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Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Extra votes haunt two recent elections, run by two different companies, in two different places
PLUS: Sequoia shocker! Company agrees to turn over source code to D.C. without even a fight!
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2009 5:28pm PT  

Two stories of thousands of "phantom votes" being added to election result totals by electronic voting system were in the news over the past couple of days.

One is some news in the older story of 1,500 votes added to a precinct's results in D.C.'s primary election last September. The maker of the failed voting system, Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc., originally tried to blame "static electricity" and then "human error" for the failure. But as the D.C. City Council was having none of it, the company has now agreed to allow an independent inspection of its hardware and software, in order to avoid yet another expensive court battle for the beleaguered company.

The other story concerns nearly 5,000 "phantom" ballots added by the ES&S AutoMark optical-scan system used in last week's Rapid City (Pennington County), South Dakota, City Council race, for some still unknown reason, currently chalked up for now to "software glitch." The discovery of the failure led to a change in the originally reported election results.

The skinny on both stories, and an extra observation or two on the Sequoia/D.C. matter, follow below...

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

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Roe to Rove: 'You guys wouldn't be in White House without Tom'
So what did he mean by that?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2009 2:08pm PT  

Late this week, Politico's Anne Schroeder ran details of a purported public showdown, in a D.C. steakhouse, between Karl Rove and Jason Roe, the former Chief of Staff to FL's former Republican U.S. House Rep (and alleged vote-rigging conspirator) Tom Feeney.

During the exchange between Rove and Roe, as reported by Schroeder, Rove tells Roe that he has a file on Feeney, and Roe, who was angry with Rove for cracks he'd made on Fox "News" at Feeney's expense just after the extremely corrupt FL Republican had lost his 2008 election, says angrily to Rove: "You guys wouldn't be in the White House without Tom."

Given the coverage we've offered over the years on Feeney, and former Republican computer programmer Clint Curtis' allegations against him, several folks --- including our friends Marcy Wheeler of emptywheel and Patty Sharaf, filmmaker of Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story --- sent us the link to the Politico article, asking our opinion on what Roe may have meant by that crack.

In the interest of keeping links to that story from continuing to pile up in our Inbox, here's our take on Roe's purported comment to Rove...

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

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Presentation to election officials underscores years of reporting at The BRAD BLOG, including dangers of voting machine 'sleepovers,' and Sequoia Voting Systems' continuing ties to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2009 4:02pm PT  

- Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG

"I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to...make bad things happen," CIA cybersecurity expert Steven Stigall explained, in a stunning presentation to a U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) field hearing held one month ago in Orlando.

As initially reported earlier this week by Greg Gordon at McClatchy, "Stigall said that voting equipment connected to the Internet could be hacked, and machines that weren't connected could be compromised wirelessly. Eleven U.S. states have banned or limited wireless capability in voting equipment, but Stigall said that election officials didn't always know it when wireless cards were embedded in their machines."

"The CIA got interested in electronic systems a few years ago," Gordon reports Stigall as explaining at the EAC hearing, "after concluding that foreigners might try to hack U.S. election systems."

But as disturbing as Stigall's presentation was, what's almost as disturbing is that it took more than 11 days, McClatchy's coverage, a number of FOIA requests from VotersUnite's John Gideon (a frequent guest blogger here), and a couple of articles from BRAD BLOG alum, Michael Richardson of the Examiner (his coverage is here and here), before the EAC finally released the complete transcript of the meeting [WORD], including Stigall's remarks.

"The presenter did not provide the presentation, 'Computers and Elections: The Growing Potential for Cyber Vote Fraud', to the EAC, so we have no materials responsive to your request," Gideon was told in response to his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the EAC, as reported by Richardson. "We received the transcript on March 16, 2009, and it will be publicly available in the next few days."

As of last night, 10 days since the EAC admits they received the transcript of their own event which had taken place 20 days earlier, they had neither sent it to Gideon in response to his request, nor posted it on their website. As of this morning, a month since the hearing, it's finally up on their website, thanks in part, no doubt, to the pressure brought on the EAC by the public to do so. Even then, Stigall's remarks are not posted separately, as other presentations are, but rather, one has to go looking for the full transcript of the actual event to find it. So why both the delay and obfuscation from the famously dysfunctional (a nice way to put it) federal agency? Make your own best guesses, since there is no official explanation for the moment.

Happily, there were others at the meeting who had transcribed the CIA cybersecurity expert's startling remarks --- decimating the idea of supposedly "secure" e-voting --- independently, who then helped to bring it to the public's attention. Clearly, the strongly pro-e-voting EAC had/has little intention of doing so themselves.

Stigall's presentation, and we've got much more of it excerpted below, include a passel of disturbing thoughts. Many of them we've tried to impart on these pages for years, including comments which point up the dangers we've tried to warn about concerning pre-election voting machine "sleepovers" at the houses of pollworkers, and more indications of the dangers of Sequoia Voting Systems clandestine, on-going relationship with the Hugo Chavez-tied Venezuelan e-voting firm Smartmatic, as we reported exclusively here one year ago --- to little interest from the corporate media, despite Sequoia's claims to federal investigators that they had severed all ties with the firm...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2009 1:43pm PT  

"I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad."
Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf (aka "Baghdad Bob"),
Iraqi Information Minister, April 2003

Michelle Shafer is the "Baghdad Bob"-in-chief of the e-voting industry. She's the VP and spokesperson for Sequoia Voting Systems and spokesperson for the e-voting industry as a whole via the Election Technology Council (ETC), a "trade group" created and sponsored by the nation's top four e-voting companies (ES&S, Sequoia, Diebold/Premier, and Hart Intercivic) to help spread their anti-science, anti-reality, pro-e-voting propaganda.

In the very last line of an article published on Thursday, on yet another e-voting related issue (which we may cover in more detail later), Michelle "Baghdad Bob" Shafer is quoted thusly:

Sequoia spokeswoman Michelle Shafer noted, however, that no electronic voting system has been compromised in an election.

As irony would have it, Thursday was also the very same day that news broke of the arrest of a cabal of election official insiders --- including a circuit court judge, the school superintendent, and a number of both Democratic and Republican polling place judges --- charged with having used the electronic voting system to compromise election after election, from 2002 to 2006 in Clay County, Kentucky.

Of course, very strong evidence exists that many other elections have been similarly manipulated on electronic voting systems by election insiders (see here, for just one example), including by both election officials and employees of the various private vendors whom Shafer represents. Much of that evidence, however, has been held at arm's length from citizen election integrity advocates under the absurd argument that that information is a proprietary, legally-protected trade secret. That specious argument has been made for years by the very government-funded corporate welfare queens, like Shafer's companies, that have been paid by our government to privatize our public elections.

So it's been difficult, at least until last week, to point disinformation experts like Shafer to the very evidence that reveal her statement, repeated time and again, to be a lie --- thanks in no small part to the "trade secret" claims of folks like Shafer. Get it? It's a helluva self-perpetuating scam...

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

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At least $160k is billable to Sequoia Voting Systems, as per state requirements for use of touch-screen systems
Registrar Barbara Dunmore, one of worst in nation, fights on behalf of voting machine company, as county's $90 million budget shortfall grows...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2009 11:17am PT  

With the entire state of California facing a massive budget crisis, and most, if not all, of its counties facing shortfalls this year, Riverside County's Registrar of Voters, Barbara Dunmore, is refusing to collect at least $160,000 from Sequoia Voting Systems for the cost of manually counting paper trails produced by their touch-screen voting systems last November.

California counties which choose to use touch-screen voting systems to serve disabled voters are required to tally all of the so-called "paper trails" by hand after elections, as per requirements for their use as imposed by Sec. of State Debra Bowen in 2007, due to security concerns with such systems.

The cost for that tally is to be covered by the voting machine company, as per Bowen's certification documents, which state: "Elections officials are required to conduct the audits, and the vendor is required to reimburse the jurisdiction."

Nonetheless, Dunmore, who has an extraordinary history of failure during her tenure as Registrar, in both the distant and recent past, has failed to seek reimbursement. And her office now seems to now be fighting, on behalf of Sequoia, to keep the beleaguered e-voting supplier from having to pay the costs, despite clear terms of use for such systems in this state...

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

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By John Gideon on 1/9/2009 4:03pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

In New Jersey there is a lawsuit that has been going through the court process since 2004. The complaint asks the State Superior Court to block the use of nearly 8,000 Sequoia Advantage Direct Recording Electronic (DRE touch-screen) because they “cannot be relied upon to protect the fundamental right to vote.” This lawsuit probably played some large part in legislation that required voting machines used in the state to be outfitted with a Voter-verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).

Sequoia Voting Systems has not been able to meet the legislative deadlines, for a VVPAT printer, which have been moved a couple times. In fact only recently it was announced that the legislature may introduce new legislation to repeal the previous legislation. This move would probably have given more strength to the lawsuit.

Now, suddenly, the state has announced that they will require the Sequoia DREs being used in 18 counties to be refitted with VVPAT printers. It seems clear that this move by the Secretary of State is an attempt to make the lawsuit moot. The state will surely argue that because the DREs are refitted with printers there is no need to change to optical-scan technology.

One question that the state and Sequoia must answer though: Is there a printer in development or developed by Sequoia for use on the Advantage? If not, the state continues to be in violation of the law and it seems that they are being aided and abetted in that by Sequoia.

Also there are hints in the Houston media of problems in the vote count last Nov. Look for more on that over the next week or more....

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

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Andrew Appel Answers to Official Smears from Sequioa Voting System's VP, Spokeswoman Michelle Shafer
'False Assertions' Made in Wake of Prof's Court-Ordered Report Finding Major Flaws in Company's Voting Machines...
By John Gideon on 12/29/2008 4:00am PT  

Guest blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

In an October BRAD BLOG article we reported that a court-ordered report highly negative of Sequoia Voting Systems products being used throughout New Jersey could soon be released to the public. Prior to the release date, and then again last week, Sequoia Voting Systems attacked both the report and its author, Princeton University computer science professor Andrew Appel.

On December 18, Sequoia issued a press release with a misleading title and subtitle:

PLAINTIFF'S EXPERT, PRINCETON'S ANDREW APPEL, TWICE VIOLATES COURT'S PROTECTIVE ORDER IN ELECTRONIC VOTING CASE INVOLVING THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND SEQUOIA VOTING SYSTEMS

Appel ordered by judge to apologize and pay motion legal fees to Sequoia Voting Systems in Reed Guscoria, et al., Plaintiffs vs. James E. McGreevey, et al., Defendant

And, on the company's blog, written by VP of Communications and External Affairs Michelle Shafer, she continues the lie:

VIOLATION OF PROTECTIVE ORDER IN NJ BY PRINCETON'S ANDREW APPEL, AN APOLOGY AND PAYMENT OF LEGAL FEES TO SEQUOIA.

In an email to this writer, Professor Appel responded to what he says are "false statements about me in two recent press releases" from Sequoia. The BRAD BLOG posts his response in full below, with his express permission...

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

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By John Gideon on 12/21/2008 4:21pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Posted on Thursday is the featured blog by New Jersey computer scientist Andrew Appel. In the blog and linked video Professor Appel shows how easy it is to remove and replace new security seals installed on the machines in New Jersey by Sequoia and the state. The professor also points out that the addition of these security seals is just another smoke-screen from Sequoia. It took him 7 minutes the first time he removed and replaced the seals.

This weekend also finds more from Minnesota including an article by one of the non-partisan observers to the whole recount procedure. Good job by all who have been involved in that process.

We also have an article about Buddy Johnson, the soon to be out of work Hillsborough Co Florida election supervisor who has now dropped his request for $2.3M to cover cost overruns in this past election. Could it be he is nervous that the county has threatened to audit his office to find out how they spent their money? ...

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

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Voting Machine Issues, Confusion Compounded Delays Faced by Untold Thousands of Voters This Fall
Though Even That Number Fails to Reveal Untold Counting Errors on E-Voting Systems Across the Nation...
By Steven Rosenfeld on 11/16/2008 5:30am PT  

Guest blogged by Steven Rosenfeld of AlterNet

The electronic voting problems in the 2008 election are broader than recently-publicized snafus such as machines not turning on, voter databases omitting names, or touch screens not properly recording votes, according to an analysis of 1,700 incident reports from the nation's largest voter hotline.

Moreover, the voting machine issues and the confusion they caused among poll workers appear to have compounded the delays faced by untold thousands of voters this fall, a preliminary analysis of 1-800-OUR-VOTE reports by Joseph Lorenzo Hall, a researcher at Princeton University and the University of California, has found...

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

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Evening Edition
By John Gideon on 11/5/2008 4:28pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

As we suspected tabulation of ballots has revealed problems with voting systems from all of the vendors. Hillsborough Co Florida is rethinking their contract with Premier/Diebold for $6M after having big problems counting votes. Manatee Co Florida also had a problem with Premier. Palm Beach Co had bad memory cartridges from Sequoia. Counties in Pennsylvania and South Carolina had problems with their ES&S system. We also have a run-off for senator from Georgia and a recount for senator from Minnesota. This election will last for another month at least....

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

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By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2008 12:25pm PT  

Some brief, mid-Election Day comic relief... It looks like The Onion is reporting that a Sequoia touch-screen voting machine has been elected to the White House. Congratulations are due to the first "non-organic life form" to achieve this honor. The horrible Sequoia Voting Systems company, apparently, has finally managed to be "successful" at something!...


Voting Machines Elect One Of Their Own As President

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Presidential Race Missing on Ballots; Machines Go Down; Votes Not Recorded; Printers Jam
Attorneys Decline to Take Action to Remove Machines From Service, Ensure Paper Ballots for Voters...
By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2008 7:31pm PT  

Wide-spread voting machine failures have been reported to the Obama/DNC election protection hotline in Nevada since early voting began more than a week ago in the state, The BRAD BLOG has learned. All voters who vote in person in the crucial battleground state are forced to cast their votes on 100% unverifiable Sequoia EDGE touch-screen voting machines with the VeriVote "paper trail" printer add-on.

Attorneys monitoring the incident reports coming in to the hotline have taken no action in regard to removing the failed machines from service, despite reports of the presidential race not appearing at all on some ballots; voters having problems selecting their preferred candidates; machines not starting up at all; "paper trail" printers jamming or running out of paper, and; a number of machines at a number of sites which refuse to work at all.

And this is just during early voting. A number of those startling reports are posted at the end of this article...

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

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By John Gideon on 11/1/2008 4:21pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

3 days until Election Day.

Just a comment to those who want to dismiss ‘vote-flipping’ as voter error. All kinds of people go to the polls to vote. They are highly educated and high-school dropouts. Rich and poor. They have long fingernails and nails bitten to the quick. They have thin fingers and wide fingers. They are going to softly touch the screen or touch it hard. Vendors and election officials tend to blame vote-flipping on the voters. They touched the screen too hard; drug their finger; had long fingernails; or their fingers touched too large an area. So, is it the voters fault? NO! It is the vendors who designed, built and sold these machines that don’t work for all voters and it is the election officials who bought those machines.

A large majority of the ‘vote-flipping’ has been on older ES&S iVotronic DREs; those machines that were featured on last year’s Dan Rather Reports. The cheaply built, poorly tested touch screens that were used as components on those systems should have been scrapped long ago. It’s not the voters fault and this constant pointing of fingers is wrong. The vendors need to remember that when they point a finger at the voters they have three fingers pointing back at the real culprit, themselves; and it makes no difference what those fingers look like, they are the fingers of blame....

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

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'I went back to check it, it had not recorded my presidential vote!' Says Terrified, Potentially Disenfranchised Queen of Television...
NOW UPDATED With Much More Useful Info for Oprah and Others Who Do Not Understand These Voting Systems, or What to do If the Same Thing Happens To You...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2008 10:25pm PT  

[Comments turned back on, but the first 57 may have been lost when our server crashed under the straight of huge traffic on Saturday. We're trying to recover, but my apologies if we cannot get them back. Please repost as needed. :-( - BF]

Well, now, finally we may be able to get rid of these damned things, now that it's actually happened to Oprah. Via Huff Po...

"When I voted yesterday electronically, the first vote that you vote for on the ballot is the presidential candidate. It was my first time doing electronic, so I didn't mark the X strong enough, or I held down too long. Because then when I went back to check it, it had not recorded my presidential vote," she said.

She then simulated her meltdown, shaking and breathing heavily while stuttering out the words, "It didn't record my presidential vote."

Here she is explaining what happened on video, followed by me explaining that it's not her fault (as she suggests in the video), and what both she, and every other voter in America needs to know about what happened to her, and how to keep it from happening to them...

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

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Election Official: '80% of Counties Do Not Have Emergency Ballots'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2008 11:13am PT  

In the suburban county of Montgomery, just outside of Philadelphia, election officials have, inexcusably, been caught off guard by a new, court-mandated directive by PA's Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro Cortes.

The directive requires that counties have enough emergency paper ballots (EPBs) on hand at polling places to ensure that voters can vote if half, or more, of a precinct's voting machines break down. County officials admit today that they were completely unprepared for the directive, and even for the likelihood of serious machine failure, despite known problems with the touch-screen voting systems they use, or the extraordinary voter turnout long-predicted for next Tuesday.

The new directive [PDF] was issued yesterday, as we reported last night in our late update to our article on the lawsuit. The successful suit was filed last week against the Democratic Secretary, by the NAACP and a local election protection coalition. It followed on Cortes' directive a month a go that EPBs needed to be given out to voters only in the event of failure of 100% of a precinct's machines.

Cortes' original directive, and even the one issued yesterday, has been seen at odds with a PA statutory provision that allowed counties to offer paper ballots in the event that just one machine has failed. PA uses Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems across most of the state, and is a key battleground for John McCain's attempt to win the White House this year...

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

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