Election Integrity News - July 18, 2006

This Week's Quotes: " "The hallmark of American democracy is one person, one vote. I strongly believe that the best way to make sure those votes count is to switch to one statewide paper ballot system as we have done in New Mexico." New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson

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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

Houses Passes Reauthorization Of The Voting Rights Act

EAC Adopts Interim Program For Certification of Voting System Modifications

NEA To Write State Election Officials In Support Of Paper Ballots And Audits

Inventor of Electronic Voting Verification System Sues Industry Giants for Patent Infringent

Federal Committee To Investigate Sequoia Ownership

News From Around the States

California Votersā Suit to Block Electronic Voting Machines Remanded Back to State Court

California: San Diego County Regitrar Stymies Busby/Bilbray Hand Count

Colorado Response To HAVA Complaint Is Unfair and Incomplete

Georgia Election Integrity Groups Call For Decertification Of Diebold Voting Systems

New Mexico Governor Richardson Exhorts Secretaries of State To Adopt Paper Ballot Voting Systems

A Key Victory For New York Election Integrity Activists

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Human or Machine Error: What's The Truth?
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA

Some elections officials constantly invoke "voter trust and confidence" as the most important part of their jobs. In that invocation they cite disinformation about there being no incidents of voting machine problems as they blame all problems on the human factor. It's a strange defense of voting machines because it is completely false and there are stacks of evidence of failures to prove that it is a false defense. That is unless they go back to humans designing and building the systems; the failures are certainly all human if you go back that far.

On June 15, the Elections Assistance Commission held their monthly meeting, in Washington DC, with the intent of getting a report on a project they are funding that will provide a set of guidelines for election management and that will be available for use by every county in the country. Even in the atmosphere of a meeting that probably had few people in the audience and that was conducted with the typical sugary sweet politeness of a publicly held federal committee meeting the commissioners, and at least one of their 'insider' speakers, practiced delivering their misinformation. Perhaps they are trying to convince themselves that they must 'trust and have confidence' by repeating the false premise that voting machines do not fail, humans fail?

Tom Wilkey is the Executive Director of the EAC. In the meeting he had this to say about the status of voting machines in the 2006 primaries, "There have been some issues, but none appear to be systematic[sic] issues related to the operation of the voting equipment."

In his testimony Dr. Brit Williams, who was one of the two people to report on the election management manual, made this stunningly ill-informed statement, "It is difficult to find a single incident where an election anomaly was a direct result of the voting system." He then followed that statement with another, "……election anomalies are rarely caused by the voting system. They are caused by human mistakes, not by people intent upon malicious mischief or fraud, but by honest, well-meaning people making perfectly normal human mistakes."

It is apparent that the EAC is all about promoting "trust and confidence" by misrepresenting the facts instead of fixing the problems. Instead of forcing the vendors to produce a good product and good service the EAC, instead, keeps quiet about known and publicized problems with voting machines as they tell everyone to have confidence in the voting system. Read the Entire Article

National Stories
Houses Passes Reauthorization Of The Voting Rights Act
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - July 16, 2006

Overwhelming Bi-Partisan Support For Reauthorization -  Senate Leaders Confident Of Quick Passage

By a 390-33 vote, The House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to renew expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act after supporters fended off challenges from several opponents. The Act to renew the expiring provisions, HR 9, was renamed "The Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006" to honor these women for their continued and devoted efforts to achieve justice and equality for all people. Originally passed in 1965, the Voting Rights Act eliminated race discrimination, poll taxes, and literacy tests at the polls and established additional measures in areas in which race-based discrimination occurred in the past.

VoteTrustUSA joins with advocates and organizations across the political spectrum in applauding the House’s actions and calling from swift Senate action in renewing all provisions of the voting Rights Act. The National Council of Churches wass representative of the wide support for the renewal of the VRA in their statement
released on Friday
:

"We applaud the House of Representatives for passing the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 by an overwhelming majority. By doing so, they have honored the civil rights pioneers for whom this bill is named and moved our nation forward in the area of civil rights. Indeed, this is a great victory for all Americans!

A New York Times article quoted Representative John Lewis (D-GA, pictured at right), Democrat of Georgia, who recalled marching on "Bloody Sunday," a turning point in the movement for black voting rights in 1965, when the police in Selma, Alabama, beat 600 civil rights demonstrators.

"I gave blood," Lewis said, his voice rising, as he stood alongside photographs of the clash. "Some of my colleagues gave their very lives.
 
"Yes, we've made some progress; we have come a distance," Lewis added. "The sad truth is, discrimination still exists. That's why we still need the Voting Rights Act and we must not go back to the dark past."
Leadership of both parties and the Administration have given solid support to the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, with both Republican and Democratic House and Senate leaders appearing on the Capitol steps in May to call for renewal of the expiring VRA provisions. The small, but vocal, opposition to the renewal has been perceived as an embarrassment to the Republican leadership. In an unusual development, four amendments were allowed floor discussion, including one that would have required the Justice Department to demonstrate why the voting procedures in certain states should still be under federal oversight. It has been the practice of House speaker to limit floor amendments to those which have the support of a “majority of the majority. Read the Entire Article

EAC Adopts Interim Program For Certification of Voting System Modifications
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - July 13, 2006

At a public hearing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Election Assistance Commission has formally adopted the first phase of their implementation of a new Voting System Testing and Certification Program (VSTCP). This “pre-election” phase, which will begin on July 24, 2006, is intended to provide manufacturers with a means of obtaining Federal certification for modifications required by state and local election officials prior to the November, 2006 elections. The pre-election phase will terminate upon adoption of the full testing and certification program this December. Any such certification obtained prior to the full implementation of the VSTCP will be considered provisional and will expire upon adoption of the full program.

The pre-election phase will be limited to modifications of previously certified systems and system integration. No new voting systems will be accepted for certification before adoptation of the full program and only modifications of systems previously qualified by NASED to the 2002 standards will be eligible for provisional certification.

EAC Executive Director Tom Wilkey reported briefly on the Commission’s progress in developing the full testing and certification program. He stressed that while the pre-election phase was merely an interim solution for emergencies that may arise in the months before the November elections, the full program will be much more extensive. The program documentation will be available for public review in September at the EAC website. There will be a 30 day public comment period before the program is finalized.

Wilkey also noted that the process of accreditation of testing laboratories will be undertaken by National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP). The laboratories that have been certifying voting systems under the NASED process will be required to apply for accreditation under the new program. In addition, six other laboratories have already applied for accreditation and are under review.

NEA To Write State Election Officials In Support Of Paper Ballots And Audits
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - July 17, 2006

At their annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, the National Education Association (NEA) has passed a new business item that directs President Reg Weaver to write a letter to the Secretary of State or chief election official in each state, urging them to better secure the November 7th and all subsequent elections by implementing the following protections:

1. instituting or supporting an adequate audit of ballots cast, including an audit of absentee and provisional ballots, comparing the electronic record with the paper trail.
2. using voter verified paper ballots as the ballot of record for audits or recounts, rather than accepting a recount by electronic machines.
3. refraining from injurious voter registration systems or procedures--such as Exact Voter ID Match system, fines for missing a registration mail-in deadline, improper purging of voter rolls and "caging."
4. urging a moratorium on all paperless touch screen and all wireless voting systems.
5. establishing uniform and secure procedures and elections.
In their rationale for the directive, the NEA stated their desire to join the Brennan Center for Justice and the National League of Women Voters in supporting audits that rely on voter verified paper ballots. They emphasized that these audits (at least 3-5% of randomly selected precincts) must include provisional and absentee ballots. They further stressed that voter registration procedures must encourage, not suppress, voter participation.

Inventor of Electronic Voting Verification System Sues Industry Giants for Patent Infringent
by PR Newswire - July 12, 2006

Download Complaint
Complaint Exhibit A
Complaint Exhibit B 

SimmonsCooper LLC has filed a lawsuit against the three largest voting machine manufacturers for infringing AVANTE International Technology Corporation's Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) and optical scan patents.

Named in the suit are Diebold Election Systems, Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), and Sequoia Voting Systems. The suit was filed on behalf of Kevin Chung, CEO of Avante International Technology Corporation, Inc., who invented VVPAT.

AVANTE's VVPAT and optical scanning (which includes automatic ballot marking) patents allow voters to verify that their electronically-cast ballots are being accurately counted while also allowing for auditability between the paper record and the electronic record.

The AVANTE technology directly addresses widespread skepticism about the integrity of electronic voting, solving a problem that has threatened to undermine public faith in a process tainted in recent elections by allegations of computer manipulation.

"AVANTE isn't the only victim here," said Paul Lesko, the SimmonsCooper lawyer representing AVANTE. "Local governments, acting in good faith in determining which electronic voting system would serve the needs of their districts, also have every reason to be upset at these companies.

"We believe the evidence will show that these companies sold infringing equipment to public officials, and that they did so consciously, with knowledge of AVANTE's intellectual property," added Mr. Lesko

Federal Committee To Investigate Sequoia Ownership
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - July 16, 2006

Responding to a request from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, pictured at right), the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) has opened an investigation into whether the foreign ownership of Sequoia Voting Systems compromises national security. Smartmatic, whose majority owners once had links to the Venzuelan government, acquired Sequoia last year. Earlier this year CFIUS, a 12-agency panel chaired by the Treasury Department, approved a bid by a Dubai company to buy several U.S. port operations, a deal that was subsequently terminated after questions were raised in Congress and in the media.

The ranking member of the subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology, which has jurisdiction over CFIUS, Maloney sent a letter on May 4, stating that she wanted to ensure the Smartmatic deal had received federal scrutiny. Maloney was quoted in a recent syndicated article "as you can imagine, having a foreign government investing in or owning a company that supplies voting machines for U.S. elections could raise concerns over the integrity of elections conducted with those machines."

In a press release that accompanied her letter to CFIUS Maloney wrote:

Smartmatic was first the subject of controversy in 2004 when the Hugo Chavez-led Venezuelan government selected it to provide the voting machines system for the presidential recall election, even though it would be the company’s first time providing machines for an election. Smartmatic teamed up with a Venezuelan software company, Bitza, which at the time was 28% owned by Chavez’s government. More recently, a Chicago city alderman questioned the possible ties between Sequoia and the Venezuelan government when that company’s machines were used in the March 2006 Chicago primaries.
According to the article cited above, Brookly McLaughlin, a CFIUS spokeswoman, said she could not comment on whether the committee cleared the purchase. McLaughlin also declined to confirm or deny whether the committee is investigating Smartmatic's purchase of Sequoia. She said she could only say that CFIUS "has been in contact" with Smartmatic.

From Around the States

California Votersā Suit to Block Electronic Voting Machines Remanded Back to State Court
by VoterAction - July 13, 2006

As a first-step to victory in a California voters’ lawsuit against Secretary of State Bruce McPherson (pictured at right) to block the State’s use of Diebold touch-screen electronic voting systems – which have a well-documented history of security, reliability, and verifiability problems -- the United States District Court in Oakland today entered an order remanding the voter plaintiffs’ lawsuit to the California Superior Court in San Francisco, where it was originally filed on March 21, 2006. The Court’s decision in Holder v. McPherson, et al. rejected an effort by California Attorney Bill Lockyer, Secretary of State McPherson’s attorney, to transfer the case from state to federal court.

The Court’s decision was announced today by the law firm of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco and the Law Offices of Lowell Finley in Berkeley, co-counsels for the California voter plaintiffs, and Voter Action, which is supporting the legal action in California. Voter Action is also supporting similar cases in Colorado, Arizona, and New York. In response to the California voters’ lawsuit, elections officials in seven California counties have signed affidavits that they will not use Diebold touch screens for the November elections. Twelve California counties remain in the suit, as well as Secretary of State McPherson.

In her written order granting the plaintiffs’ motion to remand their lawsuit to California Superior Court in San Francisco, Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong of the US District Court for Northern California concluded that the Attorney General’s attempt to move the case to federal court was "legally improper."

"The Court’s decision is a victory for California voters, who need to know if their right to have their votes recorded and counted accurately will be protected, and local elections officials who will need time to make alternative arrangements if the Court agrees that the only way to protect those rights is to prohibit use of Diebold touch-screen voting machines," said Jason Takenouchi, an attorney for the plaintiffs and an associate at of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin. Read the Entire Article

California: San Diego County Regitrar Stymies Busby/Bilbray Hand Count
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - July 13, 2006

Registrar Mikel Haas Refuses to Supply Chain of Custody Docs as Requested by Voter, Fails to Explain $150,000 Cost Estimate, $6000 Deposit Demand, Disparity in Quotes; Runs out Clock…

Hand Count Filer: 'It seems nobody is accountable here, and the voters are just left out to dry.'

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

"It seems the Registrar is the judge and juror, the decider and the arbiter and is accountable to no one. Clearly, we've been stonewalled by the Registrar," opined Barbara Gail Jacobson in regard to having little or no legal recourse to challenge the seemingly arbitrary rules set by San Diego County Registrar Mikel Haas concerning her requested hand count of ballots in the special U.S. House election held in California's 50th district on June 6th.

Jacobson's request to hand count paper ballots and "paper trails" in the disputed CA-50 Busby/Bilbray election to replace the jailed Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham looks to have hit a brick wall. The SD Country Registrar of Voters office has refused to provide chain of custody documents sought by Jacobson in relation to her request, filed after the revelation that the election employed Diebold optical-scan and touch-screen voting machines in apparent violation of both state and federal law.

In a letter sent Tuesday by Jacobson to Registrar Haas' office, in reply to an email the office had sent late that day, the San Diego resident requested a written commitment that the requested documents would be provided before a hand count would begin, and prior to the payment of the $6000 as demanded by Haas — by 3pm Tuesday — to cover the costs of the first day's counting on Wednesday. Read the Entire Article

Colorado Response To HAVA Complaint Is Unfair and Incomplete
by Al Kolwicz, CAMBER - July 14, 2006

Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis (pictured at right) has published her HAVA complaint finding and Al Kolwicz, the person who filed the complaint, has objected to the report.

The July 10, 2006 determination regarding HAVA complaint SOS-HAVA-01-06-0001 is unfair and incomplete.  The conclusions reached are not supported by the facts. I do not accept this determination.

1. According to the report, both administration and public testimony agree that both of the charges made in the complaint are true. Yet, the report fails to recommend that the law be enforced.

a. There is no disagreement that when a ballot is marked on a continuous roll, it is “marked in any way whereby the ballot can be identified as the ballot of the person casting it.”  Instead of recommending enforcement of the law, the report argues why it is OK to use unconstitutional ballots.

b. There is no disagreement that a blind voter cannot verify that their votes are correctly printed before they are cast.  Instead of recommending enforcement of the law, the report argues that blind voters do not need the protections offered by the law.
Read the Entire Article

Georgia Election Integrity Groups Call For Decertification Of Diebold Voting Systems
by Donna Price, Georgians for Verified Voting, and John Fortuin, Defenders of Democracy - July 12, 2006

Georgians for Verified Voting and Defenders of Democracy are calling on the Georgia State Election Board and the Office of the Secretary of State to:

1) Immediately decertify the state’s Diebold Election System (DES).  
2) Begin immediate preparations for the deployment of an alternative means of voting in time for the 2006 General Election;
3) To contract with an outside, independent source for parallel testing to be conducted randomly in precincts in 3 counties in Georgia -- Cobb, DeKalb, and Fulton –- for the primary on July 18, 2006, as recommended by the Brennan Report, "The Machinery of Democracy:  Protecting elections in an Electronic World".

A security vulnerability recently exposed in the architecture of the DES is being called a "major national security risk" by computer science and security experts. The effect of this vulnerability is that voting systems could be infected throughout an entire state, enabling one attacker to alter election results statewide.

"It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is an examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania.

This vulnerability represents an open backdoor that is part of the design of the Diebold TS-R6, which has been deployed in Georgia since 2002.

Diebold admits to this vulnerability but calls it a “feature.”

New Mexico Governor Richardson Exhorts Secretaries of State To Adopt Paper Ballot Voting Systems
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - July 12, 2006

As keynote speaker for at a joint luncheon of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) and the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (pictured at right) called on election officials to adopt a paper ballot optical scan voting system.

"I never want an American to leave a polling place again wondering if his or her vote will count," Richardson said. "The hallmark of American democracy is one person, one vote. I strongly believe that the best way to make sure those votes count is to switch to one statewide paper ballot system as we have done in New Mexico."

Earlier this year, Richardson sent a letter to the election administrators of all 50 states urging them to follow New Mexico’s lead. In that letter he wrote:

Some believe that computer touch screen machines are the future of electoral systems, but the technology simply fails to pass the test of reliability. As anyone who uses one can attest, computers break down, get viruses, lose information, and corrupt data. We know this to be the case, and so we back-up our files to ensure nothing important is lost.  Paper ballots serve as the ultimate back-up for our elections, providing secure and permanent verification of the will of the people.

New Mexico has chosen paper ballots as the best system to secure our election process.  With the new system in place, future elections will be secure, honest, and verifiable.  Every vote will count and the citizens of our state will know that their government belongs to them.
After attracting national scrutiny after the 2004 General Election, the New Mexico legislature passed sweeping election reform legislation in 2005 that required a voter verified paper record of every vote and a mandatory random manual audit. This year, Governor Richardson successfully promoted legislation that mandated a statewide paper ballot optical scan voting system.

Beyond the benefits of accountability and verifiability, Richardson pointed out to the assembled election administrators the cost benefits of a paper ballot system.

A Key Victory For New York Election Integrity Activists
by Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting - July 14, 2006

In a key win for New York State verifiable voting advocates, four companies have submitted precinct ballot scanners for certification testing.

For years voting machine vendors have tried to keep ballot scanners unavailable to New York. A comment in 2004 to Assembly woman Sandy Galef from the president of ES&S - "New York is a DRE state" shows the presumption that electronic touch screen voting was to be the only alternative for New Yorkers.

But ongoing advocacy by citizens calling for paper ballot systems forced voting machine vendors to begin demonstrating paper ballot scanners in New York. But until this week, there was no guarantee that any vendor would actually submit a scanner system for certification. If no vendor submitted a system, there would be no paper based system available for counties to choose as an alternative to DREs.

But yesterday, the State Board of Elections announced that four vendors had submitted precinct based ballot scanners for certification testing. The growing citizen demand for adoption of paper ballot systems has won another key victory, and an essential step in the battle for paper ballots. Read the Entire Article

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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