READER COMMENTS ON
"'Daily Voting News' For December 25&26, 2005"
(17 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 12/26/2005 @ 5:45 pm PT...
If Diebold machines have interpreter code in them, and have them the whole time that is an illegal violation of state code...
Presumably its also a violation of HAVA....it allows them to interpret malicious code; IE vote switching. Rather than this being about third party vendors, Microsoft or anyone else....I would say this is more about the interpreter code which has obviously been inside every Diebold machine..
Also it seems to be in Sequoia machines as well if the architecture is the same...Legally they should be penalized for this act. Presumably the interpreter code was created in McKinney Texas, home of Diebold Global. And if so that only grants official clemency to the 2004 and other stolen elections.
When a crime is committed, someone needs to pay for those crimes. The states who work with the vendors should be exempted from being made responsible for those crimes.
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 12/26/2005 @ 8:57 pm PT...
Blast from the past:
Kenneth Blackwell said in a speech and fund-raising letter, that he was pleased to report George W. Bush had won an overwhelming victory in Ohio of which it would be statistically impossible for Senator Kerry to recover.
Why did he say this?
The blackwell letter with bulleted points
"That's why in the late hours of Election Night, I was truly pleased to announce President Bush had won a critical and clinching victory here in Ohio, on the belief that it was statistically improbable for Senator Kerry to recover."
Curious words in such a way that's never been spoken before.....because the exit polls were statistically "improbable" for Ohio to go to Bush.
I really wonder when Kenneth Blackwell says in the next same paragraph, it was Issue 1 which gave them the victory........what with the reports of vote-switching all across the state & remote access.
Needless to say it seems Mr. Blackwell was curiously aware of the interpreter code defect, and all Secretaries of State, if they knew about the interpreter code would also be legally liable....
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
Robert Lockwood Mills
said on 12/26/2005 @ 10:35 pm PT...
For Doug E.: The letter uses the words "statistically improbable" (referring back to Blackwell's impressions late on election night). Did he first say
"statistically impossible" in a speech shortly after the election, then change the word "impossible" to
"improbable" for the sake of the letter?
If so, that would be a giveaway. Blackwell knew the fix was in. "Improbable" could be defended as "From the votes left uncounted, and considering which precincts they were from, a win for Bush seemed assured." That's just a vote projection, which the TV networks use all the time. But it sounds as if Blackwell's original use of "impossible" was a Freudian slip, and by the time he wrote the letter he had realized it and adjusted the wording to make it read as if he had been projecting on election night, as any TV network would do.
The word "overwhelming" is deleted from the letter, too. How, indeed, could Bush ever have won overwhelmingly when Kerry was leading in the exit polls and the tabulated vote was close? Answer: only if Blackwell knew that enough votes were being flipped to leave no doubt about the outcome. Another Freudian slip, I think. The letter says
"critical and clinching," which have altogether different meanings than "overwhelming."
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 12/26/2005 @ 10:53 pm PT...
Curious that's for sure.....Perhaps someone should check the veracity of all of Blackwell's statements in his public speech before or after Ohio's "victory" by going through all of his files...
Such files must present a clean and full picture that would turn heads in court I'd imagine.
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 4:51 am PT...
The term is "interpreted code", which means that the code must be passed thru an "interpreter" which will convert it into machine code.
Java, Basic, Java Script, HTML, for example, are "interpreted code".
It is my understanding that AccuBasic is the interpreted code on Diebold machines, which an AccuBasic interpreter converts into machine code.
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
Robert Lockwood Mills
said on 12/27/2005 @ 6:27 am PT...
For Dredd: I'm computer ignorant, so please tell me if I have this right. The code (which is proprietary to the company and can't be inspected) may interpret a given vote or vote tally in whatever way the installer determines in advance
If that's what "interpreted code" means, all that Diebold or E.S. & S. had to do to assure Bush's reelection was provide two types of interpreted code to the Secretary of State. One, for use in Republican precincts, "interprets" votes accurately.
The other, for use in Democratic precincts,
"interprets" that the vote is wrong and flips a given percentage of votes to the other candidate.
The Secretary of State controls the allocation of machines, which are already coded according to his desired specifications. In Ohio, this meant that having an equal number of Democrats and Republicans at the polling site was irrelevant. The fix was already in when the machine arrived there.
The only risk for the G.O.P. is that not enough votes get flipped. That happened in Pennsylvania, where Kerry led by 8% in the exit polls but won by less than 3%. There wasn't enough "interpretation."
Is this an accurate analysis?
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 6:39 am PT...
I visited EFF's website to read more about the NC situation and Diebold's withdrawal. It seems the litigation brought by EFF against the NC Board of Elections raised issues which the court was unprepared to handle. DIebold withdrew not because of the technical issues (which the court apparently doesn't grasp) but because they could not raise and file the required escrow amount for a chance to stay in contention as a bona fide vendor. The Board of Elections meanwhile is admonished to go back and re-write its requirement on escrow of source code belonging to 3rd parties. I do not see this as a gratifying "win" for fair-election enthusiasts because the Board of Elections has already shown its true colors, is in bed with lobbyists, and will re-write to suit themselves--not honest elections.
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 9:20 am PT...
GTASH #7 - There is nothing directly related between the lawsuit and judges ruling and the fact that Diebold pulled out of the state.
Diebold pulled out because of this piece of NC election law:
§ 163‑165.9A. Voting systems: requirements for voting systems vendors; penalties.
(3) The chief executive officer of the vendor shall sign a sworn affidavit that the source code and other material in escrow is the same being used in its voting systems in this State. The chief executive officer shall ensure that the statement is true on a continuing basis.
b) Penalties. - Willful violation of any of the duties in subsection (a) of this section is a Class G felony. Substitution of source code into an operating voting system without notification as provided by subdivision (a)(2) of this section is a Class I felony. In addition to any other applicable penalties, violations of this section are subject to a civil penalty to be assessed by the State Board of Elections in its discretion in an amount of up to one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) per violation. A civil penalty assessed under this section shall be subject to the provisions of G.S. 163‑278.34(e)."
Diebold claims that no one else can meet this requirement, yet ES&S has already met it and Sequoia is asking for another chance and they say they will meet it.
Also, the Board of Elections and County elections people are putting pressure on the Governor to require a special session of the state legislature so legislation can be rewritten to do away with this and other requirements in the law. The BoE cannot rewrite the law themselves.
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 10:10 am PT...
The Congressman who has done more to expose voter fraud than any other, anywhere... has been named 2005 Person of the Year by TvNewsLIES.
John Conyers acknowledged the award on his blog of 12/26. It would be really nice if people contact him at johnconyers.com and congratulate him.
TVNL article on their Person of the Year:
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 10:14 am PT...
I appreciate your clarification, but I am not comforted by the idea of "doing away" with this requirement of the law. As I read on various other sites, source-code is not viewed as an issue in other states where the same argument applied (or could have applied, but the machine companies did not use it). That leads me to think (as a non-geek) that the whole notion of source-code as proprietary intellectual property is not relevant in the first place and the courts in NC are not prepared to deal with it anyway. To have our (i live in NC) legislators in special session to re-write Bd of Election standards for machine eligibility is asking for trouble, not correction.
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 11:45 am PT...
GTASH #10 -
If you live in NC there is an action you can do to help to stop the calling of the special session of the legislature.
All NC citizens should go to www.ncvoter.net and take action with a phone call or email. The information is all there including talking points.
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 11:54 am PT...
John: Precisely why they need to fight to stop the special session that will try to re-write North Carolina's voting law.
That and they need to address the interpreter/interpreted code.....They need to fight this from all sides and explain it to the court.
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 2:10 pm PT...
Notice that your initials above are underlined. That is not so in this interpreted code (notice the bold) I am writing in at this moment. I am writing in HTML code, which the HTML interpreter is interpreting and responding by doing what the interpreted code says to do.
It is easy to change, with just a word processor or notepad, or any text editor. Yes, interpreted code can be easily modified without much effort.
Binary code or machine code, however, has been compiled into machine language ... a language that only the micro-chip processor can understand. It is far more difficult to change and takes special tools to do so.
The idea is protection. Once the source code has been submitted along with the compiled version (.exe programs for example on windows machines, and other types on Linux or Unix machines), then one can test whether the source code will compile into an exact match of the binary code.
Other techniques can also be applied to make sure the source code matches the binary code.
Once that is done if anything changes it is easier to detect in binary code. It also takes compiling, and a lot more things to change the code and the performance, compared to interpreted code.
Java uses intermediate code, traditionally called "p-code", which is partially compiled. A little more compilation takes place at run-time (time of execution of the code), but still this is called "interpreted code". A lot of old BASIC, another typically interpreted language, is probably the source of the term. COBOL too.
The entire focus of not allowing interpreted code is to make it more difficult to change the code once it is in place.
This is why no interpreted code is allowed in the voting machine specs in a lot of places, nor any interpreters.
Just the operating system sending the machine code of the "executable" code to the CPU (main micro-chips) is allowed.
I am trying to think of an analogy. Perhaps a manuscript written in pencil would be a good one. Compared to a printed and published book.
The paper manuscript can be changed and so there would be more difficulty in noticing a change, whereas, the printed and published book would show modifications more readily. One could simply compare and take note of another copy hidden away and catch the change. The original written in pencil has no other copy to compare to.
There is no perfect analogy or perfect way of protection. However, it is orders of magnitude more safe to require escrow of all the modules, both source and binary, because checks can be made and detection more certain without interpreted code.
COMMENT #14 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 5:05 pm PT...
I will visit the site and contribute to resisting a special session. I remarked some weeks ago that NC is a Democratic state in the main and the Dems are no more to be trusted on election issues here than Republicans. I also pointed out that county election supervisors would lobby hard to assure that their voting machine purchases remain intact by whatever means necessary; they will "poor-mouth" about the expense of any change and attempt to reduce the impact of any change. That is the game and all issues of fairness will take a back-seat--especially in special sessions which are as likely to be closed as open to the public.
COMMENT #15 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 5:40 pm PT...
I have made my request to Gov Easley to ignore the calls for special session. I personally doubt that it will do any good (I mean the idea of swaying the Governor by an email drive). I feel better for having done it , though, and hope the attention of you all and of more Tar Heels will come to bear on the subject. The remarks on source code, interpreters, property rights---I am certain they have a place, but they do not grab the attention of politicians nor most constituents. I wonder if the folks at Red Hat are willing to speak up? It would take something like that to get some attention. As a Linux/anti-Windows competitor, I am sure they wouldn't bother, but it would be nice if the homegrown software operating systems folks raised their profile on this one.
COMMENT #16 [Permalink]
said on 12/27/2005 @ 9:15 pm PT...
I would like to get my two cents in also, does anyone have Governor Easley's email address?
COMMENT #17 [Permalink]
said on 12/28/2005 @ 4:10 am PT...
Gtash et al. - Perhaps sending faxes would work better. When a fax comes in someone has to physically handle it and dispose of it somehow. Just saying...