Election Integrity News - April 4, 2007
In this issue ...
News From Around the States
Despite what our policy-makes believe, election officials must routinely perform audits if we are to confirm the accuracy of the election. The pre- and post-election tests that we do to confirm our machines can count correctly are no substitute for a real audit of a portion of the voters ballots cast in an election. I leave it to the statisticians to determine what is the proper audit percentage to achieve an acceptable confidence level, but common sense and my own training convinces me that a tiered approach to auditing elections, in which more votes are audited the narrower the margin of victory, is reasonable.Opponents to mandatory audits may cite increased costs and a lack of time as reasons against mandating audits. All I can tell the critics is look at Florida. Today, the lack of trust in our election procedures, the lack of trust in our election administration is too high a price to pay.
In 2005 I put my professional career on the line by allowing independent security tests on our county’s voting machines. I was shocked by our findings, which can be seen on the documentary film “Hacking Democracy”. Those tests revealed that someone with insider access could alter the outcome of an election and not be detected using traditional canvassing procedures. Other panelists will address the serious security concerns by the current generation of voting systems, but my own experience confirms that only post-election audits of every voters’ vote can ensure the integrity of the American voting process.
In closing I urge this body to amend the Help America Vote Act to require mandatory random manual post-elections audits. Our citizens deserve no less. Permalink
|Testimony on Source Code Disclosure for the House Administration Elections Subcommittee
by David Wagner, Computer Science Division, University of California, Berkeley - March 15, 2007
following written testimony was submiitted for the public hearing of the Election
Subcommittee of the Committee on House Administration on March 15, 2007.
In my testimony today, I will address source code disclosure, the problems it is intended to solve, and its benefits and risks. There are peculiarities in the voting system market and regulatory process that complicate the transition to the disclosure of the voting system source code. While these peculiarities require that such a transition be carefully considered and managed, it is a transition that I view as important for sound elections, for three reasons: (1) security and reliability; (2) public confidence and transparency; and (3) oversight and accountability.
A primer on source code and its the role in elections
What is source code? Source code is the human-readable representation of the instructions that control the operation of a computer. Computers are composed of hardware (the physical devices themselves) and software (which controls the operation of the hardware). The software instructs the computer how to operate; without software, the computer is useless. Source code is the human readable form in which software is written by computer programmers. Source code is usually written in a programming language that is arcane and incomprehensible to non-specialists but, to a computer programmer, the source code is the master blueprint that reveals and determines how the machine will behave.
Source code could be compared to a recipe: just as a cook follows the instructions in a recipe step-by-step, so a computer executes the sequence of instructions found in the software source code. This is a reasonable analogy, but it is also imperfect. While a good cook will use her discretion and common sense in following a recipe, a computer follows the instructions in the source code in a mechanical and unfailingly literal way; thus, while errors in a recipe might be noticed and corrected by the cook, errors in source code can be disastrous, because the code is executed by the computer exactly as written, whether that was what the programmer intended or not. Also, computer software is vastly more complex than most recipes: while a typical recipe may contain perhaps a dozen steps and fits onto a single 3x5” index card, computer source code often contains hundreds of thousands of steps which, if printed, would fill up thousands of single-spaced 8.5x11” sheets of paper. Read the Entire Statement
|Rep. Gonzalez to Chair Committee on House Administration's Task Force
Rep. Charles Gonzalez Press Release - March 23, 2007
March 22, Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, Chairwoman of the Committee
on House Administration, formally announced the creation of a three member task
force to address matters concerning the November 2006 elections in Florida’s
13th Congressional District. Members of the task force will examine factors
surrounding the under-vote of approximately 18,000 votes, including issues with
election procedures, administration processes, voting machines, and ballots.
Conducting oversight of federal elections falls under the jurisdiction of the Committee on House Administration. While awaiting Ranking Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) to appoint a member of the Minority party to serve, Chairwoman Millender-McDonald named the following members to the task force: Congressman Charles Gonzalez (pictured at right) – Chair (D-TX) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).
Gonzalez issued the following statement on his appointment to chair this task force:
The right to vote is the very foundation of our nation’s democracy. Voters throughout our nation must be assured that their right to cast a ballot and have that vote counted is protected without compromise.
This task force will establish a transparent and fair process to address substantive concerns relating to different aspects of the November 7, 2006 election for United States Representative from the 13th Congressional District of Florida. Recognizing that the Constitution of the United States bestows the responsibility upon each House of Congress as the final judge of the ‘elections and returns’ of its own Members, the task force will present its findings to the full Committee on House Administration after a careful and thorough review of all relevant facts.”
|Protect E-Voting - Support H.R. 811
by Edward W. Felten, Professor, Department of Comouter Science, Princeton University - March 12, 2007
This article was posted on Prefessor Felten's blog Freedom to Tinker and is reposted here with permission of the author.
After a long fight, we have reached the point where a major e-voting reform bill has a chance to become U.S. law. I'm referring to HR 811, sponsored by my Congressman, Rush Holt, and co-sponsored by many others. After reading the bill carefully, and discussing with students and colleagues the arguments of its supporters and critics, I am convinced that it is a very good bill that deserves our support.
The main provisions of the bill would require e-voting technologies to have a paper ballot that is (a) voter-verified, (b) privacy-preserving, and (c) durable. Paper ballots would be hand-recounted, and compared to the electronic count, at randomly-selected precincts after every election.
The most important decision in writing such a bill is which technologies should be categorically banned. The bill would allow (properly designed) optical scan systems, touch-screen systems with a suitable paper trail, and all-paper systems. Paperless touchscreens and lever machines would be banned. Read the Entire Article
|Voting Machine Companies to Congress - All Your Votes Are Belong to Us!
by Joyce McCloy, North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting - March 27, 2007
Election Technology Council Comments on Help America Vote Act Amendments
The ITAA-Rlection Technology Council Document Can Be Downloaded Here (PDF)
The Election Technology Council (ETC) consists of companies that offer voting system technology hardware products, software and services to support the electoral process. They recently issued a document in response to proposed amendments to the Help America Vote Act. Some highlights with comments:
...this paper is intended to provide informative responses from the ETC to proposed federal legislation regarding voting system technology requirements....Listen to us, not those un-informed computer scientists and citizen activists!
The 2006 general election demonstrated the effective utilization of electronic voting stations (many with voter-verifiable paper audit trail printers) and optical scanners...The 2006 election went well??? Someone tell Christine Jennings.
The members of the ETC are committed to continuing to serve as partners with election officials to ensure that the mandates of HAVA are complied with in full. To achieve that goal, we wish to offer a number of observations and recommendations concerning key items that have been proposed in various items of legislation designed to amend HAVA.The voting machine lobby has paid good money (on cruises and dinners) to get election officials to listen to them, and wants Congress to listen too.
Voters have also expressed their support of early voting and the trend today is to expand this service as well as the concept of “vote centers” whereby an individual is not locked into voting at a certain precinct but rather may vote at a more convenient location.Vote Centers were pushed by The Election Center, another lobbying arm of the voting machine companies. Vote centers help sell DRE/touch-screens and Electronic Poll Books.
If the requirements placed on electronic voting become too onerous, many jurisdictions will simply replace their existing electronic voting equipment with optical scan ballots.The vendor lobby wants congress to think we need early voting (it doesn't increase turnout) and that we need DRE/touch-screens to perform early voting. (We don't, NC, NM and Florida use optical scan for early voting). They also throw the "language" card, to divide and conquer advocacy groups. Read the Entire Article
While optical scan technology presents a perfectly acceptable form of voting, in many instances it makes early voting impractical and expensive for many jurisdictions, as the need to have all ballot styles on hand in a paper form and in sufficient quantities for all required languages required in the jurisdiction for an early voting location is not always feasible.
|Rep. Susan Davis Introduces Bill to Track Mail-In Ballots
Rep. Susan Davis Press Release - March 22, 2007
Voters could check on incoming and outgoing mail-in ballots
Any voters who have worried whether the local election office has received their mail-in ballots would be able to track the status their ballots under a bill introduced by Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA, pictured at left). The Mail-In Ballot Tracking Act would require states to implement procedures for tracking, via the telephone and Internet, the growing number of mail-in ballots.
"Although voters across the nation are increasingly choosing to cast their ballots by mail because it is more convenient and they have more time to study their choices, many voters have been hesitant to do so because they fear their ballots would get "lost" in the system," said Davis. "Implementing ballot tracking systems will bring voters peace of mind and reduce the burden on elections offices which are often barraged with phone calls from voters trying to determine the status of their ballots."
In California's San Mateo County, mail-in ballots are tracked with great success. The process of tracking overnight packages by using the Internet and the telephone has been available for years. Davis sees no reason why ballots cannot be tracked using similar technology.
The United States Postal Service is currently introducing an "Intelligent Mail" system which, if applied to election mail, will allow voters to find out via the internet or the telephone which postal processing facility last handled their ballots and when they were handled there.
"Mail ballot tracking is a win-win for all," added Davis. "I believe it will increase voter participation as it increases peace of mind."
In January, Davis introduced the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (HR 281) to allow voters to vote by mail for any reason. Depending on the state, restrictions limit mail voting to various categories of people, including the elderly, individuals with disabilities or illness, members of the military, or students.
|Whose Election Fraud?
by Barbara Burt and Joanh Goldman - March 31, 2007
The following article appeared on tompaine.com and is reposted here with permission of the authors.
The scandal involving Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, some for alleged lack of vigor in pursuing voter fraud, provides us with a peek into the machinations of politicians who attempt to manipulate the election system for their own benefit. The rapidly unfolding facts highlight how unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud are used as a proxy for political decision-making designed to disenfranchise eligible Americans. It is a shame that some in the Justice Department, an agency with a noble history of defending the rights of all Americans to cast a ballot, are focusing instead on strategies to remove politically “undesirable” voters from the process.
Unfortunately, it is not just the Department of Justice that is taking advantage of this nefarious strategy. In the past few years, legislation requiring voters to show photo identification or even proof of citizenship has appeared on the docket in two-thirds of our state legislatures. Last year, the U.S. House passed a voter ID law, the justification for which was rampant voter fraud.
The problem is that there is no evidence that voter fraud affects our election outcomes. Do a few voters perpetrate fraud? Yes. But despite its insistence that voter fraud is enough of a problem to embroil otherwise high-performing United States attorneys in a scandal that may bring down the attorney general, the Department of Justice has convicted fewer than 100 people of voter fraud out of more than 275 million votes cast during the past five years.
The number of federal prosecutions is not the only evidence undermining the voter fraud argument. Read the Entire Article
|Hacking Democracy DVD Released
by Susan Pynchon, Florida Fair Elections Coalition - March 27, 2007
"It is hard to imagine...a documentary this season that is more important to the civic life of the nation--let alone one that is so compelling and ultimately moving." Baltimore Sun
The documentary film "Hacking Democracy", originally broadcast on
HBO, is being released today on DVD. The film takes a nonpartisan, clear-eyed
look at the secrecy, cronyism, and incompetence of elections in present-day
America as it captures a citizen's movement intent on taking back elections--and
For me personally, I know that talking to legislators who have seen this movie is like night and day compared to those who haven't seen it. The film definitely makes the "light bulb" go on as far as the vulnerability of electronic voting systems. I wish I could afford to send a copy to every legislator in the U.S.
Christine Jennings (Florida CD-13 contested race) has said, for example, that she has seen the movie twice. A local candidate in Volusia County who saw the film demanded a ballot inspection of her race (full manual recounts aren't allowed in Florida) and did public records requests to our supervisor of elections to get information on the memory cards used, something a typical candidate would normally not think of doing.
The DVD, available at HackingDemocracy.com, contains "extra" segements not included in the original film, including great footage from Riverside California (Michelle Townsend); Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Volusia County, Florida; Glades County, Florida; and more.
On the website, you can also see fascinating TV footage of the trial and sentencing of the Ohio election workers in Cuyahoga County. Russ Michaels, one of the directors and producers of "Hacking Democracy," says the website will be adding more footage all the time from their vast store of film segments from elections around the country.
|Federal Election Agency Plays Politics with Voter ID Study
by Project Vote Press Release - April 3, 2007
Download the Eagleton Voter ID Report
A federal agency tasked with serving as a clearinghouse for election research played politics today when it released but declined to endorse a study documenting the impact of voter identification requirements on voting. The study, conducted jointly by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University for the US Election Assistance Commission (EAC), found that documentary ID requirements lower voter turnout, particularly for minority voters. Researchers examined voting in the 2004 election. Several states have adopted more stringent voter ID requirements since 2004.
The study found a statistically significant correlation between identification requirements and reduced voter turnout: “These correlations translated into reduced probabilities of voting of about 3 to 4 percent for the entire sample, with larger differences for specific subgroups. For example, the predicted probability that Hispanics would vote in states that required non-photo identification was about 10 percentage points lower than in states where Hispanic voters gave their names. The difference was about 6 percent for African- Americans and Asian-Americans, and about 2 percent for white voters.” Read the Entire Article
From Around the States
|California Secretary of State Releases Draft Criteria for Top-to-Bottom Voting Machine Review
by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen - March 22, 2007
Secretary of State Debra Bowen today unveiled her proposed draft criteria that will be used to conduct a thorough top-to-bottom review of the voting machines certified for use in California.
The review is designed to restore people’s confidence in the integrity of our electoral process,” said Secretary Bowen, the state’s chief elections officer. “Every California voter has the right to have their vote counted as it was cast. This first-of-its-kind top-to-bottom review is designed to ensure that California voters are being asked to cast their ballots on machines that are secure, accurate, accessible, and auditable.”
The draft criteria, available on the Secretary of State’s website, cover system security issues, access for voters with disabilities, access for minority language voters, and usability for elections officials and poll workers in a variety of situations. Public comments may be submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office through March 30 by e-mail to email@example.com or by mail to Secretary Debra Bowen, 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, ATTN: Voting Systems Review, 6th Floor. Read the Entire Press Release
See also: California: E-voting Machines Face Tough New Standards
| Smooth Undervoting In Sarasota County
by John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA Voting Technology Task Force - March 15, 2007
It turns out there may be an explanation as to why Florida congressional district 13 (FL CD-13) in Sarasota Florida received so many under-votes relative to other races on the iVotronic terminal.
Page 23 of the FSU security analysis of the iVotronic firmware states: (emphasis mine)
184.108.40.206 Investigate Reports that the Display Was Slow to Respond to Touch.
Overview. We consider a scenario in which technical impacts from slow touch screen response may unintentionally prevent the voter's selection from registering during the vote selection process, but not during the review cycle.
Hypothesis. If a voter is able to interact with the touch screen in a sequence that causes the screen to display a candidate selection that does not match their most recent touch, it may cause the voter to misinterpret their selection for that race. Specifically, consider a situation where a voter touches a vote box twice in rapid succession. If the software delays updating the display in response to the second touch for some reason, after a very short period the voter may accept the first display response as conclusive, and due to the delay (if it exists) the voter might not notice the delayed update in response to the second touch. It is also possible that the second touch would cause the candidate to be deselected after having been selected.
Similarly, we consider a situation where a voter touches a vote box and waits patiently for her vote to display for a few moments before assuming her touch was not detected and touching the screen again. If the first touch is recorded and if the display is updated only after the second touch, the voter may accept the first display response as conclusive, while a delay (if it exists) could cause later display of the second recorded touch that the voter may not notice.
These scenarios are consistent with reports by some voters that they voted for a candidate, but noticed their vote was not registered when they reviewed their selections on the summary screen.
The remainder of the section goes on to dismiss this as a possible cause of the under-votes for 2 reasons; no support for such delay could be found in the inspected source code and such delays would have been present in other races.
The reason for the FSU team to dismiss this hypothesis as a cause has now been refuted by ES&S itself. The vendor of the iVotronic acknowledges delays in displaying selection are indeed a known defect of the iVotronics software. Read the Entire Article
|Florida: Source Says Second ES&S Letter Tried to Dictate What Florida Test Reports Could Say
by Kim Zetter - March 26, 2007
In the article below, originally posted at Informed Consent and posted here with the author's permission, Kim Zetter discusses a letter that has been uncovered in which ES&S attempted to dictate the terms of the source review undertaken under the authority of Florida State University. There are links to the letter from ES&S at the end of the article. The FSU review team has posted a following statement in response to the release of the ES&S letter that is available for download on their website.
After my story about the ES&S memo posted yesterday I heard from someone in Florida who sent me a copy of a second ES&S letter, this one sent to David Drury, who oversees voting system certifications for the state's Division of Elections. ES&S sent the correspondence on December 15 as state officials and Florida State University's SAIT Lab were preparing to conduct two examinations to test voting systems used in Sarasota county last November and do a source code review of the software. The testing was done to try to determine the reason that some 18,000 ballots didn't have any vote cast in the 13th Congressional District race.
The letter is a detailed list stating what the testing reports should and should not say. In the letter, ES&S refers to its list as "guidelines," but the instructions are extensive -- running a page and a half -- and make some pretty strong demands. Among them, that the report should make (the quotes are ES&S's):
* No statements about possible "vulnerabilities"The part about security techniques appears several times. Read the Entire Article
* No statements about the "style" of the source code
* No statements commenting on the use of less desirable techniques, instructions, or constructs
* No statements regarding conformance to source code standards of any type or kind
* No statements regarding ES&S hardware or software engineering practices or design methods
* No statements regarding the use of preferred or non-preferred data structures, data types, data formats, databases, storage methods
* No statements rendering opinions on security techniques employed or not employed
* No statements discussing presence or absence of cryptography or other security methods and techniques
|Georgia: GAVV Complaint Referred to the Attorney General for Investigation
by Georgians for Verified Voting - March 14, 2007
The Georgia State Election Board on March 13, 2007 voted unanimously (with one abstention) to refer a complaint filed on December 13, 2006 by Georgians for Verified Voting (GAVV) to the state Attorney General for investigation. GAVV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizens' action group that advocates for voting systems and processes in Georgia that are transparent, verifiable and secure.
The complaint raises questions about the electronic voting system used in the 2006 primary and general elections: whether key rules and procedures related to system certification were followed by the former Secretary of State Cathy Cox, Election Director Kathy Rogers, Britain Williams, consultant to the state's voting system certifying agent, Kennesaw Center for Elections, and Diebold Election Systems.
Bob Barr, former member of the U.S. Congress (1995-2003) and president of Liberty Strategies, presented the complaint to the Board.
In his statement Barr said: "When there are credible questions raised about touch-screen electronic voting, the state must confirm the source, identify the problem, and put into action a plan to correct the problem or to credibly assure the public that the perceived problems were not in fact extant. The state of Georgia has a profound interest in taking all reasonable steps to investigate such concerns...."
"We have every confidence that the Attorney General will conduct a thorough and complete investigation into this matter," said Donna Price, director of GAVV, "and we applaud the State Election Board for their decision. Full Complaint
|Maryland: Voting Rights Advocates Appalud House Passage of Paper Trail Bill
by SaveOurVotes.org - March 24, 2007
Senate Urged To Pass the Same Bill
On March 21, the Maryland House unanimously passed for the second year in a row, legislation to meet voters’ demands to replace the state’s current unreliable electronic voting system with a secure system that provides for a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and optical scanning. Unfortunately, the Senate’s now considering amending its version (SB 392) to remove all the protections the House bill requires.
Polls show two of every three Maryland voters are troubled and want a paper trail,” said Shelley Fudge of Save Our Votes. “The House deserves high praise for again listening to the voters. Now the voters are counting on our Senators to do the same.”
As introduced by Sen. Edward Kasemeyer with an impressive 37 co-sponsors, SB-392 had virtually the same vital provisions as HB-18 (sponsored by Del. Sheila Hixson and passed unanimously March 21). But the EHEA Committee is considering amendments to remove those very requirements that proponents and experts, including Dr. Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins, have testified are absolutely necessary to detect and recover from vote fraud, security breaches, and technical failures. Such incidents have shaken voters’ confidence and plagued recent elections in Maryland and the nation. For example, the U.S. Congress seat remains undecided for Sarasota, Fla., where 18,000 votes were not recorded in November 2006. Read the Entire Article
|Massachusetts: ACLU and Disability Law Center Applaud Secretary Galvinās Decision on New Voting Technology
by ACLU Massachusetts and Disability Law Center - March 15, 2007
The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and the Disability Law Center have again joined forces to applaud Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s decision to approve the use in Massachusetts elections of a ballot marking voting machine that is both accessible and secure.
Voting equipment that is both accessible and secure is essential to ensuring the integrity of the entire elections system in the Commonwealth,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “The Secretary’s decision to fund an automatic ballot marking system best ensures that Massachusetts voters with disabilities – and thus all voters – are guaranteed equal access to a secure ballot.”
Stanley J. Eichner, Executive Director of the Disability Law Center, also welcomed the Secretary’s decision. “The automatic ballot marking device has consistently received the highest overall ratings from the disability community,” he said. “Providing secure voting machines for voters with disabilities is part and parcel of protecting their rights to equal access to the ballot and to having their votes reliably counted.” Read the Entire Article
|Report of Minnesota's Post Election Audit Released
by Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota - April 4, 2007
Click Here to Download the CEIMN Audit Report
Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota (CEIMN) have released their report and analysis of Minnesota's first post election audit. The purpose of the audit was to assess the accuracy of the state's optical scan voting machines. Working with the League of Women Voters Minnesota, CEIMN organized 208 volunteers in 70 counties to observe Minnesota's first post election audit - the nation's first statewide citizen observation of a post election audit.
Among the report's findings:
- post election audits are a viable and cost effective way to verify election outcomes
- the voting machines audited were very accurate in counting the ballots
- volunteer observers' reports provide useful feedback to improve audit protocols
- Minnesota has a compelling model to offer other states
According to CEIMN director, Mark Halvorson, "Having a front row seat in observing the audit provided us with valuable information in the shaping of the report's recommendations, such as counting methods and how the audit data was recorded. We are convinced that post election audits are key to ensuring accurate and verifiable elections. This report will not only help improve the audit protocols in Minnesota, but will help other states as they consider similar audit legislation."
Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota is a non-profit, non-partisan organization
that advocates for accurate and verifiable elections. The League of Women Voters,
a non-profit, non-partisan organization, encourages informed and active participation
in government and influences public plicy through education and advocacy. For
more information visit the Citizens for Election
Integrity Minnesota website.
|Ohio: Secretary of State Brunner Issues Complaint Against Cuyahoga Board of Elections
by Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner Press Release - March 26, 2007
For Summary Removal (PDF document)
Hearing Notice (PDF document)
Notice of Appearance of Counsel (PDF document)
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner issued a complaint Thursday against Cuyahoga County Board of Elections members Robert T. Bennett and Sally Florkiewicz alleging five specific areas of cause for removal from office.
Brunner, the state's chief election officer, said she intends to pursue removal of the members to help restore the public's trust and confidence in the embattled board.
"This is a first step to improving Cuyahoga County elections and restoring voters' trust in our elections system," Brunner said.
Brunner noted the late, emerging decision of elections board member Loree Soggs, who issued his resignation from the panel earlier Thursday. "Mr. Soggs has done the right thing and has shown his dedication to a fair process in which Cuyahoga County voters will have new confidence," Brunner said. "Mr. Soggs is to be commended." Read the Entire Article
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