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'Relax! Trump Can't Win!'
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'BradCast' 6/30/16
Historian Jon Wiener of The Nation and KPFK on his case for why Dems needn't worry, and what we think he may be overlooking...
'Green News Report' 6/30/16
  w/ Brad & Desi
US, Canada, Mexico sign clean energy pact; Report: Millions in U.S. may be exposed to lead in water; Germany bans fracking; PLUS: LED streetlights keeping AMA up at night...
Previous GNRs: 6/28/16 - 6/23/16 - Archives...
Sanders, Clinton Surrogates Clash Over Democratic Party Platform: 'BradCast' 6/29/16
Guest: Ben Norton of Salon on the fight for progressive reform; Also: Trump seeks torture, CA seeks weed, some seek 'Texit'...
1000s of CA Primary Votes 'Saved' by Citizen Observer: 'BradCast' 6/28/16
'Ballots for Bernie' vote count observer Julie Tyler explains how she helped change L.A. County's provisional tally rules...
'Green News Report' 6/28/16
  w/ Brad & Desi
Deadly WV flooding, CA fires; World emissions pact undermined by Brexit?; VW to pay $15B in emissions scandal; PLUS: TransCanada demands $15B from U.S. for KXL rejection...
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Sunday Stay or Go Toons
Some sit in, others find the exit in Pdiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons from all sides of the pond...
Brexit: If it Could Happen There...: 'BradCast' 6/24/16
Also: NC voter suppression back in court; TX spending millions on unlawful Photo ID law; Did NY voter purge hurt Sanders or Clinton more?; Climate change death toll rising in WV, China...
SCOTUS on Immigration, Aff-Action; Dems End Gun 'Sit-in': 'BradCast' 6/23/16
Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser explains new Court rulings; and we cover far more breaking news than we can even fit here...
'Green News Report' 6/23/16
  w/ Brad & Desi
Last CA nuke plant will close; Judge nixes Obama's fracking rules; Study: Toxic chemicals found in residents near fracking sites; PLUS: Researchers turn carbon emissions into stone...
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FL Rep.: Dems to 'Sit-In' Until Vote or GOP 'Hauls People Off Floor': 'BradCast' 6/22/16
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) explains House protest, calls GOP shutdown of C-SPAN 'astonishing', lack of vote on guns 'disgusting'...
Was Orlando the 'Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History?': 'BradCast' 6/21/16
Guest: USC historian Ariela J. Gross | ALSO: Trump's disastrous fundraising numbers; New polls; 700th 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 6/21/16
OUR 700TH EPISODE!!! Record heat in S.W.; Bernie wants YOU to fight climate change; PLUS: Obama climate change warning for national parks...
About That 'Stolen' Democratic Primary: 'BradCast' 6/20/16
Brad has a few thoughts. Plus: Sanders' call for progressive candidates and GOP/NRA/Trump gun lies, and more evidence elections matter...
Sunday Keepin' Bear Toons
The nation's political cartoonists on Orlando. 'PDiddie' rounds up political cartoonists response to Orlando and the end of Primary season...
Broken Party; Bernie's Message; Hillary Rising: 'BradCast' 6/17/16
A year into Trump. Sanders 'revolution' just starting? 'Red' states could turn 'blue'...
Former CDC Injury Chief on Federal Gun Research 'Ban': 'BradCast' 6/16/16
Dr. Mark Rosenberg on his 1996 'Dickey Amendment' showdown w/ Congress, NRA; Also: Dem 'filibuster' forces gun votes, Obama in Orlando...
'Green News Report' 6/16/16
House GOP to roll back pollution standards; May 2016 hottest on record; Clean Power Plan saves $38b/year; PLUS: Trump for climate action before against it...
Bullets and Ballots: 'BradCast' 6/15/16
Fights over both continue, after Orlando Massacre and Presidential primary voting. We cover the latest on both, take listener calls, and more...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Election Supervisor Refuses to Comment; Jennings Camp Says Documents Were Turned Over; Why the Hell Are We Running Our Elections This Way?
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2007 4:14pm PT  

A number of mainstream news outlets (for a pleasant change) followed up on our report yesterday (full version here, quick summary here) on the SQL Slammer Worm virus which hit Sarasota County's database network on the first day of Early Voting last year, wreaking havoc which disallowed voting for two hours in the now-contest FL-13 U.S. House election between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R). No telling what got into the MSM'ers, but perhaps it's because we ran the story at Computerworld first instead of here at the "dreaded" and "unreliable" blog.

Either way, of the several outlets we found who picked up the story (with more on the way, we're told, and local TV news coverage which we haven't been able to find online), the Brandenton Herald's coverage led the pack in advancing the story which they said "caused a stir Wednesday".

Their report includes a quote from Jennings --- who was named the loser in the race by just 369 votes, despite 18,000 reported undervotes on the county's ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines --- saying "I read the story on the Internet and I was surprised...I need to know more about it. It does bring up some security issues that I think need to be looked at."

Her campaign spokesperson, David Kochman adds, "It makes you wonder what else is there that they haven't done to take care of the machines and protect them."

But Kochman does help answer one very important question we asked in our piece yesterday, about whether or not the county had notified the plaintiff's attorneys about this incident via the discovery process...

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




SQL Slammer Worm Breached Firewall, Took Down County Database System, Halted Voting, Rewrote Admin Passwords According to Previously Unreleased Document
Further Damagage Unknown; Disclosure to Plaintiffs, Scientists in Election Contest Unclear...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2007 12:08pm PT  

Some guy named Brad Friedman has a breaking exclusive over at ComputerWorld on the contested FL-13 election between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R).

As Friedman's brilliant reportage reveals, previously unreleased documents show that Sarasota County's database network was hit by a viral worm attack on the first day of Early Voting last year. The attack, by a variant of the SQL Slammer Worm, wrought havoc on the system, bringing it to its knees for about two hours on that first afternoon of voting, leaving voters at precincts unable to cast their votes.

Details about further damage which may have occurred during, or in the wake of, the successful hack remain unclear. Whether or not the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines --- which failed to record the selections of some 18,000 voters in the election decided by just 369 votes --- or the central tabulator used in that FL-13 race were directly affected is unknown for certain. The security specialist who filed the incident report, interviewed by Friedman, acknowledges that "it's a possibility," though he believes the damage was contained and didn't spread to the Elections Supervisor's network infrastructure.

Also unclear is whether or not the viral attack and the report which documented it were disclosed in the discovery process to the plaintiff's attorneys who are challenging the election in state court and in the U.S. House. It doesn't seem so.

See more in Friedman's compelling exclusive over there, which includes a PDF of the previously undisclosed incident report describing what happened as the worm slammed an unprotected county server (which had been five years behind in security patch updates), spread throughout the system, breached the firewall, rewrote administrative passwords, and brought voting to a halt in Sarasota on October 23, 2006, the first day of Early Voting. An interestingly timed attack to say the least.

As CW only links to a PDF version of the two-page incident report, we'll be kind enough to include a graphic version of both pages below.

The previously undisclosed two-page incident report, as filed by the Sarasota County network security team, housed in the county's Suncoast Technology Center, follows in full...

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




CA SoS Debra Bowen Names Teams and Methods to be Used for 'First-of-its-Kind in the Nation' Certification, Decertification Process...
By Brad Friedman on 5/9/2007 12:28pm PT  

Doing twelve things at once today, so no time for analysis at this point. I'll just run CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen's just released statement on her promised, unprecedented, first-of-its-kind in the nation, "top to bottom review" of all of California's electronic voting systems.

The review will include "red team" hack testing for the first time ever. Done as standard operating procedure for similar security-sensitive, mission-critical commercial systems, this sort of penetration testing has never been performed on America's voting systems. Until now.

The one page summary [PDF] of the plan states:

  • [University of California] will provide specialists from its campuses, as well as experts from public and private universities and private sector companies throughout the United States to create three teams of experts to conduct the reviews.
  • Each system will undergo a thorough document and source code review, red team penetration testing, and a review to determine whether it’s accessible to all voters.
  • The review teams will provide an independent technical evaluation of the voting systems that the Secretary of State will use to carry out her statutory duty with respect to voting systems in determining whether the systems comply with current state and federal law.

There are links within her statement below where you can find more details. For example, the State's review teams will include folks such as computer security expert "hacking" Harri Hursti, and blind technology expert Noel Runyan, who has been highly critical of unverifiable touch-screen DRE voting systems.

More on all of this, perhaps, later after I've had time to review the materials myself. But for now, see the statement below for some killer quotes from Bowen...

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




New Appointee to Federal Commssion, Rosemary Rodgriguez, Releases Statement Calling for Tova Wang to be Allowed to Address Controversy Concerning the Alteration, Withholding of Her Work
RELATED FOLLOW-UP: EAC Has Still Failed to Notify States of Vote-Flipping Virus Vulnerability in ES&S iVotronic Systems, Media Has Similarly Failed to Cover It...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2007 10:11am PT  

A statement has been released by Rosemary Rodgriguez, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)'s newest, Democratic appointee in reply to yesterday's statement by writer and researcher Tova Andrea Wang, a Democracy Fellow at the Century Foundation.

The statement comes in the wake of our report yesterday detailing Wang's statement calling on the EAC to lift the gag-order that's been placed on her, so that she might respond publicly to the controversy concerning the EAC's alteration and withholding of the bi-partisan report she submitted concerning baseless allegations of an epidemic of "Voter Fraud" in America --- despite longstanding GOP claims to the contrary.

Rodgriquez is calling on her fellow commissioners to lift the gag-order on Wang so she can speak to media and others about the matter. The EAC chairmanship comprises two Democrats and two Republicans, each appointed by the President.

Wang had previously Guest Blogged for BRAD BLOG in an article titled "Where's the Voter Fraud?", written to coincide with the release of the EAC's altered version of her original report. She was unable to speak directly to their report at the time, due to the EAC's extraordinary restrictions on her.

Yesterday, Wang's statement pointed out that the EAC had refused to even respond to requests from her legal counsel on the matter. The controversy is just the latest in the continuing erosion of EAC credibility, suggesting a remarkable inability to carry out their Help America Vote (HAVA) mandate to oversee the nation's electoral system.

This latest embarrassment adds to an ever-growing list which has drawn increased Congressional scrutiny of late. It also serves to reveal still more evidence of the panel's partisan nature, compromised sense of ethics, nearly complete lack of transparency, and utter incompetence.

And following-up on a related BRAD BLOG report revealing EAC failures, the commission has still failed to notify either public or elections officials of the newly confirmed "severe" vulnerability recently discovered in ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting systems. The "security hole" would allow for a vote-flipping virus to be introduced into a voting machine by a single person which could then, in turn, flip an entire county-wide election undetectably. At least one note computer scientist has described the problem as "roughly comparable" to the Diebold Virus Hack revealed at Princeton last summer and first reported here. "Which is to say it needs to be taken very seriously," warned the scientist.

Our report on that matter, early last week, included Email statements from the EAC flatly refusing to notify any of the 16 states that currently use the voting systems which are said by the scientist to feature the "serious security problem." To date, no other media outlet has picked up that report.

EAC Vice-Chair Rodriguez's brief statement calling on the EAC to end their censorship of Wang is posted [PDF] on the EAC website, but follows here below in full...

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




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).




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!... ---




'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!... ---




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!... ---




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!... ---




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!... ---




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!... ---




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!... ---




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!... ---




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!... ---




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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