In an email discussion yesterday among a group of Election Integrity advocates, in reply to the horrendous San Diego Union-Tribune coverage of the Busby/Bilbray issue, Yolo County, CA Registrar of Voters Freddie Oakley posted a crystal clear statement on the concerns of sending voting machines home with poll workers prior to elections.
"As an election official, I understand the practical issues involved here perfectly. I am strongly of the opinion that it is exactly this kind of practical issue that should give election officials serious reservations about deploying electronic voting machines," Oakley wrote.
"If, as a practical matter, [the electronic voting machines deployed prior to an election] can't be secured, then perhaps they ought not be used at all. Period. Until the impediment can be removed," her email statement read.
Her comment was in direct reply to a discussion about how voting machines, in the post-Hursti Hack age, might be deployed now that sending them home unsecured for "overnights" with poll workers is no longer a secure option. That hack, in Leon County, Florida in December 2005 of a Diebold optical scan voting system, has set off a chain reaction revealing massive vulnerabilities in these systems, forcing both federal and state authorities to issue extraordinary security requirements for the machines in just the last few months. Those requirements were subsequently all but ignored in the June 6th Busby/Bilbray U.S. House special election --- the first federal election in the nation to be administered since the additional mitigation requirements were put in place.
Oakley's responsible comments are in direct contradiction to the irresponsible statements by San Diego County Registrar Mikel Haas, given to the Union-Tribune, in which Haas dismisses concerns of election integrity advocates. Haas claims that proper procedures were followed (they were not) and that the practice of sending home voting machines with poll workers "has been followed without incident for about 40 years." Haas ignores, along with his other prevarications, that these eminently hackable electronic voting machines were not in use during all but the last few of those 40 years. The U-T didn't bother to quote, or apparently even attempt to contact, anyone who could reply directly to Haas' deceptive comments.
Registrar Oakley's entire statement --- a grand slam as far as I'm concerned --- should be read in full. It follows below...
At 11:29 AM 6/29/2006, Freddie Oakley wrote:
I think the business of machine sleepovers is very, very serious. And I think it may provide a useful P.R. issue. I am thinking of hiring [University of California computer scientist and security expert, Prof.] Matt Bishop to be a poll worker and sending a machine home with him for a sleepover. I wonder what he could achieve over a long weekend?
As to the first requirement [in the March 22nd, 2006 federal security memorandum spelling out the new security requirements for certifictation of these systems] --- election official shall maintain custody --- that is easily satisfied if poll workers are deputized before the machines are placed in their custody. My colleagues argue that we have "always sent paper ballots home with poll workers..." True, but paper has such quaint trackability... They also argue that, "We have to trust our poll workers..." To this I can only say...only if they are incorruptible.
Yolo County, CA Clerk-Recorder
Our marriage proposal to Ms. Oakley has so far gone unanswered.