State Stacks Panels, Invitees With E-Voting Proponents!
RAW STORY Report Confirms, Adds Many Details to Information Previously Reported by BRAD BLOG
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2005, 2:55pm PT  

RAW STORY's Miriam Raftery opens up on the scam apparently being perpetuated by California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson in what appears to be a last-minute effort to quickly re-certify Diebold's TSx touch-screen voting machines in California as the Jan 1, 2006 deadline for the Help America Vote Act looms.

A recent "Voting Systems Testing Summit" convened last week by McPherson in Sacramento appears to have been purposely rigged by the SoS's office to tilt strongly towards the presentation of information that supports the return of Diebold's buggy and unsecured voting machines to the state.

As reported by Raftery...

"This smacks of Dick Cheney meeting with the energy companies and locking out opposing interests of environmental groups," Sherry Healy, a member of the California Election Protection Network steering committee, told RAW STORY. "Diebold and other vendors selling electronic voting equipment have been invited to attend, along with all 400 members of the California Association of Election Officials," she said. "It costs one hundred and seventy five dollars a ticket and will be picked up by the state."

A massive public test of the machines held over the summer by Republican McPherson revealed that 20% of the Diebold machines had failed to perform properly (RAW STORY lists the number as 30%). But a subsequent test held privately, using machines specially prepared by Diebold gave only a reported 3% error rate.

Amonst the nuggets uncovered in Raftery's report is this information from Diebold spokesperson, David Bear:

In an interview Monday with RAW STORY, Diebold spokesman David Bear revealed, California's "recommendation is to certify the equipment as reviewed." Bear said McPherson's staff made a recommendation to recertify the Diebold TSX system before hearing public testimony, based on a review of the new test results.

Bear had recently lied in an interview with The BRAD BLOG when he at first claimed that Diebold's Central Vote Tabulator "isn't accessable via modem." When pressed further, he was later forced to admit that it was. He also claimed to be unaware of a "Cyber Security Alert" issued by a branch of the US Dept. of Homeland Security prior to last year's Presidential Election warning about the security vulnerability in Diebold's tabulation software.

Raftery outlines the overwhelming imbalance of the assembled panelist for the event last week where Voting Rights and Election Reform activists were largely shut out. That, despite a conversation The BRAD BLOG had just last Monday live on air with a spokesperson from the SoS office who had denied the allegation. The full audio and text transcript of that live on-air interview on KRXA 540am in Montery, CA is posted here.

Raftery found much evidence suggesting the heavily weighted pro-Electronic Voting factions and the apparent lock-out of Election Reform and Voting Rights advocates at the summit. For example, Raftery reports on several of the panelists who were allowed to attend and speak on the matter:

[Dr. Brit] Williams has been an outspoken defender of electronic voting. As a NIST [National Institute for Standards and Techology] participant, he stated that "adding a paper 'receipt' could have an adverse effect." He also served as a state evaluator of Diebold machines in Georgia, where he allowed installation of a patch not certified by testing labs...Williams later admitted, "Some of the things we did, we probably compromised security a little bit."

And more like the above:

[Donnetta] Davidson is a commission on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). As Secretary of State in Colorado, she faced embarrassment over her leadership in the Elections Center, a nonpartisan state office that accepted donations from e-voting companies at the same time that it touted their machinery.

Meanwhile, reformers and activists from California Elections Protection Network (CEPN), for example, were entirely shut out from even attending --- much less presenting! --- at the summit:

When several members of CEPN applied for admission, they were denied - despite the fact that the event was not yet full. Correspondence from the Secretary of State's office denying the request has been posted at the CEPN website.

"We offered to pay a fee," Healy said of the invitation-only event. "They assured us that our views are being represented."

But after reviewing a list of attendees, CEPN found no activists and only three computer experts with views compatible with CEPN's election reform goals. "Panels are stacked so as to be heavily pro-Diebold," Healy noted. "Our side is heavily outnumbered."

The letter referred to above, from the SoS's office, as posted on the CEPN website says:

Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2005 20:30:21 -0800
From: “McDannold, Bruce” bmcdanno@ss.ca.gov

To: [XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX]

Thank you for your interest in the Summit on voting system testing. We invited elections officials from across the country to participate, since this is a Summit designed specifically to discuss state-level testing of voting machines and to develop a best practices document on that specific subject. We've had a very good response; registrations are filling up fast so we are having to limit attendance to those already invited. The panels and panelists reflect the widest array of credible views, from outright skeptics to industry. Interested parties are encouraged to contribute written documents to the Summit to be reviewed as part of the final recommendations for testing to the states. They should send their written input to VotingSystemComment@ss.ca.gov.

States and counties around the country are keeping a close eye on the decision soon to be made by California which is, as Diebold regards it, the country's largest "voting market." What happens in this state, may well effect the decisions made by countless Boards of Elections around the country as they all face the impending deadline to receive federal funding for upgrades to their election systems.

Be sure to read RAW's full story for much more!

To submit your own comment to the CA Sec. of State, visit http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/elections_vs.htm, call (916) 653-6814 or email votingsystemcomment@ss.ca.gov.