Election Integrity News - October 31, 2006

This Week's Quote: "The last thing we need in a country where partisan margins are close and where people are unhappy with, and suspicious of, their governing institutions is a months-long struggle over who has won the elections, with half the country convinced that the outcome was rigged. If that happens, those Members of Congress who refused to take up election reforms this year, stubbornly clinging to the notion that the (underfunded) Help America Vote Act solved the problems, or at least that we should wait another election cycle or two to grapple with the issue again, will have a lot of explaining to do." Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Five Ways You Can Protect Your Vote This November!

1. Vote! Whether you vote on November 7th or by early voting or absentee ballot, the only way to be sure your vote won't count is if you don't vote.

2. Find out if you're registered and where to vote. For many states, you can find much of this information at www.CanIVote.org. You can also call your county election office.

3. Verify Your Vote If you're voting on an electronic voting machine equipped with a paper trail printer, be sure to confirm that your vote is recorded accurately on the paper record. If there is a problem notify the poll worker before casting your vote.

4. Bring Identification If your state requires a photo ID (Arizona, Indiana, and Florida) bring a photo ID. In every state, if you are voting for the first time and you registered by mail, you need to bring identification with you to the polls.

5. Election Protection Hotline If you encounter any problem in the voting process call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) for English or 1-888-VEY-VOTA (1-888-839-8682 para la ayuda en espanol).


In this issue ...

National Stories

E-VOTING TRAIN WRECK 2006: The Week In Review

A Response to the EAC Chairman's Op-Ed

EAC Testimony on Voting System Testing and Certification

Military Internet Voting Revisited

Voter Confusion

Lou Dobbs: The Voting Machine Vendors Are the Clients of the Testing Labs

Statistical Issues in Elections

Smartmatic Announces It Is Undergoing CFIUS Review

News From Around the States

Arizona: Count the Votes - But Donāt Close the Courts or Get Rid of the Lawyers

California: Asian American Organizations Condemn Anti-Latino Voter Intimidation in Orange County

Colorado: Boulder County GOP Sues Elections Officials

University of Connecticut VoTeR Center Report: Diebold AccuVote Optical Scan Is Vulnerable to Serious Attacks

Iowa: Voters Urged To Vote On Paper Ballots

Keeping an Eye on the Machines That Count Minnesotans' Votes

Ohio Voter ID Rules Change For A Third Time in Four Days

Tennessee: Documented Election Law and Security Violations in Shelby County

___________________________

Click Here for Previous Issues

One Year Ago: The October 25, 2006 Issue of Election Integrity News

Subscribe to Election Integrity News!

Put the Election Integrity News on your Website or Computer with our RSS Newsfeed

Election Officials and Election Activists
Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA

At a public hearing of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) last week, I was was asked by Commissioner Donetta Davidson what advice I would give to election officials to help counteract the growing crisis of confidence in the election process. I offered some initial suggestions and agreed to provide an expanded list. Many election officials have adopted some or all of these suggestions already and they are to be commended.

1. Audit. Fourteen states will be conducting random hand counted audits of their electronic voting machines this November. This is the single most powerful action that a state election administrator could take to demonstrate their commitment to accuracy and security.  Citizen concern about electronic voting machines is not only motivated by fear of hacking or tampering – there have been dozens of cases of ballot programming errors that have affected election results.

Conducting a publicly-observed manual hand count of a meaningful percentage of paper records is a win-win proposition. Make the whole process public - the random selection of precincts and the hand count. If the audit shows that the electronic tallies were accurate, then voters are reassured. If the audit uncovers irregularities, then further audits should be undertaken and the cause of the irregularities should be investigated. Either way, you have established that your top priority is the accuracy of the election results.  
 
2. Work with computer security experts. In an op-ed piece last week, EAC Chairman Paul DeGregorio wrote “I strongly encourage experts and others with concerns to join forces with election officials and identify the real security risks - set up mock polling places with all of the Election Day safeguards, including poll workers.” This of course is exactly what happened last December in Leon County, Florida.

Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho invited computer security experts to show whether an election could be hacked – a mock election with all of the Election Day safeguards. But the result was uncomfortable - the experts demonstrated that election results could be altered undetectably. One would think that this revelation, and the revelations of countless other studies, would lead election officials to demand that the machines not be used until the vulnerabilities were addressed. However, while a few states did institute stronger security procedures, most did not, and the flaw exploited in Leon County remains in the equipment, which will used in dozens of states across the country next week.

Chairman DeGregorio is right, state election officials should be encouraged to work with activists & IT security experts to identify real security risks by conducting testing in the real world environment of elections: the processes he describes in this editorial, going all the way from the vendors to the national testing laboratories to state testing to the conduct of elections to the counting and reporting of the results.  

3. Post as much information as possible. Provide your voters with as much information as you possibly can on your official website and make it easy to find. Never decide that no one will be interested in this certification report or that precinct-level election data. I am interested and I know plenty of citizens in every state who are interested too.

4. Avoid using voting industry talking points. Election integrity activists read the manufacturers’ press releases and marketing materials and we recognize when the same message comes from vendor representatives and election officials. You were elected or appointed to serve the citizens of your state, not to act as a public relations representative for the voting machine manufacturers and their products that you have spent taxpayer money to purchase.

5. Don’t dismiss citizen concern. Voters are tired of being dismissed as uninformed and naive. There are dedicated activists in every state that have committed years  of their lives to learning about the complexities of election administration, the Help America Vote Act, their state election code, and the voting technology being used in their county. They, in turn, represent thousands of voters that may not be as sophisticated but have serious and legitimate concerns about the voting machines on which they cast and count their votes.

When something goes wrong - admit it and fix it. Rather than dismissing election integrity activists who draw attention to election irregularities, engage them in improving the process. In several states election officials have embraced citizen activists, involving them in election reform task forces and audit teams. Election officials and voting activists share the same goal – fair elections - and we should be working together toward that goal. Permalink

National Stories

E-VOTING TRAIN WRECK 2006: The Week In Review
by John Gideon VotersUnite.org - October 28, 2006

Still over a week from election day and already the problems are piling up. Meanwhile the vendors and their shills are making excuses and attempting to sell the voting public a line of garbage. Among the shills is a federal agency, the Election Assistance Commission, that is supposed to assist the voter and, instead, has sent their chairman out on the road to defend the vendors.

In a blog posted yesterday, Brad Friedman said it well:

"The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) is a complete and utter failure. The current commissioner, Paul DeGregorio, has done nothing to instill confidence in elections or provide a lick of oversight in the deployment and use of these voting systems across the nation in the Midterm Election. In his latest interviews and editorials, he is reprehensibly doing nothing but echoing Voting Machine Company propaganda and Election Officials who choose to be apologists for them."

In a rebuttal to DeGregorios' opinion piece in the Tallahassee Democrat Avi Rubin, Johns-Hopkins Professor, computer scientist and author of "Brave New Ballot" had this to say in his blog:

"I have not seen any reason to trust our nation's voting equipment. Trusting it just because an election official says we should is not good enough for me. I want to trust a system because I don't believe it can be compromised, not because someone implies that not trusting it is not patriotic."
Read the Entire Article

A Response to the EAC Chairman's Op-Ed
by Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University - October 28, 2006

This response was posted on Avi Rubin's Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

In an opinion piece yesterday, EAC chairman Paul DeGregorio argues that academics who are criticizing electronic voting machines are running experiments "in the sterile environment of a laboratory" and that the "hype over hacking [can] discourage voters from participating in elections." He also states that the academic, computer scientists who demonstrate that we can "hack a voting machine" with "unlimited time and resources" are proving nothing. I believe that these comments are aimed more at Ed Felten than at me, but I feel compelled to respond, or at least, to blog about this here.

In my book, Brave New Ballot, I use an analogy about the way the FDA tests drugs to demonstrate how broken the voting system testing process is. This comment by Mr. DeGregorio brings that analogy to mind again. Say that a drug is released to the public and that several well regarded doctors test the drug in their labs and determine that for some reason, this drug is dangerous. Can you imagine someone in the government reacting to that by encouraging people to use the drug and stating that these academic scientists are testing the drug in an unrealistic setting?

But, by responding that way, in a sense, I'm taking the bait because Mr. DeGregorio has actually mischaracterized our position with respect to electronic voting. His op-ed article is based on the flawed assumption that we oppose DRE voting machines because they can be hacked in the lab. While I believe that these machines are indeed vulnerable to undetectable viruses, and while I believe that the demonstrations put forward at Princeton are realistic and frightening, the truth is that focusing a debate on that question is a distraction from our real reasons for opposing these voting machines. Read the Entire Article

EAC Testimony on Voting System Testing and Certification
by Michael I. Shamos, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University - October 27, 2006

The following testimony was delivered at the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Public Hearing on the Draft Voting System Testing and Certification Program Manual in Washington, DC on October 26, 2006. It is reposted with permission of the author.

In testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Science in June 2004, I offered the opinion that “the system we have for testing and certifying voting equipment in this country is not only broken, but is virtually nonexistent. It must be re-created from scratch or we will never restore public confidence in elections. I believe that the process of designing, implementing, manufacturing, certifying, selling, acquiring, storing, using, testing and even discarding voting machines must be transparent from cradle to grave, and must adhere to strict performance and security guidelines that should be uniform for federal elections throughout the United States.” Not only do I still hold that view, but election events over the past two years have convinced me even more that it is the correct one.

As a state examiner, I often feel like a pathologist, my examination table littered with the dead bodies of voting systems that passed federal testing but failed at the state level. The average pass rate for federally qualified voting systems in Pennsylvania is approximately 50%, when it should be well above 90%, and I often ask aloud during examinations how a particular flaw could possibly have gotten past an Independent Testing Authority (ITA) [laboratory]. But my question is rhetorical, for I cannot find out. Even when I see an ITA Qualification Report, it is obscure. It contains a lengthy list of tests allegedly performed and an indication whether the system passed them or not, but no information on how the tests were conducted, how close the system came to failing or how many times a test had to be performed for the system to pass.

For me, the overriding purpose of federal testing is to relieve the states of the burden of testing to the voting system guidelines. For the states to disband their own testing procedures and place reliance on federal laboratories creates a profound obligation on those laboratories to conduct testing in a way the can be fully trusted upon by the states and the voters. Right now, we cannot rely on the ITA process, and codifying it into a set of federal regulations will not bring the sea change that is necessary.

I find it instructive that in the history of the ITA system, no system ever failed qualification. Instead of a pass/fail system, the only options are “pass” and “hasn’t passed yet.” There is no feedback to the public at all on what, if anything, is flawed about the systems that have been tested. This structure is retained in the current draft Manual, which does not even contain the word “failure.”

My chief criticism of the draft Manual is that it legitimizes by specifying in great detail a system that has proven not to meet the critical needs of either the states or the voters. Section 1.4.4 of the draft Manual states that a purpose of the EAC Certification Program is to “increase voter confidence in the use of voting systems.” That will not happen if the EAC simply takes over management of the current ITA mechanism. Read the Entire Article

Military Internet Voting Revisited
by David Jefferson, Avi Rubin, Barbara Simons, and David Wagner - October 25, 2006

Security and Identity Theft Risks of the DoD’s Interim Voting Assistance System

Background

In 2004 the Defense Department Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) built and intendedto deploy a voting system called SERVE, the Secure Electronic Registration and VotingExperiment, designed to help military personnel and overseas civilians to register and vote in theprimary and general elections of that year. As members of an external peer review panel for SERVE, we published a report entitled “A Security Analysis of the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE),” In the report we identified a large number of security risks and vulnerabilities, including denial of service attacks, insider attacks, viral attacks on voters’ PCs, and many others. Shortly after publication of the report, the DoD terminated the program, citing security concerns.

We recently learned that FVAP has created a new online system, the Interim Voting Assistance System (IVAS). IVAS has a similar mission, namely to aid military personnel and overseas civilians to register and vote in the coming November 7 general election. In this short paper wepresent our serious concerns about the security issues posed by this new system.

None of these security concerns is original; all were raised in a DoD internal review, discussed below. Read the Entire Article

Voter Confusion
by Tova Andrea Wang, The Century Foundation - October 28, 2006

This article was posted at The Century Foundation website. It is reposted with permission of the author.

All over the country this November, new voting laws will be in effect that will make an already highly combustible election all the more complicated. None is more troubling than the raft of unnecessary and disenfranchising voter identification laws. In two states the strictest of these types of laws have been held unconstitutional and barred from implementation, but throughout the country the damage is likely already done. In many states that are critical to the upcoming election, there is tremendous confusion over the new voting procedures. This confusion over a state’s voter identification requirements may lead to voters being asked for forms of identification they are not required to have, longer lines, more provisional ballots that must be evaluated and counted after the election, and voters avoiding the polls because they think they do not have the proper identification to vote when in fact they do.

Incredibly, the Supreme Court, of all bodies, has just made that confusion worse in the state of Arizona. Arizona has a new rule that requires voters to prove citizenship when registering to vote and to present either photo identification or two forms of approved non-photo identification in order to vote. After a series of court battles over this new law in which the rule was initially upheld, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an emergency injunction against implementation of the new law. Quite suddenly, last Friday the Supreme Court undid this ruling on mostly procedural grounds, and ordered the state to in fact proceed with this very dangerous new rule. As election lawyer Robert Bauer has astutely pointed out, when bona fide challenges are made to a law that clearly places restrictions on the franchise, “there is no good cause for leaving it in place until final adjudication. This is not the place for deference to legislative authority.” So just as elections officials, poll workers, and voters were preparing to go forward with the election under the rules Arizona had always followed for years prior to this new restriction on the right to vote (except for a low turnout September primary), the Supreme Court, in the name of avoiding voter confusion, two weeks before the election turned everything upside down again. Will we be surprised if voters and poll workers are totally unclear about what they have to do to gain access to the polls? Read the Entire Article

Lou Dobbs: The Voting Machine Vendors Are the Clients of the Testing Labs
by CNN Transcripts - October 26, 2006

The following is a transcript of a segment that appeared on Lou Dobbs Tonight Oct. 26, 2006.

LOU DOBBS: Turning now to our special series, "Democracy at Risk", it's a case of special interest over the national interest. The laboratories testing and certifying e-voting machines are paid, paid by the manufacturers of e-voting machines. It's an outrageous conflict of interest that is putting our democracy, tonight, at risk.

Kitty Pilgrim reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With only 12 days before the November election, the Election Assistance Commission was begging manufacturers and testers of electronic voting machines to reassure them the election would work.

TOM WILKEY, executive director, Election Assistance Commission, President and Company Manager, SysTest Labs: Is my vote going to count? Your comment, please?

FRANK PADILLA, Test Supervisor, Wyle Laboratories : Absolutely.

KEITH WILSON, Manager, Wyle Laboratories: If you go to the polls, yes.

IAN PIPER, Diebold: 100 percent.

PILGRIM: But at this hearing in Washington, a clear demonstration of just how cozy manufacturers are with the labs who test their machines. Executives sat elbow to elbow on the same panel and testified together.

Electronic voting machines have proven reliability and security flaws. But the labs who test and certify those machines are actually hired and paid by the manufacturers themselves. Read the Entire Transcript

Statistical Issues in Elections
by Sallie Keller-McNulty, PhD, President, American Statistical Association - October 31, 2006

Between races for the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate and governorships there will be over 500 major elections this fall, and thousands more local and state races. On November 8th, many Americans will wake up not knowing whether a candidate they voted for won. Projecting from past experience, we can expect between five to twenty federal elections and dozens of local elections to be within plus or minus 2% – too close to call given current technology. Procedures for resolving the uncertainty should be thought about now, before partisans start arguing for methods that seem likely to benefit them. Statisticians can help develop credible procedures.

Trustworthy elections require transparent processes with limited opportunity for error or abuse. Elections entail many steps, from determining voting eligibility, to casting, recording, tallying and reporting the vote. To improve the quality of complex processes, America has often called on statisticians such as Walter Shewhart in the 1920s or W. Edwards Deming in the 1970s and 1980s.

The starting point to thinking statistically is to identify all the steps, especially those most susceptible to problems. As we complete our third Federal election cycle since the difficulties of the 2000 elections, we know there are some big problems. For example, a team funded by the National Science Foundation tested the 5 commercially-dominant voting systems and a University of Maryland prototype, asking each of 1,540 participants to “vote” for an assigned candidate. No system got better than 98.5% correct votes, leaving a 1.5% margin of error! Read the Entire Letter

Smartmatic Announces It Is Undergoing CFIUS Review
by Rep. Carolyn Maloney Press Release - October 30, 2006

Rep. Maloney, who first asked Treasury about this case, hails action

Smartmatic, the company that bought major electronic voting machine maker Sequoia Voting Systems last year, stated publicly yesterday in a press report and today at a press conference that it is voluntarily undergoing a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), who wrote the Department of Treasury in May to ask if CFIUS had reviewed the Smartmatic deal to buy Sequoia, today expressed satisfaction about the reported CFIUS review.

“Smartmatic says that it is undergoing a CFIUS review, and I am glad it is happening,” said Maloney. “I am glad that our government will get the answers to any questions about this sale. This helps maintain confidence in our electoral system, and I hope Americans will go to the polls and vote on November 7.

“As the ranking member of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over CFIUS, it has been clear to me that national security issues under CFIUS’s umbrella should absolutely include deals involving our electoral system. What could be more fundamental to our democracy and the stability of our country? I will continue to push for the scope of national security issues considered by CFIUS to include cases such as this. I will also continue to push for a strengthening of the CFIUS process, which Congress needs to complete before it adjourns." Read the Entire Press Release

From Around the States

Arizona: Count the Votes - But Donāt Close the Courts or Get Rid of the Lawyers
by Bob Bauer - October 25, 2006

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

Additional views continue to emerge in the discussion of the Supreme Court’s decision in Purcell v. Gonzalez, and two, in the last day, consider more generally the timing of judicial intervention in elections. The Court did note that "Court orders affecting elections, especially conflicting orders, can themselves result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls," and that "as an election draws closer, that risk will increase." So Rick Hasen, who has written previously on the subject, restates his view that pre-election litigation is to be preferred over post-election litigation lest partisans await the outcome before deciding, on the basis of the vote count, to press their claim. At the Moritz College of Law site, Professor Steven Huefner examines the varieties of and justifications for pre-election litigation, concluding that courts should not hesitate to grant final relief on a full record in the pre-election record or preliminary relief tending to limit election day confusion. 

These views are united around the objectives of protecting confidence in the electoral process and defending against political gamesmanship by partisans pursuing victories in court that could not be won at the polls. But are such concerns overrated? Read the Entire Article

California: Asian American Organizations Condemn Anti-Latino Voter Intimidation in Orange County
by Asian Pacific American Legal Center Press Release - October 31, 2006

Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations in Los Angeles and Orange Counties are denouncing the recent use of mailers to Latino voters in Central Orange County, calling such tactic intimidating and illegal. The groups, the Los Angeles-based Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California (APALC), which also has an office in Orange County, the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA), and the Washington D.C.-based Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), also signed on to a letter earlier this week, along with numerous Latino organizations, in requesting an investigation by the U.S. and California Attorneys General into the matter.

The letter, in Spanish only, had apparently been sent last week to Spanish-surnamed naturalized U.S. citizens born in Latin American countries who are registered voters in Orange County. The mailer purportedly warns people that only U.S. citizens are permitted to vote, that voting by immigrants is a crime and a deportable offense, and that a host of immigration restriction organizations has access to a federal computer database of properly registered voters.

"The use of such mailer as an attempt to intimidate registered voters of Hispanic decent is an attack on all minority voters, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are merely exercising their rights to vote under a democratic system," said Stewart Kwoh, executive director of APALC.  "Any effort by any candidate or organization to threaten or intimidate voters in any fashion is an offense to our country's democracy and should not be tolerated," Kwoh continued. Read the Entire Press Release

Colorado: Boulder County GOP Sues Elections Officials
by Al Kolwicz, CAMBER - October 31, 2006

The Boulder County Republican Party has filed a complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State alleging three county elections officials failed to publicly test election equipment before voting started this fall. The complaint also claims the officials have been operating in secret and withholding elections materials from the county’s vote Canvass Board, which is responsible for auditing elections and reporting to the Secretary of State.

"This election may have been indelibly contaminated by this failure to comply with these election statutes," the complaint states.

Josh Liss, Boulder County elections coordinator and one of those named in the complaint, said Monday the allegations are false. "We are preparing a response to the Secretary of State’s Office to this complaint." Read the Entire Article

University of Connecticut VoTeR Center Report: Diebold AccuVote Optical Scan Is Vulnerable to Serious Attacks
by Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University - October 31, 2006

Download the University of Connecticut Security Assessment of the Diebold Optical Scan Voting Terminal 

Avi Rubin posted this overview of the UConn Review on his blog. It is reposted here with permission. 

A powerful new report was released yesterday about the Diebold AccuVote Optical Scan voting terminal (AV-OS). This is a thorough and independent security analysis of the machines that will be used in Connecticut to count votes on November 7. It is based on hands-on experimentation with the system, and is thus more like the Princeton study of the Accuvote TS than my team's earlier source code analysis. Like the Princeton team, the UConn researchers had no access to any internal documentation from the vendor, no source code, or any other information that would have given them an advantage over a random attacker who happened to get access to the machine. Everything they needed to know to perform the attacks was done by reverse engineering the system and observing its behavior. The evaluation was done as part of an evaluation on behalf of the state of Connecticut. They should be commended for not only allowing, but for requesting this study. The report published on their web site explains the attacks in enough detail to be convincing, but some low level details are reserved for another copy of the paper that is only available from the authors by request.

The authors show that "even if the memory card is sealed and pre-election testing is performed, one can carry out a devastating array of attacks against an election using only off-the-shelf equipment and without having ever to access the card physically or opening the AV-OS system box." The attacks presented in the paper include manipulating the count so that no votes for a particular candidate are counted, swapping votes for two candidates, and reporting the results incorrectly based on biases that are triggered under certain conditions.

The attacks in this paper are cleverly designed to make a compromised machine appear to work correctly when the system's audit reports are evaluated or when the machine is subjected to pre-election testing. Besides manipulation of the voting machine totals and reports, the authors explain how any voter can vote an arbitrary number of times using (get this), Post-it notes, if the voter is left unattended. Read the Entire Article

Iowa: Voters Urged To Vote On Paper Ballots
by Iowans for Voting Integrity - October 31, 2006

Iowans for Voting Integrity urges citizens voting in the November 7 election to vote only on a paper ballot, not on the state’s new touchscreen machines.  In Iowa, these include the Diebold TSx and the ES&S iVotronic machines.

With touchscreen machines (also known as DREs for Direct Recording Electronic), votes are recorded as a chunk of computer code that the voter cannot view.  This leave the doors open for error or fraud, and with no voter-verified paper record, there is no sure way a recount or audit would be able to prove that a mistake had occurred.  

Numerous studies and security reports over the past year have warned that elections on these machines are at high risk of being compromised, either unintentionally or by deliberate, malicious design.

Already in this election, counties in Florida and Texas are reporting cases of votes on their touchscreens being “flipped” from one candidate or party to another.

While paper ballots are counted on optical scanners that can also be flawed, it is possible to do a hand count of the paper ballots to check the accuracy of the machines. Read the Entire Article

Keeping an Eye on the Machines That Count Minnesotans' Votes
by St. Paul Pioneer Press - October 25, 2006

This article appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on October 24, 2006. It is reposted with permission.

When Minnesotans are asked to raise their hands if they think our electronic voting machines accurately count their votes, almost all hands go up. However, when asked if they think votes in other states are counted accurately, only a few hands go up. Voters in our state have confidence in our voting machines.

But relying on a voting machine to electronically count ballots without a meaningful audit is like making bank deposits without receiving monthly statements to verify the balance. Thanks to a new, groundbreaking state law requiring a post-election review, we will have a way to help verify the accuracy of our voting machines. This review is possible because all Minnesotans will cast their ballots on paper that are counted by optical scanners.

Some think we don't need this review law because our voting machines are accurate; however, no one can definitively say how accurate they are. While Minnesota will not use direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, optical scanners are at risk for some of the same potential programming errors as DREs. Because of this risk, safeguards are essential to ensure accuracy. The review provides an important piece that has been missing in Minnesota elections.

The new review law requires a hand count of randomly selected precincts in every county. If the hand count from the review shows a difference (greater than 0.5 percent) compared with the machine count from Election Day, further hand counts are required. The races to be reviewed are U.S. Senate, U.S. House and governor.

Hundreds of Minnesotans will make election history in November when they participate in the first statewide observation of an election review. Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota and the League of Women Voters Minnesota are recruiting and training citizens in every county and from all political parties to be nonpartisan observers. Read the Entire Article

Ohio Voter ID Rules Change For A Third Time in Four Days
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - October 30, 2006

Download Today's Revised Order

The confusing back and forth continues in Ohio. On Sunday evening October 29, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a stay of the last week's order blocking enforcement of Ohio's voter ID on absentee ballots. As a result, voter ID is once again required for absentee ballots in the state. It is not clear at this point what will happen to any absentee ballots that were mailed by voters without ID in reliance on the lower court's order.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Subodh Chandra, a Cleveland lawyer representing one of the groups that sued to challenge the ID requirement, has said he plans to appeal the 6th Circuit ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Chandra, representing Service Employees International Union 1199, said last night's court action guarantees more confusion among voters and poll workers and puts votes at risk of not being counted.

"We hope that the 6th Circuit is not taking the position that one must permit an election to be a train wreck before one tries to stop the wreck," Chandra said. "That's what appears to be happening."

Matthew Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said that no matter what happens, there's time before the Nov. 7 election to ensure that absentee votes cast properly are counted. "We'll bend over backward to make sure votes count," he said.

The Sixth Circuit’s brief order grants the AG's motion to stay "except to the extent that the TRO orders all County Boards of Election to preserve all absentee ballots in their present form." The three-judge panel (Gibbons, McKeague, Tarnow [by designation]) stated that it "will issue an opinion shortly.” Today the Sixth Circuit issued a revised version of its stay order that included a brief dissent by Judge Tarnow, a federal district judge in Michigan sitting on the appeals panel by designation. His dissent stated its agreement with the “analysis and conclusions” of Judge Marbley’s decision to issue the TRO and related orders. The Amended Order continues to state that the panel “will issue an opinion shortly,” but that opinion apparently has not yet been released.

While analysis of this ruling must await the opinion, it would appear that, by preserving the ballots, the stay does not preclude a subsequent challenge to allegedly unequal disqualification of ballots for lack of ID. Rather, its immediate effect apparently is to permit, contrary to the TRO, the continued collection of ID information as part of the absentee balloting process. The status of absentee ballots submitted without ID during the time in which the TRO was in effect is not immediately clear, although perhaps their disqualification would be open to challenge subsequently, along with (for example) those that contained the wrong driver's license number.

Tennessee: Documented Election Law and Security Violations in Shelby County
by Joe Irrera - October 28, 2006

Shelby County’s conduct of the August primary election may have violated basic election system security procedures. Documents released earlier this month reveal multiple breaches of security and cast doubt on the legality of the election process.

As part of a lawsuit alleging illegal voting brought by four unsuccessful candidates for clerk positions, election officials’ declarations and discovery documents call into question the election results. Although their case was dismissed October 5, Shep Wilbun, Sondra Becton, Vernon Johnson and Otis Jackson have performed a valuable service. Jim March, a computer professional who examined the county’s Diebold voting systems as part of this legal case, calls his findings “some of the most irregular procedures in America today. Nobody else in the Tennessee elections process did their jobs except for these four candidates and a handful of citizen supporters and researchers.” 

March’s inspection of the Diebold voting system, performed on behalf of the 4 defendants, focused on the central vote tabulator. Computer event logs show major security violations including:

1. At 6:30 pm on Election Day, Shelby County’s main vote tabulation computer was connected to the internet through Shelby County’s computer network. Election officials claim they did this to allow electronic transfer of voting results from four regional elections offices across the county. This county network connection allowed access to the vote tabulator for anyone with access to the county’s computer network..
 
2. The day after the election, after 4 attempts, someone succeeded in loading uncertified software onto the Diebold central tabulator. This software enables data transfer on small USB "key chain" memory devices. Such devices can easily hold the entire file containing Shelby County’s primary election vote totals. This raises questions as to whether hidden vote manipulation may have taken place.

3. On 8/7/06 someone loaded a complete copy of Microsoft Office Professional 2000, including MS-Access on to the vote tabulation computer. This program is well known as the simplest way to edit the contents of a Diebold central vote database (and banned for use in elections in virtually all jurisdictions nationwide). It cannot be secured against tampering.

4) Evidence of actual attempts to manipulate election result reporting results exists. The computer event logs show repeated failed attempts to use an HTML editor. On 8/22/06 for a period of over an hour -- and during a period when the voting equipment was impounded by a temporary restraining order -- someone attempted to edit computer data files on the main Diebold server. The only significant files on it are vote total reports.
5. A copy of PC Anywhere, a program allowing opening the machine to outside control was found on the backup central tabulator computer.
State Election Coordinator Brook Thompson, who testified in the lawsuit, claimed nothing was amiss, while citizens in Memphis and elsewhere disagree. Read the Entire Article

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
VoteTrustUSA Statement of Principles
Please forward Election Integrity News to your friends!