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By John Gideon on 4/2/2006 5:06pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, of VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA

The "DVN Top 5" is a feature in the weekly voting newsletter of VoteTrustUSA. The March 27 edition can be found here. The selection of what will be the "Top 5" for each week and where it goes on the list is all mine. The fact that you may disagree with my choices is great because it shows that you have been reading the DVN articles that I've posted throughout the week here on The BRAD BLOG!...

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




'Software Clearly Unstable,' Says Testing Official Who 'Transformed Handful of Votes into Thousands...in an Instant'!
Ten-Year Old E-Voting Systems from NV Planned for First Time Use in PA This Year
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2006 6:18pm PT  

Meanwhile...in Pennsylvania's Allegheny County, where plans to use Diebold's hackable Electronic Voting Equipment have recently been nixed, Plan B seems to be failing too. The machines they'd hope to use instead, as made by Sequoia Voting Systems, have now been shown to be hackable as well.

Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette picked up on the story yesterday, and followed up today on the testing being run in Allegheny County by Dr. Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon University professor, on the "new" Sequoia Voting Machines. The county had hoped to use these systems --- ten-year old Sequoia "Advantage" machines as purchased from Clark County, Nevada who is moving to a different Sequoia system --- in their upcoming Primary Elections in May. That plan, now may be in grave doubt.

The testing of the machines has found so many problems --- including Shamos' findings during "tampering tests" that he was able to instantly "transform a handful of votes into thousands" --- that he has now simply shut down the entire process described as "pointless" due to all of the errors in the software.

According to today's report...

HARRISBURG --- A state voting-machine examiner yesterday halted testing of the machine Allegheny County intends to use in the May primary, saying it was pointless to continue until a critical software problem is resolved.

"It's not useful to continue because [the software] clearly is not stable," said Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon University professor.

Sequoia Voting Systems, the Oakland, Calif.-based manufacturer of AVC Advantage voting machines, will have a chance to fix the software and have it retested in a week or two. Otherwise, it's unlikely the machines will be certified for use in Pennsylvania.

As you may recall, it was machines made by Sequoia which failed so miserably across the state in Illinois just last week during the Primary Elections there. Just a handful of the many mainstream reports covering the meltdown are here, here and here.

Now pay attention...because this can be confusing...

Illinois' Cook County (Chicago) had used new Sequoia "Edge" machines in the recent primary that had been purchased by Clark County, Nevada. Since Illinois' primaries were first, and Sequoia didn't have time or inventory to fill both orders, Cook used Clark's machines for last week's contest only.

Those "Edge" machines, which failed so disastrously in Cook County, IL, are now to be shipped to Clark County, NV who is selling their own ten-year old Sequoia "Advantage" machines to Allegheny County, PA. It is those ten-year old machines which are now being tested in Allegheny and failing so horrendously.

All of which begs the questions: How well were those "Advantage" machines tested in Nevada in the last ten years? How much is Nevada now looking forward to using the new and failed "Edge" machines that they had loaned for a single use to Cook County, IL? And finally, will Clark County, NV bother to test them to find out if they too are hackable like the ones --- modified a bit by Sequoia on the way, apparently --- that they've just unloaded on Allegheny County, PA?

But back to the halted tests in Allegheny...and the claims by Sequoia officials that the problems found were "no big deal". Shamos doesn't see them as "no big deal" and is concerned that a malicious hacker could do precisely what he was able to do in these tests...

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




Poll Worker Training Blamed
By John Gideon on 3/23/2006 6:27am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

At noon Wednesday, Chicago was missing 252 memory cartridges, 93 from machines that scanned in paper ballots and 159 from touch screens. County officials couldn't find 162 memory cartridges from suburban precincts--68 from optical-scanning machines and 94 for touch-screen balloting.

The problems led midday to the sight of Cook County Director of Elections Clem Balanoff--his tie loosened and eyes bleary--rifling through blue duffel bags at a county warehouse for precinct returns for uncounted votes on missing memory cartridges.

It was only early last month that the state of Illinois certified the Sequoia voting system that was used in the Illinois primary in Chicago and suburban Cook County this week. In that 6 week period over 23,000 election judges had to be trained to set-up and use the voting machines and they had to learn a completely new set of procedures for opening and closing the polls.

The county and city failed to do that training or failed to do enough of it for those who were trained at all. According to this morning's Chicago Tribune:

Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, further said that 4,000 of Chicago's 14,000 election judges attended no training and instead relied on a judge's manual that was sent in the mail and was written in a complicated and confusing manner.

Training for county judges emphasized videos and not hands-on instruction. None of the 9,600 election judges in suburban Cook County had ever touched the scanning device used to process paper ballots, said Cook County Clerk David Orr.

This clear lack of training and the introduction of new, un-reliable voting machines has caused what amounts to a disaster in vote counting. Three days after the voters went to the polls votes are still being tallied. In fact, memory cartridges were still being located as of Wednesday afternoon.

Not helping with all of the chaos were the machine failures reported all around the city and county:

  • "A high-tech voting system in Chicago and suburban Cook County provided plenty of frustration and confusion for voters during its first test Tuesday, as election officials dealt with missing power cords and ballots, jammed equipment and broken electronic voting machines." LINK
  • "As voting in today's primary election nears an end, some of the new, multi-million dollar voting machines were a hi-tech headache for voters." LINK
  • "As election officials closed the polls Tuesday evening, reports of glitches from throughout the day continued as both voters and election officials learned how to deal with a new, high-tech voting system in Chicago and suburban Cook County."LINK
  • So this week's Illinois primary has been a disaster with machine breakdowns, procedural errors, lost memory cartridges and a complete lack of training. They have to be able to learn from this and make changes; right? Well actually, as reported by VoteTrustUSA, they are going to take all of those Sequoia voting machines used in Chicago and suburban Cook County and they are shipping them all to Clark County, Nevada. Meanwhile, Chicago and Cook County will be getting another brand-new Sequoia voting system that has never been used in any election. Let's hope they can take just a little more time to train their poll judges because November will be here soon.




    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!... ---




    By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2006 6:37pm PT  

    From today's St. Petersburg Times...

    When Cook tried to vote for himself, the machine defaulted to a vote for Taylor. A precinct worker finally moved Cook to a different booth.

    Later in the day, Cook said he had other reports of voting machines malfunctioning in similar ways.

    The flipping machines used in the Pinellas County, FL election were paperless touch-screens made by Sequoia Voting Systems --- the same paperless "Edge" touch-screen systems whose purchase and future use in New Mexico was recently banned in the state in light of a lawsuit where many voters complained of the same type of "vote flipping" on the machines during the 2004 Presidential Election.

    Those are also the same machines which lost more than 12,000 votes in Bernalillo County, NM in 2002.

    On the other hand, this is Florida, after all. So, as Pinellas County, FL Supervisor of Elections communications director, Nancy Whitlock says, there's nothing to worry about:

    No one else complained, so it is unlikely the problem affected many, if any, other votes, she said.

    We feel much better now. It was just "a glitch."

    (Hat tip John Gideon! See today's 'Daily Voting News' from John for much more, including fresh e-voting disasters in Texas and everywhere else!)




    SoS Decides It Will Be Better To Wait For The Court To Make A Decision
    By John Gideon on 1/6/2006 2:51pm PT  

    Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.Org

    According to a January 3 article on VoteTrustUSA, Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron delayed the purchase of 800 Sequoia Edge touch screen voting machines that some New Mexico counties had chosen to meet federal accessibility requirements.

    On January 5 Voter Action amplified and corrected the statements of the Secretary. In their press release, Voter Action said:

    "The Secretary of State has said the reason to buy the Sequoia AVC Edge touchscreen voting machines is to make voting easier for disabled voters, as required by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). In fact, the Edge machines fail to accommodate the disabled or meet HAVA requirements, as shown in a powerful and detailed expert affidavit filed by the plaintiffs. In addition, the machines lack printers to produce voter verifiable and auditable paper ballots, as required by the New Mexico Election Code, and do not accurately record and count votes, as required by the New Mexico Constitution. To the contrary, the Sequoia Edge voting system has a record of losing thousands of votes, switching votes, and failing to record votes cast in Spanish."

    NOTE: There is presently NO Sequoia voting system that meets the presently in force voting systems standards. The best that Sequoia can do is to meet standards that are 15 years old. Today this reporter called the Election Assistance Commission and I was told that Sequoia has nothing close to federal qualification at this time. This means that counties who have purchased their voting machines on the promise of being compliant by January 1, 2006 cannot meet the Help America Vote Act of 2002 accessibility mandates.




    19 NM counties agree that Sequoia DREs should not be used by their voters
    By John Gideon on 12/21/2005 3:04pm PT  

    Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VoteTrustUSA.org

    Last month The BRAD BLOG reported on an important lawsuit underway in New Mexico. We can now report that a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been filed and that plaintiffs have been added to the suit.

    Today, attorneys for Patricia Rosas Lopategui, et al. and against Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron, et al. filed a temporary restraining order asking District Judge Eugenio Mathis for an emergency order blocking the Secretary of State from spending millions of dollars on Sequoia AVC Edge touch screen voting machines for use in Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Santa Fe and 11 other counties. According to their press release VoterAction, the group who is providing support to the attorneys and the plaintiffs in this case, says:

    The plaintiffs allege that the machines are not accessible by disabled voters and violate a state law requirement for voter verifiable paper trail printers, necessary for meaningful audits and recounts. Plaintiffs also submitted substantial evidence that the Sequoia touchscreen voting systems are inaccurate and unreliable, having lost thousands of votes and switched countless others in recent elections.

    As a part of their case, plaintiffs submitted the affidavit of Noel Runyan, an expert on the design of disabled access devices. Mr. Runyan, who is blind, gave this harsh assessment:

    In my opinion, the Sequoia AVC Edge DRE does not satisfy the disability access requirements of HAVA, as incorporated into New Mexico law. This opinion is based on (1) the Edge's complete lack of any accommodation for persons with severe physical dexterity impairments who are unable to use touchscreens or keypads; (2) the gross inadequacy of the Edge's audio assist feature for persons who are blind or low vision; and (3) the Edge's failure to accommodate elderly voters who have developed severe visual impairments with age but are unfamiliar with and unable to cope with audio-only access technology because they have had normal vision most of their lives. In short, it is my opinion that a large portion of disabled citizens who attempt to cast their votes on Sequoia AVC Edge voting machines will be unable to do so.

    The work done by these attorneys has already begun to reap benefits outside of the state of New Mexico as attorneys in other states have begun asking for advice and assistance. VoterAction has a copy of the filing and all attached exhibits posted on their website.




    Kept From Inspecting Voting Machines as Promised
    Process So Far Has Revealed Votes Changed from One Candidate to Another, Disappearing All Together...
    By Brad Friedman on 11/12/2005 5:19pm PT  

    We've failed to report too terribly much on it to date, but there is a very important lawsuit quietly proceeding in New Mexico which is challenging the results of the 2004 Presidential Election there. The final result of that election was very close, and Election Reform advocates --- and indeed a great deal of evidence --- suggest that something was amiss there. Michael Collins wrote a good article about the suit a couple of weeks ago for New Zealand's SCOOP.

    Yesterday, VoterAction.org sent out an email about some roadblocks that the plaintiffs are suddenly facing in the discovery phase of the trial. They were supposed to have been allowed to have experts inspect --- for the first time --- the Electronic Voting Machines that were used in the '04 Election, along with the actual results that they gave.

    All of a sudden, Voter Action says, the county clerks have flat-out refused to permit the inspections by the plaintiffs' experts. That, after some interesting evidence has already been found by the experts during discovery, like tests where they were able to see votes for one candidate being registered for their opponent (as has been so widely reported as happening in so many elections of late!) and ballots being confirmed with NO choice for President at all, which wasn't supposed to have been possible on at least one of the machine types being looked at.

    Voter Action didn't post the article from their email on their website, so we'll post it here in its entirety. Check it out...

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




    'Election Center' Becomes Latest Election Reform Group to Have Sold Their Souls to Diebold
    Credibility Matters
    By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2005 4:02pm PT  

    Something stinks to high heaven about these people and their new report. And not simply because they're based in Houston, TX, (though it certainly doesn't help their case) but the fact that they are directly funded by Voting Machine companies such as Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia immediately destroys any credibility they might have otherwise had when it comes to making decisions about our Electoral System in desperate need of reform.

    ElectionCenter.org claims to be a non-profit, non-partisan, professional organization of Elections Workers. Today, they have released a new report [large PDF] with recommendations on how to improve America's Electoral System.

    The AP covered the new report in a story yesterday which shines a fairly positive light on it yet manages to include a couple of paragraphs which jump out as huge red flags. Here's a couple of them from the AP story [emphasis added]...

    In a new, sweeping report, state and local officials focus much of their attention on voters and poll workers rather than voting machines --- the subject of so much debate ever since the 2000 presidential stalemate in Florida.
    ...
    The report also urges state legislators to consider an "independently verifiable" record of each voter's ballot from ATM-style touchscreen voting machines that could be electronic, video or some other form --- pointedly downplaying a widespread push for paper receipts from touchscreens.
    ...
    The Election Center has come in for criticism after reports that the nonprofit, nonpartisan group accepts contributions from voting machine manufacturers. Two members of the task force are former local election administrators who've formed their own election-related businesses.

    So here we have yet another "nonprofit, nonpartisan" organization dedicated to Election issues, who have a clear conflict of interest due to their financial alliance with the Voting Machine Companies instead of the American Citizens whose interests they claim to represent.

    Unlike the now-discredited "American Center for Voting Rights", a phony front group founded by GOP operatives as a smokescreen for real Election Reform issues, Election Center has been around for a number of years. But their claims that their mission is to "improve service to voters, the public, the taxpayers and to government" is completely belied by the companies they keep...or that keep them...

    Here's a screenshot of the agenda from their upcoming August "National Conference" in Beverly Hills/Hollywood. It will likely tell you all you need to know about this group:

    A few Googles of the various election officials associated with this organization and their new report should answer any other questions you may have. These people (folks like Palm Beach's Theresa LePore and Los Angeles' Conny McCormack to name just a few) are certainly not in the business of fighting for the voters' best interests.

    Suffice to say, if Election Center expects any recognition for their recommendations for Electoral Reform from the Election Reform community, perhaps they should have thought of that before selling that option off to Diebold and friends.




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