His article offers the details of the latest findings, but for the disturbing --- and too-often hilarious --- background on this incredible continuing scandal...
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His article offers the details of the latest findings, but for the disturbing --- and too-often hilarious --- background on this incredible continuing scandal...
Meanwhile, over at tech 'zine InfoWorld, Robert X. Cringely takes notice of BRAD BLOG's exposé from earlier this week, on the man Sequoia Voting Systems is paying to "independently" review their failed AVC Advantage touch-screen machines (the ones that failed in NJ recently, but which are still set for use in the upcoming, crucial PA primary). He was as amused/horrified at whom they'd hired, instead of the actually qualified computer science professors at Princeton University whom Sequoia had threatened with legal action, should they dare a real examination of the company's faulty machines.
Cringely sums up our report succinctly this way...
One small thought in response to the good Cringely here. Sequoia are not the "gate-keepers," they just think they are, and therein lie the problems. He, we, and you are the gate-keepers. And until now, we've failed horribly to keep the crooks and liars --- like the folks at Sequoia and Diebold and ES&S and Hart InterCivic (take a look at that report please Robert, and the stunning complaint downloadable with it!) --- outside of those gates.
By the way, with the crush of other news elsewhere, and even at The BRAD BLOG this week, our rather jaw-dropping report on Gibbons (even if we say so ourselves) was largely overlooked out there by the CMSM and even the blogosphere. These stories --- the embarrassing Gibbons/Kwaidan report, the remarkable federal fraud case against Hart, and all the others here --- don't spread themselves around. Please do not misunderestimate the importance of your DIGGING, REDDIT-ing, and otherwise emailing and linking up to these stories far and wide. Notifying your local media about them (include the URL when you email them), can make all the difference.
We're doing our part, and appreciate whatever hand you can lend in return. It matters.
As we often say, this democracy ain't gonna save itself. And the gates ain't gonna keep themselves, either.
Last week, in the wake of their AVC Advantage touch-screen voting systems having been found to have failed in at least six counties following New Jersey's Super Tuesday Primary, and on the heels of much-deserved ridicule for having threatened Princeton computer scientists with legal action should they go forward with an independent technical review of their voting systems, as requested by NJ election officials, Sequoia Voting systems issued a laughable press release headlined "Sequoia Voting Systems supports third party reviews and testing of its election equipment," which John Gideon appropriately eviscerated for all of the (putting it nicely) "misleading half-truths" therein from the dishonest, desperate folks at Sequoia.
The company, which claims their oft-hacked votings systems (accidental hack here, on purpose hack here) are secure and "tamperproof", subsequently saw their own website ignominiously hacked thereafter late last week.
But, as if the constant predilections of Sequoia VPs Michelle Shafer and Edwin Smith to slap "kick me" signs on their own backs wasn't enough, they then went on to release another statement last Thursday announcing they were commissioning their own "external review" of their own voting systems "that includes review by an independent company," which nobody has ever heard of.
So who is this "Kwaidan Consulting of Houston, Texas," whom the geniuses at Sequoia have selected to carry out their independent, third-party review? You're not gonna be believe this one...
Blogged quickly by Brad from Palo Alto, CA...
We can't think of a clever enough turn of phrase this morning to adequately cover the full irony here... Via Computerworld...
A section of Sequoia Voting Systems Inc.'s Web site was hacked overnight, and when the company realized what had happened, it took the site down and removed the "intrusive content," Sequoia spokeswoman Michelle Shafer said via e-mail.
Sequoia made "security enhancements" to protect the site from further hacking, and it was back online this afternoon, Shafer said. The company is investigating the origin of the attack.
Not enough irony yet? Add this...
Yes, that would be the same Ed Felten, computer science professor of Princeton, who last week was sent a threatening email from a Sequoia executive, warning of legal trouble should he dare examine the Sequoia AVC Advantage touch-screen voting machines which failed in New Jersey's Primary Election in February.
In the wake of this latest PR nightmare for the company, as John Gideon pointed out last night, they've decided to mount a Campaign of Lies instead of simply allowing their "tamperproof" e-voting systems to be examined by a third party. Brilliant strategy, guys. As usual.
The same failed Sequoia touch-screen systems, which have never been tested by any independent third-party, are currently set for use in Pennsylvania's Primary next month. We continue to encourage readers to click here to encourage NJ's AG to immediately commission a complete technical review of NJ's voting machines to determine what went wrong.
By John Gideon VotersUnite.Org
In a press release dated March 18 Sequoia Voting Systems attempted to quench the fire storm that resulted from failures of their voting machines in New Jersey and their subsequent threats of legal action against New Jersey counties and Princeton University scientists if they independently review the problematic voting machines. Unfortunately the press release is full of inaccuracies and obfuscation.
Here are the worst of them...
-- Brad Friedman
Sequoia Voting Systems' legal threats against Princeton computer science professors and New Jersey election officials, as we reported in exclusive detail last night, have apparently had their intended effect.
The strong-arm email sent to professors Ed Felten and Andrew Appel was apparently accompanied by a two-page letter to Union County, New Jersey, Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, who originally discovered a tally failure in Sequoia's AVC Advantage touch-screen voting machines after the February 5th Super Tuesday election. The same error was subsequently discovered in at least five other counties.
Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello tells the New Jersey Times that Sequoia's decision to block an independent analysis of its touch-screen voting machines makes no sense if the firm is confident that they work properly.
"I think it's unfortunate that they're not letting an independent investigation take place," Sollami-Covello tells the paper this morning. "They should have no problem with having a third party investigate the product if they are confident in their product."
Another Mercer County, NJ, official sent a letter to the state Attorney General criticizing Sequoia's bizarre explanation for failures discovered in the systems following state's recent Primary Election, characterizing what he describes as the company's "strange, confusing solution." He said the company's explanation for the problem, which succeeded in blaming voters and poll workers as usual, was based on a "bizarre scenario, with no cited evidence or testimony" to back it up.
While NJ's state clerks association had voted unanimously to recommend that the Attorney General commission an independent study of the machines --- the same ones which will be used across the state of Pennsylvania in next month's key Democratic Primary Election --- Union County's plan to move forward with their own study has been nixed due to the legal threats sent from Sequoia's VP of "Compliance/Quality/Certification" Edwin Smith, according to a number of New Jersey papers today.
Amazingly (or perhaps, not so much at this point), Union County's attorneys folded to the pressure from the company, which claimed that Election Officials in NJ --- who spent millions on the voting systems --- are not legally allowed to examine them independently because "the voting machine software is a Sequoia 'trade secret' and cannot be handed over to any third-party."
Fear of a lawsuit from Sequoia, which will also control the state's elections in an upcoming June primary, as well as the November general election, has led to county attorneys backing down from their plans for the time being, unless the state AG jumps in to take action.
In the threatening email from Smith to the Princeton professors sent last Friday, as posted here in full last night, the company executive threatened legal action if a "non-compliant analysis" of their voting systems was carried out. "We will also take appropriate steps to protect against any publication of Sequoia software, its behavior, reports regarding same or any other infringement of our intellectual property," Smith warned.
The Star-Ledger reports the latest, almost mind-numbingly incredible, developments in your democracy, now fully and completely in the hands of privatized corporate America, this morning...
-- Brad Friedman
Sequoia Voting Systems has sent a legal threat to Princeton University computer science professors Ed Felten and Andrew Appel warning them of legal action should they proceed with an analysis of New Jersey's touch-screen voting machines as unanimously recommended last week by an association representing election clerks across the state.
In a terse email sent last Friday, obtained today by The BRAD BLOG, Sequoia's Edwin Smith, Vice-President of Compliance/Quality/Certification, warns the university academics that the company has "retained counsel to stop any infringement of our intellectual properties, including any non-compliant analysis."
"We will also take appropriate steps to protect against any publication of Sequoia software, its behavior, reports regarding same or any other infringement of our intellectual property," Smith threatens.
The email from Smith to Felten and Appel is posted in full at the end of this article. Felten has confirmed its authenticity late this afternoon.
The call by state election officials for the independent study of Sequoia's AVC Advantage touch-screen machines comes in the wake of a recent finding that the systems mistallied voter turnout totals across at least six different counties in New Jersey's February 5th Presidential Primary Election. During a post-election canvass, it was found that the number of voters for each party, as reported by the internal printouts on the electronic voting machines, failed to match totals on the internal memory cards inside the same systems in a number of instances across the state.
Sequoia's explanation for the problem, essentially blaming voters and poll workers for pushing a complicated series of buttons, was found lacking by the state election clerks.
The discovery of mistallies followed on previous embarrassment for Sequoia and New Jersey when several machines failed to boot up at all on the morning of the Super Tuesday Election, causing a 45-minute delay for NJ's Governor John Corzine before he was finally able to cast a vote at his polling place in Hoboken.
The very same Sequoia AVC Advantage systems which failed in New Jersey, will be used across Pennsylvania in that state's upcoming --- and rather important --- Primary Election next month.
Sequoia has good reason to be concerned about what may come of an analysis by professors Felten and/or Appel. Both of them have previously detailed major voting machine security flaws, and the ability to easily hack into such systems made by both Sequoia and Diebold Election Systems...
Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.Org
The Newark Star-Ledger is reporting that New Jersey election officials have found a discrepancy in the state's Primary Election results as reported on the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines used on Super Tuesday. Voter totals reported by the internal paper tapes on their Sequoia AVC Advantage DRE in a number of counties are failing to match up with totals found on the memory cartridges, used for both ballot definition and results storage, on the same machines, according to the report today...
The numbers from the cartridges that print out vote tallies and the paper-tape backup within the machine didn't match. Rajoppi asked her colleagues in other counties to perform the same test, and similar problems were found in voting machines for Bergen, Gloucester, Middlesex and Ocean counties.
Problems with Sequoia's AVC Advantage systems also emerged early on the morning of Super Tuesday, forcing a 45 minute delay for the state's Governor, who was unable to cast his vote when the machines failed to boot up on Election Day. In February of last year, the same machines were hacked by a Princeton University Professor after he'd been able to purchase a number of the $8000 systems for just $86 apiece on the Internet.
The Star-Ledger today goes on to report some of the details on the latest failures now emerging in New Jersey during the state's post-election canvassing...
The conspiracy theorists at the New York Times today tell us something is amiss, but proceed to ultimately tell us nothing about why it happened, suggesting that all is just fine...and that it'd be even better if the city "upgraded" to new electronic voting machines...
That anomaly was not unique. In fact, a review by The New York Times of the unofficial results reported on primary night found about 80 election districts among the city’s 6,106 where Mr. Obama supposedly did not receive even one vote, including cases where he ran a respectable race in a nearby district.
City election officials this week said that their formal review of the results, which will not be completed for weeks, had confirmed some major discrepancies between the vote totals reported publicly — and unofficially — on primary night and the actual tally on hundreds of voting machines across the city.
In the Harlem district, for instance, where the primary night returns suggested a 141 to 0 sweep by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the vote now stands at 261 to 136. In an even more heavily black district in Brooklyn — where the vote on primary night was recorded as 118 to 0 for Mrs. Clinton — she now barely leads, 118 to 116.
So how did the numbers change from 141-0 to 261-136 and from 118-0 to 118-116? No confirmed explanation is given, but some lazy guesswork about how votes are counted on NYC's old lever voting machines is proffered by local Election Officials, and dutifully passed on by the Times who --- before proceeding with a misleading "ad" for new electronic systems --- soothes our concerns by informing us that an unspecified number ("a handful") of districts also reported zero votes for Clinton in the original, unofficial tallies...
[Updated at bottom of article with an "explanation" from the WA state GOP chairman. This story gets more bizarre by the minute. Be sure to check the updates if you read this story earlier.]
"The Huckabee Presidential Campaign will be exploring all available legal options regarding the dubious final results for the state of Washington State Republican precinct caucuses," according to a statement posted today on their official campaign website.
It was 2:30am on the West Coast last night as we noticed CNN was reporting only 87% of precincts counted from Washington state's Republican Caucus yesterday. Just over 200 votes separated the leader John McCain from Mike Huckabee in a very close second, with Ron Paul coming in a very close third.
Throughout the day, according to Josh Marshall at TPM, Huckabee had been leading in the returns until very late, when McCain pulled just ahead of him by just a few votes.
"With 87% of the returns counted," writes Marshall, "the Washington state GOP, which runs the caucuses stopped releasing results. That left us and a lot of other news organizations in a bit of a quandary last night since it looked like McCain was going to pull it off. But as late as 1:30 AM on the east coast promised new results kept failing to materialize."
And then, in the middle of the night, the state GOP posted a press release declaring McCain the winner, even with some 13% of the votes still unreported, and just 242 votes --- out of 13,745 reported so far --- separating McCain from Huckabee who'd finished a "strong second" according to the GOP release.
"In other words," Huckabee campaign chair Ed Rollins says in their statement this morning, "more than one in eight Evergreen State Republicans have been disenfranchised by the actions of their own party."
"Now, I think it would be borderline for a media organization to declare one candidate a winner when the margin separating first and second was 1.8% with 13% of the results still uncounted," writes Marshall today. "But for the officials holding the election to declare the result on that basis is simply bizarre. But that's what they did."
Of course, none of that kept the always-responsible Reuters news service from declaring "McCain wins Washington state Republican contest" at 8:10am ET this morning.
This afternoon, the Huckabee camp is announcing they are prepared to go to court if necessary, as the candidate himself declared that "weird things" are going on in Washington while on NBC's Meet the Press.
At the same time, the results of the GOP Louisiana Primary, as announced by the state, are even closer than those so far released in Washington. Though because the election was held on wholly unverifiable electronic voting machines, everyone will simply have to settle for whatever numbers the faith-based systems reported to them, no matter how close the margin...
Blogged on the fly by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org
The Associated Press is reporting that the two Sequoia AVC Advantage touch-screen voting machines at the Hoboken Fire Department Engine Company No. 2 on Washington Street would not work for about 45 minutes as the polls opened this morning. This polling place just happens to be the location where New Jersey Governor John Corzine votes, or was at least scheduled to at 6:15am. He was unable to cast his vote until 7:00am according to the reports.
AP notes that several voters were turned away this morning until they were able to get one of the machines working. Fox "News" reported earlier that there were no provisional ballots at the poll site, so voters had no choice but to wait for the machines to be fixed or to choose not to vote at all.
Update by Brad Friedman flying in...
After virtually ignoring the issue for some six straight years, our hometown newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, has run a two-part, 2,800-word "series" on concerns about voting machines, right on schedule, just in time to do absolutely no good at all before next week's upcoming Tsunami Tuesday election in the state. Waytago, LATimes!
The series reports absolutely nothing that has not already been reported over the last several years here at The BRAD BLOG, which is why the LATimes folks makes the big bucks and we don't.
They do, however, include an important point at the very end of the second article, in quoting from one of the country's most notable long-time voting machine apologists, Kimball Brace...
Earlier today from a Palm Beach Post blog item...
On his syndicated talk show this afternoon, Limbaugh said he was trying to vote in today’s primary when the screen seemed to freeze or “stick” on the list of presidential candidates.
“I hit ‘Next’ and it didn’t go there,” said Limbaugh, who lives in Palm Beach and often recounts the county’s electoral foibles on his show.
Then he hit the “Back” button and “got my candidate page again with the vote already recorded there. So I said ‘hmmmmm, I wonder if this is going to count twice.”
So he unclicked his favored candidate, clicked that candidate again and hit “Next” a second time - and it worked.
“I don’t know if I voted twice,” he said. “Probably not.”
For the record, although Florida's Republican governor and legislature have voted to finally trash the touch-screens and move to all paper ballot elections, today's Primary still uses the old touch-screens in many counties. Elsewhere, problems are occurring --- yet again --- with the paper-based Diebold op-scan systems in the Sunshine State. The same machines used in New Hampshire, and the same ones seen being hacked in HBO's Hacking Democracy, are reportedly failing in several locations there. More on that soon.
The touch-screen systems used by Palm Beach County, also home of voter fraud felon Ann Coulter, are made by Sequoia Voting Systems.
Colorado's Republican Secretary of State, Mike Coffman, has announced that a number of Colorado's e-voting machines have failed state certification testings, and will not be allowed for use in the 2008 election cycle. The announcements came at a news conference in Denver which completely just minutes ago.
Describing the state's testing of four major voting machine companies previously certified in the state, Coffman explained to reporters at the presser that there were "over 3000 tests on each vendor['s systems], and over 40,000 pages documenting the tests."
"This has been an extensive process," he said, after detailing several remarkable findings from each of the systems testing. For example, test results showed that paper-based optical-scan systems made by Hart InterCivic "could not accurately count ballots." While Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) systems made by ES&S, the world's largest supplier of voting systems, could be disabled by "denial of service" attacks at the polling place with a device as simple as a magnet.
"If you were to put a magnet in close proximity or inside the port," Coffman said at the press conference today, "that would, in fact, disable that particular voting machines and it would have to be literally reprogrammed...to bring in back into circulation for that election."
While virtually all of the systems tested were found to have major vulnerabilities, a number of them were "conditionally certified" for use as long as new security mitigation requirements are met. Notably, both op-scan systems and DREs made by Diebold (now known as Premier) were given conditional certification for use, despite Diebold systems having been banned in several states previously, including California, Ohio and Florida, due to a long list of critical vulnerabilities.
A summary of the decertified and conditionally certified systems follow (links to more information on each, at the end of this article):
Coffman's announcement comes today, months after the state had hoped to have the results available, due to sluggish participation by the voting machine companies, many of whom delayed supplying required information, such as voting system source code, as requested by the Secretary of State's office.
All of Colorado's electronic voting systems were decertified just prior to the November 2006 election when a state judge ruled, in a lawsuit brought by state voters, that testing and certification procedures for e-voting systems in the Centennial State were inadequate, largely non-existent, and in violation of state law. As the judge's decertification order came just prior to that years' elections, the systems were allowed for use, but decertified immediately thereafter. The state was forced to begin the certification process from scratch thereafter...
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
KTLA News reports on the rush to prepare paper ballots for upcoming elections, including next February's California presidential primary now that Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified electronic voting in 29 counties because the machines proved vulnerable to hackers.
The piece also features Riverside County election integrity activist (and hero) Tom Courbat of SAVE R VOTE who raises concerns about Sequoia's role in counting the paper ballots, "when these ballots go into electronic tabulating machines there is no way to tell whether or not they have been programmed to flip the vote and rig the election." While Registrar of Voters, Barbara Dunmore, agrees with Courbat about the vulnerability of electronic machines, she believes election officials have put in place safeguards that will ensure fair elections.
For more on Courbat's tireless efforts to protect democracy in Riverside County see this video mashup.
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