"Huge delay"?! What? Why? How could it be? The first graf of the article said it all. My God...it's true...
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"Huge delay"?! What? Why? How could it be? The first graf of the article said it all. My God...it's true...
After virtually ignoring the issue for some six straight years, our hometown newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, has run a two-part, 2,800-word "series" on concerns about voting machines, right on schedule, just in time to do absolutely no good at all before next week's upcoming Tsunami Tuesday election in the state. Waytago, LATimes!
The series reports absolutely nothing that has not already been reported over the last several years here at The BRAD BLOG, which is why the LATimes folks makes the big bucks and we don't.
They do, however, include an important point at the very end of the second article, in quoting from one of the country's most notable long-time voting machine apologists, Kimball Brace...
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
According to a NewsHour report, some county election officials in California believe that changes ordered by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, including decertifying some voting machines, may put the integrity of upcoming elections in jeopardy. Seriously. This despite Bowen's explanation for her actions:
Steve Weir, an election official from Contra Costa County, explains why election officials are concerned with Bowen's directives not to use some newly purchased machines:
However, Stanford professor David Dill backs Bowen and proclaims, "It seems that there is almost a national consensus that we have a serious problem". Dan Ashby, of the Election Defense Alliance, agrees that the use of voting machines is a dangerous endeavor:
Voting machines pose another, often overlooked, problem beyond the technical problems most often associated with such machines. Mainly, voting machines have led to a vast public distrust of elections. According to Bowen, the lack of trust in voting machines has caused people to "check out and not participate" and is thus, "a major threat to democracy".
Newly missing e-voting chips isn't the only election news to break out of the People's Republic of San Diego County today.
The sunny Southern California enclave, which has succeeded in making an infamous name for itself over the last several years by running some of the most poorly administrated and least transparent elections in the nation, is now suing California's Sec. of State Debra Bowen for her new security mitigation mandate requiring a hand audit of a random 10% sampling of ballots, in elections where the final result margin is less than one-half of 1%.
The full complaint may be downloaded here [PDF].
Deborah Seiler, the former sales rep for voting machine companies Diebold and Sequoia, who was recently named Registrar of Voters for San Diego County, believes Bowen's mandate is onerous in that it would "create extra work and delays" for her office following elections, as the North County Times described it.
Seiler and the county are "alleging that Bowen overstepped her authority in requiring new recount procedures in close races beginning in February," according to the paper, which quotes a spokesperson from Bowen's office defending the legal right of the Secretary to issue such directives as she sees fit.
Bowen's spokesperson, Nicole Winger, confirmed to The BRAD BLOG that the office is confident the Secretary of State may issue such "use procedures," along with voting system certification, which must be followed by counties that choose to use those particular systems. She adds that prior administrations have issued similar use procedures along with system certification, and that their statutory right to do so has held up in past court cases.
According to Winger...
by Brad Friedman from St. Louis, MO...
Now that ES&S has finally submitted their previously withheld source code and documentation to California Sec. of State Debra Bowen, new members of her "Top-to-Bottom Review" team have been able to look at the ES&S Inkavote Plus system used across the entirety of Los Angeles County. And whaddaya know, the system is easily susceptible to fraud, hacking and manipulation.
The full report from the new testers --- not the original members of the TTBR team at University of California, but testers sub-contracted by the ubiquitous private e-vote consulting firm of Freeman, Craft, McGregor Group (FCMG) [Ed Note: See additional thoughts/concerns from John Gideon on FCMG in comments here] --- is now posted at the SoS TTBR page [PDF]. The LA Daily News summarizes the findings this way in today's paper...
The report found that seals on boxes used to carry the system hardware could be opened and resealed without detection, making the machinery susceptible to tampering.
Plus, some password-protected systems could be hacked with certain programs, and some encrypted files containing sensitive data could be decrypted.
The study was performed as part of Bowen's "top-to-bottom" review of statewide voting systems. Los Angeles County's InkaVote Plus system is the last to be studied, because vendor Election Systems & Software failed to provide information to Bowen's consulting team on time earlier this year.
In August, Bowen decertified the InkaVote system for use in the February presidential primary because of the missing information.
A public hearing will be held on Monday in Sacramento so that the SoS may receive public input on how she should proceed, and whether the ES&S Inkavote Plus system should be recertified in advance of February's Presidential Primary.
Of particular note is the possibility that the hackable system may be used to vote on a Republican-sponsored ballot initiative to divide California's 2008 electoral vote by Congressional District which could be on the Primary Election ballot next February. Such an unprecedented measure, if passed in the Golden State, could well hand the November General Election nationally, to the Republican party given the large number of electors that would be thrown to the GOP if the current winner-take-all system of choosing electors in California --- the same one used by almost all other states --- is changed for proportional representation.
Reports of potentially fraudulent signature gathering, in order to see the measure added to February's ballot, have already surfaced.
Los Angeles County itself, a reliably Democratic-leaning county over all, carries an enormous number of votes for the state. It's the largest such county in the nation, larger even than two-thirds of the states in the country. Tampering with the vote tabulation in that one county alone, could easily change enough votes to see the Electoral College initiative passed successfully across the state.
Last week, Bowen announced a $15 million lawsuit against ES&S for the illegal deployment of uncertified AutoMARK voting systems across the state. The next day, San Francisco announced its own separate suit against the company, the world's largest supplier of voting systems, charging fraud, false claims and breach of contract.
Blogged by Brad from St. Louis, MO...
Things are really expensive in Marin County, California. For example, the cost to the county, so far, for each vote cast on their brand-new AutoMARK touch-screen voting machines has been $45,588.23.
Yes, that's more than $45,000 per vote for each of the 17 votes cast on the county's 130 machines over the last two countywide elections since they began using them.
And apparently, the county's elected Registrar of Voters, Michael Smith, really wants to continue using those machines, even though ES&S, the company which distributes them, is now being sued by the State of California for deploying uncertified AutoMARK machines in counties across the state, in violation of state law.
Nonetheless, Smith is asking CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen if he can continue using the uncertified machines in the upcoming Presidential Primary election next February, despite all of that, according to the Marin Independent Journal, who reports today:
True, the cost per vote on the AutoMARK in Marin will theoretically come down with each successive election in which they are used (depending on what ES&S charges the county to program them each time, plus the excessive costs of warranties). In a decade or two, at this rate, if the same machines are still in use, each vote cast would come at a bargain basement price of just a few thousand dollars a piece.
Blogged by Brad (quickly) from the road...
California Sec. of State Debra Bowen has announced a $15 million lawsuit against voting machine company ES&S for their use of uncertified AutoMARK voting systems in the state.
The BRAD BLOG initially reported on the likelihood of such a suit, in some detail, after Bowen's initial announcement of ES&S's violations of state law last August.
“ES&S ignored the law over and over and over again, and it got caught,” said Bowen in a press release just issued this evening. “California law is very clear on this issue. I am not going to stand on the sidelines and watch a voting system vendor come into this state, ignore the laws, and make millions of dollars from California’s taxpayers in the process.”
According to the release, ES&S seems to have simply lied about their use of the uncertified voting systems in the state of California. "The Secretary of State’s office held a public hearing on the matter on October 15, 2007. At that hearing, ES&S asserted the Secretary of State was notified about changes to the AutoMARK. However, ES&S provided no evidence before, during, or after the hearing to substantiate its claim."
Such deceptive practices are not uncommon for ES&S, as well as the other major e-voting machine companies. Diebold's touch-screen voting systems were decertified in the state in 2004, after it had been found that they had similarly deployed uncertified hardware and sofware, in violation of state law, in a number of counties in the state.
The complete press release from CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen's office follows below...
A good report from a couple of days ago from the I-Team in Cleveland, Ohio. Unfortunately, they tend to run such reports just before Election Days, when it's too damned late to do a damn thing about it.
Nonetheless, some very good stuff here. Of particular note are the points from Diebold's recommendations which "appear to border on the absurd," that should voting machine memory cards be lost, "elections must be re-scheduled." Or if they fail, as our recent story concerning Diebold's admissions about memory card failures in Florida pointed towards, the company says "all voters will have to be called in to re-vote."
Heckuva voting system guys. Check out the report, above right.
NOTE: Discussion of suing Diebold comes up in this piece yet again. Along with the same concerns, as heard elsewhere, about "the Catch-22" of suing voting machine vendors. Namely, counties are afraid to sue the company they rely on to run their next election! The counties and the vendors are "joined at the hip," as the I-Team report points out. Call it a soft form of extortion, really.
If you haven't already, please sign VoterAction's petition calling on Congress to "conduct a full investigation into the dangers associated with the privatization of our public elections and to determine whether certain US voting systems companies have committed crimes under federal and state anti-fraud laws."
For an early look at concerns, largely of voter-suppression issues, around the country, Alternet has a very good state-by-state preview this morning.
-- By Brad Friedman
After months of being told over and over by Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) office, People for the American Way (PFAW), and many of the other most ardent supporters of Holt's flawed Election Reform Bill (HR811) that "there is no support in Congress for a ban on DREs," it looks like they must have been wrong. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and co-sponsor Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) filed such a bill today.
Here's the complete bill [PDF] which we've yet to read in full. But note this item from page 41, Line 7:
A ban on such machines, finally? Yes! By 2012? Unfortunately, yes. But let's overlook that last point for a moment.
In a statement issued by Nelson today, pointing out that DRE (often referred to as "touch-screen") voting systems are "unreliable and vulnerable to error," the senator says, "The bottom line is we have to ensure every vote is counted – and, counted properly...Citizens must have confidence in the integrity of their elections.”
The new language banning DREs was added today to a previous version of the same bill which Nelson had introduced originally in early Summer. This version "would be the first [bill] to seek a ban on electronic touch-screen voting machines in federal elections nationwide," according to his statement, which adds that the language was updated after a recent meeting with Florida's Republican Secretary of State Kurt Browning, once an ardent support of DRE voting systems.
When Nelson's original version of the legislation was introduced some months ago, it was largely a "clone version" of Holt's original HR811 introduced in the House, but with a number of extra provisions addressing concerns of voter intimidation and suppression.
Little attention had been given to Nelson's bill at the time, since the Rules Committee was regarded as having jurisdiction for any Election Reform bills in the Senate, and the committee chair, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), had made clear she intended to introduce her own version of Election Reform as the Senate counterpart to Holt's. She eventually introduced S. 1487, which has been subsequently criticized by Election Integrity advocates as being even more flawed then Holt's much-criticized bill.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: We were invited to work on the Holt bill prior to its introduction, and succeeded in adding several much-improved provisions. Yet the bill, as currently written --- and far more so since being drastically watered down throughout the committee process --- has failed to garner our support.)
DREs: "Not a Reasonable Voting System"
Neither Feinstein's nor Holt's bill had called for a ban on DRE voting systems, however, despite an outcry among Election Integrity advocates and a host of computer scientists and security experts who argued that DREs were vulnerable to hacking, non-transparent, prone to error, antithetical to democracy, and thus simply could not be used safely in elections. With or without a so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT) printer attached.
Johns Hopkins computer professor Avi Rubin testified earlier this year that "after four years of studying the issue, I now believe that a DRE with a VVPAT is not a reasonable voting system."
And former legislative director of VoteTrustUSA.org Warren Stewart, now also of VerifiedVoting, had told a Senate panel earlier this year that while there were disagreements among some in the EI movement, most had agreed that touch-screen systems must not not be used. "While this broad based movement embraces a wide range of proposals and positions," he testified, "it is unified in the conclusion that the direct electronic recording of votes to computer memory is inimical to democracy."
And yet, all three of the above advocates, along with many others, continued to argue --- while failing to offer any actual evidence for the claim --- that there was simply no support for the idea of a DRE ban in either house of the U.S. Congress.
All the while, The BRAD BLOG had maintained that they, and the other Holt supporters, had fallen victim to a hoax by People for the American Way (PFAW). The popular public advocacy group had long pushed the unsupported notion that there was no congressional support for such a ban, in order to see the bill passed specifically without such a ban. It was one of several false notions being forwarded by the group in favor of the bill, as we argued both here and at Alernet early in the year.
A careful examination of PFAW's on-the-record statements, and numerous on and off-the-record conversations with their Executive Director and legislative leaders by The BRAD BLOG over many months, revealed that PFAW (almost inexplicably) has actually been advocating in favor of the use of dangerous DRE voting systems in American elections. It's fair to say that Holt's bill had thus been held hostage to ensure that such systems would not be banned.
But then came the fallout from the failed 13th Congressional District election last November in Nelson's home state, followed by California Sec. of State Debra Bowen's landmark scientific findings, Rep. Susan Davis's (D-CA) amendment this past summer, and a killer editorial from the New York Times as the tide began to slowly turn...
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
KTLA News reports on the rush to prepare paper ballots for upcoming elections, including next February's California presidential primary now that Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified electronic voting in 29 counties because the machines proved vulnerable to hackers.
The piece also features Riverside County election integrity activist (and hero) Tom Courbat of SAVE R VOTE who raises concerns about Sequoia's role in counting the paper ballots, "when these ballots go into electronic tabulating machines there is no way to tell whether or not they have been programmed to flip the vote and rig the election." While Registrar of Voters, Barbara Dunmore, agrees with Courbat about the vulnerability of electronic machines, she believes election officials have put in place safeguards that will ensure fair elections.
For more on Courbat's tireless efforts to protect democracy in Riverside County see this video mashup.
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's Election Fraud Unit has just announced that felony charges have been filed against a Sacramento woman who appears to have forged the names of five voters while gathering signatures for a 2006 ballot initiative.
The initiative was sponsored by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), which hired the woman to gather signatures for a petition to get the initiative onto the ballot. She earned 75 cents per signature, netting her a total of $3.75 from the allegedly fraudulent signatures, according to the press release just sent to The BRAD BLOG by the SoS's office. (Complete press release posted at end of article.)
The signatures were excluded before the initiative qualified for the ballot, which eventually passed during the June 2006 election.
So why all the effort and resources expended to bring felony charges for such a paltry sum, for an election that's already over, particularly when the signatures weren't even used?
The reason, as we see it, is two-fold. And there are lessons to be learned from both explanations. And not just in California where powerful GOP operatives are hoping to gain enough signatures to put an Electoral College busting measure on the June 2008 ballot in desperate and cynical hopes of splitting the Golden State's electoral vote on a proportional basis in order to game the 2008 Presidential Election.
The new Secretary of State of Ohio would do well to take away the important lesson, once again from her sister in Sacramento...
Santa Cruz County Clerk, Gail Pellerin joined us on the Peter B. Collins Show again tonight, live, to follow up on last week's interesting and rather spirited (at times, contentious-ish) hour.
The audio archive and full text transcript of last week's hour is posted here if you missed it.
The audio from this week's show, along with the transcript, courtesy of Santa Cruz voter Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us.
Since last Friday's show, CA SoS Debra Bowen has pronounced that the voting machine "sleepovers" Pellerin told us she'd planned for her Sequoia voting systems again in 2008 "don't comply with the security requirements" for those voting systems in California.
As well, we've gotten the opportunity to chat a bit via email with Pellerin since then, and are encouraged that we can begin working more together than apart, as is necessary, I think, for Election Integrity advocates and Elections Officials. It's the voting machine companies who are the real villains in this matter, and they've been quite successful at driving an opportunistic wedge between advocates and officials.
UPDATE, AUDIO & TRANSCRIPT: The show went very well. Pellerin stuck around for the entire hour and it was a great discussion with several interesting and newsworthy revelations, along with some very good callers as well. I think we may be getting somewhere. At least I'm hopefully tonight for the good folks of Santa Cruz...
She's hinted as much previously, and her new security requirements issued in the wake of her landmark "Top-to-Bottom Review" of e-voting systems would seem to preclude them, but CA Secretary of State, Debra Bowen has now given her most direct comment to date on the matter of voting machine "sleepovers".
"Sleepovers don't comply with the security requirements," Bowen said in response to a question we submitted on the matter during a conference call with the Secretary sponsored by the Courage Campaign.
"It's really simple," she added, after a pause following her immediate, direct reply to the question.
She went on to explain how unauthorized access to a single machine, by a single person, could allow an entire county's election to be flipped, putting everyone's election at risk.
The complete question and Bowen's full answer is transcribed at the end of this article.
The matter of voting machine "sleepovers" --- the practice of sending pre-programmed, election-ready voting systems home with pollworkers, often days and weeks prior to elections, for deliver to polls on Election Day --- first became a controversy last year after The BRAD BLOG exposed the issue as it occurred during San Diego's special election to replace disgraced Republican U.S. House Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Our exhaustive coverage (see: Busby/Bilbray category) of the resulting scandal, continued throughout some 100 articles here.
The special election in San Diego was the first federal contest to have taken place after several analysis of Diebold's e-voting system found that the systems utilized undisclosed software code prohibited by federal standards. The particular type of code is banned at the federal level since it can be exploited to flip an election undetectably.
Subsequent studies at Princeton University and elsewhere revealed that inappropriate access by a single person, to a single machine, could virally affect every other machine used across the same county.
The revelations made the notion of voting machine "sleepovers" all the more stunning to those of us who recognized the remarkable threat the practice posed to the security of our elections...
I'll withhold most of my personal thoughts here for the moment, since Gail Pellerin, County Clerk for Santa Cruz County, CA, has agreed to come back to continue this discussion on the Peter B. Collins Show this Friday. For the moment then, I'll just let you listen and offer your own thoughts on this conversation from last Friday's show.
Pellerin and I appeared on PBC's radio show to discuss issues of Election Integrity, CA SoS Debra Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom Review" and the Sequoia Voting System that Pellerin uses in Santa Cruz, the hometown of former CA SoS Bruce McPherson.
She is on the public record as having said last July at the public hearing in Sacramento for Bowen's TTB Review: "I can guarantee that every eligible vote is counted accurately," about which, you can imagine, I challenged her on the show. As well, in the interview (complete audio below) she commits to sending her voting systems home yet again on "sleepovers" with poll workers in next year's elections. I also had a thing or two to say to say about that, as you may have guessed. Suffice to say, it was a lively interview.
Pellerin --- presumably a Democrat, as she once worked in the CA state assembly for then-Speaker Willie Brown --- was scheduled only for the first half-hour of the show, but fortunately called back for the final segment to answer some of the questions that I didn't have time to ask her about when she was on the air. I greatly appreciate her willingness to do so and to stand up to the fire.
You'll want to stay tuned for that final segment.
As well, be sure to tune in this Friday at 5pm on the PBC Show (listening link here), where she has agreed to come back and pick up where we left off. I greatly appreciate her willingness to do so. The continued discussion can only benefit voters both in Santa Cruz (one of the locations where Peter's show is heard live on the air) and across the nation, where Elections Officials and Election Integrity advocates must continue to find ways to work together to solve our problems and push back at the damaging, cynical, divisive, selfish, and inaccurate propaganda being forwarded by the Voting Machine Companies.
NOTE 9/22/07: Pellerin returned for another full hour on 9/21/07, the week following this broadcast, in order to follow up on this week's interview. That subsequent second interview and text transcript has now been posted here...
-- Santa Cruz County, CA, County Clerk Gail Pellerin and Brad Friedman on the Peter B. Collins Show, 9/14/07 (appx 41 mins. w/ commercials now removed):
Complete text-transcript of the hour now follows below...
Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org
The California "Top-To-Bottom Review" of state certified voting systems was to include four investigations; Security (Red Team), Accessibility, Code Review, and Document Review. All of the reports were released soon after they were presented to the Secretary of State, Debra Bowen; all but the Document Review.
Why has the Document Review been kept from the public? What is contained in those reports that we should not know? The Secretary of State's Press Office will only say, "We don't know when they will be released."
In his "Not Quite a Blog 2.0" Joseph Lorenzo Hall, one of the members of the document review team, reveals that each team member had to agree to the following secrecy:
On Sept. 6 those 45 days of confidentiality had passed and Joe spoke about some of the basics with regards to the reports. He did not go into any specifics. In his blog he revealed the following...
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