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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, July 31, 2014
'Green News Report' 7/31/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
20m gallon water main break in L.A. exposes decrepit U.S. water sytem; Record wildfires depleting budgets; Repubs fiddle as West burns; PLUS: Flesh-eating bacteria in Florida...
Previous GNRs: 7/24/14 - 7/29/14 - Archives...
FEC Commissioners at War Over Rove's Campaign Finance Violations
Deadlock vote, ignoring federal agencies own attorneys, leads to lawsuit and scathing attack of Dem Commissioners by GOP colleagues...
'A Kind of Propaganda War'
After U.N. denial, NBC's David Gregory apologized for use of unverified Israeli video claiming to show rockets fired from U.N. refugee shelter in Gaza where at least 15 were killed by Israel last week...
'Green News Report' 7/29/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Obama Admin approves sonic cannons for offshore oil exploration; Bizarre weather across U.S.; CO judge nixes fracking ban; PLUS: Neil Young wants your help in the rainforest...
Previous GNRs: 7/24/14 - 7/22/14 - Archives...
Bi-Partisan House to Obama: Get Out of Iraq
Overwhelming, if largely symbolic vote in the U.S. House, directs the President to pull U.S. troops back out of Iraq. Directive seen as stinging rebuke to GOP war haws in Senate..
'Green News Report' 7/24/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Breaking: Storm ravages VA campground; New rules for explosive oil trains; Big win against Big Oil in small Maine town; PLUS: U.S. and Rush Limbaugh lead world in denial...
Previous GNRs: 7/22/14 - 7/17/14 - Archives...
Israeli Attack on UN Shelter Kills At Least 15 in Gaza
The strategy of bombing children, but warning them first, will almost certainly result in years of peace and prosperity for the region...
The Good Fight Continues: KPFK 'BradCast'
Brad speaks with John Wellington Ennis, documentarian and activist, on his newest film and his decade-long fight for election integrity...
What We Do Now
"It took one hour and 57 minutes for the execution to be completed, and Wood was gasping for more than an hour and a half of that time"..."Wood, 55, gasped more than 600 times before he died"...
'Green News Report' 7/22/14
Record wildfires in Pacific NW; June 2014 was hottest globally on record; EPA blocks Pebble Mine; CA blocks water pollution; PLUS: To cut emmissions, cut the beef...
Aborted Statewide 'Recount' Reveals It's a Great Time to Steal an Election in California
In the closest election in state history, even a well-funded candidate couldn't afford to find out if he actually lost...
'I Never Realized Voter ID Fraud Had Not Been Proven'
A RW caller's admission to Brad on NC radio underscores unparalleled propaganda power of Fox 'News'...
John Oliver On America's Prison Problems...With Singing Muppets!
HBO's Last Week Tonight offered smarter (and certainly funnier) coverage than you're likely to see anywhere else...
No, JFK Didn't Steal 1960 From Nixon
Another Zombie Myth that just won't die gets knocked down again...for now...even as its persistence continues to fuel false Republican claims of 'voter fraud' even today...
CA Ballot Prop to Overturn 'Citizens United'
Measure calls for Amendment 'to make clear that rights protected by the U.S. Constitution are the rights of natural persons only'...
UK Deputy PM Condemns Israel's 'Deliberate Use of Disproportionate Response'
Nick Clegg calls attacks on Gaza 'collective punishment' that 'incubates next generation of extremists' and 'needs to come to an end'...
'Green News Report' 7/17/14
Australia's RW govt repeals landmark carbon tax; Obama action on global warming impacts; Record wildfire season in West; PLUS: CA gets tough on water wasters...
Kochs Radical 'Libertarianism' Broke KA
More than 100 top GOPers endorse Republican Gov. Brownback's Dem opponent after tax cuts for wealthy have busted the extremist Koch Brothers' home state...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Lawsuit to Name Sec. of State Bruce McPherson, Alleges 'Severe Security Risk', Noncompliance with HAVA's Disabled-Voting Provisions, and Violation of CA State Law!
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2006 2:28pm PT  

UPDATE 3/21/06: Suit now filed, full coverage here...

=====

We've hinted of late at upcoming legal actions, in several states, against the use of Diebold voting machines. The BRAD BLOG can now reveal that such a legal action will be filed tomorrow morning in San Francisco's Superior State Court in response to Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's recent re-certification of Diebold Electronic Voting Machines in the state.

VoterAction.org is announcing their intention to file suit, on behalf of several plaintiffs, "aimed at halting the use or purchase of Diebold electronic voting systems" in the state.

The same group recently carried out a similar action in the state of New Mexico, in regard to the use of Sequoia Touch-Screen voting machines there. That suit ultimately led to the ban of use of such machines, and a bill which was recently signed by Gov. Bill Richardson requiring a paper ballot with every vote cast in the state.

Diebold's optical-scan and touch-screen systems were revealed last December to contain "interpreted code" which is banned by Federal Voting System Standards. It was that "interpreted code" which was exploited in the recent hack of a test election in Leon County, FL where the results of the election were completely flipped without a trace being left behind.

Despite that startling revelation, California's Sec. of State Bruce McPherson certified the systems anyway in California, after they had previously been decertified in 2004 when Diebold admitted they had used untested and uncertified software patches on their machines in the state.

Diebold has now admitted [PDF] that their voting systems, both optical-scan and touch-screen, contain such "interpreted code." That, despite the fact that its use is banned at the Federal level. California state law requires that voting systems certified in the state meet those Federal standards. McPherson, apparently, has chosen to blatantly ignore that state law. (We'll have further details outlining the above allegations very specifically, and in no uncertain terms, in a future post here at BRAD BLOG.)

According to VoterAction's press release (posted in full below), the legal action is being filed because "Diebold's TSx touch screen voting system is a severe security risk, and does not accommodate all disabled voters as required by law."

Sources have told The BRAD BLOG that the action is to encompass many, if not all, of California's counties. Some 18 of them are currently doing business with Diebold.

The press release goes on to charge that, "The Diebold system is difficult if not impossible to audit or recount, and has been proven vulnerable to malicious tampering in tests and studies. Diebold technology contains 'interpreted' code, which is easily hacked, and illegal for voting systems in the State of California."

Diebold is currently facing litigation in several investor class action lawsuits alleging Securities Fraud Violations such as insider trading and the false manipulation of stock prices by eight current and former company officials.

A press conference will be held to discuss the latest legal action involving Diebold tomorrow morning. The complete Press Release from VotersUnite.org follows...

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

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Diebold's Toilet Paper Democracy --- a Photographic Essay
How America's Votes Will be Counted (or not) in 2006 and Beyond...Unless Something is Done About it.
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2006 12:00pm PT  

You've heard the reports of the new Diebold touch-screen voting machines which have recently been updated to include a so-called "voter-verified paper trail."

You may also have heard how the printers they've added to produce these "paper trails" on their previously-paperless touch-screen voting machines are reported to jam up in test after test --- like the one last summer in California [PDF] where some 33% of such machines failed due to screen freezes, software failures and paper jams.

You may have heard that Diebold actually includes a magnifying glass with each machine to help voters see these tiny, virtually unreadable "paper trails."

You may even have heard how the virtually uncountable thermal paper rolls, which scroll back into the machine after supposedly being "verified" by the voter, have turned up blank on some of the busiest machines at the end of Election Day --- as occurred in Lucas County, OH during the November 2005 Election in Toledo.

Now, for the first time, a hands-on examination of actual Diebold Accu-Vote TSx "election-ready" machines in Utah --- where the newly state-approved and purchased machines are just now being delivered across the state --- has been conducted by Security Innovations and computer security expert Harri Hursti. The examination was done in Emery County, UT with the approval of the county's elected official in charge of elections, Clerk-Recorder Bruce Funk.

Hursti's complete findings are soon to be released by BlackBoxVoting.org (BBV) who helped to organize the precedent setting examination where, for the first time, independent experts have been allowed to actually study the very touch-screen voting machines being deployed around our country this year for use in the up-coming 2006 Elections. Normally, these machines are guarded by secret non-disclosure agreements of Voting Machine Companies and the mandates of government officials who have allowed these machines and their software, incredibly, to remain the "proprietary" secret of the companies paid to run our public elections.

BBV has already disclosed over the weekend one or two of the items discovered in the initial examination. One of them, in fact, is so "shocking" that it would seem to merit a complete recall of these TSx machines solely on consumer safety grounds!

Amongst the findings from the landmark study conducted last week in Utah that they've shared exclusively with The BRAD BLOG is a first-hand glimpse at the printer module now added to Diebold's Accu-Vote TS machines in light of the national outcry for "paper trails" to be produced when votes are cast in American elections.

These "afterthought" printer modules, and the "paper trails" they produce --- which are largely uncountable and uncounted by election officials not to mention unreadable by mere human mortals --- have failed in all sorts of test situations.

Most states require no actual counting or meaningful audit or even cursory review of these toilet-paper "paper trails" (distinct from a countable paper ballot.) Some states (hello, Florida!) even disallow the hand-counting of such "paper trails" by law! So how well the printing modules actually work, is almost beside the point. Their main purpose seems largely to be instilling a false sense of security in the voter that their vote will actually be counted and counted accurately.

To be clear: These devices provide no assurance that ones votes will actually be counted accurately --- or even at all.

Here then, for first time ever, is a close-up photographic look at how these printers actually work --- or don't as the case may be --- and what it is that Diebold and the other Voting Machine Companies who produce such poorly designed hardware and software to tally the votes in America's democracy, are currently shipping to virtually every state in the union for their 2006 rollout.

We'll see an actual printer-jam in progress, reasons for why it may occur so frequently on Diebold's Accu-Vote TSx machines, and a close-up look at the plastic "fresnel lens" (a cheap Cracker Jack prize-like magnifying glass) which is included with each machine's printer --- theoretically to help voters read their own "paper trail."

The photos which follow are all of the same machine, with the same section of jammed "paper trail" never touched or moved throughout the series of photos.

The following photographs, and the bulk of the information contained in the descriptions of same were provided exclusively to The BRAD BLOG by Republican BlackBoxVoting.org investigator, Jim March as he and the rest of the BBV team were leaving Utah on Sunday afternoon after their first close-up look at the Diebold Accu-Vote TSx...

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

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AP Joins 'Tallahassee Democrat' Alleging Violations of State Law When Meeting Between Sue Cobb and Ion Sancho Suddenly Closed, Police Ordered to Remove Reporters
Election Supervisor/E-Voting Hero Buoyed By Broad Support, But Controversy is 'Taking a Toll'
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2006 4:49pm PT  

The Associated Press is now joining the Tallahassee Democrat in a complaint sent to the Florida Attorney General objecting to an open meeting in the state's capital last Monday which Florida Sec. of State Sue Cobb suddenly took it upon herself to close. She then called the capital police and ordered them to remove reporters from the area.

Earlier this week, The BRAD BLOG reported on the aborted "open meeting" as called by Cobb with Leon County Election Supervisor Ion Sancho and two other county commissioners. The meeting was called in order to discuss the situation in Leon County, where Sancho recently revealed that Diebold optical-scan voting machines could be hacked without a trace left behind.

Sancho told The BRAD BLOG last night he felt "there was no reason" to close the meeting.

"There was nothing we talked about in there that needed to be kept secret. They just don't like open meetings. They like doing their business in secret," Sancho said.

Cobb, on behalf of the state, has been putting pressure on Sancho to purchase new voting equipment, threatening him with removal from his elected position, and suggesting that U.S. Marshall's might come in to run the county's election. That, despite the fact that all three companies certified to do business in the state have now refused to work with Sancho.

Voting Machine Companies, it seems, don't like doing business in the open either.

The meeting last Monday --- held on the first day of "Sunshine Week" celebrating "open government" in Florida --- was suddenly closed by Cobb who then called the police to remove reporters.

"On the first day of 'Sunshine Week' it was a pretty stupid thing to do," Sancho said.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, both they and the AP have now sent letters of complaint to Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist and State Attorney Willie Megs "expressing outrage" at being barred from the meeting in apparent violation of state law.

As reported by the Democrat...

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

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Pima County Election Director Brad Nelson Is Sorry...
Local TV News Covers Tirade, New Diebold Touch-Screen Voting Machine Controversy in State
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2006 3:54pm PT  

Tuscon Arizona's local NBC TV news affiliate ran a story Wednesday night on the raging controversy across the state concerning Sec. of State Jan Brewer's recent agreement to allow hackable Diebold touch-screen voting machines into the state.

Their report (linked below) included a snippet of the video that The BRAD BLOG ran as an Exclusive at the end of February featuring Pima County, AZ Election Director, Brad Nelson freaking out and verbally assaulting Election Integrity Advocate, John Brakey --- on video --- during a public local precinct council meeting.

Nelson, the station reports, has apparently apologized for his tirade. Brakey is also interviewed in the new report on Pima County being "pushed into a national controversy."

Their coverage of "both sides" of the story led last Wednesday's 6 O'Clock newscast in Tuscon.

MORAL: Always bring a video camera (or audio recording device) when meeting public Elections Officials. They often don't fare well under the harsh light of actual public scrutiny, and footage of such encounters may help your local TV affiliate suddenly become interested in reporting on the story.

Report on AZ's Diebold Touch-Screen Voting Machine Controversy:

-- Video in Streaming Flash format...
-- Windows Media Player Version...

-- Our original Video Exclusive story, featuring Nelson's full tirade is here.

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Diebold Gets Desperate, Sends a Pro to Work the Corner of BRAD Street and Democracy Blvd.
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2006 2:34am PT  

With the constant buzz of helicopters and blimps overhead since dawn this morning (No, not "Black Helicopters"...I'm about two blocks from the Kodak Theater where the Academy Awards were tonight) and two old schoolmates of mine nominated (Hoffman and Huffman - nice going guys!), granted I may have a touch of the Oscar Fever.

But the winner of the best song tonight, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp", couldn't help but remind me, to remind you --- in case you missed it --- of our new Special Guest Diebold Comment Troll/Pimp calling himself "Wally O'Diebold".

While he may be too cowardly to give his real name publicly --- even while sliming folks like myself, Bev Harris, Jim March, Avi Rubin, Sen. Debra Bowen and others who are not afraid to put our real names on our work and behind our beliefs --- he's a Diebold insider with a lot of knowledge of the systems, and (WARNING) a lot of mis/disinformation he's suddenly very eager to spread.

He also seems to be, as he referred to Rubin, "a self-serving tool". And I don't mean that in the pejorative sense in which he meant it.

Interestingly, while the Diebold "company line" has always reportedly been to dismiss Election Integrity Advocates like myself, and March and Harris et al as "conspiracy theorists," it's the faceless "Wally O'Diebold" who now cowers in the shadows of anonymity because BRAD BLOG readers, according to "Wally" in comment #56, "would not hesitate to stalk me to my home and possibly try to kill me."

Watch out for them Black Helicopters, "Wally"! Unless you're also near the Kodak Theater, eh?

But forthrightness, honesty and openness has never been much of a hallmark for the Diebold corporation. At least during their Voting Machine Years of Shame. Their latest spokesperson/mac daddy/anonymous slimer is no exception. Secrecy, disinformation and cowardly scurrilous attacks on those who have nothing to gain but the free and fair democracy their country once promised...ah, yes, that's Diebold all over. They never rest.

The desperation displayed by "Mr. O'Diebold" is entertaining sure, but not particularly becoming...especially when it's accompanied by ad hominem attacks and knowing disinformation --- lots of it, very cleverly drawn, I might add --- all launched from behind the veil of secrecy. But that's his company's business model after all, so who are we to quibble now that he's willing to offer us a reminder.

If they would only call me back when I call them for comment, they'd be able to actually put such comments on the record under their own names for a bit of credibility. But I guess it's easier to talk to journalists who don't ask follow-up questions, and who are easily fooled by the company spin. Which is to say, most of the non-BRAD BLOG media out there.

So if you're in the mood and have the stomach for it (and before I lose my patience, and remove this guy's feeding tube all together) pull up a chair, grab some popcorn and enjoy the BRAD BLOG nominee for Best Original Comment Thread Hijacked by a Diebold Pimp Based on Stuff That Sounds Like Fact, But Actually Isn't.

And the Oscar goes to...

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Pima County Election Director Brad Nelson Launches Outburst Towards Election Reform Advocate in Response to Question About New Touch-Screen Voting Machines
Letter Calls for Censure of Official as Onlookers Stunned by Encounter, Feared Violence Would Break Out...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2006 10:57am PT  

The battle between Election Officials and Election Integrity Advocates has been simmering and intensifying for some time. Last week, in Arizona, one such confrontation boiled over briefly into an outburst at a public meeting which was documented on video tape. In what could be a preview for the Electoral Integrity fight still to come, Pima County, Arizona's Election Director Brad Nelson went into a short tirade last Tuesday as the video camera rolled during a local Democratic precinct council meeting in the state's 26th Legislative District.

The BRAD BLOG has obtained the exclusive video of the event which reveals the Republican Nelson flying off the handle and shouting as he confronts Election Integrity Advocate, John Brakey, "nose to nose" during a question about Diebold's DRE (touch-screen) voting machines. Before Brakey was able to get to his main question concerning Nelson's plans for Logic and Accuracy testing on the machines, he was interupted by Nelson's outburst over whether or not he had, in fact, signed a contract for use of the new voting machines in the county.

Diebold's hackable touch-screen machines have been recently approved for first-time use in the state by Arizona's Secretary of State Jan Brewer.

Ironically enough --- especially in light of this new video --- Brewer herself recently referred to election integrity advocates as "anarchists" in an interview with the Arizona Star after demonstrators concerned about Diebold interrupted her re-election campaign announcement just after the first of this year.

While Nelson's confrontational rant was just short of anarchic, it certainly sent a shockwave of concern throughout the room of stunned onlookers.

One of the witnesses present, Rev. Gerry Straatemeier, described the "intimidating behavior" displayed in the incident as "completely out of line for a public official". Straatemeier was so troubled by the display that she sent an open letter to the Pima County Board of Supervisors calling for Nelson to be censured for the behavior. In the letter (posted in full at the end of this item, along with a text transcript of the event) Straatemeier says, "I really thought he was going to land a blow on Mr. Brakey and I was scared to death."

In the video, Nelson charges towards the camera at one point --- which Brakey was standing near --- coming so close that it's impossible to see anything but his chest in full camera's full frame.

Straatemeier, in her letter, suggests the tirade was an attempt to intimidate Brakey --- and other election integrity advocates --- from further inquiry into the controversial Diebold touch-screen voting equipment now coming into Arizona despite a Dept. of Homeland Security warning that their tabulator software is hackable, a non-partisan GAO report confirming the failures and loss of ballots via electronic voting, and a recent independent analysis [PDF] commissioned by the Sec. of State of California which warns about the hackable "interpreted code" used in Diebold voting machines despite a ban on such code by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) guidelines.

As we reported in May of last year, Brakey has for some time been closely investigating a number of troubling anomalies in recent Arizona elections. His intensive work auditing his own precinct in Pima County, where he says evidence suggest fraud occurred in the 2004 election, was covered in detail last year by The Tuscon Weekly. That work has brought him in contact many times in the past with Nelson --- without incident apparently, until last week.

Last Tuesday, as the following video shows, the simmering frustration and growing anger roiling up between many Election Officials and Election Reformers, has finally begun to make its way to the surface and into the public eye...


Additional versions of the video...
-- Video in Streaming Flash format...
-- Video in Windows Media format...

===
UPDATE 3/17/06: Tuscon's local NBC affiliate runs a report including this video, Nelson says he is sorry for the outburts. Full report here...
===

A complete text transcript of the incident, and a copy of Straatemeier's open letter to the Pima County Board of Supervisors calling for censure of Nelson follows...

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

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Huffington Post Picks Up the Cause...
Please take action!
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2006 10:36am PT  

Last week we briefly discussed Stephen Heller who, out here in Los Angeles, is now facing three felony charges for exposing the illegal scheme by Diebold to use uncertified software on their voting machines in the state several years ago. The LA Times coverage is here.

Heller blew the whistle on the company's plan to defraud California voters when he exposed documents he saw while working as a temp worker at Diebold's California law firm, Jones Day. The courageous act, from which Heller stood to gain nothing (he, in fact, was fired for it) led to the decertification of Diebold in the state by former Sec. of State Kevin Shelley, and then to the eventual settlement between the company and the state of California for $2.6 million in 2004.

Today, several Huffington Post blogger take up on Heller's behalf, along with issuing some calls to action to contact the LA District Attorney's office to encourage tell them to drop this appalling case of punishing the patriot, Heller at the behest of the the bullies at Diebold.

Peter Soby Jr.'s coverage is the most complete. Here's a snippet:

Let's make this clear, folks. The docs Heller is accused of exposing were important evidence. First, they show that Diebold and their attorneys, Jones Day, conspired to mislead the California secretary of state, and that the lie they told was material, and resulted directly in the disenfranchisement of voters. Second, another document demonstrates that Diebold lied to the secretary of state when it represented that certain problems with its software were "fixed." This document, the release notes for the new software, showed that the problems were not fixed. Third, the documents showed that Diebold had been advised by Jones Day that what it had been doing with its uncertified software was illegal. Fourth, the documents show that Jones Day advised Diebold that it was subject to criminal prosecution. So in a nutshell, Diebold was defrauding the state government and taxpayers of California, and disenfranchising the voters of California. And the documents PROVE it.

And for allegedly exposing Diebold's felonious behavior (which led directly to Diebold being de-certified in California), for allegedly helping protect the taxpayers and voters of California, for allegedly helping to keep elections clean and fair, what happens? Diebold, the true criminal in this case, and their powerful international law firm Jones Day, press the L.A. District Attorney's office to hammer Heller, a whistleblower. Three felonies! Diebold was (and probably still is) screwing California voters, Heller is alleged to have seen the smoking gun evidence of Diebold's crimes, and, like a true patriot and whistleblower, allegedly exposed that smoking gun evidence, and now HE'S the one facing jail time. Only in Bush's America!

Soby goes on to offer some talking points and helpful contact information for the LA District attorney. Please check them out and take action.

As well, Lyn Davis Lear (Norman's wife), speaks up in support as well.

...CONTACT...
District Attorney's Office
County of Los Angeles
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210

Email: lada@co.la.ca.us

Telephone: (213) 974-3512
Fax: (213) 974-1484
TTY: (800) 457-7778 (8:30am - 5:00pm M-F)

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State's Top Security Officer Refuses Public Record Release of Diebold GEMS Database Files
The Latest Chapter in the Rollercoaster Battle to Audit Puzzling 2004 Poll Numbers Continues...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2006 7:51pm PT  

A bizarre story concerning Alaska's 2004 Election has taken yet another even more bizarre turn this week, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

A long-standing public records request for the release of Election 2004 database files created by Diebold's voting system had been long delayed after several odd twists and turns, including the revelation of a contract with the state claiming the information to be a "company secret."

But while it finally appeared as though the state had agreed to release the information (after reserving the right to "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing it), the state's top Security Official has now --- at the last minute --- stepped in to deny the request. The grounds for the denial: the release of the information poses a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.

The state Democratic party has been attempting since December of last year to review the Diebold GEMS tabulator data files from the 2004 election in order to audit some of the strange results discovered in the state, including a reported voter turnout of more than 200% in some areas.

"At this point," Democratic Party spokesperson Kay Brown told the Anchorage Daily News in January, "it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004."

Some of the questionable results from the 2004 Election were outlined in a January 23rd letter [PDF] to the state's Division of Elections from the Alaska Democratic Party chairman, Jake Metcalfe. Amongst the anomolies detailed in Metcalfe's letter: "district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889."

The state Division of Elections, which had previously relented and agreed to release the data after refusing at first to do so, announced its latest about-face in a letter to Metcalfe on Wednesday citing the following concern from Alaska's Chief Security Officer Darrell Davis after he reviewed the public records request:

"release of any security related information creates a serious threat to our ability to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our systems and services..."

The complete letters from Alaska's Division of Elections Director Whitney Brewster and Chief Security Officer Darrell Davis are both available in full here [PDF].

The earlier twists in this strange tale occurred first in January and then in early February.

In late January, we reported that the state had refused to release the Election Data Files on the grounds that their contract with Diebold disallowed the release of the files. Their contract, apparently, recognizes the voter information to be a "company secret" and thus the proprietary property of the company which could not be released to the voters of Alaska.

A week or so later, in early Februrary we reported that the state and Diebold had capitulated. Sort of. After conferring with Diebold, the state relented and agreed to release the files. However, they reserved the right to --- sit down for this --- "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing them!

As the Elections Director Brewster stated in a February 3rd letter [PDF] to Metcalfe announcing they would release the data:

To this end, we are consulting with the Enterprise Technology Systems in the Department of Administration as well as Diebold on this issue...please be advised that the Division will charge for its costs incurred in manipulating the data to provide the records you seek."

And now, the new wrinkle, the state's "security risks" lead them to announce that "after careful consideration," they "will not authorize the release of the GEMS database or audit files" after all.

"Delivery of the database itself, and some of the information contained within this database," says the letter from Davis, "presents numerous security risks to the State of Alaska Government."

We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.

So just to recap: First the voters of Alaska were not allowed to see their own voting data from the 2004 Election because it was the proprietary "company secret" property of Diebold. Then they would be allowed to see it as long as the state and Diebold could "manipulate the data" before releasing it. And now finally it's determined that allowing the voters to see how they actually voted in the 2004 Election would be a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.

No word yet on whether the Alaska Democratic Party will take the matter to court to seek resolution.

The American War on Democracy continues...

(Hat-tip to VoteTrustUSA.org for the heads up and additional information!)

* * *

UPDATE 4/18/06: The insane roller coaster continues. State Democrats are forced to file a lawsuit to get at the records showing how voters voted in 2004. Details now here...

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IrDA Protocol Can 'Totally Compromise System' Without Detection, Warns Federal Voting Standards Website
So far, no state or federal authority --- to our knowledge --- has dealt with this alarming security threat
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2006 12:06pm PT  

We hate to pile on... (Or do we?)

But, really, with all the recent discussion of California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson's mind-blowing about-face re-certification of Diebold --- against state law, we hasten to add --- this may be a good time to point out one small item that we've been meaning to mention for a while.

As Jody Holder's recent comment points out, McPherson's silly "conditions" for re-certification of Diebold in California require a few much-less-than-adequate knee-jerk "safe guards" towards protection of the handling of the hackable memory cards in Diebold's voting machines. (Here's McP's full "Certificate of Conditional Certification").

Never mind, as Holder mentions, that the protective seals to be required are easily peeled away without tearing. Or that such voting machines have been stored in poll workers houses for weeks leading up to an election. More to the point, for the moment, there are ways to manipulate the information on those memory cards even without removing them or breaking the seals. This is more of a concern than ever, since it was recently proven, by the now-infamous Harri Hursti hack in Leon County, FL, that changing the information on the memory cards can force election results to be flipped...without a trace being left behind.

On that note, here's the little item we've been meaning to point out. It's a photograph from the side of a Diebold AccuVote TSx TS6 touch-screen voting machine:

Now we have no idea what that "IrDA" port is meant to be used for with a touch-screen voting machine, but we do know that the IrDA (Infrared Data Association) is an Infrared port used for wireless connection between two devices. We used to have one on the back of our notebook and desktop computers which we used to keep the two systems synched up via wireless data transfers over that Infrared port.

A few election watchdog groups, including some members of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who works with the federal authorities on these matters, have issued warnings about the IrDA port and protocols on voting machines. However, little --- if anything --- seems to have been done to mitigate the rather obvious security threat posed, as far as we can tell.

Here's how a page at Microsoft.com, last updated December 4, 2001, explains cable-free Infrafred data transfer on the Microsoft Windows CE operating system (the operating system which happens to be used in Diebold's AccuVote touch-screen voting machines --- like the one pictured above)...


Imagine the following scenario: Two notebook computers are placed beside each other. A computer icon appears on both desktops with the name of the peer computer below it. Open one of the icons to display a folder with the contents of the peer computer's desktop. Drag-and-drop between your desktop and the open folder to move files between the two computers.

  • Imagine that the only configuration that this application required to be installed or used was the ability for the user to enable or disable it. Imagine that multiple such applications could be running at the same time without interfering with each other.
  • Imagine that this application could run on 23 million existing notebook computers at a transfer speed of 115Kbps, and on 14 million existing notebook computers at 4MBps. Imagine that all applications, regardless of the speed of the underlying hardware, would work with all other applications at a common fastest speed.
  • Imagine that the other notebook computer in this example was a digital still camera, a handheld personal computer, a data capture device or a device that supports electronic commerce.
  • As a bonus, assume that the two computers do not need to be cabled together.
  • This application is currently possible under Microsoft® Windows® CE and the Windows family of operating systems. The underlying technology is based on inexpensive, widely available short-range infrared transceivers that adhere to the Infrared Data Association (IrDA) standards. IrDA standards (available from the IrDA at http://www.irda.org) also enable non-Windows devices to talk to Windows-based applications.

    There ya go.

    The issue of the IrDA port on touch-screen voting machines hasn't been much discussed as far as we can tell. VotersUnite.org issued an alert mentioning it, with a photograph (seen at right), back on October 26, 2004. The alert warned:

    3) A dangerous port on the Diebold touch screen!!

    This from TrueVoteMD: Diebold AccuVote TS electronic voting machines have an infrared (IrDA) port installed. This is a remote communication port through which another remote device could communicate with the touch screen and change either its data or its software or both.

    If your county uses Diebold touch screens, let your county officials and election judges know that it is crucial to cover the IR port with opaque tape.

    The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) --- who works with the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to develop and recommend guidelines for electronic voting machines --- issued a similar warning [PDF] about the Infrared ports on voting machines in a report which warned "The use of short range optical wireless," like infrared, "particularly on Election Day should not be allowed."

    As mentioned, since touch-screen machines have been stored at poll workers' houses and other unsecured locations prior to Election Day, and since data can be transferred to the machines and their memory cards via Infrared --- even without removing the cards or breaking their protective seals --- the IrDA ports would seem to be a tremendous concern.

    The NIST report discusses such concerns and some of the troubling security issues with IrDA protocols:

    How Secure is IrDA

    IrDA does not provide encryption at the Physical Layer, and depends on the end systems to implement security if any.
    ...
    With optical, it is possible for a session to be ‘hijacked’ unless strong authentication measures are implemented between communicating systems. When a session is hijacked, a foreign device masquerades as a trusted system that is authorized to exchange data. Because the system has no way to distinguish the masquerader from the authorized system, it will accept anything from it as if [sic] was authorized.

    The undated report --- from the EAC's own standards body, NIST --- then goes on to describe how simple and readily available IrDA software drivers are to obtain for use with UNIX and most Windows Operating Systems, including Windows CE. As well, it points out that such software could add executable code to the machines on, or prior to, Election Day and could then delete itself after ithe code has completed its main purpose [emphasis ours]:

    IrDA Software

    IrDA software drivers are available form [sic] a number of sources for use with UNIX, Windows and other Operating Systems (OS). Most versions of MS Windows come with support for IrDA already included. This is true of the MS Windows CE operating system as well as Windows XP. Microsoft also provides a free IrDA driver which can be downloaded from it web site. Other suppliers of IrDA systems (e.g., Ericsson) offer their own drivers including source code (Texas Inurnments [sic]).

    With the source code available, an interrupt handler (executable code) could easily be added. For example, when the voting terminal receives a special bit configuration (caused by holding down multiple keys concurrently) that is outside the usually accepted range, a special interrupt could be generated invoking a handler that could be programmed to perform any desired function. This would require a small amount of code and could easily be hidden; such code would be difficult to discover.

    If such code was installed in the driver, which is considered to be Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) [even if compiled and installed by the voting system manufacturer] it would not be examined by the ITAs [the federal Independent Testing Authorities].

    Code in such a handler could be designed to place the voting terminal in a mode where it downloads and install [sic] an executable module, thus allowing unapproved logic to be added to the voting machine while in use on Election Day. Obviously this executable could perform any function the programmer desired including deleting itself when finished. The only recourse is to disallow communications with the voting terminal during use. It might be augured [sic] that such code could be added the day before Election Day.

    Obviously, that last paragraph is very troubling. But also note the section about COTS.

    The source code for that "Commercial-Off-The-Shelf" software is what Diebold recently argued that they couldn't provide to North Carolina after they changed their law to require all voting machine vendors to submit such code in order to receive state certification. Diebold went to state court arguing they shouldn't be forced to supply the source code for COTS software. Eventually, they lost that battle, and notified North Carolina they preferred to pull out of the state entirely (if the state wouldn't change the law for them) rather than complying with the state law requiring the submission of all such source code.

    And another comment posted to NIST's voting website [PDF] by James C. Johnson on October 5, 2005, also discusses the concern, revealing that the use of the IrDA protocols could be used at any time, even after final "Logic and Accuracy" tests have been performed, and thus "totally compromising the system":

    In Diebold System's AccuVote TS systems these [IrDA] ports are supported using Microsoft's Windows CE with Winsock. This makes the application interface easy to program to, and all required drivers are already installed in the OS.

    It is interesting that the VVSG [Voluntary Voting System Guidelines] currently under development, while mentioning this technology does nothing to restrict or prevent its use, not even on Election Day.

    It is understandable that communications technology be used for pre election preparation, but is totally irresponsible and inexcusable to allow it to be used during an election. The presence of this technology makes it possible to upload to the voting system anything that is desired after the final "Logic and Accuracy" test have been performed, thus totally compromising the system.

    Perhaps some of you have additional thoughts on this matter. Like why such a port would be needed, or even present, on a touch-screen voting machine at all. And why the existence of such a port --- to our knowledge --- has hardly been discussed at all in conjuction with these machines. Especially in light of the now-infamous Leon County, FL "hack test" proving that executable code can be added to Diebold's memory cards resulting in a completely flipped election...as we've said...without a trace being left behind.

    CORRECTION: We had previously identified the machine in the article's first photo as a TSx, when it's actually from a slightly older TS6 like those used in Maryland and elsewhere. The second photo, with all of the various ports identified, was originally taken from the Diebold AccuVote TS User's Manual. We have conflicting reports on whether the IrDA port is still used on the newer TSx machines and will try to follow up later with definitive information when we can get it.

    UPDATE 6/28/06: Something happened during our import to the new software here at BRAD BLOG to munge up the comments section of this post. We'll see if we can figure out how to restore them correctly. Until then, we've turned off the comments on this post.

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    FEATURING: An EXCLUSIVE Video Tape Interview with CA's Clueless SoS Stating 'We'll Wait to Hear from the Feds About Diebold Before Certifying' (apparently, he was just kidding)
    ALSO: Action Items for Americans Who Care About Democracy --- Five Phone Calls is All We Ask Right Now to Force E-Voting Vendors to Answer Questions Under Oath!
    By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2006 2:18pm PT  

    Inveterate Huff Po contributor, R.J. Eskow picks up on our coverage of the latest mind-blowing Dieboldery by California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson and what it may bode for the Golden State as the GOP sets their sights on political manifest destiny.

    Connecting a few dots, and noting big Bush Adminstration gunslingers, like Steve Schmidt, who are roving their way westward to help shore up the Governator's re-elect prospects out here, Eskow concludes:

    So what does this all mean? It suggests that California, with its treasure trove of congressional seats and 2008 electoral votes, is the next battleground. Yes, Gov. Schwarzenegger is wildly unpopular now. But, as the GOP proved in the 2004 Presidential race, unpopularity need not be a barrier to re-election - especially when Diebold machines are counting the votes.

    All the 'heavy hitters' are coming into town, their shiny cars pulling up to the curb. You've seen the movie. You know what happens next. If you live in California, my friend and blog-comrade skippy has a suggestion for how you can help.

    Note: Eskow's appropriate concerns about McPherson's inexplicable Diebold double-cross don't even mention the Dept. of Homeland Security's warning about their hackable tabulator software, the recently flipped-without-a-trace-left-behind mock election in Leon County, FL, the GAO Report confirming the dangers of electronic voting, and his link to a page describing the failure rate of Diebold machines in a massive election test last summer pins the percentage of failed Diebold touch-screen machines at just 10% (a later report confirmed the number was more like 20%, and a later one still pegged it at 30%.)

    It also still remains unexplained why McPherson didn't wait to hear back from the federal "Independent Testing Authority" (ITA) --- which isn't actually independent, as it's created and funded by the Voting Machine Companies themselves --- to whom McPherson had sent back the Diebold memory cards after the Leon County hack test revealed their machines employed hackable "interpreted code" which is expressly banned by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) guidelines for software used in electronic voting machines.

    Back in December, McPherson's office sent a letter to Diebold explaining that they would not re-certify Diebold in California until the ITA completed their re-examination of the code in light of the hack test discovery:

    We require this additional review before proceeding with further consideration of your application for certification in California. Once we have received a report from the federal ITA adequately analyzing this source code, in addition to the technical and operational specifications relating to the memory card and interpreter, we will expeditiously proceed with our comprehensive review of your application.

    Apparently, the SoS's office was just kidding.

    They went ahead and re-certified Diebold out here last week without waiting to hear back. They announced their decision late on Friday, at the start of the long holiday weekend and in apparent defiance of state election law and McPherson's own "10 Strict Standards" [PDF] which include "State certification testing does not begin until the federal qualification testing is successfully completed."

    Apparently, he was just kidding about that as well.

    With all of that in mind, readers of this blog would be remiss if they failed to take the actions described in Eskow's link to Skippy. Five phone-calls and/or emails this week are all that may be needed to finally see representatives from these unpatriotic Voting Machine firms subpeonaed and forced to answer questions --- under oath --- in a public hearing before elected officials concerning their secret software, shitty machines and under-the-table efforts to work around state and federal election laws. Hit that link, and call the five members of the California legislature's Rules Committee now!

    By the way, McPherson himself also refused to show up at that hearing and refused to send a representative from his office to boot.

    It should also be noted that Diebold is not the only bad player here. Add ES&S, Hart-Intercivic, Sequoia and several others to the list of cowardly unAmerican firms who recently refused the invitation to show up to testify before the California State Senate's Election Committee last week. All of those companies, apparently, believe it's none of our damned business how they count the votes (or not) in our American democracy.

    Take action.

    For full disclosure, we should also mention that we had the privilege of meeting both R.J. and Skippy in person over the weekend in an L.A. Blogger's get together out here. Good folks all of them, and we're delighted to see them jump into this most important game of all.

    And finally --- since we've been looking for a good excuse to post this video --- we'll take this opportunity to give you an exclusive peek inside the "brain" of the man whose perplexing decision to re-certify voting machines and software known to be flawed and hackable may well effect similar decisions by Elections Officials around the entire country.

    The following short Q&A with CA's SoS was video-taped by Dave Berman of GuvWurld about two weeks prior to the recent about face by McPherson. It's somewhat revealing --- particularly in the last couple of minutes where Dave gets to ask the questions --- as to the mindset and intellectual capabilities of the man currently appointed by Arnold to oversee free and fair elections in the country's largest "voting market" (as Diebold refers to it).

    At one point in the questioning, when asked about the re-examination of Diebold software by the ITA, McPherson says, "If they're going to be certified, they're going to have to meet those levels of satisfactions to me...We, uh, we've, uh, just said that, uh, you have to meet these strict requirements and if they do, we'll consider it."

    Apparently, McPherson was just kidding there as well....Since he recertified them without, apparently, waiting to hear back from the ITA.

    Without further ado then, we give you the man, the myth, the elusive and rarely seen genius that is California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson --- as videotaped exclusively about two weeks ago in Humboldt County, just prior to his re-certification of Diebold voting machines in this state.


    -- Video in Streaming Flash format...
    -- Video in Windows Media format...

    UPDATE: CA State Senator Debra Bowen (chair of the Senate Elections Committee) issues her own call to action to force McPherson to review his outrageous decision. Her reasons are summarized thusly:

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

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    State Senator Outraged, Says Machines, Certification Violates State, Federal Standards and Law...
    SoS' Own Report Agrees! McPherson Waits Until 5pm Friday of Holiday Weekend to Announce! [UPDATED WITH MUCH MORE INFO...]
    By John Gideon on 2/17/2006 6:29pm PT  

    Guest Blogged by John Gideon (with some additional updates/info from Brad)

    Updated with much more information...

    Secretary of State McPherson seems to have a thing for making major announcements late on Fridays just before holidays. Following in what seems to be a pattern of his, he announced late this afternoon that he was certifying Diebold Optical Scan and AccuVote TSx (touch-screens) for use in elections in the state.

    The re-certification (they had been originally decertified in California in 2004 when it was revealed Diebold had installed illegal software updates on the machines) is conditional on some items but not on the one thing point he had announced last December when he sent the system back to federal authorities for further testing. At that time he said he was sending the machine's memory cards to the federal Independent Testing Authority (ITA) Lab for reinspection in light of the news out of Leon County, Florida that the cards used "intepreted code" which is specifically banned by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). A "hack test" in that county revealed that an entirely election could have its results flipped by a hacker exploiting that "interpreted code" --- without a trace being left behind.

    McPherson made his announcement today without waiting to hear back from the ITA lab.

    Last summer, after a massive mock election test with Diebold touch-screen machines revealed that 10% of them failed entirely with screens freezing and printers jamming --- later reports would reveal that as many as 30% of the machines actually failed! --- McPherson said, "We certainly can't take any kind of risk like that with this kind of device on California voters."

    Apparently the Secretary of State of America's largest "voting market," as Diebold refers to it, was just kidding about that.

    State Senator Debra Bowen, (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee issued the following Press Release after learning of McPherson's remarkable decision.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    CONTACT: Evan Goldberg (###) ###-4028/(###) ###-9176

    February 17, 2006

    BOWEN ON SECRETARY OF STATE'S DECISION TO RE-CERTIFY DIEBOLD MACHINES FOR USE IN CALIFORNIA

    SACRAMENTO ? "How the Secretary can re-certify the Diebold machines when they don't comply with California law, they violate the standards set by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that the Secretary said he intended to follow, and he still doesn't have the report back from the ITAs that he said he was waiting for is beyond me."

    That's how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee, reacted to today's decision by the Secretary of State to re-certify Diebold's electronic voting machines for the 2006 elections.

    "Last December, the Secretary announced with great fanfare that he was sending the Diebold machines back for review by the Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) because the memory cards those machines rely on hadn't been reviewed," continued Bowen. "Now, contrary to what he said two months ago, he's approving the Diebold machines without waiting for the report from the ITAs. Instead, he's basing his decision on a supposedly 'independent state audit' that no one has seen before today. There's a March 1 public hearing for four other voting machine vendors before their machines can be certified for use in California, so what was the rush to certify Diebold and side-step a public hearing on this issue?"

    Seventeen California counties rely on the Diebold optical scan machines and a number of other counties have bought or are planning to buy the Diebold TSx touch-screen machines to use in the 2006 elections in order to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The Secretary's decision is only good for the 2006 elections and comes with a number of conditions.

    "In August, the Secretary said any machine approved in California would have to comply with all federal standards and regulations, yet the EAC bans machines that contain interpreted code and these Diebold machines rely on that type of code to operate, so he's gone back on that commitment," continued Bowen. "In December, he said he'd wait for a report from the ITAs before acting on the Diebold re-certification request, yet now he's re-certified the Diebold machines without hearing from the ITAs. He says he's acting based on the recommendations of an 'independent state audit' that came out on Tuesday, but the California State Auditor hasn't issued any reports on this issue and hasn't been asked to do a report. Asking a board appointed by the Secretary to make recommendations doesn't constitute an 'independent state audit' in my book.

    "The other thing that no one has mentioned is the fact that the Diebold machines don't comply with the state's paper trail law because they don't provide blind or visually impaired voters with a 'read-back' of what the paper trail recorded, they only read back what the machine recorded electronically," noted Bowen. "That's not what the law requires, yet the Secretary has decided to go ahead and approve these machines for use anyway. If the Secretary wants to say he's changing his mind and lowering the safeguards California voters are entitled to have to ensure their votes are accurately counted, that's certainly his decision to make, but saying these Diebold machines comply with state law and with all federal regulations and requirements simply isn't accurate."

    Under Elections Code Sections 19250 and 19251, all direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems have to come with an accessible voter verified paper audit trail (AVVPAT). The AVVPAT must be "provided or conveyed to voters via both a visual and a nonvisual method, such as through an audio component." The Diebold TSx doesn't contain that feature, therefore making the AVVPAT that all DREs are required to have as of January 1, 2006, useless for blind or visually-impaired voters.

    ###

    VOTING SYSTEMS HEARINGS, MARCH 1:
    Also of note is the announcement of public hearings (as mentioned in Bowen's release) persuant to the certification of various voting systems, many of which are still not federally qualified. This announcement is not accompanied by any of the test reports necessary for citizens to go to this hearing with any knowledge of what the state found in their testing. Perhaps this is because none of these systems have been tested by the state yet?

    ...DEVELOPING...MUCH MORE BELOW...UPDATES, ACTION ITEMS, ADDITIONAL INFO...

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

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    Waives 'Proprietary Rights' to Public Voting Data Files...Though Reserves the Right to 'Manipulate the Data' Before Release!
    PLUS: CEO Swidarski Works the AP PR Rope Line and Suggests Diebold's Election Division May Be For Sale, While Both AP and 'USA Today' Get the Story Wrong --- Again --- in Their Continuing Efforts on Behalf of America's Electronic Voting Machine Companies...
    By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2006 2:47pm PT  

    Good news (perhaps) regarding our previous story on Diebold's refusal to allow the voters of Alaska to look at their own voting data since the Electronic Voting Machine vendor claimed the file format of their GEMS tabulation software was a "company secret" in their contract with the state.

    But now, according to a letter from Alaska's Election Officials, published at BlackBoxVoting.org from Alaska's election authorities, "Diebold has agreed to waive its proprietary rights to the GEMS database files."

    That apparent capitulation by the Voting Machine Company may set a precedent with wider implications for other states and counties seeking access to such data and other forms of transparency in public elections. See the BBV link above for more thoughts on some of the possibilities.

    That said, there is still reason to be cautious about this news for a number of reasons. Note the following --- almost incredible wording --- from the published letter [emphasis ours]...

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

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    Contract with State said to Bar Release of 'Company Secrets' Such as Records of Who Citizens Actually Voted For
    Democratic Official: 'It's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004'
    By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2006 2:39pm PT  

    In just one more story which illustrates the many undemocratic dangers of allowing private companies to "own" our public elections, Diebold, Inc., one of America's largest Voting Machine Companies is currently blocking citizens in Alaska from viewing election data from the 2004 general election!

    "All Alaska races from 2004" are now being questioned, said a Democratic party official in a written letter to the state Elections Director.

    Questions have begun to arise about results from that election, including the reported revelation that "district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889."

    The BRAD BLOG has obtained a copy of the letter sent yesterday by Jake Metcalfe, chair of the Alaska Democratic Party to Whitney Brewster of the Alaska Division of Elections. The letter responds to Brewster's refusal to supply the party with the requested data files and outlines a number of additional concerns about the reported 2004 election results.

    The complete letter is available for download here [PDF].

    Anchorage Daily News covers the emerging controversy today. Some highlights here [emphasis ours]:

    The state Division of Elections has refused to turn over its electronic voting files to the Democrats, arguing that the data format belongs to a private company and can't be made public.

    The Alaska Democratic Party says the information is a public record essential for verifying the accuracy of the 2004 general election and must be provided.

    The official vote results from the last general election are riddled with discrepancies and impossible for the public to make sense of, the Democrats said Monday. A detailed analysis of the underlying data could answer lingering questions about an election many thought was over more than a year ago, they say.
    ...
    At this point, it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004, [Democratic spokeswoman, Kay] Brown said.

    The private contractor hired to provide Alaska's electronic voting machines is Diebold Election Systems.
    ...
    Diebold told the state it owns the format, which can't be released because it's a company secret.
    ...
    [U]nder the state's contract with Diebold, that cannot be released, Brewster said.

    Never mind, of course, that Diebold's "company secret" has been available for download from the Internet for years, since the company --- who claims to specialize in security solutions --- left the information sitting unprotected on a public download site.

    The full story is here...

    (Hat tip to our friend Peter B. Collins of KRXA 540-am in Monterey, CA for the lead!)

    * * *

    UPDATE 2/7/06: Alaska capitulates...sort of. Details now here...

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    The Dots Connect Between Abramoff, Ohio 2004 Election Smokescreen and Ney's Former Staffer Revealed to be on Diebold's Payroll While Working for White House Law Firm
    All the While as HAVA --- America's 'Election Reform' Bill --- is Used for Political Payoff in the Bargain...
    By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2006 11:21am PT  

    There's been a great deal of speculation over the last several days, particularly in the light of Jack Abramoff's recent guilty pleas, concerning the connection of Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH) to Election Fraud in Ohio, vis a vis his stewardship and authoring of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) back in 2001 and 2002. The heavy-handed tactics he has taken since, in order to keep the flawed act from being changed in any way over the years, along with going to great lengths to keep the nation's eyes off of massive electile dysfunction in Ohio and elsewhere since 2004, may finally get the attention it all properly deserves.

    Both Abramoff and his partner Michael Scanlon have directly informed prosecutors of Ney's alleged wrong-doing in regard to money and gifts given to Ney, in apparent exchange for support on various legislation and even personal business deals. Ney, who chairs the important U.S. House Administration Committee, has been fingered, and now subpoenaed, for accepting illegal trips, gratuities and other apparent quid pro quo deals with Abramoff's former firms, partners, friends and groups who had paid both him and Scanlon as lobbyists.

    His direct connection to the HAVA Election Reform bill passed in the wake of the 2000 Florida Election Debacle, and his various extraordinary efforts to specifically block amendments to the bill and to smokescreen attempted investigations into his home state's conduct during the 2004 Election Debacle, has been less widely reported. Until now.

    While Common Cause quietly reported in December of 2004 that Diebold --- the much-beleagured-of-late American Voting Machine company --- paid as much as $275,000 to Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig for lobbying work, The BRAD BLOG has now found additional details that begin to shed new light on Ney's personal connections to Diebold lobbyists.

    Such personal connections include those with Ney's former chief of staff turned lobbyist, David DiStefano, who has been working on behalf of Diebold, Inc. and at least one other Voting Machine Company as a registered lobbyist in the House going back to at least 2001. One of DiStefano's online bios crows about his having "an insider's edge to hard-to-reach political officials." That "insider's edge" has proven to have been a very worthwhile investment for the Voting Machine Companies who'd purchased access into Ney's political office.

    Congressional lobbying records reveal that Diebold, Inc. has paid at least $180,000 to DiStefano and eventually his partner, Roy C. Coffee, to lobby for the "Help America Vote Act" and other "Election Reform Issues" in Congress since 2003. Another Electronic Voting Machine Company, AccuPoll, Inc., also paid DiStefano some $70,000 to lobby for HAVA on their behalf in 2002, although that relationship was apparently terminated once the legislation was passed by Congress.

    In turn, Ney's former employee DiStefano and Coffee themselves have given nearly $20,000 to Bob Ney's campaigns dating back to 2002.

    The connections of DiStefano and Coffee don't stop at Congress, however. Both lobbyists now work out of the new Washington office of the Texas-based law firm of Lock, Liddell & Sapp LLP --- the firm of George W. Bush's White House Counsel Harriet Miers. And Coffee, himself, had previously worked as a senior aide to then-Governor Bush back in Texas.

    In addition to lobbying in favor of Electronic Voting, DiStefano and Coffee were also paid thousands to lobby Ney on behalf of an obscure firm by the name of FN Aviation, which later became known as FAZ Aviation. FN/FAZ Aviation, the Columbus Dispatch reported last December, paid for Ney's 2003 trip to England. On that trip, Ney met at a casino with FN Aviation's director, Nigel Winfield, a three-time convicted felon, and Fouad al-Zayat, the Syrian-born head of FN Aviation. Zayat, as reported by NBC News, is known as "one of London's biggest gamblers."

    As has also been reported by NBC and others, the apparently once-very lucky Ney reported winning some $34,000 a few months later at that same London casino, after an initial $100 bet "on two hands of a three-card game of chance," according to his spokesperson Brian Walsh. Ney, who coincidentally carried at least $30,000 in credit card debt in 2002, was fortunate to be able to report that the debt was paid off in full by the end of 2003.

    The dots begin converging, however, in regard to both large campaign contributions and lobbying done by Ney's former chief of staff, DiStefano along with Coffee on behalf of both FN/FAZ Aviation and Diebold, Inc.

    Ney was one of the original authors and lead co-sponsors of HAVA, and a fierce defender of both the act and the effort to keep further legislation from moving forward in Congress that would mandate Voter Verified Paper Ballots for electronic voting machines made by Diebold and other e-voting vendors.

    In 2004, prior to the Presidential Election, Ney went so far as to send a "Dear Colleague" letter signed along with the other HAVA co-sponsors, to members of congress urging them not to amend the original legislation. He argued at the time that paper records on such machines would somehow disenfranchise disabled voters, who had been cleverly afforded a special provision in the bill which mandated at least one disabled-accessable device in every voting precinct in the country. That device, of course, would be a paperless touch-screen electronic voting machine, like the ones made by Diebold, which, legislators, vendors and lobbyists would later proffer, were required to meet provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    Ney had also personally gone out of his way to keep Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act" (HR 550), which would mandate paper records for all votes cast, from ever seeing the light of day in the House Administration Committee. That, despite Holt's bill having now nearly 160 bi-partisan co-sponsors. Ney has succeeded brilliantly at squashing Holt's bill, first proposed as HR 2239 back in 2003, as it continues to both gain co-sponsors and gather dust as the powerful Republican committee chair still refuses to allow it even to be brought up for hearings.

    The American Prospect's Art Levine broke a superb exposé last May concerning Ney's alleged payoffs from a number of the Indian tribes that now-disgraced, once-uber-lobbyist Abramoff was representing in exchange for promises to support their hope for new gambling legislation back in 2002.

    "Just met with Ney!!! We're f'ing gold!!!! He's going to do Tigua," wrote Abramoff to Scanlon in an Email, after Ney reportedly promised to add the Tribe's hoped-for legislation to HAVA while the bill was still pending.

    Ney then told the tribes --- who had been instructed by Abramoff and Scanlon to give tens of thousands of dollars to his campaign and to pay for a $100,000 trip to play golf at St. Andrews in Scotland --- that he was working with the Democratic Senator from Connecticut, Chris Dodd, to add gambling language in HAVA that would be favorable to the tribes.

    In reality, Dodd had rejected the idea early on in no uncertain terms, as Levine reports, but that didn't keep Ney from spinning tales to the tribal groups. He told them on several occassions, at least once personally, that things were moving smartly forward as he kept accepting more cash and gifts from them along the way.

    Finally, when the HAVA legislation was passed, and the promised language was nowhere to be found, Ney informed the tribes that Dodd had reneged on the deal at the last minute.

    That was, of course, not true, since Dodd had rejected the plan months earlier.

    But as the spotlight of corruption has finally begun to shine bright and clear in the Mainstream Media onto Ney, renewed interest in his support and authorship of HAVA itself --- along with the connections between that legislation, chicanery in Ohio's Election, Abramoff and several other GOP operative and lobbying firms' merry band of pay-for-players --- are helping to bubble up towards the surface a few previously overlooked, but very important, details that may finally now receive the attention they always deserved from the Mainstream Media...

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

    ReddIt this story!



    Republican Jan Brewer's Re-Election Announcement Interrupted by Demonstrators
    Activists Object to Her Recent Decision to Allow Unsecure, Hackable Diebold Voting Machines for Use in Virtually Every Arizona Precinct!
    By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2006 4:38pm PT  

    Perhaps it's a step up from "dissidents" as the AP once called them, but Election Transparency Advocates who turned out today at Arizona's Sec. of State Jan Brewer's speech to announce her re-election bid were labeled "anarchists" and "conspiracy theorists" by the woman who recently approved Diebold's flawed "AccuVote" touch-screen voting machines for use in virtually every precinct in the state.

    During her speech today, according to the Arizona Star, "which boasted of the state getting rid of the last punch card ballots as part of her accomplishments since being elected in 2002 but one that never mentioned the Diebold contract" the Republican official in charge of ensuring free, fair and accurate elections in the state was repeatedly interrupted by advocates for transparent election who objected to the use of Diebold's failed machinery in the state.

    Diebold's election equipment was recently shown to be hackable in a mock election test in Leon County, Florida, where the final results were completely flipped by computer security specialists. Over the summer, 20% of the same AccuVote touch-screen systems that Brewer approved on Friday, were found to have failed during a massive mock election test in California.

    According to the Star, Brewer apparently dismissed the adamant concerns of the very voters she is (theoretically) in charge of serving:

    Brewer, responding to media questions, called the noisy protesters "anarchists" and said they were off base.

    "I don't think there is a problem with the Diebold equipment," she said. Brewer said a committee investigated the bids and the machines passed on the guidelines.

    "I think that there are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there that are trying to blow this completely, totally out of proportion," she said.

    In December of 2004, while members of several political parties had joined in challenging the results of Ohio's disastrously run Presidential Election, the Associated Press referred to those challengers who dared seek transparency in an utterly gamed election as "dissidents" which prompted one dubious American to reportedly ask at the time, "Great! So now we're dissidents?! What's next --- 'insurgents'?!"

    No. Apparently "what's next" is that those who wish transparency and oversight and accountability in American democratic elections are now "anarchists." At least according to Arizona's shameful --- and hopefully out-going --- Secretary of State, Jan Brewer.

    A useful thought for those considering running for the office of Secretary of State around the country: "It's the voters, stupid."

    ...CONTACT...
    AZ SoS Email Contact Page: http://www.azsos.gov/info/contact_us.htm
    AZ SoS Office: 602-542-4285

    Campaign Website: JanBrewer.com
    Campaign Email: info@janbrewer.com
    Campaign Office: 602-439-3425

    UPDATE 1/8/05: Brad was on Air America Phoenix today to discuss, amongst other things, the incident above on the M&M Show. The hosts, Fred and Steve McChesney, were amongst the "anarchists" and "conspiracy" --- and later called "brownshirts"! --- who made poor Jan Brewer's life so difficult. Audio available here.

    ReddIt this story!



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