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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, December 19, 2014
'Green News Report' 12/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Nothin' but good news for a change! - NY bans fracking!; Obama protects AK's Bristol Bay!; PLUS: More indictments for 'Freedom Industries' in WV toxic chemical spill!...
Previous GNRs: 12/16/14 - 12/11/14 - Archives...
Brad on Hartmann Radio: Wrapping Up a Few More Election 2014 Races
Yes, some of us are still paying attention.
Plus: A BRAD BLOG 'Programming Note'...
'Green News Report' 12/16/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Congress wraps for year w/ GOP anti-enviro initiatives to be signed by Prez; UN summit wraps up in Peru - ALL nations are in for Paris; PLUS: Another Bush, another climate denier...
Previous GNRs: 12/11/14 - 12/9/14 - Archives...
Bloomberg Editors Refuse to Correct Inaccurate, Misleading Photo ID Editorial
Read the 'mind-boggling' responses to BRAD BLOG's emailed explanation of blatant errors and inaccuracies in Francis Barry's op-ed...
Proponents of Oregon GMO Measure 92 Concede Defeat
Adverse court ruling, barring inclusion of 4,600 rejected ballots, signals end of road (for now) of state's most expensive campaign, decided by just 800 votes out of 1.5 million cast...
'Green News Report' 12/11/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
GOP anti-enviro wish list in "Cromnibus" bill; Crunch time at UN climate talks; Calls for an end to fossil fuels; Australia goaded into action; PLUS: CEO indicted for WV chemical spill...
Previous GNRs: 12/9/14 - 12/4/14 - Archives...
The Clint Curtis Story, Ten Years Later: A KPFK 'BradCast' Special Edition
It's been 10 years since we broke the whistleblower's claim about vote-rigging software, Rep. Tom Feeney (R) and more. So it seemed a good time to catch up with him...
SOLVED: Mystery that Flipped Maine Senate Election!
21 'phantom ballots' flipped the results of a Nov. 4th state Senate election from D to R. But a dramatic turn of events and hand-counted paper ballots have now resolved the mystery...
'Green News Report' 12/9/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Super Typhoon Hagupit blows 2014 into record books; Doesn't look good for KXL, if Obama on Colbert Report can be believed; PLUS: Rich v. Poor divisions stall UN climate talks...
Previous GNRs: 12/4/14 - 12/2/14 - Archives...
Bad News for Fox 'News' Viewers: 'Fox & Friends' Calls for Voter Literacy Tests
If they had to pass a test on American history and government, Fox 'News' viewers, as studies show, would be in big, big trouble...
Thousands of Ballots Excluded from Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure 'Recount'
Proponents charge interference by out-of-state corporate opponents, state's failure to count legal ballots due to 'signature problems'...
NC Repubs Trying to Run-Out Clock on Voter Suppression Lawsuit (Again)?
Plaintiffs charge state attempt to reschedule next summer's federal trial 'unsupportable', 'disingenuous'...
'Green News Report' 12/4/14
Biggest German utility spins off fossil fuel assets; Fossil fuel biz running scared? FL punishes homeowners for not polluting; PLUS: MSNBC's Big Coal infomercial...
House Judiciary Letter Suggests Impeachment for Wife-Beating Judge
Bi-partisan congressmen seek update from 11th Circuit Court, cite potential impeachment of Judge Mark Fuller...
'Green News Report' 12/2/14
New UN summit underway; Record rain, drought in CA; Global cost of falling oil prices; PLUS: Legacy of world's worst industrial disaster, 30 years later...
'Recount', Concerns in AZ U.S. House Race
Razor-thin computer-reported margin, failed paper-ballot tabulators, untallied provisionals, terrible 'recount' rules leave Barber-McSally contest in AZ-2 unsettled...
'KPFK' BradCast: Maine Mystery, Ferguson Fury and Thanks for Something
'My thanks to all of you this Thanksgiving which, as a few callers reminded me, isn't nearly as terrible as it seems'...
Mysterious Ballots Flip Maine Senate Recount Result From Democratic to Republican
21 'phantom' ballots appear out of nowhere in tiny Maine town, reverse results of very close state contest...
'Recount' for Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure
Fewer than 900 votes separate 'Yes' from 'No' on 'Right to Know' Measure 92, out of more than 1.5 million paper ballots tallied by computers statewide in Nov. 4 election...
'Green News Report' 11/25/14
Cuomo blames meteorologists for his Buffalo storm fail; Canada protests another tar sands pipeline, lead's world in deforestation; PLUS: World Bank's dire warning...
No Indictment in Ferguson Shooting
A few thoughts on the St. Louis County Prosecutor's extraordinary spectacle and miscarriage of justice in the killing of Michael Brown...
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Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
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DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

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So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
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FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
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CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
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Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

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GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


As we Sit Down for a One-on-One Debriefing with the Finnish Computer Security Expert and Discuss American Elections, Rush Holt's Reform Bill, Debra Bowen, 'Black Hats' and Why Elections Matter
Big Turnout and Good Press Coverage Accompany his Riverside Visit, Even if Jeff '1000 to 1' Stone Was a No Show...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2007 7:13pm PT  

Harri Hursti drove up to Los Angeles last Friday after his appearance that morning before the Riverside County, California, "Blue Ribbon" panel convened to investigate massive problems during the County's 2006 election, and continuing concerns from Election Integrity advocates about both the performance and security issues surrounding the Sequoia Edge II DRE touch-screen voting systems in use down there.

We sat down to interview Hursti for a documentary film for an hour or two on Friday night, and we continued chatting into the wee hours. After getting home around 4am, we suspect we'll be playing catching up for a few days.

The headline from those discussions last night is probably that Hursti, now famous for his hack of a paper-based Diebold optical-scan voting system in Leon County, Florida, in late 2005 (as seen live in HBO's documentary Hacking Democracy), advocates digital optically-scanned paper ballots --- where the image of the scan can then be made available to all on the Internet --- as the most secure and most transparent method of voting for the type of elections we have in these United States.

That may come as a surprise to advocates of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform bill, who have been pointing to the "Hursti Hack" as a way to suggest that op-scan tabulation is "just as bad" as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting systems. Holt's bill (HR811) would allow for the continued use of DREs, despite the continuing warnings from computer scientists, disabilities and minority rights advocates, and the Election Integrity community that the devices should be banned.

Hursti heartily disagrees with those Holt supporters and told us again that DREs are not safe for use in elections, with or without a so-called "voter verified paper audit trail." He's asked for us to help facilitate a meeting for him with Holt and his staff to discuss the matter, and we are attempting to do just that.

As well, Hursti's position may also come as a surprise to those who have pointed to the "Hursti Hack" in their call for 100% hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) in American elections. While Hursti said he recognizes that such a system works well enough in other countries where ballots are much simpler, he feels the thousands of ballot styles and pages and pages of candidates and propositions would likely make all HCPB unwieldy here. By contrast, he explained that in Finland, voters go to the poll and cast a single vote for President as the only race on the ballot, which is simple enough to hand count on the night of the election.

He rattled off the many different systems of democracy in many different countries, from Europe to Asia, as well as a history of how America has come to its current mess, going back as early as the late 1800's to discuss the evolution of our modern day system in this country. Clearly, he's done his homework and is well worth listening to on these matters.

Hursti also gave high marks to California's new Secretary of State Debra Bowen for her recent announcement of "red team" hack testing for all of the state's currently certified electronic voting systems, as part of her "top to bottom review" of those systems. Other computer scientists and security experts have lined up to join in praising Bowen for this unique, first-of-its-kind attempt to finally test the security of these systems.

On the other hand, many of the state's elections officials have come out against such testing of their precious, hackable, un-transparent voting systems. And, surprise surprise, so has the Santa Cruz Sentinel --- the paper once owned by thankfully-former CA SoS Bruce McPherson --- in a laughable editorial late last week claiming that "paper ballots carry an even greater risk" than electronic voting systems, and that Bowen's planned test criteria is a "solution in search of a problem."

We're not sure what cave the Santa Cruz Sentinel has been living in, but we're guessing they've been sharing their hard tack and canned spam with their buddy, the gone-but-apparently-not-forgotten McPherson, the one responsible for certifying these god-awful systems in the first place for the state, despite mountains of evidence suggesting it was unwise. We're also guessing they've never sat down to chat with Harri Hursti.

Hursti's visit to Riverside, as we reported here last week, was in response to County Supervisor Jeff Stone's challenge last December that nobody could manipulate the county's Sequoia election system. After Hursti volunteered to take Stone up on that "1000 to 1" challenge, the county has been waffling ever since. So quite a few members of both the public and the press were on hand yesterday for Hursti's testimony before the "Blue Ribbon" panel.

Although Hursti traveled all the way from Finland, Stone and every other member of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors were apparently too busy to make it up the road to meet Hursti and listen to his presentation...

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

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All Eyes on Harri Hursti in Riverside County...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2007 12:53am PT  

FEATURING: Our One-on-One Debriefing with the Finnish Computer Security Expert on American Elections, Rush Holt's Reform Bill, Debra Bowen, 'Black Hats,' and Why Elections Matter...Pre-details back here...

UPDATE: Story now posted here...

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Finnish Security Expert to Appear, Give Testimony This Friday Before County's 'Blue Ribbon' Commission Investigating Complaints About Local Election System
No Word on Whether Gamblin' County Supervisor, Jeff '1000 to 1' Stone, Will Be in Attendance...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2007 2:36pm PT  

Harri Hursti is coming to Riverside County, home of County Supervisor Jeff "1000 to 1" Stone, he of the now infamous, if ill-conceived, "Riverside Hack Challenge".

Hursti, the Finnish computer security expert and hacker of Diebold voting machines past (see HBO's Hacking Democracy for but one example), will be testifying to and answering the questions of the "Blue Ribbon" commission empaneled by the county to investigate complaints about the administration of the 2006 election, as well as the the many expressed security and accuracy concerns about their Sequoia Edge touch-screen DRE voting systems.

Riverside is, proudly, the first county in the U.S. of A. to have made the mistake of moving to electronic balloting systems, but if they hurry, they won't be the last to dump 'em entirely.

The Sequoia voting systems in question would be the ones involved when Stone challenged Election Integrity advocates, on video tape, back in December, to bring in a programmer and "set up an appointment with one of our machines" in order to "verify that they can manipulate that machine."

"I'm gonna bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it...I'll make that challenge," Stone blurted out to the continuing dismay of his fellow Supervisors and County Registrar Barbara Dunmore.

And then, Hursti stepped in to accept the challenge. Stone has been wafflin', duckin', and dodgin' ever since (see this page for our complete hilarious special coverage of the "Riverside Challenge").

Hursti will testify at the commission's March 30th panel at 9am in Palm Desert, CA, at the Palm Desert City Hall, 73-510 Fred Waring Drive.

The hearing and testimony is open to both the public and the media, and --- as we are both --- we might like to drive down there ourselves if the gods are with us. But, despite Hursti's travels all the way from Finland, the gods haven't been with us much of late, and so we may or may not be able to make the few hours' drive. But we hope you will, if you're in the 'hood. And if so, let us know how it went!

Either way, we hope to have some video of the whole affair to post here afterwards at The BRAD BLOG if those pesky gods are even partly with us this time around.

UPDATE: VelvetRevolution.us --- (Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VR)-- is helping to raise funds to cover the expenses of DFA/Temecula Valley & SAVE-R-VOTE in covering expenses for Hursti's visit, and other costs related to their Election Integrity advocacy. Please click here to donate, and specify funds be earmarked for "Riverside Hack Challenge".

More details on Hursti's appearance in Riverside follow in a press release which we early-obtained from the good folks of the SAVE-R-VOTE project of DFA/Temecula Valley, and we're all too pleased to share it with you in full below...

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

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But Secretary Bowen Says Board of Supes Proposed 'Ground Rules' for Test 'Overly Narrow,' 'Would Prove Little and Give Voters False Sense of Security'
Supervisor Stone's Hope for SoS Participation in '1000 to 1' Bet with Election Integrity Advocates under Unilateral, Unrealistic Restrictions Flatly Rejected by State's New Election Chief...
By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2007 4:33pm PT  

California's new Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, has flatly rejected a request from Riverside County, CA County Supervisor Jeff Stone to participate in a "hack test" challenge originally proposed to Election Integrity Advocates in response to their concerns about security and accuracy for the county's electronic touch-screen voting machines, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

In a letter sent to Stone last week obtained by The BRAD BLOG (posted in full at the end of this article), Secretary Bowen found that though there was no state law to prohibit such a test, her office would not participate, in part due to the narrow restrictions initially insisted upon by Supervisor Stone.

In her reply to a letter sent in early January to outgoing Secretary of State Bruce McPherson just days before he would leave office, Bowen wrote, "I am not aware of any state law that would prohibit the type of security test that you described in your letter." Unlike Bowen, the former SoS had been seen as far more favorable towards relaxed security issues for electronic voting.

As The BRAD BLOG originally reported last December, Stone had initially challenged local Election Integrity advocates "a thousand to one," during a public hearing, that a programmer would be unable to "manipulate" the county's voting system.

In her letter to McPherson Bowen joined other computer security professionals who had previously rejected Stone's unilateral suggestions for ground rules, calling them "overly narrow," potentially giving voters a "false sense of security." Stone had written to the former SoS that just "15 minutes would be allotted" for the test and the programmer who accepted the challenge --- noted computer security expert Harri Hursti --- would be prohibited from using any tools or reaching around the back of the machine. "In every sense," Stone wrote, "he would be like any voter on Election Day approaching a voting unit at the polls."

Bowen, however, balked at Stone's unilateral ground rules, writing in response...

While I appreciate and applaud your goal of increasing the voters' confidence in the systems they use to cast their ballots, an overly narrow test such as the one you have constructed would, at best, prove very little and, at worst, give voters a false sense of security. Your demonstration, if the results are as you expect, can prove only that it is difficult to successfully tamper with voting equiopment in a limited time frame in a polling place setting if poll workers have the ability to preclude voters from taking certain actions (e.g., reaching around the back of the machine) and/or bringing certain items (e.g., tools) into the voting booth with them.

As you know, voting equipment is subject to tampering in a wide range of settings.

This test you have proposed wouldn't address the issue of whether a someone who can reach around the back of the machine undetected or can bring a tool into the voting booth without being noticed by a poll worker will be able to gain access to the machine.

As well, Bowen also highlighted the point made by Election Integrity Advocates, computer security professionals, and even the Baker/Carter "Blue Ribbon" National Election Reform Commission that made the point that the greatest threat to e-voting security likely comes from election insiders, such as officials or poll workers who have been allowed to take pre-programmed, election-ready systems home with them in the days prior to the election as allowed by Riverside County.

Such insider access is seen as a far greater threat to security than that from voters on Election Day. As Bowen wrote in reply...

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

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New Jersey Attorney to Ask Judge for Decertification of Company's 'AVC Advantage' System After Machines Found Untested by State
Princeton Professor Paid $86 For Online Purchase of 5 Machines That a NJ County Paid $40,000 for...
By John Gideon on 2/10/2007 10:52pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, with additional reporting by Brad Friedman

"We can take a version of Sequoia's software program and modify it to do something different --- like appear to count votes, but really move them from one candidate to another. And it can be programmed to do that only on Tuesdays in November, and at any other time. You can't detect it," Princeton's Professor of Computer Science Andrew Appel explains in New Jersey's Star-Ledger today.

Like Diebold's touch-screen machines before them, Sequoia's voting machines have now been found to be hackable in seconds by a Princeton University professor who says the systems could be "easily...rigged to throw an election." Someone may wish to let the folks in Riverside County, CA, know since County Supervisors there recently issued a "thousand to one" bet that their Sequoia voting systems couldn't be manipulated.

In the same report, it was revealed that an attorney has filed suit, claiming the Sequoia AVC Advantage Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines used in 18 of New Jersey's 21 counties were never reviewed by the state before they were improperly certified for use and that Princeton's Appel was able to acquire five Sequoia voting machines for only $86. The same machines were recently purchased by the state for $8,000 apiece.

According to the Star-Ledger...

[Attorney Penny] Venetis filed legal papers Friday claiming the state never certified some 10,000 Sequoia AVC Advantage machines as secure or reliable as required by law.

"There is zero documentation --- no proof whatsoever --- that any state official has ever reviewed Sequoia machines," Venetis, co-director of the Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic, said in an interview. "This means you cannot use them. ... These machines are being used to count most of the votes in the state without being tested in any way, shape or form."

Venetis argues that the state certification is in violation of NJ state law which says such systems must "correctly register and accurately count all votes cast," be "of durable construction" to be used "safely, efficiently, and accurately."

The lack of documentation and testing, however, is hardly the only problem, as reported by the paper today. "Had the machines been tested," Election Integrity advocates have found, "they would have proved to be a hacker's dream."

Princeton Computer Science Professor Andrew Appel revealed that he bought 5 of the Advantage voting machines from an on-line government equipment clearinghouse for a total of $86. Virtually identical machines were bought in 2005 by Essex County New Jersey for $8,000 per machine.

"Appel had to submit only minimal personal information and a cashier's check to close the deal," the Star-Ledger reports. He and his team then put the 5 machines to good use...

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

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The California County Supervisor Continues to Hide Behind Unrealistic 'Conditions' on His Sequoia Voting Machine 'Hack Challenge'
COLUMNIST: 'A test that doesn't allow the hacker to work on the machines as handled prior to the election and after it is no real test at all.'
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2007 5:14pm PT  

There were two fresh articles this week in the media on the Riverside Hack Challenge as initially reported by The BRAD BLOG after the throw-down by Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone to Election Integrity Advocates just before the holidays in early December.

You'll recall he bet "a thousand to one" that the county's touch-screen Sequoia voting system could not be hacked. He did so during a public meeting on video tape. If you don't recall, we'll summarize as briefly as we can. He challenged and the Election Integrity Advocates accepted, as noted voting machine hacker and computer security expert Harri Hursti agreed to take the challenge, and then Stone and the rest of the Riverside Supervisors began to go wobbly. Stone even went so far as to invent ridiculous, unrealistic, unilateral conditions for the hack test in a desperate letter sent to then-outgoing Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, in an apparent hope for a life line from the county's old, but now out-of-power, state ally up in Sacramento. He doesn't appear to have gotten one. The new SoS Debra Bowen's office has informally told The BRAD BLOG they see no legal hurdles to such an independent test of voting machine security.

But with internationally respected computer security experts such as Hursti and Dr. Herbert F. Thompson of Security Innovation (the author of some 12 books on the topic including How to Break Software Security: Effective Techniques for Security Testing and The Software Vulnerability Guide) and others having pointed out that Stone's unilaterally created conditions meant to simulate an attempted hack by a voter on election day were silly, unrealistic, and not the way such a penetration test would ever be carried out in the real world, Stone continues to cower behind them as reported by both media reports this week.

In doing so, Stone is tacitly admitting, of course, that his county's electronic voting systems --- which the Board of Supervisors and Riverside Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore have devoutly declared to be "secure" --- are, in fact, anything but.

They know damned well they are not. And their evidence-free claims to the contrary over the last 10 years or so are revealed as little more than unsubstantiated hot air now that their true lack of confidence in their own voting systems has been put on display for the world.

As they well know --- as do the Election Integrity advocates on the ground in Riverside --- the real threat to unsecured, hackable Electronic Voting Machines comes from insiders. That much has been written about time and again by computer security experts and in any number of reports on the topic. Even the biased and partisan and pro-electronic voting machine Baker/Carter Commission admitted as much when their final report on National Election Reform said, "Software can be modified maliciously before being installed into individual voting machines. There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries."

Revealed along with Stone's disingenuous "condition" in his letter to McPherson, that the hack tester may not "reach around the back of the machine" --- (Stone may have forgotten when he made his challenge initially that The BRAD BLOG had long ago reported that voters could vote as many times as they wanted on Sequoia touch-screen systems by merely pressing a yellow button on the back of the machine) --- the folks in Riverside have exposed themselves as knowing full well about the unreliability of their crappy, unsecured voting system.

Unless Stone allows a legitimate security penetration test to be held on his systems, as would occur in the commercial world for any such mission-critical, secure system, he is signaling to his constituents, the state of California, and America that even he has no confidence in the security of the equipment supplied to his voters to exercise their precious democratic franchise.

Two more reporters picked up the shameful tale this week in local media.

The Desert Sun's Nicole C. Brambila filed a short piece on Sunday headlined "Hacking debate gains traction" in which Stone and his pusillanimous peeps once again re-iterate the phony conditions for "no tools and no dismantling the machine. And, the hacker has to infiltrate the system in 15 minutes, the estimated time it takes a voter to do his or her civic duty."

We laugh knowingly in Stone's general direction. Even as he likely cries inside.

Of fresh note in Brambila's piece are these final grafs...

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

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Sends Letter to Outgoing CA Sec. of State Attempting to Create New Conditions for Hack Test! Computer Security Experts Deride!
EXCLUSIVE: Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone's Complete Letter to SoS Bruce McPherson
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2007 2:16am PT  

In a letter obtained by The BRAD BLOG, Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone attempts to move the goal posts concerning the ill-considered challenge he issued to Election Integrity advocates in December during a public, video-taped meeting.

The letter, sent by Stone on Wednesday to outgoing California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, attempts to unilaterally create unrealistic (some might say desperate) conditions for a proposed hack test of the county's electronic touch-screen voting machines, made by Sequoia Voting Systems. When Stone initially issued the challenge, he included no such ground rules.

Computer scientists and security experts interviewed by The BRAD BLOG, as well as a number of reports and studies from nationally-recognized bodies, understand what Stone apparently doesn't: the major threat to voting machine malfeasance comes not from a voter walking up to a voting system on Election Day, but rather from insiders who are easily able to gain unsupervised access to the machines.

The letter to McPherson from Stone is posted in full at the end of this article.

As we reported in mid-December, Stone had challenged Election Integrity advocates from Democracy for America-Temecula Valley, during a public meeting of the County Supervisors, to bring in a programmer willing to attempt a hack of Riverside's voting system. His offer was simply "to set up an appointment with one of our machines and I’d like him or her [the programmer] to verify that they can manipulate that machine."

At the time, Stone also said that he was willing to "bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it." (A transcript of the entire, very brief exchange was posted in full in our initial report of the incident, along with links to two different video tapes of the encounter.)

The challenge was accepted the following week by the activists, who announced that noted Finnish computer security expert Harri Hursti had volulnteered to perform the tests. Hursti previously hacked a paper-based Diebold optical-scan voting system in Leon County, Florida, at the end of 2005, and helped to discover alarming vulnerabilities in Diebold touch-screen systems a few months later in Emery County, Utah.

At the same time, a number of other election integrity advocates announced they would stake $1000 for charity on the bet against Stone's $1 million.

Stone's challenge, as seen in the videos and transcript, specified no ground rules for the hack test, despite what Stone indicates in his letter to McPherson. The Secretary of State recently lost his election bid to the incoming Debra Bowen, who will take office this coming Monday. McPherson had been much criticized for his lax testing of voting systems and his close relationship with a number of voting machine companies such as Diebold. He had also been quite friendly with the all-Republican Board of Supervisors in Riverside, The BRAD BLOG has learned from sources on the ground. Bowen has been an outspoken critic of McPherson's rubber-stamp certification of electronic voting systems in the state as well as the lack of adequate security standards specified for their use.

In his letter --- notably sent to McPherson and not to Bowen --- Stone creates a number of ground rules which were neither specified at the time of the challenge, nor the norm for standard security and vulnerability testing of computer software and hardware. He incorrectly characterizes the December exchange with Election Integrity advocate Maxine Ewig this way, unilaterally creating absurd conditions for the testing in the process...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2006 9:05am PT  

Concerning Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone's public, video taped "thousand to one" bet to Election Integrity advocates that they couldn't find a hacker who could manipulate the county's Sequoia voting system, and the acceptance of that challenge by noted Finnish hacker of Diebold systems Harri Hursti, the Press Enterprise's Dan Bernstein wrote an amusing column last week which we meant to run previously. Here's a bit of it now in any case...

What will the famed Harri Hursti (reputed defanger of Diebold touch screens) attempt to hack? A Sequoia machine? A vote-counting nerve center? How much time will he have? Will it be a realistic test, proving that nefarious elections workers could pull an inside job?

And if Harri the Hacker succeeds, what then? Sayonara Sequoia? Hello Hanging Chad? And what's this 1,000-to-1 odds business? Would Harri be paid in tax dollars? "I Voted" stickers? Jeff Stone press releases?

Even bigger question: Once Hot Rod Harri has hacked (or gotten thwacked), will we know once and for all that RivCo touch screens are untouchable or need to be touched up?

Also of note, last week the unapologetically rightwing San Diego Union-Tribune also ran an item on the challenge. Though it ran prior to the announcement that Hursti was happy to play along. We don't believe they've followed it up since with the additional news.

Still waiting for Stone's reply to the acceptance of the challenge, on Hursti's behalf, by the DFA-Temecula/SAVE R VOTE folks. Last week, Stone and the rest of the RivCo supes were going wobbly on the offer. We'll see if they wobble off the cliff entirely (and admitting, in the bargain, that their voting systems are not secure) before or after the holidays. The final public meeting, until after the new year, is this morning. We'll let ya know if anything of note comes about.

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Press Coverage Reveals Board of Supervisors, Sequoia Laying Groundwork to Try and Wriggle Out of '1000 to 1' Bet Their Voting Machines Can't Be Hacked...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2006 3:23pm PT  

As usual, we scooped everyone yesterday with our scintillating coverage of noted computer security expert/programmer Harri Hursti's agreement to accept the challenge thrown down by Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone to allow someone to come in an attempt to "manipulate" the county's electronic voting equipment made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

The local media in Southern California, however, have now been fairly quick to jump into the game as well with several articles on the matter so far today. Their reports reveal that both the County Board of Supervisors and Sequoia, both as expected, are beginning to try and create some wiggle room to back out from the "thousand to one" bet Stone made publicly last week to local Election Integrity advocates.

Several national Election Integrity individuals and watchdog organization VelvetRevolution.us (VR) have staked $1000 on the bet and have helped to facilitate the participation of Hursti. None of the press coverage dealt with that point. [DISCLOSURE: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us and would be more than willing to discuss that aspect with any such media, if they wish. We can be reached here.]

Stone's video-taped shot-from-the-hip "bet" to local advocate Maxine Ewig, allowing that he would arrange with a programmer to "set up an appointment with one of our machines and...verify that they can manipulate that machine," was issued during a public meeting of the Board of Supervisors last week. (Streaming video of the exchange can be seen here, a text transcript is here.)

Stone also added, "And maybe we should bring the media in and let’s see if your programmer can manipulate that machine. My guess is that it is not gonna happen, but I’m willing to take a chance on that."

Well, the "media" are "in" for the moment. Yet reports in the news today already indicate that the rest of Riverside County's all-Republican 5-person Board of Supervisors and the voting machine company, Sequoia, may be less confident than Stone that their equipment can stand up to any actual independent security analysis such as one that Hursti would be likely bring.

For the record, our call to Stone yesterday for comment has still gone unreturned.

Press reports today reveal that both the board, the company --- and even Stone --- are already laying the groundwork for several "outs" for themselves. Anyone surprised? Let's take a look...

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

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Harri Hursti --- The Lead Programmer Who Hacked Diebold Systems in Both Florida and Utah --- Looking Forward to Testing the Security Vulnerability of Riverside County's Systems!
Election Integrity Individuals, Group, Stake $1000 for Charity on Supervisor Jeff Stone's Offer!
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2006 3:47pm PT  

An expert computer security programmer who successfully manipulated the results of a mock election held on a Diebold optical-scan voting machine in Florida, as well as finding major security vulnerabilities on a Diebold touch-screen system in Utah, has agreed to meet a public challenge to "manipulate" a Sequoia voting system in Riverside County, California.

Finnish computer security expert Harri Hursti, who along with Dr. Herbert H. Thompson
of Security Innovation accomplished the landmark Diebold voting machine manipulations, has agreed to meet the open challenge put forward by Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone during a video-taped public board meeting last week.

Several national Election Integrity individuals, along with the non-partisan watchdog organization VelvetRevolution.us, have agreed to stake $1000 to meet Stone's "thousand to one" bet that the county's voting machines, made by Sequoia Voting Systems, can indeed be manipulated.

As The BRAD BLOG reported last week, the gauntlet was thrown down at the county's Board of Supervisors meeting when, during the public comment period, Stone issued his challenge to Maxine Ewig, an Election Integrity advocate from the SAVE R VOTE project of Democracy for America (DFA) - Temecula Valley.

(Our original story linked to a video of the exchange as posted on the County's website. A different camera angle on the challenge, revealing an interesting expression or two from the County's Executive Officer, Larry Parrish, is now posted here in Streaming Flash Video, appx. 2 and a half minutes.)

The SAVE R VOTE members were on hand at the meeting to express a series of concerns about the security and accuracy of the county's voting systems in light of problems which plagued the county's 2006 election. The county has decided to create a "Blue Ribbon Commission" to look into reported problems, but announced today that they will not be including any of the Election Integrity advocate citizens from SAVE R VOTE on the panel.

After denials from several Supervisors that there were serious security concerns in their voting systems, DFA's Maxine Ewig had informed the board during the public comment period last week that she had been told by a programmer that they "had not seen any machine or program that could not be manipulated."

In response, Stone interrupted to make his challenge, offering "to set up an appointment with one of our machines" in order to "verify that [a programmer] can manipulate that machine."

"I'm gonna bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it," Stone said, before adding, "we should bring the media in" to witness the attempted manipulation.

It wouldn't be the first time Hursti hacked a voting system in front of the media. Both he and Thompson were seen performing a now-infamous Diebold optical-scan system hack in Leon County, Florida, in the recent HBO documentary film Hacking Democracy.

Hursti, writing to The BRAD BLOG from Shanghai where he is currently working on another project, decried the lack of "hack testing" for electronic voting systems now used across America and welcomed the opportunity to test Riverside's Sequoia system.

"It is important that all vendors' makes and models are tested against obvious attacks," he wrote.

Prior to the final confirmation of Hursti's agreement to participate in the hack test, DFA - Temecula Valley issued a press release this morning lauding Stone for the opportunity being presented for independent experts to test the county's voting system vulnerabilities. (Complete press release posted at end of this article.)

In an email sent to The BRAD BLOG earlier today, Ewig wrote that she was "pleased [to have] Hursti's commitment to come to Riverside County to demonstrate the vulnerability" of the Sequoia systems.

Security Innovation's Thompson --- who worked with Hursti, along with election watchdog group BlackBoxVoting.org, on the hack of the Diebold optical-scan system in Leon County, FL, last December as well as the touch-screen system last March in Emery County, UT --- was also excited at the opportunity to examine Riverside's voting system....

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

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Challenges Election Integrity Advocates to 'See if Your Programmer Can Manipulate That Machine' at Public, Video Taped Meeting!
Invites Media to Witness Challenge!
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2006 7:54pm PT  

Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone laid down the gauntlet to Election Integrity advocates at a public meeting on Tuesday, offering to bet them "a thousand to one" they can't hack into the county's electronic voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

Near the end of a contentious meeting of the Board of Supervisors, in which the county's five person board accepted the final canvass of results from the November 7th election from Riverside County Registrar Barbara Dunmore, Stone made his challenge to one of a number of activists from the SAVE R VOTE election watchdog coalition. The advocates were on hand to give testimony about problems they witnessed during the recent election, to present their own report to the board (PDFs: Report, Photos#1, Photos#2), and ask that at least one of their members be appointed to a "Blue Ribbon Commission" being convened by the county to investigate problems during the election.

In the videotaped exchange with Stone, Maxine Ewig, a co-founder of Democracy for America - Temecula Valley and a SAVE R VOTE member, tells the county supervisors that she was informed by a programmer that they "had not seen any machine or program that could not be manipulated."

In response, Stone interrupted Ewig's testimony to offer his challenge.

"I'd like to challenge that programmer," Stone says in the video clip (complete transcript of the exchange at the bottom of this article), "and I'd like to set up an appointment with one of our machines and I'd like him or her to verify that they can manipulate that machine. And I'm gonna bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it...I'll make that challenge."

Stone's stunning challenge continued with an invitation to the media --- reporters from several local papers were on hand --- to witness the attempted voting machine manipulation.

"I'm challenging you to challenge her or him and I...I believe we can make that happen," he said. "And maybe we should bring the media in and let's see if your programmer can manipulate that machine. My guess is that it is not gonna happen, but I'm willing to take a chance on that."

How far Stone may be "willing to take" that "chance" remains to be seen. In the wake of the news, which was reported today briefly by both the Desert Sun and the Press Enterprise, several national Election Integrity advocates have informed The BRAD BLOG that they would be willing to put some money on the line towards accepting Stone's challenge. We hope to have more details on that as the matter develops.

Riverside is the first county in the nation to use touch-screen voting systems. Local Election Integrity advocates have, for some time, been waging a fight for more transparency, security, and accountability from the county and, specifically, the county's Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore.

SAVE R VOTE member Tom Courbat was on hand for the proceedings. Courbat is one of the activists who, as The BRAD BLOG broke in the days just prior to the November 7th election, helped reveal the "Yellow Button" on the back of Sequoia touch-screen machines which could allow a voter to cast as many votes as they wish on those systems.

He complained during his testimony to the board about the planned make up of the county's "Blue Ribbon Commission." The county is convening the panel to investigate several failures during the recent Election and the "operational problems of the registrar of voters office," as Courbat told us tonight.

Courbat suggested to the board that they appoint at least one citizen Election Integrity advocate to the panel after, earlier in the meeting, a board member had responded to critics by saying they didn't want to include anybody who was predisposed against electronic voting systems.

Courbat countered by suggesting that a mix of those both in favor and against such systems would be a healthy idea for the commission. The board seemed less than moved by the idea, and Ewig then proceeded by opening her own testimony informing the board that members of SAVE R VOTE had not come to this cause originally against electronic voting. Rather, she explained, their current position was based on "their own study over the past two years."

It was then that Stone answered with his challenge. The exchange is available on the county's website via online video here (Scroll to the 2:10:00 mark for the beginning of the exchange. NOTE: This video link may only work in Internet Explorer w/ Media Windows Player. Another video of the same event, from a different camera angle --- with some priceless expressions from at least one of the Supervisors --- is now posted below in Streaming Flash.)


-- Streaming Flash Version...

It is unclear whether or not Stone is aware of either Sequoia's "Yellow Button" issue or, as we reported earlier this year, that Dr. Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon University accidentally hacked into a Sequoia system while demonstrating how such systems couldn't be hacked.

Shamos, a supporter of electronic voting systems, was testing Sequoia's voting machines for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania when he was able "in an instant," as it was reported last March, "to transform a handful of votes into thousands."

We'll hope Supervisor Stone has some deep pockets, as he may have to come up with quite a few dollars to back up his "thousand to one" challenge.

A complete text transcript of the short exchange between Supervisor Jeff Stone and Maxine Ewig follows in full...

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

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