We've been reporting for the last week or so on the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines which are flipping votes from Democratic candidates to others in, so far, at least four states. We've showed you actual footage of it and how even after being "recalibrated" these machines still continue to flip votes.
(See our special coverage page here for links to our many recent stories on this issue, and advice on what to do if the problem happens to you.)
Unfortunately, it's not just the error-prone, hackable, wholly unverifiable iVotronics from ES&S which are failing. Error-prone, hackable, and wholly unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems made by Hart InterCivic, Diebold, and Sequoia Voting Systems are also having the same problems across the country. And the Democrats, who have the most to lose, continue to do nothing about it...
Wait times of four to six hours were not uncommon Monday. In some places, the lines clipped along at 45 minutes to three hours.
Elections officials in Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Cobb counties said the state's computer system crashed at times and was very slow, bogging down the process.
The computer system allows poll workers to verify whether voters are properly registered and whether they have already voted.
High voter turnout was one of the reasons for the slowdown, said Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for Secretary of State Karen Handel's office.
This is early voting. Not all polling places are open so there are only a limited number of polling sites checking in voters. The slow-down and crashing of that system has little to do with high voter turnout. It is once again, as it was during the primary in GA, the ironically-named Diebold "ExpressPollbook" registration check-in computer that is slowing things up.
If the system is already not working with only a limited number of poll sites open, what will happen when all polls are open on November 4th?
UPDATE: All of that comes on top of late news that GA has illegally purged and/or flagged nearly 5,000 voters from their registration databases, incorrectly identifying them as "non-citizens".
UPDATE FROM BRAD: In our continuing desire to try and help bring a smile, even during these difficult times, we offer the ironic, related, very short (appx 1 minute) and amusing "Early Voting" video, as posted at right, just out from our friends who made the great Election Integrity documentary Free For All. Enjoy!
UPDATE FROM BRAD 10/29/08:RAW STORY has video of voters waiting 8 hours to vote in GA. Thank you to those voters who were willing to hang in there! Shame on you to those officials who set up this system that can't even accommodate the limited numbers of early voters! God save us all next Tuesday. Stay strong and brave people!
Last week I ran the video of an interview that Russia Today (an extremely popular English language state-sponsored Russian satellite/cable channel) flew into town to conduct with me. That posting included some thoughts on the interview, which also included some of my thoughts on problems in the U.S. corporate media.
Now, the RT reporter Anastasia Churkina files a broader report on concerns about the e-voting systems to be used in our upcoming election, including more from my interview with her, and another with my friend Thom Hartmann. Here's that new report (appx 4 mins)...
Folks, I'm writing to tell you personally about the most important election in America for election integrity: putting Brad Roach into the Pima County (Tucson) Arizona county attorney's office. Why do I believe it's the most important election in America in regard to the issue of Election Integrity? Click the cartoon above and/or read on...
There were a few more technical/geek-ish items that I didn't include in the version that ran over there, thinking they were more appropriate for the real tech and election integrity geeks (like me) out there. Those issues are now published in a much shorter Q&A running today at ComputerWorld.
In these previously unpublished exchanges, posted to CW this morning, Brunner offers some insider detail about her recent lawsuit against Diebold/Premier, concerning the revelation that their tabulators simply drop thousands of votes without notice; the depth of her surprise at the results of her landmark "EVEREST" security tests of Ohio's e-voting machines; and what may lie beyond e-voting, such as the possibility of hand-counting in Ohio.
The BRAD BLOG covers your electoral system, fiercely and independently, as no other media outlet in the nation does. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going. If you like, we'll send you some great election integrity documentary films in return. Details on that right here...
Last week we told you aboutThe Simpsons' upcoming episode wherein Homer, attempting to vote for Barack Obama on a touch-screen voting machine, has a few problems in the process. Here's the very funny, were it not so very unfunny, clip from the upcoming show...
So The Simpsons now get it. Why don't Obama and the Dems? And why are they doing little or nothing to ensure that every voter in the nation is able to cast a vote on a hand-marked paper ballot this year?
Tell your favorite candidate(s) that you'll support them if they support you and your vote by pledging not to concede this year until all votes are counted, counted accurately, or challenged in a court of law. (See StandingForVoters.org more info, the pledge, and stuff you can hand to your favorite candidate to demand they stand up for you this time!)
Here's a welcome sign that at least some in the corporate media are finally beginning to understand the complicated threat to democracy that is the boondoggle of electronic voting.
Bill Mego, in the Naperville Sun, asks all of the right questions (and granted, they are complicated ones to understand, unless one tries) about the junk Diebold voting system irresponsibly employed, at great tax-payer expense, by the DuPage County, IL Board of Elections.
One could as easily replace "Diebold" in the above sentence with any other voting system vendor, and "DuPage" with almost any other county in the nation (even though DuPage features one of the worst Election Boards in the country, and you'll be hearing still more about them soon). But the "good news" for today: at least a few in the media --- okay, at least Bill Mego --- finally "get" it, and are beginning to serve their readership well.
Let's get a few hundred more and we'll be in business. (And I'd be out of it! Happily!)
Experts from CA's 'Top-to-Bottom Review' of E-Voting Systems Demonstrate How to Insert Virus, Access Machines Without Disturbing 'Security Seals' in Hack Which Would Not Be Discovered Even in 100% Audit of 'Paper Trails'
Single Malicious Individual Shown Flipping Entire 'Touch-Screen w/ Paper-Trail' Election in Seconds...
The Computer Security Group at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) has released a short, chilling video demonstrating how a single person can hack an election on a touch-screen voting system --- even one with a so-called "Voter Verifiable Paper Trail" (VVPAT) added to it --- in such a way that it is highly unlikely that the manipulation would ever be detected by either the public or election officials.
The video which shows "just examples of the different ways in which the system can be compromised" is the latest in a similar string of such demonstrations that have been released over the last two years, all showing how easily electronic voting systems can be tampered with, often undetectably.
In the UCSB video posted below, the hack of Sequoia voting system being prepared for use in an entire county, is done in approximately 3 seconds, by a single person with simple insider access and a $10 USB thumb drive. Every machine used in the county, in such a case, would be effected. Moreover, the viral hack would not be discovered by pre-election "Logic and Accuracy" testing --- in cases were election officials actually bother to perform such tests prior to elections --- nor would it likely be discovered even in the event of a complete, 100% post-election audit of the touch-screen "paper-trail" records.
The hack demonstration, prepared by the UCSB scientists as part of California's 2007 http://www.sos.ca.gov/el...ions/elections_vsr.htm\">"Top-to-Bottom Review" of all of the state's e-voting systems, also reveals how so-called "security seals" placed on such machines after they've been programmed for an election, can be easily defeated without detection...
The director of elections at the secretary of state's office resigned suddenly Thursday.
The departure of Holly Lowder, former Alamosa County clerk, comes two months before what is expected to be one of the biggest elections in recent Colorado history. Lowder's work centered on the implementation of the new statewide voter registration system, said Richard Coolidge, spokesman for the agency.
Lowder could not be reached for comment.
Coolidge would not give details on why Lowder stepped down. He said Thursday was her last day.
Larimer County Clerk Scott Doyle said Lowder was more involved with the voter database early on but had become less involved in recent months.
AP reports that county officials were notified of Lowder's departure via email on Thursday, from the SoS office, which noted only that she had "retired and wanted to 'pursue other opportunities.'"
Sources in CO tell us there will be more coming, likely tomorrow, on this. We're also told that there may be a salacious aspect here that might just make the well-worn euphemism about "election officials being in bed with voting machine vendors," um, somewhat more than just a euphemism. (Talk about your voting machine "sleepovers"!)
[See update for more details on the above, now at bottom of article!]
Aside from the noteworthiness of Lowder's sudden exit, as pointed out in the article, in regard to the importance of Colorado in this year's elections --- the state's 9 electoral votes are thought to be very much up for grabs this year, despite going to Bush in the previous two elections --- BRAD BLOG readers will remember a bit of the background here concerning the utterly dysfunctional state of e-voting in the Centennial State under their current SoS, Mike Coffman...
16,632 votes are unaccounted for in a Palm Beach County election recount following last Tuesday's state primary, according to Ellen H. Brodsky, non-partisan candidate for Supervisor of Elections in Broward County and a long-time Election Integrity advocate.
The machine recount was completed early Saturday morning in the Circuit Court race between Judge Richard Wennet and challenger William Abramson, Brodsky reports via email. The machine recount was completed at 4:30am, in the race in which Wennet and Abramson were separated by just 18 votes in the initial machine tally. Palm Beach County recently changed voting systems again, moving from faulty touch-screen voting systems to --- apparently --- faulty optical-scan paper-ballot systems made by Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. [PDF].
The still-unexplained "disappearance" of votes in the machine recount "has severe repercussions," Brodsky wrote in an email alert this afternoon describing the re-scan of some 90,000 ballots.
"With 16,632 less votes on summary report," she writes, it "portends dire consequences for the November election and all elections."
The question remains as to how many votes were lost in other races on the same ballot which were not included in last night's re-tally. Florida state law disallows hand-counting of paper ballots which have already been counted by machine, other than in special circumstances. We'll see if this ends up being one of those circumstances. Theoretically, a hand-count would determine the correct totals for the race, where the machine-count has misreported totals. [UPDATE: Palm Beach Post reports the machine recount was close enough to allow for a hand-count of over votes and undervotes. See more in the update at end of this article.]
Sequoia's voting machines have seen notorious failures of late, including lost votes and other problems, around the country...
Today Premier/Diebold has again had to accept the blame for voting machine failures. This time the optical scan machines that had tallied absentee ballots in Sarasota County would not upload the totals to the main server and refused to post elections in Hillsborough County. Election officials in Sarasota ended up having to count 10,000 ballots by hand. It is a good thing they had the paper ballots to count by hand or those votes would have been lost....
In an article this morning from the St Petersburgh (FL) Times the reporters report that Diebold/Premier voting systems failed to work properly in Hillsborough County.
By far the largest problem cropped up in Hillsborough, which Browning had criticized when Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson took longer than any other supervisor to buy optical scan technology. Through bidding, Hillsborough picked a company called Premier Voting Solutions. Its voting systems are used in 34 states, and about 30 of Florida's 67 counties.
However, after major computer problems cropped up during Ohio's March elections, the manufacturer acknowledged last week that its software contains a critical programming error. Because of the error, votes can be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards. As a result, the company sent out a nationwide customer alert with recommended actions to deal with the problem.
An hour after the polls closed in Hillsborough, Johnson told reporters that his vote counting system had developed a computer problem that was preventing it from posting the tallies electronically — and he blamed Premier Voting Solutions.
"I haven't been able to get a straight answer from Premier, but I will by the end of the night," he said. "I expect them to fix this issue. We've paid a lot of money. My staff has done a great job.''
Johnson said other counties were having similar problems, but [Secretary of State Kurt] Browning's staff said no other counties statewide had reported a similar glitch. Still, Johnson insisted the problem didn't lie with his office.
However, Florida Today reports that Brevard County had problems with their Diebold voting machines and this problem is recurring...
If you didn't happen to pay close enough attention to Ellen Theisen's guest blog on Friday, now that I'm back on the grid (after a few blissful days in the mountains with family friends on the way to Denver here), let me re-iterate the main points of her article quite directly: Diebold has admitted that their tabulator software, known as GEMS, and used all across the country, in at least 34 states, does not count votes correctly.
In fact, it actually loses votes, by not counting them at all, yet gives the system administrator no indication that the votes were not counted. Instead, it tells them that all votes have been counted correctly. This bug has been in Diebold's software --- where it remains to this day-- for years. Diebold has only admitted it now that it's been found by someone else (a number of counties in Ohio, of all places) and with the 2008 Presidential election less than 80 days away. Washington Post's coverage here.
Coinciding with that startling admission, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)'s Gracia Hillman, one of the two Democratic-recommended appointees, has gone on public record stating that the federal certification testing process is too stringent.
While all of that was made clear in Ellen's blog item, I found both of the above points so remarkable that I wanted to underscore them now that I've finally made it to Denver (or at least Boulder, for the moment), since I was simply stunned to read it myself after getting back on the grid.
Is anybody there? Does anybody care?
UPDATE: CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight covered the stunning admission by Diebold on their show Friday. Here it is (thanks to Alan Breslauer, as usual!) ...
UPDATE 8:43pm PT:McClatchy's Greg Gordon picks up the ball, and advances it a bit, noting the failure in oversight by the feds which allowed for the failure, as we've been trying to get across here for years. He begins this way...
Warning on voting machines reveals oversight failure
WASHINGTON — Disclosure of an election computer glitch that could drop ballot totals for entire precincts is stirring new worries that an unofficial laboratory testing system failed for years to detect an array of flaws in $1.5 billion worth of voting equipment sold nationwide since 2003.
Texas-based Premier Elections Solutions [Diebold] last week alerted at least 1,750 jurisdictions across the country that special precautions are needed to address the problem in tabulation software affecting all 19 of its models dating back a decade.
Many jurisdictions are realizing their voting systems are horribly flawed and they want to get them fixed before November. But the new systems currently under test by the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) have so many defects that the manufacturers have to keep repairing them before testing can continue. Consequently the EAC has not certified anything yet.
Kudos to the EAC for this!
But Gracia Hillman, one of the EAC Commissioners, recommends a way around this “roadblock” for the jurisdictions using systems that are no good. She suggests a contingency plan that would allow the jurisdictions to use new and different systems that are no good, but at least they would comply with their state laws. Her ideas:
1) Emergency Certification of Voting System Modifications;
2) Waiver of EAC Certification;
The systems are so bad they can’t meet the federal standards, so to get around this “roadblock,” Commissioner Hillman proposes to bypass the testing process.
She wants the EAC to bless new, defective systems for the vendors to sell to replace the old, defective systems that are currently in use.
But that’s what NASED (National Association of State Election Directors) did when it oversaw the voting system testing process, and the decade-long, widespread use of Premier/Diebold’s vote-losing software is one of the results.
After ten years of use in election after election, all across the country, Premier/Diebold’s vote-dropping software flaw has finally come to light — thanks to Butler County, Ohio’s Elections Director Betty L. McGary and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner...