By John Gideon on 10/28/2006, 1:22pm PT  

Blogged By John Gideon, 28 October 2006

Still over a week from election day and already the problems are piling up. Meanwhile the vendors and their shills are making excuses and attempting to sell the voting public a line of garbage. Among the shills is a federal agency, the Election Assistance Commission, that is supposed to assist the voter and, instead, has sent their chairman out on the road to defend the vendors.

In a blog posted yesterday, Brad said it well:

"The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) is a complete and utter failure. The current commissioner, Paul DeGregorio, has done nothing to instill confidence in elections or provide a lick of oversight in the deployment and use of these voting systems across the nation in the Midterm Election. In his latest interviews and editorials, he is reprehensibly doing nothing but echoing Voting Machine Company propaganda and Election Officials who choose to be apologists for them."

In a rebuttal to DeGregorios' opinion piece in the Tallahassee Democrat Avi Rubin, Johns-Hopkins Professor, computer scientist and author of "Brave New Ballot" had this to say in his blog:

"I have not seen any reason to trust our nation's voting equipment. Trusting it just because an election official says we should is not good enough for me. I want to trust a system because I don't believe it can be compromised, not because someone implies that not trusting it is not patriotic."

In The Mean Time Across The Nation...

Maryland: The state of Maryland began the week trying to recover from the revelation of last week that three disks with Diebold source code had been given to a former state delegate. They entered mid-week with revelations that Diebold had changed 'mother boards' in 4700 Direct Recording Electronic voting machines used in four counties. Diebold did this work with the full knowledge of the state Administrator of Elections, Linda Lamone, but the mention of this work was kept from the State Board of Elections and others in the state government who should have been told.

Maryland then ended the week with Governor Ehrlich urging that back-up plans be in place to account for a shortage of absentee ballots. It seems that concerned administrators like the governor and leaders of both parties in the state legislature have been calling for voters to vote absentee because they are concerned about the DRE voting machines. However, the company that prints the ballots; Diebold again, is not meeting delivery dates and there is concern that ballots will not be available.

Tennessee and Texas: Not to be outdone Hart Intercivic eSlate voting machines in Tennessee and Texas are truncating the names on the review screen. Early in the week, it was reported that voters in Tennessee were finding only first names and initials for many candidates on the review screen as they were finalinzing their votes. So "James H. "Jim" Webb - (D)" shows only as "James H. "Jim"" and in almost all cases the party of the candidates does not show.

The state Board of Elections claims to have only recently found out about this problem yet elections officials in Alexandria, one of the counties using these machines, have known about the problem since 2003. Hart promises to have the problem fixed by the elections of 2007.

Of course when voting systems are being used in more than one location the same reports show up so counties in Texas began reporting the same anomaly.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) mandates in Section 301 that in order for a voting system to be used in federal elections it must provide the voter with the opportunity to review their votes before finally casting their ballot. The fact that the review screen cuts-off (shortens) names should make those machines illegal for use. Of course that is a non-legal opinion.

Chicago, Illinois: In an exclusive (at that time) report The BRAD BLOG revealed that a hacker, and member of the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, had easily found his way into the Chicago voter registration data base and that personal information of voters, including addresses and SSNs, was available for the taking. The information was immediately revealed to the appropriate authorities though there is some discussion about whether they really took the information seriously until the media got involved.

Also the city of Chicago has announced that they may withold $26M, the balance of their bill with Sequoia Voting Systems, until after the election. There is a great amount of concern that the machines will not work as advertised.

There should also be concern about the fact that some of the equipment seems to be the same as the parent company of Sequoia, Venezuelan owned Smartmatic, sells in Venezuela. Just today the Miami Herald reported that the Treasure Department is formally investigating the ties between Sequoia, Smartmatic and Hugo Chavez's government in Venezuela.

These were only the big stories for the week. If you want to check on what is happening locally watch for the news in "Daily Voting News" each day. Unfortunately I don't see much changing in elections; especially when an organization like the Election Assistance Commission is doing all they can to work against a voting system that in which we can all have confidence.