Election Integrity News - May 9, 2006

This Week's Quote: "A 'potential security vulnerability' in machines sold by Diebold Election Systems Inc. of McKinney, Texas, could allow 'unauthorized software to be loaded on to the system'..."  -- Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortez, in a warning issued to PA counties.  The Morning Call - May 4, 2006.

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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!

Pennsylvania: Support HB 2000 and S 977


In this issue ...

National Stories

Electronic Voting Switch Threatens Mass Confusion

Shays Brings HR 550 Co-Sponsorship to 185

News From Around the States

$13M No Bid E-Pollbook Deal with Diebold Draws Fire

Pennsylvania Issues 'Security Vulnerability' Alert for Diebold Electronic Voting Systems

Candidate Arrested While Examining Public Records

Florida: One Voice. One Vote. (An Ode to the Struggle)

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E-VOTE TRAIN WRECK 2006: Another Week, Another Wild – and Unfortunate – Ride∑

by John Gideon, Executive Director, VotersUnite.Org and Information Manager, VoteTrustUSA.Org
May 07, 2006

Is Anybody There? Does Anybody Care?

This has been another week of "Train Wrecks" across the country. Three states had major primaries with mixed success and failure, a few states had local elections with failures, and some states are preparing for May primaries and they are meeting the "oncoming locomotive" as they can't get machines or software for the machines and are having to revert to paper ballots or lever machines.

Elections Systems and Software (ES&S) is now facing investigations, lawsuits, or just plain pissed-off elections officials in West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, and other jurisdictions. And now we learn that Diebold has a huge security vulnerability that all voting systems experts who know the details are very concerned about.  

 Next Tuesday, May 9, finds the train barreling down on primary elections in West Virginia and Nebraska. May 16 brings potentially hazardous primary election whistle-stops in Kentucky, Oregon and, the grand central station that is Pennsylvania.

 Let's take a look at some of the continuing derailments from the past week, about which prompted Brad Friedman of The BRAD BLOG to ask of D.C. politicians and, more notably, the National Mainstream Media: "Is anybody there? Does anybody care?"∑  

DIEBOLD 'REVEALS' MAJOR SECURITY PROBLEM

 According to an article in The Morning Call Diebold has found a 'glitch' that represents a 'potential security vulnerability'. After a bit of research it became evident that, in fact, Diebold had not found this problem and it is not a 'glitch' as they would have the voters believe. It's far worse than a mere 'glitch' as so many in the media (and at the voting machine companies) like to portray these things. 

Read the Entire Article

National Stories

Electronic Voting Switch Threatens Mass Confusion
General Topics
By The Financial Times of London - May 02, 2006

This article appeared in The Financial Times of London on May 1, 2006.

The last three election cycles in the US have been marked by controversy not only about candidates, but also about the fairness and accuracy of the voting process. And as voters head to the polls today for primaries in some jurisdictions, the coming cycle promises more of the same.

With about 8,000 separate election authorities managing approximately 175,000 polling places and perhaps as many as 150,000 different ballot forms that include choices for everyone from senator to dogcatcher, American elections are complex even when all goes well. But this cycle sees many states and smaller jurisdictions making last-minute efforts to switch to electronic voting, and early signs of trouble are appearing.

In California, the League of Women Voters has protested against a new, computerised statewide election registry that the group says is improperly rejecting registered voters, while county clerks in several Indiana jurisdictions complained that the electronic ballots programmed by the vendors of their electronic voting machines had been delivered late, were incorrect and poorly proofread.

The clerk for Marion County – the state‚s most populous – said that, so far, nine rounds of „fixesš had been required; she was unsure whether the primary vote today could be held without problems, according to The Indianapolis Star.

The scramble to convert to electronic voting has spurred disputes with vendors of the new machines. Last month, Oregon filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Election Systems & Software, alleging that the company reneged on a commitment to supply the state with electronic voting machines suitable for handicapped people for its May 16 primary.

In Florida, ground zero for election disasters in 2000, the election supervisor for Leon County allowed anti-electronic voting activists to try breaching security in the county‚s optical scan voting system, prompting the big three electronic voting systems companies – Diebold, Election Systems & Services, and Sequoia – to refuse to sell the county new machines. The Florida secretary of state has since opened an anti-trust investigation.  Read the Entire article at FT.com.

Shays Brings HR 550 Co-Sponsorship to 185
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - May 03, 2006

Longtime champion of campaign finance reform Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT, pictured at right) has joined as a co-sponsor of The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550). The co-sponsor list now includes 185 members of Congress, well over 100 more than any other election reform legislation in the 109th Congress.

Together with Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA), Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) sponsored  the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, authored a 527 reform bill that passed in the House in April.

Rep. Shays had been a co-sponsor of a previous version of Rep. Holt's bill (HR 2239 in the 108th Congress) and co-authored a bill to preserve national parks with Rep. holt in 2003.

Shays (R-CT) and Martin Meehan (D-MA) have also introduced legislation that would improve the ethics enforcement process in the House by creating an independent Office of Public Integrity to work with the Ethics Committee and assist in enforcing the House ethics rules.  Read the Entire Article.

$13M No Bid E-Pollbook Deal with Diebold Draws Fire
By TrueVoteMD - May 08, 2006

TrueVoteMD Press Release

Electronic Pollbooks Not Necessary for Early Voting, Election Integrity Activists Say

Takoma Park, MD: The implementation of early voting and of the federally mandated statewide voter registration database has been such a headache that the administrators of elections in several Maryland counties have recently resigned, including those in Prince Georges, Anne Arundel and Wicomico Counties.

Wednesday the State Board of Elections quietly tried to sneak a $13 million sweetheart deal with Diebold Election Systems, Inc., through the Board of Public Works to buy electronic pollbooks in time for this fall‚s early voting. Since there are other vendors that sell e-pollbooks, the state would normally issue a carefully written RFP and thoroughly investigate each product available, as they do with other purchases of this magnitude. Instead they are trying to rush into a no-bid contract with a company that has been uncooperative lately in answering their questions about possible security vulnerabilities in Maryland‚s voting equipment.

The haste with which the SBE is seeking to consummate this deal is in stark contrast to their protestations a few short weeks ago that there was no time to make major changes to our voting system before this fall‚s elections. That was when the question was about replacing our paperless touchscreen voting machines with precinct-based optical scannersųa change favored by 57% of Maryland voters, according to a recent survey by Gonzales Research. One of the complaints the SBE voiced about the Voter-Verified Paper Ballot bill was that it might force the state into working with a specific vendor. But it seems that their tune changes when the vendor is Diebold.  Read the Entire Article.

Candidate Arrested While Examining Public Records
By VoteTrustUSA - May 06, 2006

Charles Grapski (right), a candidate for Florida's State House, was arrested and briefly detained after Alachua City Manager Clovis Watson Jr. alleged Grapski recorded him without his knowledge on Friday, April 28.

Grapski had met with Watson "to discuss Grapski's request for public records relating to last month's Alachua city election." Watson alleged that he "left his office briefly during the discussion, and only realized when he came back in and saw a blinking red light on what appeared to be a phone that he was being recorded." Watson asked if the meeting was being taped and Grapski said it was and "since Watson is a public official, the recording was legal."

Watson disagreed. Grapski, in an e-mail to Watson, said "Watson could "clearly see" his recorder, because Watson "openly stated" he knew he was being recorded and because "as a public official . . . anything you say is deemed to be a public statement." " The two agreed to meet again on Monday where Watson told Grapski that the public records they discussed on Friday would be available.  Read the Entire Article.

Pennsylvania Issues 'Security Vulnerability' Alert for Diebold Electronic Voting Systems By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - May 05, 2006

Several Counties 'Locking Down' Machines as Company Promises Last Minute Software Fix Just Before Upcoming Primary Election

Election Integrity Advocates Suggest Warning May Stem from Recent Independent Voting Machine Analysis Revealing Major Security Flaws in Diebold Hardware and Software

This article appeared in The Brad Blog. It is reposted with permission of the author.

Just weeks before their May 16th Primary Election, the Pennsylvania Sec. of State, Pedro Cortez issued a Security Alert late Tuesday concerning a "potential security vulnerability" in Diebold electronic voting machines which could " allow ''unauthorized software to be loaded on to the system." The warning was revealed yesterday at a meeting in Schuylkill County.

Details about the warning are still sketchy this morning, and we're trying to learn more, but The Morning Call is reporting today that the "glitch" was "found" by Diebold and counties are now being instructed to lock down systems and seal the memory cards into them.

A "fix" is said to be on its way from Diebold, though that begs the question of whether the last-minute software patch will be certified by federal and/or state authorities before it's installed on machines that have already proven to be vulnerable to hackers and other failures.  Read the Entire Article.

One Voice. One Vote. (An Ode to the Struggle)
By Pamela Haengel, President, Voting Integrity Alliance, Tampa Bay
May 06, 2006

We've already covered this.

Nearly a century now gone...
Since women stood with
Raw, aching knuckles
throbbing, swollen ankles
long sweltering days,
freezing cold and icy rain.
Speaking truth in embroidery
that fluttered on a bitter wind.
Suffering torture
at the hands of hypocrites,
Suffering ridicule
at the hands of men,
who preferred them
to just birth babies.
They risked it all and stood nonetheless.

Read the rest of the poem.

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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