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National Issues

NASED Certifies Voting Systems They Know Must Be Modified And No Longer Be Certified PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
May 26, 2006
This open letter was sent to the National Association of State Election directors and the Election Assistance Commission.

It has recently been made public that NASED has been certifying, and continues to certify, electronic voting systems, with the full knowledge that when those systems are used in an election, they will inevitably be running different software than the software NASED certified. Those who certify the systems admit that the ES&S software actually used in an election is unique to that election, and therefore has not been examined by any independent tester, and cannot have been certified either by NASED or by the state.

This information was obtained via Public Records Requests from the Secretary of State of California. The emails that reveal this information can be viewed here.

In an email to Bruce McDannold and Paul Craft dated December 29, 2005,  Steven V. Freeman paraphrases what he has heard from Paul Craft that "...every election gets a new copy [of the ES&S firmware] installed with slight differences in the actual executable code due to the active linking to the election definition tables."

In a response dated December 30, 2005, Paul Craft makes it clear that the problem exists, not just for ES&S optical scanners, but also for the DREs:

"[ES&S products] are annoying because, as with the DRE's, you cannot really directly and easily validate the firmware once it is loaded on the chip with an election definition."

This means that every jurisdiction using ES&S voting equipment is using unique, unexamined, uncertified software to record, count, and tabulate votes. The participants in the email thread are uncertain whether or not this is true for the other vendors' products.

The referenced email conversation was in the context of a discussion on how to word a question to the vendors to determine "if they [vendors other than Diebold] have any kind of executable code on their transport media." That is, they were planning to ask the vendors ­ ask the vendors ­ if their systems fail to meet the 2002 Voting System Standards (Section 4.2.2, which bans this type of code.) The three men decided on this wording:

"Please advise us immediately as to whether or not any of your voting systems used in California include on the transport media (floppy, zip disk, pc card, other removable memory and storage devices, etc.) any kind of program code including scripts, that can be loaded, interpreted or executed by your system's vote devices, tabulating equipment or system servers. "

Just who are Steve V. Freeman and Paul Craft? They are two of the Voting Systems Board of NASED who make the ultimate decision as to whether a voting system should be NASED certified or not. They are also two of three principles in Freeman, Craft, McGregor Group, a private consulting company hiring themselves out as voting system examiners to states and local governments such as California, Maryland, and Chicago/Cook County.

Clearly, Mr. Freeman and Mr. Craft have been federally certifying systems, and recommending state approval of those systems, without knowing whether or not the systems meet the 2002 VSSG.

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