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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Accountability for Judge Fuller?; O, Mighty ISIS!:
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With People for the American Way (PFAW) Serving as Broker, Press Agent...
By Bob Bancroft on 7/30/2007 9:05am PT  

Guest Blogged by Bob Bancroft of VotersUnite

Rep. Rush Holt's HR 811 Election Reform bill has become an enigma. After years of healthy dialogue with the election integrity community, Congressman Holt’s office now seems unresponsive. Just last week, rumors began to circulate that the Holt bill was adrift, its future uncertain. We later learned that the bill had entered into a series of secret negotiations, involving Majority Leader Hoyer, Speaker Pelosi, and other undisclosed parties.

Despite repeated attempts to contact anyone from the offices of Holt, Hoyer or Pelosi for a simple update, the week went by without a single call returned.

Now, we receive our first glimpse of the newly compromised Holt. We learn of the bill not from its author, nor Leader Hoyer, nor any elected, public official. Instead, it would seem that communications surrounding the bill flow through People For the American Way (PFAW), in the form of a late-Friday press release.

On Saturday, the New York Times confirmed that it was PFAW's President, Ralph Neas, in fact, who brokered the deal.

At a time when public confidence in our elected officials, and indeed the very process by which they are elected, is badly shaken, this is not helpful. VotersUnite will form an opinion of Hoyer-Holt only after careful reading of the text, which remains unavailable at the time of this writing. However, we are troubled that our Representatives would choose to conduct themselves in this circuitous manner, especially while considering something as fundamental as our right to vote.

Following is the full text of the original press release on the new, compromise version of HR-811, as issued by PFAW on Friday...

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

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PLUS: Following up with Bowen on the ES&S LA County InkaVote Issue, and the Bizarre Comments from Steve Weir, President of CA Election Officials Association
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2007 10:31am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from somewhere in Texas...

We'll certainly have more, from various voices, in the days ahead concerning CA SoS Debra Bowen's landmark independent "Top-to-Bottom Review" of electronic voting systems. The reports from the teams at University of California are now available online here.

As well, Bowen will be taking public statements on these reports both via email at votingsystems@sos.ca.gov and, in person, during a public hearing tomorrow (Monday, July 30) at her office in Sacramento beginning at 10:00am. She'll announce her decisions for decertification or otherwise next Friday, August 3rd. So your input is important, as she mentioned on during a media phone call last Friday.

But even while the results, as Bowen described them on that phone call just prior to their release, found that "the independent teams of analysts were able to bypass both physical and software security measures in every system tested," and as the report on accessibility for disabled voters found that none of the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems met federal disability standards, Democrats and People for the America Way (PFAW) in the U.S. House were busy hammering out a deal to institutionalize the continued use of such disastrous voting systems into federal law.

Out of touch much? Which part of a transparent, counted, paper ballot (not a "trail" or a "record") for every vote cast in America do these guys not understand?

Late Friday, as Bowen's UC Report was being released, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) finally came to terms, reportedly, on a deal for a revision of Holt's HR 811 Election Reform bill which allows for the use of DREs as preferred, almost exclusively, by PFAW, elections offficials, and voting machine companies. We've been reporting for months that PFAW was the main insider advocacy group moving the ball with this disappointing bill, and Saturday's New York Times confirms that it was "Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, [who] helped broker the deal" between Holt and House Leadership.

That despite Neas having previously chided me for suggesting that PFAW had the power to make or break this legislation in Congress. As we've also long reported, of course, by their own written admissions, PFAW prefers unaccountable DRE systems to paper ballot voting systems.

And though Christopher Drew's reporting at the New York Times is getting slightly better with each new story, it would be nice if "The Paper of Record" could learn enough about our voting systems so they could accurately report, and help Americans understand what's really at stake here and how the technology actually works.

Drew reported --- misleadingly --- that "The House bill would require every state to use paper records that would let voters verify that their ballots had been correctly cast and that would be available for recounts."

That's just plain wrong. The fact is that adding "cash-register-style printers to...touch-screen machines," as Drew describes it, does not allow a voter to verify that their "ballots had been correctly cast." It allows them only to verify that the paper record of their invisibly-cast electronic ballot accurately matches their intention. Maybe. The fact is: There is no way to verify that a voter's vote is correctly cast on a DRE touch-screen voting machine. Period.

Unless, of course, it's me who is out of touch in presuming that if a "ballot" is "cast" it means it will actually be counted by someone or something. Paper trails added to DRE systems are not counted --- only the internal, invisible, unverifiable ballots are. A "cash-register-style" print-out prior to the ballot being cast and counted internally does not change that.

But more on all of that, and Bowen's UC reports, as we move forward. For the moment, if you'll allow me, I wanted to touch base on a few items I asked Bowen about during the phone call which followed up on several specific issues that we've been reporting on here at The BRAD BLOG over the last several weeks.

Specifically, I asked her whether there had yet been a resolution to the discrepancies in version numbers for LA County's InkaVote system source code as turned in by ES&S, versus the version secretly stored in escrow. And whether or not she could explain the comments reportedly made by Steve Weir, Registrar-Clerk of Contra Costa County, CA and President of the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO), that CA election officials could choose to ignore Bowen's recommendations if they wanted to.

According to Bowen (full transcript and audio below) the ES&S LA County InkaVote issue remains unresolved, and she's unaware of what Weir might have been referring to. A transcript of my questions with Bowen follows, and I hope to have more on Weir soon --- and the adversarial comments he's been making in the media on behalf of CACEO --- but this article has already become much longer than I had intended...

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

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[NOW UPDATED WITH MORE DETAIL & AUDIO...]
By Brad Friedman on 7/27/2007 3:35pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from Houston...

Going on air in 4 minutes...But still on line on media conference call w/ CA SoS Debra Bowen concerning her landmark independent "Top-to-Bottom Review" of all voting systems in the state.

I'll have more on the air tonight (see link above), but she has just said "The independent teams of analysts were able to bypass both physical and software security measures in every system tested."

The reports are not yet posted, but should be any moment right here.

As mentioned, more throughout tonight's Peter B. Collins Show which I'm currently Guest Hosting...

UPDATE BY JOHN GIDEON: None of the voting systems tested were found to meet federal mandates for disabled voter accessibility. This may present a problem for the state as they will not be able to allow those systems to be used for accessibility unless the vendors can find solutions for their shortcomings.

EVEN LATER UPDATE (BY BRAD): John and I discuss (and rant about) all of the above, along with more details on the reports findings in this audio clip from today's Peter B. Collins show [appx. 10 mins]...

UPDATE 7/28/07: We'll have much more on this in the days ahead, and we strongly recommend folks read comments below for more details, thoughts from citizens. But in the meantime, here's NY Times' coverage: "Scientists’ Tests Hack Into Electronic Voting Machines in California and Elsewhere" and San Francisco Chronicle coverage: "STATE VOTE MACHINES LOSE TEST TO HACKERS."

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Independent Reports to Be Released Friday, Public Comment Hearing in Sacramento on Monday, SoS Bowen's Final Certification Decisions on Aug. 3...
By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2007 8:11am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Houston...

Following up on yesterday's report on the latest machinations surrounding the release of CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen's unprecedented "Top-to-Bottom Review" --- including independent hack testing and source code analysis --- of electronic voting systems. The BRAD BLOG has received a few more details on official release dates and timing, including a public hearing in Sacramento next Monday, from the SOS's office [emphasis ours]:

-- The independent reports will be finalized and posted to our website this Friday, July 27. These will include all the teams' findings in the four areas of the voting systems review, without opinions about what the state and counties should do.

-- A public hearing will be held in Sacramento beginning at 10:00 a.m. Monday, July 30. It will begin with the two principal investigators presenting an overview of their findings, followed by vendor responses and then a general public comment period.

-- Secretary Bowen's decisions on system certifications will come August 3, after her thorough review of the findings and public input.

We're in Texas, but hoping those within driving, walking, running distance from Sacramento will show up to the Capitol to give their thoughts on the findings on Monday, as we expect the voting machine vendors to be there in droves, and they may need a reminder that they do not own these elections. The citizens do.

We're also still waiting to hear back from Steve Weir, the Registrar-Clerk of Contra Costa County and President of the California Assoc. of Clerks and Election Officers (CACEO), for details on his published comments indicating that CA registrars may choose to ignore Bowen's findings. The CACEO has blasted Bowen's review of voting systems previously.

Not sure what Weir's legal theory is for such an action, which seems to fly in the face of both the law and the will of the people --- Bowen was elected precisely on her promises to take the actions she's currently taking after both her predecessor in CA and federal agencies had failed completely to properly test these voting systems before certifying them --- but we'll let you know what we learn. We've invited Weir to appear on the Peter B. Collins Show, which we continue to Guest Host through the end of this week. We'd love to hear from him, of course. Stay tuned...

UPDATE 7/27/07 2:40pm PT: Still waiting for the release of the reports, which I'm told by the SOS will be "any moment". When it's released, it should be right here.

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Results of Unprecedented Testing to Be Released Next Week, While Voting Machine Companies Continue in Denial, and CA Clerks Association Says They May Do What They Want Anyway...
By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2007 11:24am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Houston...

The results of California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's landmark "top-to-bottom" review of electronic voting systems in California are due on August 3rd. (UPDATE: The SoS's Office informs us the report will be released this Friday. Details now posted here.) It'll be the first such official analysis, performed by several teams of testers, in which these voting systems have actually been tested for vulnerabilities and failures by "red team" hack/penetration testers, as well as having the system source codes fully and independently tested.

An article by Steve Harmon published in several CA newspaper this week offers a preview of the battle which may be ahead, including one exceedingly disturbing suggestion that California Election Clerks may be preparing to "ignore Bowen's findings and continue to use their systems" no matter what she may find, and whether or not she decertifies the systems for use.

Yours truly is quoted early in the piece, suggesting that "voting machine companies are quaking in their boots," as Bowen is doing precisely what she was elected to do and is fulfilling her campaign promises through the unprecedented series of tests.

John Gordon of Public Radio's Future Tense program followed up that printed report with his own four-minute audio report in which I'm also interviewed:

Of note in both reports, the voting machine company spokesholes are on the defensive, as expected. But the real battle after Bowen releases her findings may lie with the California Association of Clerks and Election Officers (CACEO), currently led by President Steve Weir, who makes some startling statements in the report...

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

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Richardson Answers, Wants 'Verified Paper Trails on Optical Scanners,' No More 'Touch Stones,' and an End to Republican Voter Suppression
By Alan Breslauer on 7/23/2007 8:05pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer and Brad Friedman

The question (video below) in the CNN/YouTube seems to be about "standardizing" voting systems around the country. The only one given the opportunity to answer it is New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson, who should have hit this out of the park since he signed a bill to outlaw the use of DRE touch-screen systems after disaster in NM in the 2004 election.

Though his answer uses the phrase "touch stones" (we'll chalk it up to nervousness, we guess) and he goes on to use the phrase "verifiable paper trail" (instead of paper ballot), he's clearly speaking about actual ballots since he calls for those "verifiable paper trails" with "optical scanners."

Richardson is theoretically trying to break out from the pack. He ought to be able to use his status as the only candidate to have actually outlawed dangerous, disenfranchising DRE touch-screens to distinguish himself from the others. It might help, however, if he got his words right. But at least someone spoke to democracy, finally, in the midst of this absurd Presidential Election campaign.

Anybody else in the pack care to speak up and stand up in favor of democracy? Anyone? Bueller? We're waiting.

The video of the question and answer, appx 1 minute, follows in full...




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By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2007 2:58pm PT  

Not enough time today to give more than the quickest of notes on this, but I'm sitting in this evening on the Sunday Monitor as Guest Host here on Houston's Pacifica Affiliate, KPFT 90.1 FM.

I'll be taking the place of the good Pokey Anderson and interviewing "Diebold Document Whistleblower" Stephen Heller on both his plight and his feelings on the latest Election Reform issues.

Tune in, if ya can, via http://www.KPFT.org at 4pm PT (7pm ET, or 6pm CT locally here in Houston).


POST-SHOW UPDATE: Here's the audio archive of the full hour-long show. Including a new round-up of the week, my interview with Stephen Heller, and an interview on legal and impeachment issues with Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild...

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As The New York Times Fails to Report on the Payola He and His Group Have Received from the Voting Machine Companies...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2007 1:54pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from Houston...

Christopher Drew at New York Times follows up his article yesterday on the possible/pending death of the Holt Election Reform Bill (HR 811). In today's piece, however, he begins to report on the fact that there are alternatives to DRE touch-screen machines which offer the same interface for disabled voters, but without the dangers, as I opined about yesterday.

Of course, even that option --- an electronic assistive device that offers touch-screen voting and/or audio voting for disabled and blind voters --- is not good enough for Jim Dickson of the American Assoc. of People with Disabilities (AAPD), who is quoted by the Times as continuing to use his considerable access and ability to bully Congress members into sticking with DREs only. What the New York Times fails to report when mentioning Dickson is that he's received thousands of dollars from various voting machine companies who also prefer that every American be saddled with their shitty, unaccountable, inaccurate, easily-hackable DRE technology.

Christopher Drew and the NY Times have a responsibility to disclose that point when quoting Dickson as a source in their stories. They were the ones, after all, who reported on Dickson and the AAPD having "received $26,000 from voting machine companies" in 2004 alone.

Instead, Dickson is reported by the Times only as "a lobbyist for the American Association of People with Disabilities...whose group prefers the touch-screens."

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2007 2:04pm PT  

I'll likely speak more about this today while Guest Hosting the Peter B. Collins Show, but I had some thoughts while reading the New York Times piece that John Gideon posted here late last night on the last minute compromises being attempted to keep the Holt Election Reform Bill from its rumored death throes.

The subject of accessible voting systems for the disabled comes up throughout the piece with Holt reportedly "express[ing] a preference for optically scanned ballots marked by voters, but...House leaders...siding with advocates for the handicapped, who fear that they cannot use optical ballots without help."

Later, it's reported that "Advocates for the blind and the disabled also threatened to oppose the bill if it went too far in discouraging the use of touch-screen machines before the optical scanners were made easier for them to use," with Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly concerned about "undercut[ing] any of the gains that the disabled had made in voting without assistance."

That issue has always been a concern of election integrity folks, even while a large swath of the disabled community, including the powerful blind lobbyist Jim Dickson, his organization The American Association of Persons with Disabilities, and the entire National Federation of the Blind, had long ago become compromised when they accepted huge donations from voting machine companies such as Diebold.

But the fact is nowhere in the Times piece is it mentioned that blind and disabled voters could still use non-tabulating electronic touch-screen voting systems which produce a real paper ballot to be counted by another means without posing the same dangers as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems.

Thus, both the blind and disabled communities, along with the apparently-less-than-educated members of the U.S. House and Senate, seem unaware that there are even such devices available. The lack of distinction between those two types of devices must really be laid at the feet of Rush Holt himself who has conflated the idea of DREs with non-tabulating Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) from the get-go...

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

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By John Gideon on 7/19/2007 8:56pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

In early editions of Friday's New York Times, Christopher Drew is reporting that Rep Rush Holt (D-NJ)'s controversial election reform bill, HR 811, has been sent back for a re-write. Pressure from state and local groups and disability advocates has caused House leadership to reconsider making sweeping changes before 2012, accordin to Drew.

House Democratic officials say they are now working on compromise legislation that could allow hundreds of counties in 20 states to simply add tiny, cash-register-style printers to their touch-screen machines for the 2008 and 2010 elections, while waiting for manufacturers to develop better technology by 2012.

House officials said the compromise would ensure that all voting machines nationwide would have some kind of paper trail in 2008 through which voters could verify that their ballots were properly recorded and that could be used in recounts. Under the plan, New York, which has delayed replacing its old lever machines, would be the only state that would have to change its entire voting system by November 2008.

Drew goes on to report:

As a result, the proposed compromise is a blow to some computer scientists and other activists, who would like to get rid of the touch-screen machines used by nearly 40 percent of American voters. They had hoped that a tighter deadline would force states and localities to quickly shift from touch-screens to optical-scan systems, in which ballots are marked by the voters themselves rather than being generated by computers.

But state and local election officials, weary from all the changes they had already made, argued that it is already too late to make such significant changes without creating chaos next year. Advocates for the blind and the disabled also threatened to oppose the bill if it went too far in discouraging the use of touch-screen machines before the optical scanners were made easier for them to use. And House officials — led by the majority leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, who is trying to broker the deal — said they wanted to avoid another buying spree if better equipment might be available later.

We will continue to watch this story.

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'Not Dead Yet' Says Holt Office...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2007 11:16am PT  

Kim Zetter at WIRED has the latest at her Threat Level blog...

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By Rebecca Mercuri on 7/19/2007 9:52am PT  

Guest Blogged by Rebecca Mercuri

(NOTE: The archived appearance of Dr. Mercuri on the Peter B. Collins show, as Guest Hosted by Brad Friedman, discussing this article and other matters surrounding Holt's Election Reform bill is now available here....)

Anyone who has been anywhere in the blogosphere in the months since Rush Holt's HR 811 Election Reform bill was introduced knows that a schism appears to have developed in the voting advocacy community. I say "appears" because it's not terribly clear to me at this point whether this schism existed all along and now the fires are being stoked by rogue insiders in order to fuel a "divide and conquer" effort that benefits voting system vendors who can rise like Phoenixes out of the ashes of the activists, or whether Congressman Holt's bill is a litmus test being used to decide who'll continue to get a seat at the table (to testify at hearings) and a chunk of the grant money and other set-asides for election "research" projects. Maybe both of these actions (and others) are in play.

This has been reminding me a lot lately of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, riding on the hippie bus to the 1964 New York World's Fair. Tom Wolfe quoted Kesey saying: "There are going to be times when we can't wait for somebody. Now, you're either on the bus or off the bus. If you're on the bus, and you get left behind, then you'll find it again. If you're off the bus in the first place --- then it won't make a damn." Wolfe went on to explain "And nobody had to have it spelled out for them. Everything was becoming allegorical, understood by the group mind, and especially this: You're either on the bus ... or off the bus."

That dividing line between where the bus ends and the rest of the world begins, right where Wolfe was sitting, is the only place to get some decent perspective on the whole situation. So I'm perched at that vantage point, and inside the voting bus I'm seeing Brad Friedman, Bev Harris, Lynn Landes, Rob Kall, Teresa Hommel, Ellen Theisen, Mark Crispin Miller, Greg Palast, Ion Sancho, Doug Kelner, David Chaum, and Dennis Kucinich all arguing about something, but the vibe is upbeat. And outside the bus there's Doug Lewis, Wally O'Dell, Tom Wilkey, Theresa LePore, Linda Lamone, Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, Hans von Spakovsky, Jim Dickson, and Matt Damschroeder just milling around. These are not comprehensive lists (since I'm somewhat myopic and have never been very good with names or faces), and I'm certainly not saying that any of these folks have affiliations with each other, though maybe some do.

What's bugging me is that I can't tell whether Rush Holt and HR 811 are on the bus, or not, right now. Though the bill's predecessor versions (from the prior two Congresses) seemed to be on the bus, none of Holt's bills have ever made it totally clear that the voter verified papers would actually be the real ballots, by ensuring that 100% of them would be counted (preferably by hand, in public, and before the election night returns are reported).

The folks who are truly on the bus all seem to grasp this reality. Holt's latest bill, especially the revised version, comes with Avi Rubin, David Dill, Barbara Simons, and maybe even Ron Rivest, each of whom have wandered on and off the bus before. Plus now there's the Microsoft attorneys too, and Holt's backyard buddy Avante, who hopped on when the bus passed through their adjacent parking lots (see photo below).

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New York Congressman Has 'Very Serious Questions' About Election Bill, Says Bush and Cheney 'Have Violated Federal Laws in Criminal Ways'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2007 6:35am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Houston...

Radio host Peter B. Collins has been earning his keep of late. On his last show before a three-week Summer vacation today (we will be filling in to Guest Host for him for the next week and a half), Collins finished up a segment with Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) today concerning his efforts to renew the Fairness Doctrine with two quick, unrelated questions.

First, Collins asked whether the Congressman supported the controversial Rush Holt Election Reform Bill (HR 811) "in it's current form." The legislation has come under fire from Election Integrity advocates for its continued allowance of the use of dangerous DRE touch-screen voting machines, and a host of other concerns.

Hinchey --- who is currently signed on as one of the bill's co-sponsors --- responded by saying he had "some very serious questions about it" and feels that "it has been compromised."

While there was no time to follow up with details, his comments likely referred to the troubling changes made to the bill by the House Administration Committee. Originally, the legislation had called for complete disclosure of electronic voting system source code to any member of the public interested in examining it. By the time the bill was voted out of committee, however, those important disclosure provisions had been changed to require that the source code be placed in escrow, to be examined only by so-called "experts" in the event that a problem is discovered during an election, and only under non-disclosure agreements.

Those changes led Holt himself to admit that "the vendors have won," according to reports from several Election Integrity advocates who attended a town hall event where the New Jersey Congressman spoke over the weekend. No word on whether Holt may be removing himself as a co-sponsor of the Holt bill in light of his reported admissions.

Secondly, Collins asked Hinchey, "What is your posture on the impeachment of Vice President Cheney?"

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Says 'Many Constituencies Important to the Democratic Caucus Express Frustration with HR 811'
Bill 'Falls Short of Intended Goals,' Ohio Congressman, Presidential Candidate Writes in Letter...
By John Gideon on 7/17/2007 10:01am PT  

Guess Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

Congressman and Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), several weeks ago, had expressed his intention to drop support for Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) Election Reform Bill, HR 811. A week or so ago, he reiterated his lack of support for the bill, and his intention to drop off as co-sponsor.

Today, he has begun to circulate a "Dear Colleague" letter (posted in full below) to be sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urging her to ensure the legislative process addresses the concerns of the many groups who have spoken out in opposition to HR-811.

"For these constituencies," the letter says, "H.R. 811 falls short of its intended goals to ensure votes are cast and counted as intended by the voters."

The Congressman is looking for others to step up and co-sign the letter, and asking Election Integrity advocates to contact their Congress Members to ask them to join the effort.

On a related note today the Senate Rules Committee announced that they would be holding a hearing on Sen. Diane Feinstein's (D-CA) democracy-busting S-1487 election reform legislation in the Senate. This is the bill that will turn over our elections to corporations and the incompetent, compromised U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The hearing is scheduled for July 25 at 10AM.

Below is a copy of an email that was sent out by Kucinich's office today, including the "Dear Colleague" letter now being circulated for signatures...

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Enormous Victory as Dogged Citizen Advocacy Finally Pays Off!
Committee Also Recommends Security Audit of Registrar's Office in First County in America to Move to Touch-Screen Voting Systems...
By Tom Courbat on 7/13/2007 2:46pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Tom Courbat of SAVE R VOTE

ED NOTE: Courbat and his band of intrepid Election Integrity advocates are owed a huge debt of thanks and enormous congratulations for their effort. This recommendation, and indeed the creation of the "Blue Ribbon" commission itself, only came about due to the dogged, week-in, week-out, year-in, year-out persistence of Tom and the Riverside County advocates of SAVE R VOTE. We're happy to run his first-hand, guest blog contribution on this tremendous victory, as Courbat's group and efforts serve as a role model for citizens in every county in the nation. --- BF

Dump the DREs and Minimize Additional Outlays To Go To Paper Ballots

Next Tuesday, July 17, 2007, the Riverside County, California Board of Supervisors’ hand-picked “Blue Ribbon” Elections Review Committee will present the Board with recommendations to “Move as quickly as possible to a hybrid voting system…on paper ballots…counted by optical scanners.”

For Riverside County, the first in America to move to touch-screen electronic voting systems, the importance of their findings cannot be overstated.

With the exception of omitting the words “Digital Imaging” from the term “optical scanners” (aka “DIOS”), this is exactly the recommendation made to the committee by Finnish Computer Voting expert Harri Hursti to the Elections Review Committee in Palm Desert, CA, on March 30th of this year. Hursti came to Riverside after Supervisor Jeff Stone laid down a "1000 to 1" challenge, as covered in detail by The BRAD BLOG, that we'd be unable to manipulate the county's Sequoia touch-screen voting system. Hursti was happy to take up the challenge, but Stone demurred.

(It should also be noted that Stone and the Board of Supervisors failed to respond to requests to allow Mr. Hursti to address them and answer any questions they might have --- even after he flew 17 hours to testify before them and the "Blue Ribbon" committee.)

The committee's findings also match the recommendations made by SAVE R VOTE (Secure Accurate Verifiable Elections Require Voter Observation of Touchscreen Equipment) to both the "Blue Ribbon" Elections Review Committee (ERC) and the Board Of Supervisors (BoS) earlier this year.

The ERC reports that “…factors should minimize the additional capital outlay necessary to transition to a hybrid system.” The question now becomes: will the BoS reject the recommendations of their own hand-picked committee, who spent thousands of hours laboring over evidence contained in reports, interviews, presentations by expert witnesses, City Clerks, citizens' opinions, news articles, DVDs, conference calls, and SAVE R VOTE members? The full report can be found here.

Who Is On the Elections Review Committee (ERC)?

The "blue ribbon" ERC committee, again, hand-picked by the BoS, consists of a former County Supervisor, Kay Ceniceros; two former judges, Rob Taylor and Jim Ward; retired Press Enterprise newspaper editor and publisher Marcia McQuern; and an independent businesswoman who also serves as the president of a local chamber of commerce, Lynn Baldi. On April 24, Rob Taylor told the BoS in an interim report that, due to such a diversity of opinion, the committee might be submitting “five minority reports.” By July 11th, however, the entire committee issued a unanimous series of 17 recommendations.

Supervisor Stone 'Surprised' By Commission Findings...

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