Joining Karl Rove and Alberto "Fredo" Gonzales in announcing their retirements is Conny McCormack, the much embattled and always friendly to voting machine vendors Registrar of Voters for Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the nation.
In a statement on the LA County Registrar's website McCormack begins by saying:
After 30 years of public service, I have decided to retire at the end of this year. It has been an honor to serve the residents of Los Angeles County for the past 12 years as Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk and to lead a Department of exceptionally talented and dedicated employees committed to providing top quality service in all three diverse functional areas --- from election administration to recording property deeds to maintaining the public’s official records regarding voting, property ownership, birth, death, marriage, and more.
Here's a picture from a Diebold brochure that features McCormack. Could our question that accompanies the picture, which we used in a recent article on McCormack's expressed concerns for Diebold's profits, be an omen of what is to happen in the future?
UPDATE FROM BRAD: Despite McCormack's exit statement to the contrary, as linked above, she has left Los Angeles County a mess. At this time, we have no idea what voting system will be used in next February's Presidential Primary Election, as she's sided with the vendors, rather than the voters, when it came to meeting the requirements for CA SoS Debra Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom Review" of voting systems.
Furthermore, while she joined the throng of California Registrars all too happy to rush to the media, to bitch about having just six months to implement Bowen's new security requirements with just six months before the next big primary, it's telling that she's willing to leave nation's largest county altogether just a month before that primary. What does that tell you about her (and the other Registrars') feigned concern about having enough time to make sure the voters are well served in the next election?
The question is not will she go to work for a voting company, the only question seems to be which one, and how soon.
On a recent Tuesday in August, several days after California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's pronouncement of decertification and then new, restrictive recertification of Diebold, Inc., voting systems, ten officers of the company simultaneously sold off some 10,379 shares of stock at a near 52-week high for the troubled company.
The ten Diebold insiders sold at $53.05 per share, netting more than half a million dollars in the transactions. The stock would begin to plummet nearly 15% a week later, just before it was disclosed that Diebold would spin off its elections division into a new company called "Premier Elections Solutions," after which the stock began a modest recovery.
Two days after the mass August 7th sale, two more Diebold officers would sell another 2,166 shares at the same $53.05 price.
All told, The BRAD BLOG has found the insider sales totaled $665,512 in the week before the value of the company's stock price would plunge in a massive sell-off triggered by a top financial analyst who had lowered the company's rating from "buy" to "hold."
Notably, the sales by the company officers did not occur immediately before or after the release of Bowen's findings of severe vulnerabilities in the company's voting machines, or immediately before or after her decertification/recertification announcement.
Instead, the sales came on a weekday when nothing else publicly --- other than the report we filed concerning security issues noted during our visit to Diebold headquarters in Allen, TX --- would seem to have prompted the sale.
A financial analyst that we spoke to, who asked not to be named, said he saw the spike in sales by the company officers as "a point of interest," noting "some smoke there," and adding that he found it notable that there had been no similar pattern of sell-offs by company officials in Diebold's recent history.
While the public did not yet know, on August 7th, of the impending plan to jettison Diebold's election division into a new, "independent" outfit with a new name, officers of the parent company likely had known long ago about the planned move...
Two Ohio activists have discovered that e-voting machines made by Election Systems and Software and used across the country produce time-stamped paper trails that permit the reconstruction of an election's results--including allowing voter names to be matched to their actual votes.
Ohio law permits anyone to walk into a county election office and obtain two crucial documents: a list of voters in the order they voted, and a time-stamped list of the actual votes. "We simply take the two pieces of paper together, merge them, and then we have which voter voted and in which way," said James Moyer, a longtime privacy activist and poll worker who lives in Columbus, Ohio.
Moyer and fellow activist Jim Cropcho tested this by dropping by the election office of Delaware County, about 20 miles north of Columbus, and reviewing the results for a May 2006 vote to extend a property tax to fund mental retardation services (PDF). Their results indicate who voted "yes" and who voted "no"--and show that local couples (the Bennets, for instance) didn't always see eye-to-eye on the tax.
ES&S machines are used in 38 states, and, of course, the ES&S spokesperson quoted in the article blames Ohio's procedures for allowing such records to be viewed by the public in the first place. Remember, the voting machine companies hate transparency and don't believe citizens should have the right to see anything concerning their own democracy.
They will also try to distract from the fact that the greatest threat to election integrity and security comes from election insiders --- such as voting machine company employees and elections officials --- rather than the public at large.
The well-reported and sourced C|NET article explains that the other major voting machine companies, Sequoia and Diebold, both deny that the same thing --- matching voters to votes --- is possible with their machines. An unnamed Diebold spokesperson, as usual, goes so far as to lie about the matter to the reporter, claiming they don't include time-stamps on the records for security and privacy reason. He/she added, "We're very sensitive to the integrity of the process."
That Diebold spokesperson is, of course, lying.
Last week, The BRAD BLOG detailed fraudulent claims on Diebold's website which said that on their touch-screen systems "the order of cast ballots is scrambled to further insure ballot anonymity." That claim runs counter to the findings of University of California's recent "Top-to-Bottom Review" of all certified voting systems in the state. The UC findings [PDF] on Diebold's voting system source code, as commissioned by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, revealed precisely the opposite to be the truth...
Though they show a small picture of their DRE, it's neither identified, linked, nor mentioned on the front page of their new site. That, despite their many years and millions of dollars spent pushing and lying about the hackable, inaccurate, unAmerican voting machine/scams.
Diebold's DREs were recently decertified [PDF] for use in the state of California for anything above one machine per polling place to marginally meet federal disabled voter requirements (even though CA found they failed to even meet disabled accessibility standards). Johns Hopkins Computer Scientist Avi Rubin also enumerated, in an article last Thursday, a few reasons why nobody is any longer interested in the DREs that Diebold/Premier may --- or may not be --- still selling.
Three Pennsylvania counties are considering pulling their old lever voting machines out of mothballs for this November's general election. The counties' "Plan B" comes in the wake of a refusal by e-voting machine company Advance Voting Systems (AVS) to pay the bill to federal "Independent Testing Authority" (ITA) lab iBeta Quality Assurance which has, according to NJ's Express-Times, found "thousands of source code irregularities and 24 documentation irregularities with AVS machines."
A problem in AVS's currently certified systems in PA makes them impossible to use as is in the upcoming elections.
iBeta is one of the private testing labs recently given approval by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) to test voting systems at the federal level. The labs, however, are still paid by the voting machine companies themselves.
The EAC's letter [PDF] also indicated that iBeta discovered AVS machines, contrary to the submitted documentation, used a different motherboard than those on the machines submitted for testing.
It's unclear, according to some of the reports from the PA papers, whether lever machines may legally be used in their elections, or if the counties may have to move to....wait for it...paper ballots in this November's municipal elections.
The Express-Times reveals the extraordinary arrogance of the voting machine companies, who, until heat has recently been brought to bear on both the EAC and the companies, had for years received a rubber-stamp for qualification of their systems by federal testers --- no matter how poorly the systems were built. After the EAC notified the company that certification testing was being suspended at iBeta due to lack of payment, "Howard Van Pelt, Advanced Voting Solutions president, maintained the machines are certified, regardless of what the commission says," according to the Express-Times.
Van Pelt, however, is wrong. But he, and the others like him, are used to receiving a free pass from the EAC and other Federal and local authorities for so many years that they may still be under the impression they can do whatever they want, despite what the federal government tells them and despite what the law says.
Yet AVS may not be the only voting machine company we may soon find unwilling --- or unable --- to pay for testing of voting systems, which could subsequently plunge elections in other states and counties into danger of not being carried out at all...
Diebold Elections Systems, Inc., is no more. At least in name.
After a year and a half of conversely trying to dump their failed voting unit and/or lying to customers about the reliability and security of their voting systems, corporate parent Diebold is giving up the ghost of its election business which, according to an analyst in a Reuters report, was "responsible for less than 10 percent of Diebold's revenue, and 100 percent of its bad publicity."
According to a company statement [PDF] just released, Diebold Elections Systems, Inc., will become Premier Election Solutions as of today. The company president, David Byrd, who has overseen the disastrous election unit for some time, will stay on as president to go down with the ship, apparently.
Applying full lipstick to the pig, the company statement declares, "The change to Premier signals a new beginning for the company." And President Byrd picks up where he left off, furiously polishing his turd with the claim that "This is both a fresh identity for our company and a unique opportunity for us to concentrate our focus solely on providing best-in-class elections solutions for current and potential customers."
No word on when they'd begin that "focus" after years of claiming same, but doing anything but. They have, however, radically lowered their expected revenue statement for the year by $120 million.
After a string of disastrous reports on the quality and security of their voting systems, along with plummeting stock prices since last week, it seems clear that Diebold, the once-great, more-than-100-year old company, is doing whatever it can at this point to save the corporate parent. While its stock price (DBD) plummeted at today's opening bell and is currently down some 5.6% from yesterday, the price has begun to rise again in the last hour or so on news of the spin-off.
More than anything, however, the move may well be a harbinger of a coming declaration of bankruptcy for Diebold/Premier, as we see it. With the unit now spun off from the blue chip Diebold parent, declaring bankruptcy or dissolving the company altogether might be less trouble for investors and the main company as a whole, as their extraordinary legal and financial liabilities continue to mount...
More information about the following report is available here. Since its airing, election legal watchdog Voter Action has called for a full Congressional investigation into the possibility of commercial fraud by the voting machine companies as based upon some of the startling information revealed in this exposé...
NOTE: As the original Google version of this report has been taken down for some reason, we are making it available here, in three easy to watch segments. Additionally, a complete transcript is now posted here, courtesy of Jerry Berkman.
Part 1 (30:09): Concentrates on voting machine vendor ES&S and their previously undisclosed touch-screen sweatshop factories in Manila...
Part 2 (8:07): Dan Rather interviews electronic voting apologist, machine tester, Michael Shamos...
Part 3 (26:25): The "HOLY COW!" revelations about Florida 2000 and the seven whistleblowers from Sequoia who reveal, for the first time, that "somebody" at Sequoia purposely used lower grade paper and misaligned the chads (for Palm Beach County, FL specifically) on the paper ballots used in that Presidential Election (see additional comments from John Gideon and Brad Friedman on this section below)...
UPDATE By John Gideon: The revelations in Rather's report from the Sequoia punch-card printers, that inferior paper was used in the 2000 election in Palm Beach, are stunning. It was all about corporate greed. Sequoia Voting Systems has a big anvil hanging over their heads and it is hanging by a thread. No wonder Smartmatic only paid $16M for Sequoia which had assets over $40M. The previous owners of Sequoia, De La Rue, wanted out and now Smartmatic wants out but who is going to buy Sequoia now with all of their liabilities?
ADDITIONAL UPDATE FROM BRAD: Holy cow! If you haven't seen this thing, you must. The second half of the program, after the stunning revelations of the ES&S sweatshop in Manila, followed by a mostly useless interview with voting machine apologist Michael Shamos, breaks some enormous news concerning Sequoia's apparent effort to create havoc with Florida's punch-cards in 2000. With seven company whistleblowers, all interviewed on camera, and by name, objecting to the company's use of faulty paper and then misalignment of chads, specifically for Democratic Palm Beach County only, this thing could lead to huge fallout.
The remarkable report --- for which Rather should receive some kind of award --- reopens 2000, as nobody at Sequoia is willing to cop to signing off on the bad paper and misaligned chads business after all seven employees interview had refused to do so. Who gamed that election? At whose orders? And doesn't that open up new questions concerning Clint Curtis' allegations that he was asked by Tom Feeney, prior to the 2000 election, to create software to rig a touch-screen voting system. Up until now, one of the criticism of Curtis' claims has been that "nobody was even thinking about touch-screens prior to the 2000 election. This report, and the fact that Sequoia was using touch-screens as early as 1998 in Riverside County, CA, may blow that wide open.
UPDATE 8/28/07: More details on the above update, and this report seals up yet another allegation of the formerly Republican whistleblower Clint Curtis, now here...
Po', po' Diebold. Being unAmerican pays well only up to a point, we guess, as the company's stock once again begins to tumble today after a key analyst cuts his rating for the once-great "security" company, citing "possible legislative concerns in the company's voting machines business."
And even as the company continues to misrepresent its products, on its own website, via knowing lies (otherwise known as fraud).
After the voting machine company's spectacular failure over the weekend at the GOP Straw Poll in Iowa --- where anywhere from 10.5% to 32% of the ballots had to be counted by hand after Diebold's machines failed --- it's little surprise that things are coming apart for the company again. The question, however, is how much farther it still has to go and what the hell the company can possibly do about it at this point.
"Investors could increasingly sour on the stock if Diebold does not try to sell the unit," reports Forbes this afternoon as the stock fell some 4.5% to $47.60 today on heavy trading, after falling at least that much since a high near $54 last Thursday.
Good luck selling that clunker of a division, boys. Liabilities much?
The company, which is already under investigation by the SEC, as we reported exactly one year ago today, reportedly for misstatements of revenue concerning its voting machine business, might face even more difficulties once its investors come to fully understand the depth of the fraud which the company seems to still be perpetuating.
Here's just one fresh example of the company's continuing lies, as found on the Diebold Election Systems, Inc., FAQ page on its own website today.
The company claims, incorrectly, that its touch-screen voting systems "insure ballot anonymity" by scrambling "the order of cast ballots"...
That is, of course, a complete and utter lie. At least according to the computer scientists at University of California who studied the matter in CA SoS Debra Bowen's recent "Top-to-Bottom Review" and found precisely the opposite to be true...
As we reported on July 15, Ron Paul's supporters were concerned that Diebold touch-screen voting machines were going to be used in the Iowa Republican Straw Poll. Well, it turns out the concerns about touch-screens were misplaced, as the GOP chose paper-based Diebold optical-scan machines instead. But their fears of Diebold may well have been justified as two of their op-scan systems failed and delayed the reported results.
While GOP candidate Mitt Romney may have walked away with a winning edge in the Iowa Straw Poll, Diebold was true to form as their voting system failed to count ballots correctly. As the Des Moines Register is reporting two of Diebold's optical scanners failed and 1500 paper ballots had to be manually recounted by hand...
Voting machine difficulties delayed the announcement of the vote totals. About 1,500 ballots needed to be recounted, said Mary Tiffany, a spokeswoman for Republican Party of Iowa.
Two machines caused the problem, said State Auditor David Vaudt. “What likely happened is someone submitted their ballot too quickly after the other,” he said. The ballots from those machines were hand counted, then re-fed into the system to recalculate the vote. A campaign poll-watcher said in one instance, a black box contained 500 paper ballots but the machine’s memory said it had scanned in 498.
At least there were paper ballots that could be hand counted when the machines failed. Had the Republican's used Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines --- as millions of Americans are forced to do each Election Day --- there would have been nothing to go back to when the machines failed.
Either way, there were reportedly 14,203 total ballots cast. So going by the Des Moines Register's reported numbers, more than 10.5% of the ballots had to be recounted. If we go by The Atlantic's reported numbers, nearly 32% of the ballots in the Iowa Republican Straw Poll had to be recounted by hand.
On July 27, the Florida State University Security and Assurance in Information Technology Laboratory (SAIT) issued a report on the results of a review of the source code for the Diebold voting system that was in the state of Florida certification process. This report was commissioned by the Secretary of State, Kurt Browning.
On July 31, Browning sent a letter to Diebold to tell them that the system would not be certified as it was presented to the state and that the company had until August 17 to fix the problems or the certification process would be stopped. Included in that letter were three pages of required software repairs.
On August 10, Browning sent a congratulatory letter to Diebold to let them know all of the code fixes were successfully inspected by the SAIT Lab. and the state and that the Diebold optical-scan system and AutoMark were to be certified for use by the state.
That's less than two weeks from report of numerous problems to repairs to the source code to reinspection to issuance of certification.
How did this happen so fast?
UPDATE August 12 It appears that the changes that were made to the code had already been made in a newer version of the code that is in the federal testing process. The Independent Test Authority sent that code to Florida State and that is what was inspected and passed. I am being told that the report by the SAIT will be published early in the week.
Blogged by Brad Friedman from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri...
In a late comment posted just this morning, in reply to the article and photos about my recent visit to Diebold in Texas, a person claiming to be an employee of one of Diebold's New England distributors believes I am "totally full of shit"...
COMMENT #29 [Permalink] ... Ken Hajjar said on 8/10/2007 @ 7:30 am PT...
Dear Brad, you are totally full of shit. I used to think that all of the looney idealogues were on the right. There are just as many on the left and you are one of them. You have no idea how elections are conducted and how many safeguards are in place, including human oversight. But, facts don't matter to ideologues, so I'm probably wasting my time. To think that many of your paranoid fellow travellers would actually think that the hand counting of paper ballots is nirvana just shows how deluded you and they are. I work for LHS Associates in New England. We are distributors for Diebold and while I have many reasons to criticize things that the company has done over the past few years, the thought that there is a company wide culture of fraud and deception is ludicrous. But, as I said, facts don't matter to you. Stop blaming the vendors and look to the incompetence and cowardice of the Democratic party for its failures. Couple that with the criminal activities of the GOP relative to vote suppression and you've got your answers. It's not the machines that are the cause of our problems, it's the people. I challenged Bev Harris and Harri Hursti a couple of years ago and they backed off. I issue the same challenge to you. Pick a forum and I'd be happy to discuss how we run elections in New England and how difficult, if not impossible it is to game the system. Bring it on.
I don't know Mr. Hajjar, nor his company, LHS Associates, and don't have much time again today, as I'm still on the road, to look into them, but I'll presume both are legitimate entities and he is the one who posted the above comment. Hajjar, according to LHS's website, appears to be their "Director of Sales and Marketing," so it's little wonder he's a bit deluded about the products his company represents and upon which his livelihood depends. It makes sense that he might be a tad paranoid about what may come in the wake of recent devastating findings out of California concerning Diebold and their shitty, hackable voting systems, as far as his continuing ability to make a living off them courtesy of the tax-payer teat.
Nonetheless, I am happy to reply to a point or two of his silly, ill-conceived screed, along with gladly accepting his invitation to debate these particular issues publicly...
Here are a few money shots, from one of the very few articles we've been able to find that gets it right, since the release of CA Secretary of State Bowen's landmark, independent review of the utter failures of every single electronic voting system that has been rubber-stamp certified by her horribly irresponsible predecessor, Bruce McPherson, and the near-entirety of CA Elections Officials who have been misleading and whining about the findings ever since...
The most important results of last fall's election are just now in, and dozens of county voting registrars who invested hundreds of millions of dollars in high-tech voting machines are the losers, exposed as careless at best, irresponsible at worst.
Only a few California voters realized it during that election season, but the trustworthiness of this state's entire voting process was at stake. The candidate who favored questioning all electronic voting machines won.
And soon after Democrat Debra Bowen took over as secretary of state last winter, she ordered a "top-to-bottom review" of electronic voting and vote-counting systems. The results expose the failures of the registrars: Every voting system they've bought since 2000, except those whose maker didn't readily submit them to testing, proved corruptible.
No one would know this today if former Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson had won last year. Despite serious questions about machines made by Diebold Election Systems, Hart InterCivic, Sequoia Voting Systems and Election Systems & Software (ES&S), McPherson never seriously examined the possibility that votes cast on them could be altered.
[I]f McPherson were still around, registrars wouldn't be whining now about "chaos" or the expense of carrying out Bowen's corrective edicts. Nor would they be worrying about facing questions for months to come about how they could spend so much on machines that can be corrupted.
The objection that voters do not get as much access as Bowen's hacking team also doesn't stand up. Her testers unscrewed panels to get around tamper-proof seals. They got inside virtually all machines. Any precinct worker who stores machines in closets or garages has as much opportunity as they did. So might county staffers wishing to sneak-attack machines in storage between elections.
Most suspicious election outcomes have suggested such insider interference, not tampering by voters at actual polling stations.
The impact of California SoS Debra Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom Review" is beginning to be felt, tangibly, in other states across the country.
One such state is Kentucky, where this morning a press release was issued by the state's Attorney General Gregory D. Stumbo demanding that electronic voting machine manufacturers immediately correct security flaws identified in the independent reviews by experts in California.
In terse letters sent to voting machine companies Diebold and Hart Intercivic (letters posted in full below), Stumbo demanded that the companies "immediately implement in Kentucky all modifications and security upgrades necessary to correct the vulnerabilities identified by California."
Stumbo had this to say during in his news release this morning:
"Security upgrades are needed immediately to ensure voter confidence in the upcoming election," said Attorney General Stumbo. "Waiting and hoping for the best is not an option when the problems are obvious. Kentucky deserves the same prompt corrective action as California."
Meanwhile Kentucky's "do-nothing" Secretary of State, Trey Grayson publicly criticized Attorney General Stumbo's statements to which Stumbo retorted:
"I cannot share Mr. Grayson’s do-nothing attitude. Kentucky is a first class state that deserves the same voter security and protection as the California Secretary of State demanded and received."
The two one-page letters [PDF] from KY AG Stumbo to Hart InterCivic and Diebold demanding the same immediate corrective action as required by the state of California are posted in full below...
Blogged by Brad Friedman from somewhere in Oklahoma...
The shameful assault by California Elections Officials on the state's voters in the wake of CA Sos Debra Bowen's correct, yet courageous, decision to decertify and then limit the use of Diebold and other vendors' unreliable, hackable touch-screen (DRE) voting machines continues.
McCormack told the [Los Angeles] Board of Supervisors that Friday's decision by Secretary of State Debra Bowen requires all votes made on computer touch-screen systems to be hand-counted after the election to ensure accuracy.
Normally, only 1 percent of those votes are manually recounted.
"It's a shock that we'd have to hand-count at 100 percent," McCormack said.
McCormack said Bowen's order requires the county's vendors to pay the costs of that recount, which she estimated at $400,000 per election.
"I think we have to see what the vendors are going to say about that," McCormack said. "The vendors aren't going to make much money in Los Angeles County if they have to pay $400,000 for the recount."
But Supervisor Gloria Molina upbraided McCormack for her concerns about the vendors' profit margins.
"I think you are walking close to the edge," Molina said. "I don't understand why you are so protective of the vendors. You keep saying you are concerned about what this is going to cost them.
"It's really none of our business. It shouldn't be in our interest to protect the vendors' profits."
Why is McCormack "so protective of the vendors," as Molina asks? The answer may lie in determining whom McCormack is really working for.
She's supposed to be working for the voters, of course, not the vendors. But that's never stopped Conny, apparently. Here's Cover Girl Conny as she appears on the Diebold sales brochure to help them sell their voting systems...
McCormack has, of course, joined --- and even led --- the state's Elections Officials in their the outragous (and fallacious) attacks on Bowen, the state's chief Election Official.
In the meantime, McCormack hasn't bothered to attack either Diebold for lying to her and us about the security of their voting systems, or ES&S --- the vendor of her paper based voting system, used by most Los Angelinos --- for refusing to supply their op-scan source code, as per state law, for Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom Review." The ES&S InkaVote system has therefore been completely decertified for the moment.
The vendors lie and withhold information illegally, but Conny continues to fight for them and their profits. Not one word on behalf of the voters. What a disgraceful display.