Election Integrity News - March 27, 2006

This Week's Quote: "If you make a system that can be manipulated, unfortunately in our current political environment, it probably will be, Why take that chance?"

Ion Sancho, Supervisor of Elections, Leon County, Florida

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Actions to Take Now

Lobby Your Representative In Support of HR 550

National: Pass HR 550 As Written!

National: Say No to Prohibited Software in Voting Machines!

Demand Verifiable Elections in Georgia

Iowa - Support SF 351

Maryland: Paper Ballots Now!

Pennsylvania: Support HB 2000 and S 977


In this issue ...

National Stories

Ion Icon: The Risks of Integrity

Sequoia: Forget Dubai - Worry About Smartmatic Instead

News From Around the States

Arizona: Next Battleground Over Touchscreen Voting Machines?

California Voters File Lawsuit to Halt Use or Purchase of Diebold Electronic Voting System

California: State Senator Bowen Comments on Lawsuit Filed Against Secretary of State

Florida: Election Rights Group To Ask Attorney General For Investigatation of Voting Machine Vendors

Illinois: Chi-Town E-Voting Meltdown

Illinois: No More Payments To Sequoia Until Problems Are Solved

Indiana: ES&S Failure To Inform

Iowa House Stalling Voting Bill

Louisiana: NOW Echoes Demand for Fair Elections for Hurricane Katrina Survivors

Maryland: New York Times Supports Paper Ballots in Maryland

New York: Motion to Intervene Denied in HAVA Lawsuit

North Carolina: A Statement Before The House Ethics Committee

Summit County Ohio Threatens Legal Action Against ES&S

Oregon: A Contract "Glitch" for Oregon's Disabled Voters

Texas: Former Supreme Court Justice Considering Challenge To Primary Result

Texas Primary Recount Halted By Secretary of State!

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

#5 - The Associated Press reported that 1000 ES&S memory cards had been replaced in North Carolina. These cards are from the same batch that was found to be bad by officials in Summit County, Ohio. For their part the folks in Summit County have announced that ES&S has quit being cooperative with them. Apparently the company does not like negative print so the county reports that ES&S employees are now refusing to answer questions about status of work and about ballot printing. Summit County has decided that they may have to take ES&S to court to decide who is the customer and who is the contractor.

#4 - Some voting machine vendors seem to have no problem touting their wares and then when they have customers, telling the customers that they cannot deliver their products in time for elections. AVS did this very effectively and now their customers are saying, "Nevermind!" as they turn to Diebold. Bradford and Carbon Counties have made up their minds to switch. Meanwhile ES&S is having troubles on the supply side too. Lebanon County expected to get their full compliment of voting machines but ES&S is oversold in the state and counties want some machines to be HAVA compliant. ES&S decided to take machines from Lebanon for the other counties and they told the county, "Either accept 50 percent of your order by 5 p.m. (Wednesday) or get nothing." That seems to be the typical cavalier ES&S statement.

#3 - Nearly three weeks after the Texas primary and it is still in the news. Tom Green County was in the middle of a recount early this week when they found that the number of ballots they were printing from their Hart eSlate Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines was not close to the number of voters who had voted. The recount was stopped by the Secretary of State and the vendor was called in. The problems seem to have been fixed and, of course, Hart Intecivic is saying there were no "mechanical" problems (they don't mention software problems). Also in Texas a candidate for Supreme Court Justice has announced that he is considering a challenge of his election in the state. He points to vote totals in some places in the state that are clearly not historically correct. This candidate has run in previous elections and has won in previous elections. This time he is running against a candidate who was selected by the Governor.

#2 - This week saw a lawsuit being filed in California. Named in the suit are the Secretary of State and 18 county Registrars of Voters from the 18 Diebold counties in the state. The text of the suit can be found here.

#1 - Two big state primaries and two big failures! This week it was Illinois with Cook County and the city of Chicago teamed with Sequoia Voting Systems to provide us with another elections debacle. As of Wednesday afternoon there were still 414 memory cartridges missing between the county and the city. The memory cartridges have the votes stored in them. Election judges were improperly trained and prepared for the work they were expected to do using a new voting system. But as much as Sequoia tried to deflect all of the blame on the election judges and the lack of training the city and county are looking at the machines and beginning to threaten not to pay what is still owed on contracts until something is done to fix the problems. As of this writing all votes have still not been counted.



 

National Coalition for Election Integrity

Tell Congress We Need Verifiable Elections

Many of you have sent emails to your Representatives demanding immediate passage of The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550) as written. Many of you will be coming to Washington D.C. on April 6-7 to make that request in person. during the lobby days, a petition will be delivered to each member of the Committee on House Administration asking them to stop stalling this important legislation. You call add your name to the petition by clicking on the link above. Once you've signed up, give the Committee a call and let them know that you want the safegauards that HR 550 would provide: a voter verified paper record of every vote, mandatory random handcounted audits of a percentage of the ballots, public diusclosure of voting system software, and the prohibition of wireless communication devices in voting machines.

You can make a difference! Here are the numbers:

Committee on House Administration (Majority Office): (202) 225-8281

Committee on House Administration (Minority Office): (202) 225-2061

National Stories

Ion Icon: The Risks of Integrity
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - March 15, 2006

A widely published Associated Press article quotes Leon County Supervisors of Elections Ion Sancho (pictured at right) musing, "an honest man with integrity is probably not the person you want to bet on in the American political system." As a result of insisting on voting equipment that allows for independent verification, Sancho has been predictably punished by Florida's State election officials, who seem determined to eliminate any possibility of verifying the state's election results. As noted by the Miami Herald "in Florida, real heroes just catch hell."

It's not just the election officials who are unhappy with Sancho. The Washington Post described the situation:

The maverick elections supervisor in Leon County, Fla., last year helped show that electronic voting machines from one of the major manufacturers are vulnerable, according to experts, and would allow election workers to alter vote counts without detection.

Now, however, Sancho may be paying an unexpected price for his whistle-blowing: None of the state-approved companies here will sell him the voting machines the county needs.

"I've essentially embarrassed the current companies for the way they do business, and now I believe I'm being singled out for punishment by the vendors," he said.

While concern about the influence of partisan politics on the vote counting process is well founded, with a rich and thoroughly bi-partisan history, the heroic position that Sancho has claimed has highlighted another troubling ramification of America's privatized election process. If an elected official or a candidate takes a principled stand and demands that elections should be transparent and that the voting machine vendors should be held accountable for the quality and reliability of their equipment, they are a threat to the voting industry.

But the voting industry, through their refusal to disclose the software that counts the vote, controls the vote-counting process. How can anyone trust the results when the counting of the votes is done by private corporations with a vested interest in the outcome?

In California, appointed Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, intentionally or not, has established himself as the voting industry's ally. In spite of overwhelming evidence of the insecurity and unreliability of Diebold's equipment, McPherson gave in to pressure from some county clerks and "conditionally" certified Diebold's equipment for use in this year's elections. The contests in those elections will include McPherson's race for Secretary of State.

One of his challengers is State Senator Debra Bowen, who has made no secret of her concern about the inappropriate influence of the voting industry on the election process. She has held hearings on open source software and questioned the current testing and certification process: topics that are anathema to Diebold, Sequoia, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), and Hart Intercivic.

And these are precisely the folks that will be counting the votes in the election to decide who is in charge of election administration in California. Read the Entire Article

Sequoia: Forget Dubai - Worry About Smartmatic Instead
by Richard Brand - March 27, 2006

This article was published in The Miami Herald on March 27, 2006. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

The greater threat to our nation's security comes not from Dubai and its pro-Western government, but from Venezuela, where software engineers with links to the leftist, anti-American regime of Hugo Chávez are programming electronic voting machines that will soon power U.S. elections.

Congress spent two weeks overreacting to news that Dubai Ports World would operate several American ports, including Miami's, but a better target for their hysteria would be the acquisition by Smartmatic International of California-based Sequoia Voting Systems, whose machines serve millions of U.S. voters. That Smartmatic -- which has been accused by Venezuela's opposition of helping Chávez rig elections in his favor -- now controls a major U.S. e-voting firm should give pause to anybody who thinks that replacing our antiquated butterfly ballots and hanging chads will restore Americans' faith in our electoral process.

Consider the lack of confidence Venezuelans have in their voting system. Anti-Chávez groups have such little faith in Smartmatic's machines that they refuse to run candidates in elections anymore as reports surface of fraud and irregularities from Chávez's 2004 victory in a recall referendum. Yet somehow Smartmatic International and its Venezuelan owners were able to purchase Sequoia last year without the deal receiving any scrutiny from federal regulators -- including the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), which is tasked with determining whether foreign takeovers pose security risks.

CFIUS generally investigates such transactions only when the parties voluntarily submit themselves to review -- which Smartmatic did not do. But it retains the authority to initiate an investigation when it suspects a takeover compromises national security.

Smartmatic has a brief but controversial history. The company was started in Caracas during the late 1990s by engineers Antonio Mugica and Alfredo Anzola. They worked out of downtown Caracas providing small-scale technology services to Latin American banks. Despite having no election experience, the tiny company rocketed from obscurity in 2004 after it was awarded a $100 million contract by the Chávez-dominated National Electoral Council to replace Venezuela's electronic voting machines for the recall vote. Read the Entire Article

From Around the States

Arizona: Next Battleground Over Touchscreen Voting Machines?
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - March 21, 2006

Legal Advocacy Group cites Vulnerability and Inaccessibility of touchscreen Voting Machines

After a successful legal challenge in New Mexico prompted the state legislature to mandate a statewide paper ballot optical scan voting system in that state, the legal advocacy group Voter Action today announced that they are suing California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson over his recent “conditional” certification of Diebold voting systems. Now news reports from Arizona indicates that the state may be the next battleground in the debate over touchscreen voting.

According to an article in the The Arizona Republic:

Voter Action is ready to pick a legal fight with Arizona over some of the more than 2,100 touch-screen machines the state is ordering to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act. Voter Action asserts that two of the most popular models of touch-screens, both of which are expected to come to Arizona, are unreliable and vulnerable to tampering.
The group also distrusts the machines because they do not produce a marked paper ballot. Paper ballots read by optical scanners are less subject to technical manipulation or fraud, activists say, and easily can be recounted or audited in the case of a contested election.
"My clients are not conspiracy theorists," said attorney Chuck Blanchard, a former state lawmaker whose firm is representing Voter Action. "Our problem is just that you have to assure some sense of integrity in the system."

Legal actions in other states appear likely as well.

California Voters File Lawsuit to Halt Use or Purchase of Diebold Electronic Voting System
by VoterAction - March 21, 2006

Illegal Computer Code, Security and Disability Access Problems Cited

A copy of the lawsuit can be downloaded here.

A group of 24 California voters, including Dolores Huerta, social justice activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, announced at a news conference today that they have filed a lawsuit against California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson to nullify his "conditional" certification of the Diebold TSx electronic voting system and to block purchase or use of the TSx in California due to serious security, verifiability and disability access problems.

"The right to a secure vote, which is recorded and counted as intended, is a basic tenet of our democracy, and Californians deserve no less," said Dolores Huerta, social activist and Plaintiff in the California voters' lawsuit. "Diebold systems have failed in security tests and in communities around the country.  In certifying the Diebold machines, the Secretary has sidestepped his duty to deny certification to voting systems that violate state and federal standards."

"A crisis is brewing in California when computerized slot machines used by gamblers in the state are more secure and auditable than the electronic voting systems used by California voters to decide the future direction of their government," said Lowell Finley, Esq., counsel for the plaintiffs and co-director of Voter Action. "Expert testing has confirmed that the Diebold system contains "interpreted" code --programming that is vulnerable to malicious hacking, and prohibited by the California Elections Code.  The Diebold touch screen voting system is a severe security risk, and does not accommodate all disabled voters as required by law."

"California voters have the right to vote and to have their votes counted correctly.  The last thing we need is to start using voting machines that deny access to disabled voters and create an unacceptable risk of fraud and vote manipulation," said John Eichhorst, co-counsel for the voter plaintiffs, and a partner with Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin. Read the Entire Article

California: State Senator Bowen Comments on Lawsuit Filed Against Secretary of State
by California State Senator Debra Bowen - March 21, 2006

Criticizes Decision To Certify Diebold Voting Machines For Use in California

The non-profit group Voter Action filed a lawsuit today in San Francisco Superior Court against Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, asking the court to reverse the Secretary's decision to re-certify the Diebold TSx electronic voting machine for use in California. The suit was filed on behalf of 25 California voters, including Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers and Bernice Kandarian of the California Council of Citizens with Low Vision.

Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach, pictured at right), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee, has been arguing for over a month that the Secretary of State’s February 17 decision to re-certify the Diebold system for use in California violated state law.

"The lawsuit puts the spotlight on the question of whether the Secretary of State has the power to ignore the law when it comes to certifying voting equipment for use in California," said Bowen. "California law requires voting machine makers to comply with the EAC and FEC standards, but the Diebold machines fail that test because they rely on interpreted code to operate. The law also requires the paper trail to be accessible to visually-impaired voters, which the Diebold machines also fail to do. The Secretary bungled the Diebold re-certification application by ignoring the law and refusing to make key information public, such as an internal study that found 16 security flaws in the Diebold machines, until after he'd decided to re-certify Diebold for use in California."

According to Bowen, the Diebold TSx fails to comply with two California laws. First, the law requires the accessible voter verified paper audit trail (AVVPAT) that all direct recording electronic (DRE) machines are required to produce to be accessible to visually-impaired voters. However, the Diebold TSx simply reads back how a person's vote was electronically recorded, not how it was recorded on the AVVPAT, making the Diebold AVVPAT useless for visually-impaired voters. Second, the law requires all machines to comply with the voluntary standards established by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Those standards prohibit the use of machines that rely on "interpreted code" to operate, and the Diebold machines rely on interpreted code to function. In addition to those two laws, the lawsuit alleges the Secretary of State violated five other provisions of law when he re-certified the Diebold TSx.

"The Secretary of State let the tail wag the dog during this entire process now the voters have decided to call him on it," continued Bowen.  "He waited too long to order the voting machine vendors to submit their certification requests to him for review. Then, when faced with the choice of upsetting Diebold and the counties or ignoring both the law and the voters, he opted for the latter and dared someone to sue him in order to enforce the law. As the lawsuit makes clear, the Secretary of State gave Diebold the green light to sell its machines in this state even though its machines don’t meet the standards we put into law on a unanimous, bi-partisan vote two years ago." Read the Entire Article

Florida: Election Rights Group Asks Attorney General To Investigate Voting Machine Vendors
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - March 15, 2006

The Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition is asking Attorney General Charlie Crist to investigate the three voting-equipment companies certified to do business in Florida.

Last year, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho allowed a computer security expert to test the security of the Diebold voting system used in his county. The tests found that election results could be tampered with through the use of memory cards. 

The Tallahassee Democrat reported on March 10:

Since then, the three companies certified in Florida - Diebold Elections Systems, Election Systems and Software, and Sequoia Voting Systems - have declined to sell equipment to Leon County.

It appears as if "The Big Three" have successfully banded together to deny Leon County the ability to purchase the voting equipment of their choice. If it is true that these companies are intentionally colluding and conspiring with each other, then their tactics are unacceptable.

In another Tallahassee Democrat article Sandy Wayland, president of the coalition, commented that she believes it's no accident that none of the companies are selling to Sancho, who last year tested Diebold equipment and found it to have security flaws.

"Why is it that all of them decided to say no?" Wayland asked. "We suspect that there is collusion and that there is an anti-trust violation here."

For more information contact The Miami Dade Election Reform Coalition.

Illinois: Chi-Town E-Voting Meltdown
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - March 23, 2006

414 Memory Cartridges Missing In Chicago and Cook County

This articled was guest blogged by John Gideon on The Brad Blog.

It was only early last month that the state of Illinois certified the Sequoia voting system that ws used in the Illinois primary in Chicago and suburban Cook County this week. In that 6 week period over 23,000 election judges had to be trained to set-up and use the voting machines and they had to learn a completely new set of procedures for opening and closing the polls.

The county and city failed to do that training or failed to do enough of it for those who were trained at all. According to this morning's Chicago Tribune:

Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, further said that 4,000 of Chicago's 14,000 election judges attended no training and instead relied on a judge's manual that was sent in the mail and was written in a complicated and confusing manner.

Training for county judges emphasized videos and not hands-on instruction. None of the 9,600 election judges in suburban Cook County had ever touched the scanning device used to process paper ballots, said Cook County Clerk David Orr.

This clear lack of training and the introduction of new, un-reliable voting machines has caused what amounts to a disaster in vote counting. Read the Entire Article

Illinois: No More Payments To Sequoia Until Problems Are Solved
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - March 24, 2006

Election Offical Says The Last Few Days Have Been "Extremely Embarrassing"
Sequoia, As Usual,  Blames The Election Workers

Responding to widespread failures in Tuesday's primary elections Cook County and Chicago election officials have announced they will withhold payments to Sequoia Voting Systems until the vendor has fixed the system, which “did not perform adequately.” The county has already paid Sequoia $7.8 million of their $23.8 million contract with Sequoia.

"Nothing worked," Deborah Stein, board member of the Chicago Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois told the Tribune. "They must have worked for 15 to 20 minutes to get it together. They acknowledged that they had not run a test on it before today. So they're pulling it out of the box."

Scott Burnham, a spokesman for Cook County Clerk David Orr, said. "we will not make additional payments until we are satisfied with the system," he said.

The Chicago Tribune reported:

"There will be contract ramifications from their performance," said Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, noting that about $15 million of the city's portion of the Sequoia contract remains unpaid.As the counting continues, the lack of final totals has left several area communities uncertain about referendum outcomes for libraries and other projects. With 96 percent in, a tight race also remains for the Republican nomination in the 15th District for the Cook County Board between Carl Hansen and Timothy Schneider.

Read the Entire Article

Indiana: ES&S Failure To Inform
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - March 21, 2006

Company Decides It's Better to Cover-up Than Inform

On March 20, the state of Indiana asked representatives of Election Systems & Software (ES&S) to attend a meeting to respond to questions about the failure of 85% of the iVotronic Personal Electronic Ballots (PEB) used in Marion County. Verified Voting describes the PEB:

A poll worker uses a device called a Personal Electronic Ballot (PEB; pictured above at left) to turn the machine on and enable voting. Voters choose their ballot language and then make their selections using a touchscreen, much in the same way that modern ATMs work. When the polls close, poll workers move summary data from each machine onto the PEB. The PEBs are then transported to election headquarters or their contents transmitted via a computer network. Last week ES&S was also told that the state wanted to know more about the memory card failures in Ohio.

On Friday the Indiana Secretary of State's Office received a letter (linked and quoted in full below) from ES&S in which the company explained the issue with the memory cards. The letter does not make any mention of the fact that the memory card problem was also found in North Carolina.

It was reported that ES&S was asked in the March 20 testimony, under oath, if there had been problems elsewhere. I have been told that they denied that there were any other problems except those in Summit County, Ohio. The Indiana SoS Office now has a copy of the articles from North Carolina.

Indiana and ES&S have a history. In March 2004 it was discovered that ES&S had installed an uncertified version of firmware in the iVotronics in four counties. When confronted, representatives agreed to reinstall the certified version. Then it was determined that the certified version didn't tabulate the votes correctly, so the state and counties allowed the use of the uncertified version but required ES&S to put up a $10 Million bond to insure against problems and lawsuits.

Also of interest is that there seem to have been ES&S PEB failures two weeks ago in Texas. News of those failures has also been passed on to the Indiana SoS Office. Read the Entire Article

Iowa House Stalling Voting Bill
by Carole Simmons, Iowans for Voting Integrity - March 24, 2006

This letter to the editor was published in The Ottumwa Courier. It is reposted with permission of the author.

Iowa House majority leadership is stalling a bill that benefits all voters, and instead pushing a bill that will likely cause more problems than it solves.

With the recent purchase of paperless touchscreen voting machines in over 60 counties, many Iowans will be unable to verify that their votes are correctly recorded. Their ballots - in the form of proprietary computer code - are hidden from view.

Iowa needs passage of SF351 to require voter-verified paper records. This will make meaningful audits and recounts possible, and increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections. It is a truly nonpartisan measure, and both Democratic and Republican candidates for secretary of state have spoken in support of it.

But instead of taking action on SF351, House leaders are pushing a bill to require government-issued voter ID cards at the polls. This despite any evidence of a problem in Iowa with people impersonating registered voters. Requiring IDs may lead to delays at the polls, as voters without IDs will have to use provisional ballots. Delays and provisional ballots are known to decrease voter participation and confidence in elections.

Voter-verified paper trails will increase voter confidence. The House leadership should act in the public interest and pass SF351 now.

Louisiana: NOW Echoes Demand for Fair Elections for Hurricane Katrina Survivors
National Organization of Women - March 24, 2006

In less than a month, the city of New Orleans will hold an election in which hundreds of thousands of residents are expected to cast votes, despite the fact that many of them are thousands of miles from home and not informed about the candidates - or even that an election is being held.

NOW stands today on behalf of its half-million contributing members with the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the NAACP, the National Urban League and other civil rights leaders to call for the highest officials in the state and federal governments to ensure fair and accessible elections so that every New Orleanian has a vote and a voice in the political process that will directly impact their lives and their futures.

By pre-clearing the April 22 election, the U.S. Department of Justice disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of already-marginalized men and women, in clear disregard for democratic principles and their fundamental rights. These elections have been tainted before they have even been held. And the attorney general had - and still has - time for a change of mind and a change of heart and can bring justice for those survivors who have, thus far, seen so little. Read the Entire Article

Maryland: New York Times Supports Paper Ballots in Maryland
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - March 23, 2006

The New York Times published the following editorial today about the situation in Maryland. Because it's Maryland the focus is on Diebold. But the real issue is unveriafiable electronic voting machines. The issue is also the cost of maintaining those machines, which Maryand's Governor Robert Ehrlich pointed out in a letter to the State Board of Elections, has increased by over 1000% in the three years since Maryland make the mistake of sinking $65 million of their taxpayers money into them.

The editorial, entitled "Common Sense in Maryland", also mentions the recent primary election meltdown in Texas where 100,000 extra votes were somehow added by electronic voting machines made by Hart Intercivic. As the editorial notes "disturbing electronic voting glitches that have by now become common."

Diebold, the electronic voting machine maker, suffered another sharp setback recently, when Maryland's House of Delegates voted 137-to-0 to drop its machines and switch to paper ballots. The vote came in the same week that Texas held elections marred by electronic voting troubles. Maryland's State Senate should join the House in voting to discontinue the use of the Diebold machines, and other states should follow Maryland's lead.

Maryland was one of the first states to embrace Diebold. But Maryland voters and elected officials have grown increasingly disenchanted as evidence has mounted that the machines cannot be trusted. In 2004, security experts from RABA Technologies told the state legislature that they had been able to hack into the machines in a way that would make it possible to steal an election. Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat, informed the State Board of Elections in 2004 that voters had complained to her that machines had mysteriously omitted the Senate race.

The Maryland House's bill calls for replacing the Diebold machines with optical scanning machines for this fall's elections. Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr., once a Diebold supporter, has said he'll sign the bill if the State Senate agrees. Optical scanning machines would be a vast improvement. Voters using them fill out paper ballots, which are scanned electronically. Those ballots are a permanent record that can (and should) be used to double-check the machine results. Although time is short, Maryland should be able to get optical scanning machines operating by the fall. Even though the Board of Elections has been resisting the proposal, that should not stop the General Assembly and the governor from fighting for machines that voters will trust. The Maryland House voted days after Texas held an election with the sort of disturbing electronic voting glitches that have by now become common. In Tarrant County, as many as 100,000 extra votes appeared on the machines — election officials insisted that they knew which ones to eliminate to make the results correct. In a hotly contested Congressional race in another part of the state, results were delayed by programming errors in the machines used in two crucial counties.

Many states have passed laws requiring paper records for electronic voting. What is happening in Maryland is important, because not a single member of the House stood behind the once popular Diebold machines. It is just the latest indication that common sense is starting to prevail in the battle over electronic voting.

Stop the Madness! Contact Maryland State Senator Mike Miller and Senator Paula Hollinger and tell them you want verifiable elections in Maryland!  Send emails to Senator Miller thomas.v.mike.miller@senate.state.md.us, Senator Hollinger paula.colodny.hollinger@senate.state.md.us and the members of the Senate Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs and then call Senator Miller 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3700 and Senator Hollinger (410) 841-3131. Contact information for the entire committee is available here.

New York: Motion to Intervene Denied in HAVA Lawsuit
by New Yorkers for Verified Voting - March 24, 2006

The Motion to Intervene in the Department of Justice/New York State HAVA lawsuit filed by New Yorkers for Verified Voting, the League of Women Voters of New York State, and other New York State citizens was denied today in U.S. District Court. Judge Gary Sharpe expressed concern about keeping the case from getting unwieldy if too many parties became involved. The Court held open the possibility that the proposed Intervenors may be allowed to participate later, at a point when a specific plan for HAVA compliance has been proposed.

In another positive development, Judge Sharpe pressed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to concede that it is not seeking to force the remedy called for in the original complaint, which called for "full and complete" HAVA compliance by September.  The DOJ attorney signaled that they do not intend to try to force full compliance this year, and understand that there are physical constraints on what could be realistically accomplished in the
remaining time.

In a new development, the Court ordered the State Board of Elections to produce a proposed compliance plan by April 10.  The Department of Justice will then have 10 days to react.  At that point, the Court will evaluate the plan and determine how to proceed. The State Board has indicated that it is still working out the details of an interim solution.

"Our constitutional right to vote and to have those votes accurately counted must be protected." said Bo Lipari, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting. "We believe that our Motion to Intervene should have been granted, so that New York State citizens have a voice in the outcome. However, we are encouraged that the Court has held the door open for us to participate later, when a specific plan is on the table."

North Carolina: A Statement Before The House Ethics Committee
by Andrew G. Silver, North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting - March 25, 2006

The following statement was made before the North Carolina H ouse Ethics Committee on March 24, 2006. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

During the past decade, The North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBOE) has allowed the deployment of many different insecure and unreliable electronic systems while seeking no technical assistance from qualified computer security experts and requiring no independent review of the computer code. If the SBOE had been doing its job with competence and integrity, there would have been no need for new legislation setting standards for voting equipment in North Carolina and requiring a code of ethics.

Under the SBOE's guidance, the North Carolina electoral system has become a poster child for election mismanagement and breakdown, with the irretrievable loss of  4438 votes in Carteret county in 2004. There have been dozens of other reported instances of electronic voting irregularities in the state and no one can know how many undetected instances.

Most computer scientists with academic status are strongly critical of electronic voting, while those who advocate it most strongly are election officials who have no particular understanding of how the machines work, but place their trust in private companies to relieve them of the burden of handling paper ballots or counting votes. This amounts, in effect, to the privatization of elections, wherein the recording and tabulation of votes are automatically performed by systems controlled by private corporations with no accountability and with no way for the public to witness the counting of votes.

Having votes recorded electronically without expert public oversight is what election integrity activists call faith-based voting. The new law requiring a paper trail and independent review of computer code is a first step only toward reclaiming the election process from private hands, but many local officials and members of boards of elections are seeking to cancel or weaken this law. Read the Entire Articleb

Summit County Ohio Threatens Legal Action Against ES&S
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - March 22, 2006

Vendor is accused of doing the work of three men, 'Larry, Curly, and Moe'

This article was posted on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission.

Summit County has recently had problems with failed memory cards as related by BRAD BLOG on March 9 and March 10. The problems in Summit County concerned a 30% failure rate found in pre-election testing for those cards. That problem alerted folks in North Carolina to test those same cards on their own ES&S machines where they discovered last week that more than 1000 of them failed to work!

Now that those problems have been in the media (Yes, even the MSM has reported the problems) the vendor has decided to not be cooperative with Summit County, OH.

The ES&S on-site project manager was not allowed by the company to attend a board of elections meeting to explain why there were problems with memory cards. Board members have also complained that ES&S staffers installing the system have suddenly become cold and getting any information is "like pulling teeth". Read the Entire Article

Oregon: A Contract "Glitch" for Oregon's Disabled Voters
by Kathy Jackson, Oregon Voter Rights Coalition - March 26, 2006

Despite Contract Dispute with ES&S, State's HAVA Manager Says Many Disabled Oregonians will Find a New Way to Vote

According to a recent USA Today article, 2006 was predicted to be the season of the “glitch” as new voting equipment was deployed across the country. The sources quoted in the article were all referring to equipment glitches - and some of their fears have materialized as equipment malfunctions have been reported in Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, and Texas. And the spring primary election season has barely begun.

However, the Metro section of Monday's Oregonian brings to light another kind of election "glitch" - voting equipment vendors trying to dictate terms and use their muscle to change contract provisions at the last minute. There are three major players in the voting equipment market - Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia. Here in Oregon the counties use equipment from both ES&S and Sequoia, all using optical scan technology to count the paper ballots of our Vote By Mail system.

However, the article was "incomplete and out of date," according to Frank Garcia, Jr., manager of the state's HAVA program, since it refers only to problems with the availability of the ES&S AutoMark ballot marking assistive device. Read the Entire Article

Texas: Former Supreme Court Justice Considering Challenge To Primary Result
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - March 22, 2006

Inexplicable Tallies from Electronic Voting Machines in Tarrant County, Elsewhere in State Require Full Recount and/or Contest, According to Campaign Manager

'Serious mistakes were made,' Understates Candidate, Former Texas Justice Steve Smith

This article was published on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

A Conservative Republican former Texas Supreme Court Justice, who ran against a Republican opponent backed by Gov. Rick Perry, is considering a challenge to the tremendously flawed Primary Elections held in the state two weeks ago on new Electronic Voting Machines.

The campaign for Steve Smith (pictured at right) announced last week in a Press Release received only last night by The BRAD BLOG (and posted in full below) has filed a "Public Information Act request with the Tarrant County Elections Administrator seeking to review public documents relating to the Republican Party primary election in Tarrant County" on March 7th.

As discussed in their press release, but elaborated upon to The BRAD BLOG in an interview this afternoon with Smith's campaign manager, David Rogers, the results reported from all across the state seem to make little or no sense.

For example, though his was a statewide race, Smith's home county is Tarrant where in 2004, according to Rogers, Smith "outperformed the statewide results by 13%, but this year, according to the results, he underperformed the statewide results by 23%."

"Something doesn't make sense here," he noted, adding that turnout went up this year by 12,000 votes, but apparently a full "11,000 of them did not go to Smith."

Amongst the many concerns alleged by Smith's campaign are that audit tapes from the voting machines are only available on 103 of the 211 election day voting locations, making it impossible to audit all of the races. "No audit can be correctly performed on more than half of the machines in the state," says Rogers. Perhaps more troubling still, is this item from Smith's press release:

Winkler County, which went for Smith by margins of 260-92 (74%) and 468-249 (65%) in the 2002 and 2004 elections, went against Smith by an unbelievable 0-273 (100%) margin. Governor Perry received only 83% of the vote in Winkler County, and no other contested candidate topped 80%. The propositions on the ballot topped out at 93%.
Read the Entire Article

Texas Primary Recount Halted By Secretary of State
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - March 21, 2006

Hart Intercivic Touch-Screen Voting Machines in Tom Green County Fail To Print Ballots for All Votes in Mandated Recount!

Just reported by San Angelo (TX) Standard Times.

The Texas Secretary of State has stepped in to stop the recount of ballots being printed from the Hart Intercivic "eSlate" Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, touch-screen) voting machines during a mandated election recount. The stoppage of the recount is due to failure of the voting machines to print all ballots cast during the Texas state primary two weeks ago...

On orders from the Texas Secretary of State's office, the recount for the Tom Green County Court-at-Law No. 2 race has been suspended midway through its second day.

About 1:30 p.m. today, county Republican Chairman Dennis McKerley stopped the recount after workers found discrepancies of as much as 20 percent between what was counted Monday and what was reported Election Night.

"We’re having some trouble with the electronic equipment," McKerley said.

Apparently, McKerley said, new electronic voting machines provided by vendor Hart InterCivic are not printing ballots for every vote cast on the machines. During recounts, which must be done by hand, the machines are designed to print out separate ballots for every vote.

A Hart InterCivic representative is expected to arrive Wednesday morning, McKerley said, to determine whether or how to retrieve the remaining printouts.

The problem affects early votes cast in what appears to be every precinct, McKerley said. All of commissioner’s Precinct 1 was affected, he said, as were all the randomly selected voting precincts in other parts of the county.

Although sign-in sheets match the counts provided by the machines on Election Night, he said, the number of printouts does not match the sign-in sheets.

More than 3,000 early votes were cast in the race between Assistant County Attorney Julie Hughes, incumbent Judge Penny Roberts and former prosecutor Dan Edwards, meaning the problem likely affects more than 600 votes of the 9,500 cast early and on Election Day.

Just 12 votes separate third-place finisher Edwards from second-place finisher Roberts to see who will face Hughes in the April runoff election. Edwards requested and paid for the recount."
This is another instance where a voter verified paper ballot would have saved the day for voters and voting officials.

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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