Election Integrity News - July 4, 2006

This Week's Quotes: "My ballot is the most sacred sacrament of the secular religion we call Democracy." Andy Stephenson, founding member of VoteTrustUSA

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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

Brennan Center Task Force Says Software Attacks Pose Real Danger To All Electronic Voting Machines

Holt: Brennan Center Report Highlights Need For Auditable Voting Machines

Study: Fed 'Guidelines' Imperil E-Voting Security

In A Country Where Your Vote Is Supposed To Count, You Should Be Worried About Someone Stealing Your Vote

News From Around the States

California Voters File for Injunction to Block Use of Diebold DREs in November Elections

Yolo County CA Registrar Speaks Out On Voting Machine "Sleepovers"

Colorado: Key Government Document Altered

Iowa: In An Age Of Computerized Voting, Is It Possible To Maintain Voting Integrity?

New York: Last in HAVA Compliance or First in Election Integrity?

Heartbreak in Pennsylvania‚s Heartland

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The "Season Of The Glitch"
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA

Earlier this Spring, USA Today boldly announced in a headline that the 2006 primaries would be "The Season of the Glitch". Sadly, that prediction has proven to be right on the money. Primaries in states across the country have been marred by electronic voting machine failure and election officials and voting machine manufacturers have been quick to dismiss those failures as mere "glitches". A Google search on the words election and glitch generated over 1.5 million hits. Each of these glitches represents the potential for lost or corrupted votes, disenfranchised voters, and invalid election results. Instead of the seemingly benigh "glitch" I prefer John Gideon's evocative epithet "Train Wreck".

The experience of the first months of primaries has been, as one Arkansas election official characterized it "A Royal Mess". Arkansas was plagued with faulty ballot programming and the late arrival of voting equipment and electronic ballots, forcing several counties to improvise paper ballots and at least 11 to abandon their brand new touchscreen machines entirely for both the primary in May and run-off three weeks later.

In Indiana two vendors, ES&S and Microvote delivered uncertified software in 72 of the state’s counties, and programming errors in automatic tabulation equipment connected to voting machines were discovered by county officials before and during the primary. The Secretary of State has called for an investigation.

In the West Virginia primaries, none of Taylor County's votes could be counted because the main computer would not read tabulators from individual voting machines. Upshur County's counter was in such bad shape that the they eventually had to borrow equipment from a neighboring county. Mineral County's machines produced skewed results. In all, ballot programming errors were discovered before the elections on touch screens in 13 out of 34 counties using them.

In Barry County, Michigan, Clerk Thomas Emery knew there were problems when one of the candidates he had voted for himself received 0 votes, while the fourth line on the ballot for that race - reserved for write-ins – accumulated 90 votes from the 127 ballots cast.

Republican Supreme court candidate Steve smith was troubled by results in the primary, including returns in Winkler County, which Smith had won by margins of 260-92 (74%) in 2002 and 468-249 (65%) in 2004. This time he lost by an unbelievable 0-273 (100%) margin.

In Tarrant County, Texas, machines counted some votes up to 6 times which resulted in approximately 100,000 more votes being counted than were cast. Another glitch.
Read the Entire Article

 

 

Remembering Andy

As we celebrate our nation's 230th birthday this week, we also remember our dear friend Andy Stephenson who pased away one year ago. Andy was a founding member of VoteTrustUSA and a tireless fighter for democracy. Andy would be proud of the relentless work of activists across the country over the past year as they have struggled to preserve the integrity of our elections. He would relish the victories over unverifiable election systems and the national attention that has been focused on the threat that electronic voting poses to the democracy that he cherished. We miss you Andy!

Click here to help VoteTrustUSA continue the struggle for fair, transparent, and auditable elections

National Stories
Brennan Center Task Force Says Software Attacks Pose Real Danger To All Electronic Voting Machines
by Brennan Center Press Release - June 27, 2006

Threat of Hacking Can Be Reduced by Simple Countermeasures -- Random Audits of Paper Records; Ban on Wireless Systems

Top Scientists from Government and Private Sector Unanimous in Assessment

The Machinery of Democracy- Executive Summary (June 27, 2006)
The Machinery of Democracy- Full Report (June 27, 2006)

 The Brennan Center Task Force on Voting System Security, an initiative of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, today released a report and policy proposals concluding that all three of the nation's most commonly purchased electronic voting systems are vulnerable to software attacks that could threaten the integrity of a state or national election.

"As electronic voting machines become the norm on Election Day, voters are more and more concerned that these machines are susceptible to fraud," said Michael Waldman, the Brennan Center's Executive Director. "In fact, we've learned a lot from our study. These machines are vulnerable to attack. That's the bad news. The good news is that we know how to reduce the risks and the solutions are within reach."

"I hope that election officials and lawmakers around the country read this report and take a hard look at adopting these policies in time for the 2006 elections,”said Howard A. Schmidt (pictured at right), former White House Cyber Security Advisor and former Chief Security Officer of Microsoft and eBay.

The government and private sector scientists, voting machine experts, and security professionals on the Task Force worked together for more than a year. The members of the non-partisan panel were drawn from the National Institute of Standards and Technology ("NIST"), the Election Assistance Commission ("EAC"), the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, leading research universities, and include many of the nation's foremost security experts.

The Task Force surveyed hundreds of election officials around the country; categorized over 120 security threats; and evaluated countermeasures for repelling attacks. The study examined each of the three most commonly purchased electronic voting systems: electronic machines ("DREs") with - and without - a voter verified paper trail, and precinct-counted optical scan systems ("PCOS"). The report, The Machinery of Democracy: Protecting Elections in an Electronic World, is the first-ever systematic analysis of security vulnerabilities in each of these systems. Read the Entire Article

The Brennan Center Report has received considerable coverage in the Mainstream Media. Here is a sample of articles:

Washington Post (USA)- A Single Person Could Swing an Election (June 28, 2006)
The Washington Times (DC) - Study Says e-Voting Machines Pose Problems (June 27, 2006)
Reuters (USA)- Study Shows US Electronic Voting Machines Vulnerable (June 27, 2006)
USA Today (USA)- Analysis Finds e-Voting Machines Vulnerable (June 27, 2006)
Fox News (USA)- Report: Many E-Voting Systems Flawed (June 27, 2006)
Business Week (USA) - Report: Many E-Voting Systems Flawed (June 27, 2006)
Fox News (USA) - Study: E-Voting Systems All Flawed, but Also Easy to Fix (June 27, 2006)
ABC News (NY)- Report: Many E-Voting Systems Flawed (June 27, 2006)
Boston Herald (MA)- Report: Many e-voting Systems Flawed (June 27, 2006)
Guardian Unlimited (UK)- Report: Many E-Voting Systems Flawed (June 27, 2006)
The Beacon Journal (OH)- Report Cites Flaws in Electronic Voting (June 28, 2006)
The Globe and Mail (UK)- Many e-Voting Systems Flawed: Report (June 28, 2006)
WWMT (MI)- E-voting Gets Thumbs Down from Report (June 28, 2006)
Free Internet Press (USA)- Cybersecurity Experts Say Voting Machines Have Security Flaws (June 28, 2006)
Computer World (USA)- Studies question e-voting security (June 27, 2006)
Canton Rep (OH) - Report Rips Security of Electronic Voting System (June 27, 2006)
Newsfactor Magazine (USA) - Report: E-Voting Machines Are Vulnerable (June 27, 2006)
Playsful Magazine (Romania) - Study Says E-voting Machines Pose Problems (June 27, 2006)
Pierceland Herald (Canada) - Report: Many e-Voting Systems Flawed (June 27, 2006)
Short News (Germany)- Electronic Voting Flawed, Report Finds (June 27, 2006)
ZD Net (USA)- E-voting Gear at Risk of Hacking, Study Says (June 27, 2006)
Monsters & Critics (USA)- Study Says e-Voting Machines Pose Problems (June 27, 2006)
The Post Chronicle (USA)- Study Says E-Voting Machines Pose Problems (June 27, 2006)

Holt: Brennan Center Report Highlights Need For Auditable Voting Machines
by Pat Eddington - June 28, 2006

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) today said that the most recent report on the vulnerabilities of electronic voting machines should be a wake up call for the Congress and the nation.

"This nonpartisan report by the Brennan Center confirms what many of us have believed for years: electronic machines are all vulnerable to error or manipulation that could change the outcome of elections," said Holt. "We ignore this possibility at our peril."

The Brennan Center Task Force on Voting System Security (an initiative of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law), surveyed hundreds of election officials around the country; categorized over 120 security threats; and evaluated countermeasures for repelling attacks on voting systems. The study examined each of the three most commonly purchased electronic voting systems: electronic machines ("DREs") with a voter verified paper trail, DREs without a voter-verified paper trail, and optical scan systems ("PCOS"). The report, The Machinery of Democracy: Protecting Elections in an Electronic World, is the first-ever systematic analysis of security vulnerabilities in each of these systems. Read the Entire Article

Study: Fed 'Guidelines' Imperil E-Voting Security
by Michael Hickens - July 3, 2006

This article appeared on internetnews.com.

The 2008 presidential election could be interesting.

After four years, more than $3 billion taxpayer dollars, and an alphabet soup of newly created bureaucracies, electronic voting isn't safe.

Key members of the Technical Guidance Development Committee (TGDC) that drafted federal guidelines for designing and testing electronic voting machines admit that significant flaws in the machines could be exploited by hackers to change the outcome of local or national elections.

Whitney Quesenbery, a member of the TGDC, warned that the credibility of the electoral process would be irreparably damaged if election officials were unable to disprove an allegation that a system had been hacked.

"We don't want to have a mass experiment," she told internetnews.com. "But indeed that's what we're doing."

Some of the most respected names in cryptography and cyber security say that the TGDC's guidelines fail to mandate any independent means of verifying results.

The guidelines, called the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), also leave gaping security holes, they say, by allowing wireless communications with electronic voting machines and by exempting commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software from testing.

But government officials charged with enacting these guidelines insist there's nothing to worry about, and that if there were, there's nothing they could do about it anyway.

The evidence would argue otherwise.

A just-released study by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law demonstrates the existence of these flaws. The report said the nation's three commonly purchased electronic voting systems remain needlessly vulnerable to computer hacking, and lays out steps to remedy the flaws.

The authors of the report, who include renowned experts like Ron Rivest, Bruce Schneier, Howard Schmidt, and others, conclude that simple steps could be implemented to effectively thwart the most significant types of attacks. Read the entire article on internetnews.com

In A Country Where Your Vote Is Supposed To Count, You Should Be Worried About Someone Stealing Your Vote
by David Sarasohn, The Oregonian - July 4, 2006

As the U.S. marks its 230th birthday, the "consent of the governed" is threatened by lax enforcement, irregularities and outright fraud

This editorial was published in The Oregonian on July 2, 2006.

Early on in Tuesday's readings of the Declaration of Independence -- a little bit after "When in the course of human events," and just before the grill is ready for the hot dogs -- comes what Thomas Jefferson might have called the punch line:

Governments, he explained, "derive their just power from the consent of the governed."

Two hundred thirty years later, everything government does -- from fighting wars, to protecting mollusks, to delivering mail -- is based on that consent.

But in the last two presidential elections, we're not sure the governed actually consented.

The voice of the people was distorted by a blast of static.

Last week, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University issued a report after 18 months concluding that one person, with knowledge and access to voting machine software, could change the result of an election. "It's not a question of 'if,' " said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, R-Va., "it's a question of 'when.' "

If it hasn't already happened.

Read the entire editorial in The Oregonian 

From Around the States

California Voters File for Injunction to Block Use of Diebold DREs in November Elections
by VoterAction - July 3, 2006

Secretary of State failed to lawfully certify touch-screen machines prone to hacking and errors

A non-partisan and diverse group of California voters have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to block the use of Diebold Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) TSx touch-screen computerized voting systems in the state's November 2006 elections. The motion is based on well-documented security and reliability problems and the impossibility of recounts with this system, and Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's failure to follow certification procedures as required by California election code. Plaintiffs are seeking to have the case returned from Federal to State Superior Court in San Francisco, where it was originally filed, and in which it can be considered more expeditiously. The motion for preliminary injunction is filed conditionally to prevent additional delay in the event that the federal court refuses to return the case to state court, and is the most recent step in the California voters’ case. After the complaint was filed on March 21, the plaintiffs dismissed their claims against eight California counties after those county election officials agreed not to use the TSx and to submit sworn affidavits confirming their intent.

The California voters' preliminary injunction motion is supported by sworn testimony from volunteer poll workers regarding serious physical security breaches, including assigned "sleepovers", or home storage of electronic voting machines and missing security seals over memory card portals. Two of the nation's leading electronic voting security and standards experts have provided sworn declarations on security and accuracy risks inherent in Diebold DRE technology.

"The evidence submitted in support of our motion demonstrates that use of Diebold DRE computerized voting systems in the upcoming election is fraught with peril," said John Eichhorst, partner in the law firm of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco, and Co-counsel for the California voter plaintiffs. "The Secretary of State has put Californians' vote and county Registrars of Voters at risk by certifying electronic voting technology that his own panel of experts found to be prone to undetectable hacking, and that is illegal in our state for this reason. Recent experience has shown that stop-gap security conditions imposed by the Secretary of State do not solve the problems, and use of this system in the upcoming election presents a grave danger of voter disenfranchisement and election result manipulation."

"The election clock is ticking," said Lowell Finley, Co-counsel, and Co-director of Voter Action, a non-profit, non-partisan group advocating election integrity. "The California Attorney General, representing the Secretary of State, should respond promptly so that the case can be heard, and local elections officials will know what to expect before the November elections." Read the Entire Article

Yolo County CA Registrar Speaks Out On Voting Machine "Sleepovers"
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog- July 3, 2006

'If E-Voting Systems can't be secured, perhaps they ought not be used at all. Period.'

Registrar Freddie Oakley Speaks Out on the Busby/Bilbray Controversy and the Crisis Concerning Deployment of Hackable Electronic Voting Systems

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

In an email discussion yesterday among a group of Election Integrity advocates, in reply to the horrendous San Diego Union-Tribune coverage of the Busby/Bilbray issue, Yolo County, CA Registrar of Voters Freddie Oakley posted a crystal clear statement on the concerns of sending voting machines home with poll workers prior to elections.

"As an election official, I understand the practical issues involved here perfectly. I am strongly of the opinion that it is exactly this kind of practical issue that should give election officials serious reservations about deploying electronic voting machines," Oakley wrote.

"If, as a practical matter, [the electronic voting machines deployed prior to an election] can't be secured, then perhaps they ought not be used at all. Period. Until the impediment can be removed," her email statement read.

Her comment was in direct reply to a discussion about how voting machines, in the post-Hursti Hack age, might be deployed now that sending them home unsecured for "overnights" with poll workers is no longer a secure option. That hack, in Leon County, Florida in December 2005 of a Diebold optical scan voting system, has set off a chain reaction revealing massive vulnerabilities in these systems, forcing both federal and state authorities to issue extraordinary security requirements for the machines in just the last few months. Those requirements were subsequently all but ignored in the June 6th Busby/Bilbray U.S. House special election — the first federal election in the nation to be administered since the additional mitigation requirements were put in place. Read the Entire Article

Colorado: Key Government Document Altered
by Al Kolwicz, CAMBER - July 3, 2006

This article appeared on coloradovoter on July 1, 2006. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

Somebody altered an official government document, and the Secretary of State is being very quiet about it.

The altered document is the Certificate of Approval for Voting System Use for the Hart InterCivic voting system. A copy resides on the Secretary of State website, and it authorizes Colorado counties to use the Hart voting system.

The certificate was issued on February 28, 2006 after what the state describes as extensive testing of the Hart voting system.

Because of concerns regarding secret ballots, the certificate was issued with a restriction. The use of serial numbers on paper ballots is forbidden. Read the Entire Article

Iowa: In An Age Of Computerized Voting, Is It Possible To Maintain Voting Integrity?
by Sean Flaherty, Vice President, Iowans for Voting Integrity - July 3, 2006

This Guest Editorial was published in The Iowa City Press-Citizen. It is reposted with permission of the author.

The June 6 primary election has come and gone, but it should not be forgotten. A problem that has marred elections across the United States came to Pottawattamie County and offered our state an unforgettable lesson in the need for verifiable and auditable elections.

On election night, as county election workers watched absentee ballots tabulate, they noticed odd results in the race for Pottawattamie County recorder. John Sciortino, the popular incumbent of 23 years, was losing to a 19-year-old college student named Oscar Duran. Auditor Marilyn Jo Drake quickly suspected something amiss, and ordered a manual check of the paper ballots. Her suspicion proved correct: The ballot scanners had not been programmed to recognize that in different precincts the paper ballots rotated the candidates' positions. Ballot rotation is a measure commonly used to reduce the chance of voter fraud.

The faulty programming affected every race on the ballot, and the county ordered a full hand recount of all races. Sciortino won his race for the renomination of his party, and a county board race also was reversed. The Pottawattamie election snafu was covered extensively in Council Bluffs' newspaper, The Daily Nonpareil.

Drake should be commended for her alertness and conscientiousness in ordering a manual check and asking the county board for a full recount. If she had, the wrong candidates would have taken office.

Was the Pottawattamie error an isolated incident? Hardly. The ballot tabulators were programmed for this election under contract by the same company that sold the county the equipment. This company, Omaha-based Election Systems and Software, has a track record of ballot programming errors across the United States. In 2006 alone, ES&S has made major programming mistakes in Texas, Indiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Arkansas. Read the Entire Article

New York: Last in HAVA Compliance or First in Election Integrity?
by Howard Stanislevic, VoteTrustUSA E-Voter Education Project - June 27, 2006

You've read about it in the press, seen it on the Internet, perhaps even blogged about it yourself, but what's really behind New York's reported tardiness in complying with the Help America Vote Act? Perhaps it's the State's preoccupation with election integrity.

The history of New York's purported non-compliance with Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is a long one. Much has been made of HAVA's lack of requirements for voter-verified paper audit records (VVPARs) or paper ballots that can be used to allow independent verification of e-voting system tallies produced by Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) and Optical Scan (OS) systems (paper ballots provide this capability inherently of course). But bills in the New York State legislature from both sides of the aisle have required VVPARs with random audits since at least 2004. New Yorkers may be stubborn but they're not stupid.

It would be patently absurd to replace a transparent, statewide, non-proprietary, low-tech mechanical lever voting system that even prevents write-in overvotes and can only be corrupted the old fashioned way -- one machine at a time -- with opaque, proprietary, computerized e-voting systems, programmed en masse by as few as a single insider, with no means of independent verification whatsoever. And contrary to popular belief the potential for programming error or malfeasance applies equally to DRE and Optical Scan technologies. Fortunately, the independent verification issue was resolved here years ago; the legislature declared, "There shall be paper." So too was the issue of source code escrow, which recently prompted at least one major e-voting vendor (Diebold Election Systems) not to compete in the state of North Carolina. As in the Tarheel State, the escrow of vendors' proprietary software has been a requirement in New York's legislation for years.

New York law also requires the testing of every e-voting machine or system in the state approved after 1986 with at least 800 votes per year. While some may consider this excessive it's not burdensome to do with optical scanners. However, it should be noted that a typical ballot can have literally trillions of valid vote combinations, all of which cannot be tested. This is one reason why New York law also provides for party representatives and others to audit the ballot definition programming generated by election management systems. The significance of this statute is something that even some in the election integrity community do not yet fully appreciate.

In numerous states we have seen incidents of miscounted races, the outcomes of which were reversed by errors or misconduct affecting ballot programming (also known as election configuration, ballot definition files and election definition). Clearly New York and all other states need to be able to audit this data before it's loaded onto their voting systems for each election and vendors must be required to provide a means for doing so on every machine or scanner to ensure its correctness. New York provides for this, including a formal definition of the Election Configuration, in its latest Voting System Standards approved unanimously by the State Board of Elections last April. After all, verifying the ballot definition can easily be done by any poll worker with a lever machine simply by inspecting the ballot face. Unlike e-voting systems, with lever machines what you see it what you get. Read the Entire Article

Heartbreak in Pennsylvania‚s Heartland
by Marybeth Kuznik, VotePA - June 27, 2006

Centre County Joins The Masses on Paperless iVotronic Touchscreens

Centre County represents the heart of Pennsylvania in more ways than one.

A physical and cultural crossroads, and a meeting point, Centre County is something of a microcosm of the Keystone State in general. Nestled between mountain ridges and located at the geographical center of Pennsylvania, Centre is home to the main campus of the Pennsylvania State University along with much new industry and development. But in contrast, the county also contains thousands of acres of fertile farmland and traditional ways from the past. Centre County citizens and voters encompass the youthful energy of the Penn State students, progressive ideals of many faculty members, and traditional conservative views of rural residents. The diversity, cultural mix, and climate of knowledge and learning found in Centre County reflects the legacy and true spirit of William Penn's "great experiment."

Perhaps more than any other county in the state, Centre initially seemed ideally poised to make the wise choice of a paper-based, verifiable optical scan system after its citizens became involved in the process of voting machine selection. But sadly, after months of advocacy and educational work by active, concerned voters and poll workers, the Centre County Election Board voted to buy paperless iVotronic touchscreens last week in a 2-1 party-line vote. Centre County will now "join the masses" of counties nationwide that trust their democracy and their sacred right to vote to the accuracy of the privately-held ES&S Corporation's proprietary counting software. Read the Entire Article

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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