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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, December 22, 2014
'A Terrible Idea': E-Voting, E-Counting, 'Open Source' and Internet Voting
Computerphile's Tom Scott understands and explains what too many -- even most opponents of 'e-voting' -- don't fully appreciate...
'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...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
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
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'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
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

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...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
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
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

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
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
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...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Muckracking 'Staff' Stirred But Not Shaken...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2007 3:23pm PT  

HOLLYWOOD - While on the phone, during yet another exasperating conversation with a Congressional office, I noticed the sky above BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters begin turning oddly orange. It turns out a large brush fire, just over the hill near the Universal and Warner Bros. Studios, was burning out of control. In a potential disaster for the entire nation, indeed the world, the "Hollywood Sign" itself sits nearby.

With our photography staff (Desi) away on assignment (lunch in Santa Monica), we'll have to rely on photos from the media....


(Courtesy NBC11.com)


(Courtesy TMZ.com)

As the wind seems to have changed directions moments ago, the orange sky over our corporate headquarters has begun to turn blue again. So it seems that all staff members will likely be spared, this afternoon at least, from an horribly tragic apocalyptic ending. We'll let you know if the situation changes.

LIVE VIDEO COVERAGE here...

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Poorly Performing DREs, Lack of Oversight and Transparency Leads to Conclusion of 'Not Acceptable' by WINNER of Last November's CA-11 U.S. House Election...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2007 3:01pm PT  

Congrats to Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney's (CA-11) team of Election Integrity advocates, who did a great job with their election protection analysis and report from his election last November. His Election Protection Task Force has just released their report [PDF] on how it all went, including 36 specific and detailed recommendations for improving the election system used in the four counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Santa Clara) that make up California's 11th Congressional district.

"The McNerney Election Protection Task Force Report" illustrates, among other things, that DRE touch-screen systems made by Diebold, specifically as used in San Joaquin County under the oversight (or lack thereof) of Registrar of Voters Debbie Hench, did not fare well in the election. Broken-down machines caused long lines, there were not enough paper ballots for backup, plus various problems with chain of custody and lousy post-election audit and reporting systems were all accompanied by an embarrassing lack of transparency for the entire system.

The report's overall conclusion: "The current electoral system is not acceptable."

And before you electronic voting apologists haul out your tired old "sore loser" lines, McNerney won his race over the Republican long-time incumbent, Richard Pombo!

Congrats and thank you to all who helped create the very enlightening report, and specifically to McNerney for having the foresight and responsibility to create and work on such an important project. If every candidate did the same, we'd have this mess cleaned up in no time.

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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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'Why would you have a paper record if you don't count it?' Asks 'Losing' Candidate
Orange County, CA, Court Decision to 'Set Precedent' According to Both Sets of Attorneys...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2007 1:35pm PT  

The Los Angeles Times underscores everything that is wrong with relying on "paper trails" from Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting systems: Nobody ever counts them. Even in incredibly close contested elections as overseen by a court of law...

A judge ruled Monday that Janet Nguyen won the February election for an Orange County Board of Supervisors seat by a slim three-vote margin, rejecting arguments by her opponent that a recount wasn't completed because the paper audit of electronically cast ballots was not counted manually.

"All the votes were counted," said Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Brenner. "There was a full and legal recount."
...
It was, he said, "perfectly reasonable" for Janet Nguyen to ask for about 35,000 paper absentee ballots to be checked by hand to contest ones that weren't filled out properly and then ask to have about 10,000 electronic votes recounted the way they were on election night — by machine
...
Trung Nguyen, who is not related to the winner, declined to comment and left the courthouse as his attorney, Michael Schroeder, said an appeal was likely. "Why would you have a paper record if you don't count it?" Schroeder said.
...
All sides agreed that Brenner's ruling could set a precedent.

Please note that Rush Holt's Election Reform bill (HR811), which mandates the hand-count of a very small minority of paper records in most federal races (which this race was not) via an audit after Election Day, allows no audit to happen at all in the case of an automatic state-mandated recount --- the type that occurs when an election is incredibly close, and when such an audit, arguably, might be needed the most.

UPDATE 4:58pm PT: Election Integrity advocate Tom Courbatt of Riverside County points us towards an October 31, 2006 statement [PDF] from former CA Sec. of State Bruce McPherson, who said: "The mandatory paper audit trail will be used for a full recount if necessary." That statement is at the bottom of the 5-page press release. Guess he was just kidding. Or the judge in Orange County didn't care. Or "paper trails" don't actually matter after all, no matter what any law or elections officials try to tell you...Which is why we need a paper ballot --- one that is actually tabulated --- for every vote cast in America!

# # #

Take action to amend the Holt Election Reform Bill!
DEMAND A BAN ON DRE/TOUCH-SCREEN VOTING!
- Email Congress!
- Call your members!
See www.BradBlog.com/Holt for more details, coverage, talking points & information on all of the above!
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Official Comments from CA Election Clerks on Proposed Test Criteria by SoS Bowen Reveal They Are in a Panic...And Are Clueless About the One Thing That Truly Matters to Voters...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2007 8:40pm PT  

California's election clerks --- or at least those who are members of the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO) --- are freaking out in light of CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen's newly proposed draft criteria for her promised, "first-of-its-kind top-to-bottom review" of all electronic voting systems in the state.

Bowen's most welcome and strictly drawn draft criteria, as we reported last week, are open for public comment through April 6th, after which testing will begin on systems which will lose their certification for 2008 if they do not meet the refreshingly strict standards to be reviewed (finally!).

In a document dated today and obtained by The BRAD BLOG, the CACEO --- who worked very hard, if unsuccessfully, to see Bowen's irresponsible predecessor, the hapless Bruce McPherson, re-elected --- filed their comments on Bowen's test criteria. And they don't like 'em. They don't like 'em one bit.

While we can hardly say we're surprised by that, or that they didn't bother to post the document on their own website yet, we can say that we're surprised that these folks who run elections for a living still seem completely and utterly unaware of the one thing that matters to voters --- and any successful democracy --- the most...

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

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Diebold Document Exposer in First Broadcast Interview! Plus CODEPINK's Jodie Evans! As we Guest Host 'Action Point w/ Cynthia Black' on AAR/Nova M Phoenix
Listen Up Sunday @ 12noon PT (3pm ET) on 1480kphx.com
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2007 8:59am PT  

I'll be sitting in again this week as Guest Host on Sunday for the good Cynthia Black Nova M and Air America Phoenix' Action Point with Cynthia Black on 1480am KPHX.

This week, we'll have a live broadcast exclusive first as Diebold document whistleblower Stephen Heller will be LIVE in studio to be interviewed on air for the first time! We'll also take your calls! As well, CODEPINK's Jodie Evans will join us to discuss the Democrats courageous Iraq Policy, or lack thereof. Don't miss it! More details follow...

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

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San Diego County Chief Promotes Hard Rightwing Haas to Top Executive Position in County!
By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2007 2:03pm PT  

From the San Diego Union-Tribune today:

Mikel Haas, a 13-year county employee who oversaw a slew of elections in two stints as registrar of voters, has been promoted to one of the top executive positions in county government.

Haas, 49, will replace Alex Martinez, who retired March 16, as deputy chief administrative officer of the Community Services Group. In the post, Haas will oversee several departments, including the registrar, housing, animal services and general services.

Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard made the decision Thursday after considering several in-house candidates. He called Haas “a top-notch executive” with stellar management experience.
...
Haas earned $145,288 annually as registrar. His new salary has yet to be determined, county spokesman Mike Workman said.

In the North County Times' report on same, which focused on the difficulty the county may have in finding a replacement for Haas, and bothered, (unlike the as-ever rightwing U-T's coverage above) to note just some of the fire that Haas has been under for his horrible performance as head of elections in SD, added:

County Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard...issued a statement through Workman praising Haas, who had been something of a "troubleshooter" for the county during his 13 years.

A "troubleshooter" indeed, for the hard rightwing San Diego County administrators.

A quick review of a just a few BRAD BLOG items concerning Haas will inform the initiated about one of America's worst, most dangerous, partisan Elections Administrators and the disaster that Diebold's man in San Diego has been for the voters of San Diego as he's overseen/mis-managed such elections as the Busby/Bilbray race and many more.

His failures have led both Democrats and Republicans to call for his resignation. Little wonder then, here in Bush's World, that he's now been rewarded for his bad work. Can the Medal of Freedom be far behind?

Heckuva job, San Diego!

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It's a Bad Day in Cali for Diebold and ES&S and Sequoia and Hart Intercivic...But a Great Day for the Voters!
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2007 10:05am PT  

"Clean up politics. Elect Women." Indeed.

In our second "New Female Secretary of State Kicks Ass, Cleans Up Mess Wrought by Male Predecessor" story of the day, California's own Debra Bowen issued her draft criteria to be used for the first-of-its-kind, "top to bottom review" of all electronic voting systems she promised just before taking office. And the electronic voting machine companies ain't gonna like 'em. But we do.

"The review is designed to restore people's confidence in the integrity of our electoral process," Bowen said in a statement issued yesterday to announce the criteria and her call for public input, "Every California voter has the right to have their vote counted as it was cast."

Imagine that. Am I dreamin'?! The criteria are now posted here [PDF] for public comment.

And, oh, man...Here's just a taste. From the "Security Standards" section...

a. DREs. Each direct recording electronic voting system (“DRE”), as defined in Elections Code Section 19251(b), must incorporate, as part of its design, hardware, firmware and/or software program features that effectively secure the DRE and all electronic media used with the DRE against untraceable vote tampering or denial of service attacks by any person with access to the DRE, its firmware, software and/or electronic media during their manufacture, transport, storage, temporary storage, programming, testing and use, including the electronic ballot definition or layout process.

The criteria are virtually the same for op-scans and central tabulating systems. And from the "Security Testing" section (Jeff "1000 to 1" Stone of Riverside County is not gonna like this)...

The security of each DRE, vote tabulating device, and ballot tally computer will be tested using two complementary methods, “red teaming” and source code review. The Secretary will select qualified industry and academic experts in computer and software security, including experts on electronic voting systems, to perform both types of tests.

a. Red Teaming. The “red teaming” process is analogous to military training exercises in which the members of the “red team” are adversaries trying to defeat friendly, “blue team” forces. The red team exercise will be designed to simulate conditions in which a voting system might be vulnerable to attack in the actual cycle of manufacturing, programming, delivery, testing, storage, temporary storage and use in California elections. Initially, the team will approach the system knowing nothing of its source code. Knowledge of source code may be used in subsequent attack attempts. The objective will be to determine whether and to what degree it is possible to compromise the security of the voting system to interfere with the accurate recording of votes or alter the record of votes to change the result of an election.

Now we're getting somewhere! And we're also reminded why Bowen was the only candidate ever officially endorsed by The BRAD BLOG!

"I want input from as many people as possible – voting rights activists, county elections officials, and anyone else who wants to offer an opinion," said Madame Secretary, putting the voting rights folks first for a refreshing change, in her statement.

Input on the draft criteria can be sent here: votingsystems@sos.ca.gov. The criteria for California, or as Diebold refers to it, "the world's largest voting market," will be finalized by April 6.

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Voters, State Law, Rendered Meaningless, Plaintiffs Likely to Appeal Decision to CA Supreme Court...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2007 6:35pm PT  
"We need not (and do not) resolve the question of whether the election contest at issue here fits within the category of election contests that may be entertained without infringing on Congress' authority because the instant dispute can, and should, be resolved on a much narrower ground — mootness."
-- CA Court of Appeals (4th District), Majority Opinion, Jacobson v. Bilbray, 3/20/07

Need more evidence for why election results need to be right on Election Night? Look no further than the now-infamous CA50 Busby/Bilbray Special U.S. House Election to replace Randy "Duke" Cunningham last June.

The latest chapter finds an Appellate Court in California dismissing the case on the grounds that the issue is now "moot" because the six month term for the original election being challenged has now ended. That, despite the defense never even having raised the issue. And thus, the voters' right to even have a proper recount as afforded by state law, in order to find out who had the most votes in an election, is usurped by the U.S. Congress's ultimate Constitutional authority to decide who will be seated in its chambers....

--- 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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By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2007 1:06pm PT  

San Francisco is considering "upgrading" their voting systems to use Sequoia machines. They are demanding that the company publicly disclose their software source code for all to see. It's called transparency. That's a good thing.

But Sequoia is refusing. Yesterday, there was another discussion/debate on the topic at an SF Board of Supes hearing. The San Francisco Examiner reported this laugh line from the Sequoia spokeshole:

Steven Bennet, a Sequoia representative, said Sequoia won't agree to public disclosure [of source code on voting machines] since it would "jeopardize the security to all of our customers in California and across the country."

For those just joining the fun, who may be unfamiliar with guffaw-worthiness of Bennet's claim about concern for the security of his company's shitty voting systems, we'll refer you to this small sampling of previous relevant BRAD BLOG articles:

...Along with a heads up that we'll have more --- much more --- on Sequoia's "concerns" about the security of their voting systems (or lack thereof) in a detailed investigative report in the very near future...

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Guest Blogger Attorney Ken Simpkins Seeks Your Help in Bringing Accountability to One of America's Worst Elections Officials...
By Ken Simpkins on 2/18/2007 4:39pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ken Simpkins

ED NOTE: Over the last nine months or so, along with attorney Paul Lehto, Carlsbad, CA attorney Simpkins has filed a number of voter lawsuits in San Diego in his continuing attempt to help bring accountability to the unaccountable San Diego County Registrar of Voters, Mikel Haas and his atrocious elections administration. Those suits included complaints and appeals in the now-infamous Busby/Bilbray Special Election as well as voter lawsuits brought both before and after last November's General Election in San Diego.

After being stonewalled by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office on requests for recounts, information regarding the right to vote on paper ballots, and the results of an audit of the November 2006 election, citizens are taking action. Last Thursday, a complaint [PDF] was submitted to the new California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, addressing voters’ concerns. Secretary Bowen was voted into office on the promise of cleaning up elections.

SD County's Registrar of Voters, Mikel Haas, has attracted the attention of The BRAD BLOG for many months as "one of the worst elections officials in the country." His policy of sending pre-programmed, election-ready Diebold voting machines home with poll workers weeks in advance of elections, without any training on security or assurance that the machines would be held in a secure environment, likewise attracted the ire of many San Diego County voters. Those same voters are signing a petition urging the Secretary of State to investigate the allegations in the complaint and report on the findings. I urge you to sign it as well.

The complaint reports on the violations of the certification requirements under state and federal law, the failure to properly test the machines pursuant to official procedures, the policy of undermining the right to vote on paper ballots, and the disregard of basic auditing principles in conducting the required one percent manual tally.

The voting machine "sleepover" policy is one example of the disregard by the Registrar of Voters of the proven vulnerabilities of the Diebold machines, which can be hacked in one minute and made to change the outcome of an election. In defending the sleepover policy, Mr. Haas points to the "tamper-evident" tape used to seal the memory card compartment as sufficient security against fraud. But, when one observer discovered on election day that the tape had been removed from the machines at two precincts, and reported the violation of the certification requirements to Mr. Haas, he refused to take the machines out of service and allowed voters to cast their votes on the then-uncertified machines...

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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...

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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...

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ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Details of Attorney Oral Arguments Concerning Whether the U.S. Congress Can Overrule State Election Laws Simply by Swearing Someone In
Also, Updates on Some of the Sad Players...Some Gone, Others (Hopefully) on Their Way Out...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2007 11:05am PT  

Yes, like the Energizer Bunny, the case in CA50 (Jacobson v. Bilbray) is still going. The first oral arguments on the appeal took place on Monday.

To recap: the original case was filed last Summer by San Diego voters Gail Jacobson and Lillian Ritt against then-candidate Brian Bilbray and SD County Registrar of Voters/Voter Hater Mikel Haas, after a BRAD BLOG report revealed that pre-programmed, election-ready, hackable-in-60-seconds Diebold voting machines were sent home illegally (in our rarely humble opinion, though one shared in a recent interview by California's new Secretary of State Debra Bowen) with poll workers on overnight "sleepovers" days and weeks before the U.S. House Special Election last July to replace the disgraced Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

There is much more than just the "sleepovers" at question in the case, like the fact that Haas, one of America's worst Elections Officials, arbitrarily and capriciously quoted a legal request by voters for a hand-count in the race at $150,000, effectively stymieing the possibility that such a count would happen at all. Also at issue is the fact that the case was tossed out by a lower court judge after the Bilbray team argued --- with the help of a letter [PDF] from the then-Republican U.S. House Admin Committee in Congress --- that California courts and voters had no say over the issue.

In that letter, the House Admin Committee argued that they, not the California courts or voters, had sole jurisdiction over the case once Bilbray was sworn in. He was sworn in after a fax was sent claiming he was the winner of the election, from the very partisan and now-former CA SoS Bruce McPherson's deputy, Susan Lapsley. Lapsley sent the fax just days after the election, despite the controversy that had erupted over the effectively-decertified voting systems used in the race, the slim reported margin between the two candidates, and the fact that the state hadn't yet actually certified the race, in which tens of thousands of votes in San Diego county had yet to be counted at the time.

Attorney Paul Lehto, working with Carlsbad attorney Ken Simpkins, filed both the original case and the appeal. UPDATE: We've now got a number of accounts of the argument from folks in the courtroom on Monday.

First, Simpkins sends us the following update (which is shorter than our recap) from the first day of hearings last Monday in the appellate case...

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