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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, November 24, 2014
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REPORT FINDS PAPER TRAILS NOT SUFFICIENT TO SAFEGUARD A DIEBOLD ELECTION!!!
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2007 10:39am PT  

Blogged by Brad from deep in the heart of Diebold Country Texas...

The Source Code Review sections of CA SoS Debra Bowen's independent "Top-to-Bottom Review" of voting machines were released yesterday after being scrubbed of some of the more dangerous, specific "road-maps" for hackers.

As expected, the reports are exceedingly troubling and damaging to the entire failed e-voting industry and Diebold, once again, is shown for the menace to democracy that its once-good name has now come to signify.

As reported by PCWorld...

Diebold Election Systems Inc. voting machines are not secure enough to guarantee a trustworthy election, and an attacker with access to a single machine could disrupt or change the outcome of an election using viruses, according to a review of Diebold's source code.

"The software contains serious design flaws that have led directly to specific vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit to affect election outcomes," read the University of California at Berkeley report, commissioned by the California Secretary of State as part of a two-month "top-to-bottom" review of electronic voting systems certified for use in California.

The assessment of Diebold's source code revealed an attacker needs only limited access to compromise an election.

"An attack could plausibly be accomplished by a single skilled individual with temporary access to a single voting machine. The damage could be extensive --- malicious code could spread to every voting machine in polling places and to county election servers," it said.
...
"A virus could allow an attacker who only had access to a few machines or memory cards, or possibly to only one, to spread malicious software to most, if not all, of a county's voting machines," the report said.

Voting machine "sleepovers," anyone? (Yes, we're talking to you Mikel Haas, Deborah Seiler, and Michael Vu in San Diego!)

And finally, there's this --- bolding added so it can be seen easier by members of CONGRESS...

The report warned that a paper trail of votes cast is not sufficient to guarantee the integrity of an election using the machines.

Got that, Mr. Holt and Ms. Feinstein?

And with that, we eagerly await Bowen's fateful decisions, due today, on what to do with California's electronic voting systems. She may choose to do a) nothing, b) decertify, or c) recertify with new conditional security elements. Today is Judgement Day. Stay tuned...

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Attorney Andi Novick Tells NY Officials Why The Vendors Lack Integrity
By John Gideon on 8/1/2007 8:00am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

In a recently released report, New York Attorney Andrea Novick, Esq., tells members of New York state government and now the world that the vendors of the voting machines that most of us use are NOT responsible citizens and why. This report was written for, and addressed to, Governor Spitzer, the State Board of Elections and the State Legislature.

In her report Novick explains that New York state has laws that should bar any of the vendors from doing business in the state.

New York State is about to start testing the products of vendors who by any reasonable application of the State Finance Law (SFL) and New York State Comptroller's Procurement and Disbursement Guidelines (Vendex rules) should be barred from doing business in New York. I have included below a partial documentation of the available evidence revealing the myriad of ways in which the vendors fail to meet the criteria for responsible contractors. The State is responsible for affirmatively requiring all necessary disclosure to satisfy itself of the sufficiency of a vendor's responsibility. To assist in this effort, I have prepared this memo.

New York State Law states the following about corporate integrity...

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

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Company Found to be Security Failure - Yet Again - As Even FL Secretary of State Imposes Deadline for Company to Correct Problems or Face Decertification in Diebold-Friendly Sunshine State...
By John Gideon on 7/31/2007 5:17pm PT  

According to a story in the Miami Herald by Marc Caputo;

"the Florida Secretary of State's office has conducted an elections study that confirmed Tuesday what a maverick voting chief discovered nearly two years ago: Insider computer hackers can change votes without a trace on Diebold optical-scan machines."

The study by the Florida State University Security and Assurance In Information Technology Laboratory (SAIT) has found that the issues discovered by Harri Hursti in the now famous Hursti I hack have not been addressed by Diebold. The SAIT Team also inspected the state's Diebold DREs and DRE Bootloader.

In a letter to David Byrd of Diebold, Secretary of State Kurt Browning gave Diebold until August 17 to correct the identified problems. Failure to do that will result in the system not being certified for use in the next election in the state.

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Detailed Coverage from Historic Hearing in Sacramento, California...
By Emily Levy on 7/30/2007 11:19pm PT  

Guest Blogged from Sacramento by Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us (with assistance from Michelle Gabriel, photos by Bill Lackemacher of Sacramento for Democracy) from the public hearing on 7/30/07, called by California Secretary of State to receive comments on her landmark "Top-to-Bottom review" of the state’s electronic voting systems. No internet access was available in the hearing room, so I wasn’t able to live blog as I’d hoped. I did, however, take copious notes, which are posted in full below this brief summary.

ED NOTE: The video of the hearing, which was not easily available as it streamed live today, is now posted here and here. But I recommend Emily's detailed description below for a great deal of value-added content and perspective! And it's faster! - BF

Note: Story very slightly updated with some corrections in the spelling of names, plus one substantive correction regarding Jim Soper's testimony (the very last one in the entire article).

SACRAMENTO - California Secretary of State Debra Bowen made opening remarks, followed by an overview of the Top-To-Bottom Review by the chief investigator, Matthew Bishop, University of California Davis (UCD) Professor of Computer Science.

Following that, each of the three vendors whose machines went through the Top-To-Bottom Review were given 30 minutes to respond to the report. Diebold went first and only took about five of the 30 minutes, followed by Hart Intercivic and Sequoia.

I’m absolutely thrilled to report that Sequoia knows just how to solve the problems found in the Top-To-Bottom Review: California should just by newer systems from them!

After lunch was the public comment period, the longest part of the hearing. I’ve paraphrased and sometimes quoted the comments of just about every person who testified (including my own testimony). There were maybe 25 or 30 county election officials present, many of whom spoke. Freddie Oakley of Yolo County, an election integrity hero, spoke in favor of the Top-To-Bottom Review and said we bought these systems to accommodate voters with special needs and disabilities and “we have let them down in the most appalling way” by certifying systems with such obvious defects and continuing to use them despite those defects.

I believe every other elections official spoke critically of the Top-To-Bottom Review, most criticizing Bowen for not including county elections officials in the review, not reviewing policies and procedures as part of the Top-To-Bottom Review, and conducting the review in a laboratory setting rather than a real election setting. (I, in contrast, think our elections in recent years have been nothing but one giant beta test!)

It will take some scrolling to find my notes on the remarks of the many election integrity advocates who spoke. Most spoke late in the day, probably because they signed up later, after the pre-hearing press conference they held outside the Secretary of State’s office building. But it’s worth the scrolling, because many important things were said. Many of the EI advocates encouraged Secretary Bowen to decertify not just the three election systems tested, but all electronic voting systems. Many advocated for hand-counted paper ballots. Testimony was frequently backed up with credentials, experience, statistics and technical information. The depth and breadth of expertise in the election integrity movement continues to amaze me. (Note: I’ve posted my own comments in full because I had them available. If others who spoke would like their testimony posted in full, I invite them to paste them into the “comments” section of this blog item.)

Several people with disabilities and advocates for people with disabilities spoke. Some, notably Jennifer Kidder, spoke about the importance of election integrity. Kidder said, “The purpose of any equal opportunity legislation is to get marginalized voices heard,” and went on to note that this purpose is defeated if, after voting privately and independently, the vote of a disabled voter is changed by an electronic voting system.

Most of the people with disabilities and their advocates, however, cautioned against going “back” to paper ballots, saying that would be a move in the wrong direction in terms of the accessibility of voting systems. In general, they were supportive of the types of mitigations recommended by the accessibility team of the Top-To-Bottom Review, despite the findings that none of the systems tested actually met the federal accessibility standards as required by law.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office is accepting public comments by email until Wednesday, August 1 at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov On Friday, August 3, Bowen will announce what actions she will take in light of the Top-To-Bottom Review. We can only hope that she remembers why she was elected, and will take bold action to protect California's elections.

Detailed notes on the hearing appear below. Where I have paraphrased a speaker, I have done so in the first person, sometimes making my own [occasionally snarky] comments inside square brackets. I hope this isn’t confusing...

--- 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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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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By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2007 11:44am PT  

Blogged by Brad from Houston...

The official nominations aren't to be announced until tomorrow. But if this page at the official Emmy Awards site is accurate, it looks like our friends who created the tremendous Hacking Democracy documentary which aired on HBO before last November's election have been nominated for an award in the "OUTSTANDING INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM‑‑LONG FORM" category!

We reviewed the documentary for ComputerWorld in the week before the election last year right here. The nominated team, as posted on the site, includes:

Hacking Democracy - HBO

Executive Producers
Sian Edwards, Earl Katz, Sheila Nevins, Sarah Teale

Supervising Producer
John Hoffman

Producer
Robert Carrillo Cohen

Director/Producers
Simon Ardizzone, Russel Michaels

They'll face some stiff competition, it looks like, in that category, but the nomination itself will undoubtedly draw more needed attention to this important film and it is, as they say, an honor just to be nominated. Congrats, guys!

Bev Harris, naturally, one of the film's central players, had the scoop from inside sources yesterday and offers more details in her post.

The official Hacking Democracy site is right here, and you can purchase the film online from the producers at Public Interest Pictures (DISCLOSURE: They are BRAD BLOG advertisers) right here.

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Ron Paul Supporters Concerned Diebold DREs Will be Used to Deny 'Groundswell of Support' for Surprisingly Popular Candidate...
By John Gideon on 7/15/2007 10:34am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

August 11 is the date for the Iowa GOP presidential "straw poll." In this "straw poll" Republican voters from all over Iowa will walk, drive, or share a bus to the campus of Iowa State University where they will be allowed to pay $35 each for the honor of casting a ballot for their choice for President.

This "poll" is semi-important within the world of Republican politics. Both McCain and Giuliani have decided to pass and will not participate. However, for the candidates who are lower down in the polls this "straw poll" may be all important. The supporters of Dr. Ron Paul, for instance, claim that he has thousands of supporters within the state and that they are going to do all they can to get them to Ames.

With all of that the supporters of Paul have got another gripe and concern that sounds much like the same concern many in the Election Integrity community have; the poll, which used to be done on paper ballots, hand-counted in public, will be conducted on Diebold Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. The Ron Paul group is very concerned that the machines will be gamed in order to make their candidate's showing less than what it should be and in order to inflate the results for those whom the Republican National Committee (RNC) want to have a good showing.

The following email was sent by a member of Paul's support group to a large list of Election Integrity groups:

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

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Judge to Nullify Election Results of 2004 Alameda County Ballot Measure, According to Tentative Ruling
County Had Refused to Allow Public Examination of Electronic Votes and Audit Logs on Diebold Voting Systems After 'Numerous Machine Malfunctions' in Medical Marijuana Election...
By John Gideon on 7/12/2007 4:43pm PT  

In Breaking News late this afternoon, we find yet another reason why Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems are incompatible with democracy: When an election held on them is contested, the machines themselves --- which are said to hold the ballots internally --- cannot be used in another election until the contest is settled.

Late news this afternoon, sent to The BRAD BLOG moments ago, reveals that a judge in an Alameda County, California election contest is set to rule that a contested ballot measure election from 2004 must now be reheld since the county destroyed data from the election when they sent the Diebold DRE voting systems back to the company in Plano, Texas.

All but 4% of election data, records and audit logs was overwritten in subsequent contests, according to the following release from Americans For Safe Access (ASA) who were the plaintiffs in the contest.

In 2004, Alameda was the same county where it was found that Diebold had installed uncertified hardware and software in the county's voting system. The illegal action by the company eventually led to the decertification of certain Diebold systems in California.

The judge's unprecedented decision to re-hold an election after plaintiffs were denied their right to a proper recount after the county's failure to preserve election records on the Diebold touch-screen systems could have reverberations around the country.

The ASA release explains the astounding details and background in this tale, along with the judge's tentative findings in full...

PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release, June 12, 2007

Tentative Ruling Finds that County Officials Destroyed Voting Records from Election Conducted on Diebold Electronic Voting Machines

Election Results May Be Nullified and County Ordered to Conduct Re-Vote on Ballot Measure at Next General Election; Hearing on the Tentative Ruling Tomorrow

OAKLAND, CA – Superior Court Judge Winifred Y. Smith issued a tentative ruling that the Alameda County Registrar of Voters and Alameda County "have engaged in a pattern of withholding relevant evidence and failure to preserve evidence" necessary to conduct a recount of a hotly contested Berkeley ballot measure. As a result, the Court has signaled its intention to void the election and order the County to place Measure R back on the ballot for a re-vote at the next general election.

Judge Smith will issue a final ruling after the Court hears oral arguments tomorrow (Friday, July 13, at 9:30 a.m. at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse, Department 114, 661 Washington Street, Oakland).

"Judge Smith's tentative ruling confirms our contention that Alameda County violated its duty to preserve the critical voting machine data that was the focus of this recount lawsuit and election contest," said Gregory Luke of Strumwasser & Woocher LLP, attorney for the plaintiffs
who sought the recount of the vote on Measure R.

More from the press release, including background on this incredible story, the ballot measure, the long fought election contest, the overwriting of the data on the Diebold voting machines --- in violation of the law --- and the judge's tentative ruling itself, follows below...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2007 10:35am PT  

NOTE: While the above toon's suggestion, that the Constitution is protected each night from Dick Cheney, may be a joke, the part about powerful hydraulics lowering it into the ground each night is actually true. The company who made the high-tech security system, custom built to protect our nation's most important document: Diebold, Inc.

Yes, that Diebold, Inc.

(Hat-tip for the toon to BRAD BLOG's comic sherpa, Pokey Anderson)

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Linda Lamone Allows Her Picture To Be Used In Diebold Sales Literature
Testifies Favorably for Equipment That Failed Spectacularly In Maryland Last September...
By John Gideon on 6/26/2007 1:33pm PT  

Today Wired News' Kim Zetter reported on their "Threat Level" blog that Maryland Election Director, and long-time Diebold apologist, Linda Lamone has allowed her statements and picture to be used in new advertising brochures Diebold has produced to promote their Express Poll 5000 electronic poll books.

Zetter quotes Lamone:

"Our election judges just love this product, and so do I. We in Maryland are extremely pleased with the performance of the system during the general election," reads Lamone's quote next to a photo of her smiling and sitting, presumably, in a state election office.

Note Lamone's mention of being pleased during the general election.

As Zetter points out in her article, the machines that Lamone is speaking for failed spectacularly in Maryland during last September's Maryland primary election. The machines also failed in Georgia last July. It appears that Diebold was doing what seems to have become a common practice among the voting machine vendors, "Beta Testing" in a real election. While Diebold claimed that they fixed all of the problems found during the primaries, at least one official told Zetter that machines in at least one precinct crashed when a last name beginning with "Cur" was typed in.

And what about the conflict of interest of Lamone shilling for a company that the state is doing business with? Zetter goes on to report...

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

ReddIt this story!



By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2007 4:32pm PT  

From this week's San Diego Reader...

If you don't understand the above, a) You need to visit The BRAD BLOG more often, b) See this, and then c) See this, and then d) Pray for the good voters of the People's Republic of San Diego.

Thanks to artist Neal Obermeyer for paying attention! More good stuff from his own official site.

ReddIt this story!



City Election Goes to Paper Ballots After Votes Disappeared on Malfunctioning Touch-Screen System, Memory Card
Aurora City Election May Have to Be Run Again...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2007 7:30pm PT  

From the Wise County Messenger in Texas...

Thirty-eight votes in the Aurora city election are missing and the problem is being turned over to the office of the secretary of state, City Administrator Toni Kelly-Richardson said Tuesday.

The city may have to have another election, officials said.

The city used three Diebold Election Systems voting machines in its election – two were designated for early voting and the other for election day.

When one of the early voting machines stopped allowing people to cast ballots, Kelly-Richardson said the city switched to paper ballots.
...
The memory card, which stores the votes from the machine, was “pulled out and sealed up” until the results should be counted, she said.
...
When the memory card was opened from storage and placed in a machine for reading, it showed to have no votes on it.

“We knew that the card had 38 ballots on it,” she said.

The story gets even more amazing as a fire breaks out in city hall, where the machines are stored, engulfing one of them in flames. You'll have to check it out yourself for those details.

But we don't mind awarding Denton County's election administrator, Don Alexander, BRAD BLOG's "Understatement of the Year Award" for this quoted comment from the story:

Don Alexander, elections administrator for Denton County, said that the company has a history of having problems.

“Diebold does not have a good reputation,” Alexander said.

ReddIt this story!



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