Election Integrity News - April 17, 2006

This Week's Quote: "What the companies have done is use (HAVA), which was designed to help correct the problems that were made manifest by the 2000 Florida election, and they've perverted that to essentially allow them to make millions selling equipment, which when we now look at the actual use in elections, is flawed." Ion Sancho, supervisor of Elections, Leon County, Florida.


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!

Iowa - Support SF 351

Pennsylvania: Support HB 2000 and S 977

In this issue ...

National Stories

Paying Attention: Audits, Recounts, Verification Protocols

HR 550 and the Superiority of Voter Verified Paper Records

Configuration Management and Voting Systems

Accessible Voting and Paper Ballot/Ballot Marker/Optical Scan Voting Systems

News From Around the States

Colorado Senate Passes National Popular Vote Bill

Florida: Report on Pinellas County "Audit"

Illinois: Republicans and Democrats challenge Accuracy of Primary Election Results

Indiana to Investigate ES&S and MicroVote

Maryland: Recap of the 2006 Legislative Session

Pennsylvania: Lawsuit Filed In Allegheny County Seeks To Stop Purchase of iVotronics


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The Approaching 2006 E-Voting 'Train Wreck' Continues On Course by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.

A Lot of American Democracy Can Unravel in Just One Week's Time As We Continue to Connect the Dots the Media is Failing To ...

 In an article last week I pointed to the copious evidence that our elections are headed straight towards disaster; a "Train Wreck". That "Train Wreck," however, may still be avoided. The engineers of one of those trains, as it were, are the elections officials who are allowing themselves to be cowed by vendors like ES&S, Sequoia, and Diebold. The disaster can be avoided, but it will require the election officials to switch their train to a different track - by first acknowledging that there are problems.

In order to begin that process those officials must finally realize that they are not alone. Counties across the country are finding the exact same problems. The bad ES&S memory cards were not just found in Summit County, Ohio; they were also found in North Carolina and probably other counties in other states. ES&S will fail to deliver on contracts for voting machines in many counties all across the country. Does anyone really expect the engineer of the other train -- the voting machine vendors -- to switch tracks? They only see the money bags at the end of the track and not the other train barreling down on them.

The federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) -- created by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 -- has likewise not been doing their job. They seem to be content to just sit back and watch as voting systems across the country are in melt-down. Do they really serve any purpose other than to shovel out HAVA funding for these new systems to the states, who in turn pass them on to the vendors? It appears not. Take a look:

Read the Entire Article



National Coalition for Election Integrity

Help VoteTrustUSA Fight For Verifiable Elections Nationwide

On behalf of the I Count Coalition, VoteTrustUSA would like to thank all the citizen patriots that came to Washington D.C. recently to voice their concern in the halls of Congress. Well over 200 people came to the Lobby Days and meetings were held in 117 Congressional offices. During the Spring recess meetings are taking place in in over 80 district offices. A petition in support of HR 550, signed by over 50,000 concerned Americans from every Congressional district in every state, was delivered to the Committee on House Administration. During the lobby days, we added 11 new HR 550 co-sponsors. Meetings will continue during the two-week recess in the home districts of those Representatives that are not yet co-sponsors of this important legislation. Help VoteTrustUSA continue the struggle for fair, transparent, and auditable elections. Click here to help VoteTrustUSA continue the struggle for fair, transparent, and auditable elections.

National Stories

Paying Attention: Audits, Recounts, Verification Protocols
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - April 16, 2006

Why We Need Them All

"Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom" Thomas Jefferson

Representative democracy depends on confidence in integrity of the process through which the consent of the governed is determined. While challenges to the accuracy of election results are certainly not new and even a cursory review of elections in this country reveals that election fraud is as American as apple pie. However, the widespread use of unverifiable electronic voting machines has raised new and heightened concern that must be addressed. Scrutiny of the election process - eternal vigilance at every level - is the responsibility of the citizens of a democratic society.

There are many efforts underway to increase and enhance public confidence in the election process. No single approach - no new law, regulation, or procedure will accomplish the goal of transparent and verifiable elections on it own. We need a variety of safeguards - a few can be implemented at the federal level, many others will require state efforts, and others will take place at the local level.

Recognizing the limitations and opportunities that exist at each of these different levels will allow a more productive debate and implementation of effective measures to protect the integrity of our elections. Read the Entire Article

HR 550 and the Superiority of Voter Verified Paper Records
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - April 14, 2006

Andrew Gumbel's recent book "Steal This Vote" provides a detailed and discouraging survey of how the integrity of election results have been compromised and manipulated since the beginnings of the grand experiment in representative democracy was launched after the American Revolution. It hasn't mattered what voting system was being used - paper ballots, lever machines, punch cards, or touchscreens - the political advantage to be gained from criminally altering election results will always pose a temptation for fraud.

Given the rich history of election fraud accomplished through the manipulation of paper ballots, the provision calling for the superiority of voter verified paper records in the case of discrepancies found in legislation like HR 550 has been called into question. What if someone managed to tamper with the voter verified paper records, whether they are optically scanned paper ballots, or simultaneous records generated by printer attached to a DRE? In the event of fraud or manipulation of the paper record, would HR 550 require that corrupted totals derived from paper records would nevertheless take precedence over electronic tabulation?

A reading of the language of HR 550 relieves these concerns. 

Section 2(a)(2)(B)(iii) of HR 550 reads "in the event of any inconsistencies or irregularities between any electronic records and the individual permanent paper records, the individual permanent paper records shall be the true and correct record of the votes cast."  Section 2(a)(B)(i) of the same bill requires that the voter verified paper records be preserved "in a manner which is consistent with the manner employed by the jurisdiction for preserving paper ballots in general." Thus all of a state's procedures and requirements for securing the chain of custody of those records would apply.

In the event of a discrepancy, one party will seek to defend the electronic tally, and the other will seek to defend the paper tally. Under the language in the bill, the burden of proof will be on the party seeking to defend the electronic tally to prove that the paper tally has been compromised in order to negate the bill's presumption of the preemptive validity of the paper records over the electronic tallies. That can be demonstrated vastly more readily (by way of witness testimony pertaining to breaches on the chain of custody of the paper records, a simple count of the available records as compared to the number of voters who signed in, and so on) than the reverse as there is no evidence as to the accuracy or inaccuracy of the electronic tally other than the voter verified paper records). Read the Entire Article

Configuration Management and Voting Systems
by John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA Voting Technology Task Force - April 14, 2006

This Paper is available for download in PDF format here.
This paper is directed to any person involved in the testing, certification, qualification, approval or purchase of election voting equipment. The paper covers why the esoteric field of configuration management (version control) is intimately and inextricably linked to the testing, certification, qualification, approval, purchase, delivery and auditing of election voting equipment. The paper describes:

•• What is configuration management
• • Why configuration management of software is difficult
• • What is a physical configuration audit document
• •What is minimum information which should be included in a physical configuration audit document
• How to use a physical configuration audit document to decide if your system is correct.

What is configuration management?

Secretaries of State, state election boards, and other election officials are now grappling with approving, certifying, purchasing, and auditing voting machinery. Unfortunately, what most of these officials fail to realize is that if you are in the business of testing, approving, qualifying, certifying, purchasing, or auditing election systems you are necessarily in the configuration management business.

What is configuration management? Configuration management is the art and practice of defining what is meant by the phrase “the system”. Software and any systems which execute software are inherently mutable. This ability to change the functionality of a software-based system easily and cheaply is usually a virtue. For testing, approving, qualifying, certifying, purchasing, and auditing software systems this mutability though is a positive vice. Configuration management is how to rein in this inherent mutability.  Configuration management is how to precisely define the system under test (or system approved, qualified, certified, purchased, or audited). Configuration management is how the system is "frozen" so testing, approval, qualification, or certification can be performed on a single system; not a system which changes while under test.  For those interested in fine details of configuration management, I recommend the book: Software Configuration Management by Jessica Keyes.

Election officials do not need to know the fine details of configuration management in order to understand the daunting task facing them. An electronic election system is a collection of hardware and programming. Programming may be stored on a form of read only memory (ROM, PROM, EPROM, or EEPROM, etc.) or on traditional mutable media (hard disk, RAM, smart cards, memory packs, flash memory, etc.). Programming stored on mutable or removable media is called software. Programming stored on an immutable or hard to change media is called firmware. Both firmware and software are programming. The difference is the storage medium and the easy with which the programming on that medium can be changed. Read the Entire Article

Accessible Voting and Paper Ballot/Ballot Marker/Optical Scan Voting Systems
by Bo Lipari and Wanda Warren Berry, New Yorkers for Verified Voting - April 15, 2006

This report is available for download in PDF format from New Yorkers for Verified Voting.

One of the most important aims of election reform under the Help America Vote Act is to correct injustices perpetuated by inaccessible polling places and voting equipment. New Yorkers for Verified Voting fully supports providing the highest level of accessibility to disabled voters.

Evaluating voting systems requires that we consider several decisive and vital criteria. Accessibility for disabled voters is one important consideration, but there are others. The ability to properly audit elections, and the potential flaws and security vulnerabilities of a system must also be considered. Democracy depends on voters being justifiably confident that their vote will be counted. Given the many reports of serious security and accuracy problems with electronic touchscreen voting machines, voters are justified in questioning this unproven technology. If we are to help America vote, we must consider the interests of all voters affected by new technologies.

A voting system must provide not only accessibility, but also reliability, accuracy, transparency, security, verifiability, and auditability. At this point in time, experts agree that these values are best guaranteed by a system based on paper ballots marked directly by voters. An accessible technology called "Ballot Markers" is available which enables disabled voters to vote independently on a paper ballot based system.

Paper ballot based systems do the most to guarantee that ballots are reliably recorded, accurately counted, and available for recounts and audits. This cannot be assured if our votes are recorded invisibly in unverifiable electronic circuits, as is the case with Direct Recording Electronic voting machines (DREs).

Arguments have been made that only DREs meet the accessibility needs of disabled voters. But a closer look shows DREs to be among the least accessible alternatives in addition to being an unverifiable and unreliable technology. This document responds to and corrects some of these arguments and provides important information about the accessibility and suitability of voting systems based on paper ballots, accessible ballot markers, and optical ballot scanners.

In this paper we address the following topics -

Do ballot markers provide independent voting for disabled voters?
Do DREs provide independent voting for disabled voters?
Do paper ballot based systems fulfill HAVA requirements?
Do ballot markers provide disabled voters the same voting experience as other voters?

Read the Entire Report

From Around the States

Colorado Senate Passes National Popular Vote Bill
by Every Vote Equal Press Release - April 14, 2006

Legislative Hearings Announced in Missouri House 25 Legislators Now Sponsoring Bill in Illinois Legislative Hearings Scheduled by California Assembly

The Colorado State Senate today passed National Popular Vote's bill to enact the "Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote" on second reading. The favorable vote in the Senate is the first formal vote by a state legislative house on National Popular Vote's plan for nationwide election of the President. In Colorado, the bill (SB 06-223) is sponsored by Senators Ken Gordon (D), John Evans (R), and Lew Entz (R).

The whole Senate's action today followed a favorable vote on April 10 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. At that time, the committee heard testimony from Colorado Common Cause Executive Director Pete Maysmith, National Popular Vote President Barry Fadem, Dr. John R. Koza (originator of the plan), and Colorado attorney Mark Grueskin. Grueskin, along with Fadem and Koza, is a co-author of a book describing the plan entitled Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan For Electing The President By National Popular Vote.

The proposed “Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote” in an interstate compact. The bill in Colorado would enact the compact in Colorado. The proposed compact would not take effect in Colorado until identical legislation is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes (that is, 270 of the 538 electoral votes). Read the Entire Article

Florida: Report on Pinellas County "Audit"
by Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay - April 17, 2006

On April 11th and 12th David Drury, Chief, Florida Bureau of Voting Systems Certification ("BVSC"), Richard Harvey, also from the BVSC, and Paul Lux, Assistant Supervisor of Elections from Okaloosa County, Florida, came to Pinellas County, Florida, to make history by conducting the first ever audit of an election in Florida, and the first audit in the nation of an election using Sequoia Voting Systems equipment.

The March 7, 2006 election was a very small election involving only three municipalities, but the tabulation failed, rejecting memory cartridges as "already read," when in fact they had not been read, and they were unable to restart the tabulation for about two hours. During multiple attempts to restart the tabulation, lines of code were sent via e-mail from Sequoia Voting Systems in an attempt to restart the count. Additionally, one candidate was unable to vote for himself, as reported by the St. Petersburg Times, and another was concerned that early votes in his favor made by family and friends were not reflected in the final vote tallies. The election was certified on March 10th.

Pamela Haengel, Executive Director of Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay (“VIA Tampa Bay”), immediately alerted Florida Secretary of State, Sue Cobb, to the problems with the March 7, 2006, election, the fact that VIA Tampa Bay’s observer had witnessed and recorded these problems, and called for an audit. VIA Tampa Bay also submitted a four-page public records request covering all documentation from the night of the failure. Though Dawn Roberts, Director, Division of Elections, originally stated that the audit would go forward, the next day a spokesperson for the Division backpedaled and said that they were going to talk to Deborah Clark, Supervisor of Elections of Pinellas County, first before making a decision. A couple days later, Clark sent a letter to the state admitting problems with the elections, blaming not enough database space, but asserting that the results were accurate.  Nonetheless, Clark requested in that letter that the state audit the March 7th election because of, "baseless allegations designed more to discourage rather than enlighten voters," and that a state audit was needed to "reassure the public."

When David Drury arrived on Tuesday last week, he admitted, "There are no auditing standards for Florida elections," and, "We are on a learning curve here." Despite being provided a copy of "Auditing Elections," by Doug Jones, Professor of Computer Science, University of Iowa, in advance of the audit, the state decided only to attempt to determine how votes were counted, not - as one might expect from an audit designed to promote voter confidence-- whether the machines accurately recorded votes.  Asked specifically whether the state had a way of testing to be sure the votes were counted accurately, Drury responded, “No test is always accurate.”Read the Entire Article

Illinois: Republicans and Democrats Challenge Accuracy of Primary Election Results
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - April 14, 2006

Candidates from both major political parties are planning challenges to last month's primary elections in Illinois. Concerns about the accuracy of election results were raised already on election night and have grown since then.

According to WBBM:

Cook County Republican leaders want 20 percent of the votes from the March primary recounted, because they fear problems with new voting equipment and untrained election judges may have tainted the results.

Meanwhile attorney and Democratic candidate Frank Avila is threatening to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of Democrats and Republicans.
The Chicago Tribune wrote that Fueled by concerns about "poor management and organizational incompetence," Maureen Murphy, vice chair of the county GOP and a member of the county Board of Review, said she has met with about 200 suburban election judges who detailed a litany of problems from the March 21 primary.

Among the issues, she said, were a touch-screen voting machine that "blew up like an M80" and had to be unplugged; machines showing votes that hadn't been cast; and machines not working at all. In one meeting she asked about 125 judges how many of them were confident that every vote at their polling place had been counted, and no hands went up, she said.

Nevertheless election officials, as usual, assured candidates and voters alike that somehow the votes were counted accurately. Chicago Elections Board chairman Langdon Neal says a mandated 5 percent recount has already certified the count was accurate, saying problems with voting machines and elections judges who weren't able to handle the equipment, affected the speed of the vote counting, but not the accuracy.

Indiana to Investigate ES&S and MicroVote
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - April 13, 2006

According an article in the Indianapolis Star, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita (pictured at right)  is investigating possible law violations by Election Systems and Software (ES&S) and MicroVote. A series of alarming reports of irregularities in the Indiana press and reports of the sale of uncertified voting systems, have focused national attention on primaries scheduled for Indiana next month.

In a statement issued today, Secretary of State Todd Rokita explained “To protect the voices of Hoosier voters, I intend to hold hearings on these matters to determine whether Indiana law has been violated, and if so, to hold the appropriate parties accountable,” 

"Hoosier taxpayers, voters and county officials deserve voting systems that comply with the high standards mandated by Indiana law."

 The statement from Rokita today pointed to "county sequencing errors and paper ballot problems (that) have combined to quickly escalate already disturbingly poor service at the county level into what could be a significant violation of state election law."
Rokita said his office, which administers elections across the state, would bring an "enforcement action" to determined whether Election Systems and Software, a Nebraska voting system company, should be fined.

According to the Indianapolis Star article, a separate investigation has targeted another election systems vendor, Indiana-based MicroVote General Corporation.

The article quoted Rokita, "The secretary of state's office has learned that MicroVote may have sold, or attempted to sell, Indiana county voting machines whose Indiana certifications have lapsed”.

Maryland: Recap of the 2006 Legislative Session
by TrueVoteMD - April 15, 2006

This article was posted at TrueVoteMD.org. It is reposted here with permission. 

The legislature failed to pass a Voter-Verified Paper Ballot Audit Trail (VVPBAT) bill again this year.

As the session began, in January, many of us were optimistic that 2006 was the year for VVPBAT. Prior to the beginning of the session, in late 2005, TrueVoteMD had organized a massive door-to-door campaign in the district of Delegate Sheila Hixson, the Chair of the House committee that deals with election issues. Early in 2006 Delegate Hixson became a sponsor of a VVPBAT bill that TrueVote considered to be model legislation for dealing with this issue.

The model legislation was introduced at the beginning of the session in identical bills, House Bill 244 and Senate Bill 713. The House bill moved rapidly. A subcommittee hearing lasted four hours, during which numerous advocacy groups testified in support of the bill including several representing handicapped citizens. The only opposition that appeared during the hearing was from the State Board of Elections (SBE) and several local boards of elections.

A principal opponent of the VVPBAT legislation, as she has been since she first made the decision to purchase paperless voting machines for the State, in 2001, was Linda Lamone, the State Administrator of Elections.

At one point, Ms. Lamone was asked about the so-called Hursti hack, an incident that occurred in Florida in December 2005, in which Harry Hursti, a computer security specialist demonstrated the ease with which Diebold memory card-controlled equipment could be made to miscount election results. Ms. Lamone stated that she had not received any information from Diebold regarding this incident. Yet TrueVote has a copy of a letter from Diebold to Ms. Lamone dated four days prior to the hearing stating that the company had given several updates to her and her staff.

On February 15th, Governor Ehrlich released a letter to the SBE, expressing concern about paperless voting machines. An exchange of letters between the Governor and the SBE dealt with the Hursti hack and the perceived need for retesting the Diebold machines owned by the state. These are published on the TrueVote site.

An amendment to HB244 from Delegate Liz Bobo of Howard County, provided for precinct-based optical-scan counting of the 2006 election. The amendment was offered by Chair Hixson and was adopted.

The amended bill, reported by the Ways and Means Committee, passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 137-0 on March 7, 2006, five weeks before the end of the 2006 session. It was hailed by VVPBAT supporters for its detailed language and high standards for both security and transparency.

The House-adopted bill was immediately referred to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs (ESE) committee, chaired by Senator Paula Hollinger. Prior to holding a hearing on HB 244, Senator Hollinger invited Diebold to demonstrate its newest paperless voting machine, the TSx. No other vendors were invited to the demonstration.

During the session, Diebold was hardly a silent voice in Annapolis. They hired a former staffer for Senate President Miller as a lobbyist, and a former Mikulski staff person to be their P.R. person. The Elections Administrator has been in Annapolis for many years and is said to have close ties to Senate President Mike Miller. This trio spread rumors around the state about the alleged inaccuracy of optical scanners. Read the Entire Article

Pennsylvania: Lawsuit Filed In Allegheny County Seeks To Stop Purchase of iVotronics
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - April 12, 2006

Download the Full Complaint 

Associated Press is reporting that a group of Allegheny County residents along with national nonprofit organization People for the American Way, have filed suit today in federal court in Pittsburgh against county, state and federal officials.

The news story explained that:

The lawsuit filed today says that decision risks chaos on Election Day because of the lack of time to train election officials and educate voters about the change from lever machines which have been in use for 40 years.

"This rush to a new and flawed technology just weeks before the election threatens to sow chaos in the primary and compromise the fundamental rights of thousands of voters for years to come," says Harry Litman, the former United States Attorney in Pittsburgh and an attorney for the plaintiffs. "It's a bad deal for Allegheny County, and, we believe, a violation of federal law."

The suit, Celeste Taylor v. Dan Onorato asks the court to prevent use of machines manufactured by Election Systems & Software until the County has spent the time necessary to identify voting systems that are secure; reliable; and accessible to voters with disabilities.

Complaining that the federal Department of Justice has pressured Allegheny to buy ES&S iVotronic or be forced to return $11.9 million in federal funding, the group is seeking an injunction to require the county to continue using lever machines instead of using touch-screen machines the county agreed to purchase last week from Election Systems & Software for $11.9 million. The machines were the county's second choice after machines manufactured by Sequoia Voting Systems failed to pass state certification tests.

The defendants in the case are the Pennsylvania Secretary of State; Dan Onorato, Allegheny County Chief Executive; James Flynn, County Manager; and senior officials at the federal Department of Justice.

Read More: A Closer Look at the E-Voting Lawsuit Filed against a PA County and U.S. Dept. of Justice

Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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