Election Integrity News - April 4, 2006

This Week's Quote: "Each voter should have the knowledge—and the confidence—that his or her vote was recorded and counted as intended. Passage of The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibilty Act will be a big step in restoring that confidence, which is the very foundation of our democratic republic.” U.S. Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey


Actions to Take Now

All U.S. Citizens: Demand Fair Elections in Florida!

Nationwide: Support Emery County UT Clerk Bruce Funk

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

The Long Road to a Reliable Voting System

HR 550 and the EAC

The Truth About Diebold

Faith-Based Voting

News From Around the States

California: Democracy Crumbling - Voter Registration Database Rejects 43% of L.A. Voter Applications

California: Secretary of State Announces Voter Month While Making It Harder To Register

ACTION ALERT!! All U.S. Citizens: Demand Fair Elections in Florida!

Florida Attorney General Subpoenas Voting Machine Companies

Illinois: Chicago Ballot Chaos

Iowans Deserve Verifiable Elections

Democrats Fighting Hard For Diebold in Maryland

Sequoia E-Vote Systems Found 'Hackable' in Pennsylvania, Testing Shut Down After Machine Failures

Tennessee: A Vote That Can Be Verified

Texas Counties at Mercy of ES&S

Texas: Conservative Republican Supreme Court Justice Files Election Contest

Utah: County Clerk Refuses To Conduct Election With Diebold Machines

Utah: Bruce Funk is an American Hero


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

This week I find it impossible to make any of my "Top 5" the Number 1 story above any of the rest of the "Top 5" so they are all designated "Number 1". Pay no attention to the order in which they are posted; that's just the way they came up. The main stream media seems to have finally decided that they may want to begin reporting about voting machine problems.

It took a disaster in Illinois to wake them up, and that's the unfortunate thing. Things are so bad in Cook County and Chicago that one Alderman is quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying, "It is an embarrassment. It is a disgrace. And until such time as we find out what caused all this, I don't think this firm should be paid." Meanwhile the Chicago Sun Times reported information about the voting machine vendor responsible for the primary election debacle, Sequoia Voting Systems, and their parent company, Smartmatic, a Venezuelan owned company with possible ties to Hugo Chavez.

Meanwhile in Emery County Utah another hero for the voting activist community has stepped forward as County Clerk Bruce Funk allowed Black Box Voting.Org to have access to two of his Diebold TSx machines On Monday he voiced his decision to resign his position rather than endorse an election using those machines. The county commission heard Bruce say that he resigned, though he never submitted a written statement, but by Tuesday he had changed his mind, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, and stated "I plan to fulfill the term of my office. I was elected to this position by the people of Emery County." While this was unfolding Diebold decided that the inspection done by the BBV folks had affected all of the counties machines which would require $40,000 worth of inspection. Funk vows to watch every step that Diebold makes, even to a point of video-taping, while the county commission says that he no longer has a job working for the voters. The lawyers will have to work all of this out and let's hope whatever is worked out the voters come out on top for a change. UtahCountVotes.org has actions we can all take to help Funk and ultimately, his voters.

Last Wednesday Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist surprised a lot of people as he subpoenaed the state's three voting systems vendors; Diebold, Sequoia, and ES&S; to answer questions regarding their sales practices in the state. In a media release Crist announced, "The Attorney General's Civil Rights Division will be assisting the Antitrust Division because of the importance of securing accessible voting systems for all Floridians. The subpoenas are seeking information about whether the companies agreed among themselves not to do business with the county." Also in question is whether the three companies colluded to not sell voting machines to Leon County as some kind of punishment for the actions of Ion Sancho.

Pennsylvania's voting systems examiner, Prof. Michael Shamos, performed pre-certification testing and inspection on the new Sequoia Advantage voting machines that are destined for use in some counties in the state. These machines are 10 year old machines that were used in Clark County, Nevada in the past. They have been refurbished by Sequoia and audio has been installed for use by voters who are blind or vision impaired. The inclusion of the audio caused a "bug" to be installed in the WinEDS software. That "bug" was reported to Sequoia, who was on site and it was immediately fixed. However, that "bug repair" caused more "bugs" to appear. Finally, Professor Shamos stopped the testing process and told Sequoia to get all of their problems fixed and return with a good product. It is important to note that all of these "fixes" must lead to a final WinEDS that must be federally qualified along with the rest of the Advantage system. It must also all meet the 2002 Voting Systems Standards and all of this has to happen in enough time for the state to certify the machines for use prior to the state's primary in May.

The arrogance of the voting machine vendors reared its ugly head this past week in counties across Texas with most of the reporting of this incident coming from Jefferson County. iVotronic voting machines manufactured by Elections Systems and Software (ES&S) were used in the Texas state primary last month and were due to be used in this months run-off elections. However, the machines performed so poorly in the primary that the counties demanded that ES&S repair the problems or the final payments for the machines would be withheld until they did make the fixes satisfactorily. Rather than work to satisfy their customers ES&S refused to do any work, including printing ballots and programming the machines for the upcoming run-off elections. The counties needed those services or they would be forced to use paper ballots so they found themselves between a rock and ES&S and they were finally squeezed into making the vendor happy. The Secretary of State's office was complicit in this strong-arming as they took the time to remind the county that if they did not have the machines ready they risked losing HAVA funds and risked being investigated by the DoJ for HAVA Section 301 violations.


National Coalition for Election Integrity

Tell Congress We Need Verifiable Elections

Hundreds of citizens will be traveling to Washington, D.C. this week to demand immediate passage of The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550) as written. After a press conference on April 7, a petition signed by over 50,000 voters from across the country will be delivered to the Committee on House Administration asking them to stop stalling this important legislation. Let Congress know that you want verifiable elections in every state. On April 6 and 7 call your Representative - if they're already a co-sponsor of HR 550 thank them - if they are not yet a co-sponsor, urge them to sign on immediately. You can find contact information for your Representative here or simply call the House of Representatives Switchboard 202-225-3121 and ask to be connected with your Representative. Then call the Committee on House Administration 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:

U.S. House of Represntatives Switchboard: 202-225-3121

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

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

National Stories

The Long Road to a Reliable Voting System
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - April 1, 2006

Among their many activities, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) chairs the Election Assistance Commission's Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC). The TGDC is responsible for the development of the nation's Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (VVSG), which although optional for the states, are pretty much mandatory for e-voting vendors who are expected to build to these standards. This is one reason why Diebold's use of interpreted code which is in violation of these standards, has come under so much scrutiny.

As previously reported one aspect of the VVSG itself that is severely deficient is its Hardware Reliability spec that allows almost 10% of e-voting systems to fail in any 15-hour Election Day. Such failures, especially of touch screen machines, have resulted in voter disenfranchisement, possibly even affecting the outcome of elections.

Suggestions for improving this standard (which dates back to 1990) made by experts such as Dr. Stanley A. Klein, Dr. Rebecca Mercuri and Alfred DuPlessis (a bona fide Reliability Engineer) as early as 2002, appear to have fallen on deaf ears in both the IEEE Voting Systems Standards Committee as well as the EAC itself as recently as last year when this issue was raised in public comments on the 2005 VVSG.

But in a March 29, 2006 plenary meeting of the TGDC, Dr. Alan Goldfine of NIST's Information Technology Lab expressed NIST's concerns about the lax Reliability spec. During a presentation of the 2007 VVSG draft, which would probably not go into effect until 2009, Dr. Goldfine made the following statements:

"I mentioned the Reliability requirement issue. Again, I don't want to get too deeply into it but basically it can be boiled down the one sentence that 'The Mean Time Between Failures of voting systems shall be at least 163 hours in duration.'"

Goldfine continued, "We're not totally sure of the history of this, where the number 163 came from. The feeling - the consensus that we've got - is that it's probably too small a number."

It would be an understatement to call this an understatement. Read the Entire Article

HR 550 and the EAC
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - March 31, 2006

As momentum builds for the passage of  The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550) introduced by Rep. Rush Holt's (pictured at right), some concerns have been expressed about some of the provisions in the bill. They are discussed below. HR 550 is a critical first step in repairing what's wrong with our electoral process. It would establish common sense safeguards - safeguards that have been adopted in many states already. The passage of HR 550 will be especially welcome in states that do not yet have those safeguards like Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, and many others.

Most people reading already know that HR 550 would require all voting systems used in federal elections to produce or require the use of a voter verified paper record of every vote, establish a nationwide requirement for random, unannounced manual audits of those records in 2% of the precincts in every State, and prohibit the use of undisclosed software and wireless communications devices in voting systems.
One aspect of the language of HR 550 that has not received much attention is the fact that it provides an opportunity for citizen-based voting integrity groups to actually conduct those manual audits themselves! It is important for everyone who reads this to know that that opportunity exists.  

The EAC Is Not A Regulatory Agency

Some of the questions raised about HR 550 involve  the role of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in HR 550. The EAC was created as part of the Help America Vote Act and it has  been suggested that the creation of this new agency, allows executive, i.e. Presidential, power over the nation's election systems.

Technically, the EAC is an "Independent Agency" and it's not as "new" as it looks; the EAC took over the duties of a pre-existing entity - the Office of Election Administration (OEA), which was part of the Federal Election Commission. Added to the OEA's pre-existing duties were the various oversight and standards-development responsibilities of the EAC as set forth in HAVA. The EAC does not have broad executive powers. Per Section 205 of the HAVA, the EAC can (1) hold hearings; (2) obtain information from other agencies (such as the FEC) as needed in order to carry out the provisions of the Act; (3) send mail; and (4) engage in contracts.

The EAC has no rulemaking or regulatory powers. It cannot "postpone" elections. It cannot institute election "laws" that would effect the results of the 2006 elections.  HR 550 would not change the non-regulatory nature of the EAC. HAVA says explicitly (in Section 209) that the EAC "shall not have any authority to issue any rule, promulgate any regulation, or take any other action which imposes any requirement on any State or unit of local government" other than as already authorized under the National Voter Registration Act. Keep in mind, the "voluntary voting systems guidelines" developed under EAC oversight are just that - "voluntary."  Other materials available on the EAC website constitute "guidance" and recommended "best practices," not "mandates."

The EAC has been a disappointment to election activists. It has not fulfilled its mandate to serve as a "clearing house" of information on voting systems. It has been unresponsive to citizen concerns about the accuracy, cost, and reliability of electronic voting systems and seems to be more concerned about the interests of election officials and the voting industry than voters. However, it is too weak as an agency to pose a threat in the ways that have been suggested. Read the Entire Article

The Truth About Diebold
by Susan Pynchon, Florida Fair Elections Coalition - March 30, 2006

What A Recent Report of California Computer Scientists Tells Us About The Vulberability of Diebold's Voting Machines

Last December, California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson asked an advisory board of computer scientists to conduct a security review of the memory card components for both Diebold's AccuVote-OS (optical scan) and AccuVote-TSx (touchscreen with voter verified paper audit printer) voting systems. The report, "Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuBasic Interpreter", which was released by the California's Voting System Technical Assessment and Advisory Board (VSTAAB) in February, confirmed numerous security vulnerabilities in Diebold's electronic voting systems.  

Any legislator or elections official who recommends the purchase of the Diebold TSx without reading the entire California report should be considered grossly negligent. It's hard to imagine that anyone who read this report would even consider buying anything other than optical scan voting machines. The report warns, "successful attacks can only be detected by examining the paper ballots. There would be no way to know that any of these attacks occurred; the canvass proce dure would not detect any anomalies, and would just produce incorrect results. The only way to detect and correct the problem would be by recount of the original paper ballots."

The original goal of the VVSTAB scientists was to verify the results of an earlier test of voting system security that was performed in Leon County, Florida. The Leon County test, conducted by Finnish computer programmer Harri Hursti, definitively proved that election results can be altered on a Diebold voting system, without detection, by using a single memory card. The computer scientists, who conducted only a limited review of the Diebold source code, not only confirmed the validity of the "Hursti Hack" - they also discovered 16 other serious security "bugs," each of which could be exploited to alter election results without detection.

And the report cautions that "these are just the bugs we were able to find; there are quite possibly others we did not notice". Elsewhere in the report they reiterate, "There may, of course, be additional bugs, or [different] kinds of bugs, that we did not find." The report also confirms that the Diebold TSx (touch-screen) has many of the same vulnerabilities as the optical scan system that was tested in Leon County. 

The scientists wrote, "Clearly there are serious security flaws in the current state of the AV-OS [optical scan] and AV-TSx [touch-screen] software." The scientists state that the security vulnerability exploited by Harri Hursti cannot be cured by rewriting the source code. They do note that the 16 additional bugs that were uncovered, while serious and able to change election results without detection, are "easily fixable" through a code re-write, but they go on to say that the real problem lies with the Accubasic language and the "interpreted code" used by the Diebold system. The report notes:  "Interpreted code in general is prohibited by the 2002 Federal Election Commission Voting System Standards and its successor standard, the Election Assistance Commission's Voluntary Voting System Guidelines due to take effect in two years. In order for the Diebold software architecture to be in compliance, it would appear that the AccuBasic language and interpreter have to be removed, or the standard will have to be changed." 

Since there are valid security reasons why interpreted code is not allowed under the current standards, the only legitimate action would appear to be to the removal of the AccuBasic language and interpreter. This would essentially involve redesigning the entire Diebold system. Read the Entire Article

Faith-Based Voting
by Robert C. Koehler, Tribune Media Services - March 30, 2006

'Without procedural integrity, you have nothing'

This article was published on Common Wonders on March 30, 2006.

Oh, those glitches!

For some reason we tolerate them a lot more in an election - that is to say, in the mechanics of democracy, something we affect to believe in so fervently we're willing to go to war to make sure other countries have it - than we would in, let's say, our banking system.

Last week's primary election fiasco here in Chicago and Cook County - a fiasco of such ballot-eating magnitude that the city and county, which each had separate deals with Sequoia Voting Systems, are withholding more than $30 million remaining on their respective contracts with that company - should have generated howls of outrage. Instead, the tone of the local coverage of the chaotic transition from punch cards to optical-scan and touch-screen voting struck me more as tepid bemusement.

Most infuriating was the scattershot use of the trivializing, blame-avoidance word "glitch," which reduces disenfranchisement to oh well, gosh, just one of those things. The media can live with glitches. They still get their numbers to report. They still get "results," which, in our world of breathless headlines and two-second sound bites, are all that matter. Voting - democracy - is the booster engine that produces winners, then quietly disappears.

The operative assumption is that, despite the chaos, vulnerability to fraud and enormous cost, electronic voting is inevitable, "modern." And once you eliminate the human-error factor, it's, you know, infallible.

This, of course, is preposterous; every line of code in a voting program was written by a human. Our vote is hostage to a flawed, secret system of counting that almost no one understands. Read the Entire Article

From Around the States

California: Democracy Crumbling - Voter Registration Database Rejects 43% of L.A. Voter Applications
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - March 29, 2006

26% Rejected State-Wide in California! Applications That Don't Match EXACTLY With DMV Records are Automatically Dumped by New System!

California's League of Women Voters Sends Letter of Objection to Secretary of State

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

We've been dreading this. And you're not gonna like it either.

It's an entirely new can of worms in the Electronic Rape of American Electoral Democracy. The next wave -- beyond the electronic voting machines, and perhaps even more alarming -- in the arsenal of those out to game the system for partisan advantage.

No matter what we do, no matter how many successes, the Bad Guys - those who hate Democracy and American Values - are always one step ahead of us, it seems.

The horrifically written and, of course, ironically named "Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002" requires, as of January 1, 2006, each state to implement "a single, uniform, official, centralized, interactive computerized statewide voter registration list."

And guess who's writing the software for it, in California, Ohio and elsewhere? That's right...our old friends at Diebold, Inc.

While we've put off reporting on much of this until now -- as prompted by story out today (in the MSM of all places!) -- we've been working on an extremely disturbing part of this story for some time relating directly to all of this out in, you guessed it, Ohio. We've yet to run the story for a number of reasons. But we hope to have much more on it, in all its troubling detail, in the not-too-distant future.

For today, however, we'll stick to the report coming out of California in this morning's Los Angeles Times which says that, since the first of year, when California's new computerized Voter Registration Database has gone state-wide, Los Angeles County has "rejected 14,629 people - 43% of those who registered from Jan. 1 to March 15."

The rejections occur, amongst other reasons, due to failures of exact matching between voter applications and the state's motor vehicle registration (DMV) database to which they are now auto-magically compared. So, if a voter registers (or re-registers after moving to a new location) as "Brad Friedman" but has "Bradley Friedman" on his driver's license, he'll be auto-kicked out of the voter registration system and may not find out until he shows up at the polls on Election Day! That is, if he even knows where to show up since he may no longer receive sample ballots and poll location information etc. in the mail!...

Jacqueline Jacobberger, the president of the League of Women Voters in California sent a letter yesterday (posted in full at the end of this article) to California's Sec. of State Bruce McPherson -- who is credited in the LA Times story as being behind the design and installation of the new system -- objecting to the new Voter Registration Database and the way it's being implemented. Read the Entire Article

California: Secretary of State Announces Voter Month While Making It Harder To Register
by California State Senator Debra Bowen - March 30, 2006

Want to Register or Re-register to Vote?
Whoa, not so fast, you're a "Mike" not a "Michael" 

State Senator Bowen Notes Arony as Secretary of State Declares April "California Voter Education & Participation Month" At the Same Time He's Preventing Eligible Californians From Registering To Vote

Just days after it was revealed that an agreement between the Bush Administration and Secretary of State Bruce McPherson (pictured at right with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) is preventing tens of thousands of Californians from registering and re-registering to vote, the Secretary of State today proclaimed April as "Voter Education & Participation Month."

The irony wasn't lost on Senator Debra Bowen, the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee.

"It's ironic to see him proclaim April as 'voter participation month' after he signed a landmark agreement with President Bush's Department of Justice that makes it hard for people to register and re-re-register to vote in California," said Bowen.  "The deal he cut with the Bush Administration nearly five months ago has been a disaster for anyone who is trying to register for the first time or re-register because they moved, got married and need to change their name, or because they want to change parties."

The Bush-McPherson agreement was announced on November 2, 2005, and emergency regulations were adopted to implement it with little or no public notice on December 12.  The Help America Vote Act requires states to have a Statewide Voter Registration Database and requires all voter registrations (and re-registrations) to be matched against any prior registration information and information in the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database and the Social Security Administration (SSA) database.  However, states have discretion over how exact the match has to be, as well as what happens to people whose voter registration forms don't exactly match the DMV or SSA records. Read the Entire Article

ACTION ALERT!! All U.S. Citizens: Demand Fair Elections in Florida!
by VoteTrustUSA - April 3, 2006

As we learned in 2000, Florida's flawed election laws affect not only Florida voters but all U.S. citizens. Yet Florida officials continue to promote paperless touch-screen voting machines, ensuring that Florida voters will be denied verifiable, secure, and auditable elections. To make matters worse, Florida's Division of Elections pushed through regressive election laws in 2005, including a prohibition against full manual recounts of paper ballots under any circumstances.

You can help! And it will only take one moment of your time. Several good election reform bills have been submitted to the Florida Legislature, which is currently in session. The Florida Fair Elections Coalition, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections, Broward Verified Voting, Palm Beach Coalition for Election Reform, Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay, and VoteTrustUSA have launched a nationwide citizen action in support of election reform in Florida. Together, we can make a difference in Florida and the nation.

Click on the link below, follow the instructions on the each page and the following email will be automiatically sent to ALL Florida legislators demanding fair, transparent, verifiable, accessible, auditable and secure elections in Florida. You can edit the text of the email or send as written. You do NOT need to be a Florida resident.

Click On This Link To Send This Email To ALL Florida State Legislators
Dear Florida Legislator,

With the 2006 elections quickly approaching, it is critical that the Florida legislature take action to ensure that Florida citizens and the nation have confidence in the integrity of Florida elections. Unfortunately, that is not currently the case. While the majority of states have passed legislation supporting verifiable, auditable elections, Florida has steadfastly moved in the opposite direction. The Florida Department of State has continued to promote touch-screen voting machines that do not provide a paper trail despite indisputable evidence that these machines have serious security vulnerabilities. To make matters worse, in 2005 the Florida Division of Elections pushed through several regressive election bills prohibiting the full manual recounts of paper ballots under any circumstances, allowing mass challenges of voters with no recourse other than to vote a provisional ballot, and mandating the breakdown of early voting results by precinct, a practice that will undoubtedly compromise many voters' right to a secret ballot.

Florida Attorney General Subpoenas Voting Machine Companies
by Charles Crist, Florida Attorney General - March 29, 2006

The following announcement was released by Florida Attorney Genreal Charles Crist on March 29, 2006.

Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that his office has issued investigative subpoenas to the three companies certified to provide voting machines to Florida's counties. The subpoenas seek copies of documents relating to sales of voting machines by Diebold Election Systems, Inc., Election Systems & Software, Inc., and Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. in Florida since January 2003.

The Attorney General's Civil Rights Division will be assisting the Antitrust Division because of the importance of securing accessible voting systems for all Floridians. The subpoenas are seeking information about whether the companies agreed among themselves not to do business with the county.

Copies of the subpoenas are available at:




It is critical for our democratic process to work efficiently and effectively, but of most importance, fairly, said Crist. These subpoenas are to ensure that the rights of our voters with disabilities as well as all Florida voters are secured.

Crist's office began the investigation in early February. Diebold, Elections Systems and Sequoia have supplied voting equipment to every Florida county for several years. Part of the Attorney General's investigation will look into how the companies marketed their voting machines to each of the counties. Another part of the investigation is to determine why all three companies declined to sell voting equipment to Leon County, placing the county at odds with the federal Help America Vote Act.

Illinois: Chicago Ballot Chaos
by Christopher Bollyn - March 26, 2006

New Computer Vote Machines Malfunction, Unverifiable

This article appeared in The American Free Press on March 26, 2006.

Chicago's use of a flawed computerized voting system operated by a privately held foreign company reveals how meaningless and absurd the "democratic" process in America has become. Having observed voting systems across Europe, from Serbia, Germany and Estonia to Holland and France, this reporter has noted that the most honest and transparent elections are also the most simple.

The more complicated methods of voting, such as the unverifiable computerized voting systems widely used across the United States, lack the most essential element of democratic elections - transparency.

The $50 million touch-screen and optical-scan voting system provided by Sequoia Voting Systems failed across Chicago and suburban Cook County during the March 21 Illinois primary. However, the leading corporate-controlled newspapers merely lamented the failures of the system without addressing its fundamental flaws or even reporting that the company running the election is foreign-owned.

The "high-tech" computerized voting system was "cumbersome" and "slow," one mainstream Chicago newspaper reported. The machines failed across the county causing "plenty of frustration and confusion for voters," the paper reported. The ballots and votes from more than 400 precincts were still uncounted two days after the election due to machine malfunctions and lost memory cartridges which contain the results.

Reports from other dailies noted that as of noon Wednesday, Chicago was missing memory cartridges from 252 polling stations while Cook County officials "couldn't find" the results from 162 suburban precincts.

Election officials tried to assure the public that although nobody knew where all the ballots and computerized memory cartridges were, they were "most assuredly not lost." Read the Entire Article

Iowans Deserve Verifiable Elections
by Sean Flaherty, Iowans for Voting Integrity - April 3, 2006

Iowa's lawmakers have, for the last year, come close to enacting a law to require that all computerized voting machines used in our elections produce a paper record of each vote, a record that each voter can see before he or she leaves the polling place. This is an essential step toward securing our elections, but there are equally crucial measures that must be taken to prevent potential election fraud. A paper trail is not enough. A paper trail matters only is if it is used in a recount, and losing candidates are loathe to ask for recounts. We must also require rigorous independent testing of the software in voting machines, and do random hand audits of a sample of the paper trail.

The votes in our state's, and in fact, the entire country's elections, are counted mostly by computer machines designed and sold by a handful of companies, including Diebold Election Systems, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Election Systems and Software (ES&S). ES&S claims on its website that it alone counts 56% per cent of the votes in the United States. Iowa's counties, according to the Secretary of State's website, use almost exclusively election equipment sold by ES&S or Diebold.

The software on these machines is a trade secret. And, amazingly, the only real testing of their software is done by for-profit companies that are paid by the voting machine vendors. So no one outside the vendor or the testing companies they pay has a throrough sense of the software counting our votes. Read the Entire Article

Democrats Fighting Hard For Diebold in Maryland
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - March 28, 2006

That's Right - Democratic State Senator Paula Hollinger Is Diebold's Best Friend In The Maryland Legislature!

There is overwhelming support for verifiable elections in Maryland. The House of Delegates recently unanimously passed a bill that would require a voter verified paper record of every vote and a mandatory random manual audit of 5% of those records. The bill included an amendment that calls for leasing optical scan equipment for this year's elections. Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich has strongly supported the switch to a paper ballot optical scan system. The New York Times weighed in with an editorial calling for "common sense" in Maryland.

So why isn’t anything happening? Two powerful state Senate Democrats - Senate president Mike Miller and the char of the committee to which the bill was referred Senator Paula Hollinger (pictured at right) - seem to be determined to protect Diebold in Maryland - and they're willing to waste millions of Maryland taxpayer dollars to do it!

It is the official position of the Democratic National Committee that a paper ballot optical scan voting system is more accurate, affordable, and with the use of ballot marking devices, provides the same accessibility for disabled voters. However, it is Republicans who are working on behalf of Maryland's voters to ensure confidence in the state's elections. Governor Ehrlich has twice asked for funding to be appropriated for leasing optical scan equipment for this year. Senator Hollinger took the first request - $21.8 million - and diverted the money to purchase electronic pollbooks from - you guessed it - Diebold.

Now Senator Hollinger is cooking up even more lucrative plans for her friends at Diebold. Apparently she is considering three proposals:

1. Scrap the state’s current Diebold TS-R6 touchscreen machines, which cannot be retrofitted with printers, for the new TSx touchscreens. That would transfer $60 million of Maryland taxpayer money into Diebold's bank account.

2. Purchase one TSx for every precinct in 2006, which makes no sense at all since some voters would have the benefit of a voter verified paper record while others wouldn't and the configuration of R6s and TSx has not received federal certification.

3. A pilot project in 5 precincts, the same the strategy used by Democrats in Virginia and Georgia, who want to bury the whole idea of verified voting with meaningless "pilot projects".

All these proposals have one thing in common - lots of Maryland taxpayer dollars for Diebold. Why is Senator Hollinger so determined to pad Diebold's profits?

Stop the Madness! Contact Maryland State Senator Paula Hollinger and tell her you want paper ballots in Maryland!  Send emails to Senator Hollinger paula.colodny.hollinger@senate.state.md.us and the members of the Senate Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs and then follow up with a call to Senator  Senator Hollinger (410) 841-3131. Contact information for the entire committee is available here.

Sequoia E-Vote Systems Found 'Hackable' in Pennsylvania, Testing Shut Down After Machine Failures
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - March 30, 2006

'Software Clearly Unstable,' Says Testing Official Who 'Transformed Handful of Votes into Thousands...in an Instant'

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

Ten-Year Old E-Voting Systems from Nevada Planned for First Time Use in Pennsylvania This Year

Meanwhile...in Pennsylvania's Allegheny County, where plans to use Diebold's hackable Electronic Voting Equipment have recently been nixed, Plan B seems to be failing too. The machines they'd hope to use instead, as made by Sequoia Voting Systems, have now been shown to be hackable as well.

Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette picked up on the story yesterday, and followed up today on the testing being run in Allegheny County by Dr. Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon University professor, on the "new" Sequoia Voting Machines. The county had hoped to use these systems -- ten-year old Sequoia "Advantage" machines as purchased from Clark County, Nevada who is moving to a different Sequoia system -- in their upcoming Primary Elections in May. That plan, now may be in grave doubt.

The testing of the machines has found so many problems - including Shamos' findings during "tampering tests" that he was able to instantly "transform a handful of votes into thousands" - that he has now simply shut down the entire process described as "pointless" due to all of the errors in the software. Read the Entire Article

Tennessee: A Vote That Can Be Verified
The Nashville Tennessean Editorial - March 30, 2006

The following editorial was published in the Nashville Tennessean on March 30, 2006.

Many Tennessee counties are about to spend millions of dollars to purchase voting equipment. Officials have a duty to ensure that the new machines will be reliable.

The 2002 Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, requires that all states address any problems with voting equipment, voter rolls and access to voters with disabilities by this year's election. With the primary in August, that means the Tennessee counties that are replacing voting machines have a short timetable to select equipment, install it and train their election workers. The state has received $55 million in federal funds to update voting equipment and procedures.

A grass-roots group Safe Vote Tennessee is urging counties to purchase equipment using Voter Verifiable Paper Ballots, or VVPB, instead of touch-screen machines. These electronic machines allow the voter to manually mark a ballot that is then read by an optical scanner.

Several states have passed laws requiring voting equipment that produces a paper record. In Tennessee Rep. Gary Moore and Sen. Joe Haynes are sponsoring a bill that would impose a similar requirement. The Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, recommended that Congress pass a law requiring voter-verifiable paper audit trails on all electronic voting machines.

State Election Coordinator Brook Thompson says that touch-screen voting machines are reliable. In most cases, that's probably true. Yet when a technology glitch does occur with computerized voting equipment, it's a lulu. In an election in Texas this month, computerized equipment lost 100,000 votes of some 150,000 cast.

The botched 2000 president election and the subsequent passage of HAVA forced this nation and its experts in voting technology into a thorough search for the voting equipment that was the most reliable. The growing consensus among those experts is that equipment that produces a verifiable paper trail is the safest way to go. Given the stakes, why wouldn't Tennessee go with the system with the least possibility of mistakes and the means to audit votes if a problem does occur?

Texas Counties at Mercy of ES&S
by Veronica L. Castro, Texas Coalition for Voting Integrity - April 1, 2006

The elections drama that unfolded this week in Jefferson County, TX is an example of what can happen when an extraordinary amount of power is placed in the hands of a few. Democratic and Republican primary elections were being "held hostage" by iVotronic manufacturer ES&S. Jefferson county purchased iVotronic machines in order to comply with federal law by the first primary election of the year. On March 7, the iVotronics were in place, but the system was not. Database components were missing. The programming was flawed. There were equipment failures. County Clerk Carolyn Guidry stated tabulation errors led to votes being counted twice. She added that the ES&S personnel were ill-informed. The Jefferson County Commissioner's Court reviewed what happened on March 7 and concluded that ES&S was not fulfilling its contractual obligations. They decided to withhold payment until ES&S held up their end of the bargain. This is a standard practice; when homeowners or businesses hire a contractor, they do not pay the entire sum in advance but pay a portion when work begins. The remainder is paid when work is satisfactorily completed. Even though the March 7th election was problematic and far from satisfactory, ES&S demanded payment. The company stated that they would not provide programming and technical support for the run-off election until they were paid $1.95 million.

County officials knew they could not conduct the run-off election on iVotronics unless they had ES&S support. Assistant District Attorney Tom Rugg told the Beaumont Enterprise, "They are refusing to do things only they can do. Without ES&S programming, the system they say they've sold to us is essentially worthless."

Unable to put the voting machines to use, the County planned to use paper ballots for early voting, which begins Monday. "We're cutting and pasting from sample ballots," stated Chief Deputy County Clerk Theresa Goodness. County officials expressed concern about accessibility, but said if they did not reach an agreement with ES&S they would have to use paper ballots. The Secretary of State's office reminded Jefferson county officials that they risked losing federal money and sanctions from the Justice Department if they did not meet handicapped-accessibility requirements. Read the Entire Article

Texas: Conservative Republican Supreme Court Justice Files Election Contest
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - March 28, 2006

Former Judge Finds March 7th Texas Primary Results Fraught With 'Absolutely Egregious' Electronic Voting Machine Errors!

May Lead to First Independent Examination of Electronic Machines Made by Hart InterCivic and ES&S!

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

As The BRAD BLOG reported last week, a Conservative Republican former Texas Supreme Court Justice had been considering an Election Contest after electronic voting machine problems and inexplicable tallies plagued the first-in-the-nation March 7th primary in the Lone Star State.

Steve Smith (pictured at right) - who ran for election to the state Supreme Court, Place 2, in the Republican primary against an opponent backed by both Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry and the Bush family - will be filing an official Election Contest this afternoon in Travis County District Court, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

Since our previous report, the Smith for Supreme Court campaign has been examining election tallies around the state and report that they continue to find anomolies in virtually every county they look into.

"The more research we do, the more irregularities we find," campaign manager David Rogers told The BRAD BLOG this morning.

The problems are being found on machines made by both Hart InterCivic and Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S) -- the two major Electronic Voting Machine vendors supplying the state of Texas. Read the Entire Article

Utah: County Clerk Refuses To Conduct Election With Diebold Machines
by Patsy Stoddard, Editor, Emery County Progress - April 3, 2006

This article was published in The Emery County Progress.
Emery County Clerk Bruce Funk accepts the Diebold voting machines on Dec. 27, 2005. He is disenchanted with the machines and possible problems with them.
What started as a routine Emery County Commission meeting on March 21 ended in a flash of anger from Bruce Funk, Emery County Clerk. The drama began last November when the Emery County Commission approved the use of Diebold Election voting machines. The state of Utah voted to use the Diebold as the machine of choice statewide. The state agreed to foot the bill for the purchase of the machines for the counties.

Emery County took delivery of the Diebold machines on Dec. 27, 2005.

At the Feb. 7 commission meeting, Funk reported to the commission on the testing of the Diebold election machines with Diebold personnel. At that time he reported that six of 40 machines had failed and two of those had been repaired and the other four sent back to Diebold. Funk said the state was supposed to have tested the machines before sending them to the county. Bad batteries and jammed printers as well as machines with old elections stored on them were among the problems cited. The state was supposed to send new machines to the county.

During the citizen concerns portion of the meeting on March 21, Funk presented new information regarding the machines. He said as the county clerk it is his duty and responsibility to make recommendations to the commission and that is not an easy task. During the past year he has done a lot of research regarding the Diebold machines. He was willing to be part of the plan if the technology was good for Emery County.

He said on Jan. 31 Diebold sent four people down to do the testing of the Emery County machines. Of the 40 machines tested, Funk rejected six machines. Diebold repaired two machines on site and took four machines back with them. With one of the machines the paper track was off which causes paper jams.

Funk said he took one of the machines to the clerk's office so his staff could become familiar with the machine. This machine was among the ones rejected. Funk also said with the machines being unplugged for two weeks, he wanted to check the battery capacity of each machine and also check the paper feature to make sure it was working properly. He completed this process on 36 machines. Also he checked the machines for backup storage. Some of the machines contained seven megabytes of backup storage. The machines should hold between 25-28 megabytes of storage. Seven of the machines had eight megabytes of storage or less. Jeff Guymon, technology technician for the county checked the machines and cleared out past elections and increased the storage space from seven to 11 megabytes.

Funk was concerned about the past elections being on the machines, which he said proved the machines are not new. Read the Entire Article at The Emery County Progress. 

Utah: Bruce Funk is an American Hero
by Patsy Stoddard, Editor, Emery County Progress - April 3, 2006

Support Emery County Utah Clerk Bruce Funk. Click Here To Send an Email to the Emery County Commissioners.

 Mr. Bruce Funk, Emery County Clerk, should be thanked, not attacked, and his story told accurately.

Bruce Funk is a responsible elected official who has paid attention to problems in other states, he recognized the danger to democracy if we depend on the accuracy of  machines that break down easily or can be hacked into, altering votes. That is why he brought in the Finnish computer security specialist Harri Hursti, and an expert from Security Innovation, Inc., a company whose clients include McAffee Security, Symantec Security, the Department of Defense, and Microsoft to examine the Diebold TSx voting machines that his county had been required to purchase by the state of Utah.

Currently, there is an effort to strong-arm Mr. Funk out of office. Last week, following Mr. Funk's announcement that he would not use the Diebold machines, Lt. Governor Herbert's Chief of Staff Demma, Utah elections officer Cragun and legal counsel from Utah Attorney General's office flew into Emery, accompanied by a representative and a tech man from Diebold who threatened the county with punitive actions for testing their equipment.

No one seemed concerned that the integrity of Utah voting is at risk. Read the Entire Article

Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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