Election Integrity News - January 3, 2007

 

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Download The Report on E-Voting in the 2006 Mide-Term Elections


In this issue ...

National Stories

Sarasota County and the Debate Over ćPaper Trailsä

Smartmatic Announces It Will Sell Sequoia Voting Systems, Withdraw from CFIUS Review

Wolf in Sheepās Clothing Heads to DC

Comparing Testing Costs of DRE and Paper Ballot Systems

Holt to Support Jennings Contest on House Floor

Larger Audits Required to Confirm 2006 US House Races

News From Around the States

Team of Computer Scientists To Review ES&S iVotronic Source Code

Two Florida Candidates File Election Contests in the U.S. House

Judge Denies Plaintiff Motion to Review Paperless Voting Machine Source Code in Contested Election

Diebold Moves into the Georgia SoS Office

An Alternative Plan for New York Stateās Voting Machines

New York Stateās Voting Machine Certification Process

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Report Exposes Excessive E-Voting Machine Malfunctions in Mid-term Elections
by VoteTrustUSA, VotersUnite.org, and VoterAction

A Survey of Pollworker and Voter Experience Reveals Pervasive and Recurrent Failures among Computerized Voting Systems

Download the Full Report

Read the Executive Summary 

A report prepared by civic watchdog groups VoteTrustUSA, VotersUnite.org, and Voter Action found the 2006 mid-term elections were marred by persistent and widespread voting machine malfunctions. In preparing the report “E-Voting Failures in the 2006 Mid-Term Elections,” the groups examined data collected from the Election Protection Coalition hotline (1-866 OUR VOTE) and the Voter Action hotline, reports submitted from Election Day pollworkers through the Pollworkers for Democracy project and local and national news accounts collected by VotersUnite.Org.  

In all, 1022 accounts of machine related problems from more than 300 counties in 36 states were examined and categorized. The report summarizes and provides contextual and comparative analysis of the difficulties caused by each type of equipment problem, such as machine malfunctions that impeded polls from opening, machine failures at poll closing and vote tabulation, and votes lost or changed on the voting machine screen. It also includes first hand accounts from voters and pollworkers describing the machine difficulties they encountered on Election Day and how the machines hampered the voting process.

The report recounts incidents of voters leaving without casting a vote because the machines would not start or broke down during Election Day. Machines often failed to record the voter’s correct choice on the ballot or summary screen and caused voters to question if their vote was recorded. Several pollworker accounts described problems closing the machines, retrieving vote totals from the computerized systems, and aggregating the totals with software, sometimes counting votes multiple times or failing to count them at all. The report suggests that in some cases votes were lost.

By studying the experiences of voters and pollworkers we saw a different view of the 2006 election than has been widely accepted. In report after report voters and pollworkers were repeatedly frustrated in their effort to vote or have the votes recorded and counted correctly by recurring machine malfunctions,” said Joan Krawitz, executive director of VoteTrustUSA and co-director for the Pollworkers for Democracy project. “In too many instances voting machines failed our voters and our democracy, confirming that our present system is not adequate for the tremendous responsibility of counting our votes.”

“Since the Help America Vote Act was implemented in 2002, we have spent over $3 billion in tax dollars on new electronic voting equipment yet the experience of the 2006 mid-term elections shows that we have traded one set of problems for another. To ensure the health of our democracy we need to acknowledge the failures of computerized voting and recognize that they will not fix themselves,” said John Gideon, executive director of VotersUnite. “We urgently need corrective and constructive action from election administrators and legislators.”

The report stated there were many polling locations where machine malfunctions were not reported but concluded that the problems reported were too widespread and pervasive to be considered anomalies.

"Our volunteer attorneys took call after call from real people who were prevented from exercising their most fundamental democratic right; to cast a vote and have confidence that vote would be counted accurately. We heard from voters around the country who simply could not vote because the machines failed; how much more proof is needed that this idea of electronic voting, which has been very profitable for the vendors, is failing in the field? " said Holly Jacobson, co-founder of Voter Action.

“The first hand accounts from distressed and frustrated voters unable to make their voices heard because of machine failures is both upsetting and compelling,” said Warren Stewart, policy director for VoteTrustUSA. “It’s impossible to read these reports and not see that it is crucial that we improve these machines immediately.” Permalink

National Stories
Sarasota County and the Debate Over ćPaper Trailsä
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - January 3, 2007

The disputed election for Florida’s 13th Congressional District has ramifications beyond who ultimately occupies that seat in the 110th Congress. Though Democrat Christine Jennings has challenged the election in state court and filed a formal contest of the election with the Clerk of the U.S. House, the new leadership has made it clear that Republican Vern Buchanan will be sworn in when the session begins on January 4th. Rep. Rush Holt has announced that he will file a Parliamentary Inquiry as soon as the new Congress convenes, clarifying that the seating of a Member-elect does not prejudice a pending contest over final right to the seat."

At issue are over 18,000 undervotes – votes that were lost or never recorded at all on the ES&S iVotronic touchscreen voting machines used for early and Election Day voting in Sarasota County, the largest of the five counties in the 13th District. After a mandatory recount, Buchanan held a razor-thin 369-vote margin of victory over Jennings but there has been no satisfactory resolution of the implausibly high undervote rate on the iVotronics.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the legal action and election contest, the experience of Sarasota County in 2006 should serve to focus the larger debate about the appropriate use of computerized equipment in the election process. There should no longer be any question that the use of entirely software dependent voting systems, which, like the ‘paperless’ touchscreen machines used in Sarasota County, provide no independent means of verification, is unacceptable in a democracy that depends on transparency and accountability in the election process.

There seems to be little doubt that federal legislation requiring the minimum safeguard of a voter verified paper audit trail and mandatory hand counted audits will pass in the coming months, but many look at the situation in Sarasota County and question whether this is an adequate response. Read the Entire Article

Smartmatic Announces It Will Sell Sequoia Voting Systems, Withdraw from CFIUS Review
by Rep. Carolyn Maloney Press Release - December 22, 2006

Rep. Maloney, who first raised case with Treasury, says company could not overcome doubts and reiterates need for an enhanced CFIUS process

Voting machine firm Smartmatic has announced that it plans to sell major voting machine maker Sequoia Voting Systems. With this pending sale, Smartmatic is withdrawing from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States investigation into its 2005 purchase of Sequoia.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), who first raised the need for an investigation of the Sequoia deal to the Department of the Treasury, said today that the CFIUS review, though initially resisted by Smartmatic, was vital in helping eliminate questions about the soundness of the Sequoia voting machines. Read the Entire Article

See also: Potential Buyers Can Cast Lot with Sequoia Voting Systems

Wolf in Sheepās Clothing Heads to DC
by Joyce McCloy, North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting - December18, 2006

Does the Election Center lobby for the voters' or for the interest of the voting industry?

The Fox in the Henhouse Series, Part III

This week a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, The Election Center, will be in Washington DC in full force to lobby our Congressmen. The Joint Election Officials Liaison Committee, comprised of election administrators associated with a range of professional organizations, will be gathering on the first days of the new legislative session to influence decisions, like they influence the actions and decisions of state election directors across the country.

According to the meeting’s description on the Election Center website:

“We have booked rooms for the nights of January 3- 6, 2007 at the Grand Hyatt Washington, 1000 H St, N.W., Washington, DC, for the next meeting of those elections and registration administrators who wish to be involved on a national level for Congressional liaison and activity with the Federal agencies affecting voter registration and elections at the local level.
Come to Washington to talk directly with Congressional staff about the new legislation. Additionally, we invite the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the Commissioners and staff of the Election Assistance Commission, the U.S. Justice Department and the GAO to present.”

They plan to lobby hard. Read the Entire Article

Comparing Testing Costs of DRE and Paper Ballot Systems
by John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA - December18, 2006

This study was first published at Washburn Research in August, 2005. It is available in PDF format here.

Performing the Logic and Accuracy (L&A) testing of the software on a Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system is between 2 and 3 times more costly than the L&A testing of a paper ballot – optically scanned (PBOS) voting system for the same election.

Description of Costs

Every voting system (Paper ballots counted by hand, PBOS, DRE, lever machines, punch cards, etc.) has costs associated with it. The hard costs can be categorized as falling into 3 areas:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Training
  3. Election-specific Programming
  4. Election-specific Administration.

Soft costs are those costs which are hard to quantify in dollars and cents. These soft costs include:

  1. Electoral trust
  2. System Reliability
  3. Exposure to Litigation for contested results

Election-specific administration costs include:

  1. Election-specific training of poll inspectors
  2. Payment of poll inspectors and other election-day workers.
  3. Printing any required paper ballots for a specific election
  4. Printing any required information or instructions for electors
  5. Printing and verifying polling lists of registered voters
  6. Testing the software or mechanism of any voting machinery used
  7. Collecting, auditing and storing election materials and records at the close of a specific election.

This paper deals only with the cost of performing the logic and accuracy testing the software of any particular software machinery used to aid in the administration of an election. This is item 13 in the lists above. Lever machines and punch card system are unlikely to be used in the United States after January 1, 2006 due to the acceptance of federal HAVA money by the several states. Paper ballots which are hand counted have no software testing costs. Because of these technological constraints, this paper focuses on comparing the costs of performing Logic and Accuracy tests between paper ballots – optically scanned (PBOS) systems and direct recording electronic (DRE) systems. Read the Entire Report

Holt to Support Jennings Contest on House Floor
Rep. Rush Holt Press Release - December 29, 2006

House Record to Reflect That Jennings Challenge is Justified, House Action Will Not Prejudice Legal Proceedings or Legislative Inquiry

Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today announced that he intends to take steps to put the U.S. House of Representatives on record as recognizing the justification of the electoral challenge filed by Congressional candidate Christine Jennings regarding the disputed election in Florida's 13th Congressional District, and making clear that any House proceedings on January 4, 2007, will not prejudice legal proceedings or legislative inquiry regarding the election's validity.

"It is a matter of fundamental fairness, of good government, and of accountability that we get to the bottom of this election," said Rep. Rush Holt.  "It is imperative that every election reflect the will of voters accurately.  In the case of Florida-13, there is no way to know whether result presented by the Florida Secretary of State is valid - in fact, there is significant evidence that it is not.  18,000 missing votes in a race certified on the basis of a 369 vote margin is an overwhelming indication that something went wrong."

According to evidence provided in the Florida case, to date, 18,000 ballots cast on electronic voting machines did not record the voter's selection for the House of Representatives, more than enough to change the outcome of the election, which was awarded to Vernon Buchanan by a margin of 369 votes.  Had all votes been counted, the outcome would have been different, according to Dr. Michael Herron, an independent expert hired by ES&S, the manufacturer of the electronic voting machines used in Florida-13. Read the Entire Article

Larger Audits Required to Confirm 2006 US House Races
by Howard Stanislevic, VoteTrustUSA E-Voter Education Project - December 21, 2006

Rep. Maloney Cites Need to Reassure Public About U.S. Voting System

See also Wall Street Journal: U.S. Authorities Probe How Smartmatic Won Venezuela Election Pact 

The Member of Congress who first highlighted the need for an investigation of a deal involving voting machine manufacturer Smartmatic is urging the Department of Treasury to make the results of the investigation public when they are finalized. Smartmatic, a company with Venezuelan roots, announced shortly before November’s elections that it was indeed undergoing a Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) investigation related to its purchase of Sequoia Voting Systems in 2005.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) wrote this week to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to point out the public unease about electronic voting, due to numerous glitches on Election Day and press stories about the Smartmatic investigation. It has also been reported this week that Smartmatic is the subject of an ongoing Department of Justice investigation into the possibility that the company bribed the Venezuelan government for contracts and may have committed tax fraud. Read the Entire Article

From Around the States

Team of Computer Scientists To Review ES&S iVotronic Source Code
by Warren Stewart VoteTrustUSA - December 22, 2006

Download the FSU Review Team Statement of Work

The Florida Secretary of State has assembled a team of computer scientists, led by Florida State University, to review the source code of the ES&S iVotronics used in Sarasota’s disputed election last month. These machines failed to register a vote for either Congressional candidate for over 16% of the voters that used them in early voting and on Election Day. After initially refusing to allow any review of their source code, ES&S has relented and agreed to the Florida State review.

The review team, led by FSU computer scientist Alan Yasinsac, includes David Wagner of the University of California Berkeley, Ed Felten of Princeton Univeristy, Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon University, Matt Bishop of the Univeristy of California Davis, along with two other Florida State professors.

Republican Vern Buchanan has been declared the winner of the election by an official margin of 369 votes. In addition to the legal challenge in state court, Democrat Christine Jennings has filed an election contest with the U.S. House of Reporesentatives. A separet legal challenge on behalf of Sarasota county voters has been launched by VoterAction, People For the American Way Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida. Read the Entire Article

Two Florida Candidates File Election Contests in the U.S. House
by Warren Stewart VoteTrustUSA - December 21, 2006

Download District 13 Contest (Jennings)
Download 24 Contest (Curtis)

Two candidates for Florida Congressional Districts have filed formal election contests with the U.S. House yesterday under the Federal Contested Election Act of 1969. Clint Curtis was a candidate for Florida’s District 24, while Christine Jennings ran for the state’s District 13 seat. Both elections are also being challenged in State Circuit court in Tallahassee. The contest will be referred to the House Administration Committee.

Curtis makes the argument that it is unconstitutional and a violation of UN Human Rights conventions and international law to refuse to disclose source coding on electronic machinery such as is the case in Florida and elsewhere.  In a press statement Curtis, citing his background as a computer programmer, noted that elections may be rigged and stolen completely in the software and so to refuse the ability to audit source code and test same is not worthy of any self-respecting democracy.
 
Meanwhile, with the outcome of the state level legal challenges of the certified lection results in Florida’s hotly contested 13th District race still unresolved, Jennings is asking Congress to consider a revote if the legal challenge in Florida is unsuccessful. In both the contest and the lawsuit, Jennings is seeking access to the source code used to program the ES&S iVotronics used in early voting and on Election Day in Sarasota county. ES&S is refusing to allow an independent review of their source code, claiming that it is protected by contractual trade secret agreements. Read the Entire Article

Judge Denies Plaintiff Motion to Review Paperless Voting Machine Source Code in Contested Election
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - December 29, 2006

Court finds Plaintiff's Request for 'Access to Trade Secrets' of ES&S Would 'Result in Destroying, Gutting' Voting Machine Company's 'Protections'

Judge Rules Jennings, Voters Motion Based on 'Nothing More Than Conjecture' --- UPDATES: Appeal Said Likely, Additional Late Details on Congressional Challenge in Race

This article was posted at Brad Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author. 

In a ruling issued this afternoon, the presiding Florida Circuit Court Judge William L. Gary denied the plaintiffs motion to allow review of the source code for the paperless touch-screen machines used in the contested U.S. House race in Florida's 13th district between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan.

Jennings, and a number of Florida voters and Election Integrity organizations had filed suit asking for a revote and to allow them to review the software used on the voting machines made by Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S) after some 18,000 votes seem to have disappeared in the race to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by former FL Secretary of State Katherine Harris. The state has previously certified Buchanan as the winner by a 369 vote margin.

Gary's terse ruling [PDF], issued this afternoon denying the motion to compel the company to turn over their source code, states that ES&S has a right to keep their software hidden from review by both the Jennings camp and voters, supporting the company's "right" to keep their "trade secrets" protected. Read the Entire Article

Diebold Moves into the Georgia SoS Office
by Roxanne Jekot, Countthevote.org - Decmeber 22, 2006

This article was posted at Peach Pulpit. It is reposted with permission of the author.

So, those of us who have been watching the Diebold Debacle since 2001, are not at all surprised at today's developments as reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

You see, we fully expected one of the "Cathy's" to leave office and go to work for Diebold. I bet on Cathy Cox, but we knew the potential was there for the Kathy (with a K) Rogers as well. They were walking advertisements for Diebold all along.

It turns out that it is Kathy (with a K) Rogers as reported in today's Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Kathy Rogers, director of the secretary of state's elections division, resigned Nov. 30 and has accepted a job with Diebold Election Systems, manufacturer of Georgia's voting machines, according to several state officials.  Rogers apparently will serve as a liaison between elections officials throughout the United States and Diebold.
But, it gets better.......... Read the Entire Article

An Alternative Plan for New York Stateās Voting Machines
by Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting - December 19, 2006

New Voting Machines, But No Earlier Than 2009

It is now all but official that New York State’s current plan to replace lever voting machines by September 2007 is not going to happen. Certification testing of new voting systems has been delayed due to the vendors’ inability to meet the New York’s rigorous standards, and their irresponsible practice of submitting continuous bug fixes and changes, requiring that testing be continually restarted. I’ve written in detail about the problems and issues encountered in New York’s testing process here.

On December 18, 2006, New York State Board of Elections announced at a meeting of County Commissioners of Elections that the State will undoubtedly miss the September 2007 deadline, without elaborating on what plan might replace the current one.

It is time for New York to discuss alternatives. But simply delaying it one more year until 2008 won’t do. I propose that New York State must delay any introduction of new voting machines until at least 2009. Read the Entire Article

New York Stateās Voting Machine Certification Process
by Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting - December 15, 2006

Issues, Status and Projections for Voting Machine Testing

Adequately tested voting systems are a prerequisite for well run elections and to ensure public confidence in election results. When it is completed, the current process of testing voting systems will culminate in New York State’s four Election Commissioners deciding to approve, or “certify” those systems which meet the State’s regulations. Certification testing is ongoing and is proving to be a mixture of good and bad news.

On the plus side, New York State has a strict set of statutory and regulatory requirements which voting rights advocacy organizations fought hard to adopt and which set high standards for voting machines to meet. On the minus side, the State Board of Elections seems willing to compromise strict compliance with regulation in order to allow voting machines to qualify when they otherwise would not. While the State Board has frequently stated they want to do certification testing right rather than do it fast, the tendency has been to err on the side of speed rather than rigor. Read the Entire Article

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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