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By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2006 5:57pm PT  

While I'm catching up and sifting through much incoming info on the already-tainted results of Tuesday's Busby/Bilbray special election for the U.S. House (CA-50), (BRAD BLOG coverage here, here, here and here, so far), Loyola University Professor/Ph.D. Ron Baiman has some analysis of numbers from Tuesday which he describes as something that "smells fishy in San Diego".

(UPDATE: I'd also like to point you to this comment by Jody Holder, in re: the security issues and requirements for Diebold machines as issued by CA's Sec. of State McPherson recently, and the apparent disregard and failure to properly implement those already-less-than-sufficient requirements. Holder, btw, is one of the plaintiffs in the recently filed suit against the state to stop the use and purchase of Diebold touch-screen systems in California. He's also an incredibly good researcher and analyst of this stuff.)

Also, please note the reported margin seems to be widening between Busby and Bilbray as absentee and provisionals are reportedly being counted, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters website. The intially reported 4,700 votes on Election Night has grown to some 6,100 votes at this hour.

Given Busby's concerted campaign, prior to the election, to encourage folks to vote by Absentee Ballot --- as the good Thom Hartmann was kind enough to tip me off to --- the increasing spread in the margin as absentees are tallied is certainly worth watching closely. Particularly with the odd absentee numbers reported that we covered last night.

I suppose prudence demands that I point out, yet again, that I've yet to report any of evidence of fraud in this race (at this time.) Nor have I said that Busby won the race, or that Bilbray --- or anybody --- stole the election.

I have, however, reported the irrefutable fact that the world's most easily-tamperable voting machines (Diebold's) were irreparably tainted by being sent home with poll workers days and weeks prior to the election, in violation of several clear warnings issued by CA's own Sec. of State, Bruce McPherson and the computer scientists at UC Berkeley that he commissioned to independently analyze the scores of known and now-admitted-by-Diebold vulnerabilities in their optical-scan and touch-screen voting systems.

That fact --- in and of itself --- is reason for a complete loss of confidence in the so-far reported results which are based on optically-scanned ballots and touch-screen machine-reported numbers and thus calls for a complete hand count of the paper ballots and "paper trails" before any credence should be given to the reported totals in such a close election with so many national ramifications.

It bears repeating to those who don't get this: The San Diego County Registrar of Voters office is paid with your tax dollars (yes, your federal tax dollars) to run an accurate election. The burden of proof that they have done so, and that the election results are accurate and verifiable lies with them. So far, they have offered no such evidence.

ReddIt this story!



[UPDATED 6/13/06: Registrar Office Claims Election Night Absentee Numbers Were Wrong...By some 30,000]
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2006 3:59pm PT  

I'm sure there's a perfectly good explanation for this. There always is.

As ever, it underscores the need for verifiable elections, and begins to remind us that the folks who give a damn about this down there in San Diego County better damned well be keeping an eye on the chain of custody for those paper ballots and "paper trails" as they are being theoretically "counted" by the SD County Registrar of Voters.

According to this web page from the SD County's Registrar of Voters office, as of 5pm last night, the number of uncounted absentee and provisional ballots in the entire county of SD has decreased by 2,000 from the reported 68,500 that were announced as "still to be counted" on election night.

The number of votes in the now-questionable Busby/Bilbray U.S. House (CA-50) special election, however, has been increased by 8,000 votes.

Since the number of votes in the CA-50 race is a smaller subset of the total votes within SD County, one would think that if 2,000 absentee or provisionals were counted for the entire county, the number of votes in CA-50 might go up by a fraction of that number. Instead, they've gone up by 8,000, according to the county's website!

So far, I've been unable to get any comments from "quotable sources" at the Registrar's office on the reported updates. Very few in the office, apparently, are allowed to speak on record to the press for some reason.

As mentioned, no doubt there's a perfectly good explanation for all of this. Right? It's just that you and I may never know it. And, if we do, the election officials will likely never have to prove that their explanation --- or the veracity of their reported vote counts --- is valid. To anybody.

UPDATE 6/13/06: On Thursday afternoon, Cathy Glaser of the SD County Registrars office says she sent out the following notice on the heels of the above report. She's only just sent it to us today:

-----Original Message-----
From: Glaser, Cathy
Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2006 5:50 PM
Subject: Election Results - Add on count

An add-on count was completed at 5 p.m. Thursday and posted to our website: www.sdvote.com
On the final report from election night, we estimated there were approx. 68,500 ballots left to be counted. That estimate was not accurate. It should have said approx. 95,000 left to be counted.

So - there were approx. 28,000 ballots added to the count today, and we are now estimating that approx. 66,500 remain.

More ballots will be added Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. - and then again Monday afternoon at 5 p.m.

Cathy Glaser
Campaign Services
San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office

ReddIt this story!



By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2006 8:54pm PT  

Given what we know about Diebold voting machines (both optical-scan and touch-screen), several folks have written to ask: "Are you sure they actually allowed poll workers to take these machines home with them" prior to the Busby/Bilbray U.S. House special election in CA-50th?

Yes. I'm sure. And yes, I confirmed it with someone in the media office at the San Diego County Registrar of Voting before I wrote my initial story on all of this. She asked me to keep her name off record, and so I'm doing so. Feel free to call and ask them yourself however: (858) 565-5800.

While you're talking to them (politely), ask how they intend to prove that the results of the Busby/Bilbray special election are accurate now that the chain of custody for the electronic voting machines --- which have been shown to be exceedingly prone to easy, passwordless tampering --- has been corrupted by sending them home for days and weeks at a time with voluneer poll workers. Also ask them how many absentee and provisional ballots there are in the race. Feel free to report your answers in comments here. If you can get any.

To help confirm the sleepovers of the easily hackable Diebold machines, here's a clip or two from a couple of emails I've received on all of this since posting my original story and this morning's follow up:

I volunteered to be a poll worker in the 49th. I took a short course on Sunday morning, loaded up the machine, and had it Sunday and all day and night Monday. I couldn't believe it! Folks, get in the polling places to watch for funny business.

Terry Olson

Enjoyed reading the Busby/Bilbray article on BradBlog and the questionable election equipment used, since I was working the election as an Assistant Precinct Inspector - Equipment. This is the person responsible for setting up and tearing down the Diebold Touch Screen Voting Stations. I understand that all but 7 CA counties will be using these systems as their main way of voting in November! I don't trust them, and the team that I trained with a week before the election didn't trust them either.

BTW, since I was trained a WEEK before the election, that means I got my two voting stations, 2 printers and cardboard privacy screen right after my training. All this equipment was sitting in my garage for nearly a week, but it was a rule that you couldn't leave the equipment at the poll site if you set up the night before. My neighbors were quite surprised when I showed them one of the touch screen systems from my garage. My Mom was also very surprised that the registrar of voters allowed us to take election equipment home with us.
...
Brian C Baer

And this from Pamela Smith, the Nationwide Coordinator for VerifiedVoting.org and Verified Voting Foundation, who's in San Diego County...

Yes, the machines had sleepovers. I was interviewed on our local news station about it prior to the election.

The procedure is that certain pollworkers are assigned equipment to take home with them upon receiving their training. They then bring it to the polling place on election morning early, and set up. Depending when they have training the machines could be at their homes for more than a week or two.
...
Best,
Pam

Pamela Smith, Nationwide Coordinator
VerifiedVoting.org and Verified Voting Foundation

UPDATE 6/9/06: I just noticed the following comment left on one of my original Busby/Bilbray article, from reader Patti Newton, who reports she had a similar experience as a San Diego County poll worker in Busby's district. Here's part of it:

I was an assistant precinct inspector in charge of equipment during this eleciton (I'm in the 50th). I had my two Diebold machines for seven full days before the election (I was dumbfounded). The chain of custody is abysmal. There is a seal on the machines (which are locked) but I am the one who sets up/breaks down the equipment and breaks the seal at the end of the day. The machines were reserved specifically for disabled voters but could have been used if a voter insisted on using it instead of the scanner. I registered zero votes and assume most if not all of the 1,646 precincts in the county had very little use but don't know for sure. I had no key to unlock the memory card but if I were motivated and had "friends" of like mind it would have been extremely easy.

The November election will use only the touchscreen machines (the scanners will not be used at all). I will encourage voters to look at the paper and make sure their votes are registered properly there but still, what's the guarantee?

I attended a breakfast with Francine and she said if the vote was close she would demand a recount. I'll follow your advice and give her office a call.

UPDATE: 6/9/06: New numbers reported from San Diego county...

ReddIt this story!



AP, ABC, et al Run Unverifiable Reports on Results of Tuesday's Special Election
There is NO BASIS for Confidence in the Reported Election Results. Period.
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2006 12:27pm PT  

ABC News is featuring this AP story on their website:

Republican Wins Bellwether House Race

Ex-GOP Congressman Wins California Race for Scandal-Rocked House Seat As 8 States Hold Votes

By ROBERT TANNER - The Associated Press

- A former Republican congressman narrowly beat his Democratic rival early Wednesday for the right to fill the House seat once held by jailed Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a race closely watched as a possible early barometer of next fall's vote.

Republican Brian Bilbray emerged victorious after a costly and contentious special election race against Democrat Francine Busby, a local school board member who ran against Cunningham in 2004.

Okay, AP. Prove it. I dare you. You can't.

Not without a 100% manual, hand-count of all the optically-scanned paper ballots and touch-screen "paper trails" from Tuesday's CA 50th Congressional district race for the U.S. House of representatives. And even then, depending on the margin of difference after the op-scan ballots are hand-counted, you will be unable to prove that the race was decided correctly if it should turn out the number of votes cast on touch-screen machines was more than the margin of difference after the op-scan ballots are actually counted (by hand!)

The deafening, dumbstruck silence after I posted my article yesterday, headlined 'Results of Close Busby/Bilbray U.S. House Special Election in Doubt!,' is deafening.

Yes, I know the headline is unsettling. As are the implications of the piece. I will hope, however, that most of you who know what I report at The BRAD BLOG also know that what I report, I source with independently verifiable information. So you don't need to trust me. And you shouldn't. No more than you should trust the words of San Diego County's Registrar of Voters.

The arguments presented in yesterday's article are airtight. The have been vetted by a number of election experts and computer scientists. So far, not a single human being has presented me with a flaw in my logic or contentions.

Mind you, I have never reported that any election was "stolen." Not even the 2000 Presidential (which wasn't stolen, as much as given away by the Supreme Court), nor the 2004 Presidential Election, which evidence shows would most likely have gone to Kerry had the votes actually been counted. But I have never claimed that election was "stolen" either, because we simply do not know. Until there is evidence, I do not report it as such.

I am not saying, in my article yesterday, that the Busby/Bilbray election was "stolen" either.

Nor have I charged there has been any fraud. This is (for now) about confidence in verifiable results in an American election. So far, there is no basis to have any.

Nor am I one of those who believes that legitimate elections can only be carried out on 100% hand-counted paper ballots.

This one, however, given the specific machines in use, which have been proven to be easilly tamperable and hackable, without a trace being left behind, (and admitted as such by even the company who makes them!) is a different matter. Add to that, security measures were completely compromised by sending the machines home with poll workers, in some cases, for weeks at a time, prior to the election and we've got a no confidence case on our hands.

The burden is now on elections officials --- who we pay to run accurate elections --- to prove the race was counted accurately. Let's see them do it.

I do not champion, nor traffic in, "conspiracy theories," as those of you who know my work likely already understand. What I reported in yesterday's story was not editorial or "conspiracy theory," but plain scientific fact, resting on an enormous body of peer-reviewed, undisputed, scientific evidence. The contention offered in the piece then is summarized thusly --- presuming the integrity of the chain of custody for the paper ballots and the "paper trails" is still demonstrably secured:

Unless every optically-scanned ballot is counted by hand --- and only if the resultant margin after that count is larger than the number of votes cast on the touch-screen systems --- can there be any confidence that the results of the U.S. House race for CA's 50th congressional district are accurate.

I challenge anybody to prove otherwise. Anybody. It cannot be done.

I welcome any and all questions about the logic or accuracy of my contentions. So far, I have received none.

If, after reading yesterday's article in full --- and asking any questions of me concerning the logic or evidence (I will try to keep an eye on comments left here) --- you still do not understand what's going on here, and what's at stake in your elections, then you are simply heading into November while whistling past democracy's graveyard.

That goes for you, AP. (And ABC, since you're running the article on your site and yet have failed to run extremely important stories on American election integrity issues which, unlike AP's story, are demonstrably provable and feature actual evidence.)

Do you both, AP and ABC, stand behind this report? If so, I dare you to prove the contentions made in your article are backed up with any verifiable evidence. You can't. And you won't. The contentions made in my article, however, certainly are. I feel it's my responsibility to be sure of that when I file a report. Why don't you?

Elections should be verifiable and provable. This one, at least as of now, is most decidely not.

UPDATE: SD County Poll workers write in about voting machine sleepovers...

UPDATE: 6/9/06: New numbers reported from San Diego county...

ReddIt this story!



Race to Replace Randy 'Duke' Cunningham in San Diego Was Run on Hackable Diebold Voting Machines, Kept Unsecured at Poll Worker Houses Overnight Before the Election!
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2006 1:57pm PT  

To be clear, at this hour, we have no evidence to show that Democrat Francine Busby --- running in yesterday's special run-off election in San Diego against Republican Brian Bilbray to replace the disgraced Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham for the U.S. House (CA-50) race --- actually won it.

Neither do we have evidence to believe that Bilbray actually won it.

We do, however, have copious and documented evidence to suggest there is no reason in the world to have any faith that Bilbray won the race.

The fact that the thin margin between the two at this hour (with "100% of the votes counted", according to the CA Sec. of State's website) is a mere 4,732 votes --- in a race where 125,882 votes were reportedly cast in a county with more than 355,000 voters registered --- is not even the largest question. Neither is the so-far unclear question of how the race will be affected by the 68,500 absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted in San Diego County according to the SD Registrar of Voters website at this hour.

The biggest concern about the race, by far, is that San Diego County uses two types of Diebold voting systems --- optical-scan and touch-screen --- both of which have not only proven to be disastrously unreliable in San Diego County and California in the past, but have also been demonstrated over the last six months to feature dozens of exceedingly well-documented and remarkable security vulnerabilities, making them extremely accessible to tampering. Especially if anyone has unsupervised physical access for more than a minute or two with them.

The voting machines used in Tuesday's election were sent home with volunteer poll workers the night before the election, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters office today. As well, The BRAD BLOG has received reports that in some cases, poll workers may have had the machines alone at their houses, unsupervised, for a week or even two prior to Tuesday's election....

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

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