By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2006, 10:17pm PT  

"These machines are a problem. This is not some Internet conspiracy; this is a serious problem that faces American democracy. These machines are not reliable and they shouldn't be used. We should not be using machines in this country where the results of the vote can't be verified after the fact. Period. Any machines."
-- DNC Chair, Gov. Howard Dean, 4/19/06

David Grossman (formerly of MediaMatters.org, currently of PoliticsTV.com) attended a breakfast with Howard Dean the other day. He asked Dean about his concern over Electronic Voting Machines. Dean's answer was interesting (transcript of complete answer is below.)

While I'm encouraged somewhat by Dean's response --- he seems to have a general grasp of the concerns --- it seems to me that he's still vastly "misunderestimating" the disastrous situation now afoot in the country in the wake of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). He just doesn't yet seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation and the extent of the problems and dangers posed to our democracy.

To that end --- in case there are any of Howard Dean's peeps reading this --- I will make the same offer I've previously made to people close to John Kerry, Wes Clark and, personally today, to Russ Feingold (more on that later). Namely, I'll be happy to brief Dean and/or his staffers by phone, in person, or any other way they might like to full explain what we are now dealing with in this country, and how incredibly important it is that they pay attention and take action now. They may feel free to contact me here, if interested in taking me up on the offer.

Dean also speaks, in his full response, about his experience a year or so ago in 2004 hacking a Diebold GEMS central tabulator with "someone" on "live TV". That "someone" was Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org and the live TV was a CNBC's Topic A with Tina Brown which Dean was Guest Hosting. The clip of him hacking the machines with Harris is right here. He added, in his response, that he didn't know for sure, but it "could have been a program that was elaborately programmed to fool me into thinking I was doing something I really wasn't doing."

No, Dr. Dean. It wasn't anything of the kind. We'll assume you were kidding. But what you did on live TV was exploit a vulnerability allowing a malicious user to hack the Diebold GEMS central tabulator, in about 30 seconds, to change the reported results of a Diebold election.

That is, of course, precisely what the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT, a branch of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security) warned about in a "Cyber Security Bulletin", as published prior to the 2004 Election.

Of course, nobody reported the US-CERT "Cyber Security Bulletin", originally posted on August 31, 2004, anywhere in the media until The BRAD BLOG did so more than a year later on September 15, 2005. As far as we know, nobody in the Corporate Mainstream Media has bothered to report on the warning even since then.

A huge thanks to David for asking Dean his question about Diebold! David's full blog item is here. The complete transcript of his exchange with Dean on this matter follows...

Here's my question and Dean's answer from the transcript (if you've got 15 to 20 minutes and are very interested in Howard Dean, it's a good read):

David Grossman: Governor, one question by way of the blog Daily Kos. How concerned are you and others at the DNC about Diebold voting machines, and...

Dean: Very.

Grossman: ...other issues of voting fraud?

Dean: Very concerned. I am actually calling Democratic public officials. I called one yesterday to try to head off the use of these machines. We spent half a million dollars after the election with a task force, headed by Donna Brazile but made up of academics that were relatively neutral and very careful, to look at these machines very carefully. We concluded that are easily hackable and cannot be verified and that they are not reliable. And we concluded the best machine you can use is an opti-scan machine because at least it has paper ballots and you still get the rapidity of the counting. There are Democratic officials who still use these because they get huge amounts of money from the federal government to buy these kinds of machines, well, not just ... the other machines, the Sequoias and Diebolds and such. I'm not an expert on these machines, although someone did actually teach me how to hack one on live TV once, which was kind of fun. It's pretty shocking --- I know so little about the intricacies of all this stuff so ... I wouldn't pretend I ... I did change the vote totals on the machines, but I don't know if it was really --- could have been a program that was elaborately programmed to fool me into thinking I was doing something I really wasn't doing.

But yes, our conclusion is that these machines are not reliable and they undermine confidence in democracy. I, as you know, keep in pretty constant touch with lots of people around the country, many of the people who supported me for President are people who are very much involved in exposing this. There have been some success stories in North Carolina, for example, the legislature wrote the bill so that essentially Diebold's unwillingness to provide source codes or any kind of reliability disqualified them from the bidding. So, we're pushing back on this hard. Republican legislators seem to think these are great things. We don't get very far in states that are controlled by Republican governors and legislatures, but we have had some success. We believe it's important to keep talking about these machines. These machines are a problem. This is not some Internet conspiracy; this is a serious problem that faces American democracy. These machines are not reliable and they shouldn't be used. We should not be using machines in this country where the results of the vote can't be verified after the fact. Period. Any machines.[emphasis added]