Election Integrity News - January 9, 2006

This Week's Quote: "There is a lack of confidence in the integrity of the voting process and paper audits would restore confidence" Virginia State Delegate Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax)

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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

Voting 2.0: Will Your E-Vote Count?

New NASED Voting Systems List Leaves Many Questions Unanswered

Open Letter to the Election Assistance Commission and ITA Secretariat

News From Around the States

Arizona Secretary of State Calls Transparent Election Advocates 'Anarchists', 'Conspiracy Theorists"

Connecticut Dumps Danaher - No Electronic Machines (For Now At Least)

Massachusetts Town Tells the State To Forget HAVA

North Carolina: NCACC Kinder Gentler GUTTING of Public Confidence in Elections Law

Pennsylvania: Westmoreland County Voters Sue For Right To Choose Their Voting System

Virginia: Bi-Partisan Legislative Panel Recommends Paper Ballots and Audits

Wisconsin: Governor Signs Voter Verified Paper Record Bill Into Law

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The Top Five Stories from the Past Week's Daily Voting News by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA

The selection of this week's "Top Five Stories from the Past Week's Daily Voting News" has been very difficult. In fact, there is one "Honorable Mention" story this week.

Honorable Mention: In Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer had intended on gathering her backers and the media together to announce that she is going to run for re-election. The Arizona Republic reports that she got all of that plus a large, loud group of voters who let her know how unhappy they were with her choice of Diebold voting machines for the state's voters.

#5 Voting activists in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania announced that they were not going to just allow the county to make a choice of what voting system the voters would use in the future. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Ten Westmoreland County residents and state Sen. Jim Ferlo filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to block the county's recent purchase of 750 computerized voting machines." According to the group's media release Pennsylvania's Constitution and Election Code provide that electors have the right to make this decision at the ballot box prior to moving to electronic voting.

#4 Cheshire, Massachusetts, with 3500 residents, has stood up to the federal government and told them that they will not comply with the Help America Vote Act. In the words of one town selectman, "if it ain't broke for over 213 years, don't fix it." As reported by The North Adams Transcript the town uses, and will continue to use, absentee ballots for their disabled citizens.

#3 As part of a law suit in New Mexico a temporary restraining order was filed to stop the Secretary of State from going through with a purchase of Sequoia Edge Direct Recording Electronic voting machines. As attorneys for both sides were meeting to come to an agreement over stopping the purchase, the Secretary announced that she would put a hold on any further purchases until the court decides.

#2 Connecticut has been riding a roller-coaster. They fully intended to continue using their lever voting machines in the future but then the Election Assistance Commission told them that their lever machines had to go. The Secretary of State then made a deal with Danaher to buy their newest federally qualified DREs. Then this week the Secretary had to announce that they would continue, for the time being, using their lever machines and that the EAC and Department of Justice would allow this. It seems that Danaher is not able to get a voting system through the qualification system.

#1 We are always happy to announce that another state has joined the growing list of "Green States" which require a voter verified paper audit trail. The list became 26 strong this week with the addition of Wisconsin when Governor Doyle signed Assembly Bill 627 into law.



National Coalition for Election Integrity

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

VoteTrustUSA's Open Letter to the Election Assistance Commission

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

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 and send an email to the EAC voicing your concern about the use of prohibited software on voting machines. Read More
Concerned Citizens have already sent over 13,000 emails and 1725 letters to the EAC!

National Stories

Voting 2.0: Will Your E-Vote Count?
by Cheryl Gerber with Illustrations By Dash Shaw, January 1, 2006

This article was originally published by Chronogram on January 1, 2006 and is reposted with permission.

Imagine this: A Trojan Horse unleashes thousands of illegitimate votes and disappears without a trace, election commissioners bypass laws, uninvestigated computer glitches and easily picked locks in voting systems, no federal oversight holding e-voting vendors accountable - yes folks, elections can be stolen.

Since the 2000 Presidential election, problems stemming from the use of electronic voting machines have called into question the foundation of American democracy - the US voting system. At the forefront of concerns are security issues surrounding the use of Direct Recording Electronics [DREs], better known as touch screen computer voting machines, and their lack of a paper trail in the form of an auditable paper ballot. Widely reported irregularities from voting districts around the US have alarmed many and opened claims of stolen elections. Some even doubt the legitimacy of the outcome of recent US elections. A team of top computer scientists has been working diligently to resolve the many underlying design problems in the e-voting system that leave it open to cheating. Stalled by the federal government, and with doubts about e-voting continuing to spread, these scientists have instead turned to state governments and the National Science Foundation for help.

"Maryland, where I live, uses Diebold DREs, which are an ideal opportunity for cheating," said Dr. Avi Rubin, Technical Director, Information Security Institute, Johns Hopkins University. "In fact, you couldn't come up with a better opportunity for cheating. There's no ability to audit or recount, and the entire process takes place inside the computer, which is not transparent." Read the Entire Article

New NASED Voting Systems List Leaves Many Questions Unanswered
by VoteTrustUSA - January 5, 2006

A new list of certified voting systems, dated December 15, 2005, has finally been published on the National Association of State Election Directors' (NASED) website. The list leaves many questions unanswered and poses some new and reoubling ones. Other than combining the Diebold GEMS 1-18-24 TSx and OS together there are no changes from the last list that was dated November 18, 2005. According to the new list, there is still no 2002 qualification for the Danaher-Guardian Shouptronic 1242.

Also of note is the fact that there is still no Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail printer certified for the Hart Intercivic eSlate. Equally significantly, none of the Sequoia votings systems are qualified to the 2002 standards, calling into question their viability as alternatives for compliance with the federal mandates of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Additionally, there are several troubling inconsistencies and potential violations of federal standards revealed in the new list. In particular, the co-mingling of systems and qualification numbers violates Section 9.6.3 (e) of Volume I the 2002 FEC Guidelines to which voting systems are certified. Read the Entire Article

Open Letter to the Election Assistance Commission and ITA Secretariat
by VoteTrustUSA - January 5, 2006

The following letter was sent to the Election Assistance Commission and Brian Hancock, ITA Secretariat on January 5, 2006. We have not received a response. To add your organization to the list of additional 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.

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 through "Freedom Of Information Act" requests from various sources point 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 publicly 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 has 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)
Coalition for Voting Integrity (Pennsylvania)
Coloradoans for Voting Integrity
Count the Vote (Georgia)
Essex County Task Force on Voting (New Jersey)
Florida Fair Elections Coaliton
Gathering to Save Our Democracy (Tennesee)
GuvWurld (California)
Illinois Ballot Integrity Project
Illinois Ballot Integrity Project - DuPage Chapter
Las Vegas, NM Peace & Justice Center
Mercer County Citizens for Better Elections (Pennsylvania)
Missourians for Honest Elections - Kansas City
Missourians for Honest Elections - St. Louis
New Yorkers for Verified Voting
North Carolina Coalition for Verifiable Voting
Oregon Voter Rights Coalition
Palm Beach Coalition for Election Reform (Florida)
PA-VerifiedVoting.org
Scott for Congress Campaign (Illinois-6th)
TrueVoteMD
United Voters of New Mexico
Verified Voting New Mexico
VelvetRevolution.us
Virginia Verified Voting
VotePA
VoterAction (New Mexico)
VoteRescue (Texas)
VotersUnite
WheresThe Paper.org
Zeese for U.S. Senate (Maryland)

[Add Your Organization]

From Around the States

Arizona Secretary of State Calls Transparent Election Advocates 'Anarchists', 'Conspiracy Theorists"
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - January 5, 2006

Republican Jan Brewer's Re-Election Announcement Interrupted by Demonstrators
Activists Object to Her Recent Decision to Allow Unsecure, Hackable Diebold Voting Machines for Use in Virtually Every Arizona Precinct!

This article was originally posted at The BradBlog. It is reposted with permission of the author.

Perhaps it's a step up from "dissidents" as the AP once called them, but Election Transparency Advocates who turned out today at Arizona's Sec. of State Jan Brewer's speech to announce her re-election bid were labeled "anarchists" and "conspiracy theorists" by the woman who recently approved Diebold's flawed "AccuVote" touch-screen voting machines for use in virtually every precinct in the state.

During her speech today, according to the Arizona Star, "which boasted of the state getting rid of the last punch card ballots as part of her accomplishments since being elected in 2002 but one that never mentioned the Diebold contract" the Republican official in charge of ensuring free, fair and accurate elections in the state was repeatedly interrupted by advocates for transparent election who objected to the use of Diebold's failed machinery in the state. Read the Entire Article

Connecticut Dumps Danaher - No Electronic Machines (For Now At Least)
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy VoteTrustUSA - January 4, 2006

In a significant victory for citizen activists and voters in Connecticut, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz announced Wednesday that she has halted the procurement process for voting systems, at least temporarily. The decision means that rather than purchasing electronic voting machines, the state will use mechanical lever machines in November's elections.

In an Associated Press article, Ms. Byciewicz said the finalist in the bid process, Danaher Controls, misled the state and had not yet sought proper certification to meet state and federal requirements. Bysiewicz's office made the discovery during final negotiations with the company. "Unfortunately we were unable to find qualified vendors," she said, adding that no company could provide a certified electronic machine that displays a voter's entire ballot and provides a paper receipt that he or she can verify."

This development comes after a year long effort by the election integrity organization, TrueVoteCT, along with Common Cause, Verified Voting and other national organizations to promote accurate and verifiable election in the state. Last Spring, in the face of determined resistance from Bysiewicz and U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut legislature unanimously passed legislation requiring a voter verified paper record of every vote and establishing a random mandatory audit of vote totals. Since passage of the bill TrueVoteCT has challenged the state's RFP for procurement of voting systems, arguing that it was written to preclude the use of optical scan technology.

"I commend the secretary for doing the right thing and throwing the process open rather than acquiring an inferior machine for the state, which all the indications up until now were that that was going happen," said Michael Fischer, a computer science professor at Yale and member of TrueVoteCT. Read the Entire Article

Massachusetts Town Tells the State To Forget HAVA
by John Gideon VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA- January 4, 2006

DRE's? Optical Scan? Diebold? ES&S? Not for Cheshire, MA. They've used paper ballots for 213 years and the system is not broken so it doesn't need any fixing.

According to The Transcript; Voice of the Northern Berkshires town Selectmen signed a letter to Secretary of State William F. Galvin, saying that they would not comply with the federal Help America Vote Act, which would require the town to buy an electronic voting machine for elections.

The letter, prepared by Town Administrator Mark Webber, said in part that "The Town of Cheshire, along with 20 percent of the rest of the Commonwealth's communities, still uses and is perfectly satisfied with the paper ballot system of voting. "This system has served us well for the past 213 years, and we see no compelling reason to change," the letters states.

Selectman Paul F. Astorino said the town does not need a modern voting machine because of its small population. "If we had thousands of people in this town, we'd get one, but we don't," he said. Cheshire has about 3,500 residents.

Town Clerk Christine B. Emerson, who is also head of elections for the town, said buying a new voting machine would cost too much for the town, and that the town already had a system for disabled voters in place. "What is being overlooked here is that there already is a mechanism in place for disabled voters and it's the absentee ballot system," she said.

New Mexico: Agreement Reached On Voting Machine Purchase Freeze
by VoterAction - January 6, 2006

New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron announced on January 3, 2006, that she will not, for now, proceed with purchase of millions of dollars worth of Sequoia AVC Edge touchscreen voting machines.  She had planned to buy the machines for 14 counties before the end of 2005.  This announcement is good news for New Mexico voters.

Vigil-Giron changed her plans after she was served with a motion for emergency injunctive relief to block the purchase.  The motion was filed in December by the plaintiffs in Patricia Rosas Lopategui, et al. v. Rebecca Vigil-Giron, et al., the year-old state court lawsuit in which eight voters seek a permanent ban on use of the Sequoia AVC Edge and other paperless electronic voting machines in New Mexico.  Prior to the Secretary of State's announcement, her attorneys and the plaintiffs' attorneys were in negotiations for a formal agreement to postpone any purchases pending court action.

The Secretary of State has said the reason to buy the Sequoia AVC Edge touchscreen voting machines is to make voting easier for disabled voters, as required by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA).  In fact, the Edge machines fail to accommodate the disabled or meet HAVA requirements, as shown in a powerful and detailed expert affidavit filed by the plaintiffs.  In addition, the machines lack printers to produce voter verifiable and auditable paper ballots, as required by the New Mexico Election Code, and do not accurately record and count votes, as required by the New Mexico Constitution.  To the contrary, the Sequoia Edge voting system has a record of losing thousands of votes, switching votes, and failing to record votes cast in Spanish. Read the Entire Article

North Carolina: NCACC Kinder Gentler GUTTING of Public Confidence in Elections Law
by Joyce McCloy, NC Coalition for Verifiable Voting - December 29, 2005

The North Carolina Association of County Commisioners has a kinder friendlier version of their efforts to GUT the Public Confidence in Elections Act:  Perhaps responding to public criticism of their Dec. 22nd letter to Gov. Easley, they have put a new spin on the "sell"  in their latest press release, dated January 3rd, 2005:

Voting Equipment Update

"Due to continuing reports regarding the elections equipment issue, the Association felt it important to reiterate our position on this issue. The Association does not oppose S223."

"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." [Story and letter]
Translation: We don't oppose the law.  We just want things that are prohibited by that law and federal law, and are not actually necessary to meet any of these laws.
 "The Association is not asking to delay the May 2 primary,"
No, they are just requesting a delay in the implementation of S223, which will result in a delay in the primaries
"nor are we advocating eliminating the paper trail requirement. At its June 2005 meeting, the NCACC Board of Directors discussed S223 - before it was unanimously passed by the General Assembly - and voted only to oppose any unfunded mandate from the state relating to elections equipment changes."
Eliminating the paper trail requirement may be an incidental result of hauling S 223 back before the lawmakers, when lobbyists get a second turn at it. Read the Entire Article

Pennsylvania: Westmoreland County Voters Sue For Right To Choose Their Voting System
by VotePA - January 7, 2006

[Link to VotePA Media Release] Ten Westmoreland County Voters, along with State Senator Jim Ferlo, filed suit in Westmoreland County Court today based on the failure of Westmoreland County to hold a referendum allowing voters to decide whether or not to accept new electronic voting machines. The Pennsylvania Constitution and and the PA Election Code provide that electors have the right to make this decision at the ballot box prior to moving to electronic voting.

In addition to Senator Ferlo, who represents part of Westmoreland County, plaintiffs include other elected officials and regular voters of four political parties. The citizens are being represented by attorney Charles Pascal, Jr. of Leechburg PA.

Majority Inspector of Elections Marybeth Kuznik, a plaintiff, said that it is important the voters receive the protections guaranteed them by the Pennsylvania Constitution. "The citizens should have the right to choose how we vote in our state. We need the most open, auditable, and acccurate voting sytems, or our democracy is done for."

The Westmoreland County Commisioners voted unanimously at their December 29 meeting to buy paperless iVotronic touchscreen machines from The ES&S company of Nebraska using funds that include money provided by the Help America Vote Act. County solicitors stated that they believe that the four year-old federal Help America Vote Act has the power to override the Pennsylvania State Constitution, and were told to ignore the referendum requirement by the Pennsylvania Department of State. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning January 11 at 9 AM.

Media Coverage
Tribune Article
Post-Gazette Article

Virginia: Bi-Partisan Legislative Panel Recommends Paper Ballots and Audits
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy VoteTrustUSA - January 5, 2006

A Virginia Legislature's Joint Subcommittee to Study the Certification, Performance, and Deployment of Voting Equipment voted 6-2 yesterday to recommended that the State Board of Elections develop a pilot program to test the use of paper verification. The directive applied to optical scan systems as well as Direct Electronic Recording (DRE) devices. Under the subcommitte's proposal, the State Board of Elections would set up the program in several precincts across the state, checking vote returns against paper records. If there are inaccuracies, the General Assembly could consider requiring a voter-verified paper record of every vote.

Significantly, following the recommendation of former Board of Elections secretary Cameron Quinn, the subcommittee also recommended that election officials provide paper ballots to those who lack confidence in the machines and random audits to verify the accuracy of machine tabulations. Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax), the subcommittee chairman, said he would submit legislation calling for a permanent paper record of every vote cast despite the vocal opposition of some election officials and county registrars.

The hearing was attended by a large number of concerned citizens from Virginia Verified Voting and New ERA for Virginia, two organizations that have spearheaded efforts for election reform in the state. After the vote, Alex Blakemore, a computer scientist and co-founder of Virginia Verified Voting, said "the devil is in the details." While it is hard to object to a study, Blakemore said he hopes such an inquiry would be objective. Read the Entire Article

Wisconsin: Governor Signs Voter Verified Paper Record Bill Into Law
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy VoteTrustUSA - January 5, 2006

New Wisconsin Election Bill Not as Positive as Originally Reported By Activists and Others!

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle has signed Act 2005-92 into law, making Wisconsin the 27th state to require a voter verified paper record of every vote. The law will also require voting machine vendors to place software components into escrow and provides for review of software under certain circumstances including recounts.

Any voting machines to be used in the state already had to pass State Elections Board tests. Electronic voting machines, in particular, already were required to maintain their results tallies even if the power goes out, and to produce paper ballots that could be used in case of a recount. The new law also requires the paper ballots to be presented to voters for verification before being stored.

The bill orginally called for full disclosure of voting system software, a provision that was unfortunately weakened dramatically by amendments in the Assembly before it was sent to the Senate. In its original form, the bill called for full public disclosure of the source code used in voting system software. Read the Entire Article

 

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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