RE: ELECTION REFORM ACTIONS
Here are cracker-jack suggestions from Karla Bean about how to use Google to counter the false claims in local papers etc. about the "trustworthiness" of electronic voting machines (and the false but oft-repeated claims that HAVA requires them). (Karla's original email was posted here; I've copied her post below. See the letter she sent to one journalist--it's a real zinger.
One thing I've been doing is replying to articles, blog entries, other forums, etc. that show up in my email Google Alerts.
You can go to Google.com and sign up for an email alert for any word, phrase or topic, such as "electronic voting machines". Every day, you receive a digest of it's search results for that term, such as local papers reporting on the county election board's efforts to conform to HAVA standards.
Many of these papers allow you to comment on the article, or email the reporter, or both, which at least allows you to correct their misconceptions (many articles state that electronic voting machines are mandated by HAVA), and point them to the BBV Technical Report. Sometimes, I go to the county website to see if there is a way to email the city council members, or comment there.
Or, if it's a forum or blog, you can often post a response, although you usually have to register. I just add an address to my Yahoo AddressGuard to protect me from getting spammed and use it for registering.
You can seperately address each comment or article, or even have a pre-made comment to post wherever you find the topic being discussed. This would make it quick and easy. If enough people did this, it would be an effective way to get our message about the BBV report into the nooks and crannies of America; well, those with online capabilities anyway.
Personally, I have a real problem with mincing words as you can tell by my following response to a "Technical Columnist" advocating electronic voting machines with no paper:
(see her commentary info at end of post))
July 9, 2005
Your evaluation of the integrity of electronic voting machines and apparatus is covered with a blanket of false-security, I'm afraid.
At the invitation of Ion Sanchez, Leon County's Registrar of Voters in Florida, computer expert Harri Hursti was able to easily manipulate the vote count, using an actual Diebold optical scan machine from the prior election, 3 different ways.
It seems that Diebold has put an executable program on the memory cards which count the votes at the polling places and are then placed into a tabulating machine. While on the surface, the program appears to be working as simply supplying the vote number totals taken at the polls, this executable, which can be programmed to trigger on a particular date or at a specific event or interger totals, can easily manipulate the vote counts in a way that matches check sums, produces a verified poll tape and leaves no evidence of its presence or handiwork.
This means that your assurances given regarding measures to ensure the integrity of vendors, such as allowing code inspections of software programs, "parallel monitoring" or randomized election day testing of machines are mute, given that the memory cards are highly transitory in nature with each one capable of customized instructions set dormant until the polls have closed.
You say no one has found any evidence of the machines being used for fraudulent purposes, but this is because the vendors have successfully kept anyone from inspecting their voting maching software, firmware, removable devices, tabulation programs and applied patches by getting court protections. But Hursti's discovery of an executable program, which has no reason or business being on the memory card other than to facilitate vote manipulations, is evidence enough of intent. Furthermore, there were many suspect anomolies that occurred during the election, such as in North Carolina where vote counts declared 11,283 more votes than there were voters in the district. Of course, "mistakes" like these across the country were blamed on "computer error", but as a technical person, I'm sure you'll agree, computers merely follow instructions.
The "market test" you refer to, I assume, is the certification process mandated to meet Federal standards. These testing labs are hired entities of the vendors themselves and most don't even include a security test or even have security standards. They merely certify it will operate. Based on all of the election day malfunctions, lab testing competence is highly suspect, and clearly, this responsibility should be given to an independent testing facility that isn't contracted by the vendor they are testing.
I was rather surprised by your defense of electronic voting machines, given that you are a technical columnist, but perhaps you haven't been getting your information from the many internet sites that detail the inherent fallabilities of currently available voting apparatus. Or that print the opinions of noted computer experts, like Aviel Rubin, who testified over a year ago to the U.S. Federal Election Assistance Commission:
My primary concerns with today's DREs are:
There is no way for voters to verify that their votes were recorded correctly.
There is no way to publicly count the votes.
In the case of a controversial election, meaningful recounts are impossible.
The machines must be completely trusted. They must be trusted not to fail, not to have been programmed maliciously, and not to have been tampered with at any point prior to or during the election.
We have techniques for building secure systems, and they are not being utilized.
With respect to the Diebold Accuvote TS and TSx, we found gross design and programming errors, as outlined in our attached report. The current certification process resulted in these machines being approved for use and being used in elections.
We do not know if the machines from other vendors are as bad as the Diebold ones because they have not made their systems available for analysis.
Or maybe you see the world through rose-colored glasses and can't believe that anyone would lie, cheat or steal when billions of dollars and power is the reward because history just wasn't your favorite subject. Personally, I would rather assume this than to resort to taking cheap shots, such as accusing you of conspiring to facilitate electronic election fraud by using your position as a technical columnist to assure the American people they have nothing to worry about by offering your repeated expert opinion that it only makes sense to trust the integrity of vendors, contracted lab testers, election officials, poll workers and electronic voting machine. I truly apologize for being the one to pop your Pollyanna bubble.
In Praise of E-Voting Machines
By Sonia Arrison
07/08/05 5:00 AM PT
Fears that the machines will cause problems help to ensure proper precautions, but these fears can be overblown. Unlike paper ballots, in the history of DREs, no one has found any evidence of the machines being used for fraudulent purposes. Most businesses and government departments have upgraded their systems using new technology, so it only makes sense to update America's voting process as well.
For rest of commentary:
This makes ya wonder !
London Underground Bombing 'Exercises' Took Place at Same Time as Real Attack
Culpability cover scenario echoes 9/11 wargames
"A consultancy agency with government and police connections was running an exercise for an unnamed company that revolved around the London Underground being bombed at the exact same times and locations as happened in real life on the morning of July 7th.
On a BBC Radio 5 interview that aired on the evening of the 7th, the host interviewed Peter Power, Managing Director of Visor Consultants, which bills itself as a 'crisis management' advice company, better known to you and I as a PR firm.
Peter Power was a former Scotland Yard official, working at one time with the Anti Terrorist Branch.
Power told the host that at the exact same time that the London bombings were taking place, his company was running a 1,000 person strong exercise which drilled the London Underground being bombed at the exact same locations, at the exact same times, as happened in real life.
The transcript is as follows."