Election Integrity News - September 18, 2006

This Week's Quote: "The perfect election is when none of the imperfections go public." Robert Doug Lewis, Executive Director of The Election Center


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

NASED Chief Blows Smoke Re: E-Voting Machines

Sparks Fly As Committee Sends Photo ID Bill To The House Floor

David Wagner Responds To Questions From House Committees

Princeton Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine: Executive Summary

A Response To Diebold's Response To The Princeton Report

„Hotel Minibarš Keys Open Diebold Voting Machines

Statement of Congressman Bob Ney

News From Around the States

Alabama: Governor Given Extension For HAVA Report

Designed to Fail . . . Auditing Elections in Arizona

Colorado's E-Voting 'Expert' is no Expert, Admits 'Expert'

Diebold „Blended Systemš Causes Widespread Problems in Florida Primary

Florida: Sarasota Court Orders

Train Wreck In Maryland Primary

My Day at the Polls - Maryland Primary '06

Maryland: Report from Prince George County

Missouri: Another Defeat For Voter ID Requirements

New York: Suffolk County Executive Just Says "No" to Electronic Vote Counting

Can New York Keep Lever Machines?

Is Vermont‚s Voting System Secure?

Wisconsin: Primary Election Plagued By Computer Problems


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White House Nominates An Unknown For The EAC
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA

Who is Caroline Hunter And Why Is She Qualified To Be An EAC Commissioner?

In a press release on September 15, the White House announced its nominee to replace Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Chairman Paul DeGregorio, whose term expires on December 12. The nominee is Caroline Critchfield Hunter, who currently serves as Deputy Director of Public Liason at the White House. The brief resume provided by the White House and a scan of the internet reveal nothing to suggest that Ms. Hunter in any way fulfills the qualifications required for EAC Commissioners under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Title 2, Section 203 of HAVA clearly requires that “Each member of the Commission shall have experience with or expertise in election administration or the study of elections.”According to the press release, prior to her current position with the White House, Ms. Hunter served as Executive Officer of the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman at the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier in her career, she served as Deputy Counsel of the Republican National Committee. Ms. Hunter received her bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University and her JD from the University of Memphis. Apparently, in her role as Deputy Counsel to the Republican National Committee, she assisted the RNC and State Parties in some way with HAVA implementation. She also defended the RNC's attempt to use a list of over 23,000 names for challenges in the 2004 presidential election in Ohio.

Given the current crisis in the administration of our nation’s elections and the complex and critical issues that the EAC will face in the coming years, it is deeply troubling that the White House has chosen a nominee with no experience with election administration or the study of elecions. As Dan Tokaji noted on Equal Vote, "It is certainly possible that there is something of which I'm not aware - something not listed in the bio released by the White House - that qualifies her for the job. But if not, there's reason to be concerned that this is someone who's being appointed not for her qualifications, but rather to look out for the political interests of the party to which she belongs."

By contrast, prior to his service on the EAC Mr. DeGregorio, whom Ms. Hunter would succeed, served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), where he provided technical assistance in election administration in dozens of countries worldwide. From 1985 to 1993, Mr. DeGregorio served as Director of Elections for St. Louis County, Missouri’s largest jurisdiction. He served as Co-chair of the Missouri Election Reform Commission in 2001 and has been a member of the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, and Election Officials (IACREOT) since 1986.

I share Mr. Tokaji’s concern that “the EAC will become an agency in which the commissioners viewed their roles as protecting the interests of their parties, rather than promoting a better functioning election system as HAVA originally promised. That would likely lead to stalemates along party lines, which would effectively paralyze the EAC and destroy its ability to serve as an effective instrument for election reform.”

By law, membership on the Commission is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans (apparently other parties do not have a stake in American elections). We can only hope that the Democratic recommendation for a nominee to replace retiring commissioner Ray Martinez, will have the direct experience with elections that is not only required by law, but desperately needed at the EAC at this critical time.

The EAC and those charged with choosing its membership must remember that the primary stakeholder in the election process is not the voting industry, the election officials, or the political parties - it is the voters.

National Stories
NASED Chief Blows Smoke Re: E-Voting Machines
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - September 17, 2006

Kevin Kennedy (pictured at right) is the Elections Board Executive Director for the state of Wisconsin. He is also the present President of the National Association of State Elections Directors. Kennedy has been respected for the fact that Wisconsin is one of the few states that still allows hand counted paper ballots in some areas. He, unlike Linda Lamone of Maryland and Cathy Cox of Georgia, did not force every county and township in his state to go to Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. Wisconsin is also one of the only states to have certified Vote-PAD for use by its voters with disabilities.

However, Kennedy must have gotten pressure from above as he has joined the campaign to put all blame for elections failures on the heads of poll workers and voters. Kennedy had a visitor during the Wisconsin state primary this week in the person of Paul DeGregorio, Election Assistance Commission Chairman and a man who will tell everyone he meets that there are no problems, everything's fine; while the 'train wreck' occurs all around him. Did "Nero" DeGregorio have a talk with Kevin? Just today Kennedy was quoted in the Washington Post:

"We know the equipment works because it's been qualified to federal standards," said Kevin J. Kennedy, executive director of the Wisconsin State Elections Board and president of the National Association of State Election Directors. "The real challenge is to make sure our poll workers are trained and make sure voters have been educated so that we don't have an experience like Maryland had."

Two sentences; the first the same disinformation used by elections officials across the country over and over again and clearly false. The second statement is made to cloud the issue and put all the blame, before November, on the people and away from the machines. Read the Entire Article

Sparks Fly As Committee Sends Photo ID Bill To The House Floor
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - September 18, 2006

Outbursts And Accusations Presage Floor Battle To Come

In the face of disapproval from dozens of public interest groups including the American Assocaition of Retired People and the League of Women Voters, Republican members of the Committee on House Administration have used their majority to recommend a bill that would require all voters to present documentation of citizenship and a government-issued photo ID in order to vote in 2008. Amendments calling for expanded forms of identification and making the implementation of the bill contingent on the results of a study done to determine the effect of such a requirement were rejected by the majority members of the Committee.

Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL, pictured at right) introduced "The Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006" (HR 4844) in March, and though it has only a handful of co-sponsors, it appears to be on the fast track to a floor vote as early as this week. HR 4844would amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to require voters in every state to provide proof of citizenship and photo identification when registering to vote and when voting, has been recommended on a party line vote by the Committee on House Administration. The bill was substantially changed through an amendment in the form of a substitution by Committee Chairman Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) The controversial proposal is certain to face immediate legal challenge should it become law.

Though Rep. Hyde has been a strong advocate of "states rights" throughout his tenure in the House, his bill would prohibit state and local election officials in every state from providing a ballot - even a provisional ballot - to any individual that did not present a current and valid photo identification to the official. The type of photo identification that would be accepted is not specified in the language of the bill. The bill would take effect in this November's elections.

The highly-charged atmosphere reached a boiling point when Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) shouted "It's outrageous to hear my colleagues sit there and say that the Republican Party is embarking on a move to suppress the vote of ethnic minorities throughout the country. That is blatantly false. I am not going to sit here and by my silence give any credence to that assertion. That's ridiculous." Ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald commented "Who is presenting the legislation here?" Read the Entire Article

David Wagner Responds To Questions From House Committees
by David Wagner, Computer Science Division, University of California, Berkeley - September 11, 2006

The following responses to were provided to written questions for the record submitted by Chairman Ehlers and Chairman Boehlert to Dr. David Wagner after the joint hearing of the Science and House Administration Committees held on July 19, 2006. Questions from Democratic members of the Science Committee follow. Dr. Wagner's responses can be downloaded in PDF format here.

1. How do you think the sections of the 2005 Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines(VVSG) that deal with security should be improved?

I recommend sweeping changes to how the 2005 Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (VVSG) deal with security, to bring them up to date with fundamental changes over the past decade in how voting systems are built. The 2007 VVSG are in the process of being drafted, and I propose several suggestions for consideration.

Require that systems provide voter-verified paper records. The single most effective step that the VVSG could take toimprove security wouldbe to stop certifying new voting systems that do not provide a voter-verified paper record. The VVSG could also be revised to require that the use procedures provided by the vendor specify how to perform a routine manual audit of these paper records.

Given the current state of the art, there is no known way to provide a comparable level of security without voter-verified paper records. In the long run, as technology advances, it may be possible to develop alternative voting technologies that provide an equal or greater level of security without using paper. Consequently, it may be appropriate to structure the VVSG to permit other systems that demonstrably provide an equal or greater level of security as voter-verified paper records with manual audits. However, any such provision would need
to be accompanied by a new process for determining which systems meet this criteria. The current evaluation and testingprocessis not capable of making thesedeterminations with any credibility; major reforms of the current processes would be required before such a provision would be safe to add. Adding such a provision without accompanying reform of the process used to evaluate which systems qualify for the exception would eliminate much of the benefit of a requirement for voter-verified paper records. In addition, it should be expected that evaluating the security of systems that do not use voter-verified paper records will be considerably more expensive and difficult than evaluating systems that use voter-verified paper records, due to the fact that paperless systems do not record a permanent copy of the voter’s intent that the voter can verify.

Begin enforcing existing requirements. At present, many of the security requirements in the 2005 VVSG are not enforced or tested by the federal qualification process. While the existing requirements of the VVSG are, for the most part, a fairly reasonable start at specifying security requirements for a voting system, the lack of enforcement renders these well-intentioned requirements ineffective. Read the Entire Response

Princeton Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine: Executive Summary
by Ariel J. Feldman, J. Alex Halderman, and Edward W. Felten -September 13, 2006

Click here for more information and the full text of this study, see . A video demonstration can be viewed here.

The Diebold AccuVote-TS and its newer relative the AccuVote-TSx are together the most widely deployed electronic voting platform in the United States. In the November 2006 general election, these machines are scheduled to be used in 357 counties representing nearly 10% of registered voters. Approximately half these counties — including all of Maryland and Georgia — will employ the AccuVote-TS model. More than 33,000 of the TS machines are in service nationwide.

This paper reports on our study of an AccuVote-TS, which we obtained from a private party. We analyzed the machine's hardware and software, performed experiments on it, and considered whether real election practices would leave it suitably secure. We found that the machine is vulnerable to a number of extremely serious attacks that undermine the accuracy and credibility of the vote counts it produces.

Computer scientists have generally been skeptical of voting systems of this type, Direct Recording Electronic (DRE), which are essentially general-purpose computers running specialized election software. Experience with computer systems of all kinds shows that it is exceedingly difficult to ensure the reliability and security of complex software or to detect and diagnose problems when they do occur. Yet DREs rely fundamentally on the correct and secure operation of complex software programs. Simply put, many computer scientists doubt that paperless DREs can be made reliable and secure, and they expect that any failures of such systems would likely go undetected. Read the Entire Article

A Response To Diebold's Response To The Princeton Report
by Douglas W. Jones, University of Iowa - September 15, 2006

Douglas Jones, professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, has released the following statement in response to Diebold's published response to the recently released Princeton report on the Diebold Accuvote TS voting machine.

Diebold says:

A virus was introduced to a machine that is never attached to a network.

This response dodges the question, expressing a complete misunderstanding of the nature of viruses by implying that viruses are irrelevant if there is no network. First, viruses originally emerged as a threat in the era of the Apple ][ personal computer, where they were spread on floppy disks that were hand carried between machines. What matters, clearly, is the presence of communication, not wires. Communication by hand carried disks, or PCMCIA cards, creates an environment in which the possibility of viruses is worthy of investigation.

The current generation AccuVote-TS software - software that is used today on AccuVote-TS units in the United States - has the most advanced security features, including Advanced Encryption Standard 128 bit data encryption, Digitally Signed memory card data, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) data encryption for transmitted results, dynamic passwords, and more.

Diebold has not released to the public sufficient information to allow an assessment of the competence with which these measures were applied. As a result, we cannot determine whether these are applied in an effective way, or whether they are as ineffective as the use of DES was back in 1997. Read the Entire Article

„Hotel Minibarš Keys Open Diebold Voting Machines
by Ed Felten, Princeton University -September 18, 2006

This article was posted on Prof. Felten's blog, "Freedom To Tinker". It is reposted with permission of the author. Click here to watch Prof. Felten demonstrate a hacked Diebold TS on Fox News.

Like other computer scientists who have studied Diebold voting machines, we were surprised at the apparent carelessness of Diebold’s security design. It can be hard to convey this to nonexperts, because the examples are technical. To security practitioners, the use of a fixed, unchangeable encryption key and the blind acceptance of every software update offered on removable storage are rookie mistakes; but nonexperts have trouble appreciating this. Here is an example that anybody, expert or not, can appreciate:

The access panel door on a Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine — the door that protects the memory card that stores the votes, and is the main barrier to the injection of a virus — can be opened with a standard key that is widely available on the Internet.

On Wednesday we did a live demo for our Princeton Computer Science colleagues of the vote-stealing software described in our paper and video. Afterward, Chris Tengi, a technical staff member, asked to look at the key that came with the voting machine. He noticed an alphanumeric code printed on the key, and remarked that he had a key at home with the same code on it. The next day he brought in his key and sure enough it opened the voting machine.

This seemed like a freakish coincidence — until we learned how common these keys are.

Chris’s key was left over from a previous job, maybe fifteen years ago. He said the key had opened either a file cabinet or the access panel on an old VAX computer. A little research revealed that the exact same key is used widely in office furniture, electronic equipment, jukeboxes, and hotel minibars. It’s a standard part, and like most standard parts it’s easily purchased on the Internet. We bought several keys from an office furniture key shop — they open the voting machine too. We ordered another key on eBay from a jukebox supply shop. The keys can be purchased from many online merchants.

Using such a standard key doesn’t provide much security, but it does allow Diebold to assert that their design uses a lock and key. Experts will recognize the same problem in Diebold’s use of encryption — they can say they use encryption, but they use it in a way that neutralizes its security benefits.

The bad guys don’t care whether you use encryption; they care whether they can read and modify your data. They don’t care whether your door has a lock on it; they care whether they can get it open. The checkbox approach to security works in press releases, but it doesn’t work in the field.

Statement of Congressman Bob Ney
by Bob Ney, U.S. Representative from Ohio - September 15, 2006

Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, has agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges related to his dealings with the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, lawyers and others with knowledge of the investigation said Thursday. Rep. Ney was one of the primary authors of The Help America Vote Act of 2002 and in his position as chairman of the committee on House Administration has blocked the consideration of any election reform legislation since that time. He released this statement today. A statement from Rep. Ney's lawyers can be downloaded here.

As shown in papers filed in court, I have reached an agreement to bring the government's investigation of me to an end. The agreement will enable me to accept responsibility for what I have done, to start repairing the damage I have caused and to start healing my family.

I have made serious mistakes and am sorry for them. I am very sorry for the pain I have caused to my family, my constituents in Ohio and my colleagues.

I know that this plea agreement will probably forever change the way people view my public service. I regret this very much because I hope and believe that I have helped people through my work, and I hope that someday the good I have tried to do will be measured along side the mistakes I have made. Read the Entire Statement

From Around the States

Alabama: Governor Given Extension For HAVA Report
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - September 6, 2006

News services are reporting that U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins has given Governor Bob Riley another week to submit his first progress report as Special Master appointed by the court in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) case filed by the federal government against the state of Alabama and Secretary of State Nancy Worley. The report was initially due yesterday, the first Tuesday of the month as outlined previously by the court. Secretary of State Nancy Worley filed the mandated accounting documents with the court on September 1.

In the Motion for Extension request filed and granted on September 1, 2006, by the Governor's chief legal adviser, Ken Wallis, Riley says "Though this team is very nearly assembled, there remains one person who has not fully committed to serve and cannot be briefed on the matter until next week. Thus providing the Governor until September 12, 2006, to submit his initial progress report will enable him to then announce the entirety of his implementation team, rather than an incomplete slate."

In August Watkins gave Riley the title of "special master" and placed him in charge of developing an overdue statewide voter registration database. The decision was over the objections of Democratic Secretary of State Nancy Worley and the Alabama Democratic Conference. The request of the Justice Department to move the responsibility for the voter database to a partisan elected official is unusual. Typically, the government would seek an order telling a state official what to do, or it would ask to have a nonpartisan person appointed as a special master. Alabama is one of several states that have missed the deadline for implementing a statewide voter registration database and the Department of Justice (DoJ) has taken strikingly different approaches to the state’s that are not yet in compliance.

Riley is to "develop and implement a single, uniform, official, centralized, interactive computerized statewide voter registration list in elections for federal office which complies with Section 303 of the HAVA Act of 2002."  HAVA compliance is to be accomplished on or before August 31, 2007.

Designed to Fail . . . Auditing Elections in Arizona
by Mike Shelby, AuditAZ - September 15, 2006

Newly enacted election law in Arizona, providing for manual audits of election machines that would increase confidence in the minds of voters about the elections process, was hijacked by self-serving partisan pols almost from the get go. A provision slyly inserted in SB 1557 requires that in order for the audit to be conducted that 72 members from each major political party be made available to do the counting. If even one person doesn’t show, if 101 members from one party shows and 71 from another, elections officials are not permitted to proceed with an audit under any circumstance. No amount of reasoning, common sense, or desire to build confidence in elections by making adjustments or accommodations is allowed because of the wording of SB 1557.  We have the likes of Secretary of State Jan Brewer (R), Senator John Huppenthal (R), and a Republican legislature to credit with this turd in the punchbowl.

This numerical obstacle was known to election activists and legislators who were knowledgeable of the excruciating, circuitous, and nauseating negotiations to finally get SB 1557 through the obstructionists and forces of darkness for a floor vote. No wonder SB 1557 passed unanimously in the House and with only three votes against it (all Republican) in the Senate. Everyone who didn’t want transparency and accountability in our elections, for whatever their twisted reasons, knew the likelihood in obtaining 144 citizens to give up three, ten, or even fifteen days to the project was next to impossible. And voila, this meant an audit would never be conducted!  From their perspective it was a win/win. Why not vote for a bill the public would not know was emasculated and then be able to thump our chests that we stood for election reform? The Dark Side engineered a fait accompli providing both political cover and advantage.

All this was made painfully self-evident in the exercise to audit this week’s primary election. To her great credit, Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne with her boss Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell decided to persevere with an audit; be it official or not. Ms. Osborne had the insight to know that all will be legal and official in November and she wanted to make every possible preparation. I participated in this exercise which proved Ms. Osborne was intuitive and intelligent in her decision to make a dry run at the audit procedures. Read the Entire Article

Colorado's E-Voting 'Expert' is no Expert, Admits 'Expert'
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog - September 15, 2006

Man Appointed by SoS to Certify Voting Machines for State Has No Computer Science College Education, Failed to Test Machines for Hackability or Much Else - Colorado Democratic Party Calls on Voters to Vote by Absentee Ballot, Citizens Group Calls for Investigation of SoS

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

It's incredible (or is it at this point?) but the lawsuit filed by several Colorado voters to ban touch-screen voting machines manufactured by Diebold, ES&S, Hart InterCivic and Sequoia in the state has revealed that the state's appointed "expert" — responsible for certifying voting systems — has no actual college training in computer science and failed to do any actual testing of the systems before certifying them!

As reported in an excellent article from Rocky Mountain News news this morning:

Democratic candidate for Sec. of State, Sen. [Ken] Gordon and the Democratic Party were alarmed by a deposition in the case released this week, in which the secretary of state's staffer in charge of testing the machines says he did only 15 minutes of security checks. The staffer, John Gardner Jr., also said he had no college training in computer science, causing Gordon and others to question whether he was qualified for the job. Gardner also had been information technology chief for the El Paso County clerk, which runs elections there. 

The plaintiff's attorneys say Gardner's security checks on the four systems did not include attempts at hacking. Instead, Gardner merely checked whether the manufacturers included security documentation.

"Of course" Gardner should have tried hacking, [plaintiff attorney Paul] Hultin said. "Isn't that the idea of a test?"

Read the Entire Article

Diebold „Blended Systemš Causes Widespread Problems in Florida Primary
by Susan Pynchon, Florida Fair Elections Coalition - September 11, 2006

“My unsolicited two cents is that this is a crazy way to run an election.  Expecting jurisdictions to train for and administer two systems is just nuts.  It is the worst of a paper-based election with the worst of an electronic election.”  Ken Clark, Diebold Senior Systems Engineer, January 2003

Confusion reigned in many Florida counties at the close of Florida’s Sept. 5 primary election, due to the misreporting, or late reporting, of election results in the 31 Florida counties with Diebold Election Systems voting equipment.  

In Volusia County, the elections office issued a report around 11 pm on election night that showed 100% of the precincts in the county had reported. However, an elections official announced to the waiting public and press that, in actuality, not all the results were in.

While disconcerting and confusing for candidates and the public, the problem is far more serious than it might first appear.

The problems experienced around the state with the Diebold “blended system” confirm what  Florida Fair Elections Coalition reported in October 2005 (See “A Crazy Way to Run an Election” ) and has been stating for over a year – that the Diebold reporting “glitch” would create a nightmare in a large election. Read the Entire Article

Florida: Sarasota Court Orders
by Kindra Muntz, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections - September 14, 2006

Judge rules that County commissioners must submit amendment proposed by citizen petition to a vote

Chief Judge Robert B. Bennett, of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, State of Florida issued a final judgment on the petition for writ of mandamus by the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections that "the Board of County Commissioners of Sarasota County shall submit the proposed amendment to the Sarasota County Charter to the Sarasota County electorate in accordance with the requirements on provisions of Article VII of the Sarasota County Charter."  The amendment requires voter verified paper ballots and independent random audits of election results in Sarasota County.

This ruling in favor of the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections validates the process of proposing amendments to the charter via citizen petition. Over 14,500 voters in Sarasota County from all precincts, all demographic groups, and all political parties signed a petition for paper ballots and mandatory audits as opposed to the paperless touchscreen voting system now used in Sarasota County and 14 of the other most populous counties in Florida. This was well over the 12,030 or 5% of the registered voters needed to put the referendum on the Sarasota County ballot in November.

Rather than voting to authorize the election at their August 22nd meeting, the County Commissioners, at the advice of the County Attorney, filed a lawsuit for a declaratory judgment on the language of the petition, challenging its constitutionality.

Judge Bennett's decision validates the right of citizens to vote on the measure, and affirms the legality of much of the petition, which is the criterion for placement on the ballot. The Board of County Commissioners must respond to the judge's ruling in their meeting on September 13th. The resolution setting the election along with the ballot language must be delivered to the Supervisor of Elections by Friday, September 15th in order to print the referendum on the November 7th ballot.

Train Wreck In Maryland Primary
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - September 12, 2006

Polls across the state opened late due to missing equipment or missing poll workers The state hired voting machine technical 'rovers' from Monster.Com ad

This morning voters in much of Maryland awoke with plans to go to the polls early and then head off to a normal day. Unfortunately when they got to their polling places they only found locked doors.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun many poll workers did not show up for work this morning and when they did they many had no idea how to operate new voting technology called "e-poll books" which are a necessary part of the voting process in Maryland and many other Diebold states. The workers were not trained to use that technology because Diebold did not provide the technology to the state until it was too late to properly train the pollworkers.

According to the Sun:

Tardy election judges in Baltimore caused delays at dozens of polling places this morning, prompting some candidates to call for extended hours at affected polls in the city and Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties.
Armstead B.C. Jones Sr., president of the Baltimore Board of Elections, said that in addition to late arrivals, poll workers are unfamiliar with several pieces of new voting equipment debuting today, which is causing additional delays.

"Poll workers go through a class that's three hours long, but some of the technology wasn't available to us in time for everyone to be trained on it," Jones said, referring to the new electronic check-in system, called e-poll books. "This is not unusual for an election morning when you're dealing with brand new equipment."

Not unusual? What an unbelievable statement to make when talking about elections. It's his job as the president of the Board of Elections to ensure that every poll worker is trained and that no equipment is new to them. What should be unusual is that Mr. Jones keep his job.

And this is not the whole story. Added to a lack of trained poll workers to open the polls and operate the equipment we also learn that when the supplies were sent out to the polls in Montgomery County someone forgot to include the smart cards. These are the cards that have the ballot definition and the machines will not work without them. Read the Entire Article

My Day at the Polls - Maryland Primary '06
by Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University - September 13, 2006

This article appeared on Avi Rubin's Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

I don't know where to start. This primary today is the third election that I have worked as an election judge. The last two elections were in 2004, and I was in a small precinct in Timonium, MD. This time, I was in my home precinct about 1/2 a mile from my house. We had 12 machines, over 1,000 voters and 16 judges. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning and was at the precinct before 6:00. It is now 10:18 pm, and I just got home a few minutes ago. As I have made it my custom, I sat down right away to write about my experience while everything was still fresh. In anticipation of this, I took some careful notes throughout the day.

The biggest change over the 2004 election was the introduction of electronic poll books that we used to check in voters. I was introduced to these in election judge training a few weeks ago. These are basically little touchscreen computers that are connected to an Ethernet hub. They each contain a full database of the registered voters in the county, and information about whether or not each voter has already voted, in addition to all of the voter registration information. The system is designed so that the machines constantly sync with each other so that if a voter signs in on one of them and then goes to another one, that voter will already be flagged as having voted. That was the theory anyway. These poll books turned out to be a disaster, but more on that later.

Around 7:15, when we had been open for business for 15 minutes already, a gentlemen shows up saying that he is a judge from another precinct nearby and that they did not receive any smartcards, so that they could not operate their election. We had 60 smartcards, and the chief judge suggested that we give them 20 so that they could at least get their election started. As she was handing them over, I suggested that we had to somehow verify his claim. After all, anyone could walk in off the street and claim this guy's story, and we would give them 20 access cards. The chief judge agreed with me. The guy pulled out his driver's license to prove who he was, but I told him that we were not doubting who he was, we just wanted to verify that we should give him the cards. He seemed to understand that. After calling the board of elections, we were told to give him the cards and we did. A little later, several voters who came in informed us that news reports were saying that in Montgomery county, there was a widespread problem of missing smatcards. I could only imagine what a nightmare that was for those poll workers because as it was, our precinct did not have this problem, and as you'll see, it was still tough going. Read the Entire Article

Maryland: Report from Prince George County
by A.C. Tanner - September 16, 2006

As Alastair Farrugia, a mathematician at the Univ. of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, reminds us, "Liberty is when the people are free to speak, but democracy is when the government listens." 

A.C. Tanner served as a chief election judge in Prince George County, Maryland in the primary election on September 12, 2006. He has given permission to post the following comments. 

First, I am extremely proud of the outstanding performance of my 5 election judges, under changing conditions and unusual circumstances. To me this proves that it is possible to run an election and run it well with volunteers with a keen sense of citizenship and civic duty. And if we value our democracy, we will all continue to insist that volunteers and not professionals or contract personnel continue to conduct the elections at the polling places. 

Second, the State Board of Elections should be very careful of casting stones at county boards and their staff.  All the instructional materials provided to us, with the exception of the last minute sheet from the county, was prepared by the State BOE.  And it was a mess. The manual given to me at the county BOE training was bound, but missing several chapters. Some of these missing chapters were stapled together and handed out as a supplement. We were told that one of the chapters was out of date, and we would receive an update in the mail, which we did. All of the materials were riddled with typographical and formatting errors, and editorial notes such as "place information for chief judges here." The section on electronic poll books assumed that we would use a printer, and to my knowledge, Prince George's county had no such printers. The electronic poll book usage seems to have been a true fiasco, and the blame for that lies squarely on the State BOE and its director, Linda Lamone, who spent the money that the Governor allocated for optical scan machines on these poll books, which caused nothing but problems for judges. Read the Entire Article

Missouri: Another Defeat For Voter ID Requirements
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - September 17, 2006

Download the complete ruling here.

In another resounding defeat for efforts to require voters to present photo identification at the polls, Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled on Thursday that Missouri's new voter identification law (SB 1014) is an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote. Callahan ruled that the law was an unconstitutional burden on voters because the paperwork required to get those IDs is not free.

While agreeing that a photo ID requirement is not a burden for most of society, he wrote in his ruling “for the elderly, the poor, the under-educated, or otherwise disadvantaged, the burden can be great if not insurmountable, and it is those very people outside the mainstream of society who are the least equipped to bear the costs or navigate the many bureaucracies necessary to obtain the required documentation." Read the Entire Article

New York: Suffolk County Executive Just Says "No" to Electronic Vote Counting
by Howard Stanislevic, VoteTrustUSA - September 16, 2006

Suffolk County, NY Executive Steve Levy went on record in Newsday today in favor of keeping mechanical lever machines to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), instead of newer electronic vote counting systems which have been fraught with problems in many other states. While some may see this as an act of defiance, others will realize that Mr. Levy has just been reading the law. With millions of dollars and the very integrity of our democracy at stake, it might behoove other officials to follow Levy's example.

According to Levy, as reported by Newsday's Martin C. Evans, the HAVA and NY State's Election Reform and Modernization Act of 2005 (ERMA), which were both written to avoid a repeat of the 2000 voting debacle in Florida, were designed to *encourage* localities to buy new voting equipment -- not to *require* it. Levy wrote in a letter urging his county's  elections commissioners to oppose the new machines, "We in Suffolk County should not be inconvenienced or forced to spend millions of our precious taxpayer dollars because counties in Florida had troubles with 'hanging chads'." Unlike lever machines, ERMA banned punch card voting systems in NY last year. Read the Entire Article

Can New York Keep Lever Machines?
by Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting - September 18, 2006

Long Island verified voting advocates have been asking me if New York State can keep it's lever machines, as proposed by Suffolk county executive Steve Levy in a recent Newsday article.

Mr. Levy argument for keeping levers runs into two big problems however -

1) New York State election law declares that lever machines must be replaced by September 2007, and

2) The Department of Justice lawsuit settlement with the state of New York unambiguously declares that lever machines will be replaced by this same date.

I've provided some amplification on these two points below.

While it is clear that many New Yorkers would prefer to keep lever machines, New York State law as written and currently interpreted by the vast majority of State and County Boards of Elections, state legislators, and citizen advocacy and good government groups says that we cannot. Changing this to allow lever machines would require new legislation passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor, and figuring out how to circumvent the binding ruling by the US District Court that levers must be replaced.

Rather than pursue chimeras, New Yorkers for Verified Voting believes that citizens efforts are best spent on ensuring that New York chooses the most reliable, auditable, accessible and cost effective option - hand marked paper ballots augmented by precinct based ballot scanners and ballot markers. The final decision in New York on new voting equipment is upon us - there's no time to waste on a long shot unsupported by the legal situation in New York. Read the Entire Article

Is Vermont‚s Voting System Secure?
by Kathryn Casa, Vermont Guardian - September 8, 2006

This article was posted by The Vermont Guardian on September 8, 2006. It is reposted here with permission of the editor.

With none of the controversial touch-screen voting systems that have raised red flags in other states, and a safeguard mechanism in place, Vermonters can be assured of secure election results come November, according to Secretary of State Deb Markowitz.

Or can we?

A handful of local activists have their doubts, and last week a national voting watchdog pointed to what they say are serious problems with the Diebold optical scanner system used in Vermont.

Calais resident Jim Hogue, who helped propel the state’s ban on paperless electronic voting in 2003, said he thought at the time that the battle was over. “I thought ‘OK, we’ve won’ … and then I started discovering how vulnerable the optical scanners were.”

Optical scanners read text or illustrations printed on paper and translate the information by digitizing an image. Vermont town clerks themselves opted to use the Diebold 1.94w system, not only because it’s user friendly but because it’s compatible with existing printers, said Markowitz.

Seventy-three of Vermont’s 246 towns use them, representing more than 50 percent of the state’s approximately 417,000 registered voters. Read the Entire Article
Wisconsin: Primary Election Plagued By Computer Problems
by John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA - September 18, 2006

Wisconsin held its 2006 federal primary on September 12, 2006.  As usual on election night election officials stated that everything went smoothly. But, even with these election night assurances the reality is there are 3 counties in Wisconsin with reported troubles. The counties are Winnebago County (which contains the City of Oshkosh), Waukesha County, and Milwaukee County.

Winnebago County

In Winnebago County the blended system of Diebold AccuVote OS optical scanners and Diebold AccuVote TSx DRE's did not integrate as advertised. The main technical problem is the 2 sets of components to the blended system do not actually blend. Fidlar Election Company is the Diebold representative in Winnebago County. Fidlar stated a product called the "accumulator" would allow the two technologies to "blend" and produce precinct-level reporting of candidate totals.

There are two problems with the "accumulator" product sold in Winnebago County. The first problem is technical. The accumulator does exist or at least is not available for sale. The second problem is a legal one. Wisconsin has not certified the use any Diebold system using the "accumulator" so even if the accumulator were delivered by November 7, 2006, state law would prohibits its use.  Using uncertified voting systems is violation of Wisconsin statute WI 5.40(2). The matter of the possible fraud of selling this system has been turned over to the County Counsel for Winnebago County. County Supervisor Jef Hall is also following up by proposing a resolution to hold back a portion of the payment to Diebold equal to the overtime required to hand count the votes the "accumulator" vaporware could not accumulate. Read the Entire Article

Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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