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
In this issue ...
News From Around the States
National Coalition for Election Integrity
VoteTrustUSA in 2005: Great
Strides Made, Much More To Do To Take Back Democracy!!
Action Alert: Say No
To Prohibited Software In Voting Machines!
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!
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
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
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
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.
Arizona Citizens for FaIr Elections
Broward Verified Voting (Florida)
California Election Protection Network
Citizens for Election Integrity (Minnesota)
Coalition for Peace Action (New Jersey)
Count the Vote (Georgia)
Florida Fair Elections Coaliton
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)
Verified Voting New Mexico
[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)
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
Certified Diebold Machines Approved Erroneously
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
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?
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.
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
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
Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
VoteTrustUSA Statement of Principles
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