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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By Brad Friedman on 9/15/2006 4:55pm PT  

Just in case you thought Diebold was the only American voting machine company worthy of public mistrust...This just in on ES&S, the nation's largest supplier of electronic voting systems (and the one with the most disastrous record of failing in elections so far this year!)...

Minneapolis, MN –Mark Ritchie, the DFL endorsed candidate for Minnesota Secretary of State, released details today of a break-in and burglary of Election Systems and Software's (ES&S) Waite Park, Minnesota office that occurred on August 19, 2003. ES&S is the world's largest producer of ballot counting machines. Their vote-counting machines are used in all but four counties in Minnesota. Along with these details, Ritchie released the following statement:

To my knowledge ES&S has not notified any election officials about this crime which was a serious incident of personal information theft and may be a significant breach in the security of elections conducted on ES&S machines.

More at Ritchie's campaign website...

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Man Appointed by SoS to Certify Voting Machines for State Has No Computer Science College Education, Failed to Test Machines for Hackability or Much Else
Colorado Democratic Party Calls on Voters to Vote by Absentee Ballot, Citizens Group Calls for Investigation of SoS
By Brad Friedman on 9/15/2006 2:06pm PT  

It's incredible (or is it at this point?) but the lawsuit filed by several Colorado voters to ban touch-screen voting machines manufactured by Diebold, ES&S, Hart InterCivic and Sequoia in the state has revealed that the state's appointed "expert" --- responsible for certifying voting systems --- has no actual college training in computer science and failed to do any actual testing of the systems before certifying them!

As reported in an excellent article from Rocky Mountain News news this morning...

[Democratic candidate for Sec. of State, Sen. Ken] Gordon and the Democratic Party were alarmed by a deposition in the case released this week, in which the secretary of state's staffer in charge of testing the machines says he did only 15 minutes of security checks. The staffer, John Gardner Jr., also said he had no college training in computer science, causing Gordon and others to question whether he was qualified for the job. Gardner also had been information technology chief for the El Paso County clerk, which runs elections there.

The plaintiff's attorneys say Gardner's security checks on the four systems did not include attempts at hacking. Instead, Gardner merely checked whether the manufacturers included security documentation.

"Of course" Gardner should have tried hacking, [plaintiff attorney Paul] Hultin said. "Isn't that the idea of a test?"

The issue was also covered quickly in a Denver Post article last night:

...the Secretary of State's office certified a kind of voting machine for Jefferson and Mesa Counties that does not meet state requirements.

The information comes from the deposition of John Gardner - the man appointed by [Colorado Sec. of State] Gigi Dennis as an expert and charged with certifying the machines.

But Gardner testified he is not an expert in the areas required by state law. He also admitted that the Secretary of State's office was under pressure to certify the voting machines because counties had already purchased them.

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

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County Charter Amendment Had Been Challenged by County Commissioners in Court
By John Gideon on 9/14/2006 6:20am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE) has just announced that a Sarasota County Judge has found in their favor and against the county voting officials and the Florida Secretary of State.

SAFE had been proposing a ballot initiative that would require voter verified paper ballots and independent random audits of election results in Sarasota County. The County Commissioner chose to go to court instead of allowing the legal petition to move forward.

The press release from SAFE says:

Judge rules that County commissioners must submit amendment proposed by citizen petition to a vote

Chief Judge Robert B. Bennett, of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, State of Florida issued a final judgment on the petition for writ of mandamus by the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections that "the Board of County Commissioners of Sarasota County shall submit the proposed amendment to the Sarasota County Charter to the Sarasota County electorate in accordance with the requirements on provisions of Article VII of the Sarasota County Charter." The amendment requires voter verified paper ballots and independent random audits of election results in Sarasota County.

This ruling in favor of the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections validates the process of proposing amendments to the charter via citizen petition. Over 14,500 voters in Sarasota County from all precincts, all demographic groups, and all political parties signed a petition for paper ballots and mandatory audits as opposed to the paperless touchscreen voting system now used in Sarasota County and 14 of the other most populous counties in Florida. This was well over the 12,030 or 5% of the registered voters needed to put the referendum on the Sarasota County ballot in November.

Rather than voting to authorize the election at their August 22nd meeting, the County Commissioners, on the advice of the County Attorney, filed a lawsuit for a declaratory judgment on the language of the petition, challenging its constitutionality.

Judge Bennett's decision validates the right of citizens to vote on the measure, and affirms the legality of much of the petition, which is the criterion for placement on the ballot. The Board of County Commissioners must respond to the judge's ruling in their meeting on September 13th. The resolution setting the election along with the ballot language must be delivered to the Supervisor of Elections by Friday, September 15th in order to print the referendum on the November 7th ballot.

The complete ruling of Chief Justice Bennett can be seen on the website of the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE), at

This is a big announcement from a hard-working group of activists who still have an uphill battle to force their county to use a voter verified, auditable voting system.

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Catskill Center For Independence Denies They Took Anything But Claim Money Was Offered...And This Isn't the First Such Example...
By John Gideon on 8/2/2006 8:55pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Today Oneonta, NY's The Daily Star reported that Chris Zachmeyer, executive director of the Catskill Center For Independence, said Tuesday that voting-machine manufacturers have tried to contribute money to her organization, which has given testimony on which voting machines Otsego County should buy.

"It’s happened a couple of times," said Zachmeyer, who declined to identify the manufacturers.

"I told them, ’I’d love to take your money, but I can’t,"’ Zachmeyer said. "Those were my words exactly, and I would love to take their money because they’ve got deep pockets and we’re a small agency."

"But to what end?" Zachmeyer asked. "We would lose any credibility that we ever had, and no amount of money is worth it.

"We exist totally on our credibility," she said. "If people don’t trust what we have to say, we might as well lock our doors and go home."

But with "millions of dollars at stake" it may well be that "back-door deals" may have been made as Voting Machine companies may be paying disabilities groups to testify on their behalf. It wouldn't be the first time.

As the article goes on to report...

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

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Republican Primary Saw Popular Incumbent Nearly Lose, Save for a Hand Count of the Paper Ballots
Unlike San Diego's Busby/Bilbray Race, Iowa Election Officials Took Concerns of Election Accuracy Seriously!
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2006 12:59pm PT  

"More evidence tonight that the security of our elections, the integrity of our democracy are at risk from electronic voting machines. A county in Iowa has just come close to putting the wrong candidate in office because of a massive programming error."

This Dobbs report underscores the problems in the Busby/Bilbray CA50 election fiasco, as the candidates shown as losing the election based on the optical-scan count in Iowa were later found to be winners --- but only after the ballots were actually counted by hand to determine if they were counted accurately by the machine! They were not.

By way of ironic side note, the Iowa Republican primary election in question, as we've noted here many time before, took place on June 6th --- the same day as the flawed Busby/Bilbray which nobody has yet bothered to count the op-scan votes in order to find out if the results were reported accurately. Election integrity, it seems, is more important in some states than in others, we guess.

Says Dobbs in his closing remarks to Kitty Pilgrim: "If this message is not getting through that's emanating from every corner of the country using these voting machines, I don't know what it will take."

Video in Streaming Flash format...
Video in Windows Media format...

(Hat tip David Edwards for the video, John Gideon for the transcript and tracking, etc.)

The complete text transcript of the Lou Dobbs/Kitty Pilgrim report follows...

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

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By John Gideon on 7/21/2006 10:48am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Readers of The BRAD BLOG know that the state of Arkansas had a "Train Wreck" in their primary election and that much of the blame was laid at the feet of their voting machine vendor Elections Systems and Software. Now the Associated Press and The Arkansas Democrat Gazette both report that an independent study has been done at the request of the state and the study agrees with what The BRAD BLOG has said all along.

According to the Associated Press article:

InfoSENTRY Services, Inc., a Raleigh, N.C.-based information technology services firm that performed the review, said the firm received below-average ratings from county election officials.

"ES&S was too busy running helter-skelter between Little Rock and Omaha," one county official said in a survey. "The result was a woeful lack of communication with the counties."

Another election official wrote, "This was the most disorganized bunch ever to run an election in Arkansas. They were untruthful in their responses. Their performance left the burden of this election on us and greatly increased the cost."

and they go on to report:

"We also received information that the ES&S project manager in Little Rock was overwhelmed from at least mid-April until relief and replacement resources arrived in early-to-mid May," the report said. "E-mails indicate that the (secretary of state's) office notified ES&S of the resource constraints and severe schedule slippages in mid-April and requested immediate action on this issue."

The report said several county officials questioned whether ES&S would be able to provide the resources necessary for the general election given the delays with providing staff for the primary.

ES&S has the largest slice of the voting machine business in the country. They found it impossible to support a string of state primaries held over a 5 to 6 week time span. How are they ever going to be able to handle a general election where all 50 states vote at the same time?

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Tape of Live Appearance Discussing Election Integrity, Ohio 2004, E-Voting Crime 2006...
By David Edwards on 7/20/2006 7:42pm PT  

Video in Streaming Flash format...
Video in Windows Media format...

NOTE FROM BRAD: I'm still out on the road, will be for a while, and thus unable to check into the net with much frequency! Not getting all of my email either because of it, so my apologies. Thanks Dave for getting this up! More when I am able to check back in from a location with net access and enough time to get caught up-ish.

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Avante International Technology Corporation Files Suit Against Use of Paper Trail Printer, Op Scan Technology by Voting Machine Giants...
By John Gideon on 7/12/2006 12:54pm PT  

In a just issued Media Release SimmonsCooperLLC has announced that their client, Avante International, has decided to sue Diebold, Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), and Sequoia Voting Systems for infringing on their patents for voter verified paper audit trail printer and some optical-scan patents.

The full Media Release follows...

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

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CNN Notices That Wireless Personal Digital Assistants Could Wreak Havoc on Voting Machines...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2006 1:57am PT  

Blogged by Brad from San Diego...

Just in from tonight's Busby/Bilbray Democracy Shindig in Oceanside. A great event with a lively turnout (including our old buddy Jim Lampley in da house.) As promised after last night's LA event, more as soon as I can catch my breath.

Until then, here's last night's Lou Dobbs, which I think was terrific. Be sure to watch it (or read it, transcript below the fold) until the end. Lou is gettin' angrier by the day...

I posted the results of the "Quick Poll" this morning before leaving Los Angeles. In case you missed it, the question was "Do you believe that e-voting machines should be disallowed until their integrity can be assured?" The results... YES: 97%, NO 3%.

Could America finally be coming to its senses?

Too exhausted to comment on this tonight with much detail, so please be my guest and "be the blog" for us here in comments. I will point out, however, that it's nice to see folks finally discussing the threat of Palm Pilots and other PDA's (personal digital assistants, as opposed to Progressive Democrats of America) and their wireless capacity posing a threat to these stupid systems as well. Kitty Pilgrim broaches the topic in this report from Tuesday which covered the release that day of the new NYU Brennan Center report on E-Voting security. We orginally discussed the alarming possibility of a voter with a PDA when we ran an exposé on the wireless Infrared (IrDA) port we photographed on one of the older paperless Diebold touch-screen systems.

Video in Streaming Flash format...
Video in Windows Media format...

The complete text transcript follows...

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

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Plus Lou Dobbs and 97% of his viewers vote to do away with E-Voting, last night's emergency townhall briefly and other quick news applicable to the highly-questionable Busby/Bilbray results...
(The Democracy Train moves down to San Diego/Oceanside tonight! Please be there!)
By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2006 11:49am PT  

Must hit the road shortly to take the Democracy Train down to San Diego for tonight's Emergency Townhall on the Busby/Bilbray election results fiasco. If you're anywhere near San Diego or Oceanside please come out tonight! We had a great time last night in Los Angeles!

More on all of these as soon as I can catch my breath. The fine lower-cased blogger, skippy the bush kangaroo, was amongst those in attendance last night (as was Joseph Cannon of Cannonfire) and so I'll defer for the moment to skippy's coverage (since I don't have time for any of my own right). Skippy got a coupla small points slighly wrong, but I suspect he'll update since I let him know. As BRAD BLOG readers realize, unlike with AP and NY Times accuracy counts for bloggers.

Lou Dobbs report last night on the Brennan Center's year-in-the-making report on 120 threats to E-Voting Security was fan-damn-tastic. When I can catch my breath, I hope to get it, along with the video, posted in full. And more thoughts on that Brennan Center report. But for now, by way of teaser, Dobbs started it this way: "More evidence tonight that an increasing number of elections in this country can be outright stolen. And no one would ever know. It's incredible."

And, as of this hour, here are the results from his "Quick Poll" on this topic last night (you can still vote yourselves if you want)

Any questions? We're told he'll still be on the same beat tonight (6pm ET, 3pm PT --- you can send thank you notes/comments here to Dobbs for all of his very responsible coverage over the past three weeks and counting!)

Last, but most certainly not least, Washington Post covered the Brennan Center report themselves this morning. They highlighted the very message we've been trying to convey to Francine Busby, the voters in San Diego and across the nation over the last three weeks. The WaPo article begins this way...

A Single Person Could Swing an Election

To determine what it would take to hack a U.S. election, a team of cybersecurity experts turned to a fictional battleground state called Pennasota and a fictional gubernatorial race between Tom Jefferson and Johnny Adams. It's the year 2007, and the state uses electronic voting machines.

Jefferson was forecast to win the race by about 80,000 votes, or 2.3 percent of the vote. Adams's conspirators thought, "How easily can we manipulate the election results?"

The experts thought about all the ways to do it. And they concluded in a report issued yesterday that it would take only one person, with a sophisticated technical knowledge and timely access to the software that runs the voting machines, to change the outcome...

See you tonight in San Diego!

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USA TODAY Reports on Long-Awaited Landmark Analysis from Computer Scientists, Security Experts Released by the Brennan Center...
E-Voting 'Poses a Real Danger to Integrity of National, State and Local Elections' According to Study (No, Really?!)
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2006 11:30am PT  

A long awaited study of electronic voting machine security by computer scientists and security experts has been released this morning by the Brennan Center of Justice at the NYU School of Law.

Given preparations for tonight and tomorrow's "Emergency Townhall" events on the Busby/Bilbray mess (I'll be emceeing and "keynoting"), I've yet to be able to read the long report any more than cursorily, so I'm forced to defer for now to USA Today's coverage of it from this morning...

Analysis finds e-voting machines vulnerable

WASHINGTON — Most of the electronic voting machines widely adopted since the disputed 2000 presidential election "pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state and local elections," a report out Tuesday concludes.

There are more than 120 security threats to the three most commonly purchased electronic voting systems, the study by the Brennan Center for Justice says. For what it calls the most comprehensive review of its kind, the New York City-based non-partisan think tank convened a task force of election officials, computer scientists and security experts to study e-voting vulnerabilities.
Among the findings:

• Using corrupt software to switch votes from one candidate to another is the easiest way to attack all three systems. A would-be hacker would have to overcome many hurdles to do this, the report says, but none "is insurmountable."

• The most vulnerable voting machines use wireless components open to attack by "virtually any member of the public with some knowledge and a personal digital assistant." Only New York, Minnesota and California ban wireless components.

• Even electronic systems that use voter-verified paper records are subject to attack unless they are regularly audited.

• Most states have not implemented election procedures or countermeasures to detect software attacks.

Here's the complete Executive Summary [PDF] of the Brennan Report.

UPDATE 6/30/06: The complete Brennan Center for Justice report is now posted here [PDF]. Their press release announcing it is here.

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LA County's System, for example, Was Apparently Approved for Use at the Fed Level by a Former Waitress/Bartender!
By John Gideon on 6/26/2006 7:38am PT  

By John Gideon, Executive Director VotersUnite.Org

There is, for good reason, much concern and a lack of confidence in the process for federal qualification/certification of voting systems. Independent Test Authorities (ITA), who test the systems against federal standards, are not really 'independent' because they are paid to do testing by the vendors who also provide the test parameters. They look where they are told to look and go no further than that.

The next step in the process is review of the ITA test and the voting system by a panel of 'experts' called the Voting Systems Board Technical Committee. This committee is under the auspices of the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED). One might think that this part of the process would be free and clear of any reason for concern. One would be wrong...

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

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By John Gideon on 6/14/2006 9:11am PT  

The map at left shows recent ballot programming flaws across the country. (Click it for details). It is by no means indicative of all flaws. Just the ones we know about. So far.

These are just some of the places where there may be failures in Nov. 2006. How can companies that can't program a couple state's machines for a primary election do 20 to 40 states all at the same time?

Trainwreck ahead. Don't say we didn't warn you.

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By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2006 11:22am PT  

From AP today...

LITTLE ROCK --- There will be no touch-screen voting machines at polling places in eight Arkansas counties for Tuesday's runoff elections, the secretary of state's office says.

Deputy Secretary of State Janet Harris said Thursday that Desha, Garland, Jefferson, Lonoke, Phillips, Pope, Pulaski and Searcy counties had told her office they won't use the electronic voting equipment on Tuesday. The equipment is required under federal law.

Pulaski County Elections Director Susan Inman said that county decided not to use the machines after reviewing the programming code from voting machine vendor Election Systems & Software and discovering errors.

"In its entirety, it was wrong," Inman said.

Congratulations to the State of Arkansas for putting voters and the integrity of their votes over the a horrendously flawed federal statute (HAVA) rammed through Congress by a soon-to-be-indicted criminal.

If it wasn't the disasters that AR has faced so far this year in ES&S's disastrous administration of elections in that state, perhaps it was the morality tale that played out on ES&S equipment in Pottawattamie County, Iowa last Tuesday that pushed them over the edge. Either way, glad to see it. We hope the other 45 states where ES&S runs elections (or, more aptly, ruins elections) will take note.

For a bit more background on the ES&S disasters in Arkansas, see this:
ES&S MELTDOWN: Arkansas Remains an Utter Disaster...
or this:
or search BRAD BLOG for "Arkansas".
(Hat tip to Doug K.)

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Machine Counts Halted in All Races After Hand Count of Absentee Ballots Finds 128 Vote Margin for Incumbant Instead of 20 Vote Margin for Challenger Reported by Op-Scan System!
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2006 10:42am PT  

More shortly concerning my reporting on the questionable Busby/Bilbray elections results in the U.S. House special election to fill "Duke" Cunningham's CA 50th congressional seat. In the meantime, this article from yesterday's Daily Nonpareil in Iowa, about Tuesday's Republican primary there, underscores precisely what I was talking about in my report on Busby/Bilbray yesterday.

After optically scanning absentee ballots in a Republican Primary on Tuesday in Pottawattamie County, a popular, long-time incumbent was trailing a first-time college student candidate by 20 votes. Since that seemed odd, the County Auditor decided to count the absentee ballots by hand and indeed found that the incumbent had won the count instead!... By 128 votes instead of having lost it by 20!

Anybody beginning to get this yet? (...thump, this thing on?...)

In this case, the new optical scan computers being used for the first time were reportedly made by ES&S. (The ones used in Busby's San Diego race were made by Diebold). Here's more details...

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

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