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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!... ---

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Take it From Me, a Man Who Knows, She Couldn't Be More Wrong...
By Steve Heller on 4/27/2007 10:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by Stephen Heller

In an article from the April 24th edition of the Seattle Times, we learn that King County, Washington election officials have recommended Diebold tabulators for use in counting mail-in ballots.

According to Sherril Huff, who has been nominated by County Executive Ron Sims to become elections director, Diebold products represent "the solution with the least amount of risk."

Say what?!

Sherril Huff, nominated by County Executive Ron Sims to become elections director, on Monday told the Metropolitan King County Council that Diebold's tabulators are the lowest-cost option, are compatible with King County's existing Diebold products and represent "the solution with the least amount of risk."

I am astounded (although I guess as a regular reader of The BRAD BLOG I shouldn't be) that any election official can, at this point in time, say that ANY Diebold product is "the solution with the least amount of risk."

And Ms. Huff is recommending the purchase of Diebold tabulators BEFORE they have received federal certification.

Has Ms. Huff been living in a cave?

I'm glad to say some council members are awake enough to know this is a bad idea. They are worried about the lack of federal certification, and they seem to be aware of the various computer experts' tests showing Diebold machines to be hack-friendly and about as risk-free as Dick Cheney's hunting partners....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Michael Richardson and Brad Friedman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Mess We've Been Warning About for So Long, Concerning the EAC, Finally Makes it to Prime Time...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2007 3:31pm PT  

More on the EAC's "voter fraud" report boondoggle covered earlier today.

The New York Congressional delegation has sent us a statement (posted in full at the end of this article) in which Rep. Maurice Hinchey excoriates the behavior of the EAC in hiding, and then altering, the report's findings for political reasons.

"The draft report was commissioned with taxpayer dollars upon a mandate from Congress so that we could learn more about voter fraud and intimidation," says Hinchey. "The need for this report is even more clear when we see the way in which the Bush administration is carrying out the electoral process and how this system is sliding towards corruption."

"Slide towards" may be an understatement. Hinchey --- who requested that the original report be disclosed by EAC Chair Donetta Davidson, a Bush-appointee, during a recent Congressional hearing --- is a member of the House Administration Committee which is now considering Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NY) Election Reform bill, which will make the hopelessly partisan and haplessly incompetent EAC a permanent body for the first time in its short, controversial life.

New York's Rep. José E. Serrano, a member of the appropriations subcommittee which oversees the EAC, says he's concerned about the "partisan bias" apparent in the two different versions of the report.

"When you read the draft report side-by-side with the final version, it is clear that important conclusions of the experts who wrote the draft report were excluded from the final product. Among the excluded information is an analysis that undermines the notion that voter fraud is rampant," said Serrano.

Democrats, however, are not in the clear on this issue themselves...

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

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Responds to Editorial by Former CA SoS's Newspaper, Criticism from CA Elections Officials Who Admit Their Voting Systems are Likely Neither Secure nor Accurate
ALSO: Op/Ed by BRAD BLOG/VelvetRevolution.us's Own Emily Levy Runs Along Side Bowen's in Same Paper...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2007 2:27pm PT  

CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen responds to the Santa Cruz Sentinel's silly anti-democracy editorial last week with an op/ed 01of her own that ran in the paper on Sunday.

Please note that the Sentinel was previously owned by former CA SoS McPherson, the one who approved all of these un-secure, un-transparent electronic voting systems for our state in the first place.

It's good to know that Bowen is standing up for the voters, despite the crush of criticism she's received from the anti-voter Elections Officials in CA

Here's how she begins her piece in response:


Are all of California's voting systems secure, accurate, reliable and accessible?

It's a relatively simple question and I believe California's voters are entitled to an answer. If the answer to that question is "no," then some voting-machine vendors and county elections officials who rely on their equipment will undoubtedly be inconvenienced. But it's the 37 million Californians who will truly suffer if we don't have the courage to ask that question in the first place.

...And here's how she ends it:

Every election year, far too many voters are left to wonder if their voice matters, or if their vote even counts. To argue that because there are elections to conduct, California doesn't have time to determine if the voting equipment is secure, accurate, reliable and accessible ignores the fundamental reason why we hold elections in the first place.

People need to have confidence their votes are counted exactly as they were cast. If we fail to ensure the integrity of our voting systems, we'll do little but undermine the foundation of our democracy.

Kudos to Bowen! Again!

Please note that in the same Sunday Sentinel our own occasional BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger, Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us, also has an excellent op/ed in response to their original, ridiculous editorial. Kudos to Emily as well!

Speaking out matters!

And on that note, I'll remind you that if you haven't already, please contact PFAW@PFAW.org NOW! See this article for why it's imperative that you do immediately!

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Thomas Elias Scores Again...Reports on Orange County Recount Shame, Jeff Stone's 'Riverside Hack Challenge,' Voting Machine 'Sleepovers,' McPherson's 'Hursti Chicken Out,' and Bowen's Call for Real Hack Tests...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2007 5:52pm PT  

Columnist Thomas Elias gets it right again. Today, he begins this way...

Just in case there was some confusion, California's new Democratic secretary of state, Debra Bowen, has now made it crystal clear she doesn't trust many of the electronic voting machines commonly used in the last few California elections.

Nor does she appear impressed with safeguards that satisfied her appointed Republican predecessor Bruce McPherson. McPherson believed the presence of voter-verified paper trails from touch-screen and other new voting machines would guarantee accurate recounts wherever needed.

But in the only significant recount of the last year, just after a February special election for Orange County supervisor decided by less than 10 votes between two candidates each named Nguyen (pronounced “win”), paper trails weren't even counted.

He then reports again on the Jeff "1000 to 1" Stone's apparently-aborted "Riverside Hack Challenge," the dangers of voting machine "sleepovers," former CA SoS McPherson's backing out of an invitation to Harri Hursti to hack Diebold systems in the state last year, and, most importantly, CA's current SoS Debra Bowen's important plan to finally properly test all voting systems used in elections.

If we didn't know better --- and that nothing useful to the MSM is ever reported by those crazy, unreliable, "left-wing bloggers" --- we might have even thought that Elias is a regular BRAD BLOG reader or sumpin' ;-)

He concludes his column thusly:

The bottom line: A sense of security and trust will be restored to elections only after counties install machines reliable enough to withstand thorough testing like Bowen obviously knows is needed.

Bingo. The full recommended column is here...

If you'd like to send a thanks for Elias's consistent good work on this issue, he can be reached via email here...

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Even While the Republican Governor of Florida (of all people and places) Restores Felon Voting Rights, Calls for a Ban on Touch-Screen DRE Voting, and Otherwise Succeeds in Shaming the Democrats...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2007 9:35am PT  

Florida's new Republican Gov. Charlie Crist continues to get far in front of Congressional Democrats concerning issues of Election Reform. Previously, he has called for the Sunshine State to replace all DRE touch-screen voting systems with paper-based optical scan systems (and touch-screen ballot marking devices for the disabled) and today, he succeeded in restoring voting rights for former felons to all but the most violent criminals after they've served their time.

While Democrats in Congress, and their public-advocacy group supporters such as People for the American Way (PFAW), MoveOn, Common Cause, and VoteTrustUSA, continue to dally around the edges of reform vis-a-vis Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill (HR811) in the House and a forthcoming companion bill from Dianne Feinstein in the Senate, shamefully, it's the Republican Florida Governor --- of all people --- who is proving to be the true Progressive in the fight for real reform.

There's plenty of blame to go around, of course. The GOP Legislature in Florida is hanging on to their own share of shame in fighting Crist's bi-partisan proposals to replace disenfranchising, democracy-stealing DREs. In Maryland, it's the Democrats in the Senate who are killing Election Reform after House Dems had approved it (as tepid as that reform would be in only requiring useless, panacea "paper trails" for the state's paperless Diebold touch-screen systems. LATE UPDATE 3/6/07 5:07pm PT: Stunning turnaround suddenly in MD's Senate, support for a paper ballot bill! Breaking details here...)

New Democratic Secretaries of State Debra Bowen in CA and Jennifer Brunner in OH are meeting their voter mandates and doing their respective best to correct dysfunctional, unverifiable, easily gameable voting systems, but they are also facing challenges from both Republicans and local Elections Officials alike who are fighting to put their own self-interests over those of the voters. As usual.

In the meantime, the currently-flawed federal bills in the U.S. House and Senate are on the verge of getting worse, not better, through the drafting, mark-up, and amendment process, as legislators bend to the demands of henhouse-guarding Elections Officials along with the uncritical support for "Election Reform, any Election Reform, whether it'll bring true Reform or not" by powerful groups such as MoveOn, VoteTrustUSA, Common Cause, and others.

By way of example, MoveOn sent out an email to members yesterday calling for unflinching support of the Holt bill, despite knowing it to be flawed and VoteTrustUSA yesterday sent out an "All-811-All The-Time" newsletter yesterday to members without a single article, from among the mountains available, critical of the bill. That, despite recent testimony to Congress by their own policy director, Warren Stewart, asserting that "the direct electronic recording of votes to computer memory is inimical to democracy." Both the Holt and Feinstein bills currently drafted would allow for exactly such systems, and in fact, institutionalize the practice for years to come.

Both MoveOn and VoteTrustUSA declined to respond to our queries seeking explanation about their mailings yesterday.

So what's going on here?

Legislation that would have been smashing in 2005, but has since been shown to be desperately out of date in 2007 given the mountains of new evidence which revealed itself during the 2006 Election Cycle and beyond, is mired under the weight of bureaucratic deal-making and go-along-to-get-along public advocacy. All of which is by-and-large enabling the Democrats who seem to be fiddling as democracy burns.

It's all made worse, for the moment, by the largest and most influential of the public-advocacy groups, PFAW, who continues to dominate the debate on many levels. The group, which The BRAD BLOG has come to learn wields great power and proxy throughout a large swath of the civil rights community, is not only currently against a much-needed ban of DRE voting systems, but --- far more disturbingly --- is actually advocating in favor of their use.

We reported recently on that point, but the evidence is perhaps more clear in PFAW's own published analysis [PDF] (pages 2 & 3) of the Holt bill [emphasis ours]:

DRE technology offers better access options to voters with disabilities and voters who have minority language needs.
...
Whereas optical scan technology requires the printing of thousands, if not millions, of ballots in multiple languages, the distribution of those ballots in adequate numbers for each precinct, and the training of poll workers to distribute those ballots to those voters who seem to need them, DRE technology is much more effective for minority language voters.
...
Similarly, DREs afford voters with disabilities an opportunity to cast an independent secret ballot— something that optical scan paper ballots cannot fully do. It is important that jurisdictions with large numbers of minority language voters and voters with disabilities have the flexibility to use DRE equipment.

PFAW's position, as expressed above, is wholly unsupported by scientific evidence, common sense, or anything else as we have learned while investigating the matter over the past several weeks and months.

When a Republican governor from Florida has gotten ahead of Democrats on this issue, it's safe to say that something has gone terribly wrong.

If someone within the Democratic caucus doesn't stand up soon and bring the type of leadership to this issue that Crist has brought to Florida, they risk becoming the owners of a dysfunctional electoral system previously designed-for-disaster, via the Help America Vote Act of 2002, by the now-disgraced, Republican felon, former Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio.

Is there nobody in the U.S. Congress with the leadership skills and courage to stand up and do what is both right and well-supported by scientific evidence in order to make America's broken system of democracy right again?

Is there nobody who will stare down the disingenuous and/or fearful and/or ill-informed and/or self-serving factions standing in the way of restoring America's once-great shining example of democracy to the world?

As the right to vote and to have that vote counted transparently and accurately underpins every other right we have in this country, we'll continue to keep digging, advocating, investigating, reporting, and hoping. The alternatives --- and consequences --- are far too dire to do anything less....

Take action to amend the Holt Election Reform Bill!
DEMAND A BAN ON DRE/TOUCH-SCREEN VOTING!
- Email Congress!
- Call your members!
See www.BradBlog.com/Holt for more details, coverage, talking points & information on all of the above!
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As we Sit Down for a One-on-One Debriefing with the Finnish Computer Security Expert and Discuss American Elections, Rush Holt's Reform Bill, Debra Bowen, 'Black Hats' and Why Elections Matter
Big Turnout and Good Press Coverage Accompany his Riverside Visit, Even if Jeff '1000 to 1' Stone Was a No Show...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2007 7:13pm PT  

Harri Hursti drove up to Los Angeles last Friday after his appearance that morning before the Riverside County, California, "Blue Ribbon" panel convened to investigate massive problems during the County's 2006 election, and continuing concerns from Election Integrity advocates about both the performance and security issues surrounding the Sequoia Edge II DRE touch-screen voting systems in use down there.

We sat down to interview Hursti for a documentary film for an hour or two on Friday night, and we continued chatting into the wee hours. After getting home around 4am, we suspect we'll be playing catching up for a few days.

The headline from those discussions last night is probably that Hursti, now famous for his hack of a paper-based Diebold optical-scan voting system in Leon County, Florida, in late 2005 (as seen live in HBO's documentary Hacking Democracy), advocates digital optically-scanned paper ballots --- where the image of the scan can then be made available to all on the Internet --- as the most secure and most transparent method of voting for the type of elections we have in these United States.

That may come as a surprise to advocates of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform bill, who have been pointing to the "Hursti Hack" as a way to suggest that op-scan tabulation is "just as bad" as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting systems. Holt's bill (HR811) would allow for the continued use of DREs, despite the continuing warnings from computer scientists, disabilities and minority rights advocates, and the Election Integrity community that the devices should be banned.

Hursti heartily disagrees with those Holt supporters and told us again that DREs are not safe for use in elections, with or without a so-called "voter verified paper audit trail." He's asked for us to help facilitate a meeting for him with Holt and his staff to discuss the matter, and we are attempting to do just that.

As well, Hursti's position may also come as a surprise to those who have pointed to the "Hursti Hack" in their call for 100% hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) in American elections. While Hursti said he recognizes that such a system works well enough in other countries where ballots are much simpler, he feels the thousands of ballot styles and pages and pages of candidates and propositions would likely make all HCPB unwieldy here. By contrast, he explained that in Finland, voters go to the poll and cast a single vote for President as the only race on the ballot, which is simple enough to hand count on the night of the election.

He rattled off the many different systems of democracy in many different countries, from Europe to Asia, as well as a history of how America has come to its current mess, going back as early as the late 1800's to discuss the evolution of our modern day system in this country. Clearly, he's done his homework and is well worth listening to on these matters.

Hursti also gave high marks to California's new Secretary of State Debra Bowen for her recent announcement of "red team" hack testing for all of the state's currently certified electronic voting systems, as part of her "top to bottom review" of those systems. Other computer scientists and security experts have lined up to join in praising Bowen for this unique, first-of-its-kind attempt to finally test the security of these systems.

On the other hand, many of the state's elections officials have come out against such testing of their precious, hackable, un-transparent voting systems. And, surprise surprise, so has the Santa Cruz Sentinel --- the paper once owned by thankfully-former CA SoS Bruce McPherson --- in a laughable editorial late last week claiming that "paper ballots carry an even greater risk" than electronic voting systems, and that Bowen's planned test criteria is a "solution in search of a problem."

We're not sure what cave the Santa Cruz Sentinel has been living in, but we're guessing they've been sharing their hard tack and canned spam with their buddy, the gone-but-apparently-not-forgotten McPherson, the one responsible for certifying these god-awful systems in the first place for the state, despite mountains of evidence suggesting it was unwise. We're also guessing they've never sat down to chat with Harri Hursti.

Hursti's visit to Riverside, as we reported here last week, was in response to County Supervisor Jeff Stone's challenge last December that nobody could manipulate the county's Sequoia election system. After Hursti volunteered to take Stone up on that "1000 to 1" challenge, the county has been waffling ever since. So quite a few members of both the public and the press were on hand yesterday for Hursti's testimony before the "Blue Ribbon" panel.

Although Hursti traveled all the way from Finland, Stone and every other member of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors were apparently too busy to make it up the road to meet Hursti and listen to his presentation...

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All Eyes on Harri Hursti in Riverside County...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2007 12:53am PT  

FEATURING: Our One-on-One Debriefing with the Finnish Computer Security Expert on American Elections, Rush Holt's Reform Bill, Debra Bowen, 'Black Hats,' and Why Elections Matter...Pre-details back here...

UPDATE: Story now posted here...

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Official Comments from CA Election Clerks on Proposed Test Criteria by SoS Bowen Reveal They Are in a Panic...And Are Clueless About the One Thing That Truly Matters to Voters...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2007 8:40pm PT  

California's election clerks --- or at least those who are members of the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO) --- are freaking out in light of CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen's newly proposed draft criteria for her promised, "first-of-its-kind top-to-bottom review" of all electronic voting systems in the state.

Bowen's most welcome and strictly drawn draft criteria, as we reported last week, are open for public comment through April 6th, after which testing will begin on systems which will lose their certification for 2008 if they do not meet the refreshingly strict standards to be reviewed (finally!).

In a document dated today and obtained by The BRAD BLOG, the CACEO --- who worked very hard, if unsuccessfully, to see Bowen's irresponsible predecessor, the hapless Bruce McPherson, re-elected --- filed their comments on Bowen's test criteria. And they don't like 'em. They don't like 'em one bit.

While we can hardly say we're surprised by that, or that they didn't bother to post the document on their own website yet, we can say that we're surprised that these folks who run elections for a living still seem completely and utterly unaware of the one thing that matters to voters --- and any successful democracy --- the most...

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Diebold Document Exposer in First Broadcast Interview! Plus CODEPINK's Jodie Evans! As we Guest Host 'Action Point w/ Cynthia Black' on AAR/Nova M Phoenix
Listen Up Sunday @ 12noon PT (3pm ET) on 1480kphx.com
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2007 8:59am PT  

I'll be sitting in again this week as Guest Host on Sunday for the good Cynthia Black Nova M and Air America Phoenix' Action Point with Cynthia Black on 1480am KPHX.

This week, we'll have a live broadcast exclusive first as Diebold document whistleblower Stephen Heller will be LIVE in studio to be interviewed on air for the first time! We'll also take your calls! As well, CODEPINK's Jodie Evans will join us to discuss the Democrats courageous Iraq Policy, or lack thereof. Don't miss it! More details follow...

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It's a Bad Day in Cali for Diebold and ES&S and Sequoia and Hart Intercivic...But a Great Day for the Voters!
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2007 10:05am PT  

"Clean up politics. Elect Women." Indeed.

In our second "New Female Secretary of State Kicks Ass, Cleans Up Mess Wrought by Male Predecessor" story of the day, California's own Debra Bowen issued her draft criteria to be used for the first-of-its-kind, "top to bottom review" of all electronic voting systems she promised just before taking office. And the electronic voting machine companies ain't gonna like 'em. But we do.

"The review is designed to restore people's confidence in the integrity of our electoral process," Bowen said in a statement issued yesterday to announce the criteria and her call for public input, "Every California voter has the right to have their vote counted as it was cast."

Imagine that. Am I dreamin'?! The criteria are now posted here [PDF] for public comment.

And, oh, man...Here's just a taste. From the "Security Standards" section...

a. DREs. Each direct recording electronic voting system (“DRE”), as defined in Elections Code Section 19251(b), must incorporate, as part of its design, hardware, firmware and/or software program features that effectively secure the DRE and all electronic media used with the DRE against untraceable vote tampering or denial of service attacks by any person with access to the DRE, its firmware, software and/or electronic media during their manufacture, transport, storage, temporary storage, programming, testing and use, including the electronic ballot definition or layout process.

The criteria are virtually the same for op-scans and central tabulating systems. And from the "Security Testing" section (Jeff "1000 to 1" Stone of Riverside County is not gonna like this)...

The security of each DRE, vote tabulating device, and ballot tally computer will be tested using two complementary methods, “red teaming” and source code review. The Secretary will select qualified industry and academic experts in computer and software security, including experts on electronic voting systems, to perform both types of tests.

a. Red Teaming. The “red teaming” process is analogous to military training exercises in which the members of the “red team” are adversaries trying to defeat friendly, “blue team” forces. The red team exercise will be designed to simulate conditions in which a voting system might be vulnerable to attack in the actual cycle of manufacturing, programming, delivery, testing, storage, temporary storage and use in California elections. Initially, the team will approach the system knowing nothing of its source code. Knowledge of source code may be used in subsequent attack attempts. The objective will be to determine whether and to what degree it is possible to compromise the security of the voting system to interfere with the accurate recording of votes or alter the record of votes to change the result of an election.

Now we're getting somewhere! And we're also reminded why Bowen was the only candidate ever officially endorsed by The BRAD BLOG!

"I want input from as many people as possible – voting rights activists, county elections officials, and anyone else who wants to offer an opinion," said Madame Secretary, putting the voting rights folks first for a refreshing change, in her statement.

Input on the draft criteria can be sent here: votingsystems@sos.ca.gov. The criteria for California, or as Diebold refers to it, "the world's largest voting market," will be finalized by April 6.

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As Heard on 'Ring of Fire' with RFK Jr. & Mike Papantonio: I Support Banning DREs, Neas Opposes Such a Ban, and Speaks in Support of DREs
Papantonio: 'Brad, my bet is on you on this one' --- Audio & Transcripts Now Posted
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2007 1:51am PT  

The Saturday before last I was interviewed on Air America's Ring of Fire with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mike Papantonio concerning my call for the Election Reform Bill (HR811) by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) to be amended to include a full ban on Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems.

The interview was pre-taped, and an edited-for-time version was aired. The complete, unedited version of that 15 minute interview, along with a text-transcript is now posted here.

This past Saturday, Ralph Neas, the president of People for the American Way (PFAW), one of the groups supporting the Holt Bill as is, and fighting against a ban on DRE voting systems, was interviewed on Ring of Fire. I had been critical of PFAW's unwaivering support of the bill during my interview the week before (as I have been in many articles here and elsewhere), so Bobby Kennedy asked Neas, a number of times, to answer directly to some of my criticisms.

The audio of that interview as well as a text-transcript, is also now posted here.

Now before I get to a huge number of concerns about the Neas interview and what I see as the dangerous PFAW position, and not to stack the deck (but I will anyway), Papantonio concluded his interview with me as follows, which I then promised to quote on the blog, so here it is...

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Two Different Statements from Civil Rights Leaders Call for Discontinuation of Unsecure, Unverifiable, Disenfranchising DRE/Touch-Screen Voting Technology
Both Destroy Myth of Need to Sacrifice Verifed Ballots for Accessibility...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2007 1:56pm PT  

Hallelujah!

Voters with disabilities are finally beginning to speak out against the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, often known as "touch-screen") voting systems!

After years of DRE supporters, and indeed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, using the canard that blind and disabled voters must use DREs to vote privately and independently, a number of leaders in the disabilities community are speaking out against their having been used as a wedge to force the nationwide implementation of such disenfranchising, dangerous voting systems.

Two different landmark statements on the issue have now been released, The BRAD BLOG has learned. One statement [PDF] released last week by the Disability Law Center and the ACLU speaks in support of the decision by the Massachusetts Secretary of State to approve the use of ballot marking devices, as opposed to DREs, for use by the state's disabled voters.

The second, released today to The BRAD BLOG in advance of Congressional subcommittee hearings tomorrow, is signed so far by more than 20 leaders of the blind and disabled communities and calls for "an immediate ban" on DRE voting systems. Like the release from the Disability Law Center, the newly released statement crushes the long-overused myth that such unsecure, disenfranchising, failed technology is required for disabled access to private, independent voting. (The complete statement is posted at the end of this item.)

"Providing secure voting machines for voters with disabilities is part and parcel of protecting [disabilities voters'] rights to equal access to the ballot and to having their votes reliably counted," said Stanley J. Eicher, Executive Director of the Disability Law Center in their March 5th statement.

"The decision by the Secretary shows that it is both possible and essential to build common ground between the disability rights community and the growing number of citizens who are concerned that many of the proposed new technologies are subject to tampering and error," said Eichner, adding notably, "We must debunk the myth that we have to choose between accessible voting and verifiable voting. Democracy requires that we have both."

The brief but no-uncertain-terms statement today from the disabilities advocates calls for a nationwide ban on the use of DRE technology.

"Electronic ballot systems such as the direct record electronic (DRE) machines...now in use," the statement reads, "have quickly proven to be neither fully accessible to all voters nor secure and accurate methods of recording, tallying, and reporting votes. While the goal of private voting has been achieved by some voters, this has often been without meaningful assurance that our votes have been counted as cast."

The disabilities leaders go on to point out that verification of ballots and the accuracy of their tabulation need not be sacrificed for accessibility or privacy. A similar point was at the heart of a report recently released by one of the letter's authors, blind technology expert Noel H. Runyan. His report, published simultaneously by both Demos and VoterAction.org, concerns the failure of DRE systems to meet both HAVA requirements and the accessibility and verification needs of disabled voters.

The statement further describes DRE electronic balloting systems as "inappropriate for use" and calls on "all disability rights groups, other civil rights groups, election protection groups, and elected officials to recognize the necessity for an immediate ban" on such dangerous, unreliable, and unsecure technology:

It is now clear that in order to guarantee reliability and security in our elections, it is necessary for the voter to be able to truly verify the accuracy of his or her ballot--the ballot that will actually be counted. The only voting systems that permit truly accessible verification of the paper ballot are ballot marking devices. These non-tabulating devices, either electronic or non-electronic, assist the voter in marking and verifying votes on paper ballots that can either be optically scanned or hand-counted."
...
We leaders and members of the disability rights community assert that neither accessibility for all voters nor the security of the vote can be sacrificed for the sake of the other. Fortunately, true accessibility and election security can both be achieved; there is no inherent incompatibility between voting system accessibility and security.

We recognize that electronic ballot systems are inappropriate for use, because these systems make it impossible for voters to verify that their votes will be counted as cast. We call upon all disability rights groups, other civil rights groups, election protection groups, and elected officials to recognize the necessity for an immediate ban on any voting system that fails to meet the twin requirements of full accessibility and election security.

This new and most welcome statement from this particular community is in stark contrast to the only other major voices previously allowed to testify before Congress on such matters, such as the National Federal for the Blind (NFB) and Jim Dickson of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

Despite both of those groups having received large donations from voting machine companies such as Diebold, Inc., both have been granted extraordinary access to Congress and have leveraged that access to call for the use of DRE systems for their communities (and even paperless ones at that).

The NFB received $1 million from Diebold, and Jim Dickson's group, although he lied to The BRAD BLOG about it previously, received at least $16,000 from the voting machine vendors, according to the New York Times.

We are happy to see new, uncompromised voices from this important community finally speaking up and adding their concerns to others such as Johns Hopkins computer scientist Avi Rubin, who testified last week that DRE systems, with or without a so-called "voter verified paper audit trail," are "not a reasonable voting system."

It would be nice if Runyan and some of the other signatories were invited to testify before Congress as well, and equally nice if Congress held hearings devoted to the issue of the safety, accuracy and accessibility of DRE systems before moving forward on Election Reform bills such as Rep. Rush Holt's HR811, which unfortunately falls short of banning DRE technology in American democracy.

NOTE: We will be Guest Hosting Cynthia Black's Action Point this Sunday 3/18/07 @ 3pm ET (12noon PT) on Phoenix's Air America/NovaM affiliate 1480 KPHX. We hope to have Runyan as one of our featured guests.

UPDATE: Here is my interview on on Action Point with Noel Runyan. MP3 appx. 30 minutes

The complete statement from the disabilities leaders, including Runyan and many others, follow in full below...

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