Election Integrity News - March 13, 2006
This Week's Quote: "Our report found all of Ion Sancho's concerns were valid and, in fact, worse than anyone realized...This is incredible how he has been treated...He's the leader everyone else in the nation has been watching. If they can drive out Ion Sancho, this is going to have a chilling effect on election supervisors across the country."
David Wagner, California Voting System Testing Assessment and Advisory
In this issue ...
News From Around the States
Ion Sancho needs our help!! Florida officials are attacking the courageous Leon County Supervisor of Elections for trying to protect the integrity of our vote.
Last year, Supervisor Sancho authorized security tests of the Diebold voting system used in Leon County, Florida. These tests definitively proved election results could be altered without detection using only a memory card. A team of California computer scientists have sinced confirmed the Leon County tests and discovered additional severe security flaws in the Diebold system.
Instead of thanking Sancho for exposing flaws that should have been discovered by state and federal certifiers, state officials are threatening Sancho with legal action, which could include removing him from office. Instead of hailing him as a national hero, state officials have condemned and threatened him. On top of that, the only three companies with Florida certified voting systems (Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia) have blacklisted Sancho and are refusing to sell their voting machines to Sancho, either in retribution for exposing serious security vulnerabilities in the Diebold voting system, or out of fear that he will find similar flaws in their systems.
Electronic Voting Machines:
Programmed for Failure?
by Joan Krawitz, VoteTrustUSA - March 13, 2006
Howard Stanislevic's full report, "DRE Reliability: Failure by Design?"
can be downloaded
here. A second report "Voting Systems Batch Test Results - Reliability"
by Stanislevic and John Gideon can be downloaded
What if your computer had to be replaced every month or two … ATMs failed to work properly 10% of the time … your cell phone broke down every ten days?
Current federal standards allow almost 10% of electronic voting machines to fail every Election Day, according to "DRE Reliability: Failure by Design?" a new report issued by the VoteTrustUSA E-Voter Education Project. The report notes that the acceptable failure rate is even higher - approaching 25% -- in a 5-day early voting period.
The report was authored by Howard Stanislevic, a network engineering consultant
whose experience includes working with the Internet Engineering Task Force on
Internet Protocol Performance Metrics. Stanislevic points out that the
failure rate allowed for touchscreen voting machines (also known as Direct Recording
Electronic or DRE) exceeds the actual failure rate of the 40-year-old lever
machines still in use in New York by 44%. The Department of Justice has
filed suit against New York State for failure to comply with the federal Help
America Vote Act (HAVA). HAVA provides funding for states to replace lever
and punch-card voting machines with more modern and accessible equipment in
time for the first federal election of 2006.
A second paper, "Voting Systems Batch Test Results - Reliability" by Stanislevic and John Gideon of VoteTrustUSA and VotersUnite.org, examines the results from the recently completed "batch testing" of voting systems manufactured by Diebold, Hart Intercivic, and Sequoia Voting Systems, and puts the information from those tests, provided by the California Secretary of State's office, into the context of the inadequate reliability standards. Read the Entire Article
Governors From Both Parties Are Championing Verifiable Elections
January, Democratic Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico (pictured at right)
on his state legislature to abandon paperless elections and establish a
statewide paper based optical scan voting system. Last month he signed
a bill that will do just that and sent
an open letter to state election directors in all 50 states asking them
to follow New Mexico's lead.
On the other side of the country Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. of Maryland (pictured at left) wrote a letter last month blasting his state’s paperless touchscreens as unreliable and expensive. Last week he wrote another letter calling on his state legislature to pass a bill requiring voter verified paper records of every vote and leasing optical scanners for this year's elections. The bill passed the state House of Delegates this afternoon by a unanimous 137-0 vote.
The mantra of election integrity activists has always been that verifiable voting is a non-partisan issue. The developments in New Mexico and Maryland have now underscored the fact that counting votes accurately benefits neither party - it benefits voters. Why would any candidate want to ask voters to trust election results that cannot be proven? Why would any candidate and their supporters want to trust votes that can only be counted using secret software?
American democracy is not based on trust - the founding fathers were far too wise to rely on trust. They trusted in God but for humans they relied on a system of checks and balances and accountability. Elections must be transparent and observable so that they don't rely on trust - not trust of any individual, not trust in a machine, not trust in any vendor.
When using paperless electronic voting machines, the casting and counting of votes is performed by software - software that is considered proprietary by the voting machine vendors, and is therefore kept secret, hidden even from the officials that use it in running elections. Not only is the software secret but the process by which it’s tested and the results of that testing are all kept secret. Read the Entire Article
Touch Screens Fail Test
The editorial was posted in the Sun Senitnel on March 13, 2006.
The hallmark of American democracy is one person, one vote.
As a nation, we spend billions of dollars each year encouraging other nations to embrace democracy. We hold this American experiment up proudly as an example of freedom and justice -- and we seek the same for others.
But is our democracy -- our hallmark principle of one person, one vote -- on solid ground?
Recent elections would suggest that democracy, one of America's great gifts to the world, can have flaws -- serious flaws that shake our confidence in our electoral process. As the world witnessed in 2000, the sanctity of the ballot box and the integrity of our government are vulnerable. Most eyes were on Florida, but in New Mexico, the presidential race was decided by just 366 votes -- with both candidates questioning the results. As in Florida, New Mexico voters lost faith in the electoral process, as the covenant between citizens and elected officials deteriorated. Yet nationally, little of substance has been done to restore America's confidence. Legislation passed at the federal level did nothing to prevent the confusion that surrounded the 2004 presidential election.
In New Mexico, a grassroots coalition of concerned citizens demanded action. Together with these citizens and the state Legislature, I spearheaded a reform effort seeking concrete measures. We improved and standardized training for poll workers. We established statewide standards for provisional ballots to ensure that voters in low-income areas will not be disenfranchised. We made absentee voting fair, simple and uniform.
This year, we're taking one more critical step to ensure that every vote counts. Read the Entire Editorial
Does the EAC Really
Care If Voting Machines Are Accessible?
A Conversation With Brian Hancock, Election Assistance Commission's ITA Secretariat
Background: AJ Devies is a voter with mobility disabilities who lives in Volusia Co., FL. AJ is the President of Handicapped Adults of Volusia County (HAVOC) and a Board Member, Florida Fair Elections Coalition. Brian Hancock is the ITA Secretariat for the EAC. AJ spoke with Mr. Hancock about several issues of concern to handicapped voters and election activists. Many of her questions were the same questions that have been asked by VoteTrustUSA and others recently. This is a report on her conversation.
As a handicapped voter concerned about accessible and accurate voting, I called
the ITA Secretariat Brian HAncock with several questions and certification and
accessibility requirements for voting sytems. First I asked Mr. Hancock how
Diebold's equipment had been certified in spite of the presence of intepreted
code in its software architecture. Mr. Hancock claimed he had no clue how "this"
(certification of DREs and op-scanners of past and present generations) got
through Independent Testing Authority (ITA) testing. With regard to the California
testing and report, the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED)
is finishing up a response to the report. The NASED report will be available
within the next week and will be posted on the NASED website. Mr. Hancock would
not speculate about NASED's position on decertification of the Diebold equipment.
I explained to Mr. Hancock that my disabilities are such that I cannot vote using any of the DREs on the market. I asked how it is that the DREs were certified under Section 184.108.40.206 of the 2002 VVSS. Mr. Hancock said that "his" 2005 version would "make sure" the problem was taken care of. I pointed out that the 2005 standards have nothing to do with the inaccessibility of DREs currently on the market, all of which were tested and certified after the 2002 standards were published, and none of them meet the 2002 standards.
I pressed some more about how the ITAs could recommend certification of DREs that fail Section 220.127.116.11 of the 2002 VVSS, particularly 18.104.22.168(f).
For a device with touchscreen or contact-sensitive controls, provide an input method using mechanically operated controls or keys that shall:1) Be tactilely discernible without activating the controls or keys;
2) Be operatable [sic] with one hand and not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist;
3) Require a force less than 5 lbs (22.2 N) to operate; and
4) Provide no key repeat function;
At first Mr. Hancock said I would have to contact the ITAs for an answer to that question. I asked how to go about that since the ITAs do not make their reports available to the public under a FOIA request. He didn't know.
I asked if NASED could provide the ITA reports under a FOIA request. He didn't know.
I asked who could provide the reports if the agencies responsible for testing and certifying the DREs couldn't. He didn't know.
I got the point. Read the Entire Article
David Dill is a professor of computer science at Stanford University and founder and board director of the Verified Voting Foundation. In 2004 he recieved the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Pioneer Award" for "spearheading and nurturing the popular movement for integrity and transparency in modern elections."This article was posted on TomPaine.com on March 7, 2006. It is reposted here with permission of the author.
Public trust in our elections is eroding. While the general public still seems to accept election results, there is an undercurrent of bitterness that has grown tremendously over the last few years. There is a rapidly expanding body of literature on the Internet about the "stolen election of 2004," and several books on election fraud have recently been written. More are in the works.
Theories of widespread election fraud are highly debatable, to say the least. Some people enjoy that debate. I do not. It encourages a sense of hopelessness and consumes energy that could instead be focused on long-term changes that could give us elections we can trust.
The election fraud debate frames the problem incorrectly. The question should not be whether there is widespread election fraud. It should be: "Why should we trust the results of elections?" It's not good enough that election results be accurate. We have to know they are accurate—and we don't.
In a word, elections must be transparent. People must be able to assure themselves that the results are accurate through direct observation during the election and examination of evidence afterwards.
U.S. elections are far from transparent. Instead, winning candidates and election officials alike tend to put all their efforts into suppressing recounts. That attitude has led to increasing bitterness with each national election, at least since Florida 2000.
But we can conclusively win a debate about election transparency. And while making elections more transparent will be difficult, it is more feasible than solving many of our other national problems. All that is required for success is a long-term strategy and a commitment from many citizens at the grassroots level, since politicians and election officials are not going to solve the problems on their own. Read the Entire Article
|Diebold's New CEO Continues to Fuel Speculation About the Sell-Off of Their Elections Division
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - March 11, 2006
Thomas Swidarski Reveals He is Still Out of Touch With the Company's Problems
This article appeared on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.
Cleveland Plain-Dealer promises a feature article on Diebold's new CEO (and former head of its Elections Division) Tom Swidarksi in tomorrow's Sunday paper.
In their preview for that article, they refer to his plan for "cutting $100 million in operation costs" and Diebold's "core business of selling and servicing ATM's and security systems."
"But it's the company's smallest business segment - electronic voting products - that occasionally envelops Diebold in controversy," they report. "And that fanfare contributed to the downfall of Swidarski's predecessor, Walden O'Dell."
The article is, apparently, based on a video-taped interview with Swidarski which is available online here.
Despite being Diebold's "smallest business segment," approximately half (or more) of that interview is dedicated to their "Elections Business". Most newsworthy, perhaps, is Swidarski's continued failure to say whether or not he plans on selling off that part of Diebold. Previous interviews have given that same indication. It seems clear, they're looking to get the monkey off their back. Who can blame them? Read the Entire Article
Without Safeguards, 1 of Every 5 New Voters Could Be Kept off the Rolls
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released new research suggesting that improper implementation of statewide voter registration databases required under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) could result in millions of eligible voters being denied access to the rolls.
The report, Making the List: Database Matching and Verification Processes for Voter Registration, is the first extensive national survey of current state practices relating to the implementation of statewide voter registration databases required by 2006 under HAVA.
"HAVA was meant to ensure that voter registration rolls are accurate and that all eligible citizens are able to cast their vote," said Deborah Goldberg, Director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program. "Unfortunately, this report makes clear that poor implementation of HAVA's database requirement has the potential to disenfranchise millions of Americans."
The Brennan Center found that the practice of using Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Social Security Administration databases to verify information on voter registration forms could create unwarranted hurdles to registration and, in at least seven states, could result in 20% of eligible voters being incorrectly left off the rolls. Read the Entire Article
From Around the States
California: E-Vote Pioneer
Will Return To Paper Ballots
Piedmont, first in state to use touch screens, returns to old technology in city balloting today
This article appeared in The
Oroville Mercury-Register. It is reposted with permission of the author.
For elections, Alameda County is headed back to the future, and what that future looks like will play out today in the city of Piedmont.
After six years of electronic ballots, voters in Piedmont's municipal elections will be marking their choices on paper ballots, and so far that is the direction Alameda County is headed for the June primary.
The city has a history of being a pioneer in voting technologies for the county, even for the state. Piedmont made California history in 1999 with the state's first election conducted on ATM-like touch-screen voting machines. Riverside County and Alameda County were close behind, and by the last statewide race more than a third of state voters were casting fully electronic ballots.
Yet paperless touch-screen voting has fallen from favor after three years of criticism from computer scientists and voting activists who say fraud and errors on the machines can be virtually undetectable. California and many other states now require that voters have some form of paper printout to double-check their electronic vote and that elections officials use that paper for recounts. Read the Entire Article
Florida: Ion Sancho Fights Back
Sancho, besieged Supervisor of Elections in Leon County, Florida, (pictured
at right) initiated legal proceedings today against Diebold Election Systems
for breach of contract. The lawyer bringing the action is Lida
Rodriguez Taseff, an attorney with Duane Morris in Miami. Lida is also the
Chair of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition.
Diebold has refused to return phone calls to Leon County election staff, refused to honor its existing contract with Leon County for maintenance and upgrades of its voting system, and further refused to sell Leon County touch-screen voting machines to meet state and federal requirements for disabled acessbility.
At a Leon County Commission meeting on February 28, 2006, county staff revealed that Chuck Owen, Division Counsel for Diebold Election Systems, met with county staff behind closed doors on February 27. According to staff, Owen stated that Diebold would sell its touch-screen voting machines to the county if, and only if, the county removed Supervisor Sancho from office.
There are only three companies that have state-certified voting systems in Florida: Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia. All three vendors have refused to sell disabled-accessible voting systems to Leon County, quite apparently in retribution for the series of "red team" security tests authorized by Sancho in 2005 to determine if there were security vulnerabilities in the Diebold voting system used in Leon County. Tests conducted in the spring of 2005 by Florida computer scientist Dr. Herbert Thompson determined that the voting system password could be bypassed, thus permitting unauthorized manipulation of election data. A test on December 13, 2005, now commonly known as the "Hursti hack," definitively proved that election results could be altered without detection using only a memory card. The security vulnerabilities exposed in the Leon County tests have since been confirmed in an independent test conducted by a team of computer scientists from the University of California at Berkeley and California's Voting Systems Technology Assessment Advisory Board. The California tests, while not a thorough examination of the Diebold system, revealed numerous additional security flaws in addition to confirming the tests conducted in Leon County. Read the Entire Article
More About Ion Sancho
Miami-Herald Supports Sancho in Tremendous Editorial
Legal Proceedings Launched Against Diebold in Florida
Support A True Election Hero
Florida Candidate Votes
for Self, Sequoia Touch-Screen Voting Machine Flips Vote to Opponent
This article appeared on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.
From today's St. Petersburg Times...
When Cook tried to vote for himself, the machine defaulted to a vote for Taylor. A precinct worker finally moved Cook to a different booth.The flipping machines used in the Pinellas County, Florida election were paperless touch-screens made by Sequoia Voting Systems -- the same paperless "Edge" touch-screen systems whose purchase and future use in New Mexico was recently banned in the state in light of a lawsuit where many voters complained of the same type of "vote flipping" on the machines during the 2004 Presidential Election.
Later in the day, Cook said he had other reports of voting machines malfunctioning in similar ways.
No one else complained, so it is unlikely the problem affected many, if any, other votes, she said.We feel much better now. It was just "a glitch."
Maryland: Paper Ballot Bill Passes in State House 137-0
In a blow to state election officials and a victory for election integrity activists, Maryland's House of Delegates has voted unanimously to approve HB 244, a bill that would require voter verified paper records of every vote and a mandatory random audit. The 137-0 vote came after only 10 minutes of debate.
With momentum building for the passage of HB 244, state election officials had argued that there wasn't time to retrofit the state's touchscreen voting machines with printers for this years primaries and general election. This led to an amendment calling on the state to lease optical-scan machines for one year.
According to an Associated Press article there is some Democratic opposition in the Senate.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, has questioned the wisdom of leasing optical-scan machines that read ballots marked by hand. Maryland has already spent about $90 million acquiring and maintaining the Diebold machines, and the lease requirement for optical-scan machines would add another $12.5 million this year, supporters said.In the House the only delegate to question the measure, Republican William Frank of Baltimore County, ultimately voted in favor of it.
Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has called for paper records of votes and will likely sign the optical-scan measure if it comes to his desk.
"Our electoral process ... must be safeguarded," said Del. Anthony O'Donnell, the second-ranking Republican in the House.
"The machines we have right now are very susceptible" to fraud, O'Donnell added.
"It's unfortunate that we spent all this money" on the machines, Frank said after the vote, but he added that public confidence in elections is more important than the expense. The state spends about $7 million a year maintaining the Diebold machines
"We have to make it right and the way to make it right is to have a paper trail, and that will ensure confidence in the election," Frank said.
Questions Raised About The Accuracy Of The State Board Election’s Public Statements
In 2003, TrueVoteMD launched an effort to re-establish transparent, accurate, recountable elections in Maryland when it became apparent that the Diebold voting system was hackable, defective, and budget-busting. We thought that simply educating our State Election Board about the ever-growing list of errors, breakdowns, hacks and uncertain election results around the country would result in the simple solution advocated by experts: voter-verified paper ballots for recounts and audits. What we found instead was a surprising refusal to look at those facts.
Then it got worse. We learned about the use of uncertified software in violation of state law. We learned about voting system meltdowns - from voters- but also from insiders who were afraid to go public. We learned about missing candidates, screen problems, and machines failing to record any votes. We learned about a five month 'statewide lockdown' of the voting machines while Diebold scrambled to explain the meltdown in the months after November 2004.
Worst of all, we witnessed a State Elections Administrator who at every turn covered up the facts to protect a private corporation which had been hired to count our votes. Now, under court order, the State Administrator has been forced to turn over documents which show a long standing pattern of misleading legislators, the press and the public and lying under oath.
The Exhibits in the Project are culled from thousands of pages of evidence with more to come. We hope that these facts will help Maryland and the nation find its way back to a voting system worthy of the confidence of the American electorate. Click Here to View the Full Project
TrueVoteMD and VoteTrustUSA Have Launched a Citizen Action in Support of HB 244 and SB 713. Please Click Here To Send A Message To Your State Legislators Urging Their Support of Voter Verified Paper Records and Mandatory Audits
On Tuesday, 3/14/06 the Department of Justice (DOJ), New York State, New Yorkers for Verified Voting (NYVV), the League of Women Voters of New York State and the individual citizens who are requesting Intervenor status will have a first opportunity to appear together in court. The hearing will take place on March 14, 2006 at 11:00 AM in the US District Court, Northern District of New York, in Albany New York.
On March 7, the DOJ filed for a preliminary injunction, which if granted would call for New York to quickly comply with Sections 301 and 303(a) of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and ordering the state to promptly present a plan to the Court on how they will bring the State of New York into compliance with these Sections. A copy of the brief can be found here.
The New York State Board of Elections appears to be considering the so-called “Plan B” option as a solution that will be acceptable to the DOJ and the Court. Last week the staff of the State Board of Elections distributed a memo to county commissioners asking for their comments on the Plan B solution.
At this point it is unknown if the DOJ, or disability advocates, who are actively supporting the DOJ’s lawsuit against the New York, will approve of Plan B, or push for another solution. In its original brief the DOJ called for a full implementation of HAVA, presumably including replacement of all lever machines by September 2006.
ES&S Improves in Ohio! E-Voting
Machines Fail Only 10% of the Time
Pre-Election Test Results Not As Bad, After Memory Cards Are Specially Provided by Company to Summit County, OH (After First Two Batches Failed 30% of the Time)
As reported yesterday
Summit County, Ohio is testing the memory cards for their new ES&S optical
scan machines. Unfortunately their first test revealed that 30% of those cards
failed, and as replacements were brought in, the cards continued failing.
Such memory cards are used in electronic voting machines to store the tallied votes. Similar cards were found to be hackable in Diebold optical scan machines after a targetted "hack test" was specfically performed on them in Leon County, FL, recently.
Today, the Akron Beacon Journal reported that a new batch of cards was supplied by ES&S to Summit County for the tests. And they are failing less often! Now only 10% of the time! Read the Entire Article
Pennsylvania: What Can They Possibly Be Thinking In Allegheny County?
In a move that has left election activists across the country scratching their heads in disbelief, Allegheny County Pennsylvania’s second largest, approved an $11.8 million purchase of 2,800 Sequoia Advantages. That's $4,214 per machine for 10 year old USED computers!
As reported in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
As part of the deal, Allegheny County is getting approximately 2,000 pre-owned, deeply discounted, electronic push-button machines from Clark County, Nev., where some units have been in use for almost 10 years.
The Nevada county, in turn, is getting about 4,000 almost-new touch-screen machines from Chicago and Cook County, Ill., which will then receive a brand new version of the touch-screen unit.
What are these people thinking?
These machines are not certified to 2002 standards as required by Pennsylvania election code. These machines are not even scheduled to begin the state certification process until March 28. These machines do not meet the disability access requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). These are the same machines that had a 5.28% presidential undervote rate in New Mexico in 2004.
These machines are 10 year old computers. Who buys a 10 year old computer? In operating systems terms that would be Windows 3.1 - not even Win 98!
No wonder Clark County wants to get rid of them! Read the Entire Article
Texas: Vote Spike Blamed
On Program Snafu
This article appeared in the Star-Telegram. Tarrant County uses the Hart Intercivic e-Slate. apparently, just as Hart's slogan says - "You Vote - It Counts"!
An undetected computer glitch in Tarrant County led to inflated election returns in Tuesday's primaries but did not alter the outcome of any local race, elections and county officials said Wednesday.
The error caused Tarrant County to report as many as 100,000 votes in both primaries that never were cast, dropping the local turnout from a possible record high of about 158,103 voters to about 58,000.
Because the errors added votes equally for each candidate, the glitch did not change the outcome of Tarrant County races but narrowed the margin of victory in some statewide races. In the close Republican primary race for Texas Supreme Court, for example, incumbent Don Willett edged past former Justice Steve Smith by only about 1 percentage point with the corrected vote tallies.
Questions about possible problems were raised by election staff late Tuesday night, as it became apparent to some that the county would far exceed the 76,000 votes cast in the 2002 primary elections.
But elections officials did not look into the discrepancies that night because they were dealing with a new system, new procedures and some new equipment, said Gayle Hamilton, Tarrant County's interim elections administrator.
"We didn't think there was a problem," Hamilton said. "We should have stopped right then.
"But we didn't question it at that time." Read the Entire Article at The Star-Telegram.
Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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