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By Michael Richardson on 1/13/2007 8:35am PT  

Guest Logged By Michael Richardson

Last week Christopher Drew of the New York Times informed a shocked nation that the leading "independent testing authority" of electronic voting machines, Ciber, Inc. of Greenwood Village, Colorado had not been following its own quality-control procedures and could not document that it completed required tests for reliability and security.

The federal Election Assistance Commission, which accredited the Ciber testing lab, secretly pulled its interim accreditation last year, without informing the public or election officials relying on Ciber's results. Independent testing centers, including Ciber, are not really independent at all and are funded by voting machine vendors to whom they issue their testing reports and only recently have come under federal scrutiny.

The EAC has yet to explain why it withheld the accreditation of Ciber from the voting public and the omission has entangled the controversial election oversight panel in the growing national distrust of electronic voting machines and may threaten its continued existence.

How many voting machines might be affected by the lax security inspections of Ciber?

Respected electronic voting machine authority and self-described "politechnologist" Joseph Hall did some digging. "The answer was not something I would have predicted...I knew Ciber did a good deal of software ITA testing, but it looks like, in terms of voting system deployment, that Ciber qualified the voting systems used by 68.5% of the registered voters (67.9% of precincts) in the 2006 election."

Hall explained the difficulty he encountered to acquire his data. "Since the test reports are not public, it is difficult to find information about who tested what when."

Undeterred by the veil of secrecy surrounding the testing of electronic voting machines, Hall used old testing identifiers, called NASED numbers, to track the deployment of voting machines around the nation. Ciber tested any machine that had a NASED number beginning with the digit "1".

"With this key piece of information, we can use published lists of qualified voting systems to determine which models were qualified by Ciber." explains Hall. Discovering that Ciber tested the vast majority of machines in the country Hall says, "In fact, it is much more simple to list which systems were not qualified by Ciber."

Hall concludes, "I suppose it would have been completely impractical to decertify all these systems. Even decertifying those systems in which the qualification testing Ciber performed was specifically lacking would likely be a significant double-digit percentage of voting systems used by registered voters."

One thing the ITA laboratories, or any other testing agency, cannot determine is if an electronic voting machine has been rigged with malicious self-deleting software code. All voting machines and optical scan vote-counters are subject to being hacked with self-deleting code that cannot be detected with any test. Self-deleting software code does its dirty deeds, including flipping or erasing votes, and then deletes itself erasing any sign of tampering.

A growing number of election integrity advocates are realizing that software technology has no place in the election systems of our country because of the inability to even detect mischief. The solution that is emerging is both simple and obvious, a return to time-tested hand-counting of paper ballots.

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Federal Commission Admits There is Paperwork on 'Barred' Voting Machine Testing Lab, Will Release 'When the Process is Complete'
Lab Was Secretly Refused Credentials in July, State and Local Voting Officials Were Kept in Dark Throughout November Elections Until NYTimes' Revelations...
By John Gideon on 1/9/2007 4:20pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, Executive Director, VotersUnite.Org

Moving the ball forward a bit in regard to New York Times' stunning report last week that Ciber was refused interim accreditation last July. I've been able to learn a bit more about the existence of the paperwork concerning that denial of accreditation.

The refusal, according to the Times front page exclusive last week, was due to an inspection the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) conducted at the lab. Ciber is one of the three e-voting test labs or Independent Testing Authoritys (ITAs) which are paid by the Voting Machine Companies themselves to test their hardware and software prior to federal certification.

But contradictions have been flowing from the EAC in the considerable fallout from the Times report which revealed the commission not only failed to accredit Ciber, they also failed to tell the public, or even state and local Elections Officials who used the systems approved by Ciber for last November's election. What nobody --- except the EAC knew --- was that, according to the Times Ciber "was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests."

While at first the EAC had denied there was any paperwork documenting the reasons why they had denied interim accreditation to Ciber, I've now been able to learn from an EAC source that such paperwork actually exists. The EAC has simply, again, withheld it from the public. So far. I was then able to get confirmation about it from an EAC spokesperson, along with a hint as to when the world might get to see the actual reasons they withheld accreditation from the private testing lab...

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

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ALSO: LA Times Blogger Calls us 'State's Most Persistent Blogger-Watchdog on the Dangers of E-Voting'
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2007 11:57am PT  

There's been a fair amount of media coverage (at least in California papers), since our scoop yesterday of new CA SoS Debra Bowen's brilliant appointment of dogged E-voting critic and VoterAction.org attorney Lowell Finley to the post of Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy.

There are a couple more ironic points to the Finley appointment above and beyond the ones we mentioned yesterday. One we knew about, another we hadn't.

In his report on the matter, Oakland Tribune's Ian Hoffman reminds us of the qui tam lawsuit filed by Finley against voting machine company Diebold and joined by the state in 2004, which eventually resulted in a settlement:

Working with Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org, Finley sued Diebold Election Systems Inc., alleging the firm made misrepresentations to Alameda County and California to sell its voting machines. Diebold settled the case for $2.6 million.

In a point we hadn't previously known, the Los Angeles Times blogger on state capitol and gubernatorial issues, Robert Sallady, highlighted our coverage here --- describing us as "The state's most persistent blogger-watchdog on the dangers of voting technology" (thank you, sir) --- and advanced the story a bit with this irony-laden chestnut about the man who will now, officially, be working as an appointed member of Schwarzenegger's own Executive Branch:

Almost exactly three years ago, Finley represented Bill Camp of the Sacramento Labor Council. They successfully convinced a Superior Court judge that Schwarzenegger had illegally "loaned" his campaign $4.5 million. The ruling forced Schwarzenegger to pay the money back from his own pocket rather than through campaign contributions. The absurdly optimist governor called the ruling "fantastic," but Finley told the S.F. Chronicle (me, working there) at the time: "He is on some kind of medication that I would like to have a prescription for."

Office Christmas parties next year in Sacramento ought to be a hoot. Hopefully the Governator supplies the medication.

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Debra Bowen Appoints Lowell Finley of Election Integrity Watchdog Group VoterAction.org to Role of 'Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy'
[UPDATED] Critics of E-Voting Hail News as 'Collosal Suprise,' Very Good for Voters, Very Bad for the Nation's Electronic Voting Machine Companies...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2007 2:31pm PT  

It may not be a very good day in the corporate offices at Diebold, but The BRAD BLOG has learned some big news that may well indicate today is a very good day indeed for the voters of America and specifically in California.

As incoming Sec. of State Debra Bowen was sworn in to her new office just moments ago, The BRAD BLOG can now reveal that one of the nation's top critics of unverifiable electronic voting systems --- and a key player across several states in the legal battles against voting machine companies such as Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Hart Intercivic --- is today being named by the new California Sec. of State Debra Bowen as Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy.

Lowell Finley, the lead attorney for the non-partisan voting machine legal watchdog organization VoterAction.org, will be named to the position today.

In his new capacity, Finley will oversee testing and certification for all voting machine technology in the State of California. In a phone call this morning, Finley confirmed that he would be working closely in his new role with key national associations like the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC).

E-voting critics and at least one California Registrar of Voters have hailed both the swearing in of Bowen as SoS and her appointment of Finley, expressing delight to The BRAD BLOG over the news, characterizing it as a "colossal surprise" and a "very, very good sign for the future of voters' rights in California."

America's voting machine companies are less likely to feel quite as happy about the news.

Finley and VoterAction have filed a number of landmark lawsuits in several states, including in California, over the past year or so, demanding an immediate halt to the use and purchase of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) voting systems and decertification of many of those systems, as well as improved processes for certification of such systems.

VoterAction is one of over 30 Election Reform organizations who recently went on record with an open letter to Members of Congress demanding federal legislation requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast in America. Such legislation would effectively ban the use of DRE systems, with or without a so-callled "Voter Verified Paper Trail" (VVPAT).

Bowen has been a dogged critic of former Secretary of State Bruce McPherson during her candidacy and in her role overseeing the Elections Committee as a California State Senator. She has criticized his lack of oversight and lax testing procedures, and has championed a "Voters' Bill of Rights" for the Golden State.

While a suit by VoterAction.org filed against former SoS McPherson and several CA Registrars of Voting --- concerning McPherson's certification of Diebold TSx touch-screen systems --- is still pending in state court, the disposition of that suit will likely change due to the fact that the lead defendant, McPherson, is no longer in office.

The Berkeley-based attorney Finley --- also one of the attorneys representing voter plaintiffs in the contested election in Florida's 13th Congressional district in Sarasota --- had one of his most recent and notable successes last September, when a Colorado judge ordered a complete review of certification procedures for voting machines in the state. The court found the official placed in charge of testing and certification didn't have the qualifications necessary, and performed little or no testing. That man, John Gardner, was appointed by former CO Sec. of State Donetta Davidson, who has been appointed by George W. Bush to head the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

The news of Finley's appointment will undoubtedly be of concern to the major voting machine companies that received little oversight from the former Sec. of State McPherson.

"I wish I was a fly on the wall in the offices at Diebold as they learn of this appointment. I'm sure jaws will be dropping and damage control will be ramping up," John Gideon of election watchdog organization VotersUnite.org told us today. (Gideon is also a frequent Guest Blogger here at The BRAD BLOG.) ...

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

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As Tom Elias Writes the Single Best MSM Article We've Ever Seen on the Current State of E-Voting!
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2007 2:34pm PT  

Syndicated California columnist, Thomas D. Elias, has written the single best MSM article we've ever read on the problems with the current state of our electoral system. Period.

In covering changes planned by incoming CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Elias --- for the first time, at least that I've ever seen anywhere in the MSM --- squarely places the blame for the entire fine mess we're in exactly where it belongs: On the voting machine companies and the elections officials who have been their enablers and apologists...

An anxious time is just about to begin for the two interest groups that have done more than anyone else in recent years to make Californians feel uncertain about the integrity of their elections.

Those two groups: The makers of electronic voting machines of various types, many of whose devices have been shown to be both hackable and problematic in other ways. And county voter registrars who bought those machines largely with many millions of dollars derived from the federal Help America Vote Act, which was more concerned about speed of conversion to new technologies than whether they were trustworthy.

BOOM! Outta the park!

Those two grafs alone are enough for us to nominate Elias for a Pulitzer. Yes, the reporting on this matter in the MSM has been so indescribably horrible from the get-go that we're willing to give it all up just for those two grafs which finally tell the story correctly.

But Elias doesn't stop there. While we recommend you read his entire piece in full we'll highlight a few of the most notable grafs just to make sure as many eyeballs as possible actually get to see them --- for the good news they offer about a possibly brighter future for elections in California (and thus, the rest of the country) and for the fact that they have actually been printed in a fairly major metropolitan newspaper.

On Bowen's plans for full 'top to bottom review' of outgoing SoS McPherson's rubber-stamp certification of all electronic voting machines...

"We are going to do a top to bottom review of every voting system in use anywhere in California," Bowen said in an interview. "Yes, I would consider decertifying machines that my predecessor approved. Unfortunately, we've spent a lot of money on equipment that's not ready for prime time. Any Fortune 500 company would have sent those machines back with a letter saying they just don't do what they're supposed to."

On the truth (finally!) about the feckless and incompetent McPherson...

Her appointed predecessor and defeated autumn opponent, the former Republican State Sen. Bruce McPherson of Santa Cruz was anything but a skeptic, certifying virtually any machine any county registrar wanted to buy and imposing questionable checks on their performance.

On the infamous voting machine "sleepovers" (as first revealed by The BRAD BLOG)...

"I believe the sleepovers are illegal," said Bowen, an attorney. "If a system is designed so it can't be used without sitting in someone's garage for two weeks, we should not be using that system. We could fix this by using a bonded delivery service like Brinks to deliver machines to polling places at a set time."

In short, the voting machine status quo will not be lasting long in the nascent Bowen era.

On the worthlessness of so-called "paper trails" and the difficulty candidates face in paying exorbitant costs for recounts as capriciously and arbitrarily priced by Registrars...

Bowen recognizes that a paper trail is worthless unless it's usable. "I think $50,000 to do a recount where it might be merited is a tiny price to pay for democracy and to keep people from saying ‘forget about the election, they'll never count our votes anyway.' " So she'll support at least a partial public subsidy of recounts, where they appear justified.

NOTE: The BRAD BLOG covered the cost quoted for a recount in last summer's Special U.S. House Election in CA-50's Francine Busby/Brian Bilbray race. The cost, capriciously and arbitrarily quoted for that recount in order to make it impossible by the horrendous San Diego County Registar of Voters Mikel Haas: $150,000!

Elias also speaks of Sequoia's yellow button "feature" (also first revealed on these pages, but who's counting?) and more. All of which, apparently, forces the Ventura County Star to label the piece, regretablly, as "opinion." But so be it. We'll take what we can get.

If you'd like to send a thank you note to Elias and the VCS Editors, please click here!

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Action Taken Months Ago But Not Disclosed by Compromised U.S. Election Assistance Commission!
UPDATE: Company Reported to be a Big Republican Donor, CEO Dumped Shares of Stock Just Before Year's End!
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2007 7:19pm PT  

A front page blockbuster set for tomorrow's New York Times reveals that one of the three approved labs which make up the so-called Independent Testing Authority (ITA) responsible for testing all electronic voting systems prior to certification has been barred from testing by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC).

The Times reports that Ciber Inc. was barred from further testing last summer, but that the EAC failed to disclose the information to the public.

Thousands of electronic voting machines "okayed" by the Ciber labs were in use last November, despite what the Times reports as a failure by the company to follow quality-control procedures and an inability to "document that it was conducting all the required tests."

As The BRAD BLOG reported earlier today, thousands of reports of e-voting machine failures were documented across the country in a report released this week by a number of non-partisan election watchdog organizations.

Ciber is one of three companies selected and paid for by the Voting Machine Companies themselves to secretly test their electronic voting systems. The results of the testing by the ITA labs and the documented failures or successes are never released to the public.

As the Times is now reporting on their website:

A laboratory that has tested most of the nation's electronic voting systems has been temporarily barred from approving new machines after federal officials found that it was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests.

The company, Ciber Inc. of Greenwood Village, Colo., has also come under fire from analysts hired by the state of New York over its plans to test new voting machines for the state. New York could eventually spend $200 million to replace its aging lever devices.

Experts on voting systems say the Ciber problems underscore long-standing worries about lax inspections in the secretive world of voting-machine testing. The action by the federal Election Assistance Commission seems certain to fan growing concerns about the reliability and security of the devices.

The commission acted last summer, but the problem was not disclosed then. Officials at the commission and Ciber confirmed the action in recent interviews.
...
Experts say the deficiencies of the laboratory suggest that crucial features like the vote-counting software and security against hacking may not have been thoroughly tested on many machines now in use.

“What’s scary is that we’ve been using systems in elections that Ciber had certified, and this calls into question those systems that they tested,” said Aviel D. Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins.
...
Even though Washington and the states have spent billions to install the new technologies, the machine manufacturers have always paid for the tests that assess how well they work, and little has been disclosed about any flaws that were discovered.

While The BRAD BLOG has documented myriad failures on electronic voting machines over the last several months and years, we've also documented the dreadful failure of the EAC to perform oversight and the fact that they have been wholly compromised by partisan appointments, including their current (though outgoing) chairman Paul DiGrigorio and have withheld important reports from the public when the information revealed in them was not to the liking of the Republicans who head the committee.

As well, we ran shocking excerpts from an exclusive interview with the first head of the EAC, DeForest Soaries, detailing his unhappiness with both the White House and the Republican-led Congress to properly fund the commission formed by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 to oversee the certification of voting systems and other related matters. Soaries was appointed by George W. Bush and charged, in the shocking interview, that there are "no standards" for the voting equipment in use in America, that the White House and Congress misled him about the commission and "made things worse through the passage of the Help America Vote Act," and that due to underfunding and lack of attention, America now has an "inability to trust the technology that we use" in elections which he says are "ripe for stealing."

The excerpts we ran were from a network news interview with Soaries which was never aired by the network.

UPDATE: Lambert from Correntwire has some excellent details on Ciber's big money ties to the Republican party. He's critical of the Times' failure to point that out given they supplied some $72,000 to Republican candidates between 2001 and 2004. As well, he's got an excellent catch concerning the fact that Ciber's CEO dumped a bunch of stock just before year's end, leading Lambert to ask, "Insider trading, anyone?"

FURTHER UPDATE: Howard Stanislavic detailed a number of flaws discovered in Ciber's testing processes in New York last October at VoteTrustUSA.org. Needless to say, the Times gave him no credit for having beat them to a number of the items they reported in their story tonight. We feel ya, Howard.

(Hat-tip RAW STORY who had the early scoop on the Times story.)

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A Survey of Pollworker and Voter Experience Reveals Pervasive and Recurrent Failures among Computerized Voting Systems
By John Gideon on 1/3/2007 4:14pm PT  

A report [PDF] prepared by civic watchdog groups VotersUnite.org, VoteTrustUSA and Voter Action found the 2006 mid-term elections were marred by persistent and widespread voting machine malfunctions. In preparing the report “E-Voting Failures in the 2006 Mid-Term Elections,” the groups examined data collected from the Election Protection Coalition hotline (1-866 OUR VOTE) and the Voter Action hotline, reports submitted from Election Day pollworkers through the Pollworkers for Democracy project and local and national news accounts collected by VotersUnite.Org.

In all, 1022 accounts of machine related problems from more than 300 counties in 36 states were examined and categorized. The report summarizes and provides contextual and comparative analysis of the difficulties caused by each type of equipment problem, such as machine malfunctions that impeded polls from opening, machine failures at poll closing and vote tabulation, and votes lost or changed on the voting machine screen. It also includes first hand accounts from voters and pollworkers describing the machine difficulties they encountered on Election Day and how the machines hampered the voting process.

The report recounts incidents of voters leaving without casting a vote because the machines would not start or broke down during Election Day. Machines often failed to record the voter’s correct choice on the ballot or summary screen and caused voters to question if their vote was recorded. Several pollworker accounts described problems closing the machines, retrieving vote totals from the computerized systems, and aggregating the totals with software, sometimes counting votes multiple times or failing to count them at all. The report suggests that in some cases votes were lost.

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

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(Might Have Been #1, But Diebold Handled the Vote Tabulation)
By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2006 1:03pm PT  

Tech Mag PCWorld named E-Voting #3 on their list of "The 21 Biggest Technology Mistakes of 2006"...

3. Hacking the Vote
Are electronic voting machines insecure? In May, security researchers discovered a previously unknown backdoor in Diebold's AccuVote-TS touch-screen voting machines that could allow an attacker to manipulate votes, cause malfunctions, or create a 'voting virus' that spreads from machine to machine--all in under a minute and with little fear of detection. Meanwhile, Princeton researchers also found Diebold's touch-screen machines could be opened with the same kind of key used for hotel mini-bars, offering easy access to the machine's memory card. Diebold promised to fix the vulnerability eventually, but also said they weren't too worried. Why? Because such hacks would require "evil and nefarious election officials"--who don't exist.

We feel much better now.

Big Mistake: Allowing insecure voting machines anywhere near this country's electoral process.

Bigger Mistake: Electing Homer Simpson president--which might happen if we keep using these machines.

We've come a long way, baby.

And we also take year-end great pride in that folks look back on Princeton's Diebold Virus Hack as one of the seminal moments in this whole sordid affair. (The machine used in the research was a DRE/touch-screen system supplied to VelvetRevolution.us by a BRAD BLOG source and we then gave it to Princeton for their now-infamous study.)

First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they attack you.
Then you win.

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Editorial Says it's 'Game Over' for DRE Voting Machines --- With or Without a So-Called 'Paper Trail'
By Brad Friedman on 12/26/2006 3:30pm PT  

The Orlando Sentinel sends me a Christmas gift. While it's not exactly that I may have asked for, this being the charitable season I'll look the other way and be thankful for what I got. Particularly as the Sentinel (or the Slantinel as some in the Sunshine State aptly refer to it) has never been particularly democracy-friendly.

Here then, a few highlights from their weekend editorial entitled "Drop touch-screens - Our position: It's time to pull the plug on the failed experiment of electronic voting"...

Nothing is more sacred or vital to the survival of democracy than the ability to cast a vote with the confidence that vote will be counted accurately.
...
Whatever happens in the race between Ms. Jennings and Mr. Buchanan, one thing is clear: The experiment with touch-screen voting is a failure. Florida and other states should scrap touch-screens and use the pen-and-paper ballots of the optical-scan method, allowing a verifiable, independent recount.
...
[P]aper-trail systems present other problems. Printers can jam and run out of paper. There is ample evidence that today's touch-screen machines are too complicated for volunteer poll workers to handle, and adding a printer would only make that worse.
...
[S]aving money is the last reason to use these flawed touch-screen machines. If we are going to spend money on anything, it should be on elections.

Generations of soldiers have paid a much higher price in securing the right to vote from themselves and others, fighting and dying in places like Lexington and Concord to Kabul and Baghdad.

Let's remember that the hard-fought right to vote isn't worth much without the confidence the votes will count.

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Sticker Shock May Force Jurisdictions to Revert to Hand Counted Paper Ballots Next Year...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2006 10:05am PT  

If you needed any more evidence to counter the argument that it would be "too expensive" to dump all the shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising touch-screen (DRE) voting systems in favor of paper ballots, just take a look at Utah. They're the state which pushed out heroic 23-year Emery County Election Clerk Bruce Funk because he had the temerity to allow independent computer security experts to test the Diebold touch-screen systems the state was forcing him to use. (The experts found massive security flaws described as "the most severe" ever discovered.)

Well, now Utah has finally discovered that their switch from punch-cards to shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising Diebold touch-screen systems has doubled the cost of their elections. And then some. Get a load of this from the Salt-Lake Tribune...

"I'm not sure any of us realized how much it is going to cost to own and operate this system," said Michael Cragun, elections director for the Lieutenant Governor's Office.

Those costs are so prohibitive that many Utahns in next year's local elections will revert to a voting style used for generations: checking a box on a paper ballot.
...
City leaders are worried, having heard rumors they may have to triple their election budget if they go with the touch-screen machines.
...
in August 2005, [Lt. Gov. Gary] Herbert signed a contract with Texas-based Diebold Election Systems for $24.5 million. He paid the tab with a federal grant issued through HAVA.

In return, Utah received about 3,000 voting machines and the technical support to run statewide elections this year and in 2008.

But it is now becoming clear that was just the start of the costs.

"We are not sure everyone understood what happened when they flicked that first domino over," Cragun said.
...
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen says she had to double the pay for poll workers because of the necessary training. She now spends $12,000 per month storing the bulky machines. And all of the memory cards, batteries and other essential machine accessories cost her office an extra $138,000 this year.

These costs will continue to accrue as Swensen and other county clerks say they need more machines for the 2008 presidential election.

Unbelievable. I love how they're running around and saying "we had no idea!"... Idiots.

Have I mentioned lately how important it is that you --- and everybody you know --- sign this petition to demand Congress require a paper BALLOT for every vote cast (and get rid, once and for all, of all the shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising Direct Recording Electronic touch-screen voting systems in the bargain)?! As they say...Don't wait! ACT NOW!

(Hat-tip John Gideon)

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Campaign to End Use of Electronic DRE Voting Systems Launched by Several Organizations Previously Supportive of Rep. Rush Holt's HR550 Election Reform Bill
Citizens Asked to Join Effort and Send Letter to Their Own Congress Members...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2006 2:41pm PT  

Please click here to tell your Congress Members you agree!

More than 35 non-partisan Election Integrity organizations, many of them previously supporters of Rep. Rush Holt's HR550 Election Reform legislation, are launching a campaign today designed to send a clear message to Congress that American Democracy needs nothing less than a paper ballot --- not a "trail" or a "record" --- for every vote cast.

A press release from the groups is now posted here.

VelvetRevolution.us, of which The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder, has worked with a number of other leading national non-partisan Election Integrity organizations --- including VoterAction.org, VotersUnite.org, the National Voting Rights Institute, TrueMajorityAction.org, the Dolores Huerta Foundation --- and many state and local groups to release the following Open Letter this morning...

This is a crucial moment as Congress finally begins to introduce Election Reform legislation that --- we hope --- may go a long way towards correcting so many of the ills plaguing our democracy since the introduction of the horribly flawed Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

The BRAD BLOG has reported on, and spoken many times about, the need for a paper ballot for every vote cast. While it won't cure every ill facing our democracy today, it is arguably the most important element needed to ensure eventual reform. The reasons for that need, and the necessity of doing away with all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems in the bargain, are plainly summarized in the letter below.

We've also discussed the need here for citizens to rise up and help take their democracy back. Now is the moment for us to make that happen. We ask that all citizens join us by Emailing the following letter to their Congress Members. We've made it simple for you, and ask that you take the matter into your own hands by circulating this address far and wide to help spread the message:

http://www.VelvetRevolut...s/Campaigns/PaperBallots

The time is now...The letter is below...

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

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Seems Headed to Get it Wrong Again, However, by Calling for 'Paper Trails'
State Election Director Linda Lamone Still Not Yet Fired...
By Brad Friedman on 12/11/2006 7:02pm PT  
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said last week that he plans to support a bill requiring that e-voting machines provide a paper trail, just months after opposing a similar measure.

...begins a report today in ComputerWorld. Miller, of course, is the one who allowed a bill calling for paper ballots to die in the Democratic Maryland Senate just prior to the '06 Election even after both MD's Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich and the Democratic House approved the measure (by a 137 to 0 vote!)

Miller seems on course to screw it all up again for the state by calling for paper "trails" (versus ballots) in Maryland, the first state, along with Georgia, where Diebold was allowed their initial mis-adventure in e-voting by blanketing the state with shitty, unreliable, hackable, inaccurate paperless touch-screen voting machines as early as 2002. Then, of course, both Diebold and the state's Democratic Election Director, Linda Lamone, went about lying and covering up the fact that the machines didn't work and were hopelessly vulnerable.

Miller attempted to spin his way beyond his pre-election failure to the voters and towards not being so horribly wrong with this incomprehensible statement as quoted by CW...

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

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County Elections Website Claims Voters Are Asked for Specific 'YES or NO' Confirmation of Undervotes at End of Voting Process
Sources Confirm it Didn't Happen That Way in Contested FL-13 U.S. House Race on November 7th...
By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2006 5:05pm PT  

An instructional web page, explaining the ES&S touch-screen electronic voting machines in use during Florida's disputed FL-13 U.S. House Election gives faulty information to voters about the way the county's paperless voting systems works, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

The information offered on the county's election website, concerning the crucial process during which voters might choose to adjust any "undervotes" found on their electronic "ballots" at the end of the voting process, is misleading and incorrect. According to several sources, the systems in use during the contested November 7th U.S. House race between Vern Buchanan (R) and Christine Jennings (D) did not operate as advertised by the Sarasota County website.

The county web page in question is described as "a technical look at how the ES&S iVotronic touch screen system works." Yet, Sarasota's ES&S iVotronic systems, apparently, didn't work as described on the site.

The "VOTE button" on the iVotronic, as explained by the text on the website, will cast the vote only after the summary page is given to the voters, allowing them to explicitly approve or disapprove of any undervotes found on their "ballots."

"The iVotronic will review the ballot for any races for which the voter did not cast a vote (undervote), and asks if this is the intent of the voter," according to the webpage. The voter is then said to receive a YES or NO option to confirm their intention of undervoting in the particular race(s).

(The webpage is here. Click the #5 option to see how the "VOTE button" on the system is supposed to work. A screenshot of the page follows at the end of this article.)

Lowell Finley, however, an attorney for VoterAction.org --- one of several non-partisan organizations leading a voter lawsuit demanding a revote in the election --- tells The BRAD BLOG that "the statement on the Sarasota website is false" and that voters were not given such an option on November 7th.

We also inquired about the matter on Friday afternoon with the office of "the Honorable" Kathy Dent, Sarasota County's Supervisor of Elections...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2006 12:36pm PT  

A li'l bit of Sunday morning radio. Me with the always delightful Christine Craft of Sacramento's 1240am Talk City sitting in over at San Francisco's (and Oakland's and San Jose's and elsewhere's) big old KGO 810am. Talking Election Integrity with a loads of good callers incoming. Unfortunately, none of them called me a whacko, tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist no matter how hard I tried. Funny, but where I almost always used to get such callers, we don't seem to hear from them much (if ever) anymore. Go figure.

The appearance is just 34 minutes --- after I removed the commercials from the hour long segment --- of Sunday morning Braditude for your listening pleasure...


-- Brad with Christine Craft on KGO, 12/10/06 [MP3]

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Congressman, Author of Leading U.S. House Election Reform Bill, Replies in BRAD BLOG Comments to Our Article Critical of His Quoted Statement Suggesting Touch-Screen Systems Should Not Be Replaced Due to Cost Factors...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2006 2:02pm PT  

In a posted comment here at The BRAD BLOG, Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) has responded to an article we filed earlier this week in which we expressed concern about a recently quoted comment of his. Our original piece discussed his statement at an Election Reform symposium at Rutgers University, as quoted on Tuesday in by New Jersey's Herald News, about the financial cost of moving away from Electronic Voting Machines in light of recent purchases made by jurisdictions across the country.

The Congressman's comments are, indeed, quite notable as we read them, and they deserve to be highlighted here --- as the piece from last Tuesday has now scrolled far down the main page and his reply posted today would otherwise likely go unnoticed by many...

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

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