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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, September 1, 2014
Erick Erickson's Global Warming Denialist Tantrum
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Since the EAC Refuses to Notify Them, We Hope You Will...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2007 4:32pm PT  

A commenter over at DU asked which states used the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting system found vulnerable to an undetectable countywide vote-flipping virus which can be implanted by a single person, as we reported this morning.

Based on our quick review of a county-by-county database of voting systems, sorted by state, as made available by Common Cause (EXCEL spreadsheet downloadable here) just prior to the November 2006 elections, it looks like the answer is 16 states in total.

Since the EAC refuses, as our report detailed, to do their job in notifying Elections Officials about this incredibly serious vulnerability, it looks like it's up to you to notify your state's Secretary of State and/or county Election Officials! Details on the vulnerability and mitigating steps that may be taken are detailed in this brief report at VotersUnite.org as written by a computer scientist and voting system expert well familiar with the newly discovered flaw. Please refer your voting officials to both our original article, and that scientific report for more details at the following URLs:

The states which use the ES&S iVotronic affected (with firmware versions either 8 or 9, with or without a so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail") are as follows:

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • New jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

If we've missed any, or any of the states above do not use the system in at least one county, please let us know and we'll amend the list.

The BRAD BLOG and You - Doing the EAC's job for them. But without the $15 million budget (or the incomprehensible incompetence).

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Scientific Report Finds 'Serious Security Vulnerability' Similar to 'Princeton Diebold Virus Hack' in Widely Used iVotronic System, Allowing a Single Person to Change Election Results Across Entire County Without Detection
Despite GAO Confirmed Mandate to Serve as Info 'Clearinghouse,' Embattled EAC Says They Will Take No Action to Alert Elections Officials, Public
By Michael Richardson on 4/16/2007 9:05am PT  

By Michael Richardson and Brad Friedman

While revelations surrounding the mysterious 18,000 "undervotes" in the November 2006 U.S. House election between Christine Jennings and Vern Buchanan in Florida's 13th Congressional district continue to inform the nation about the dangers of electronic voting machines, new information has recently come to light exposing a shocking lack of responsible oversight by those entrusted with overseeing the certification of electronic voting systems at the federal level.

An investigation into what may have gone wrong in that election has revealed a serious security vulnerability on some, and possibly all, versions of the iVotronic touch-screen voting system widely used across the country. The iVotronic is a Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting machine manufactured by Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), the nation's largest distributor of such systems.

The vulnerability is said to allow for a single malicious user to introduce a virus into the system which "could potentially steal all the votes in that county, without being detected," according to a noted computer scientist and voting system expert who has reviewed the findings.

And yet, despite their federal mandate to serve as a "clearinghouse" to the nation for such information, a series of email exchanges between an Election Integrity advocate and officials at the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) has revealed that the federal oversight body is refusing to notify states of the alarming security issue.

The recent email conversation shows that even in light of the EAC's review of the warning from the computer scientist who characterized the "security hole" as severe, needing to be "taken very seriously," and among the most serious ever discovered in a voting system, the EAC is unwilling to take action.

Recent reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have taken the EAC to task for a failure to meet their legislated mandate for informing the public and elections officials about such matters. However, a review of the email communications to and from the EAC's Jeannie Layson shows that the federal body is steadfast in their refusal to take action to alert either elections officials or the public about the security risk recently discovered by a team of eight noted computer scientists.

The EAC's current Chairwoman, Executive Director, Director of Voting System Certification, and other top officials at both the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), and even the GAO, were included in the series of email communications, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

The vulnerability was initially discovered by a panel of scientists convened by the State of Florida to study the possible causes for the FL-13 election debacle. The team's discovery revealed that a design issue in the widely used iVotronic system could allow for a viral attack, by a single individual, which could then spread unnoticed throughout the electronic election infrastructure of an entire county.

A similar vulnerability was found in DRE touch-screen system made by Diebold last Summer by a team of computer scientists at Princeton University.

Attempts to seek information about EAC plans to notify other states and local jurisdictions that use the same vulnerable voting systems as the ones in FL-13 have been met with an astounding refusal, troubling denial, buck-passing, and a lack of accountability by the federal commission of Presidential-appointees. The agency has also come under fire in recent weeks for a number of questionably partisan decisions and other failures to perform as mandated by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

Of late, the EAC has been forced to respond to a great deal of controversy, on a number of different operational matters and policies, as revealed by a series of articles on this site and in mainstream outlets such as the New York Times and USA Today. Several of those matters have drawn Congressional notice, questioning of EAC officials, and letters of inquiry. Thus, this latest revelation is likely to add to the rising concern of Congress members as new federal legislation introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), currently facing mark-up by a Congressional committee, would permanently fund the now-embattled EAC. Funding for the agency was originally mandated by HAVA only through 2005.

The new ES&S iVotronic vulnerability first emerged on February 23, 2007, when the Florida Dept. of State released a report detailing their findings from the investigation into what happened in Sarasota's still-contested Jennings/Buchanan race. That election was ultimately decided by just 369 votes. The state's official findings included a report [PDF] conducted by an eight-member computer science and technology team under the auspices of Florida State University (FSU). The report sought, unsuccessfully, to determine the cause of the unexplained "undervotes" reported by the iVotronic touch-screen voting systems used in Sarasota's portion of the FL-13 race on Election Day and in early voting.

Although the reason thousands of votes turned up missing from those systems remained unknown, the study team did discover a serious security flaw in the iVotronic system that is used in Sarasota and many other jurisdictions across the country (and even the world, as France is set to use the same systems in their upcoming Presidential Election.)

Election integrity watchdog John Gideon, a frequent BRAD BLOG contributer and the Co-Director and Information Manager for VotersUnite.org, says that the security flaw may pertain to "every ES&S iVotronic voting machine used in the US and overseas." A total of eight separate versions of the system --- without and without so-called "voter verified paper audit trail" (VVPAT)" printers --- are currently approved as qualified at the federal level, he explained. Three of those are definitely affected and it is likely that the others are as well.

The details, the dangers, and the denials are all described below...

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

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'Frivolous' Lawsuit Seeks to Void $9 Million Contract Awarded to Rival Voting Machine Vendor
A BRAD BLOG Exclusive Report from the Courtoom in Boston...
By Michael Richardson on 3/28/2007 1:48pm PT  

Guest Blogged By Michael Richardson

BOSTON - Diebold Election Systems, Inc., the controversial voting machine supplier, won't be supplying Massachusetts with its machines in 2008 and the company is not happy about it. So they are suing the state over the lost contract bid. But the solemn tone of Diebold's lawyer, William Weisberg, speaking in a hushed voice almost swallowed up by the stately, high-ceilinged courtroom of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this week, drew laughter from the jovial judge with a Cheshire cat grin and raised chuckles from the courtroom audience.

In a real upside-down, topsy-turvy presentation, Diebold was arguing on behalf of the state's taxpayers and kept talking about the "public interest" --- all while pitching to get its lucrative contract approved. In February, after a year-and-a half selection process, Secretary of State William Galvin picked rival company ES&S to supply the state with AutoMARK, accessible electronic voting equipment, as mandated by the Help America Vote Act.

As reported by the Boston Globe...

Galvin chose AutoMARK voting machines, in part because he said the machines produce the same kind of ballot card as other voting machines, so the ballots could be counted together. He said the Diebold machines produced a paper trail that could compromise the secrecy of ballots cast.

He also said that disabled voters who tested all the machines preferred the AutoMARK machines.

The hearing in the recently filed lawsuit was over Diebold's three emergency motions for a temporary injunction to stop delivery of the ES&S equipment, an expedited discovery order, and a confidentiality order. The judge later ruled, after the hearing, against all three motions although he allowed the lawsuit to proceed on a regular schedule.

While laughing, the judge wondered aloud about admissions made by Weisberg in the news paper that seemed to wholly contradict his failed court room strategy...

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

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Team's Lead Investigator, Alec Yasinsac --- a Noted Republican Partisan --- Claims No Knowledge of Voting Machine Company's Pre-Testing Dictates...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2007 1:51pm PT  

Over the weekend we reported on the newly unearthed "agreement" letter sent by voting machine company ES&S to Florida's chief of Voting System Certification, David Drury, dictating the company's demands for the narrow terms of testing for the source code and hardware of the touch-screen voting systems which failed so spectacularly in the state's 13th Congressional District election between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R) last November.

In the still-contested election, an exceedingly high 18,000 "undervotes" were registered by the ES&S touch-screen DRE voting systems in Democratic-leaning Sarasota County only, in the race which was ultimately decided by 369 votes in favor of the Republican.

In our coverage, we asked a series of questions about the letter and whether the "independent" team of scientists convened by the state to review the source code had been apprised of ES&S's very strict litany of specific narrow conditions for testing (including their insistence that they be allowed to review, edit and/or comment on the final report before its release).

Yesterday, Alec Yasinsac, the "Lead Principal Investigator" of the scientific panel convened at Florida State University --- a noted Republican partisan --- released a response to some of questions [PDF] on behalf of the state-convened panel of scientists.

The bulk of that response follows, as well as a comment or two of our own in response...

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

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Terms of 'Independent' State Run Audit, Source Code Review Dictated by Voting Machine Company to Florida State Election Director Prior to Tests of Failed Touch-Screen Voting Systems from Contested Jennings/Buchanan Election!
By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2007 6:02pm PT  

The private voting machine company which manufactured the touch-screen hardware and software used during Sarasota, Florida's contested District 13 Congressional election between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R) sent a letter in December of 2006 to David Drury, the chief of the state's Bureau of Voting Systems Certification, dictating the terms of the state-run audit convened to investigate the causes for massive undervote rate which seems to have tipped the election.

The extraordinary 3-page letter (posted in full at the end of this article) from Electronic Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) Vice President, Steven Pearson, is described as an "agreement" and instructs Drury on what may and may not be disclosed in the state's final audit report regarding the investigation.

The audit, for which ES&S was dictating terms to the state of Florida, was of their own voting systems used in the disputed race where 18,000 undervotes were discovered in the FL-13 election. The race was ultimately certified by the state with a 369 vote margin in favor of the Republican Buchanan, and is currently being contested in state court, and in Congress under the Federal Contested Elections Act.

"David, below are ES&S source code review guidelines for the conduction of any review of source code to be performed by the Department of State and any agent acting on your behalf as a result of the under vote investigation from the Sarasota County mid-term election. It is our desire the methodology and focus of the review be performed in a manner that incorporates the items described below," the agreement begins, before including a long, bullet-pointed and very narrow litany of specific dictates concerning what may and may not be done and/or discussed by the state-convened panel of investigators in their final report...

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

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Clark and Taylor Counties Short-Changed as Nation's Top Voting Machine Vendor is Yet To Deliver Materials for Election Just 12 Days Away...
By John Gideon on 3/23/2007 2:09pm PT  

Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

The country's largest supplier of voting machines, ES&S, is at it again. BRAD BLOG readers will remember last year's extraordinary string of ES&S failures and meltdowns week after week during the primary elections and then general election across the country. Last year the excuse for late delivery of materials and other related failures in scores of states and counties was that everyone wanted materials all at the same time and ES&S was just too busy. So what's their excuse this time?

According to John Washburn's excellent blog Washburn's World, election officials in Clark and Taylor Counties in Wisconsin are still awaiting delivery of Personal Electronic Ballots (PEB), memory cards, and paper ballots, and they have an election in just 12 days; April 3...

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

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FULL LETTER POSTED: ES&S Urged State, Local Officials to Take Corrective Measures Three Months Prior to Contested Jennings/Buchanan Race Last November
Election Integrity Advocate's Warning About Bug Also Ignored Both Before and After Election...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2007 4:28pm PT  

Melinda Henneberger at Huffington Post runs a news item today concerning an August 2006 letter from the voting machine company ES&S to Florida Elections officials warning about a defect in the iVotronic touch-screen voting machine which succeeded in losing the votes of some 18,000 voters in the razor-thin election between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R) in Florida's 13th U.S. House Congressional district. Buchanan was provisionally seated, pending a Congressional challenge and state lawsuit filed by Jennings, after he was declared the "winner" by 369 votes.

The Sarasota, FL, Election Supervisor, Kathy Dent, decided against both having their machines patched to take care of the defect and posting a warning notice for voters as advised by ES&S. "No one in the State of Florida updated," their machines after receiving the letter, Dent told Henneberger. "That's because it was too close to the election. It was a state decision that it was too late to make changes."

Notably, as you'll see in the full letter as posted below, it was CC'd to David Drury, the Chief of Florida's Bureau of Voting Systems Certification. Drury, responsible for overseeing state certification of voting systems, in an extraordinary conflict of interest as we've noted several times previously, was part of the state team commissioned to audit the iVotronic systems used in the election. The commission was empaneled after the state was forced to relent and launch such an investigation in light of the controversy after their initial denials that there was any problem at all with the extraordinarily high undervote rate in the Sarasota-only section of the race.

The ES&S letter, as Henneberger noted, was only seen recently by Jennings's attorneys since "it was not provided to them by election officials as it should have been under discovery motions in the case," according to one of her attorneys.

Instead, the legal team came across the document only recently as posted "on a North Carolina-based website on election reform," according to Henneberger.

That website, as it turns out, is the NC Coalition for Verified Voting as founded by Election Integrity advocate Joyce McCloy. McCloy had attempted, both before and after the election, to get the attention of elections officials and the Jennings legal team. The letter, not linked by Henneberger, is posted here [PDF]. We've also posted the letter in full, as well, at the bottom of this article.

McCloy wrote The BRAD BLOG today expressing her frustration at trying to get anyone in Florida to take notice of the letter warning of "slow response times" to voters' attempts to select candidates on the ballot.

"I sent that memo (and my concerns) to anyone I could think of," McCloy explained in her email, "and this year to every election reform list serve that I could, posted it on political message boards. I asked and asked - has this bug been fixed?"

Apparently the answer is no; the bug was neither fixed, nor did Dent bother to warn voters in Sarasota about the problem as had been advised in the letter by ES&S.

As Henneberger reports today...

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

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Says State Report 'Provides Even More Compelling Reasons to Seek Investigation'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2007 5:08pm PT  

The Christine Jennings (D) campaign has just sent us a statement concerning today's release of the state-commissioned audit of the flawed election during her race against Vern Buchanan (R) last November in Florida's 13th Congressional District.

See our earlier full coverage of the state reports here...

"The audit of Sarasota County’s voting system was flawed, incomplete, and provides even more compelling reasons for the Christine Jennings campaign to seek a thorough investigation by outside experts," the statement begins.

The complete Jennings statement follows below...

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

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Election Integrity Advocates Contesting Race Call Report 'A Whitewash,' Cite Partisan Makeup, Conflict of Interest, Flawed Test Methods of Audit Commission
Two State Reports Released Late Friday Afternoon Reveal Contested Results Imperiled by Extraordinarily Complex Touch-Screen Voting System...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2007 3:39pm PT  

Late this afternoon, the state of Florida released a state-commissioned audit report detailing their investigation into the contested U.S. House Election in Florida's 13th Congressional district between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R).

In two lengthy and carefully worded reports, released along with a statement from the new Secretary of State, Kurt Browning (R), the state audit report [PDF] concludes that "The audit team found no evidence to suggest or conclude that the official certified election results did not reflect the actual votes cast."

A statement issued in response by People for the American Way (PFAW), who, along with VoterAction.org, are representing the voter plaintiffs contesting the election in the state, have described the report as "a whitewash." Their statement, posted in full at the end of this article, points to the partisan makeup and conflicts of interest in the commission empaneled by the state to examine the firmware of the paperless ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines used in the race.

The report "is the result of a flawed process overseen by people with a stake in the outcome," said PFAW President Ralph Neas in the statement, which also details a number of other flaws in the state's "independent" commission.

Additionally, The BRAD BLOG has found that details in one of the reports actually contradict both Browning's statement and the conclusion of the state's official audit. The reports, as well, reveal a stultifyingly complex process being employed to manage the most basic point of any election: The simple task of adding one plus one plus one...

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

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Princeton Professor Listed as Team Member Reveals He Is Not on State Convened Panel
Yet More Reason to Doubt Credibility of Partisan, Interest-Conflicted Group of Scientists Said to be Investigating Failed U.S. House Race in Sarasota...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2007 1:17pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Phoenix, AZ...

While Florida's new Republican Governor Charlie Crist deserves credit, perhaps even a rarely-bestowed BRAD BLOG "Intellectually Honest Conservative" Award --- for his recent announcement alongside Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) that he would propose some $32 million to replace the Sunshine State's failed touch-screen voting machines with paper-based optical scan systems, it seems that the old state guard is still lying and covering up for their failed e-voting systems which undermined democracy last November.

An article on the Crist/Wexler initiative from last Friday's New York Times offered this refreshing quote from the Florida Republican on concerns about the cost of tossing the state's recently purchased touch-screen systems: "The price of freedom is not cheap. The importance of a democratic system of voting that we can trust, that we can have confidence in, is incredibly important."

To that, we say, right on. But apparently the folks in Crist's Department of State (DOS) have yet to get the memo that it's time to stop covering up the massive electoral system failures in Florida.

In a blog item today by Princeton University's computer science Professor Ed Felten, he reveals that the state's "independent audit" of the contested 13th Congressional District election between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan --- in which some 18,000 votes disappeared on Sarasota County's paperless touch-screen machines in a race decided by just 369 votes --- is built on more lies than previously realized.

The Princeton University professor who led the team that revealed Diebold touch-screen systems could be hacked in less than 60 seconds and implanted with a vote-stealing virus which could undetectedly flip an entire election has exposed yet another lie from the state-convened team of scientists supposedly investigating the FL-13 incident.

The audit team, convened by state officials at the FL Department of State, has been appropriately criticized for its partisan make-up, lack of transparency, and apparent conflicts of interest in demonstrating that they were not to blame for having certified the very voting systems they have charged themselves with "investigating."

Felten, however, has revealed the case is even worse than that. Apparently they have lied about who is actually on the team, listing Felten in official documents as one of the team members despite his early refusal to take part in the state-run investigation...

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

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Princeton's Computer Science Professor, Ed Felten, Begins to Look at the Failed Jennings/Buchanan U.S. House Race in Florida, But Seems to Buy Into a Flawed Theory and Solution
'Paper Trails' on Sarasota's Voting Machines Would Have Made the Situation Worse, Not Better...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2007 1:33pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from on the road...

To be clear, despite the headline, we don't mean to call Princeton's computer science professor Ed Felten "stupid" by any means. We do, however, mean to make clear --- in no uncertain terms --- that the oft-floated idea that adding so-called "paper trails" to failed, paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines, such as those used in last November's U.S. House race in Sarasota between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R), would not have avoided the situation we're now in. In fact, such "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPAT) added to Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) systems would likely make our current crisis of democracy worse instead of better.

As we've said before, DREs with or without a VVPAT are a threat to democracy. VVPATs are little more than a band-aid at best, and more likely serve only as a panacea to offer a false sense of security.

Adding a "paper trail" to a DRE/touch-screen system is like requiring a seat belt in a Ford Pinto; what good will the seat belts do when the Pinto explodes?

Today then, Princeton's Felten (he of the infamous Diebold Touch-Screen Virus Hack) has posted an article on his blog looking at what may have happened in the contested U.S. House race in Florida's 13th Congressional District between Jennings and Buchanan, in which some 18,000 votes seem to have disappeared completely on the paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines. Just 369 votes separate the two candidates in the flawed state-certified final results.

In his essay, the first of a promised series to come this week, Felten correctly points out that the situation can only be attributed to problems with the ES&S voting machines themselves, since the undervote rate for the very same race in the very same county was a reasonable 2.5% on the paper absentee ballots, but jumped nearly 15% as recorded on the ES&S touch-screen machines.

Even ES&S's only expert witness so far to take the stand --- Dartmouth College's political (not computer) scientist, Michael Herron --- in the election contest down in Florida admitted that were it not for problems voters encountered in using those voting machines, Jennings likely would have been named the winner. That point was reported by Sarasota Herald Tribune who reported on the testimony this way: "Had those ballots been cast without problems, Jennings would have won by as many as 3,000 votes, according to the ES&S expert's statistical 'best guess.'" Reporting from both Wired News and our own discussions just after the testimony with Lowell Finley, the attorney for VoterAction.org, one of several non-partisan groups who argued the case on behalf of the Florida voter plaintiffs who joined Christine Jennings in filing an election contest, confirmed that point as well.

So the question --- for those legitimately trying to figure out what went wrong, as opposed to Buchanan and his supporters who simply want to claim the House seat as their own, even if it's an aberration of democracy --- is whether the problem was due to bad ballot design, machine malfunction, or, most likely, some combination of both. With just 369 votes between the two candidates in the state-certified final result (which is being challenged in both Florida courts and the U.S. House), virtually every analysis has determined that even a minor machine malfunction would likely have thrown the race to the Republican in the Democrat's strongest areas in Sarasota. That's where the largest undervote rates occured.

Felten's thesis, however, as he begins to discuss today in his first article on the topic, would seem to suggest --- incorrectly, in our view --- that a "paper trail" on those paperless touch-screens would have avoided this problem. We'll answer by suggesting it would only have made it worse.

In the meantime, an as-yet under-reported affidavit obtained by The BRAD BLOG from a poll worker, which accompanied a complaint filed by a Republican (yep, you read that right) in Sarasota who believes machine malfunction was clearly the culprit, seems to demonstrate clearly that a problem with the ES&S iVotronic system, not a problem finding the race on the ballot, was to blame for the massive undervote rate.

Couple that with two excellent reports from Daniel Hopsicker as filed last week (one here, the second here) analyzing, in crystal-clear detail, a number of contemporaneous news reports from Sarasota before, during, and after the election, it becomes very clear that machine failure was the problem in the FL-13 election and not "bad ballot design" --- the favored theory of folks hoping to keep the "provisionally seated" Buchanan in power.

Hopsicker's excellent review of those news reports, both as the problem was first emerging and just after the election, when voters' and poll workers' recollections were still fresh, reveals that voter and poll worker complaints at that time overwhelmingly focused on problems voters had casting their votes in particular races and not on problems finding particular races on the ballots!

We'll take a look at the complaint filed by the Republican mentioned above, along with the poll-worker affidavit, in a future report this week. But for now, we'll look at Felten's "Paper Trails Would Have Avoided the Problem" theory.

As Felten averred today...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2007 7:56pm PT  

Melinda Henneberger interviews Christine Jennings, who would have won her race for the U.S. House in Florida's 13th district were it not for the ES&S touch-screen voting machines in Sarasota County, which robbed her (so far) of her rightful seat.

We guess candidates have to actually get screwed by these machines themselves before they are capable of fully appreciating the dangers about which we write here virtually every day. At the end of Henneberger's piece, she quotes Jennings in reference to some of the oft-ignored Election Integrity Advocates (like yours truly) who have long been trying to raise the reddest of flags. In this case, Jennings refers to the good folks of the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE) with an "I'd wish I'd listened to them" sub-text impossible to ignore...

"Those people with the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections? I used to pat them on the back at Democratic meetings, but I had no idea. The vote is the great equalizer in this country - and when we've lost that, we've really lost something.''

So what will it take for the rest of the Democratic Party to start getting it?

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Voting Machine Company Claims Chairwoman's Missive 'An Attempt to Intimidate, Unduly Influence' Florida Court
Plaintiff Attorney Says Claim is 'Remarkable,' 'Takes a Lot of Chutzpah'
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2007 9:46pm PT  

Describing it as a "threat...intended to interfere with the independence of the judiciary" in Florida's 13th Congressional District election contest, one of the defendants in the case, Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), has filed a motion to strike a letter sent last week to Florida's appellate court from the Chair of the U.S. House Administration Committee, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs describe the motion as "remarkable" and "a blatant thumb in the eye of Congress."

In her January 5th letter [PDF], the new Democratic chair of the committee, Juanita Millender-McDonald, responded to a lower court's decision at the end of the year refusing the release of the computer source code used on the paperless ES&S touch-screen systems during last November's contested election. Circuit Court Judge William L. Gary held in his decision at that time that the proprietary "trade secrets" of ES&S took precedence over Florida voters' right to know what actually occurred in their own U.S. House election.

The plaintiffs in the case --- Democrat Christine Jennings and several non-partisan election watchdog groups --- had requested review of the source code to aid in an independent expert investigation to help determine what went wrong when Sarasota's touch-screen systems, made by ES&S, failed to report some 18,000 votes in Jennings's race for the U.S. House against the Republican Vern Buchanan.

Buchanan was certified as the "winner" by the state of Florida despite his 369 vote margin and questions about the contest based on the extraordinarily high undervote rate on Sarasota County's voting systems. The still-unexplained undervote rate in the county was approximately five times higher than in the same race in neighboring counties, and similarly much higher than the undervote rate in the same race on the paper absentee ballots in the very same county.

In today's motion [PDF], obtained this afternoon by The BRAD BLOG, ES&S demands the court strike Millender-McDonald's letter from the record. They claim that it's an "unauthorized, non-party response" and that her letter was a "thinly veiled attempt...to intimidate this Court and unduly influence its deliberations in order to give Petitioner [Jennings], a member of Millender-McDonald's political party, an unwarranted advantage in this election contest."

That, despite the fact that Jennings has challenged the election in the U.S. House under the Federal Contested Elections Act and that a letter [PDF], similarly from the U.S. House Administration Committee --- then under Republican rule --- sent to a California court was instrumental and cited by the Judge in the dismissal of a contested U.S. House Special Election last summer between Brian Bilbray (R) and Francine Busby (D) in California's 50th district.

David Becker, a Senior Attorney at PFAW Foundation, one of the groups supporting the voter plaintiffs in the case, tells The BRAD BLOG that the claims made by ES&S in their motion "take a lot of chutzpah." ...

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

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Debra Bowen Appoints Lowell Finley of Election Integrity Watchdog Group VoterAction.org to Role of 'Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy'
[UPDATED] Critics of E-Voting Hail News as 'Collosal Suprise,' Very Good for Voters, Very Bad for the Nation's Electronic Voting Machine Companies...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2007 2:31pm PT  

It may not be a very good day in the corporate offices at Diebold, but The BRAD BLOG has learned some big news that may well indicate today is a very good day indeed for the voters of America and specifically in California.

As incoming Sec. of State Debra Bowen was sworn in to her new office just moments ago, The BRAD BLOG can now reveal that one of the nation's top critics of unverifiable electronic voting systems --- and a key player across several states in the legal battles against voting machine companies such as Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Hart Intercivic --- is today being named by the new California Sec. of State Debra Bowen as Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy.

Lowell Finley, the lead attorney for the non-partisan voting machine legal watchdog organization VoterAction.org, will be named to the position today.

In his new capacity, Finley will oversee testing and certification for all voting machine technology in the State of California. In a phone call this morning, Finley confirmed that he would be working closely in his new role with key national associations like the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC).

E-voting critics and at least one California Registrar of Voters have hailed both the swearing in of Bowen as SoS and her appointment of Finley, expressing delight to The BRAD BLOG over the news, characterizing it as a "colossal surprise" and a "very, very good sign for the future of voters' rights in California."

America's voting machine companies are less likely to feel quite as happy about the news.

Finley and VoterAction have filed a number of landmark lawsuits in several states, including in California, over the past year or so, demanding an immediate halt to the use and purchase of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) voting systems and decertification of many of those systems, as well as improved processes for certification of such systems.

VoterAction is one of over 30 Election Reform organizations who recently went on record with an open letter to Members of Congress demanding federal legislation requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast in America. Such legislation would effectively ban the use of DRE systems, with or without a so-callled "Voter Verified Paper Trail" (VVPAT).

Bowen has been a dogged critic of former Secretary of State Bruce McPherson during her candidacy and in her role overseeing the Elections Committee as a California State Senator. She has criticized his lack of oversight and lax testing procedures, and has championed a "Voters' Bill of Rights" for the Golden State.

While a suit by VoterAction.org filed against former SoS McPherson and several CA Registrars of Voting --- concerning McPherson's certification of Diebold TSx touch-screen systems --- is still pending in state court, the disposition of that suit will likely change due to the fact that the lead defendant, McPherson, is no longer in office.

The Berkeley-based attorney Finley --- also one of the attorneys representing voter plaintiffs in the contested election in Florida's 13th Congressional district in Sarasota --- had one of his most recent and notable successes last September, when a Colorado judge ordered a complete review of certification procedures for voting machines in the state. The court found the official placed in charge of testing and certification didn't have the qualifications necessary, and performed little or no testing. That man, John Gardner, was appointed by former CO Sec. of State Donetta Davidson, who has been appointed by George W. Bush to head the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

The news of Finley's appointment will undoubtedly be of concern to the major voting machine companies that received little oversight from the former Sec. of State McPherson.

"I wish I was a fly on the wall in the offices at Diebold as they learn of this appointment. I'm sure jaws will be dropping and damage control will be ramping up," John Gideon of election watchdog organization VotersUnite.org told us today. (Gideon is also a frequent Guest Blogger here at The BRAD BLOG.) ...

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

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Letter Could be Precursor to Congressional Subpeona as Necessary...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2007 3:18pm PT  

Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, the new chair of the U.S. House Administration Committee, has sent a letter to the Florida Court of Appeals currently reviewing the absurd decision made late in the day on the last day the year by circuit court Judge William L. Gary to disallow release of the source code from the paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines to the plaintiffs who have requested it in the state election contest in the U.S. House race in Florida's 13th district.

Gary found at the time that release of the material would "result in destroying or at least gutting the protections afforded those who own the trade secrets." In other words, the private corporate interests of the ES&S voting machine company was more important than allowing Florida voters to try and determine the valid winner of an election.

The election is one of five now being contested in the U.S. House under the Federal Contested Elections Act, and we'd suggest Millender-McDonald's letter may serve as a precursor warning to the courts that the committee may use their subpeona power to get at the source code if the Florida courts refuse to allow its release.

Electronic Frontier Foundation covers the news here with the short letter itself linked here [PDF].

It is [...] of concern that the parties have been unable to agree upon, and that, on December 29th, the lower court declined to order, the requested access to the hardware and software (including the source code) needed to test the contestant's central claim: voting machine malfunction.
...
[T]he House is well served in its own deliberations by having before it a complete record. Consequently, Florida law will facilitate the evaluation of the election contest pending before the House to the extent that it provides access to relevant and critical evidence. I am confident that this can be done in a way that accommodates the valid interests of the parties, and resolution of these issues may obviate the need for the House to address them.
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