Finnish Security Expert to Appear, Give Testimony This Friday Before County's 'Blue Ribbon' Commission Investigating Complaints About Local Election System
No Word on Whether Gamblin' County Supervisor, Jeff '1000 to 1' Stone, Will Be in Attendance...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2007, 2:36pm PT  

Harri Hursti is coming to Riverside County, home of County Supervisor Jeff "1000 to 1" Stone, he of the now infamous, if ill-conceived, "Riverside Hack Challenge".

Hursti, the Finnish computer security expert and hacker of Diebold voting machines past (see HBO's Hacking Democracy for but one example), will be testifying to and answering the questions of the "Blue Ribbon" commission empaneled by the county to investigate complaints about the administration of the 2006 election, as well as the the many expressed security and accuracy concerns about their Sequoia Edge touch-screen DRE voting systems.

Riverside is, proudly, the first county in the U.S. of A. to have made the mistake of moving to electronic balloting systems, but if they hurry, they won't be the last to dump 'em entirely.

The Sequoia voting systems in question would be the ones involved when Stone challenged Election Integrity advocates, on video tape, back in December, to bring in a programmer and "set up an appointment with one of our machines" in order to "verify that they can manipulate that machine."

"I'm gonna bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it...I'll make that challenge," Stone blurted out to the continuing dismay of his fellow Supervisors and County Registrar Barbara Dunmore.

And then, Hursti stepped in to accept the challenge. Stone has been wafflin', duckin', and dodgin' ever since (see this page for our complete hilarious special coverage of the "Riverside Challenge").

Hursti will testify at the commission's March 30th panel at 9am in Palm Desert, CA, at the Palm Desert City Hall, 73-510 Fred Waring Drive.

The hearing and testimony is open to both the public and the media, and --- as we are both --- we might like to drive down there ourselves if the gods are with us. But, despite Hursti's travels all the way from Finland, the gods haven't been with us much of late, and so we may or may not be able to make the few hours' drive. But we hope you will, if you're in the 'hood. And if so, let us know how it went!

Either way, we hope to have some video of the whole affair to post here afterwards at The BRAD BLOG if those pesky gods are even partly with us this time around.

UPDATE: VelvetRevolution.us --- (Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VR)-- is helping to raise funds to cover the expenses of DFA/Temecula Valley & SAVE-R-VOTE in covering expenses for Hursti's visit, and other costs related to their Election Integrity advocacy. Please click here to donate, and specify funds be earmarked for "Riverside Hack Challenge".

More details on Hursti's appearance in Riverside follow in a press release which we early-obtained from the good folks of the SAVE-R-VOTE project of DFA/Temecula Valley, and we're all too pleased to share it with you in full below...

For Immediate Release: March 27, 2007

Finnish E-vote Scientist/Hacker – Harri Hursti to meet with Riverside Blue Ribbon Panel

Harri Hursti, best known for hacking e-voting equipment in Florida and Utah and featured in the HBO Special HACKING DEMOCRACY (now DVD-released at http://www.hackingdemocracy.com/) will be a guest presenter this Friday, March 30th at the Palm Desert City Hall council chambers at 9 a.m.

He will be testifying before the “Blue Ribbon” Elections Review Committee (ERC) appointed on December 12, 2006 by then Chairman of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors Bob Buster. One of the charges of the committee is to “…to research any promising alternatives to the current way that we conduct business…” according to the announcement made by Chairman Buster.

Mr. Hursti will address the issues of how an electronic voting (e-voting) system may be undetectably compromised and vote totals easily modified to completely change the outcome of the election. He will discuss how the “Red Team”/”Blue Team” approach of security hack testing of systems, as newly proposed last week by Secretary of State Debra Bowen would work in testing the Sequoia Edge II equipment now in use in Riverside County.

In addition to the e-voting machines (touchscreens), he will address the issues of hacking into and tampering with the electronic scanners used to count the potentially hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots utilized in Riverside County elections. Currently the county utilizes scanners manufactured by DFM that were manufactured in the 1980s and that have never been submitted to the federal qualifying agencies or Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) for security testing. As a result, the scanning equipment currently utilized to count nearly half the votes in Riverside County is “grandfathered in” – a term that means the previous Secretaries of State have allowed the machines to continue in operation without any federal or state review of their fitness for service. Riverside is one of only four California counties to utilize such unqualified scanning systems.

The public and media are invited and urged to attend this two-hour public hearing. Included in the hearing will be a report from the citizens from the desert who monitored the March 6, 2007 Special Election in Desert Hot Springs. This report will include significant problems that occurred in this election with only five precincts involved. A number of City Clerks are also anticipated to testify regarding their experiences with the Registrar of Voters office. Recommendations for changes to the current system will be presented by SAVE R VOTE, a citizen-based watchdog group that has over 3,500 hours into the study and monitoring of the current Riverside County voting system.

Mr. Hursti will be available for media interviews before and after his presentation. To make arrangements for a telephone or in-person interview, please refer requests to the contact at the end of this press release.

Contact: SAVE R VOTE, Tom Courbat, 951-677-6451, 951-536-6091 (cell), Tom68-69korea@thecourbats.com