READER COMMENTS ON
"Group Files Legal Challenge to NC's Recent Certification of Diebold, Other Voting Machine Companies in State"
(21 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
Robert Lockwood Mills
said on 12/8/2005 @ 4:22 pm PT...
However it plays out, bloggers have made the difference here. Without us, the issue would be settled in North Carolina. With us, it's still an open question.
Don't ever think we aren't making a difference.
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 12/8/2005 @ 4:22 pm PT...
Thank you!!! Finally!!! Maybe other states will follow suit --- enough is enough!!
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 12/8/2005 @ 4:23 pm PT...
A huge thank you to Electronic Frontier Foundation and Joyce McCloy for their true patriotism.
May they and Velvet Revolution finaly bring down this scam on our great country!
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 12/8/2005 @ 4:30 pm PT...
On behalf of Black Box Voting, we are thrilled to see EFF take on the North Carolina Board of Elections for flaunting the law.
Because there are few consequences for ignoring the law, this has become a systemic problem with elections officials.
In Los Angeles, San Diego, and Riverside, elections registrar flaunt California Elections Code 15204, which requires them to allow citizens to watch the tally of the vote.
In Colorado, the co-director of elections for the state, Bill Compton, has simply added whole sentences of his own when citing C.R.S. 1-7-802. He uses such tactics to deny public records requests, both to persevering citizens of Colorado like Al Kolwicz and to Black Box Voting.
Like EFF, Black Box Voting is being forced into litigation in order to enforce basic law.
The next test will be whether the judicial system holds up to the arrogant assault of these elections officials.
Gee, you'd think they weren't worried about losing their jobs. Almost like they know their friends can't be voted out.
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 12/8/2005 @ 5:46 pm PT...
Not only that stuff Bev, but Diebold is re-buying their stock, after the drop, when they had just dumped their stock on the market before the drop (they knew, no bullshit there)
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 12/8/2005 @ 5:49 pm PT...
The NC BoE will probably try to skate by the suit claiming that they complied with the law when they examined the ITA reports on the equipment. The reports which said the code met NC requirements.
This is pure BS.
First, as someone who sat on the committee that drafted the law, I argued quite heatedly with the BoE members that ITA reports were NOT acceptable since the ITAs work for the voting machine companies, not for the state. Second, since ITAs refuse to reveal their testing methodologies, we have no way of knowing whether it passed our criteria or not. Thus, the NC elections director and the member of the board who passed the certification KNEW that the intent of the law did not permit ITA reports.
Second, the BoE certified the systems BEFORE the software was escrowed, instead of AFTER, as required by S223.
Third, in the case of Diebold, the fact that they use Microsoft Access for their database is reason enough to disqualify them from the start. Access is NOT a secure database.
The case comes up on the 14th, which is the same day the BoE will have their dog and pony show in Greensboro. We will be there protesting against the SBoE and the Diebold in particular.
(Not affiliated with Bev Harris/blackboxvoting.org and don't want to be)
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 12/8/2005 @ 5:53 pm PT...
This illustrates the fact that it is sadly not enough to get a good law passed - you have to be vigilant and sometimes agressive to make sure that it is enforced.
Not only are the vendors the problem, but the government officials for not forcing them to follow the law.
Thanks to Matt Zimmerman at EFF.org for coming to the defense of NC voters, and thanks to Brad Friedman for keeping the light on this.
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 12/8/2005 @ 6:01 pm PT...
In other words, Diebold must have the inside scoop that all these suits are going to magically go away, guaranteeing the certification, otherwise why would they buy their stock back ?
The trap is set somehow
RLM if your around, please explain this for me
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 12/8/2005 @ 7:03 pm PT...
Here is how Diebold does it:
NC illegally certifies Diebold:
Diebolding of NC Timeline here:
Raleigh insiders' stacked deck against the verified voting law and it's application:
Voting Machine business in NC worth from $46 Million up to $135 Million in purchase contracts, never mind the
SBOE member Bob Cordle (Democrat) is a very vocal anti paper, pro voting machine company (with his 4 agreeing SBOE members)
Bob Cordle led the vote to unanimously certify Diebold yesterday.
He was first to speak up.
SBOE Cordle connections to Speaker of House (word is they are golfing buddies?) -
Cordle's law firm Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP received payment for legal services from Blacks campaign fund early this year, see bottum of page of the website http://www.jimblackmustgo.com/news.html
Democratic Speaker of the House, Jim Black - is being investigated by the FBI for NC's big lottery scandal.
"The Winston-Salem Journal said it right in a recent editorial: “the North Carolina General Assembly is a cauldron of sleaze.”
We have two choices—either complain silently about the culture of corruption on Jones Street or take action and demand change. The first step in cleaning up our Legislature is demanding the immediate resignation of House Speaker Jim Black."
The NC State Party chair did not renominate Bob Cordle to the State Board of Elections (at the request of democrats all over the state)
and the Governor didn't like that, so he changed the law!
Governor Easly put a provision in the budget bill to allow him to put anyone on the Board of Elections that he wanted to -
By the way, "shades of Black" NC's State Board of Elections also oversees Campaign Finance Reporting.
The State Board of Elections hired Keith Long, former Diebold employee (2002-2005) to oversee the voting machine selection process, this is the same man who installed 22,000 Diebold in Georgia in '02.
Former democratic state senator Steve Metcalf serving as a lobbyist for Diebold -
Name: Steve Metcalf
Firm: The Policy Group, Inc.
Address: PO Box 1694
Asheville, NC 28802
Phone: (828) 258-6688
Search of "Steve Metcalf" at www.followthemoney.org shows that in '04
Metcalf donated about $2,000 to the democratic party and or democrats ---
about $200.00 to Rep Ray Rapp of Haywood, Madison, and Yancey Counties,
$500 to Lt Governor Beverly Perdue, $250 to Wayne Coogwin's campaign for Labor Commissioner,
and $900 to the NC Democratic Party. Not a big amount, but we don't know who his clients donated to yet.
His list of clients is:
The Policy Group also represents:
Images Term Principal
2005-2006 Appalachian Regional Healthcare Systems, Inc.
2005-2006 Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce (Resigned 6/13/2005)
2005-2006 Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission
2005-2006 Dewey Square Group
2005-2006 Diebold Election Systems, Inc.
2005-2006 Energy United (Resigned 8/31/2005)
2005-2006 Festiva Resorts
2005-2006 Harrington Benefit Services
2005-2006 Hayes, Seay, Mathern & Mattern, Inc.
2005-2006 North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives Incorporated
2003-2004 Be Smart Kids
2003-2004 Festiva Resorts
2003-2004 Hayes, Seay, Mathern & Mattern, Inc.
2003-2004 Run Lightning 1956, LLC
"Election Systems and Software, another voting-machine maker,
has no problem with the law as written because the company
writes its own software for its touch-screen voting machines, a
spokeswoman said Monday."
Keith Long, who is advising the elections board with the voting equipment changes, said after talking this week with the three
winning bidders that "none of them have the source code for all of their software they use."
So ... to recap:
1. Former Diebold employee is placed in charge of bidding process.
2. Diebold sues state, goes into court on Monday saying it can't provide the source code to all software running on its system.
3. Diebold loses case Monday, magically is able to cough up enough code by Wednesday --- which is then examined in record time by the state --- to be unconditionally certified by Thursday.
4. Former-Diebold-employee-now-state-employee claims that it's OK that Diebold didn't hand everything over "because everyone else is doing it".
5. ES&S rep says they can and did hand everything over.
6. Board of Elections acts more as advocate for Diebold instead of for the public.
7. Profit (for Diebold)
8. Campaign donations for someone? After all, this is over $100 Million to the vendors
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
Grizzly Bear Dancer
said on 12/8/2005 @ 8:28 pm PT...
corporate elite fight song
HAPPY HOLIDAYS BLUE
PRETEND THE SHIT AIN'T REAL
BE HAPPY RED
NC ELECTIONS SO EASY TO STEAL
I'M AN OIL COMPANY
AND I'M OK
BEEN CONTROLLING THIS COUNTRY
SINCE THE CIVIL WAR DAYS
F THE ENVIRONMENT AND
F THE WORLD
CAUSE YOU ALL GIVE ME THE POWER
TO SMASH THE PEARLS
I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK
I DON'T CARE RANT AND RAVE
CAUSE I'LL DO WHAT I WANT
UNTIL THERE'S NUTHIN LEFT TO SAVE.
TO KEEP THE WAR MACHINE GOING
I INVADED IRAQ
I CREATED YOUR ANGER
WITH A 9/11 ATTACK
NOW I'LL DELIST THE BROWN BEAR BASED ON LIES
AND CAP A YELLOWSTONE PARK BUFFALO
WITH A GLINT IN MY EYE
HAPPY HOLIDAYS BLUE
BUT DON'T WATCH THE ARCTIC MELT
BECAUSE THERE WON'T BE ANY NEWS - RED
ABOUT THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HELL
WE OWN THE NEWS
AND WE OWN U..
STUPID FCKING AMERICANS
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
David Mull, Raleighzen
said on 12/8/2005 @ 11:34 pm PT...
I truely understand the reference by Joyce "The Winston-Salem Journal said it right in a recent editorial: “the North Carolina General Assembly is a cauldron of sleaze.” But it's clearly an understatement as to the level of corruption and malfeasance to be found in NC State Govt administration. If one looks, they can also find examples in other agencies, and loopholes in statutory construction that allow the RED team to walk over honest hardworking citizens. I myself can refrain from lumping all actors into a black cauldrun, but SERIOUSLY - To many outside the US It appears as lunacy to be 'Nation building" when our attempt at achieving any hint of proportional representation in our domestic voting system, and even less once policy is consumed by the masses. - ALL HAIL THE THEIF! - I think not. Thanks to all who are working on this issue, here in NC and across our land.
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 12/9/2005 @ 2:40 am PT...
For simply being intentionally ignorant to laws that are aimed at protecting democracy and the integrity of the voting process...
Especially in light of what we know about Diebold's lack of integrity, who's involved and their blatant motives based on their history and affiliations...
North Carolina State Board of Elections and the crooks running Diebold.... ALL deserve to be imprisoned.
I'm sure I (and anyone else in touch with reality) would be more cautious... When something has been shown to provide anomolous and potentially fraudulent results... you do NOT change the rules that everyone else was okay adhering to... just to allow the most suspicious party to take part... I mean... WHAT THE F**K... people have every right to be irate about this.
Once again... The door is being opened, quite willingly and intentionally, for potential (even likely) corruption of the voting process.
Once again... a group of people in power made the decision to remove protection of democracy.
Whoever they are.. they don't deserve any of the freedom they have, because they are doing what they can to corrupt that freedom.
I just hope people in NC will rally behind Joyce on this... she deserves all the support she can get.
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 12/9/2005 @ 4:51 am PT...
One quote from the news release John has posted:
"North Carolina voters deserve to have their election laws enforced," said co-counsel Don Beskind of the Raleigh law firm of Twiggs, Beskind, Strickland & Rabenau, P.A. "Election transparency is a requirement, not an option. The General Assembly passed this law unanimously, and it is now time for the Board of Elections to meet their obligations."
Did you get that? The law that is being flagrantly violated intentionally, was passed UNANIMOUSLY by the legislature of the state.
It was BI-PARTISAN as it should be in all states, yet Diebold corrupts state officials with payola so they are willing to openly rebel against the law.
COMMENT #14 [Permalink]
said on 12/9/2005 @ 5:22 am PT...
Way to go Joyce---
I want NC to straighten-up. Abiding by its own laws should be a easy first step. I am interested in watching how this is going to be fought out. I expect we are going to see the media divide first across its normal partisan lines, but then what? It's odd that in much of the country Diebold is regarded as a Republican puppet-master, but in NC the tables are turned and several newspapers have a Republican bent and love to demonize Democrats. This being a non-partisan issue is a bit odd for both.
COMMENT #15 [Permalink]
said on 12/9/2005 @ 7:24 am PT...
I sent the NC State B of E an email asking for an explanation of the "immaculate certification" and this is the crap I got back.
Thanks bunches for the efforts of EFF.ORG!
From: Keith Long
Pursuant to Senate Bill 223 and SESSION LAW 2005-323 the NC State Board of Elections caused an RFP to be issued by the Information Technology Services (ITS) to obtain a Statewide Contract for the counties of North Carolina to use to purchase voting equipment. A total of three (3) vendors responded and were examined by an Evaluation Team and Certification Team to determine if they qualified under the standards required by the NC law. All three (3) vendors had their source code reviewed by an Independent Testing Authority and approved for usage by the Election Assistance Commission. The State Board of Elections approved Iron Mountain as the software escrow agent for vendor election software and all current software escrow agents used by 3rd party software vendors. Based on the written commitment of the three (3) vendors agreeing to place all software object code and application along with vendor source code in the Iron Mountain escrow agent location, and also agreeing to inform the board the location of 3rd party source code escrow agents, the State Board of Elections approved all three (3) vendors for certification with one vendor pending a final EAC number that is required by 12/22/05.
This action further strengthens the law by giving the SBE the ability to check the hash codes of the 3rd party software placed in escrow against the hash codes in the 3rd party vendors escrow account. If the hash codes do not match then we will be alerted to the fact that the vendor may have altered 3rd party software including computer operating systems. Without this ability we have now way of knowing if the vendor altered the 3rd party software that is in our escrow location.
The State Board of Elections is holding all certified vendors accountable to the voters of North Carolina.
Keith Long, PMP
NC Voting Systems Project Manager
From: Gary Bartlett
Sent: Sunday, December 04, 2005 9:23 AM
To: Keith Long
Subject: FW: Diebold Certified?!?!?!?!?!?
Please respond. Thanks.
December 2, 2005
Executive Director Gary O. Bartlett
506 N. Harrington St.
Raleigh, NC 27603
Dear Executive Director Bartlett:
What the hell is going on?
Why would NC certify a voting method that didn't meet the minimum
standards by state law. This smells like a huge rotting fish?
Please explain. This makes NO sense!?
COMMENT #16 [Permalink]
said on 12/9/2005 @ 8:03 am PT...
to GTash --
>Abiding by its own laws should be a easy first step.
Unfortunately, that is not as easy as it sounds, for two reasons:
1) There are no real consequences for public officials who do not abide by these kinds of laws. They violate them in a way that gives them plausible deniability, claiming it's their "interpretation" of the law.
While it's true that the courts can then force them to follow the law, since there are generally no punitive consequences for flaunting the law, they can lose a battle and live to flaunt the law the next day.
2) Our judiciary is also succumbing to corruption and arrogance. For example, legislation in some states has lifted the cap for campaign contributions in judicial races, making it possible for corporations to donate as much as they want to specific candidates for judge positions.
Also, and this goes back to the days or organized crime in New York City and Chicago, those who want to influence the judicial system need go no further than the clerk who assigns judges to the case.
In addition, parties to litigation can object to judicial assignments, and such objections are generally effective for removing one or two initial assignments of independent-thinking judges to the case. What this means is that higher paid counsel has an advantage --- more lawyers, more time in the specific court docket where the case will be heard, better chance that they know which judges lean their way. Note that the leaked Diebold lawyer's documents contained a whole bunch of cookie-cutter pre-written arguments with a BLANK to be filled in for whatever judge they don't like. That's pretty standard for sophisticated law firms.
So, you can shop for judges, you can bribe the judicial assignment clerks, and even if you get a good judge, expending resources that few citizens have, you only win a small battle because lack of punitive consequences allows officials to repeat the behavior of flaunting the law.
As effective activism continues, and by that I mean activism that uses whatever tactics it takes to box uncooperative officials into greater levels of transparency and oversight, I think one thing we should start thinking about is setting some punitive consequences for flaunting the law.
- In some cases this can be media --- as was done in Riverside California, where public pressure, and ultimately media disapproval, forced Registrar Mischelle Townsend to step down.
- In other cases it can be scientific studies, distributed through certified mail to invoke fiduciary duty with formal requests for replication --- forcing impotent or crooked certifiers and testers to step aside, as the Hursti study is doing.
- It is also effective for citizens to participate in testing the voting systems. John Washburn is a good example of this.
- Citizens can be very effective to stall and stop procurement. Good examples of this are Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where the Diebold purchase was significantly delayed, ultimately some funds were refused at a level above the BOE, and the entire purchase has generated enough documented inappropriate behavior that it may fall apart altogether.
- litigation and legislation can achieve legal precedent and force compliance.
Of the above strategies, passing legislation and doing litigation tend to be the slowest techniques and, in the case of litigation, the most expensive. But we need ALL of the methodology. That's why just one group or citizen, or even coalition, can't possibly do it all.
BACK TO FLAUNTING THE LAW:
Only a few states have punitive consequences for unlawfully withholding public records, for example (mine is one of them). In my state, a recent case by Armen Yousoufian went to the state supreme court over unlawful withholding of public records. He was awarded over $300,000 in damages from King County.
I can tell you that King County is much better about producing public records now, though it is countering that law in other ways, such as setting policies to destroy documents quickly and frequently.
Punitive consequences will definitely help, because not only do they make a financial point, but they can cause the individual who cost the jurisdiction money to be fired by his supervisors who hold the fiscal responsibility.
Reclaiming our right to oversee our own elections will require all of us. We don't need to be under the same umbrella, we can swarm at it from different directions, but we face such a daunting set of circumstances that it will take a lot of us to achieve effective elections oversight.
COMMENT #17 [Permalink]
said on 12/9/2005 @ 9:33 am PT...
Brad, old chap ----- you've got to change the colors on this site.
COMMENT #18 [Permalink]
said on 12/9/2005 @ 10:46 am PT...
Maybe when Bush & Co. are gone from Washington the light will return to this blog's background.
We wander about in the dark, clinging to one another, in hopes of finding a better day. Go Brad!
Curiously, accessdenied.org, which is a blog which supposedly exposes secrets much like WayneMadsenReport.com, was very dark, but then changed to a White background. I immediately suspected they'd been taken over by some evil force.
The world is a bit topsy turvy and we've got to right this injustice.
COMMENT #19 [Permalink]
Robert Lockwood Mills
said on 12/9/2005 @ 12:22 pm PT...
Diebold could be buying their stock back for a variety of reasons. Some could be suspicious, others innocent.
1. They need it for stock options being exercised by executives. In some cases, however, those executives could have already sold (or sold short) the same number of shares through their brokers. The excercise price of the options would typically be at a discount to the prevailing market price.
2. Their lawyer was optimistic about their chances of avoiding lawsuits or prevailing in them.
3. They have cash on hand, and want to reduce the shares outstanding to make their earnings per share look better.
If the company did dump the stock earlier just ahead of bad news (as another poster suggested) it would be the dumbest corporate act of all time. It will stand out like a neo-con at an ACLU rally. I believe Diebold is crooked enough, just not dumb enough to do that.
COMMENT #20 [Permalink]
said on 12/9/2005 @ 2:47 pm PT...
Joyce McCloy's Complaint is excellent (there's a PDF of it accessible from the EFF site - link above). It could be a template for other states dealing with elected officials or bureaucrats who are arrogantly ignoring the state laws (plugging in the law from the state at issue, of course).
The Board of Elections appointment sounds like another action susceptible of a Mandamus action. The Governor cannot "change the law;" he must follow it. It would certainly be an unique legislative process to allow the Governor to legislate through the budget process! Governors can shove money around in a budget as an executive function, but cannot "legislate" through the budget in derogation of adopted laws. Only the state legislature can amend a law.
If current law requires that the NC State Party chair make nominations to the State Board of Elections, the Governor cannot ignore that law. If however, the law provides for such nominations, but, as is often the case, does not require the Governor to appoint from those nominations, then nothing illegal has occurred. It's still pathetic.
NC has some serious problems, but this lawsuit is the kind of push-back that says: "We're not going to take it anymore." The lack of consequences for over-reaching encourages more egregious over-reaching.
COMMENT #21 [Permalink]
said on 12/10/2005 @ 5:07 pm PT...
Thanks Joyce, Bev, Brad and all of you who care. N.C. has lost 2 class action law suits that I know of.Wonder if the new Dem. state chair could be of any help. The old Dems. fought hard to keep their kind in and lost...so there are some good people there. Grizzly Bear Dancer, I am so sorry about the large animals who are endangered because of the madness. You know, it has always been so. I saw huge moose tracks in the snow this morning.