Man Appointed by SoS to Certify Voting Machines for State Has No Computer Science College Education, Failed to Test Machines for Hackability or Much Else
Colorado Democratic Party Calls on Voters to Vote by Absentee Ballot, Citizens Group Calls for Investigation of SoS
By Brad Friedman on 9/15/2006, 2:06pm PT  

It's incredible (or is it at this point?) but the lawsuit filed by several Colorado voters to ban touch-screen voting machines manufactured by Diebold, ES&S, Hart InterCivic and Sequoia in the state has revealed that the state's appointed "expert" --- responsible for certifying voting systems --- has no actual college training in computer science and failed to do any actual testing of the systems before certifying them!

As reported in an excellent article from Rocky Mountain News news this morning...

[Democratic candidate for Sec. of State, Sen. Ken] Gordon and the Democratic Party were alarmed by a deposition in the case released this week, in which the secretary of state's staffer in charge of testing the machines says he did only 15 minutes of security checks. The staffer, John Gardner Jr., also said he had no college training in computer science, causing Gordon and others to question whether he was qualified for the job. Gardner also had been information technology chief for the El Paso County clerk, which runs elections there.

The plaintiff's attorneys say Gardner's security checks on the four systems did not include attempts at hacking. Instead, Gardner merely checked whether the manufacturers included security documentation.

"Of course" Gardner should have tried hacking, [plaintiff attorney Paul] Hultin said. "Isn't that the idea of a test?"

The issue was also covered quickly in a Denver Post article last night:

...the Secretary of State's office certified a kind of voting machine for Jefferson and Mesa Counties that does not meet state requirements.

The information comes from the deposition of John Gardner - the man appointed by [Colorado Sec. of State] Gigi Dennis as an expert and charged with certifying the machines.

But Gardner testified he is not an expert in the areas required by state law. He also admitted that the Secretary of State's office was under pressure to certify the voting machines because counties had already purchased them.

The Democratic Party in the state has now called on voters to vote by absentee ballot this November, although that strategy is fraught with risk as well because the optical-scan systems used to tabulate those paper ballots have been determined to be both hackable and inaccurate to boot.

According to the News article, the results of two recent Colorado elections have been reversed after a handcount was taken on races which had been previously scanned on optical-scan equipment made by ES&S.

Their report also says that the Republican candidate for Sec. of State, Mike Coffman, has announced that "his first act if elected would be a full review of all voting systems in Colorado."

The current Sec. of State Gigi Dennis appears to be a hardcore Republican. She took over in the role after Donneta Davidson was appointed to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC), as mandated by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The EAC is the body --- theoretically --- responsible for overseeing such matters for the federal government. They have failed miserably at that, however, as the first head of the commission, the Bush-appointed, now-resigned Rev. DeForest Soaries has expressed in several recent interviews.

In a related matter, the Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government (CCEG) has called for an investigation of Dennis, in a news release issued Wednesday, for contravening state law by allowing votes to be transferred from one candidate to another without the voters' knowledge.

John Gideon, the Executive Director of election watchdog organization (he is also a frequent BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger) has described Dennis as "the Blackwell of Colorado", referring to the corrupt Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell who helped game the state's 2004 Presidential Election in favor of George W. Bush.

The Rocky Mountain News article quotes the plaintiff's attorney as fearing that the state is "headed for a train wreck" this November. Now where have we heard that phrase before?

As well, the News also covers the revelations from the Princeton Report, broken by The BRAD BLOG on Wednesday, which demonstrated that a virus can be added in one minute's time to a Diebold touch-screen system, which can then flip votes, steal an election, and be spread from machine to machine without ever being noticed by voters or elections officials.

More on the Princeton Report, it's broad coverage in the media over the last day or two, and Diebold's silly, misleading and disingenuous response to it, later today.

(Hat-tip to Theron H. for the initial heads-up on this news item.)