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Ohio


Statement of Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner PDF Print Email
Ohio
By Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner   
September 16, 2007
Today, in the Columbus Dispatch, Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matt Damschroder commented on the Secretary of State's proposed comprehensive test the state's voting systems.  In response to the fact that 3 of the 4 leading academic researchers proposed for Ohio's voting machine study participated in the recent California voting machine study, Damschroder stated, "It demonstrates an inherent bias that would likely color any report that they give."  Secretary of State Brunner has responded with this statement:

There should not be a Republican or Democratic view to ensuring the integrity of Ohio's voting systems.  This test is about fixing our election system in Ohio so we are prepared to run a clean and efficient 2008 presidential election.

 

The testing of the state's voting machines is a plan devised to allow testers from both ends of the scientific spectrum, corporate and academic, to conduct parallel, independent testing, allowing for collaboration as needed.  All of this is to be managed by the Battelle Memorial Institute, an Ohio research institution with the highest reputation for integrity and objectivity.

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E-Voting Ballots Not Secret; Vendors Don’t See Problem PDF Print Email
Ohio
By Prof. Ed Felten, Princeton University   
August 20, 2007

This article appeared on Ed Felten's Blog Freedom to Tinker and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

Two Ohio researchers have discovered that some of the state’s e-voting machines put a timestamp on each ballot, which severely erodes the secrecy of ballots. The researchers, James Moyer and Jim Cropcho, used the state’s open records law to get access to ballot records, according to Declan McCullagh’s story at news.com. The pair say they have reconstructed the individual ballots for a county tax referendum in Delaware County, Ohio.

 

Timestamped ballots are a problem because polling-place procedures often record the time or sequence of voter’s arrivals. For example, at my polling place in New Jersey, each voter is given a sequence number which is recorded next to the voter’s name in the poll book records and is recorded in notebooks by Republican and Democratic poll watchers. If I’m the 74th voter using the machine today, and the recorded ballots on that machine are timestamped or kept in order, then anyone with access to the records can figure out how I voted. That, of course, violates the secret ballot and opens the door to coercion and vote-buying.

 

Most e-voting systems that have been examined get this wrong. In the recent California top-to-bottom review, researchers found that the Diebold system stores the ballots in the order they were cast and with timestamps (report pp. 49-50), and the Hart (report pp. 59) and Sequoia (report p. 64) systems “randomize” stored ballots in an easily reversible fashion. Add in the newly discovered ES&S system, and the vendors are 0-for-4 in protecting ballot secrecy.

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Summary of the Collaborative Public Audit of the 2006 General Election in Cuyahoga County Ohio PDF Print Email
Ohio
By John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA Voting Technology Task Force   
May 01, 2007
The final report for the audit of the November 7, 2006 election held in Cuyahoga County, Ohio was released on April 17, 2007.  It took five months and some follow up reports are still to be produced. The complete report can be downloaded here.

The 68 page final audit report contains many startling findings including poor chain of custody, improper scanning of absentee ballots, poor data base design, poor security of the election management server, and possible database corruption. But the most stunning finding is found on page 36 of the report.
Additionally, we have no clarity on which table contains the final accurate results.
Stop and think about this.

After five months of diligent work there is no clarity where in the GEMS system one looks to find the final, accurate results of an election. After five months of consulting with computer experts, after months of consulting with Talbot Iredale, the professional engineer from Diebold Election Systems who designed the GEMS system, the auditors have no clarity on what are the final, accurate results for the November election or where to find those number.
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Ohio Audit Says Diebold Vote Database May Have Been Corrupted PDF Print Email
Ohio
By Kim Zetter, Wired News   
April 20, 2007

This article was published at wired.com and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

Diebold

Problems found in an audit of Diebold tabulation records from an Ohio November 2006 election raise questions about whether the database got corrupted during the tabulation of election results, says a report released today (pdf).

 

The document, from a team of researchers tasked with auditing the November election in troubled Cuyahoga County, have called for a thorough examination of the database to determine if corruption did occur and the extent to which it may have affected the election results.

 

Among the report findings:

 

Vote totals in two separate databases that should have been identical had different totals. Although Diebold explained that this was part of the system design for separate vote tables to get updated at different times during the tabulation process, the team questioned the wisdom of a design that creates non-identical vote totals.

Tables in the database contained elements that were missing date and time stamps that would indicate when information was entered.

 

Entries that did have date/time stamps showed a January 1, 1970 date.

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Ohio: Secretary of State Brunner Issues Complaint Against Cuyahoga Board of Elections PDF Print Email
Ohio
By Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner Press Release   
March 26, 2007

Complaint For Summary Removal (PDF document)
Hearing Notice (PDF document)
Notice of Appearance of Counsel (PDF document)

 

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner issued a complaint Thursday against Cuyahoga County Board of Elections members Robert T. Bennett and Sally Florkiewicz alleging five specific areas of cause for removal from office.

Brunner, the state's chief election officer, said she intends to pursue removal of the members to help restore the public's trust and confidence in the embattled board.

 

"This is a first step to improving Cuyahoga County elections and restoring voters' trust in our elections system," Brunner said.

 

Brunner noted the late, emerging decision of elections board member Loree Soggs, who issued his resignation from the panel earlier Thursday. "Mr. Soggs has done the right thing and has shown his dedication to a fair process in which Cuyahoga County voters will have new confidence," Brunner said. "Mr. Soggs is to be commended."

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Ohio: Secretary of State Calls for Clean Slate in Cuyahoga County PDF Print Email
Ohio
By Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner Press Release   
March 19, 2007
Pledging to restore trust to elections in Ohio amidst the myriad of challenges facing the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, the state’s chief election officer, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has asked for the resignation of the four-member board, two Democrats and two Republicans, effective the close of business March 21, 2007.  

“Cuyahoga County has historically faced challenges with its board of elections, but we are at a time when these challenges are so great that extraordinary measures are needed to improve the election process in the state’s most populous county,” said Brunner.  

The Director and Deputy Director positions in the office are currently vacant, with an interim director serving until these positions are filled. The third in charge position is vacant due to a criminal conviction in January. A search committee from the community is interviewing candidates for the top two positions.
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Ohio Secretary of State Announces New Advisory Group PDF Print Email
Ohio
By Ohio Secretary of State Press Release   
March 14, 2007
The newly established Voting Rights Institute will help develop practices and proposals to make Ohio’s elections and voting systems a positive example for the nation, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner says. The institute, which named Saturday its new 38-member advisory council, will work to push the best practices in election administration in Ohio, Secretary Brunner said.

“I know that when I have the best minds like I have in this room and other minds that will be part of the group, this is how to really get it done,” Secretary Brunner said of the advisory council after its inaugural meeting Saturday.
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A Report from the Public Monitor of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections PDF Print Email
Ohio
By Joseph Hall, Univeristy of California, Berkeley   
February 24, 2007

This article was posted at Joseph Hall's Not Quite A Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

After the 2006 primary disaster in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where tens of thousands of absentee ballots had to be hand-counted due to a printing problem, the County Board of Elections appointed a public monitor to oversee the conduct of elections. That public monitor effort is lead by Candice Hoke, a law professor at Cleveland State University's (CSU) Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Director of CSU's Center for Election Integrity.

Cleveland's local Fox News broke a story today about a report from the public monitor on possible legal noncompliances at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (CCBOE) ("I-Team Investigates Election Security"). The Fox reporting focuses on a few serious issues raised by the report:

  • there was one administrative level of access and only one user account (admin) for the Election Management System (EMS) server used by five different people;
  • while two keys from different political parties are needed to open the ballot vault, these keys are stored side-by-side, on the same key ring, in an unlocked compartment;
  • the surveillance footage from the tabulation room was destroyed four weeks after the election, and;
  • a "cable" was mistakenly left attached to the EMS server before election day.

These things are serious from a physical and computer security perspective, but there's more to this story than simply these issues. I'd like to focus on what the report points out that wasn't highlighted in the Fox News story.

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Public Monitor Reports Serious, Possibly Illegal, Security Breaches During Ohio Mid-term Elections PDF Print Email
Ohio
By VoteTrustUSA   
February 23, 2007

Secretary of State to Appoint Independent Investigator

 

Download the Full Report and Appendix

The Public Monitor appointed by Cuyahoga County’s (Cleveland) Board of Elections has issued a report that identifies significant security breaches and “points of possible legal non-compliance” by the Board and its staff in their conduct of the November elections. In response, the Board has asked the Secretary of State to assist in appointing a software engineer to examine the computer records of the voting system.

The Monitor’s report identifies failings of the Board and its staff to enact or comply with election administration and security procedures required by State regulations or State and/or Federal law, regarding supervision of the voter registration database, poll worker management and eligibility, ballot security, and the tabulation and security of election results.

The report identifies several areas of non-compliant procedures associated with the tabulation of results and technical security which could have compromised the security of the election totals. Analysis of the election tabulation system log indicated that reports may have been printed summarizing the absentee ballot totals prior to Election Day. Printing vote totals before the end of Election Day would violate a State directive issued in response to a court order specifying that “at no time, any person has any access to the count or any portion of the count before the polling places close”. The report notes “This concern is especially acute where the proportion of the votes cast by absentee ballot is extremely high, such as was the case in the November, 2006 election in which nearly 25% of votes were cast via absentee ballot.”

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Cuyahoga Election Workers Charged With Rigging 2004 Ohio Recount PDF Print Email
Ohio
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
January 22, 2007
Three Cuyahoga County Ohio elections workers have been charged with six counts of misconduct stemming from the state’s recount of the 2004 presidential election. The charges, filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas allege that elections’ coordinator Jacqueline Maiden, ballot manager Rosie Greer and assistant manager Kathleen Dreamer opened ballots before the Dec. 16, 2004, recount and hand-counted enough to identify precincts where the machine count matched so they could avoid a more lengthy hand count.

While the workers are not being charged with vote fraud, the charges are serious criminal charges and could result in a sentence as long as 18 months. According to an AP report County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter opened the Cuyahoga trial by charging that "the evidence will show that this recount was rigged, maybe not for political reasons, but rigged nonetheless." Baxter said the three election workers "did this so they could spend a day rather than weeks or months" on the recount.

According to Ohio recount law, each county is required to randomly select 3% of the ballots cast for a hand count. If the hand count matches the machine count, no more hand counts are required. If they don’t match, the remainder of the ballots must be hand counted. If the election workers did in fact violate the requirement for a random selection as alleged, they effectively obviated the intent of the state law to allow a candidate the opportunity to verify the accuracy of electronic tallies.
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