Election Integrity News - February 7, 2006

This Week's Quote: "When public confidence in elections suffers, our democracy suffers," Bill Bradbury, Oregon Secretary of State.

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Actions to Take Now

National: Pass HR 550 As Written!

National: Say No to Prohibited Software in Voting Machines!

Iowa - Support SF 351

Maryland: Support HB 244

New Mexico: Paper Ballots Statewide!

Pennsylvania: Support HB 2000 and S 977

Virginia: Support HB 1243

Washington: Audit All Voting Machines! - Support HB-2532


In this issue ...

National Stories

Bradbury and McPherson Call For Non-Partisan Election Administration

Questions for The Election Assistance Commission

Testing Voting Equipment Effectively

News From Around the States

FBI Subpoenas Ballots from Contentious 2004 Arizona Republican Primary Election

California: Several E-voting Systems OK'd, But Diebold On Hold

Maryland: HB 244 Would Require Voter Verified Paper Records and Mandatory Audits of Voting Machines

New Mexico: Paper Trail Leads Toward Voter Confidence

Revote in Ohio After More Votes Than Voters Recorded on Diebold Touch-Screen Voting Machines

Voter ID Bill Moves Back to Pennsylvania Senate

Virginia House Committee Passes Robust Paper Trail Bill After Senate Committee Defeats It

Vote-PAD Approved For Use In Wisconsin

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

#5 - Questions about whether California should move toward using electronic voting systems that rely on „open source softwareš and how exactly voting systems are tested and certified for use will be the subject of two hearings scheduled today by Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee as announced in a Press Release.

#4 - This week the state of Wisconsin approved the Vote-PAD Assistive Device for use by their counties and townships. The significance of this story, as related by The BradBlog is that the state conferred with the U.S. Dept. of Justice. According to the Vote-PAD press release and The BradBlog article, "Wisconsin State Elections Board executive director, Kevin Kennedy, announced the state's approval of the Vote-PAD after "considerable time" spent conferring with U.S. Dept. of Justice attorneys. The response, he said, after examining the device, was that the DoJ saw nothing "that should stop Wisconsin from proceeding with approval" of Vote-PAD for use in the state."

#3 - The Associated Press has reported that the state of Florida has ordered Leon County to return $564,421 in HAVA funds that were earmarked for new voting equipment. This move is an apparent attempt to pressure the Leon County Elections Director, Ion Sancho, into changing his mind about moving from Diebold optical-scan to another vendor's machines.

#2 - A number of national and state legislative actions are taking place that are of interest to voting activists and others. An 'Action Alert' has been called in Washington where HB-2532 will fill the gap that presently exists due to a lack of any audit on ballots counted by optical-scan voting systems. This action joins others previously announced regarding national and local legislation. Nationally HR-4666 was introduced by Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) with co-sponsors including Congressman Holt (D-NJ) and others. This legislation will ensure that states and counties who are making honest attempts at meeting HAVA will have more time. In Maryland HB-244 would require voter verified paper records and mandatory audits of voting machines.

#1 - The number one story for this week is the seizure of ballots from the '04 District 20 legislative race in Maricopa Co., AZ. After the county refused to honor a subpoena issued by a state senate committee the FBI stepped in with their own subpoena. The subpoena did not stop with just the ballots as it included the mail-in envelopes. It will be interesting to see what the FBI reports when they have completed their investigation.



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National Stories

Bradbury and McPherson Call For Non-Partisan Election Administration
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA - February 6, 2006

Oregon and California State Election Administrators Pledge Neutral and Independent Election Administration

Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, a Democrat, and California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, a Republican, today responded to public demand for greater integrity in elections administration by signing a five-point pledge to remain neutral, independent and fair in their oversight of elections. "When public confidence in elections suffers, our democracy suffers," said Bradbury. "It is our responsibility as Chief Elections Officials to restore that confidence and to conduct our elections with the highest level of integrity."

Bradbury and McPherson acknowledged that public confidence in elections was undermined when other Secretaries of State were accused of favoring their political party and playing politics with elections administration in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. By signing the neutrality pledge, the two Secretaries of State have acted to remove the threat of such political posturing with a direct, public commitment to fair and independent elections administration.

Concern about the political activity of state election administrators led to last year's introduction of the Federal Election Integrity Act (S. 391) by U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), a bill that would prohibit Secretaries of State and other state election officials with supervisory authority over the administration of Federal elections from participating in the political campaign or management of a candidate running for Federal office in their state. The bill has received little attention and has not been addressed by the Senate Rules Committee, to which it was referred. Read the Entire Article

Questions for The Election Assistance Commission
by VoteTrustUSA - February 6, 2006

The following letter was delivered to the Election Assistance Commission at the joint NASS/NASED meeting on Monday, February 6, 2006. 

At the public hearing of the Election Assistance Commission on February 2, 2006 in Washington D.C., there was some discussion about possible misunderstandings in the public perception of the current certification process. Following up on conversations we had with members of the Commission following the meeting, we are submitting this open letter to the Commissioners, the Commission’s Executive Director and the Secretariat overseeing the Independent Testing Authority. The initial purpose of this open letter is to seek answers to specific questions related to the current certification process. At the same time we seek to establish an ongoing dialogue with the Election Assistance Commission about the process through which our votes are cast and counted in our elections. We look forward to your response to these questions and to future discussions.

Specific Questions
1. Given that Volume II Appendix B.3 of the 2002 VVSG requires that system identification be included in the ITA reports, why is it absent from the reports by Ciber Inc.?  Specifically, the Physical Configuration Audit (PCA) is a requirement of Volume I 8.7.1. Why is the PCA not included as required by Paragraph B.3? Without a PCA there is no way to prove or disprove that the system examined by a state is the same system examined by an ITA lab. The Ciber lab report for GEMS 1.18.24 states that any collection of bytes with the filename of GEMS.EXE, a creation date of 5/13/2005, and a mouse over text of GEMS 1.18.24 can be sold as the GEMS component of system N-1-06-22-22-001 (2002). Any supertouch program can alter the properties of any .EXE file to match these three properties.

2. Why have no vendors added software to the National Software Reference Library (NRSL) since May 21, 2005, yet 9 systems have been qualified since then? Again without a way to identify system there is no way to determine if a system approved by a state or sold to an election official is or is not the same system that was qualified. This could become a point of litigation such as a Temporary Restraining Order alleging that the software for use in an election is not state-approved and/or federally qualified. Since there is no way to immediately deny the allegation, a judge may have little choice but to order that the equipment not be used.

3. Why are ITA lab reports treated as if they contain trade secrets? Trade secrets do not exist for such documents. Read the Entire Letter

Testing Election Software Effectively
by John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA Voting Technology Task Force, February 2, 2006

A Proposal for Effective Testing of Election Software

Last month a mock election in Leon County was run exactly as it should be - where all proper policies and procedures are followed. Contrary to the claims of the vendor, the election results provided by the software administering the election were both incorrect and the manipulation was undetectable except through the most extraordinary of means.

This comes as a surprise only to those who have not been paying attention. For more than a decade and a half, citizen activists, investigative reporters, and computer scientists have been reporting on the inherent risks presented by electronic voting through either malice or mistake.

Every revelation of a security defect, demonstrated or speculated, has been met with one of four responses from vendors:

1) If there were such a problem it would have been discovered during the federal testing.
2) Well, that is the other vendor's equipment. It does not apply to our equipment.
3) Well, that was a bug, but is fixed in our latest product offering.
4) Well, that is a problem, but it could not occur under circumstances found in a real election where proper policies and procedures are followed.

What set the demonstration in Leon County apart was the fact that the test was specifically designed to meet and counter each of these responses. This attention to detail is described in this first hand account as the third iteration of this test was performed. Another distinctive feature of the Leon County test is the persistence of a lone election official. The much publicized testing done on December 13, 2205 was actually the third time this test was done. The prior two times were in May and June of 2005. The full report was distributed on July 4, 2005 to election officials across the country. In response to the July 4 report, Diebold repeated stock responses 1, 3, and 4 as late as a October 17th meeting of Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (see pages 135 line 4 to page 136 line 20 of the transcript). Diebold later admitted on January 3, 2006 to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that the response given during the October 17th meeting were indeed unfounded. Read the Entire Article

From Around the States

FBI Subpoenas Ballots from Contentious 2004 Arizona Republican Primary Election
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - February 1, 2006

Expert Report Said Tabulating Machines Were 'Improperly Calibrated', But Only Examination of Ballots Can Explain Mysterious Appearance of 439 Ballots During Recount of LD20 Race

This article appeared on The Brad Blog on February 1, 2006.

As reported in January the Maricopa County, AZ elections officials and county attorney have done all they can do to keep anyone from looking at the ballots from the Nov. 2004 District 20 race. As you may recall, the matter came into question after a recount in a Republican Primary race revealed 439 ballots magically appearing and which resulted in the final results of the election being changed. The county has even gone to the lengths of refusing subpoenas from a State Senate committee to provide the ballots, even after an expert was brought in to examine the voting machinery and found the optical scan counters completely out of calibration. The expert said that examination of the ballots was the only way to determine what had actually happened.

Today The Arizona Republic announced that the FBI has now stepped in and provided a court ordered subpoena for those ballots.

The paper reports:

County Treasurer David Schweikert refused to release them, saying he needed a valid court order before he would relinquish control.

On Tuesday, he got one.

"We were just elated," Schweikert said of the moment his secretary called him to say that there were FBI agents waiting for him in his office. "I know it sounds odd to be elated to receive a subpoena, but it was what we'd all been asking for."
It seems odd that Schweikert would refuse to obey a subpoena from the state legislature and then be delighted when he got a subpoena for the same thing from the FBI. We are just going to have to continue to watch this extraordinary case and see where the twisted road continues to lead us.

California: Several E-voting Systems OK'd, But Diebold On Hold
by Ian Hoffman, Staff Writer, Oakland Tribune- February 2, 2006

Four major touch-screen makers clear national tests, line up for state review

This article appeared on InsideBay Area on February 2, 2006.

After months of anxiety for California elections officials, they learned Wednesday that nearly a half-dozen voting systems could be ready for purchase and use in the June primary elections. The state's chief elections officer, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, had wielded the power of the nation's largest voting market in ordering U.S. voting-machine makers to finish private, national testing by Tuesday.

Manufacturers balked, but the market pressure worked: By day's end, all but one major U.S. maker had cleared national testing and now is lined up for California review. Only Diebold Election Systems Inc., which has struggled more than two years for California approval, still was in national testing Wednesday for its new, flagship voting system. But state elections officials said Diebold still could clear that final hurdle and supply voting equipment to nearly one-third of California counties, including Alameda, San Joaquin and Marin.

Local elections officials voiced some relief. Each voting system still faces examination and mass testing - a kind of mock election run on dozens of machines to verify their reliability Read the Entire Article

Maryland: HB 244 Would Require Voter Verified Paper Records and Mandatory Audits of Voting Machines
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA - January 28, 2006

Maryland House Delegate Sheila E. Hixson (D-Montgomery), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has introduced HB 244, a bill that would require all votings systems used in the state to produce or require the use of a voter verified paper record. The bill also calls for hand counted audits of a percentage of the votes by each election board in the state.

"Under this legislation, voters would be able to check and correct any error made by the voting system," said Del. Hixson (photo at left), was quoted in the Washington Post. "We must pass this bill so the trust and confidence of voters who are concerned about our new system can be restored." The bill is supported by House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and several other leading House Democrats. A Senate companion bill is expected next week.

State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone, an ardent proponent of paperless voting in the past, has begun to question the the vulnerability of the state's Diebold touchscreen machines. Lamone wrote to Diebold's top executive on December 23 after California's Secretary of State declared that some of that state's voting machines were susceptible to error and would not be certified for use. Read the Entire Article

TrueVoteMD and VoteTrustUSA Have Launched a Citizen Action in Support of HB 244. Please Click Here To Send A Message To Your State Legislators Urging Their Support of Voter Verified Paper Records and Mandatory Audits

New Mexico: Paper Trail Leads Toward Voter Confidence
by Joyce Bartley and Santiago Juarez, PACE and VoterAction - February 7, 2006

This article appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on February 6, 2006. It is reposted with permission of VoterAction.

To his great credit, Gov. Bill Richardson has proposed legislation that would establish a uniform voting machine system in New Mexico this year.

If the Legislature adopts his proposal, New Mexico voters will fill out paper ballots that will then be fed into optical scan voting machines. Although these machines will electronically tally the votes, all the voters' original ballots will be preserved for later random audits and, if necessary, recounts.

This system will allow New Mexico voters to know that their votes can be recounted by human beings, under the observation of representatives of the political parties, if a recount is demanded or if the required random check of results shows a problem with the vote count.

This is the result that those of us who have urged voting reform have fought so hard to achieve.

Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera and a few other county clerks have chimed in, claiming that the governor's initiative would create havoc in the next election. They claim that, because many poll workers will have to be trained on the use of optical scan machines, the new system will cause more problems than it will solve.

We believe that the clerks' concerns are exaggerated and are answered by the governor's proposal to budget additional monies for training of poll workers.

There are additional problems that the dissident clerks must address. The "old" machines with which poll workers are familiar are the Shouptronic machines on which most of us have been voting for many years. Read the Entire Article

United Voters of New Mexico and Verified Voting New Mexico, together with VoteTrustUSA have launched a Citizen Action in support of Paper Ballots in New Mexico. Please click here to send a message to your New Mexico Legislators in support of HB 430 and SB 295!

Revote in Ohio After More Votes Than Voters Recorded on Diebold Touch-Screen Voting Machines
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog, February 6, 2006

Court Orders Special Re-Vote Tomorrow After 'Failure' of Montgomery County, OH's New AccuVote TSX Machines

County one of forty-four to implement new touch-screen machines for last November's election resulting in inexplicable results...

This article was posted at The Brad Blog. It is reposted with permission of the author. 

Diebold Inc., one of America's largest voting machine companies, likes to claim that there's never been any substantial problem with their touch-screen machines in any election in America. You may not be surprised to hear that claim is patently untrue.

As reported in yesterday's Middletown Journal, a special "re-vote" will be held tomorrow in Montgomery county, OH on an issue where last November's election results were set aside due to more votes being cast on Diebold's AccuVote TSX touch-screen voting machines than there were actually registered voters who voted!

CARLISLE - Voters will have another opportunity Tuesday in a special election to decide whether the city should have a combined fire and emergency medical services department with 24-hour staffing or continue as a volunteer fire department.

This is the second time in three months this levy has been before voters. Last November, the levy was narrowly defeated.

But those election results were set aside due to voting irregularities from the new electronic touch screen voting machines.

More votes were cast than there were registered voters in the city's Montgomery County precinct. The city contested the results, and the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court ordered Tuesday’s special election at Montgomery County’s cost.

Montgomery County is one of 41 counties in Ohio to have added new Diebold AccuVote TSX touch-screen (DRE) voting machines for last November's election.

In that election, remarkable and virtually inexplicable results occurred across the state in regard to four Election Reform initiatives on the ballot, all of which were predicted to pass by large margins in a historically accurate poll released just prior to Election Day. We wrote about the "staggeringly impossible" results of that election back in November. Those results have still not been explained, despite 44 of 88 counties in the Buckeye State using all-new touch-screen voting machines for the first time in that election.

Voter ID Bill Moves Back to Pennsylvania Senate
by Marybeth Kuznik, VotePA - February 3, 2006

Activists Fight Hard to Save Voting Rights at Lobby Day in Capitol

Dozens of activists from Pittsburgh, Allentown, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Franklin County converged on the Pennsylvania Capitol yesterday to urge State Representatives to defeat HB 1318. Many groups and organizations were represented on the buses arriving from both sides of the state. Citizen-lobbyists visited offices of state representatives, senators, Governor Ed Rendell, and Lt. Governor Katherine Baker Knoll to call for the defeat or veto of this restrictive bill that, if passed, may prevent many honest people from voting. The citizens also observed debate on the bill in the state House of Representatives, and held a rally with numerous representatives and senators participating.

Unfortunately, despite the good work of all the citizens and activist groups, HB 1318 was passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives yesterday along strict major party lines 106-95, and returns to the Pennsylvania Senate for a new round of consideration.

The HB 1318 bill, which began last Spring as a relatively minor election reform bill regarding candidates running for office, was marked up by the PA House in June with several restrictive amendments including those requiring Photo ID for all Voters and increasing the time that persons convicted of felonies could not vote in Pennsylvania. Read the Entire Article

Virginia House Committee Passes Robust Paper Trail Bill After Senate Committee Defeats It
by Ivy Main, New Electoral Reform Alliance for Virginia - February 6, 2006

An exciting series of meetings in the Virginia legislature this past week saw the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee see-saw on SB 424, an omnibus election bill calling for voter verified paper records, mandatory audits, public disclosure of voting system software and other issues before finally rejecting it. The Senate committee initially passed the bill 7-5 (with 2 absentions) and then 30 minutes later, after a motion to reconsider in which Sen. H. Russell Potts (R-27th) switched his vote, which effectively killed the bill for this session. Then three days later, the counterpart committee in the House passed a similar bill HB 1243 out of committee. HB 1243 now moves to the Appropriations Committee, whose chairman, Del. Vincent Callahan, Jr (R-27, pictured at right), has already promised his support.

Lobbyists from Virginia Verified Voting and the New Electoral Reform Alliance for Virginia had expected a stronger showing in the Senate committee, where supporters had seemed to outnumber opponents. Strong opposition from registrars across the state, however, apparently led some supporters to seek a compromise in a narrower bill that would require the State Board of Elections to conduct a pilot project testing paper audit trail technology in a few jurisdictions. That pilot project bill (SB 272) lacked other important components of SB 424, including a ban on wireless communication, source code review capability, random audits and recount provisions.

Over in the House, HB 1243 incorporates all the broader provisions, to take effect in 2009, as well as the pilot project, which would begin this year. Although the usual procedure is for bills to be assigned to a subcommittee first, in this case HB 1243 went directly to the full Privileges and Elections Committee on very short notice. Read the Entire Article

Vote-PAD Approved For Use In Wisconsin
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA - January 31, 2006

The Vote-PAD (Voting-on-Paper Assistive Device) has been approved by the Wisconsin State Elections Board for use in hand-counted paper ballot municipalities. After mock elections were held in Janauary, Board of Elections staff had expressed some concern about the reaction to the the device.

However, after meeting with U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, Kevin Kennedy, Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Elections Board (pictured at left), announced the state’s approval of the Vote-PAD. Mr. Kennedy said the attorneys spent considerable time looking at the device and asking questions about its use in the voting process. It was indicated, he said, “that they did not see anything that should stop Wisconsin from proceeding with approval.”

The Vote-PAD has also attracted interest in larger jurisdictions that use optical scanners to count ballots. It was recently purchased by Yolo County, California. Towns and counties all across the country are struggling with how best to meet federal requirements. The law requires each polling place to have a method by which individuals with disabilities can vote unassisted.

The Vote-PAD is an inexpensive, non-computerized, voter-assist device that helps people with visual or dexterity impairments to independently and privately mark the same paper ballot as other voters. The Vote-PAD was developed to help small towns and counties comply with the accessibility requirement of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002. It allows them to continue administering elections the same way they have in the past. Read the Entire Article

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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