Election Integrity News - April 24, 2006

This Week's Quote: "Now, it's already bad enough to consider that our voting systems can be corrupted by a sharp eighth grader who might be able to access an elections office. Think of what a savvy, committed adult could do." Ralph DeLaCruz, South Florida Sun Sentinel

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Actions to Take Now

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

DRE Reliability Standards: An Open Letter to the Election Assistance Commission

All Election Integrity is Local

Brennan Center Testimony Before the California State Senate

Matsui and Green Bring HR 550 Co-Sponsorship to 180

EAC Holds Public Hearing in Seattle

News From Around the States

Alaska: Democrats File Lawsuit To Get 2004 Election Records

Who Or What Is Stopping The California SoS From Allowing Eligible Californians To Register To Vote?

No Verifiable Elections For Florida This Year

MicroVote and ES&S Negligence Places Indiana Primaries in Jeopardy

Train Wreck - "Optical-Scan Voting System Will Fail In May Primary"

Oregon: Secretary of State Sues ES&S

Washington Voter Files HAVA Complaint

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The Approaching 2006 E-Voting 'Train Wreck' - Are We Making Headway or Losing The Battle? by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.

While We Continue to Connect the Dots the Media Continues to Fail To…

It is a fact that this primary season is proving to be a disaster.  

The locomotives of the voting machine vendors and unwary, naive elections officials are headed down the same tracks, straight towards each other, in many states. The vendors only have the bags of government provided cash in sight and they don't seem to care about anything but putting those bags into their coffers. They don't seem to care about signing contracts that they know they cannot meet. They seem to be under the impression that "act now and apologize later" is good business. They seem to understand that the only criteria for getting paid for contracts with the government is having signed the contract.

As for the elections officials well, they are blinded by the lights of the fast approaching locomotive and many can only apologize and cover for the vendors. They just don't seem to know, or care - or acknowledge that they either know or care -- that the same story is playing out in the next county over and in the next state over. Ignorance is supposed to be bliss, but it also spells chaos for elections.

But wait, all may not be lost. This past week we have seen a bit of progress toward stopping the chaos of ES&S in Indiana and Oregon, while West Virginia just doesn't seem to know or care what is happening to them. As well, New Jersey may be making headway against their bad acting vendor, Sequoia Voting Systems.

Indiana Investigates MicroVote and ES&S MicroVote is a fairly unknown voting machine company outside of their home state of Indiana. If they continue with their lack of work ethic they soon won't be heard from in Indiana anymore either. Recently the state found that MicroVote had installed software uncertified by both the fed and the state in voting machines of 47 Indiana counties. 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

DRE Reliability Standards: An Open Letter to the Election Assistance Commission
by VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - April 19, 2006

Dear Election Assistance Commissioners,

We would all agree that HAVA guarantees by law the opportunity for voters to vote both privately and independently. One of the keys to achieving this in our present "high-tech" election system is reliable voting systems hardware.

Hardware Reliability is measured as Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF), but a more useful metric for voters would be the allowable failure rate, or percentage of voting systems permitted to fail on Election Day. Shockingly, the failure rate allowed under the Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (VVSG) approved by the EAC last December, is almost 10% in any 15-hour period (9.2% to be exact). To put it another way, one out of every 11 DREs or optical scanners are allowed to fail either partially or completely on Election Day, and a much higher proportion during extended Early Voting periods.

Clearly such a high failure rate, which has been known to occur in actual elections, can disenfranchise voters, impede their access to electronic ballots, and possibly even affect the outcome of elections. Certainly it also violates the spirit, if not the letter, of any law designed to ensure that voters be given the ability to vote both privately and independently, since poll worker or vendor assistance would inevitably be required in the event of a voting system failure.

So how did this happen? Read the Entire Letter

See also:

DRE Reliability: Failure by Design?
Voting Systems Batch Test Results - Reliability
The Long Road to a Reliable Voting System

All Election Integrity is Local
by John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA Voting Technology Task Force - April 17, 2006

It has been pointed out on my blog, my focus on the election irregularities in my home voting district of Gemantown District #1 is petty and I should move down the road to the big fish, the City of Milwaukee. I agree the City of Milwaukee is where 10% of the entire ballots cast in the state of Wisconsin are cast in the 314 wards of the City of Milwaukee. So by the simple application of the Willy Sutton Maxim, the bulk of state fraud is committed there because that is where the votes are. And, I have spent time examining the election irregularities there.

I disagree though that I should ignore the election irregularities perpetrated by my neighbors and my village clerk. The Swedes have a delightful proverb, "Sweep your own stoop before youoffer to sweep you neighbor’s stoop" . The same holds for election integrity; more so actually.

For more than 25 years we (yes, I am included in this group) have allowed our election process to devolve from an active, vital part of our Republic to a spectator sport where the only participation expected is for 8%to 40% of the citizens to show up, cast a vote and go home to watch a set of results come in. We have systematically accepted the notion that expediency in administering an election is the paramount (or only) criterion to judge election success. We all demanded in our own way that we preferred quick results for elections over accurate results or verifiable results. Just thepress of the immediate: "Who won?" We don’t even ask any more if the resultswhich come in are correct or not. Whichever candidate the machine software says won the race we accept as true without evidence.

Except for a literal handful of Cassandras (the Collier Brothers, Rebecca Mercuri, and some uber-geeks on the ACM risk forum), no one, not election administrators, not elected officials, not the press, and most importantly not citizen electors asked the hard question:

"Is using secret, unexamined and untested software to tally votes in an election an improvement in election administration?" 

Read the Entire Article

Brennan Center Testimony Before the California State Senate
by Wendy R. Weiser, Deputy Director, Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice - April 6, 2006

The following testimony was delivered to the California state Senate Committee on Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments on April 6, 2006. The full testimony can be downloaded in PDF format here. The Brennan Center report "Making the List: Database Matching and Verification Processes for Voter Registration" is also available for download.

Summary of Testimony

In my testimony today, I will address California's voter registration database practices concerning two categories of registrants: (1) registrants (or re-registrants) who do not list a driver's license or partial Social Security number on their applications but whose numbers election officials are nonetheless able to find (and verify) through CalValidator; (2) registrants whose applications contain all the information requested but when election officials send that information through CalValidator, the officials are unable to match that information with the DMV or Social Security databases.

Currently, California is rejecting all applicants in both categories unless officials, communicating with applicants, are able to fix whatever errors put the applicants in those categories on time (before the canvass). My testimony will argue that both categories of applicants should be included on the registration rolls, and that a legislative fix is the best way to accomplish this.

My testimony will proceed in three parts. (1) First, I'll explain why, as a matter of fact and fairness, California's current policy is an unmitigated disaster that will unfairly disenfranchise thousands upon thousands of eligible voters. (2) Second, I'll explain why California is now currently of step with the rest of the country; these policies make California the most restrictive state in country with respect to access to the franchise. (3) Third, I'll explain why the policies I propose are more consistent with the Help America Vote Act (or HAVA) than California's current practices. Read the Entire Article

Matsui and Green Bring HR 550 Co-Sponsorship to 180
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - April 21, 2006

With the addition of Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Rep. Al Green (D-TX), the co-sponsorship of Rep. Holt's Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550) has reached 180. Since the Lobby Days event, sponsored by VotetrustUSA, Verified Voting, Electronic Frontier Foundation, VotersUnite, True Majority, Working Assets, and Common Cause on April 6-7 in Washington DC, the bill has collected 12 new co-sponsors.

Rep. Matsui represents the 5th District of California. Following the death on January 1, 2005 of her husband, Rep. Robert Matsui, who represented the district for twenty-six years, she was elected as his replacement in a special election on March 8, 2005. Rep. Matsui has been involved in politics and public service throughout her life. After serving as a deputy special assistant and deputy director of public liaison for the White house from 1993 to 1998, President Clinton appointed her to the board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in September 2000. Matsui also served on the boards of KVIE-TV and People for the American Way. Her husband had been a co-sponsor of the ealier version of Rep. Holt's bill in the 108th Congress.

Rep. Green represents the 9th District of Texas, and was elected in 2004. Before his election to Congress, he served as a Judge of a Justice Court and, for more than 25 years as president of the Houston NAACP.  Representing one of the most ethnically diverse districts in the nation, Rep. Green characterizes himself as a voice of, what he affectionately refers to as, "the least, the last and the lost." Last year, as thousands of hurricane survivors arrived at the Astrodome, which is housed in Rep. Green's district, he took active role in raising funds for local community based organizations assisting Katrina survivors.

Earlier this month, over 200 citizen lobbyists participated in the I Count Lobby Days organized by VoteTrustUSA, Verified Voting, Common Cause, Electronic Frontier Foundation, VotersUnite, Working Assets, and True Majority. 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. Since the lobby days, 12 new HR 550 co-sponsors have been added: along with Rep. Matsui and Rep. Green, Rep. Leach (R-IA), Rep. Shimkus (R-IL), Rep. LaHood (R-IL), Rep. Gerlach (R-PA), Rep. Waters (D-CA), Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rep. Holden (D-PA), Rep. Lynch (D-MA), Rep. Chandler (D-KY), and Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA). Meetings have continued during the two-week recess in the home districts of those Representatives that are not yet co-sponsors of this important legislation.

EAC Holds Public Hearing in Seattle
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - April 23, 2006

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) met in Seattle on April 20 to hear testimony and learn more about procedures being used in the states for vote counting and recounts in elections. Testimony was presented by Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, Rosanna Bencoach of the Virginia State Board of Elections and Jill LaVine, registrar of voters for Sacramento, CA. EAC also heard from researchers Thad Hall, assistant professor, Department of Political Science, University of Utah and Doug Chapin, director of Electionline.org.

As usual there were no representatives of citizen activists invited to present testimony to the Commissioners.

The EAC press release quoted Chairman Paul DeGregorio, "Today's panelists provided us with valuable insight into the challenges of conducting vote counts and recounts, the information they contributed will help us to develop a set of best practices that we will share with the public and election officials throughout the country."

The release also noted that the EAC is working with the University of Utah to conduct research activities to develop a set of best practices on vote count and recount procedures. EAC staff and researchers also met with several Washington State and local election officials to gain their perspective on best practices and problems found with recounts.

Testimony presented at the hearing is available for download: Sam Reed, Rosanna Bencoach, Jill LaVine, Thad Hall, and Doug Chapin.

From Around the States

Alaska: Democrats File Lawsuit To Get 2004 Election Records
by Kay Brown, Alaska Democratic Party - April 18, 2006

The Alaska Democratic Party filed suit in Superior Court today seeking to force the Division of Elections to release public records needed to verify the 2004 election results.
 
"We are asking the court to release these public records so that the people of Alaska can be assured that their votes were counted correctly," said Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake Metcalfe (pictured at right). "The Division of Elections' numbers do not add up. The Division has refused to release the public records that would allow us to verify the results. All we ask is that the Lt. Governor and the Director of Elections follow the law and meet their obligation to Alaskans so every one knows why these numbers don't add up."

The Alaska Democratic Party has been trying since last year to get the public records of the election in order to find out why there are numerous errors and discrepancies in the state's reported results of the 2004 general election. The Division of Elections' latest excuse for refusing to release the election information is that it would create "security risks."
 
"Nothing we have asked for compromises security," Metcalfe said. "Why is the Division of Elections is so reluctant to provide these public records? What are they trying to hide?" Read the Entire Article

Who Or What Is Stopping The California SoS From Allowing Eligible Californians To Register To Vote?
by California State Senator Debra Bowen - April 19, 2006

Legal Opinion Concludes the Roadblock is the Secretary of State

Bowen Says She'll Introduce Legislation If Secretary of State Continues To Refuse To Alter Deal With Bush Administration That Has Prevented Tens of Thousands of People From Registering To Vote
 
The only thing that's preventing the Secretary of State from altering his regulations and data matching standards to ensure eligible voters can register to vote is the Secretary of State.

That was the conclusion reached in a legal opinion issued late Tuesday by the Legislative Counsel of California. The opinion states there is nothing in federal or state law requiring the Secretary of State to adopt the regulations and data matching standards he's been relying on that have combined to prevent tens of thousands of eligible California voters from registering to vote.A copy of the opinion is available here in PDF format.

"It's clear the Secretary has the legal authority to take the steps necessary to ensure eligible voters have the ability to register before the June primary, but whether he's actually willing to put the voters ahead of the Bush Administration remains to be seen," said Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee.

"I've been saying for three weeks that this problem needs to get solved and the quickest way to fix it is for the Secretary to abandon his deal with the Bush Administration and change the regulations and the data matching standards he's adopted that have pulled the rug out from under thousands of eligible voters," continued Bowen.  "If he won't fix this problem for the voters, then, like everyone else who thinks preventing eligible voters from registering is a problem, I'm prepared to try and correct it legislatively." Read the Entire Article

No Verifiable Elections For Florida This Year
by Kitty Garber and Susan Pynchon, Florida Fair Elections Coalition - April 23, 2006

On Tuesday, April 25, it will be official: the bills mandating verifiable elections in the state of Florida will die without even being considered by a committee, much less the entire legislature. As chair of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, Senator Bill Posey (R - Brevard, Seminole, and Orange Counties, pictured at right with Florida Governor Jeb Bush) was able to defeat the paper trail legislation by simply refusing to place it on the committee's agenda - just as he has for three years in a row.

Election reformers had hoped this year would be different since problems with electronic voting systems have been in the public spotlight. In fact, last December, not far from Senator Posey's office in the Florida Senate office building, a computer expert hacked into the Leon County Diebold voting machines and proved that a person in possession of a single memory card could alter the results of an election without detection. Governor Jeb Bush immediately called for an investigation into the security of voting systems, but no investigation ensued.  

The Florida Division of Elections (FDOE) chose to neither recognize nor investigate the Leon County hack. The reaction to it, however, reverberated across the country. The state of California immediately commissioned a study to determine the validity of the Leon County tests. Prepared by the California Voting System Technology Assessment and Advisory Board, the California report not only confirmed the security hole found in the hack, but identified 16 additional security "bugs", all of which could alter election results without detection.

While never acknowledging the Leon County hack, the FDOE did respond to the California study commissioned because of it. In its circuitous response, the FDOE issued a mild "technical advisory" that simply calls for heightened security procedures while completely ignoring the recommendations of the California computer scientists. The Florida technical advisory never addresses the recommendations in the California report that long-term mitigation strategies should include the redesign of the entire programming language and that the Diebold voting system is currently unfit and unsafe to use in any statewide election. In fact, the heightened security procedures recommended in the Florida technical advisory are referenced in the California report as short-term mitigation strategies for local elections only. Read the Entire Article

MicroVote and ES&S Negligence Places Indiana Primaries in Jeopardy
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - April 20, 2006

Uncertified Software and the Potential for "Vote Volatility" Threaten the Integrity of Primaries Less Than Two Weeks Away

"In situations where we have not performed up to our own high expectations we apologize. Personally I apologize for that," John Groh (pictured at right), vice president, Election Systems and Software (ES&S)

[The MicrVote Infinity equipment sold to 47 Indiana Counties] "is not an application capable of guaranteeing a primary election on May 2, 2006, without any problems … because of potential vote volatility issues."
MicroVote Infinity President James Ries

Indiana Election Commission was informed at a hearing yesterday that the Indianapolis-based MicroVote has installed uncertified voting system software in 47 counties.  The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported today that MicroVote filed only on Tuesday - two weeks before the primary election - for federal certification that is required as a prerequisite for state certification. According to the newspaper, MicroVote "is waiting on required documentation from an independent testing lab that the software meets federal election standards. That testing could be completed by Friday or next week."

Meanwhile it was also revealed that in 27 other Indiana counties Election Systems & Software (ES&S) had also installed uncertified software in addition to a relentless series of "glitches" ranging from missing ballot instructions to software that can't handle school board races. The failure of the two vendors leaves 74 0f the state's 92 counties scrambling to find a way to legally conduct elections on May 2.  Both vendors face fines as high as $300,000 for each violation and could be prevented from doing business in Indiana for up to five years.

Apolgies from officials of both MicroVote and ES&S publicaly for their negligence were hardly sufficient to satisfy the Secretary of state and the Election commission.

An article in the Decatur Daily Democrat, entile "Election Thrown Into Disarray, reported:

Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the IEC, said yesterday, "We're going to make sure these elections [on May 2] work for anybody," then added, "The most disturbing thing I heard here was these guys knew it wasn't certified and they went out and installed it. That can’t be tolerated."

The vice-chairman of the IEC, S. Anthony Long, remarked, "We have operated for years on the credibility of our [voting system] vendors. That credibility, in my mind, has been severely shaken. If we find overt and willful violations, I want the world to know that is not something I'm going to tolerate."

New Jersey residents, concerned about the virtual monopoly that Sequoia Voting Systems has had on the state will be happy to know that a court case initiated before the November 2004 election may yet prove to be the reason Sequoia is finally made to answer tough questions regarding the audit capacity and security of their AVC Advantage machines.

Train Wreck - "Optical-Scan Voting System Will Fail In May Primary"
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - April 19, 2006

Summit County, Ohio Elections Director Says He Can't Assume Anything Else

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

Summit County's memory card (PCMCIA) failures have not gotten any better according to an article in this morning's Akron Beacon Journal. If you recall BradBlog has reported on the Summit County memory card failures in the recent past; most recently on April 4.

Now, in what is clearly a show of "No Confidence" in their voting machine vendor ES&S, the county elections director is predicting failure with the system in the May 2 Ohio state primary.

Summit County Board of Elections Director Bryan Williams is predicting Election Day failures with the memory cards in the county's new optical scan voting system.

" I don't think we can assume anything else,'' Williams said at a meeting Tuesday, where the elections board reviewed the latest list of troubles.

This seems to be a complete melt-down of everything provided to the county by ES&S. The Beacon-Journal goes on to report the problems. Read the Entire Article

Oregon: Secretary of State Sues ES&S
by Oregon Secretary of State Press Release - April 20, 2006

Download the Full Lawsuit in PDF Format

Secretary of State Bill Bradbury (pictured at right) has filed a lawsuit against Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), for breach of contract for failure to deliver the electronic voting machines that would allow people with disabilities to vote privately and independently.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires, among other things, that all states provide people with disabilities the ability to vote with the same privacy and independence as all other citizens by a deadline of January 1, 2006. The federal government can impose penalties on states that fail to meet this requirement, including withdrawal and withholding of federal funds available for elections improvements.

"I'm disappointed in ES&S," said Bradbury. "They agreed to provide us with voting machines, they didn't follow through on that agreement, and that failure directly punishes people with disabilities."

ES&S submitted the winning bid to a request for proposals issued by the Secretary of State in July 2005.  In that bid, ES&S agreed to all of the standard state contract terms, and agreed to provide one million dollars worth of AutoMark touch-screen electronic voting machines by the January 1, 2006 federal deadline.

On January 10, 2006, ES&S informed the Secretary of State that it would not agree to the terms of the contract, and would not deliver the voting machines unless the Secretary changed the terms of the contract. Bradbury refused to alter the contract to meet ES&S's demands, which then led to this lawsuit.

"We will not leave our elections in the hands of companies that do not follow through on their obligations, and we will not be coerced into altering our contracts," said Bradbury. Read the Entire Article

 

Washington Voter Files HAVA Complaint
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - April 23, 2006

John Gideon, Executive Director of VotersUnite.org and Information Manager for VoteTrustUSA (pictured at right) has filed a complaint according to the procedure detailed in Section 402 of the Help America Vote Act. The complaint process and Gideon's complaint are detailed below.

HAVA Complaint Process

Section 402 of the Help America Vote Act requires that every state set-up a complaint process for voter's complaints in regards to any perceived violations of HAVA Title III.

Section 402 states, in part:
(2) Requirements for procedures.--The requirements of this paragraph are as follows:
(A) The procedures shall be uniform and nondiscriminatory.
(B) Under the procedures, any person who believes that there is a violation of any provision of title III (including a violation which has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur) may file a complaint.
(C) Any complaint filed under the procedures shall be in writing and notarized, and signed and sworn by the person filing the complaint.
(D) The State may consolidate complaints filed under subparagraph (B).
(E) At the request of the complainant, there shall be a hearing on the record.
(F) If, under the procedures, the State determines that there is a violation of any provision of title III, the State shall provide the appropriate remedy.
(G) If, under the procedures, the State determines that there is no violation, the State shall dismiss the complaint and publish the results of the procedures.
(H) NOTE: Deadline; The State shall make a final determination with respect to a complaint prior to the expiration of the 90-day period which begins on the date the complaint is filed, unless the complainant consents to a longer period for making such a determination.
(I) NOTE: Deadline; If the State fails to meet the deadline applicable under subparagraph (H), the complaint shall be resolved within 60 days under alternative dispute resolution procedures established for purposes of this section. NOTE: Records - The record and other materials from any proceedings conducted under the complaint procedures established under this section shall be made available for use under the alternative dispute resolution procedures.
It was with the above in mind that I decided to file a complaint against the Secretary of State of Washington state. In this complaint I allege that they illegally certified the Diebold TSx voting system as it violates Section 301(a)(3) accessibility requirements. Read the Entire Complaint

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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