READER COMMENTS ON
"FL-13: State Audit Team Replies to Questions Surrounding Newly Discovered ES&S 'Source Code Review Agreement' Sent to State Certification Chief"
(25 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 3/26/2007 @ 2:25 pm PT...
No they don't have any business running and dictating our elections. But SOMEONE GAVE THEM THE POWER TO DO SO!
It fucking wasn't me.
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 3/26/2007 @ 3:38 pm PT...
True integrity comes from avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.
Yasinsac does not have that.
The wheels are coming off the cart, and I for one relish the impending crash.
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 3/26/2007 @ 8:30 pm PT...
Brad, what are you trying to say about the finding that Yasinsac is the "author" of the PDF he posted? Of course he is the author! What is your point? Are you suggesting that somehow ES&S twisted his arm to post some document that they wrote? You've got to be kidding!
And will you please give up on this description of Prof. Yasinsac as a "noted partisan Republican"? I'll grant you he is a Republican. But the word "partisan" adds nothing to that except a disparaging undertone. Being a member of any political party makes anyone a "partisan".
You say he has "Republican ties" (plural). What ties (plural)? You say that "He was seen, for example, wearing a 'Bush won" button...". Okay, if that is just an example, you must have more dirt. Let's hear it.
Finally, I challenge your assertion that he is a noted partisan Republican. He is not noted in any way for that except that you keep noting it. If this kind of rhetoric were happening in the opposite political direction, I am sure you would be shouting "attack machine".
The fact is that Alec Yasinsac led the committee of scientists that has done the most comprehensive and exhaustive source code review of a voting system that has ever been done. They published their complete findings, holding nothing back. And, although you may not know it, Prof. Yasinsac went to great lengths to negotiate the conditions to make sure that they had full freedom to do just that.
OK, so they were not able to resolve definitively what happened in the Sarasota CD13 debacle. But they made an overwhelming case that problems in the ES&S code, many of which they discovered and wroke about frankly, was almost certainly not the cause of the CD13 undervote, and in fact did not even contribute to it. That's too bad--everything would be simpler if there had been a smoking gun in the code. But there was not. They checked from every conceivable angle, but it just was not there.
Prof. Yasinsac and his team have done the nation, and the cause of election integrity, a great service. Most of them, including Yasinsac, gave up a couple of months of their lives, including the holidays, to do this. I think it is about time you acknowledged their service, and maybe even thanked them.
Brad, you know I like you and admire you, and read your blog all the time. But sometimes you are really stubborn and thickheaded!
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 3/26/2007 @ 9:34 pm PT...
What a scam. I finally got a chance to look at the Statement of Work.
What a cover-up and piece of crap.
The analogy is quite simple. The pay phone (I know, some of you youngsters may not know what that is, but look it up in a history book) doesn't have any money in it, even though 13,000 phone calls were made.
The investigation consists of checking the "software" inside the pay phone that processes phone calls, but does not allow for checking the coin box which has been broken open, and all the money taken out.
Hmm. The software seems to be working fine. We have no idea why there's no money in the phone. Sorry. We tried, but we couldn't find anything.
COVER-UP by known hyper-partisan Republicans (there were plenty of Republicans in Florida who weren't wearing "Bush Won" buttons and standing on the Courthouse Steps) to protect Republcian theft of a congressional seat.
Rethuglicans will lie. Rethuglicans will cheat. And, when somebody complains, they will hire other Rethuglicans to cover it up for them with a bunch of pathetic bullshit.
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 3/26/2007 @ 10:51 pm PT...
David you'll probably be banned when you point out or call this blog on the information or opinions they claim as fact. P.S they can attack those who challenge them but not the other way around. I'm still waiting for Brad to explain why the undervote only happened in one race.
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 3/26/2007 @ 11:35 pm PT...
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 3/27/2007 @ 8:32 am PT...
Beware of the new Rethuglican troll strategy known as "sock puppets" where one troll comes in with some BS and then another troll comes in with a "yeah, that's right" and they talk to each other into perpetuity. Sometimes, even from the same static IP address, imagine that.
FL-13 was a clear sign of corrupt(ed) electronic voting systems electing A Rethuglican when the Democratic candidate should have won.
Just like thousands of times since 1998 across the country in races large and small. Rethuglicans cheat and then lie about it.
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 3/27/2007 @ 12:34 pm PT...
This might be the whole answer by itself:
The Supervisor PEB as issued to the poll worker is fully functional. Without any recharging or other
re-initialization, poll workers can:
(1) open the polls;
(2) initiate new voting sessions;
(3) cancel ongoing problematic voting sessions;
(4) enter the service menu; and
(5) close the polls
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 3/27/2007 @ 12:50 pm PT...
Sorry, but as a Software Engineer (and I've not read the paper, probably won't bother) I have to say that something is amis when you "check code" and can't find "the bug".. That is, there IS a bug at some stage of process, otherwise so many people wouldn't have said they can't find the person they were to vote on (as I understand it, Bilbray's name didn't appear on the screen, it was off the bottom?).
Looking at the "source code" might not have been enough... did they look at the ballot definitions too? You know those are code as well, right? Then, if putting the code of ballots in the machine, did they notice candidates were missing? If they missed it, why? If they were there during testing, why not during the election? Hmm.. what patch was running on the machines at the time, and was -that- the code reviewed?
I got 100s of questions that would need to be answered, and if at the end of the day the answer (in general) is "hmm. can't see anything wrong.. I guess it didn't happen", then nothing has been answered. Undervotes, malformed -electronic- ballots, other crap.. Here's an idea, paper ballots hand counted.. MUCH less to worry about then.. duh?
And being a member of a party isn't the same as being partisan. Partisan is "sticking with the party no matter what". It's not "a disparaging undertone" to say someone is a partisan Republican|Democrat, it's an expansion implying party is more important than a given situation. If you take offense to that, good. Sticking to party for party's sake is pathetic, not pointing it out. Is this guy a partisan hack? I have no idea.. but your defense of him in the matter leaves a lot to be desired...
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 3/27/2007 @ 1:52 pm PT...
I'll start my comments by stating that ALANS (comment #5) is unequivocally a troll. He obviously knows nothing about the fairness of this blog and seems to be confusing it with the rightwing blogs he is probably more familiar with in expecting comments or commenters to be banned here. His comment that "I'm still waiting for Brad to explain why the undervote only happened in one race" is absurd on the face of it. I'm not even sure if other races were affected by undervotes in Sarasota but it is unequivocally true that these DRE voting machines could have (and most likely did) fail to count all the votes in this particular race and there is absolutely no way to prove that they didn't now. These machines, with no way to do an independent audit, were introduced in places like Florida for the very purpose of controlling the vote. This so-called independent "investigation" was ALWAYS going to be a sham, no matter who participated, because there was no allowance to check the source code of the machines or to truly compare the result to any other source (even a VVPAT). The process (the vote and the subsequent "investigation") worked perfectly for anyone whose goal was to steal an election. The integrity of the "investigation" or the auditors/investigators is almost irrelevant, given the constraints placed on the "investigation" to begin with, especially if ES&S's 'Source Code Review Agreement' was followed. My only question is why ANYONE with integrity would sign onto a sham process like this. The fact is that the very notion that all these undervotes were due to confusing ballot design or were intentional on the part of the voters is a fanciful dream and deception put forward by those with an agenda to steal the vote. There is absolutely NOTHING to support this notion based on how the vote unfolded elsewhere in the district or in the very low undervote in absentee votes on ballots with the same design. No reasonable and unbiased person would come to the conclusion that this huge undervote was not related to a "problem" with the machines. Only in the bizarro world of a privatized elections/"democracy" would individuals who support such far-fetched claims be called anything other than what they are- dangerous partisans who don't believe in or trust the democratic process.
As for Mr. Jefferson, he is certainly not new as a commenter on these pages and has obviously not been banned for expressing sentiments in the past similar to those he expresses in #3 above (contrary to ALANS prediction). In fact, Brad said of Mr. Jefferson in comments on a thread on 11/23/06, "He is, in fact, one of the good guys on that McPherson team and a highly respective scientist in this particular field...While he and I don't always necessarily see eye-to-eye on everything, I have the utmost respect for him and his insight into all of these matters...So his opinions and information posted here is both appreciated, and well-worth reading and considering." In fact, the entire thread in which Brad's above quote is found is amazingly precient in the commenters' general prediction of how this "investigation" would turn out, what constraints would impede it and the before the fact, perceived bias of Prof. Yasinsac as the lead investigator. All I can say is that, while Mr. Jefferson may indeed be "one of the good guys" and very knowledgeable in his field, he strikes me as amazingly naive about why we are absolutely justified in doubting not just the methods and findings of this "investigation" or the potential bias of individuals involved, but the very fundamental basis on which all of these doubts are founded: The privatizing of the lynch pin of our democracy, that is the right to vote and to have our votes counted accurately and openly, can NEVER be tolerated, condoned or abetted, whether intentionally or even with the so-called good intentions of those like Mr. Jefferson.
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
said on 3/27/2007 @ 2:03 pm PT...
Savantster, I would like to suggest that you really should read the report. It will answer most, if not all, of the questions you may have. Yes, of course they had the ballot definition files. No, none of the candidates were missing. No they did not just "check" the code; this was a two month long detailed study of the code by a panel of computer science professors, several of whom are security experts, or election experts, or both. There was also a careful parallel testing protocol applied to the very machines in question a couple of weeks after the election, during which intervening time the machines were impounded by the court.
If you have more questions that are not answered in the report, I am sure the authors will be happy to answer them.
And you should know that we are talking about the Sarasota 13th Congressional race, not the Busby-Bilbray race.
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 3/27/2007 @ 3:13 pm PT...
Correction/Addendum to my above comment #10: I stated that "This so-called independent "investigation" was ALWAYS going to be a sham, no matter who participated, because there was no allowance to check the source code of the machines or to truly compare the result to any other source (even a VVPAT)." That should have said there was no allowance to check the source code of the machines outside of the very limited constraints imposed upon the investigation or to truly compare the result to any other source (even a VVPAT). More precisely, the "Letter of Agreement" from ES&S stated that "Review of source code that is not involved in these functions is outside the bounds of this source code review." As Brad points out here that is a limitation (among others) that does not promote the kind of open and thorough evaluation that was necessary either for accuracy or to convince any doubters. As I said previously, this kind of secrecy and control of the voting counting process by private companies can simply NOT be tolerated if true democracy is to prevail.
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 3/27/2007 @ 5:51 pm PT...
Steve, I have to say that even your revised statement is just too strong.
The team had all of the code, and they studied it all, both horizontally (all functionality) and vertically (all levels of abstraction). They had to, since in theory any part of the code could interact with any other, either through an obscure bug or through malicious logic. They also had the hardware, and the results of the parallel testing, and the election definition files, and the logic and accuracy test results, and the internal audit logs of the voting machines, and the fully detailed raw election returns. No one withheld anything from them; and if they had tried, you can be sure the team would have resigned, and another even more serious scandal would have begun.
Once a state starts something like this with internationally recognized experts who are truly independent, don't need this work, and who cannot be manipulated or pushed around, then the state is stuck. They simply cannot interfere with the team, or drag their feat, or be otherwise uncooperative, or allow the vendor to do so, without creating a much bigger problem. And in fact, as the team stated in their response to this dust up over the stupid ES&S letter, the state, and even the vendor, cooperated completely. And while I cannot verify it, since I was not in the room with the Florida officials when they got the letter, I will bet you that they completely dismissed that letter as outrageous.
Even though the Statement of Work that chartered the code review team contains some limiting words, the fact is that there was no attempt to enforce them, and they had no effect. Really--none. For example, even though they were looking for problems that might affect the CD13 race, they found plenty of others which they published in their report. Now the SoW would nominally have prevented them from publishing security vulnerabilities not related to the CD13 race, but the team ignored that, and so did the state, and all of the many vulnerabilities they found are right in the report. Read it!
Now, maybe you don't know or trust the people who did the code review, but I do. I worked with two of them (Prof. Wagner and Prof. Bishop) on the California Diebold code review a year ago, when we verified that Harri Hursti's attack was real, and found a lot more serious vulnerabilities besides (which we published). I also know Prof. Yasinsac and Prof. Shamos very well. These people understand way better than most of the readers of BradBlog what the issues and vulnerabilities really are. When they conclude that the Florida CD13 undervote problem was not caused by any problem in the code, they are almost certainly right. It is of course conceivable that they missed something; but their report surely shifts the burden of proof to the shoulders of those who claims they did. (And I have no problem supporting calls for additional code investigation. I think Jennings' own experts should be permitted to review the code. I don't think they will find anything. But I do think they should be entitled to look.)
You can be certain that the team tried their damnest to find any smoking gun in the code. Can you imagine what a historic event that would be, and a victory for themselves and for the critics of current electronic voting technology (which it is fair to say that many of the team members are) if they did? There is no way on earth they would have intentionally overlooked any feature of the code that might be even a remote indirect contributing cause of the CD13 undervote. It just was not there! In my opinion, and that of most others who have studied it carefully now, the CD13 undervote problem was not caused by bad software but by terrible ballot layout.
I might add that I am no defender of DRE technology, and certainly not paperless DREs. I have been in the struggle for secure voting technology for almost a decade now. But we need to conduct our arguments on a rational basis. Unfortunately, there is an awful lot of nonsense, both technical and historical, slung around by people who have not done their homework.
The one good thing I can say about this Sarasota congressional race debacle. It underscores more than ever the need for verifiable, auditable, software independent voting technology. And to me, for the foreseeable future, that means paper.
COMMENT #14 [Permalink]
said on 3/27/2007 @ 6:14 pm PT...
It's not just the code. It's the electronics!!!!!!!!!!
COMMENT #15 [Permalink]
said on 3/27/2007 @ 9:38 pm PT...
Thank you for your reasoned and informative response. I will defer to your definitely greater knowledge and insight regarding these machines and how the investigation was undertaken. Still, if it was the horrible ballot design that caused this undervote, can you explain why it didn't have the same impact on absentee votes on similarly designed ballots (or so I've heard) in Sarasota. It is also amazingly coincidental that this undervote occurred solely and so conveniently in Sarasota, where there are the highest percentage of Democrats in the whole district- enough to have determined the outcome of this election? I think the bottom line here is that the will of the people was NOT reflected in the outcome of this election. I also strongly believe that use of DRE voting machines and ESPECIALLY with no papertrails was the nefarious choice of those in Florida (and elsewhere) whose goal is to control the vote. No one can convince me otherwise when the danger of this kind of voting is so obvious and so potentially undemocratic to the most cursory evaluation by even the least technical among us (at least those of us who don't have an agenda other than promoting democracy thru fair and open elections, and you seem to be one of the people who is striving for that, as well). It is the introduction and use of these machines and the roll of the voting machine companies and others who promote these machines that have created the disaster, whether perceived or otherwise, in Florida and in so many other places, in the past and into the future, as long as these machines and these grasping, secretive voting machine companies are allowed to be a part of our voting processes.
COMMENT #16 [Permalink]
said on 3/28/2007 @ 12:26 am PT...
David Jefferson (#3) -
I'll confine the bulk of my comments to just your original note (the one in which you called me "thickheaded" by way of reminder ), because it took me long enough to find even the moment to finally reply to that one. Though I will, just for clarity, mention that I did read the report.
Where to start (and still keep this brief-ish)...?
While I appreciate your honorable efforts to defend your friend and colleague Alec Yasinsac, and --- as stated either on this blog or otherwise in discussion with you --- that I am more than happy to stipulate that he is the absolute top scientist for the job and the straightest-shooter ever known to man when it comes to his treatment of his scientific work, none of that makes a difference here.
None of that matters once he steps into the political world. Which he did back in 2000 (one had to go out of their way to get to the FL Supreme Court at that time, wearing a "BUSH WON" button, not to mention in the light of the fact that Bush didn't win, and had Mr. Yasinsac waited for the scientific results, he would have found that out quite clearly), and then again when he stepped into this ring now to serve as a state-empaneled scientist to investigate the inner, secret workings of a contested election in which the state itself has been charged with failing in some capacity.
So now, the greatest, most honest scientist in the world must still be above even the hint of suspicion or reproach if his work is to be respected --- most importantly --- by both sides of the contested coin.
You say, about the state-convened scientists, that I should "acknowledge their service and maybe even thank them". Okay. Happy to. I appreciate all they have done. I thank them very much. Not a problem.
Nonetheless, that has nothing to do with either the validity of their work or whether it will be accepted as legitimate by all sides. And that is the measure of success here.
As you know, the mark of a successful election is when the loser and his/her supporters walk away, accepting the results, and feeling the election was carried out fair and square.
The same can be said then, most certainly, about an election contest, and certainly about an investigation into problems found in that contested election. The "loser" must be as convinced of the validity of the investigation as is the winner, or the point of the exercise is completely for naught.
That is most certainly not the result of the state-convened investigation here. As surely you have seen. And though you suggest that I'm the only one noting what I described as Yasinsac's "noted partisanship", I'm the only I guess...unless you include Paul Krugman who similarly "noted" it in the NY Times, and, oh, yeah the parties to the lawsuit itself!
As predicted, in the event that nothing was found by the state-convened panel, both Jennings and the representatives for the voter plaintiffs have dismissed the scientific report on a number of bases, including that it was carried out by a biased team.
Forget about me. The parties in the contested election have challenged the validity of the report, in no small part, due to Yasinsac's involvement.
Things couldn't be more inappropriate unless you had the very guy that certified the systems for the state creating the test scripts for the hardware audit itself --- oh, wait, you did! David Drury, whose career would be destroyed if it was found that he approved of systems that shouldn't have been certified (ask the guy in CO, John...something), oversaw several aspects of the testing!
You don't consider that to be inappropriate?!
You know I like and admire you, as you mentioned you like and admire me. But on this point, David, where you say that I am "really stubborn and thickheaded", I would counter that you are simply wrong and/or extraordinarily naive. Take your pick.
As mentioned, your defense of your friend and colleague is admirable, but it similarly makes your opinion on this matter comprised as well --- on the facts of this particular debate (the debate on the appropriateness of his heading this panel, not on the science in question).
In a later comment above you said:
When they conclude that the Florida CD13 undervote problem was not caused by any problem in the code, they are almost certainly right. It is of course conceivable that they missed something; but their report surely shifts the burden of proof to the shoulders of those who claims they did.
Even stipulating that the problem "was not caused by any problem in the code" (which I do not necessarily concur with), how in heavens name do you suppose the "burden of proof" can now be borne on the "shoulders of those who claim" otherwise? THEY DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO EITHER THE MACHINES OR THE SOFTWARE OR THE SOURCE CODE!
Isn't it a bit unfair to say, outloud, that the burden is on people who have no way to prove their case?!
And all the while, the other guy --- who even ES&S' only expert witness agrees would have lost had it not been for problems with the machines on Election Day --- sits in Congress, voting on behalf of people who most likely did not even elect him, and yet you have the temerity to say the opposition has the "burden of proof" to show otherwise?! Even while they don't get access to the very thing that could help them prove their case?! And even as their contestants have been found to withhold one document after another from the discovery process?!
Good lord, David.
Lastly, I'll leave you with three (much quicker) points in reply to your original note:
1) You have said several times in this thread that the scientists checked the code "from every conceivable angle" but the problem "just was not there". That is not what the report said. It said they did not have access to the full litany of tools nor the time that they might have liked (paraphrasing) even though they did do a fairly thorough review. As well, I've spoken with several scientists and software reviewers who had theories about why the problem occurred, and yet, the scientists did not test those particular theories. So "every conceivable angle" is an overstatement at best.
2) Another one of your colleagues, Princeton's Ed Felton, refused to join the panel because of the lack of complete access the team was to be allowed to the systems. Though I don't always agree with Felten either, his point here is well-noted, and would seem to be in contradiction of your inferences that the team 'had everything, looked at everything and found nothing'.
3) Most importantly of all, and to the nub of this issue: What makes this entire debate ridiculous and wholly avoidable, is that this is science. Had the complainants (in this case, Jennings' team and the voter plaintiffs) been given full access to hardware and software and source code from Day 1, as they requested, all of this would have been avoided. Never mind that they too have a conflict of interest, since they are contesting the election, anything they found to suggest a prob w/ the machines would have to have been provable and repeatable for everyone. Like any bug found via trouble-shooting procedures for any piece of software or hardware.
If their chosen team couldn't find any problem, then the case would be over. Good for everybody!
If their team did find a problem, they'd have the burden of having to demonstrate it, and repeat it, such that anybody in the world could see it for themselves. Since it's science, and thus repeatable, it would have been easy to demonstrate to the satisfaction of all parties. And again, the case would be over, no more questions and it would have been good for everybody.
For whatever reason, and I'll let you and/or others decide why, the state did not take that route. They chose the wrong route with the wrong people and thus, we're still stuck in the quagmire today with a contested election, and no satisfied parties.
And if I haven't finally made the point I've been trying to make with you --- over a now-long series of blog items and comments and discussion and emails --- then I might suggest it is not I who is the "stubborn and thickheaded" one in this particular debate!
COMMENT #17 [Permalink]
said on 3/28/2007 @ 1:20 am PT...
Ditto everything Brad said!
COMMENT #18 [Permalink]
said on 3/28/2007 @ 6:04 am PT...
Oh, fer crapsakes. The burden of proof is almost always on the plaintiff, except in extraordinary circumstances. There is a California Supreme Court case, Sindel vs. Abbott Laboratories, et al., where the burden of proof was shifted to the defendants because there was no way to prove which company had manufactured the generic drug that caused the harm. So now people who are harmed by a fungible substance, where they know the substance but not who made the exact batch that harmed them, can sue everybody who makes that substance, and the defendants have to prove they didn't make the batch that harmed the plaintiff. I mention this to show that sometimes caselaw needs to be made to accommodate situations where clear harm has been done but would not be justiciable without such accommodation.
It seems we've run up against something of this nature here --- even if it should not BE of this nature. It's almost a hybrid civil and criminal case, since we're not managing to budge this un-American secrecy thing. Either all the attorneys working on this stuff are dolts or the judges are too pusillanimous and/or biased to see that justice is done, even if they have to stick their necks out and set precedent. Used to be that attorneys were crazy for a shot at this sort of thing, judges too. I recognize that time is of the essence and plaintiffs are not made of money, and so do the people wishing to stonewall justice. This election fraud stuff has been going on for a couple thousand years now, and my patience is GONE! Grown-ups don't stand for this rock and a hard place shit for this long! There is no question this needs to be settled once and for all... yesterday. None. Call the cops.
COMMENT #19 [Permalink]
said on 3/28/2007 @ 5:02 pm PT...
Have any of these computer experts ever read something called "On Trusting Trust"?
Malware that alters election results and then deletes itself is not there when you audit the code. It has deleted itself and can no longer be found. You can compare it to stabbing someone with an icicle and then letting it melt so that the murder weapon cannot be found. It no longer exists. Even the most dedicated, independent auditor can't find something that doesn't exist, particularly if it was in the most unlikely place to begin with (see "On Trusting Trust").
Nothing in the elections process should rely on trust. You have the right to believe in the faith of your choice, but nowhere in the Constitution does it say that voters must believe in experts instead of having totally transparent elections processes that we can oversee ourselves, such as hand-counted paper ballots, which don't need experts, panels, committees, courts, or anything else to be counted.
If you forget your wallet and leave in on the counter in a store, and it is gone when you come back, just because the salesclerk and the store detectives didn't see anyone take it and the security camera wasn't working, so that you have no way of proving who took your wallet, it doesn't mean that nobody took it or that your wallet isn't gone. We know that thousands of votes are missing. They didn't suddenly develop mobility and a mind of their own and decide to abscond.
Letting black box voting machines perform a secret vote count is as stupid as leaving your wallet lying around unguarded in a public place. When something valuable can be undetectably stolen, somebody will steal it, whether it is a wallet or an election that dictates how the tax money taken from millions of wallets will be spent.
The guy who introduced HAVA, Bob Ney, is now in federal prison. The Congresscritters now happily pushing through the Holt bill will be joining him sooner or later, so they might as well enjoy their chicanery while they can. The only reason for counting votes secretly, whether inside a voting machine or behind a closed door, rather than publicly where everyone can see and verify what's going on, is to steal elections.
COMMENT #20 [Permalink]
said on 3/28/2007 @ 8:52 pm PT...
The absentee ballots were paper and were not at all laid out the same way the screen ballots were.
Yes, I agree, the will of the people did not prevail in that election, and the whole proceeding was marred by official bad conduct and bad judgment of various kinds. I cannot and do not defend any of that.
But I believe that Prof. Yasinsac and his team were an unambiguously bright spot in this sorry tale--a team of dedicated scientists who worked unimaginably hard, traveling thousands of miles to work over the Christmas holidays, in several cases pro bono, on a very tight deadline, and under great pressure, with thousands of people prepared to second guess them no matter what they found.
Unfortunately, because of the very technical nature of the report after the first couple of pages, most people do not have the background to read or understand much of it. They only get the bottom line--that these experts concluded that the software was not even a contributory cause of the undervote. Then, based I think on little more than spinal distrust and disappointment in the outcome, they attack the panel, and Yasinsac in particular. That is simply wrong.
There is no doubt that the State of Florida, under the previous governor and three previous Secretaries of State, has an abysmal record adopting and defending terrible, insecure voting systems and policies. And I very strongly disagree with the postures of the Sarasota County officials and of the Florida courts in the CD13 matter. But just because there is a lot of blame to go around, that does not mean that everyone is tainted. Prof. Yasinsac in particular, is one of the honorable people in the story, and I wish Brad would recognize that.
COMMENT #21 [Permalink]
said on 3/28/2007 @ 9:34 pm PT...
Yes, of course, all serious computer scientists have read Ken Thompson's classic Turing essay "On Trusting Trust". We do understand its implications very well, thank you.
And yes, I agree, you should not have to trust experts in lieu of auditing and verifying and election.
But just because you should not have to trust experts, that does not make these experts are wrong. I am trying to convince you that these particular experts in this case (1) are honorable, (2) acted with full independence (3) know what they are talking about, and (4) wrote an extraodinarily careful and accurate report.
COMMENT #22 [Permalink]
Jeannie Dean from District 13
said on 3/29/2007 @ 8:45 am PT...
Dear Mr. Jefferson,
Computer expert/ Political Science Prof.'s Eli Wallach and Charles Stewart testified in Tallahassee that the odds of Sarasota voters being "confused" by bad ballot design to this degree are a hundred million to one. Even if you don't buy that, how do you explain that ES&S's IVotronic machines used in the CD-13 election had an increased undervote rate the closer they were prepared to election day? Prior to mid-October, the machines produced an undervote rate of 5-15%. OCTOBER 17th; on the busiest day of implementation--the machines prepared voted at an underate of 20%! This raises the question: who was at the warehouse that day?
When we requested the security camera footage from the Sarasota S.O.E. Warehouse under the Florida Sunshine Law/ Public Records Act, we were told they had already been destroyed.
The chart used as evidence by the prosecution can be seen in detail here: http://jeanniedean.livej...urnal.com/?skip=20#14530
Our video of the wrap up from the courtroom, covering said testimony:
I would sincerely love to hear your comments about these lesser known FL-13 curiosities. I was honestly hoping, Mr. Jefferson, to see you in Tallahassee. In fact, I think I asked Brad to contact you just prior to these DEC. 19/ 20th Evidentiary Hearings, and he did--but you curtly dismissed me as "misinformed" since you hadn't heard anything about it.
Again, with all due respect, I am amazed to the extent you keep defending the indefensible, and from half-way across the country, to boot! Why are you so unwilling to explore, sight unseen, the very real threat to Democracy this poses?
And as a man of science, I would think your level of curiosity would be peaked by these details. Your admirable loyalty to a colleage notwithstanding, why such a knee-jerk reaction to the facts? Why is it, that in many of the above posts, you seem to parrot the rhetoric of the defense? Why is it that you don't ever ask a question?...What's with all the condescention? It just makes you appear silly.
"...Unfortunately, because of the very technical nature of the report after the first couple of pages, most people do not have the background to read or understand much of it..."
Gimee a break.
VIDEO THE VOTE
For oodles of footage from FL.-13 RECOUNT/ AUDIT:
(For those of you who were wondering: FIVE Counties make up FL-13. All other counties produced what experts agree is a "normal" undervote rate--2-3%. Sarasota County is THE ONLY COUNTY, where JENNINGS HAD approx. a 13 percent lead in the polls, to have produced such an anomolous undervote rate. Moreover, our ABSENTEE ballots from THE SAME County did not show an undervote rate above the acceptable average. How is it justified then by Mr. Jefferson and ES&S and Hayden Dempsey and The STATE Office and KATHY DENT that Sarasota County voters were SO disproportionally disgusted and/ or confused that they undervoted in odd number droves?
While BAD BALLOT has been blamed time and time again, it doesn't square with the VOTER TESTIMONY collected from throughout the county re: why their vote didn't count. Nor does it square with ANY plausible explanation given so far.)
COMMENT #23 [Permalink]
said on 3/29/2007 @ 10:50 am PT...
Jeannie Dean --
I can't explain or defend everything that happened in Sarasota.
The only thing I am actually defending is the integrity of the code reviewers and the code review process. I am sorry you find that indefensible. It is my professional judgment that the conclusions of that process are almost certainly correct--that the undervote problem was not caused by any bug or malicious logic in the source code for the iVotronic.
That does not mean there was no malfeasance. For example, it does not prove there was no injection of phony binary code into the iVotronic machines in Sarasota, which was then surreptitiously removed from the machines used in the parallel testing process shortly after the election. It does not exclude a lot of things, and I never said it did. I repeat that what I am defending here is the integrity of the source code review done by Prof. Yasinsac and his team.
I also believe, by process of elimination of other hypotheses, that the root cause of the undervote was the ballot design. But that belief is not as strong as my conviction that the problem was not in the source code. There are a lot of reasons for believing the root cause of the problem was the ballot design, and I don't come to that conclusion lightly. But reasonable people can certainly disagree on that point.
I am not just judging from 3,000 miles away. I was in Sarasota for two full weeks after the election during which time I was working inside the Jennings team every day. I was also in communication with them for a couple of months afterward. In spite of my conclusion that the problem was not the iVotronic machine or software, I do believe that Christine Jennings was in effect cheated in the election, that she almost certainly would have won if the 18,000 votes had been recorded properly, and that her rights to review the code and other data that might help her make that case have been unfairly denied by the courts.
I am not familiar with any testimony of Profs. Eli Wallach or Charles Stewart that the odds of Sarasota voters being confused to that extent by the ballot format are 100 million to one. (I presume you mean Dan Wallach?)
I suspect what they were actually saying is that those are the odds against the hypothesis that the 18,000 voters deliberately chose not to vote in the CD13 race. I agree with that point. It is completely clear that those 18,000 people intended to vote in the CD13 race, and thought they had, and something went badly wrong.
But that is completely different from saying that the odds are 100 million to one against those voters being confused by the ballot design. I do not believe that Wallach or Stewart would make any such statement, and I don't think they believe it. If you have a URL for their testimony I'd love to see it.
COMMENT #24 [Permalink]
Jeannie Dean from District 13
said on 3/29/2007 @ 10:26 pm PT...
Mr. Jefferson, I thought you'd never ask!~ What I have is a complete audio file of the enitre first day of testimony (Prof's DAN Wallach and Charles Stewart), and complete audio AND video of the second day (presentation from the defense). Even though my partner Leonard and I had filed all the appropriate paperwork through the clerk, we were told that the honerable William L. Gary doesn't allow more than one video/ one still camera in his jury box--ever.
Lucky for us, the AP photographer left after lunch. We were bumped into his vacant position just in time to get some great digital photos of the most important evidence. I am currently working to patch the photos together with the audio so we have the full first day of critical testimony as a matter of public record.
As soon as I do, I will happily send the link to Brad so you can weigh in.
You are not the first person to be surprised by some of the reported testimony, so I'll make it a matter of priority. Even we couldn't believe some of what we heard that day. The facts as presented by the prosecution made Gary's bizarro ruling NOT to disclose the source code that much more absurd and dubious.
I am not an expert, Mr. Jefferson, nor am I pretending to be. What I am is PRESENT when the public, or you, can not be. Trust me, we wouldn't have obsessively stuck to filming this horror story for three months straight if anyone else down here was doing it. It's expensive and time consuming and I had a decent life before I knew that our voting systems had no oversight and our elections have been tampered with.
I will gladly to defer to you and other experts in the field. In fact, that is all I have ever wanted to do.
As for your friend Yasinsac, I will have to take your word re: his personal integrity--why? Because the testing he did that your defending to the hilt was done behind closed doors. We weren't allowed in that day...
COMMENT #25 [Permalink]
said on 3/31/2007 @ 9:59 pm PT...
David Jefferson said:
Prof. Yasinsac in particular, is one of the honorable people in the story, and I wish Brad would recognize that.
I don't know him. Have only your word to take on that, and your word --- as it was the first time your posted it here many months ago on it --- was and is good enough for me on the matter. That said, as I've said time and again, has nothing to do with the question at hand, nor my criticism of the state-run process.
As you should certainly know well enough by now.
As well, you keep repeatedly implying that the state-convened scientist determined that "the root cause of the FL-13 was bad ballot design". It's been a while since I read their report, but I didn't take that conclusion away from it. They said they felt it most likely contributed to what happened, but said they couldn't definitely determine what the reason was.
If I'm wrong on that, I'll apologize in advance, but I don't think I am.
So when someone of your respected stature makes statements to that effect (and to the effect that "the ball is in Jennings court to prove otherwise" as my previous rant responded to), I believe it offers an unduly incorrect impression.
As Jeannie Dean suggested, the "bad ballot design" theory seems to run counter to the enormous body of contemporaneous reporting just after the election, in which voters discussed knowing about the problem (having been warned) but still being unable to have their vote registered properly in the election.
I'll refer you to these two articles for just some of the collected evidence:
...and mention as well that I also have an affidavit from a poll worker who specifically worked with voters (damned near held their hands) to make sure they knew about the problem, and it happened over and over again anyway --- even if her attention to nearly every voter who came through the precinct led to a lower than most other places undervote rate of just over 7% in that rate.
I would, of course, be interested in your responses to that (if I remember to check back in this thread! )
And with all of that said, a note to others here, please be careful concerning our rule of not personally attacking other commenters. Jeannie Dean walked the line carefully, and though I know David can take it, let's try to keep things civilized here even as we all have strong emotional commitments to this issue (and Jeannie as much as anybody having devoted so much time to all of this on a very personal level down there in Sarasota).
Remember, I'm fair game. So it's okay for folks to call me "stubborn and thickheaded" if they please, but beyond that, let's try to keep things away from the personal where ever possible here.