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UPDATED WITH VIDEO: CNN's Lou Dobbs Covers Stunning Admission...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2008 5:17pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Boulder, CO...

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.

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Democratic Appointee Wants Fewer Safe Guards, Even as Diebold Admits Their Tabulator Software --- Used All Across the Country --- Loses Votes...
By Ellen Theisen on 8/22/2008 8:00am PT  

Guest Blogged by Ellen Theisen of VotersUnite.org

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;

Unbelievable.

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...

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

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Justin Elliot of Mother Jones and Talking Points Memo Takes the Easy Way Out in His 'Review' of 'Uncounted'...
By Mary Mancini on 8/22/2008 6:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by Mary Mancini of the Uncounted Blog

Everyone has different tastes, and hey, if you aren’t moved after watching Uncounted that’s your prerogative. But an uniformed and half-assed review that tries to nail the 80-minute movie on one ten-second factoid - like the one delivered to Mother Jones readers by former MJ Senior Online Fellow and current TPM Media News Editor, Justin Elliott - is inexcusable.

In the review, Elliot references the following that briefly appears on screen: “Two voting machine companies --- ES&S and Diebold --- electronically counted 80 percent of the votes in the 2004 presidential election. Both companies have extensive ties to the Republican party.” He then runs the 80% number by Kimberly Brace, “a respected voting expert with the consulting firm Election Data Services” who calls it “totally wrong.” And that’s it. Proof by assertion. No follow up. End of review.

You can, of course, read the rest for yourself at MotherJones.com, where you can also read the comments of some very smart MoJo readers who recognize not only Elliott’s shoddy work but also the importance of the bigger issue - that our democracy is at stake because of bad electoral practices.

You’ll also find Uncounted's filmmaker, David Earnhardt's response, which I am also printing in its entirety...

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

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A VotersUnite report on the current situation and how to reclaim elections --- in 2008 and beyond.
By Ellen Theisen on 8/20/2008 8:50am PT  

Guest Blogged by Ellen Theisen of VotersUnite.org

[Ed Note: Ellen appeared on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight this evening to discuss this report. The video is now posted here.]

As we approach the 2008 general election, the structure of elections in the United States — once reliant on local representatives accountable to the public — has become almost wholly dependent on large corporations, which are not accountable to the public. Most local officials charged with running elections are now unable to administer elections without the equipment, services, and trade-secret software of a small number of corporations (primarily Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Hart InterCivic, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Premier Election Systems (formerly Diebold), though a few other corporations have a very small share of the market).

If the vendors withdrew their support for elections now, our election structure would collapse.

However, some states and localities are recognizing the threat that vendor dependency poses to elections. They are using ingenuity and determination to begin reversing the direction.

This week, VotersUnite.Org released a report [PDF] that examines the situation, how we got here, and steps we can take to limit corporate control of our elections in 2008 and reduce it even further in the future.

Case studies presented in our report give examples of the pervasive control voting system vendors now have over election administration in almost every state, and the consequences some jurisdictions are already experiencing. We discovered that such dependency has allowed vendors to...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2008 3:53pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

A lot of voting zeitgeist in the media of late. What took ya so long, folks? Wanted to wait until it was largely too damned late to do anything about it? Same story. New year.

In any case, on the road to Denver right now, so time enough only to round up some of the most notable must-reads on everything from: The GOP "voter fraud" scam growing in intensity between here and November (a theme I'll also be discussing in my column for the UK's Guardian this week); Election officials finally acknowledging their machines don't work, but remaining unwilling to correctly place the blame or otherwise do much about it; Faint glimmers of actual improvement at the previously dreadful U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC); A bit of news from the "Rove Cybergate" election fraud case in OH, and; The one phrase you'll want to get very well familiar with between here and November 2 (hint: my name is in it, but it has nothing to do with me.)

Read on...

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

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Election Officials Finally Acknowledge Voting Machines Problems, But Seem Unwilling to do Much About It...
NYTimes Incorrectly Lays The Blame For A Lack of New Voting System Improvements On Federal Certification Process
By John Gideon on 8/17/2008 11:07am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

The New York Times has again given a platform to the voting machine vendors to voice their displeasure with a system that is forcing them to actually provide voting systems that are fully tested and certified. The vendors, and some election officials, seem to want to continue the old system of poorly tested and rubber-stamped voting systems counting our votes.

In his article, Ian Urbina, quotes Jennifer Brunner, who says:

“We need the federal oversight to create consistent standards and to hold the manufacturers to a certain level of quality, but we also have to be able to get the equipment when we need it. Right now, that equipment is not coming, and we’re left making contingency plans.”

If Brunner expects high quality and consistent standards, all she needs to do is look to the vendors and question them on why they put out a product that fails in testing. Her state's recent countersuit of Premier/Diebold was a start, but why did she wait until she was sued by the vendor before taking that step? As we asked recently, why did she ignore the pleadings of Election Integrity Attorneys and computer scientists who counseled her to file a suit against Premier/Diebold for breach of contract for so long?

Brunner also needs to question the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) qualification system (most often referred to as "federal certification" by most officials and vendors) and those involved in the process as to why they allowed non-compliant voting systems to be given their stamp of approval on behalf of the federal government in the first place. If the so-called federal Independent Test Authorities and NASED had done their jobs prior to 2007, the machines used in Ohio and the rest of the nation would not now be constantly failing, and the voters would have far more confidence in the electoral system.

Doug Chapin of the Pew Center project electionline.org must have just come from last week's Election Center conference, where election officials and vendor representatives gather and talk about issues of importance to the lucrative American Voting Industry. He is quoted in the Times with this remarkable comment...

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

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By John Gideon on 8/14/2008 4:25pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

If I lived in Butler Co Ohio I would be very concerned about whether my vote was going to be counted this November. If you recall Butler Co uses Diebold/Premier DREs and in the March primary and April recount over 200 votes nearly went uncounted. The cause of the problem proved to be a conflict between the voting system software and anti-virus software. Rather than take action against Diebold/Premier, as recommended by Election Integrity attorneys, the state sat back until the vendor sued them and nearly forced the state to counter-sue. But the county, and many others in the state, will be using the same voting system with the same software in November.

Diebold/Premier claims to have a software patch but also claims it will be years before they can use it because it has to have federal approval. Meanwhile, Secretary of State spokesman Kevin Kidder says, "We've never lost a vote because of the problems we cite in the counterclaim because election officials have caught them. We can't prevent it. We can only catch the problem and correct it."

As good as election officials may be they cannot and will not catch everything and when they don’t find a problem it means votes are lost or incorrectly tabulated. The solution should have been to force the counties involved to go to paper based systems. It’s too late for that now...

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

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By John Gideon on 8/10/2008 4:12pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

For over two years Election Integrity attorneys have been urging the state of Ohio to file suit against Diebold/Premier, ES&S, and Hart for failure to meet their contractual obligations with the state. The Secretary of State ignored that urging. It was only after Diebold/Premier filed suit against the state that the state took action in a countersuit. Rather than being courageous plaintiffs in this case, the state is a defendant and Diebold/Premier chose the most favorable court to hear the case. If the state had done the right thing two years ago they very well may have had the funds to have gotten rid of all Diebold DREs in the state for this November. Instead counties are still at the mercy of Diebold and their flawed voting systems. And remember, it may be Diebold/Premier in this case but the other vendors play the same game in different ball parks. They are all complicit. For more on this issue see HERE....

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

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By John Gideon on 8/6/2008 4:41pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Today Jennifer Brunner, the Ohio Secretary of State, announced that she has filed a counterclaim in a lawsuit with Premier (Diebold) Election Solutions. The counterclaim asks for damages, including punitive damages, against the vendor for voting machine malfunctions and for the company’s claims that warranties on equipment have expired. Brunner is arguing that problems with the voting systems caused votes to be “dropped” when memory cards were uploaded to the server. There is evidence that this happened in at least 11 of the 43 counties that used Diebold DREs in past elections. The company, apparently, agrees there was a problem, as they issued a product advisory on this problem in May. One question is outstanding now: How many counties in how many states had the same problem and never realized it? It’s time to cut our loses and get rid of those damn machines....

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

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Extraordinary Evidence Presented at Presser Today Alleges Diebold Tabulator Was Used to 'Fix' Results of 2006 Ballot Initiative on Orders from County Election Officials
State AG Called on to Preserve and Manually Count Ballots from Controversial Proposition...
By David Safier on 7/9/2008 11:41pm PT  

Guest Blogged by David Safier of Blog for Arizona

The Pima County, Arizona, Diebold vote tabulation system was manipulated to "pass" a 2006 ballot initiative when, in fact, the measure was actually voted down, according to a startling new allegation revealed today by the election watchdog group Audit AZ.

The long-running election integrity battles in Pima flared up again this afternoon as an explosive affidavit from a former county official was released at a press conference held by the tenacious local organization. On the heels of several recent Audit AZ court victories, resulting in the unprecedented if long overdue release of mountains of previously "proprietary" Diebold election databases, today's presser was well attended by much of the local media.

The conference was held as news comes that the ballots for the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) election are set to be destroyed, according to a letter sent by the Pima County Treasurer to the Chair of the Pima County Democratic Party, Vince Rabago. The June 2008 letter, posted at the end of this article, says that Rabago has the right to request that the ballots not be destroyed, which would save them temporarily. Bill Risner, the lawyer for the successful suit to obtain copies of the county's election databases, said at the press conference that the State Attorney General needs to step in and not only demand that the ballots be saved but order that they be counted to see if the total agrees with the "official" numbers that came out of the election department's computer given the extraordinary new allegations.

The potentially explosive new piece of information introduced during the press conference was a sworn affidavit from Zbigniew Osmolski, a former Pima County employee, stating that Bryan Crane, the computer operator at the Pima County Elections Division, told him, during a conversation in a bar, that the RTA Election was "fixed...on the instructions of his bosses."

According to Osmolski's affidavit (posted in full at the end of this article):

During that conversation Bryan Crane told me he "fixed" the RTA, or Regional Transportation Authority election on the instructions of his bosses and he did what he was told to do. Mr. Crane expressed his concern about being indicted and said he would like to talk but couldn't trust anyone.

The affidavit is the latest in a series of red flags concerning the RTA election. Other red flags include: (1) This was a sales tax increase, the type of vote that usually fails, and it looked like it was going down in the days prior to the election; (2) The database on the vote counting computer was erased and replaced a day into the early ballot scanning; (3) Unauthorized vote total summary reports were printed during the counting; (4) A tape of the original ballot layout stored with the Secretary of State --- which could have indicated if the vote was flipped --- was sent back to the County, which lost it; (5) An investigation into the election completed by the Attorney General's office was cursory and inconclusive.

A video of the press conference is now available here...

The Osmolski affidavit and County Treasurer's letter concerning the impending destruction of the ballots from the RTA election follow below...

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

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A Concrete Example of Why the Voting System Test Standards are All Form and No Substance...
By John Washburn on 7/2/2008 7:03am PT  

Guest blogged by John Washburn

I have been a long time critic of the federal 2002 Voting System Standards (2002 VSS) and of the 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (2005 VVSG). In fact, both sets of standards are virtually worthless. There are two reasons for this. First, the requirements enumerated in the standards are, in and of themselves, much too weak for something as vital as administering an election. Second, both sets of standards have an explicit loophole that allows almost all the requirements — weak as they are — to be ignored. This second objection was first brought to my attention two years ago by Howard Stanislevic.

We now have proof that this loophole is used by the labs in order to “pass” systems that don’t meet the standards. The proof is laid out clearly in the most recent certification test report submitted to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) by SysTest labs (one of the labs accredited by the EAC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology - NIST). SysTest recommended certification for the new voting system by Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold) even though the lab's findings listed 79 specific failures to meet the standards.

As you read this article, keep in mind that the standards actually allow 77 of these 79 failures to be ignored!...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2008 11:41am PT  

As I've been on the road this week, Steve Heller (a.k.a. the "Diebold Document Whistleblower") was kind enough to step in for me during my regular Friday guest stint on the Peter B. Collins Show.

While it's perhaps a bit of a busman's vacation, I made the mistake of quickly checking out the podcast of yesterday's hour from my motel room after I got off the road last night, and though I've heard (and even told [PDF]) Heller's remarkable and heroic story a million times, I couldn't stop listening to the interview. Heller --- who, in addition to putting his life on the line for fair elections, is also now a colleague of mine, helping to head up our Velvet Revolution Election Strike Force --- is a helluva gifted and articulate spokesman on the issues of Election Integrity.

Feel free to listen up. You'll not regret the time well-spent. Download the MP3, or listen online below (about 40 mins, w/ commercials removed courtesy of PBC affiliate Green960)...

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By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2008 10:34am PT  

From the St. Petersburg Times...

Two pieces of malicious software detected Thursday have been removed from Pinellas County's voting tabulation system.

The two bugs, known as Flush.G and W32.SillyDC, work in tandem and go from computer to computer redirecting Internet browsers to sites the user hasn't selected, officials said. The worm is carried through removable media like USB drives, is easily detected and, officials say, rather harmless.

Pinellas Deputy Supervisor of Elections Rick Becker said the worm isn't the kind of Trojan horse that would be used to corrupt a computer voting system and was unsure just where it came from.

And yet, we're often told by voting machine companies that viruses can't get into these systems. Then there are the election officials who have bought into these systems, yet know nothing about them, who respond to the public and the media as if they do, regularly making ridiculous claims that such problems can't happen because "at no time are our systems connected to the Internet."

Whether they are or aren't, it's an absurd response. Malicious software can get into the system any number of ways, via non-Internet networking, USB thumb drives, etc. It can then undedectably affect an election without detection.

In the Summer of 2006, after my organization, VelvetRevolution.us, was given a Diebold touch-screen system from an insider source, we loaned it to Prinecton for testing and they were able to insert a vote-flipping virus via the memory card which could pass itself from machine to machine and flip an entire election without detection.

And, of course, on the first day of Early Voting in the now-infamous FL-13 Congressional race in 2006 where 18,000 votes mysteriously and still-inexplicably disappeared, a malicious viral worm took down a key part of the network infrastructure on which the registration system ran, grinding voting to a halt that day.

Similarly, exclusively reported thereafter, the scientists who studied the ES&S voting machines used in that FL-13 election discovered that the ES&S touchscreen systems --- used in some 16 different states --- were also vulnerable to the same type of virus that Prinecton was able to insert into the Diebold machines. To this day, despite being told about it by the scientists who discovered the problem, the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) refuses to warn jurisdictions that use the same machine model about its vulnerability, even though it was described as potentially even more serious than the one discovered in the Diebold systems.

Other than that, everything's fine. Nothing to see here. Move along, folks.

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Do-it-Yourself Election Results...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2008 12:31pm PT  

How easy is it to enter any election results you want into the Diebold central tabulator? When you use Diebold's "Manual Override" option, it's exactly this easy...


The video above was shot on the night of the recent Primary at the election headquarters in Florida's Sarasota County, home of the infamous 2006 13th Congressional District where 18,000 votes disappeared on ES&S iVotronic touch-screens in an election decided by a 369 vote margin. The county now uses Diebold's paper-based optical-scan system, which failed to work as it was supposed to on Election Night. So, as seen in the above, the county election staff used Diebold's "Manual Override" to enter voting results into the tabulator with none of the party observers or board of election commissioners bothering to watch.

Kudos to one of Florida's Election Integrity citizen activist/video heroes, Jeannie Dean, for shooting and compiling the above.

Please note her advice tips, at the end of the video, instructing how you can similarly help out big time this November!

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By Brad Friedman on 5/30/2008 6:35am PT  

Last week we told you about the hard fought victory by the Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, Democrats to finally gain access to the Diebold databases which include the tallies of how folks voted in elections going all the way back to 1998.

The county had argued (on Diebold's behalf, natch) that the database files were both proprietary, and a security risk should they be released. The judge, finally, found that to be nonsense, and ordered the release of the files which the local Election Integrity advocates now hope to comb over for evidence of fraud and/or other malfeasance.

Now that they've got all the info, they're seeking a geek or two who may be able to help build a tool to make it a bit easier to go through the mountains of data they now finally have access to.

AZ's Libertarian Election Integrity champ Jim March, whose been working closely with the Dems, sends us the following "Help Wanted" ad, seeking a programmer to help 'em make sense of "the world's largest private collection of Diebold election data files anywhere." (Note: If someone could kindly Slashdot this item to maximize the number of coder geek eyeballs it gets in front of, it'd be much appreciated!)...

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

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