducted last August, Soaries says there are "no standards" for voting systems and that Congress and the White House "made things worse through the passage of the Help America Vote Act."

Due to underfunding and lack of attention to the EAC and the Election Reform it was supposed to oversee, Soaries says we now have an "inability to trust the technology that we use" to count votes in our American democracy, even as "we’re spending a billion dollars a week in Iraq."

"We know more today about how to build a machine to take pictures of rocks on Mars than we know about how to build a machine to safeguard the American right to vote," complained Soaries in the interview.

On Electronic Voting System standards --- which HAVA mandated would be created by the EAC --- Soaries blasts both the White House and Congress for failing to supply them with the needed resources to complete the mandate, both for the federal government and the states that were relying on them to do so.

"[T]he states were forced to comply and they were asking us for guidance. We were ill-equipped to provide guidance. We didn’t begin our work until January 2004 and we spent the first three months of our work looking for office space. Here we were, the first federal commission, responsible for implementing federal law in the area of election administration and for the first three months we didn’t even have an address. And we physically had to walk around Washington DC looking for office space. This was a travesty. I was basically deceived by the leaders of the House, the Senate and the White House."

"Someone has got to be able to say, no one in America should use machine 'A' ever again," he says, in reference to the EAC's failure to decertify electronic voting systems even after they have been proven to be easily vulnerable to hackers and tampering.

"And if it’s not EAC," he continued, "it’s got to be someone. Someone in America has got to hold America accountable for protecting the most fundamental right in a democracy and that is the right to vote."

The straightforward comments from the EAC's first chair are in stark contrast to the actions of his Bush-appointed replacement, the current EAC head, Paul DeGregorio. The outgoing chair, DeGregorio, whose term has now ended, made news several days ago when it was discovered he had allowed the commission to withhold the release of a May 2006 report revealing claims of epidemic "Voter Fraud" --- as made by GOP operatives in order to push an agenda calling for restrictive, unconstitutional Photo ID laws at polling polaces --- are wholly unfounded.

Where Soaries was disappointed at the lack of interest by officials for true reform by the EAC during his tenure, his successor appears to have been using the post as an arm of the White House to continue its manipulation and perversion of the American electoral system.

UPDATE 7:27pm PT: The folks from KTLK in Los Angeles called to say they will have Soaries on the "Harrison on the Edge" show tonight to discuss this interview at 8:30pm PT. You can listen online here...

The transcript of Soaries comments, as taken from the unaired August 2006 interview are posted below…

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No Wonder Hearne's Phony GOP Front-Group, ACVR, Didn't Want to See the Report Released
They're Named Three Times as the Only Group Forwarding the 'Voter Fraud' Bullshit!
By Brad Friedman on 10/13/2006 2:57pm PT  

Following up on our Wednesday coverage of the four- month-old report on "Voter Fraud," which the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) refused to release when they discovered the report points to just how little such fraud actually occurs. The facts don't lie, despite the loathesome high-level GOP/Team Bush operatives who call themselves the "non-partisan" American Center for Voting Rights' (ACVR), and their ongoing disingenuous and well-funded efforts to establish that voter fraud is rampant, perpetrated almost exclusively by Democrats, and must be cured by disenfranchising and unconstitutional Photo ID requirement laws at the polls (although not for absentee or military balloting, of course).

We've now had a chance to review the unreleased report [PDF] in full. It's just twelve pages. But it slams the notion that there is any massive problem in America with "Voter Fraud", despite ACVR's continuing campaign to suggest the problem is an epidemic --- versus all of the many other forms of disenfranchisement that really do occur and really do threaten our democracy.

"There is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud," the report explains, "or at least much less than is claimed, including voter impersonation, 'dead' voters, noncitizens voting and felon voters."

The report singles out ACVR as the only named proponent of the discredited notion that voter fraud is plaguing the country --- ACVR is ignominously named as dissenting three times in the report! --- so it is little wonder they didn't want this report to see the light of day.

ACVR's main perpetrator and Democracy-Hater-in-Chief, Mark F. "Thor" Hearne II, was actually a part of the "working group" assembled for this report. Notably, Hearne failed yet again to mention that he was the National General Counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. in his bio at the end of the report.

Similarly, Hearne withheld that information in his testimony on behalf of ACVR during now-disgraced Rep. Bob Ney's U.S. House Adminstration Committee hearing in March of 2005. ACVR was the only "Voting Rights" group invited to discuss the travesties of Election 2004. He testified only that he was a "longtime advocate of voter rights" and must have just forgotten to mention his Bush/Cheney connections...or that the ACVR had been formed just three business days prior to the hearing!

The EAC's buried report points to problems not with voter fraud, but instead with minority voter intimidation, improper purging of registration rolls, dirty tricks, and all sorts of things that the loathesome ACVR con-men have spent enormous amounts of money trying to smoke-screen, via propaganda reports hoping to fool America into believing that double-voting, dead people voting, and non-citizens voting is the real threat to democracy.

It's not. But anti-American monsters like Thor Hearne definitely are.

The biggest problem, the EAC's unpublished report finds, is absentee ballot fraud; a problem that is decidedly not addressed in any way by the despicable Photo ID laws that Hearne and friends have been promoting in statehouses around the country. He and his evil compatriots were even able to convene a phony "blue-ribbon" panel last year on Election Reform, chaired by Bush Family crony James A. Baker, in order to endorse the call for a national Photo ID requirement at the polls. (Who better to lead an Election Reform panel than the man who went to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to keep voters from having their votes counted in Florida in 2000?!)

Apparently snake-oil salesman Hearne was unable to fool the rest of the folks working on the EAC report into believing he wasn't utterly full of shit (as previously reported in exacting detail by The BRAD BLOG.)

Consider this embarrassing ACVR moment from the EAC's buried report...

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Democracy Hater, GOP Operative, Thor Hearne of the Phony Anti-American Front Group 'American Center for Voting Rights' is Back Spreading Propoganda for the Republicans!
And the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is Set to Help Them in a Hearing this Friday...
By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2006 3:54pm PT  

The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) is now doing the bidding of the RNC, according to an article today from USA TODAY.

It seems that the EAC commissioned, received, and then buried a report concerning the issue of Voter Fraud (as opposed to Election Fraud and other legitimate disenfranchisement issues) when they didn't like the results they received. The report, which the commission received four months ago but failed to release, found "little evidence" of the "problem" now being pushed nationwide by GOP operatives as evidence that disenfranchising Photo ID requirement laws should be passed in states across the country.

Such laws have been passed, and found unconstitutional from Georgia to Arizona to Missouri, yet the proponents of this scam --- who have shown themselves willing to stoop to any level to keep Democratic-leaning voters, who are far more likely to lack drivers' licenses, from voting --- have been keeping up their ongoing and expensive propaganda campaign.

Members of the commission were reportedly split on whether to release the report publicly. That internal battle four months ago may have led to at least one resignation from the commission, The BRAD BLOG has learned. Now chaired by outgoing Bush-appointee Paul DeGregorio since the original chair Rev. DeForest Soaries resigned in frustration, citing lack of support for true electoral reform from both the White House and Congress, the EAC has been much criticized for their failure to oversee implementation of and standards for new Electronic Voting Systems across the country.

The item today from USA TODAY suggests that the commission may now have become entirely politicized and polarized...

WASHINGTON — At a time when many states are instituting new requirements for voter registration and identification, a preliminary report to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission has found little evidence of the type of polling-place fraud those measures seek to stop.

USA TODAY obtained the report from the commission four months after it was delivered by two consultants hired to write it. The commission has not distributed it publicly.

A blog item, also posted today by USA Today, includes a link to the now unearthed report [PDF] which the EAC had sought to bury.

The report goes on to quote from GOP operative Mark F. "Thor" Hearne, who is still pushing his deceitful line about the non-existent "epidemic" of voter fraud in the country. Unfortunately, it is Hearne himself who appears to be the fraud, as The BRAD BLOG revealed in a series of reports beginning in March of 2005.

The RNC and the White House, via Hearne, their main operative on the Photo ID canard, have spread phony propaganda suggesting an epidemic of voter fraud in America ever since the 2004 election, when hundreds of thousands of voters were disenfranchised at the hands of GOP operatives.

Hearne and his motley crew created the phony, self-described "non-partisan" GOP front group, calling themselves "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR), as we first revealed on March 22nd, 2005, shortly after they were the only "Voting Rights" group called to testify before congressional hearings held by the now-disgraced Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) on what went wrong in Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election.

Hearne testified before Ney's House Administration Committee on behalf of ACVR just three days after the group was created. He testified only that he was "a long time voting rights advocate," and didn't bother to mention that he had been the General Counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 or that ACVR's co-founder was Jim Dyke, the RNC Communications Director.

Dyke now works out of Dick Cheney's office in the White House. After exposure of the sham organization by this reporter, the group eventually added "Democrat" Brian Lunde as Executive Director. Lunde is a close advisor to Karl Rove and worked hard for Bush in 2004 and to retain a Republican Majority.

The group has been pushing phony stories about "Voter Fraud" to encourage disenfranchising Photo ID laws in states around the country ever since. The ACVR was even behind the creation of the Baker/Carter Commission, which also called for restrictive Photo ID laws.

From USA TODAY again...

Conservatives dispute the research and conclusions. Thor Hearne, counsel to the American Center for Voting Rights, notes that the Justice Department has sued Missouri for having ineligible voters registered, while dead people have turned up on the registration rolls in Michigan. "It is just wrong to say that this isn't a problem," he says.

That's one reason the commission decided not to officially release the report. "There was a division of opinion here," Chairman Paul DeGregorio says. "We've seen places where fraud does occur."

The consultants found little evidence of that.

In the meantime, the sham continues this Friday when the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a hearing to discuss some of these matters. But the speakers list, The BRAD BLOG has learned, is made up most of the usual Photo ID Suspects.

The list includes the same old crew: Hearne, Prof. Robert Pastor (Executive Director of the cooked Baker/Carter Commission, who went ballistic in a BRAD BLOG interview last year) and the Wallstreet Journal's ultra-con John Fund, who wrote a book full of this propoganda some years ago that served to launch the current insidious movement.

The only invited speaker representating anything close to an actual legitimate voting rights activist is Donna Brazile of the DNC's Voting Rights Institute. We have warned her that it would seem she is being set up by appearing with this barrel of bad apples.

For more information on the "non-partisan" tax-exempt ACVR scam and the snakeoil salesmen who invented it, Bush/Cheney '04 National General Counsel Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke, please see BRAD BLOG's full Special Coverage of the "American Center for Voting Rights" at http://www.BradBlog.com/ACVR.

The complete press release for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing this Friday is posted in full below...

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Says Little Interest in Washington for True Election Reform, Federal Agency Created after Florida 2000 Election 'Put Together With Spit'
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2006 10:01pm PT  

"We really had to put together a federal agency with spit," says Rev. DeForest Soaries in a great interview by Tim Dickinson for Rolling Stone exposing (again) the cruel federal hoax.

Soaries was the first chair of the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) created by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in the wake of Florida 2000. He's a Republican and a Bush appointee. Apparently, one of the few honest ones left. He resigned some time ago, apparently out of frustration with the EAC and the fact that the entire commission seems to be little more than a bad joke.

Here are a few choice clips from the interview...

ROLLING STONE: What led you to resign?

DeForest Soaries: It wasn’t until I worked in Washington on an issue as generic as this that I realized how pitiful and perhaps how hopeless Washington really is. For God’s sake…if any issue should be the catalyst for bipartisan cooperation, this is the issue: voting.

It was probably the worst experience of my life. I found that there is very little interest in Washington for true election reform. That neither the White House nor either house of the Congress seems to be as committed to guaranteeing democratic participation in this country as we seem to be in other countries. It’s an embarrassment that we don’t have a broad enough consensus among political leaders that true reform should take place. I could count the members of Congress on one hand that took these issues seriously.
...
We don’t have a performance rate for machines. If we discovered that of 10,000 Diebold machines model XYZ, 1,000 break down during the day, is that acceptable or unacceptable? If it were a toaster we could tell you, it were a tire we could tell you. If a certain tire malfunctions a certain number of times then they have a recall.

We have no basis for having a recall of any particular type of voting equipment because there are no standards. And when we do have standards, even these standards are required to be voluntary. So is a one percent error rate good? Is a two percent error rate good? 5,000 votes cast, only 4,000 counted? Is that success or failure?

So when you ask me about Ohio, you can recite to me the worst data that anyone has unearthed in Ohio, I would have to say to you — very technically — so what? What does it violate?

It may violate your sensibilities, it may violate my sensitivities, it may violate someone else’s sense of fair play. But the Secretary of State of Ohio has proven that you can get straight through an election by saying: We broke no law. You see the problem?




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