Election Integrity News - January 2, 2006

This Week's Quote: "At this point only a paper ballot audit trail can verify 100 percent of the votes cast in any jurisdiction." Ion Sancho, Supervisor of Elections, Leon County, Florida

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Actions to Take Now

Say No to Prohibited Software in Voting Machines!

National: Pass HR 550 As Written!

Pennsylvania: Support HB 2000 and S 977


In this issue ...

National Stories

Action Alert: Say No To Prohibited Software In Voting Machines!

What's All the Fuss About Diebold in Florida and California?

Open Letter to the Election Assistance Commission and ITA Secretariat

News From Around the States

California: 'All is Well' Says CA SoS About ES&S Machines (Without Telling Us What Was Wrong in The First Place)

California: Previously Certified Diebold Machines Approved Erroneously

Save North Carolina's E-Voting Law From Diebold!

North Carolina:Is NCACC Pres Misusing Her Power to Gut NC Elections Act?

Pennsylvania: Voters Announce 10-County Citizens' Coialition for a Voter Verified Paper Ballot

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The Top Five Stories from the Past Week's Daily Voting News by John Gideon, Information Manager, VoteTrustUSA

#5 - This week has found states reporting that they are not going to meet the federal HAVA mandates. This failure, in most of the failing states, is due to their not having the mandated state voter registration data base ready to go. Colorado is one of those states and the failure can be directly attributed to a failure by Accenture. This issue was reported last week by The Denver Channel and The Rocky Mountain News

#4 Connecticut is another one of those states that is in danger of missing the deadline. They are one of the last of the lever-machine holdouts. Elections officials and voters are not happy that they have to give up their much beloved voting machines for something new. The Litchfield County Times reports that one election official repeated the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This adage seems funny when you consider that in Middletown a complete new election has to be held due to a lever-machine that has been in use but broken for the last 5 years. This was reported in the Middletown Press

#3 The voters in Westmoreland County, PA received a blow this last week when they learned that their County Commissioners were going to ignore the will of the voters, who were never given an opportunity to speak on this issue. The County Commissioners, instead, voted to purchase ES&S iVotronic DREs. 15-year poll worker and voting activist, Marybeth Kuznik, revealed the beginning of a 10-county voting activist group and their "yes-we-do-care-and-you-never-even-asked-us" campaign, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

#2 - Last week it was revealed that California SoS McPherson sent a letter to ES&S threatening them with decertification if they did not fix some problems with their voting systems used in the state. This letter had been sent 5 weeks earlier but was just revealed. Of course keeping this secret was not a good thing but then this week, suddenly, McPherson told the ES&S counties that all is well and there are no concerns any longer. There was no report of why the problem was a problem, why it was kept secret, or what was done to fix the problem.

#1 A National Action Alert was put out this past week with the revelations of Diebold software problems and the admitted presence of federally banned 'interpreted' code on their voting machines. The Action Alert asks citizens to send an email to the Election Assistance Commission commissioners and the Independent Test Authority Secretariat to demand that they do their job and insist that the ITA does its job in decertifying the Diebold software until such time as the banned software is removed.



National Coalition for Election Integrity

VoteTrustUSA in 2005: Great Strides Made, Much More To Do To Take Back Democracy!!
Just one year ago, some of this country’s most experienced and knowledgeable election integrity advocates joined together to found VoteTrustUSA, a national, nonpartisan coalition and support network for the e-voting reform groups that had sprung up in states across the country. Before VoteTrustUSA was founded, these groups operated in isolation, with little outside support.

Today, VoteTrustUSA provides a wide range of support services, information resources, collaborative tools and a strong national voice for 50 state-based organizations. These groups have been instrumental in securing legislation and regulations requiring voter verified paper records of every vote in 27 states across the country (19 in 2005 alone), with random manual audits mandated in almost half of them. To find out more about our how VoteTrustUSA is working for fair and verifiable elections click here. VoteTrustUSA depends on your donations to further the cause of Election Integrity. We are100% citizen-supported and your contributions are entirely tax-deductible. To make a donation, please click here. Thank you for your support!

National Stories

Action Alert: Say No To Prohibited Software In Voting Machines!
by Joan Krawitz, Executive Director, VoteTrustUSA, December 29, 2005

VoteTrustUSA has launched a campaign to hold the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) accountable for ensuring that all Diebold software is re-inspected and decertified until it can be shown that all prohibited code has been removed. We also urge the EAC to initiate the re-inspection of the election software of other vendors, which may also include software that is expressly forbidden in the FEC Voting System Standards. Please go to our action page now and send an email to the EAC voicing your concern about the use of prohibited software on voting machines.

In December, newspapers across the country reported that computer experts in Florida had conclusively proven that the "electronic ballot box" in Diebold optical scan vote counting systems could undetectably alter the results of an election. Within days, California's Secretary of State reported that the use of banned software affects Diebold's touch-screen voting system as well, a fact which Diebold has acknowledged.

This breach of security exploits an inherently insecure feature of the Diebold optical scanners and touch screens known as interpreted code, which the Federal Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) of 1990 and 2002 specifically prohibit. For further details about how Diebold uses interpreted code and why it is banned from use in voting software, please read John Washburn's article below.

Because this prohibited code exists on Diebold touchscreen machines as well as their optical scanners, the Secretary of State of California has demanded that the Diebold Touchscreen (TSX) software be re-examined by the Independent Testing Authority (ITA), who originally certified that the systems were in compliance with the 2002 Federal Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG).

How did the ITA overlook such an obvious violation of federal standards in the first place? And just as importantly, do the voting systems produced by Diebold's competitors contain similarly prohibited code? It is time to put the EAC on notice that violations of federal standards by the ITA, which is now under their jurisdiction, will not be tolerated by voters. Please send an email to the EAC and say No to prohibited software in voting machines!

More Information

Open Letter to the Election Assistance Commision

What's All the Fuss About Diebold in Florida and California?

Interpreted Code, Diebold, and California: a Primer

Previously Certified Diebold Machines Approved Erroneously

The Dirty Little Secrets of Voting System Testing Labs

SourceWatch History of the Independant Testing Authority

What's All the Fuss About Diebold in Florida and California?
by John Washburn, SilverTrain Inc. written for VoteTrustUSA - December 29, 2005

What in the World is Interpreted Code and What's Wrong With It Anyway?

See VoteTrustUSA's open letter to the EAC and the email action alert.

Earlier this month Leon County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, invited computer experts to demonstrate the existence of a security flaw in Diebold optical scanners described in a report published on July 4, 2005.  The test was repeated in December in order to refute specific denials by Diebold. In statements to two different election officials Diebold claimed it was not possible to alter the outcome of an election in such a way that the perpetrator would not need passwords and the tampering would not be noticed during normal canvassing procedures.  Sancho set up the test environment on December 13, 2005 to prove these claims false.  The outside experts had no access to the optical scanner and the complete canvassing procedure was followed for 8 test ballots.  The result was that while the 8 paper ballots had a vote tally of 2 Yes and 6 No, all of the official reports - from the optical scanner on through to the publication of county results - showed an outcome of 7 Yes and 1 No.

Because of this design defect, which exists on all Diebold touchscreen machines (DRE) and optical scanners, the Secretary of State of California has demanded that the Diebold software be re-examined by the Independent Testing Authority (ITA), who originally certified that the systems were in compliance with the 2002 Federal Voluntary Voting System Guidelines.

This breach of security exploits an inherently insecure feature of the Diebold optical scanners and touch screens known as interpreted code. Below is a simplified diagram of a voting machine (or view in separate window).  Diebold equipment has several hardware components (printer, touch screen, smart card reader, buttons, etc).  These are represented by light blue boxes.  There is also memory, which is represented with dark blue boxes.  Some of the memory is read-only (ROM) and contains firmware.  Part of the programming in ROM (firmware) is an interpreter for the Diebold-specific language AccuBasic.  Also in the firmware is all the programming needed to interact with the hardware. Read the Entire Article

Open Letter to the Election Assistance Commission and ITA Secretariat
by VoteTrustUSA - January 3, 2006

The following letter will be sent to the Election Assistance Commission and Brian Hancock, ITA Secretariat on January 3, 2006. To add your organization to the list of signers write to contact@VoteTrustUSA.org. Individuals are encouraged to send this letter as an email to the Election Assistance Commission by visiting the Email Action Page.

Commissioners, Election Assistance Commission and
Brian Hancock, ITA Secretariat
United States Election Assistance Commission
1225 New York Avenue N.W. Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005

We the undersigned request that the Federal Independent Testing Authority (ITA) who inspected, for federal qualification, the software used on Diebold Optical Scan and Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines be ordered to reinspect all source code, including any code used on memory cards, looking in particular for 'interpreted' code.

'Interpreted' code is expressly banned for use on any voting systems as per the 2002 Federal Election Commission Voting System Standards Volume 1; Section 4, Paragraph 4.2.2, yet Diebold Elections Systems Inc. has admitted, in California, that they use 'interpreted' code in their AccuBasic software and it may be used elsewhere in their code.

This revelation from Diebold representatives and from documents obtained by "Freedom Of Information Act" from various sources points to a failure on the part of the ITA to use due diligence in their inspection of Diebold source code and software.

It is because of this failure on the part of the ITA and Diebold's revelations that we ask that all Diebold software/source code be reinspected by the ITA. The ITA should then report back whether the software/source code includes any 'interpreted' code and if that is the case, as Diebold has admitted, the EAC must direct that all Diebold software be decertified until such time as they can show that they have removed all such prohibited software.

This action must not stop with the Diebold products alone, as there is ample evidence that other voting systems also contain 'interpreted' code.

It must be made clear that the Voting System Standards were written by experts in the field of computer sciences and elections. The ITA have been tasked with ensuring that the voting machine vendors follow those standards or be denied federal qualification. We demand that the rules be followed by everyone.

VoteTrustUSA
Arizona Citizens for FaIr Elections
Broward Verified Voting (Florida)
California Election Protection Network
CASE Ohio
Citizens for Election Integrity (Minnesota)
Coalition for Peace Action (New Jersey)
Count the Vote (Georgia)
Florida Fair Elections Coaliton
GuvWurld (California)
Las Vegas, New Mexico Peace & Justice Center
Mercer County Citizens for Better Elections (Pennsylvania)
Missourians for Honest Elections
New Yorkers for Verified Voting
North Carolina Coalition for Verifiable Voting
Oregon Voter Rights Coalition
Palm Beach Coalition for Election Reform (Florida)
VelvetRevolution.us
Verified Voting New Mexico
VotePA
VotersUnite
WheresThePaper.org

[Add Your Organization]

From Around the States

California: 'All is Well' Says CA SoS About ES&S Machines (Without Telling Us What Was Wrong in The First Place)
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - December 29, 2005

Some Quick Damage Control After Secret Letter Uncovered Threats of Decertification for Voting Machine Company by SoS in the Golden State
This article appeared on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

Everything's fine. Nothing to worry about. These aren't the droids you're looking for. That was the message out of Sacramento yesterday in regards to the newly exposed concerns about ES&S voting machines in California as recently revealed by a secret letter from California's Secretary of State. That letter was written and sent five weeks ago privately, but only reported publicly for the first time last week after it was uncovered by an AP reporter.

Of course, CA SoS Bruce McPherson's office has yet to actually inform the voters (you remember them, don't you, Mr. McPherson?) of the "problems experienced by counties utilitizing ES&S voting equipment and software" as discovered during the recent November Special Election which "deeply concerned" the SoS enough to threaten ES&S with decertification in the entire state, according to the letter.

But the message out yesterday is that all is well, and no -- you pesky voters don't need to worry your pretty little selves about a thing! Read the Entire Article

California: Previously Certified Diebold Machines Approved Erroneously
by Dave Berman, GuvWurld - December 20, 2005

This article appeared on GuvWurldBlog. It is reposted with permission of the author.
While Diebold is engaged in a controversial and protracted effort to regain certification for its voting systems in California, it now appears to some in the election integrity community that previously certified Diebold machines were approved erroneously.

Diebold elections machines employ something called interpreter code which is expressly forbidden in the specs for federal qualification and CA state certification. This needs to become another angle worked in the campaign to unite California election reformers. I'm in the midst of gathering some legal opinions so this piece will have to get held over before I can issue a specific call to action.

However, I will share my thinking which is that people in each of the 17 Diebold client counties should be attempting to get an injunction or restraining order against any further use of the clearly out of compliance yet previously certified Diebold machines. To make it easier to discuss this possibility and feel out your own legal possibilities, the rest of this post covers related background. Read the Entire Article

Save North Carolina's E-Voting Law From Diebold!
by Electronic Frontier Foundation - December 29, 2005

North Carolina has one of the most stringent electronic voting laws in the country, the Public Confidence in Elections Act (Senate Bill 223), passed unanimously by the General Assembly in 2005. The law guarantees that, among other things, the source code to electronic voting equipment be made available for security review by state authorities.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lawyers have been to court twice recently to defend the law and prevent the voting machine manufacturer Diebold from evading it. Last week, Diebold again admitted that it could not comply with the requirements and withdrew at least temporarily from North Carolina.

Now, voting machine lobbyists led by Diebold are calling for a special session of the General Assembly in order to weaken or even repeal the law. Diebold's lawyers have offered to assist "in getting current Session Law revised, so that all vendors will be able to comply with the State Election Law." Of course, that means watering down the law so that Diebold can sell its machines, despite its refusal to permit full access to all of the software used in its machines. Read the Entire Article

More information:
Diebold's letter to North Carolina
EFF's Work in North Carolina
Full Text of Public Confidence in Elections Act

North Carolina:Is the NCACC President Misusing Her Power to Gut NC Elections Act?
by Joyce McCloy, NC Coalition for Verifiable Voting - December 29, 2005

Is Ms. Kitty Barnes Mis-using her position as President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners to protect a bad decision made in her home county?
 
Did you know that Catawba County Commissioner Chair Kitty Barnes is asking the Governor to repeal S 223, The Public Confidence in Elections Act? Ms. Barnes, who is also the President of the NC Association of County Commissioners, put this statement on their website:

"the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners has formally requested Gov. Mike Easley's assistance. In a Dec. 22 letter, the NCACC is asking Gov. Easley to convene the General Assembly for a special session so it can consider delaying or eliminating state elections mandates by the Legislature."
The NCACC sent a letter to Governor Easley on Dec 22, 2005 asking for him to call a special session of the Legislature to repeal or amend S223. Meanwhile, Ms. Barnes and her lobbyist, Paul Meyers have been very vocal in the media with tales of impending doom because of the requirements of  S 223.  For example, this article in the Charlotte Observer indicates that the sky appears to be falling with the headline: Voting machine woes grow as deadline nears: Counties balk at rules; only 1 vendor to fill orders.

The only woes growing are those of Ms. Kitty Barnes. Could it be that the President of the NCACC, Kittie Barnes is misusing her position to protect a very bad decision her county (Catawba) made in ignoring the advice of the State Board of Elections about waiting to purchase voting equipment? Read the Entire Article

Pennsylvania: Voters Announce 10-County Citizens' Coalition for a Voter Verified Paper Ballot
by VotePA - December 28, 2005

Voters from Westmoreland, Allegheny, Butler, Washington, Beaver, Mercer, and other Western Pennsylvania counties will announce the formation of 10-County Citizens' Coalition For Voter Verified Paper Ballots at a press conference tomorrow, December 29, 2005 in the Westmoreland County Courthouse Square. The event is open to the public and will begin immediately after the Westmoreland County Commissioners meeting.

The press conference and formation of the group is in response to a reported "10-County Coalition" of Western Pennsylvania election directors and county officials formed to purchase electronic voting machines with money available under the Help America Vote Act. The citizens' group wants to be sure that the money is spent wisely, and that any voting system chosen in any county has the ability to produce a high-quality, human readable and recountable voter verified paper record or ballot.

"Voters and pollworkers, who will be most affected by the purchase of these systems, have been completely left out of the process in many of our counties," says Marybeth Kuznik, Westmoreland County Inspector of Elections and Founder of the grassroots alliance VotePA. "For example, in my own county a decision has apparently been made with no public display of machines, no public hearing, and no opportunity for any input from the average voter. In the meantime, taxpayer dollars have been spent for many months on a high-priced private consultant from Virginia to advise our Election Director and County Commissioners as to what voting machine we should be using. Something is just not right with this picture."
Read the Entire Article

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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