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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, September 3, 2014
CA Repubs Block State-Paid Automatic 'Recount' Bill
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Erick Erickson's Global Warming Denialist Tantrum
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  w/ Brad & Desi
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Previous GNRs: 8/26/14 - 8/21/14 - Archives...
Faking the Ferguson Docs:
KPFK 'BradCast'
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  w/ Brad & Desi
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Siegelman Judge, Arrested For Beating His Wife, May Avoid Prosecution Altogether
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Our Story So Far: The WI GOP Photo ID Voting Restrictions
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Obama Orders Review of Police Militarization Program
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Ryan Dismisses Elderly Voter's Question About His Medicare Cuts
2012 GOP Veep nom and 2016 hopeful 'charms' elderly voters in FL, by ignoring them...
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'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
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Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Electronic Machines, Shown Vulnerable to Easy Tampering --- Yet Said by State Officials to Be Physically Protected Under New Guidelines --- Now Available for Easy Access to Temp Workers!
Rationalizations from Diebold Company Apologists Appearing Sillier by the Day...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2006 11:48am PT  


So much for those vaunted claims by California's Sec. of State Bruce McPherson and his partners at Diebold, Inc. about increased security surrounding the physical access to electronic voting machines in light of newly revealed vulnerabilities to easy tampering.

A tip received by The BRAD BLOG on Monday reveals that Temp Workers are currently being sought in San Francisco for California's upcoming primary election to "assist in dropping off election voting machines and picking these machines up when voting is complete," as the says.

A classified ad seeking the workers is currently posted on the Internet at Monster.com by Kelly Services. (A screenshot of the complete ad is posted at the end of this article.) The salary offered to temp workers hired for the job --- who will have private unsupervised access to the state's voting machines before and after election day --- is $11.99/hour according to the posting.

A litany of recent studies and independent scientific analyses of electronic voting machines, in California and elsewhere --- and reportedly widely in the mainstream media of late --- have warned that such systems and the data they contain are easily alterable via such physical access.

State and voting machine company officials have now admitted as much, but claim that stringent security procedures ensure that the danger posed by such access can be mitigated.

The ad, however, seeking temp workers for three weeks beginning on May 31, the week prior to California's June 6th primary election, would seem to belie official claims, while serving to underscore the extraordinarily precarious and dangerously vulnerable state of our current electoral system...

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

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(Why Do the Terrorists Hate Me?)
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2006 4:21pm PT  

I'm speaking on Election Reform issues to the Culver City Democratic Club tonight at 8pm. Their site, www.CCDemClub.org has been hacked this morning in the bargain.

Joining me will be Arlene Pinzler from California Sen. Debra Bowen's office. Bowen is running for CA Sec. of State and must be supported, by the way! Her opponent in the Democratic primary, Deborah Ortiz, told the Sacramento Bee yesterday, incredibly, that she's satisfied with McPherson's certification of Diebold machines in the state and thinks "they're adequate to get us through the June 6 elections."

That is not a woman who belongs in the SoS office! Or even near it!

I any case, since details for tonight's event are no longer available at the Culver City Dem's site (but alot of hate-speech from hackers claiming to be representing Turkish Muslims is), here are the details. If you're in Southern California area, please stop by and say hello! And a note to Republicans: Happy to come on by and speak to your groups, too! Just let me know!

Culver City Democratic Club, 8pm (other business begins at 7pm)
Veteran's Memorial Building, Rotunda Room
4117 Overland Ave. (SW corner of Culver Blvd.)

Now I just have to find time to put something worthwhile together to speak about! :-)

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Voting Systems in Question Were Used Last Week in Ohio Primary, Soon in Pennsylvania, So 'Serious' Few Details Are Being Released
All Diebold Touch-Screen Machines, In All States, Said to be Affected by 'Horrifying' Vulnerability, Systems 'Sequestered' in PA
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2006 1:24pm PT  

We've now been able to gather a great deal of additional information concerning details about the story we first posted yesterday on the official Pennsylvania state warning issued about the new "security vulnerability" discovered in all Diebold touch-screen electronic voting machines.

That warning, which has now brought a lock-down on all Diebold systems in PA, where early absentee (non-machine) voting is about to begin prior to their upcoming May 16th primary election, was reported by the Morning Call yesterday. The warning says the serious security vulnerability could allow ''unauthorized software to be loaded on to the system."

Public details about the warning are still sketchy as those in the know have acknowledged that the problem is so serious, they are hoping to keep the info under wraps until mitigation steps can be taken to safeguard systems.

The BRAD BLOG has been told on the record, however, by one person involved in the matter, that the vulnerability is a "major national security risk."

We've been speaking to many sources today, and we've been able to get several first hand comments on the problem from top officials and analysts directly involved in both state and federal certification of the Diebold systems, as well as from those involved in the initial discovery of the problem.

What's clear is that Morning Call's reporting that it was Diebold who found the "glitch" are flat wrong. The discovery of the "glitch" (which is anything but) emanated from the examination of Diebold AccuVote TSx (touch-screen) machines recently in Emery County, UT.

A source has told The BRAD BLOG that Diebold was "cornered" into admitting to the problem, a far cry from them having "found" it, as the Morning Call characterized it.

What's also clear is that neither Diebold themselves, nor federal officials at the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) have been notifying states about the serious problem which apparently affects all Diebold AccuVote touch-screen systems, including both their newer TSx models, and the older TS and TS6 models.

The Diebold TSx models, with the security vulnerability still intact, were apparently used in the primary election last Tuesday in Ohio.

A document at Diebold's website describes [PDF] the TSx models as featuring "Industry Leading Security."

In Utah's Emery County, state officials are attempting to force Bruce Funk, the 23-year elected County Clerk out of his job in the wake of his having allowed a security evaluation of the county's new Diebold touch-screen systems by both computer security firm Security Innovation and Finnish computer security expert Harri Hursti. According to several sources, that analysis revealed many new vulnerabilities and problems in the Diebold touch-screen systems, including the one that seems to be at the heart of the problem now being warned about by Pennsylvania officials.

Funk --- who has since been "vilified," as one source told us, by both Diebold and Utah state officials as high as the Lt. Governor --- was forced to implement the new Diebold touch-screen systems for the first time this year against his own objections. His prudent subsequent security evaluation of the systems was arranged by electronic voting watchdog organization, BlackBoxVoting.org. (We recently interviewed Funk on the radio concerning that evaluation, and his subsequent removal from office in its wake. Listen to that interview here [MP3].)

Here's some of what we've so far been able to learn from a number of officials, both on the record and off, in Pennsylvania, elsewhere around the country and at the federal level, as well as those involved in the initial Emery County discoveries...

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

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Our Elections are Now Officially 'A National Disaster in the Making'
A MUST READ GUEST EDITORIAL BY JOHN GIDEON OF VOTERSUNITE.ORG
By John Gideon on 4/9/2006 5:24pm PT  

By John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org and VoteTrustUSA.Org

Normally this space is taken with my ideas of what are the "Top 5" voting news stories for the week. Today I am going to use this space to talk about what I see as the beginning of a disaster in the making with our elections. This isn't the election fraud that some point to when they talk about the vendors and some elections officials. It's not about recounts or audits. This is a real, get your hands around it, happening problem that will disrupt our election process if we do not do something about it now. While we have been involved in all of our issues about Direct Recording Electronic (DRE or "touch-screen") voting machines or paper ballots the electronic voting machine vendors have been wreaking complete havoc across the country.

So far this year two states have conducted primary elections. In Texas there is at least one candidate who has stepped forward and has challenged the election because of anomalies in vote counts and known voting machine failures. One county's machines counted some votes up to 6 times which resulted in approximately 100,000 more votes being counted than were cast. Though the vendor, Hart Intercivic, initially blamed the problem on human error, they finally had to admit that it was a programming error and not poll workers or voters who had erred. In Illinois some county officials are threatening to withhold final payment of funds on contracts with Sequoia Voting Systems because of failures with their machines that ended with results in the primary not being known for over a week after the voters went to the polls. In both states the involved vendors were very successful in the media with deflecting the blame from their machines to "human errors" or "glitches". However, when you listen to people who were there and who saw and worked through the problems you get a very different picture...

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

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Carolyn Wilson Crnich Admits Hackable Diebold Optical-Scan Voting Machines Kept at Poll Worker Homes the Night Before Elections
Can't Speak to Security Vulnerabilities
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2006 2:36am PT  

Blogged by Brad on the Road...

I know I'm supposed to be taking a few hours off (how's that going, Brad?)...But I couldn't help sharing with you a quick piece of audio from my regular Friday guest appearance on KRXA 540am's Peter B. Collins Show today (broadcast out of Monterey, CA).

I was pleased that Carolyn Wilson Crnich, Elections Registrar of Humboldt County, CA was able to join us on air for one of the segments (posted below.)

Crnich is one of the officials named as a defendant in the recent lawsuit against CA Sec. of State Bruce McPherson and other county elections officials around the state. The suit calls for the ban of use and purchase of Diebold touch-screen voting systems in the state since (amongst other reasons) they have proven to be hackable and their recent certification was in violation of state law requiring all certified voting systems to conform to Federal Voting System Standards. Diebold's machines do not conform to such standards because they contain "interpreted code" --- which is specifically banned by the Federal standards. Diebold has now admitted to the existence of such code on their systems. The forbidden code went unexamined and untested by Federal authorities when the machines received Federal certification.

Nonetheless, Crnich (we believe) is one of the good guys. She's proven willing to dump her previous plan to use Diebold AccuVote TSx (touch-screen) machines, which she was going to use in order to meet the disabled-accessible voting device requirement in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). She is now hoping to use the paper-ballot based Vote-PAD system in Humboldt County this year instead.

However, as our on-air conversation revealed, there are still very serious concerns with Humboldt County's optical-scan system since they use the very system, made by Diebold, which was shown to be hackable last December in Leon County, FL.

Of note in our conversation, Crnich admits that optical-scan systems are sent home with poll workers the night before elections where --- even if the hackable memory cards are wired into the machine so they can't be removed --- they can still be accessed by other means. If so, a malicious poll worker could modify the code on the memory cards, allowing an election to be hacked without a trace left behind during that breakdown in chain of custody for such home-stored voting machines.

Give the interview and discussion between Crnich, myself and Peter B. a listen. See what you think. It's good to have such an admission on the public record, and the fact that she admits to not knowing what could happen when these machines are stored at poll workers' houses.

Again, I'm glad she was willing (unlike many other Elections Officials around the country) to come on air and face some of these tough questions. Happy to hear your thoughts.

-- Carolyn Wilson Crnich, with Brad on the Peter B. Collins Show, 3/24/06 [MP3, about 13 mins]
-- Complete Brad appearance on Peter B. Collins Show, 3/24/06 [MP3, about 35 mins, and quite a bit funnier, IMHO]

(Thanks to Joe at the Peter B. show for sending the audio!)

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Sec. of State Bruce McPherson, 18 County Registrars Named as Defendants
Violations of State, Federal Laws Alleged, State Senator Releases Comment Condemning McPherson, Outlining Violations
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2006 1:46pm PT  

As The BRAD BLOG broke yesterday, a lawsuit has today been filed in San Francisco Superior Court demanding that California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson follow state and federal law in regards to his recent re-certification of Diebold voting machines in the state.

McPherson is named, along with 18 California county registrars, as defendants in the suit which calls for a ban on the use an new purchase of Diebold voting machines in the state. The suit was filed by VoterAction.org on behalf of 25 California voter/plaintiffs.

-- Here is a complete copy of the lawsuit file today [PDF]

Reuters originally reported on the story an hour or so ago as "Diebold Inc. sued over California voting systems". That headline is, in fact, incorrect. They have now reissued the story with the more accurate headline "California sued over Diebold voting systems".

The lawsuit against Diebold, we imagine, will come later after California is ready to admit how they've been screwed by the company and they try to recover the millions they've lost in betting on the wrong horse.

VoterAction is the non-profit organization who brought the actions that led to both the decertification of Diebold in California in 2004 and, more recently, the ban on the purchase of Sequoia voting machines in New Mexico (which led to a new law in the state requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast.)

We're short on time today, and haven't even been able to review the complete suit yet, so we'll let State Sen. Debra Bowen's press release in regard to the lawsuit, do the reporting for us since she's generally nailed all the factual basis for the complaint and explains exactly how McPherson's certification of Diebold is in violation of several state and federal laws.

Bowen, who is running herself for Sec. of State this year, also presents a very useful timeline in the release, explaining how we got here in the first place, and how it is that McPherson seems to have simply disregarded the law in favor of his good friends at Diebold.

Remember, as goes California (or as Diebold likes to call it, "America's largest voting market") goes, so goes the country...In other words, this suit is much bigger than just California...

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

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Lawsuit to Name Sec. of State Bruce McPherson, Alleges 'Severe Security Risk', Noncompliance with HAVA's Disabled-Voting Provisions, and Violation of CA State Law!
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2006 2:28pm PT  

UPDATE 3/21/06: Suit now filed, full coverage here...

=====

We've hinted of late at upcoming legal actions, in several states, against the use of Diebold voting machines. The BRAD BLOG can now reveal that such a legal action will be filed tomorrow morning in San Francisco's Superior State Court in response to Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's recent re-certification of Diebold Electronic Voting Machines in the state.

VoterAction.org is announcing their intention to file suit, on behalf of several plaintiffs, "aimed at halting the use or purchase of Diebold electronic voting systems" in the state.

The same group recently carried out a similar action in the state of New Mexico, in regard to the use of Sequoia Touch-Screen voting machines there. That suit ultimately led to the ban of use of such machines, and a bill which was recently signed by Gov. Bill Richardson requiring a paper ballot with every vote cast in the state.

Diebold's optical-scan and touch-screen systems were revealed last December to contain "interpreted code" which is banned by Federal Voting System Standards. It was that "interpreted code" which was exploited in the recent hack of a test election in Leon County, FL where the results of the election were completely flipped without a trace being left behind.

Despite that startling revelation, California's Sec. of State Bruce McPherson certified the systems anyway in California, after they had previously been decertified in 2004 when Diebold admitted they had used untested and uncertified software patches on their machines in the state.

Diebold has now admitted [PDF] that their voting systems, both optical-scan and touch-screen, contain such "interpreted code." That, despite the fact that its use is banned at the Federal level. California state law requires that voting systems certified in the state meet those Federal standards. McPherson, apparently, has chosen to blatantly ignore that state law. (We'll have further details outlining the above allegations very specifically, and in no uncertain terms, in a future post here at BRAD BLOG.)

According to VoterAction's press release (posted in full below), the legal action is being filed because "Diebold's TSx touch screen voting system is a severe security risk, and does not accommodate all disabled voters as required by law."

Sources have told The BRAD BLOG that the action is to encompass many, if not all, of California's counties. Some 18 of them are currently doing business with Diebold.

The press release goes on to charge that, "The Diebold system is difficult if not impossible to audit or recount, and has been proven vulnerable to malicious tampering in tests and studies. Diebold technology contains 'interpreted' code, which is easily hacked, and illegal for voting systems in the State of California."

Diebold is currently facing litigation in several investor class action lawsuits alleging Securities Fraud Violations such as insider trading and the false manipulation of stock prices by eight current and former company officials.

A press conference will be held to discuss the latest legal action involving Diebold tomorrow morning. The complete Press Release from VotersUnite.org follows...

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

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Huffington Post Picks Up the Cause...
Please take action!
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2006 10:36am PT  

Last week we briefly discussed Stephen Heller who, out here in Los Angeles, is now facing three felony charges for exposing the illegal scheme by Diebold to use uncertified software on their voting machines in the state several years ago. The LA Times coverage is here.

Heller blew the whistle on the company's plan to defraud California voters when he exposed documents he saw while working as a temp worker at Diebold's California law firm, Jones Day. The courageous act, from which Heller stood to gain nothing (he, in fact, was fired for it) led to the decertification of Diebold in the state by former Sec. of State Kevin Shelley, and then to the eventual settlement between the company and the state of California for $2.6 million in 2004.

Today, several Huffington Post blogger take up on Heller's behalf, along with issuing some calls to action to contact the LA District Attorney's office to encourage tell them to drop this appalling case of punishing the patriot, Heller at the behest of the the bullies at Diebold.

Peter Soby Jr.'s coverage is the most complete. Here's a snippet:

Let's make this clear, folks. The docs Heller is accused of exposing were important evidence. First, they show that Diebold and their attorneys, Jones Day, conspired to mislead the California secretary of state, and that the lie they told was material, and resulted directly in the disenfranchisement of voters. Second, another document demonstrates that Diebold lied to the secretary of state when it represented that certain problems with its software were "fixed." This document, the release notes for the new software, showed that the problems were not fixed. Third, the documents showed that Diebold had been advised by Jones Day that what it had been doing with its uncertified software was illegal. Fourth, the documents show that Jones Day advised Diebold that it was subject to criminal prosecution. So in a nutshell, Diebold was defrauding the state government and taxpayers of California, and disenfranchising the voters of California. And the documents PROVE it.

And for allegedly exposing Diebold's felonious behavior (which led directly to Diebold being de-certified in California), for allegedly helping protect the taxpayers and voters of California, for allegedly helping to keep elections clean and fair, what happens? Diebold, the true criminal in this case, and their powerful international law firm Jones Day, press the L.A. District Attorney's office to hammer Heller, a whistleblower. Three felonies! Diebold was (and probably still is) screwing California voters, Heller is alleged to have seen the smoking gun evidence of Diebold's crimes, and, like a true patriot and whistleblower, allegedly exposed that smoking gun evidence, and now HE'S the one facing jail time. Only in Bush's America!

Soby goes on to offer some talking points and helpful contact information for the LA District attorney. Please check them out and take action.

As well, Lyn Davis Lear (Norman's wife), speaks up in support as well.

...CONTACT...
District Attorney's Office
County of Los Angeles
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210

Email: lada@co.la.ca.us

Telephone: (213) 974-3512
Fax: (213) 974-1484
TTY: (800) 457-7778 (8:30am - 5:00pm M-F)

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FEATURING: An EXCLUSIVE Video Tape Interview with CA's Clueless SoS Stating 'We'll Wait to Hear from the Feds About Diebold Before Certifying' (apparently, he was just kidding)
ALSO: Action Items for Americans Who Care About Democracy --- Five Phone Calls is All We Ask Right Now to Force E-Voting Vendors to Answer Questions Under Oath!
By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2006 2:18pm PT  

Inveterate Huff Po contributor, R.J. Eskow picks up on our coverage of the latest mind-blowing Dieboldery by California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson and what it may bode for the Golden State as the GOP sets their sights on political manifest destiny.

Connecting a few dots, and noting big Bush Adminstration gunslingers, like Steve Schmidt, who are roving their way westward to help shore up the Governator's re-elect prospects out here, Eskow concludes:

So what does this all mean? It suggests that California, with its treasure trove of congressional seats and 2008 electoral votes, is the next battleground. Yes, Gov. Schwarzenegger is wildly unpopular now. But, as the GOP proved in the 2004 Presidential race, unpopularity need not be a barrier to re-election - especially when Diebold machines are counting the votes.

All the 'heavy hitters' are coming into town, their shiny cars pulling up to the curb. You've seen the movie. You know what happens next. If you live in California, my friend and blog-comrade skippy has a suggestion for how you can help.

Note: Eskow's appropriate concerns about McPherson's inexplicable Diebold double-cross don't even mention the Dept. of Homeland Security's warning about their hackable tabulator software, the recently flipped-without-a-trace-left-behind mock election in Leon County, FL, the GAO Report confirming the dangers of electronic voting, and his link to a page describing the failure rate of Diebold machines in a massive election test last summer pins the percentage of failed Diebold touch-screen machines at just 10% (a later report confirmed the number was more like 20%, and a later one still pegged it at 30%.)

It also still remains unexplained why McPherson didn't wait to hear back from the federal "Independent Testing Authority" (ITA) --- which isn't actually independent, as it's created and funded by the Voting Machine Companies themselves --- to whom McPherson had sent back the Diebold memory cards after the Leon County hack test revealed their machines employed hackable "interpreted code" which is expressly banned by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) guidelines for software used in electronic voting machines.

Back in December, McPherson's office sent a letter to Diebold explaining that they would not re-certify Diebold in California until the ITA completed their re-examination of the code in light of the hack test discovery:

We require this additional review before proceeding with further consideration of your application for certification in California. Once we have received a report from the federal ITA adequately analyzing this source code, in addition to the technical and operational specifications relating to the memory card and interpreter, we will expeditiously proceed with our comprehensive review of your application.

Apparently, the SoS's office was just kidding.

They went ahead and re-certified Diebold out here last week without waiting to hear back. They announced their decision late on Friday, at the start of the long holiday weekend and in apparent defiance of state election law and McPherson's own "10 Strict Standards" [PDF] which include "State certification testing does not begin until the federal qualification testing is successfully completed."

Apparently, he was just kidding about that as well.

With all of that in mind, readers of this blog would be remiss if they failed to take the actions described in Eskow's link to Skippy. Five phone-calls and/or emails this week are all that may be needed to finally see representatives from these unpatriotic Voting Machine firms subpeonaed and forced to answer questions --- under oath --- in a public hearing before elected officials concerning their secret software, shitty machines and under-the-table efforts to work around state and federal election laws. Hit that link, and call the five members of the California legislature's Rules Committee now!

By the way, McPherson himself also refused to show up at that hearing and refused to send a representative from his office to boot.

It should also be noted that Diebold is not the only bad player here. Add ES&S, Hart-Intercivic, Sequoia and several others to the list of cowardly unAmerican firms who recently refused the invitation to show up to testify before the California State Senate's Election Committee last week. All of those companies, apparently, believe it's none of our damned business how they count the votes (or not) in our American democracy.

Take action.

For full disclosure, we should also mention that we had the privilege of meeting both R.J. and Skippy in person over the weekend in an L.A. Blogger's get together out here. Good folks all of them, and we're delighted to see them jump into this most important game of all.

And finally --- since we've been looking for a good excuse to post this video --- we'll take this opportunity to give you an exclusive peek inside the "brain" of the man whose perplexing decision to re-certify voting machines and software known to be flawed and hackable may well effect similar decisions by Elections Officials around the entire country.

The following short Q&A with CA's SoS was video-taped by Dave Berman of GuvWurld about two weeks prior to the recent about face by McPherson. It's somewhat revealing --- particularly in the last couple of minutes where Dave gets to ask the questions --- as to the mindset and intellectual capabilities of the man currently appointed by Arnold to oversee free and fair elections in the country's largest "voting market" (as Diebold refers to it).

At one point in the questioning, when asked about the re-examination of Diebold software by the ITA, McPherson says, "If they're going to be certified, they're going to have to meet those levels of satisfactions to me...We, uh, we've, uh, just said that, uh, you have to meet these strict requirements and if they do, we'll consider it."

Apparently, McPherson was just kidding there as well....Since he recertified them without, apparently, waiting to hear back from the ITA.

Without further ado then, we give you the man, the myth, the elusive and rarely seen genius that is California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson --- as videotaped exclusively about two weeks ago in Humboldt County, just prior to his re-certification of Diebold voting machines in this state.


-- Video in Streaming Flash format...
-- Video in Windows Media format...

UPDATE: CA State Senator Debra Bowen (chair of the Senate Elections Committee) issues her own call to action to force McPherson to review his outrageous decision. Her reasons are summarized thusly:

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

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State Senator Outraged, Says Machines, Certification Violates State, Federal Standards and Law...
SoS' Own Report Agrees! McPherson Waits Until 5pm Friday of Holiday Weekend to Announce! [UPDATED WITH MUCH MORE INFO...]
By John Gideon on 2/17/2006 6:29pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon (with some additional updates/info from Brad)

Updated with much more information...

Secretary of State McPherson seems to have a thing for making major announcements late on Fridays just before holidays. Following in what seems to be a pattern of his, he announced late this afternoon that he was certifying Diebold Optical Scan and AccuVote TSx (touch-screens) for use in elections in the state.

The re-certification (they had been originally decertified in California in 2004 when it was revealed Diebold had installed illegal software updates on the machines) is conditional on some items but not on the one thing point he had announced last December when he sent the system back to federal authorities for further testing. At that time he said he was sending the machine's memory cards to the federal Independent Testing Authority (ITA) Lab for reinspection in light of the news out of Leon County, Florida that the cards used "intepreted code" which is specifically banned by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). A "hack test" in that county revealed that an entirely election could have its results flipped by a hacker exploiting that "interpreted code" --- without a trace being left behind.

McPherson made his announcement today without waiting to hear back from the ITA lab.

Last summer, after a massive mock election test with Diebold touch-screen machines revealed that 10% of them failed entirely with screens freezing and printers jamming --- later reports would reveal that as many as 30% of the machines actually failed! --- McPherson said, "We certainly can't take any kind of risk like that with this kind of device on California voters."

Apparently the Secretary of State of America's largest "voting market," as Diebold refers to it, was just kidding about that.

State Senator Debra Bowen, (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee issued the following Press Release after learning of McPherson's remarkable decision.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Evan Goldberg (###) ###-4028/(###) ###-9176

February 17, 2006

BOWEN ON SECRETARY OF STATE'S DECISION TO RE-CERTIFY DIEBOLD MACHINES FOR USE IN CALIFORNIA

SACRAMENTO ? "How the Secretary can re-certify the Diebold machines when they don't comply with California law, they violate the standards set by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that the Secretary said he intended to follow, and he still doesn't have the report back from the ITAs that he said he was waiting for is beyond me."

That's how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee, reacted to today's decision by the Secretary of State to re-certify Diebold's electronic voting machines for the 2006 elections.

"Last December, the Secretary announced with great fanfare that he was sending the Diebold machines back for review by the Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) because the memory cards those machines rely on hadn't been reviewed," continued Bowen. "Now, contrary to what he said two months ago, he's approving the Diebold machines without waiting for the report from the ITAs. Instead, he's basing his decision on a supposedly 'independent state audit' that no one has seen before today. There's a March 1 public hearing for four other voting machine vendors before their machines can be certified for use in California, so what was the rush to certify Diebold and side-step a public hearing on this issue?"

Seventeen California counties rely on the Diebold optical scan machines and a number of other counties have bought or are planning to buy the Diebold TSx touch-screen machines to use in the 2006 elections in order to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The Secretary's decision is only good for the 2006 elections and comes with a number of conditions.

"In August, the Secretary said any machine approved in California would have to comply with all federal standards and regulations, yet the EAC bans machines that contain interpreted code and these Diebold machines rely on that type of code to operate, so he's gone back on that commitment," continued Bowen. "In December, he said he'd wait for a report from the ITAs before acting on the Diebold re-certification request, yet now he's re-certified the Diebold machines without hearing from the ITAs. He says he's acting based on the recommendations of an 'independent state audit' that came out on Tuesday, but the California State Auditor hasn't issued any reports on this issue and hasn't been asked to do a report. Asking a board appointed by the Secretary to make recommendations doesn't constitute an 'independent state audit' in my book.

"The other thing that no one has mentioned is the fact that the Diebold machines don't comply with the state's paper trail law because they don't provide blind or visually impaired voters with a 'read-back' of what the paper trail recorded, they only read back what the machine recorded electronically," noted Bowen. "That's not what the law requires, yet the Secretary has decided to go ahead and approve these machines for use anyway. If the Secretary wants to say he's changing his mind and lowering the safeguards California voters are entitled to have to ensure their votes are accurately counted, that's certainly his decision to make, but saying these Diebold machines comply with state law and with all federal regulations and requirements simply isn't accurate."

Under Elections Code Sections 19250 and 19251, all direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems have to come with an accessible voter verified paper audit trail (AVVPAT). The AVVPAT must be "provided or conveyed to voters via both a visual and a nonvisual method, such as through an audio component." The Diebold TSx doesn't contain that feature, therefore making the AVVPAT that all DREs are required to have as of January 1, 2006, useless for blind or visually-impaired voters.

###

VOTING SYSTEMS HEARINGS, MARCH 1:
Also of note is the announcement of public hearings (as mentioned in Bowen's release) persuant to the certification of various voting systems, many of which are still not federally qualified. This announcement is not accompanied by any of the test reports necessary for citizens to go to this hearing with any knowledge of what the state found in their testing. Perhaps this is because none of these systems have been tested by the state yet?

...DEVELOPING...MUCH MORE BELOW...UPDATES, ACTION ITEMS, ADDITIONAL INFO...

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

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By John Gideon on 1/11/2006 5:32pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.Org

While a dozen Northern California counties consider going vote-by-mail in order to get themselves out of the 'voting machines morass' Riverside Co. decides to pay over $6M to upgrade their present Sequoia voting machines to newer machines. These 'newer' machines are federally qualified to 1990 standards and do not meet HAVA mandates for accessibility. Those of you who have responded to the Action Alert from VoteTrustUSA have sent 15,097 emails to the EAC along with 1870 letters demanding the ITA be made to do their job....

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2005 12:57pm PT  

The Terminator earns his name...and his bones.

The Death Penalty is a disgrace to our country. Our collective national shame...

VERY LATE UPDATE 12/15/05: This Madison Capital Times editorial is 100% correct. Murder is Murder... (Thanks Katrina!)

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Mainstream Media Reports Indicating Scheduled Attempt to 'Hack' Voting Machines Appear to Be Incorrect
State, Activists Still Negotiating Paramaters, Scheduling of Test as State and Federal Deadlines Draw Near?
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2005 7:03pm PT  

With Additional Reporting by John Gideon

On Friday, November 25, a news story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle by political writer John Wildermuth reporting that the California Secretary of State's office would be allowing Election Reform activists to perform an attempted hack of voting machines on Wednesday, November 30th. That report was soon picked up by the Associated Press and other outlets where it was repeated, in part, in newspapers, radio and television across the nation. Headlines along the line of "Hacker to try to attack state voting machines" were blared across the media throughout the holiday weekend.

While the story seems to be based in some reality, reporting by The BRAD BLOG over the last several days has revealed that the matter seems to be a far cry from the way it has been reported by the Mainstream Media. In fact, while negotiations for such a test are ongoing, the parameters to be used are still being hashed out, no definite schedule has yet to be determined, and Finnish computer scientist Harry Hursti, who created this particular method for hacking into Diebold voting machines has made no plans at this time to travel to the United States to perform the hack attempt.

Such a test, if performed, could be crucial to a decision soon to be made by CA Sec. of State Bruce McPherson about whether to allow various Diebold voting systems in the state. That decision, in turn, will likely effect decisions by other states and counties around the U.S., all of whom are facing a January 1, 2006 deadline set by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to be met if jurisdictions are to receive millions of dollars in Federal money to help pay for "upgraded" Electoral Systems.

California's Republican Sec. of State McPherson had famously refused to re-certified Diebold's AccuVote TSx touch-screen voting machines over the summer after a major test in the state had found that some 20% of the machines had failed to perform as promised with printers jamming and screens freezing at an unacceptable rate. Diebold's machines had previously been de-certified by former Democratic Sec. of State Kevin Shelley. McPherson's sudden about-face concerning Diebold has caught many by surprise. The potential change of position towards Diebold was discovered recently and sent a shockwave through the Election Reform activist community who then converged on Sacramento to complain about the apparent flip-flop by the Sec. of State.

The Mainstream Media --- Apparently Misled by the Sec. of State --- Gets It All Wrong?

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

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Governator First Instructed to Use a Provisional Ballot, Given Normal Ballot Anyway!
LA County Registrar, Diebold Supporter Admits 'Protocol Breached in Advance of Election'
By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2005 2:01pm PT  

Due to a problem with Electronic Voting Machines in Los Angeles County, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was told he had already voted when he showed up at the polls today to cast his ballot in the Special Election that he himself declared for California today!

He was told he'd have to use a provisional ballot, but unlike most American voters, he was eventually allowed to use a regular ballot anyway.

Los Angeles County Registrar, Conny McCormack (a huge fan of Diebold machines, and a very good friend of their sales rep here in Southern California) is trying to mitigate the damage...big time...Though she admits that someone "breached protocol in advance of the election"

It should be further noted, that the Governator was attempting to vote in Brentwood (in Los Angeles County), but the "breach" --- which would have kept a normal non-Gubernatorial citizen from voting on anything but a provisional ballot --- occurred in Pasadena, about a 30 to 45 minute drive from Brentwood. Early voting, on paperless Diebold Touch-Screen Voting Machines, has been occurring in Los Angles County for the last several weeks.

From Los Angeles Times... [emphasis added]

Schwarzenegger Hits Snag at Polling Place

SACRAMENTO --- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up to his Brentwood neighborhood polling station today to cast his ballot in the special election --- and was told he had already voted.

Elections officials said a Los Angeles County poll worker had entered Schwarzenegger's name into an electronic voting touch screen station in Pasadena on Oct. 25. The worker, who was not identified, was testing the voting machine in preparation for early voting that began the next day.
...
Schwarzenegger's aides were informed of the problem when they arrived this morning to survey the governor's polling station. The poll worker told the governor's staff he would have to use a "provisional" ballot that allows elections workers to verify if two votes were made by the same person. McCormack said the poll worker did the correct thing.

The governor, however, was allowed to use a regular ballot.
...
"This is someone who breached our protocol and was playing around in advance of the election," she said.

Tom Hiltachk, the governor's attorney, said: "I have no reason to believe anything nefarious occurred.

But Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, said the problem highlights the need for better verification of electronic voting.

"If the governor is going to have a mix-up on his ballot," she said, "it will make other voters wonder what is going to happen with their ballots."

(Thanks to John Gideon of www.votersunite.org for alerting us about this one!)

CORRECTION: The original version of this article had said that Schwarzenegger had voted in Sacramento. Schwarzenegger had, in fact, voted at his Brentwood precinct, which is in Los Angeles County. The BRAD BLOG regrets the error.

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In Radio Interview, Demonstrates New Sequoia Touch-Screens, Secret Software, Asks Voters to 'Trust Him' on Accuracy and Reliability!
Brad Joins Him and Peter B. Collins for Remarkable Hour on KXRA 540-am...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2005 9:22pm PT  

I just finished a radio appearance a couple of hours ago with our friend Peter B. Collins on KXRA 540AM up in Monterey, CA. Peter was joined, in studio, by Tony Anchundo, the Registrar of Voters in Monterey County, CA for a demonstration of a brand-spankin' new Sequoia DRE (touch-screen) voting machine that Achundo was very proud to announce would be in use for the first time in the special State Election coming up out here on November 8th.

Achundo walked Peter through the use of the machine, which prints out a "paper record" (as Achundo referred to it) that voters are to "verify" before leaving the voting booth. That "paper record" is printed on a small thermal-ink roll of paper, akin to what you get with a credit card purchase, and stays behind plexiglass, never to be touched by the voter.

The votes, however, are counted on a "memory cartridge" in the machine, not on the "paper record." This raises the question (which I attempted to ask many times, in many different ways) as to what good that "paper record" actually is in the first place...beyond giving the voter a completely false sense of security and confidence.

I was able to get Anchundo to confirm that the entire technology used to count votes in Monterey County, California will have to be "faith-based". We'll just have to "trust" him, and his 30 years of experience as Registrar, that everything is fine and that votes will be counted accurately.

Peter has asked me to to join him by phone for the hour to help ask questions of Anchundo. I was happy and honored to do so. The results of the hour, I believe, are astounding.

The audio of the full hour is here in MP3 format. I think BRAD BLOG readers will find it as enlightening --- and troubling --- as I did.

[UPDATE] Here is a full transcript of the hour! It should be very useful to have a "paper record" of the conversation for the future. Perhaps for November 9th.

As the front page of Monterey County's website says, "The most serious threat to our democracy is the notion that it has already been achieved. The quality of our leaders and the direction of our Country depends on the participation of our people." I've therefore include Contact info for the Registrar's office at the end of this post, so you folks can participate as you see fit.

Amongst the many highlights (based on my short-term memory) of the hour just spent with Peter trying to get direct answers from Anchundo on a variety of related issues (and you'll likely come across many more yourself)...

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

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