After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
The final day of testimony over the Pima County Democratic Party's public records request featured the remainder of the county's witnesses for the defense, a surprise call on an adverse witness, and pugnacious closing arguments. The matter now rests with Judge Michael Miller, who says he will decide the case within the next two weeks.
In brief, the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party is demanding Pima County release the Diebold GEMS tabulator databases containing voting data from the 2006 election, and those from all future elections, arguing that they are public records. The GEMS software is highly insecure, allowing anyone with access to the computer it runs on to manipulate the outcome of elections at will and likely cover their tracks. Elections are thus highly succeptable to manipulation by elections insiders, and there is no way to detect or deter them without access to the databases for forensic analysis. Pima County's position is that we should trust them to take care of that risk through internal checks and balances, and that releasing the databases simply creates more security risks by outsiders seeking to hack an election.
Both experts sought to convince the judge of the many security threats posed by release of the GEMS databases, and in my view, failed to sustain that position under the cross examination of the Democrats' attorney Bill Risner. Risner poked holes in all the threat scenarios the experts presented, showing them to be impracticable, absurd, or simply undefined.
She even had her G-man former beau go as far as to name a BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger as a "stalker," despite a complete lack of any evidence for same, as justification for lying on her voter registration form. This is one sick person. But you likely already knew that.
Controversial conservative writer Ann Coulter didn't break election laws when she registered at an address other than hers in Palm Beach and voted in the wrong precinct in February 2006.
That's what the Florida Elections Commission declared after investigating a complaint of fraud that WPB Democratic political consultant Richard Giorgio made this summer. The reason? The two-year statute of limitations expired. The clock started ticking when Coulter registered to vote, shortly after her arrival in June 2005, not when she voted.
And though the commission verbally slapped the TV quote-machine for not listening to a poll worker who tried to steer her to the right place, investigators found no probable cause that Coulter willfully violated the law.
Commission counsel Charles Finkel couldn't be reached for comment, but Giorgio called the opinion "arbitrary."
"We have an election commission that's hesitant to enforce the law," he said.
Coulter's voting also has been investigated, so far, by Palm Beach Police, the PBC Supervisor of Elections and the sheriff's office — and all declined to file charges.
She's as innocent as O.J. --- But with far fewer scruples.
Next time you hear Republicans ginning up unevidenced claims of massive "Democratic Voter Fraud," just point them right here: http://www.BradBlog.com/CoulterFraud and note that not one damn Republican in Florida, or the United States of America, did a damn thing about it.
Please feel free to contribute to our Ann Coulter Dishonor Fund via an online donation to The BRAD BLOG in order to continue our efforts to investigate and highlight --- and find accountability for --- criminals such as Coulter.
The trial is heading into overtime. What was to be the third and final day of the trial ended with the Democratic Party having rested their case at the afternoon break and the County just getting into their witness list. Judge Miller called to reconvene at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning with a determination to finish the trial.
In brief, the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party is challenging Pima County to release the Diebold GEMS tabulator databases containing voting data from the 2006 election, and those from all future elections, on the presumption that they should be public records. There is a belief that the databases, if obtained by the party, may show fraud or other malfeasance by county election officials. The county maintains that releasing such information will make tampering in future elections easier, even though those same county officials and insiders have all the means and opportunity to manipulate elections.
Crane didn't do the county any favors. He undermined his own credibility, developed a great fondness for the expression "I can't recall," and, upon questioning by Judge Miller, revealed that the security threats the County claims are posed by the release of the GEMS database following an election are illusory or highly implausible.
Once the Democratic Party rested their case, the county moved for a judgment as a matter of law, which asks the judge to decide the case in their favor on just the plaintiff's testimony. It is largely a pro forma motion, but it provided an opportunity for counsels to frame the case thus far. Democrats' attorney Bill Risner took the opportunity to test a few of the themes that will likely figure in his closing arguments.
That footage of Risner making his case, is about 10 minutes long and is presented at the end of this post, hot off our press pool camera, in a BRAD BLOG exclusive. The judge took only a few minutes to decide that the plaintiffs had presented a sufficient case that the County must proceed with their side of the case.
The County put on their first witness, the elections director of Gila County, Arizona, another jurisdiction using an identical GEMS tabulation system. The choice backfired significantly. Her testimony revealed that she was completely ignorant of any security issues with the Diebold system her county uses, presumably because she relies on the Arizona Secretary of State and the Diebold corporation for security information. Her county contracts out their election preparation to a private company based in Glendale, Arizona, rather than do it in-house like in Pima County. The private company she contracts with just sends them back a prepared database, which the county then uses in their elections, never having checked the contents of the database.
Except for logic and accuracy testing (running a few sample ballots), the integrity of Gila County's elections rests entirely on the honesty of that private contractor.
The county then put on Merle King, the director of Georgia's Kennesaw College Center for Election Systems. The Democrats' legal team calls him 'The Man from Diebold.' He is a professional expert witness in voting systems who never saw a Diebold system he didn't love. The county made quite a production of eliciting the information that Mr. King had been paid the handsome sum of $10 to appear. I guess it was meant to illustrate how independent he is, but his expenses are being underwritten by someone: my money is on Diebold. His testimony and more will be available tomorrow.
In the meantime, enjoy the Democratic Party's champion Bill Risner presenting his motion for judgment, direct from the courtroom yesterday...
It was a day packed with testimony Wednesday in Tucson as the plaintiffs' attorney, Bill Risner, continued to crank through his witness list. The day ended with the last witness that will be called by the Democratic Party, Bryan Crane, whom Pima County Attorneys have repeatedly labeled "much maligned," just preparing for a rehabilitating friendly cross-examination by Pima County attorneys. Crane's testimony is pivotal to the case, and will be posted in its entirety tomorrow after cross and re-direct are complete.
To get up to speed with details on what this trial about, please see my introductory post, and if you missed yesterday's action, you may want to take a look at my summary of day one. In general, the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party, is challenging Pima County to release the Diebold GEMS tabulator databases containing voting data from the 2006 election on the presumption that it should be of public record. There is a belief that the databases, if obtained by the party, may show fraud and other malfeasance by county election officials. The county maintains that releasing such information will make tampering in future elections more feasible, even though those same county officials and insiders, currently have the easiest route to tampering with such elections, since they already have all the access they need to such information.
The witnesses on Wednesday included a slate of employees from the Pima County elections department. The summaries of the testimony of Isabel Araiza, Robert Evans, Chester Crowley, Romi Romero, and Mary Martinson are posted together on BlogForArizona.
These employees' testimony was sought by the plaintiffs to try to establish a pattern of negligent oversight and security procedures at the elections department, including the actions of head programmer, Bryan Crane (deposition video footage of Crane at bottom of this article), taking backups of election data home and illegally printing summaries that included current vote totals in the midst of elections and then sharing that data with persons not part of the election department.
The prime witnesses of the day, however, were Brad Nelson, the director of the elections department, Crane, the "much maligned" head programmer, and the man with responsibility for the entire bureaucracy, Chuck Huckleberry, the County Administrator...
Okay, we retract our hundreds of articles with evidence that Voter Fraud (as opposed to Election Fraud) is exceedingly rare. At least when it comes to Republicans and Florida.
The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that Mitt Romney supporters stuffed the "ballot box" (actually touch-screen DRE voting machines) by voting multiple times at last week's GOP straw poll in Tampa, FL, just prior to the Republican CNN/YouTube debate. Ironically enough, the video evidence, some of it posted at the end of this article, has been posted all over YouTube.
According to the Times...
Lined up at the voting machines, Paul supporters flaunted their single tickets and pledged to vote only once.
Meanwhile, some Romney supporters openly admitted to using rolls of tickets to vote multiple times. Romney won the poll with 893 votes, while Paul finished with 534.
It was all caught on tape, and the local Paul supporters rushed to share their complaints with the rest of the world.
By week's end, at least three videos hit YouTube, documenting Romney supporters - including prominent lawyer and lobbyist Fred Leonhardt - openly casting multiple votes.
In one video, a Clearwater woman and Paul supporter sat on a couch and accused Pinellas County GOP chairman and straw poll organizer Tony DiMatteo of threatening bodily harm if she didn't stop complaining.
"Tony's exact words on the phone to me was, 'If you make a big deal out of this, you will get hurt,'" Sofie Lefebvre said in the video. "And I was shocked. At that point, I realized that there was a lot more corruption going on than we even realized before."
DiMatteo dismissed the incident, calling it a non-issue that he refused to discuss any further.
"I've read some of those comments [angry ones, from Paul supporters accompanying several Youtube videos]," he said. "These are a bunch of people that need to get lives and don't understand what really happened here."
Granted, these GOP straw polls are phony from the get-go. The candidates buy tickets and give them out to supporters to show up and vote for them. They're fund raisers for the local Republican parties. But, theoretically, it's supposed to be one vote per ticket per person.
Will The 2008 Vote Be Fair? That was the topic addressed by host David Brancaccio and former Justice Department official David Becker on NOW last Friday. Part I (at left, 10:01) begins with a discussion of Photo ID laws to prevent the "invented problem" of voter fraud. The discussion continues at the 6:15 mark on the topics of voter caging and voter purging --- when the DoJ requires jurisdictions to purge their voter rolls when they do not match census estimates.
Part II (at right, 9:50) begins with Becker explaining how the Bush 43 Justice Department has subverted its traditional mission: "During about a five year span, not one single case was brought on behalf of African Americans in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division". Becker goes on to state that policies were established that favored Republicans and disfavored Democrats in an effort to "gam[e] the system" to retain power.
Next, Brancaccio and Becker explore how the U.S. Attorney scandal fits in to the bigger picture. Becker: "The DoJ, especially under Alberto Gonzales, was being used as an arm of the right wing of the Republican Party to effectuate partisan gains in elections". Finally, the program concludes with a discussion on voting machines and Florida's 13th District.
It was an eventful day in the courtroom in Pima County yesterday, with opening statements and the first two plaintiff's witnesses' testimony. Already, the general shape of the controversy is becoming more clear and many of the media access issues have been favorably resolved. The Election Integrity press pool is providing video to local news and other interested parties on a non-exclusive basis and there is a ground-swell of support and interest in the trial and use of the resultant footage among journalists and documentarians.
See our initial backgrounder/intro to this trial, as posted yesterday, right here.
The position of the Democratic Party, argued in the courtroom yesterday, is that the statutory role of the political parties in Arizona, and in America historically, has been to oversee and participate deeply in our elections. The elections belong to the people, not the government. The database the party seeks access to on behalf of all political parties is the only computer record of the election that can provide the information needed to ensure that elections insiders cannot, and have not, manipulated the election. Absent a clear statement by the legislature, the parties should not be denied access to this crucial information to carry out their traditional role of ensuring the public's political rights. Certainly no tortured interpretation of outdated language regarding computer technology from a statute written in the 1980s should be allowed to deny the people access to their election data, only a clear and unambiguous expression from the legislature should be able to do that.
The position of Pima County, however, is that the database requested must remain confidential.
They argue that providing the database to the political parties would violate the standards promulgated by the Arizona Secretary of State because the files contain procedural information and code that is used to program elections machines, and could reveal information that might compromise future elections. The county agrees that the Diebold GEMS software used to tabulate votes has serious security flaws, but that is all the more reason to not allow the information in the database into the public domain...
I am Michael Bryan, an attorney and blogger whose home is Tucson, Arizona. Starting today and continuing through Thursday, at BlogForArizona.com (my blog) and The BRAD BLOG, I will be covering the trial of Pima County Democratic Party v. Pima County. The proceedings will be live-blogged at BlogForArizona every day, with a daily summary posted each evening of the trial here at The BRAD BLOG.
The trial concerns the Pima County Democratic Party's demand for access to public records. Specifically, they seek access to database files that contain the raw tabulator vote data from a past local bond election. They seek to establish the public's right to inspect and analyze those records to search for any irregularities or manipulation by elections department insiders. Ideally, the Democrats want the judge to declare that all such files must be given to all political parties in Pima County in all future elections, so that public scrutiny can help ensure that the vote is honestly counted.
Why the concern that public officials, whose job it is to count the vote, may be instead manipulating the vote? Because the software Pima County (and many, many other jurisdictions around the country) is using to tabulate the vote is "fundamentally flawed" as to security according to an independent audit [PDF] commissioned by the Arizona Attorney General.
The "fundamentally flawed" software is made by Diebold and is called Global Election Management Software, or GEMS. Election integrity activists and researchers have long known that vote totals can be easily manipulated by insiders with access to the computers on which GEMS runs. The software is so fundamentally insecure that vote data can be changed by simply using the common database software Microsoft Access --- and the fraud can potentially be completely untraceable. With security conditions like that, it becomes imperative that the public have oversight of that data, just as the public has (or should have) oversight over the rest of the elections process.
If you would like to just listen to a discussion of the issues in the trial, please take a few minutes to listen to my recent interview with Action Point host Cynthia Black on Phoenix' Air America station...
For additional context here, I'll point you to a video (at right) of one of the men at the center of this controversy, Pima County's Election Director Brad Nelson. BRAD BLOG readers may remember this remarkable video referred to as "Election Director Gone Wild" as Nelson breaks into a tirade after being questioned by Pima County Election Integrity activist, John Brakey, about the Diebold DRE voting systems that Nelson was preparing, back then, in February of 2006, to bring into the county.
Please check my blog, BlogForArizona.com, for regular updates on the trial as it unfolds, and here at The BRAD BLOG for updates at the end of the days proceedings today through Thursday. Please use the comments on either blog to ask questions or make suggestions, we'll have someone monitoring the comments during the trial and will do our best to respond.
In brief, I became known to some as the "Diebold Whistleblower" when, in January of 2004, I stole and exposed legal documents [PDF] proving that Diebold Election Systems, Inc. was using and planned to continue using illegal, uncertified software in their California voting machines. (By the way, Diebold recently changed its name to Premier Election Solutions, but don't let that fool you; it's still the same bunch of idiots.) Details about my case can be found here and here [PDF].
The documents I stole were covered under attorney-client privilege, so my theft was a serious crime. In February of 2006 I was charged with three felonies. On November 20, 2006, I plead guilty to one felony count of unauthorized access to a computer, and in exchange for my guilty plea and a restitution payment of $10,000 to the law firm from which I stole the documents, the law firm promised they wouldn't bring a civil suit against me, and I was put on felony probation instead of being sent to jail. The term of probation was to be at least one year, and as much as three years.
Now, one year after my guilty plea, because I've stayed out of trouble and because I'm a first offender, the judge has reduced my felony to a misdemeanor. Sometime in 2008, my lawyers will petition the court to have my misdemeanor expunged.
The bad part is that the most troublesome aspect of my probation is still in force. Before I can accept a job at which I would use a computer networked to one or more other computers (basically any job for which I'd be qualified), any potential employer must write to the judge in my case, tell him that they know about my conviction and that they still want to hire me, and then we have to wait until the judge responds with a "yes" or a "no" before I can accept the job and start work (and then only if the judge says "yes"). So as you can see, employers will be falling all over themselves to hire me.
Meanwhile, my wife (an actor, filmmaker and writer) certainly hasn't lost her sense of humor. She had been calling me Felonious Punk, but now that I'm no longer a felon, she's switched to Mister Meanor. Ain't it great being married to a comedy writer?
To be clear, breaking attorney-client privilege is a very serious crime, and I accept responsibility for what I did. I'm still being punished for it, and so far the punishment has cost my wife and me over $210,000 - and counting. $210,000 is an enormous amount of money to us. My wife and I have paid and are continuing to pay a very high price for my crime.
But, as we're not Republicans, we might have expected that.
Which got me thinking about other crimes in America that have recently been committed or alleged, and what's happened to those involved. Among the first of many, Lewis "Scooter" Libby comes to mind...
A recount after next year's presidential election could mean disaster for Cuyahoga County based on problems discovered Tuesday with paper records produced by electronic voting machines.
More than 20 percent of the printouts from touch-screen voting machines were unreadable and had to be reprinted. Board of Elections workers found the damaged ballots when they conducted a recount Tuesday of two races, which involved only 17 of the county's 1,436 precincts.
"If it is as close as it's been for the last two presidential elections and it's that close again in 2008, God help us if we have to depend on Cuyahoga County as the deciding factor with regard to making the decision on who the next president of the United States is," said County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, a longtime opponent of the county's touch-screen voting system.
"This is very much a cause for concern," board member Inajo Davis Chappell said. "All the technology issues pose a challenge to us, especially given the volume of voters we expect in the primary."
The county still doesn't know why its vote-counting software crashed twice election night. An investigation into the software problem could begin next week, once the county's recounts are finished.
"I wish those paper trails would come out pristine --- and they don't, and they're not going to," [Board of Elections Director Jane] Platten said. "We're going to have to deal with it again."
While the county was able to re-print paper trails on these machines to be counted in the recount, the practice completely defeats the point of such paper trails in the first place, since they are supposed to be verified by the voter (even though we know they usually aren't, and even when they are, voters fail to notice vote-flips).
If the paper trails are re-printed from the internal machine numbers, which can't possibly be verified by the voter, there is absolutely no point in even having such paper trails at all.
So again we ask, when is SoS Jennifer Brunner going to simply declare these machines uncertified all together. When will the rest of the election officials in the country declare same? It looks like it won't be before the 2008 elections begin. So...here we go again...
Now that ES&S has finally submitted their previously withheld source code and documentation to California Sec. of State Debra Bowen, new members of her "Top-to-Bottom Review" team have been able to look at the ES&S Inkavote Plus system used across the entirety of Los Angeles County. And whaddaya know, the system is easily susceptible to fraud, hacking and manipulation.
The full report from the new testers --- not the original members of the TTBR team at University of California, but testers sub-contracted by the ubiquitous private e-vote consulting firm of Freeman, Craft, McGregor Group (FCMG) [Ed Note: See additional thoughts/concerns from John Gideon on FCMG in comments here] --- is now posted at the SoS TTBR page [PDF]. The LA Daily Newssummarizes the findings this way in today's paper...
SACRAMENTO - Consultants for Secretary of State Debra Bowen said Friday they found several flaws in Los Angeles County's voting system that could leave it vulnerable to fraud or electronic hacking.
The report found that seals on boxes used to carry the system hardware could be opened and resealed without detection, making the machinery susceptible to tampering.
Plus, some password-protected systems could be hacked with certain programs, and some encrypted files containing sensitive data could be decrypted.
The study was performed as part of Bowen's "top-to-bottom" review of statewide voting systems. Los Angeles County's InkaVote Plus system is the last to be studied, because vendor Election Systems & Software failed to provide information to Bowen's consulting team on time earlier this year.
In August, Bowen decertified the InkaVote system for use in the February presidential primary because of the missing information.
A public hearing will be held on Monday in Sacramento so that the SoS may receive public input on how she should proceed, and whether the ES&S Inkavote Plus system should be recertified in advance of February's Presidential Primary.
Of particular note is the possibility that the hackable system may be used to vote on a Republican-sponsored ballot initiative to divide California's 2008 electoral vote by Congressional District which could be on the Primary Election ballot next February. Such an unprecedented measure, if passed in the Golden State, could well hand the November General Election nationally, to the Republican party given the large number of electors that would be thrown to the GOP if the current winner-take-all system of choosing electors in California --- the same one used by almost all other states --- is changed for proportional representation.
Los Angeles County itself, a reliably Democratic-leaning county over all, carries an enormous number of votes for the state. It's the largest such county in the nation, larger even than two-thirds of the states in the country. Tampering with the vote tabulation in that one county alone, could easily change enough votes to see the Electoral College initiative passed successfully across the state.
Last week, Bowen announced a $15 million lawsuit against ES&S for the illegal deployment of uncertified AutoMARK voting systems across the state. The next day, San Francisco announced its own separate suit against the company, the world's largest supplier of voting systems, charging fraud, false claims and breach of contract.
Earlier this week, Washington Post investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Jeff Leen hosted an online chat at washingtonpost.com. One of the participants asked Woodward and Leen how pervasive the voter suppression tactic known as "caging" is. The investigative reporters had no idea what it was:
Washington, D.C.: Don't you have a duty to report criminal activity to the appropriate authorities?
How pervasive is "caging"?
Bob Woodward and Jeff Leen: We publish what we can find and document. Many times over the years government authorities have pursued the information we have dug up and launched their own investigations. But we're trying to serve the readers, and we do not act as police or prosecutors. And please send us an e-mail explaing [sic] what "caging" is.
Woodward and Leen aren't the only Washington Post reporters who are clueless about caging. In a washingtonpost.com online chat with congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman in May, a questioner asked "why Congress didn't jump on Monica Goodling's testimony about caging." Weisman's response: "So what is this caging thing?"
So for all those Washington Post reporters out there, let's go over the facts again...
Check out TP for those facts (as if you need them), and how you can contact Woodward, and the rest of the clueless WaPo gang to give the poor folks some help on this very very (apparently) obscure topic.
BRAD BLOG's own dozens and dozens of articles --- apparently most of them just too "exclusive" --- on the topic, are posted right here in reverse chronological order.
Sometimes facts seem like fiction and sometimes fiction seems like fact. San Francisco voting machines have now provided both fodder for a new detective novel and a novel new lawsuit.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is the author of the lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court against Election Systems & Software (ES&S) alleging fraud and breach of contract. Herrera charges that ES&S intentionally sold uncertified machines to the city and is seeking to recover $300,000 in damages.
The city lawsuit closely follows another lawsuit against ES&S earlier in the week by Secretary of State Debra Bowen. The state lawsuit seeks nearly $15 million in damages for the sale of uncertified machines in a number of counties.
Mark Coggins is the author of RUNOFF, the fourth novel in a series, about gritty private detective and professional smartass, August Riordan, who is hired to solve a rigged city election. In a special author's note, Coggins explains the characters are "complete figments of my imagination." Coggins also notes that the scenario in the book could not occur in San Francisco because of a law change in 2003.
"Residents of San Francisco will know--and perhaps now appreciate that the city does not use touch screen voting machines. They should also be aware that San Francisco is one of the few American cities to adopt ranked choice voting, which eliminates the need for runoffs. This was done after the 2003 mayoral election, but in my fictional version of the city runoffs are still possible, and, as it happens, very useful to the plot."
Riordan gets hired by the "Dragon Lady" of Chinatown to crack the case of the rigged voting machine. Before the detective is done investigating, the plot twists and turns leaving dead bodies all over the place. The first murder is nobody less than the city election director himself, killed in his basement elections division office at City Hall.
Seeking out technical assistance, the sleuth visits Professor Ballou at Stanford University, an echo of real life Stanford computer science professor, e-voting activist and expert, VerifiedVoting.org founder David Dill, who is thanked by the author in the book's acknowledgements.
Ballou gives Riordan the short course on voting machine security. "A touch-screen voting machine is just a computer --- a specialized kind of computer, but a computer nonetheless. Erroneous outcomes could happen for a variety of reasons, including software and hardware errors, procedural errors, security holes or hacks installed into the voting machines."
The modern day fictional noir detective, straight out the proud and gritty Sam Spade tradition, probes the fictional professor more about vote machine rigging, as the fiction ends and the facts begin. Riordan asks Ballou about ways to hack a voting machine.
"I'm afraid there are many, many different ways, but I'll try to focus on a few of the most likely. First, starting at the polling place, when the memory is removed from the computer, a corrupt pollworker could alter the results for the precinct before turning them in. It's much easier than ballot box stuffing because you only need to change one number and there is no need to steal or forge ballots."
But there is more, as the Professor's ominous instruction to Riordan is at least as terrifying in reality as it is under the guise of fiction...
"San Francisco's experience with ES&S raises extremely troubling questions, not simply about the integrity of this company's technology, but about the integrity of this company itself," San Francisco's City Attorney Dennis Herrera said today in announcing his new lawsuit against Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S).
"There can be no more important duty in a representative democracy than to conduct elections, and it is a travesty to see that duty so flagrantly undermined by the fraudulent conduct of an election systems vendor," he added.
Well, no kidding! To quote from It's a Wonderful Life, "'Bout time one of you lunkheads said it!"
The suit filed today against ES&S, the "world's largest", comes on the heels of yesterday's announcement that California Secretary of State Debra Bowen was filing her own suit, to the tune of some $15 million, against the company for their illegal and undeclared use of uncertified touch-screen voting systems in several counties across the state, as well as their having lied about it to the state.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed suit against the City's voting systems vendor today, charging Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems & Software, Inc. with a panoply of wrongdoing that includes fraud, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and multiple violations of California's Elections Code, False Claims Act and Unfair Competition Law. In a 23-page civil complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning, Herrera detailed a months-long pattern of misrepresentations and voting system problems by ES&S that caused California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to impose stringent conditions on the City's use of the company's voting machines to conduct its municipal election earlier this month. Because of those restrictions, San Francisco election officials were forced to tabulate ballots centrally; to remake thousands of ballots by hand; and to borrow equipment from another county.
We've been calling for some time for states and counties to hold the voting machine companies accountable for their horrendous, out and out fraudulent business practices. Looks like the floodgates may finally be starting to open.
So who's next? Make no mistake, there will be more. Perhaps many. Stay tuned...
Failures in optical-scan voting systems made by Diebold Inc., as recently revealed in the state of Florida, might have occurred elsewhere across the country. In fact, any state where Diebold's optical-scan voting machines are in use might be having the problem, and they may not have been made aware of it --- either by the company, or the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) which is mandated by law to be a "clearinghouse" for such information.
A faulty connector-pin on Florida's Diebold optical-scan systems --- affecting some 4.5% of the state's machines, and as many as "one in 10 during the November 2006 election" in some Florida counties, according to a recent investigative report by the Daytona Beach News-Journal --- has been identified by the company as a "J40 connector".
It now appears that Connecticut's voting machines, made by the same company, are being affected by the same problem.
“This is Connecticut, not Volusia County," President of LHS Associates, Connecticut’s vendor for Diebold AccuVote OS machines, told me during a recent, bizarre late-night phone call. I felt pretty certain he was right, though his call came in to my home at 1:30 in the morning, so I was still a bit groggy.
LHS's John Silvestro had picked a strange time to return my call from a week earlier. We’d been following LHS’s role in addressing memory card failures during Connecticut elections since 2006 on Talk Nation Radio, and I wanted to know how many memory cards LHS had to replace before, during, and after the 2007 election.
At that hour, I declined his offer to "do the interview anyway," though we did touch on the basics of my inquiry. Did Registrars contact LHS to request replacements for "blown" memory cards as pre-election tests were being run? If so, a study currently underway at the University of Connecticut might not have been given the correct data to determine the true number of failing cards.
Silvestro asked me, "What would you say if I said Connecticut's failure rate was less than one percent?"
Perplexed, I told him I would say "OK" and we agreed to discuss the matter at a later time when he might have access to his records, as he had said he didn't have numbers in front of him at that late hour.
He wouldn't be the first LHS official to exhibit bizarre behavior. After jarringly inappropriate comments left at The BRAD BLOG several months ago, one such official was told he was no longer welcome to work in the state of Connecticut.