State's Top Security Officer Refuses Public Record Release of Diebold GEMS Database Files
The Latest Chapter in the Rollercoaster Battle to Audit Puzzling 2004 Poll Numbers Continues...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2006, 7:51pm PT  

A bizarre story concerning Alaska's 2004 Election has taken yet another even more bizarre turn this week, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

A long-standing public records request for the release of Election 2004 database files created by Diebold's voting system had been long delayed after several odd twists and turns, including the revelation of a contract with the state claiming the information to be a "company secret."

But while it finally appeared as though the state had agreed to release the information (after reserving the right to "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing it), the state's top Security Official has now --- at the last minute --- stepped in to deny the request. The grounds for the denial: the release of the information poses a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.

The state Democratic party has been attempting since December of last year to review the Diebold GEMS tabulator data files from the 2004 election in order to audit some of the strange results discovered in the state, including a reported voter turnout of more than 200% in some areas.

"At this point," Democratic Party spokesperson Kay Brown told the Anchorage Daily News in January, "it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004."

Some of the questionable results from the 2004 Election were outlined in a January 23rd letter [PDF] to the state's Division of Elections from the Alaska Democratic Party chairman, Jake Metcalfe. Amongst the anomolies detailed in Metcalfe's letter: "district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889."

The state Division of Elections, which had previously relented and agreed to release the data after refusing at first to do so, announced its latest about-face in a letter to Metcalfe on Wednesday citing the following concern from Alaska's Chief Security Officer Darrell Davis after he reviewed the public records request:

"release of any security related information creates a serious threat to our ability to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our systems and services..."

The complete letters from Alaska's Division of Elections Director Whitney Brewster and Chief Security Officer Darrell Davis are both available in full here [PDF].

The earlier twists in this strange tale occurred first in January and then in early February.

In late January, we reported that the state had refused to release the Election Data Files on the grounds that their contract with Diebold disallowed the release of the files. Their contract, apparently, recognizes the voter information to be a "company secret" and thus the proprietary property of the company which could not be released to the voters of Alaska.

A week or so later, in early Februrary we reported that the state and Diebold had capitulated. Sort of. After conferring with Diebold, the state relented and agreed to release the files. However, they reserved the right to --- sit down for this --- "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing them!

As the Elections Director Brewster stated in a February 3rd letter [PDF] to Metcalfe announcing they would release the data:

To this end, we are consulting with the Enterprise Technology Systems in the Department of Administration as well as Diebold on this issue...please be advised that the Division will charge for its costs incurred in manipulating the data to provide the records you seek."

And now, the new wrinkle, the state's "security risks" lead them to announce that "after careful consideration," they "will not authorize the release of the GEMS database or audit files" after all.

"Delivery of the database itself, and some of the information contained within this database," says the letter from Davis, "presents numerous security risks to the State of Alaska Government."

We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.

So just to recap: First the voters of Alaska were not allowed to see their own voting data from the 2004 Election because it was the proprietary "company secret" property of Diebold. Then they would be allowed to see it as long as the state and Diebold could "manipulate the data" before releasing it. And now finally it's determined that allowing the voters to see how they actually voted in the 2004 Election would be a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.

No word yet on whether the Alaska Democratic Party will take the matter to court to seek resolution.

The American War on Democracy continues...

(Hat-tip to for the heads up and additional information!)

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UPDATE 4/18/06: The insane roller coaster continues. State Democrats are forced to file a lawsuit to get at the records showing how voters voted in 2004. Details now here...