Election Integrity News - December 5, 2005

This Week's Quote: "Most voters agree that changing to some kind of "electronic" ballot that you can't see would be unsettling. Especially in election recounts, we like to have actual paper ballots, marked by voters, to verify the validity of elections." Mary Kiffmeyer, (R-Big Lake Township), Minnesota Secretary of State


Actions to Take Now

National: Pass HR 550 As Written!

Pennsylvania: Support HB 2000 and S 977

Wisconsin: Urge the Senate to Pass AB 627 Now!

In this issue ...

National Stories
Uncertainty Clouds Future of E-Vote Tests

News From Around the States
California: Voting Summit Shuts Out Voting Reform Advocates

Florida: New Polling Place Procedures Manual Raises Questions and Concerns

North Carolina: "Immaculate Certification'! Diebold Allowed in North Carolina After All!

Pennsylvania: A New Wrinkle in Undue Vendor Influence

Wisconsin: State Election Board Taking a Dive

The Facts
Digital Voting Fears Are Grounded in Facts

Colorado Drops Accenture; Problems in Wisconsin Remain

Upcoming Events
Florida: December 8 - Rally forVoter Verified Paper Ballots

New York: December 14 - True Majority Panel Discussion for Election Integrity

New Mexico: December 14 - Last Meeting of Election Reform Task Force

Previous Issues
November 28, 2005
November 21, 2005
November 14, 2005
November 7, 2005
October 31, 2005
October 25, 2005
October 18, 2005

The Top Five Stories from the Past Week's Daily Voting News
by John Gideon, VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA

#5 – An interesting article from the Associated Press was printed on Wednesday. The article discusses the looming problem, nationally, as states scramble to meet the mandates of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The article discusses the recent GAO report and goings-on in North Carolina and California.
"E-voting under scrutiny as federal compliance deadline looms."

#4 – The state of Colorado has run into a large problem with their HAVA required state voter registration system. It seems that the prime contractor Accenture cannot meet the agreed upon deadline for the system. The state has cancelled the $10.5M contract with the contractor.
"Colorado Scraps Computer Voter Registration"

#3 – The Georgia Voter ID issue will not go away any time soon. In two Opinion pieces printed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution calls have been made to redo the legislation. This is the same legislation that employees of the Department of Justice recommended should not get federal backing but they were overruled by the political appointees. There is now a call for a congressional hearing into this issue.
Georgia Paper Reverses Position on Controversial, Unconstitutional Voter ID Law
Opinion - Start over on voter law
Opinion - Voter ID law too flawed for repair
11 House Dems Demand Hearings on Justice Department Memo

#2 – The 'hack' test in California is also a story that will be around for awhile. Misinformation seems to be flowing from the SoS office, and the media, to some extent, seem to be reporting what they get without checking on the facts.
California Hack Reporting and Misreporting
Hacking of voting machines put on hold
California may impose hacker test on all electronic vote machines

The #1 story for the week is the amazing story from North Carolina. It seems that Diebold lost in court where they were hoping to get a judicial 'ok' to circumvent state law for escrow and inspection of their source code. The court found that they would have to comply, so Diebold threatened to take their 'football and go home'. Then within three days, the State Board of Elections decided that if the judge would not let Diebold ignore the law, they would do it for Diebold. Suddenly, in what has become known as "The Immaculate Certification", Diebold was certified.
Judge dismisses voting machine case, vendor may pull out
'Immaculate Certification'! Diebold Allowed In North Carolina After All!

VoteTrustUSA Depends On Your Contributions!
Thanks to all of you who have contributed to VoteTrustUSA. Your donations make it possible for us to further the cause of Election Integrity nationally and around the states. VoteTrustUSA is 100% citizen-supported and your donations are tax deductible. We are making a difference! If you missed our recent email, please click here to learn more. To make a donation, please click here. Thank you for your support!

National Stories

Uncertainty Clouds Future of E-Vote Tests
by Ian Hoffman, Staff Writer, Oakland Tribune

Despite movement toward new standards for machines, change may be years away

This article appeared originally at InsideBayArea.com. It it reposted here with permission of the author.

For 11 years, most states have relied on voting systems tested to minimal federal standards, the results withheld from public scrutiny and given the green light by a nongovernmental agency working on a shoestring budget. The era of approving tools of democracy on the cheap is coming to an end, and judging by talk at a national gathering of voting experts here this week, few will be sorry to see it go.

Carnegie Mellon University computer expert Michael Shamos, a state voting-systems certification official for Pennsylvania, is one of the staunchest advocates for new, fully computerized electronic voting systems.

But judging by what he has seen emerge from secretive, private labs known as "independent testing authorities" and approved by the National Association of State Elections Directors, Shamos said, "There's stuff in there that's so horrible, I can't understand it."

He found a quarter of the voting systems presented to Pennsylvania unsuitable for elections, with such "glaring failures" as an inability to tally votes correctly. A recent study led by the University of Maryland showed all of six voting systems tested did not record 3 to 4 percent of the votes. What does pass state muster often can break down.

"I have good reason to believe that 10 percent of systems are failing on Election Day. That's an unbelievable number," Shamos told an assemblage of voting-system makers, elections officials and scientists. "Why are we not in an uproar about the failure of (touch-screen voting) systems?" Read the Entire Article

News From Around the States

California: Voting Summit Shuts Out Voting Reform Advocates
Miriam Raftery, The Raw Story

Panels Appear Stacked With Electronic Voting Proponents

This article appeared originally on The Raw Story and is reposted here by permission of the author. VoteTrustUSA's Director of Legislative Issues and Policy was similarly not invited and received the same form email mentioned below.

A California summit on voting equipment, where many of the speakers had apparent conflicts of interests, barred entry to consumer groups calling for election reform, Raw Story has discovered. California Election Protection Network, a nonpartisan coalition representing 25 California election integrity groups held a press conference Monday outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sacramento, where the "Voting Systems Testing Summit" was convened by Republican California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.

The State appears to have skewed presentations in favor of electronic voting, with advocates far outnumbering critics. Some panels contain exclusively vendors of electronic voting equipment and representatives of testing labs chosen by these vendors. Read the Entire Article

Florida: New Polling Place Procedures Manual Raises Questions and Concerns
by Ellen Brodsky, Broward Verified Voting

The latest Polling Place Procedures Manual, available on the Florida Secretary of State's Website, has been revised based on the latest 2005 Legislation and presumeably anticipating Jan. 2006 HAVA requirements. These new rules are current as the Governor has signed the 2005 Legislation and the the Dept. of Justice has ruled that the 2005 Voting Legislation is not in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

A notice of proposed rules were included in the Manual above. The striking features of course are the changes from the 50 ft. rule to the 100ft. rule, which makes it incredibly difficult to help handicapped individuals and people who may need assistance in a second language. It also makes it more difficult to solicit or petition voters or do Parallel Elections in certain locations. The new rules are much stricter on voter ID requirements and may make voters who would normally sign an affidavit vote by Provisional Ballot.

Of concern to me is the new laxity in the procedures especially in touchscreen counties permitting pollworkers to either count the precinct registers or count voter authorization slips against the machine totals to reconcile accuracy of precinct results. This is very dangerous and unscientific. Legally the binding method of any lawsuit would be determined by the counting of the precinct registers only against the machine totals for an election challenge. If the authorization slips are being used as evidence, this would have the effect of making election challenges even more difficult to accomplish . I also wonder if the authorization slip method is being used as the new method being taught to Poll Workers for reconcilliation in all counties or only in Miami Dade. Read the Entire Article

North Carolina: "Immaculate Certification'! Diebold Allowed in North Carolina After All!
by John Gideon, Information Manager, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA

Voting Company Apparently Just Kidding About Pulling Out of State!

Former Diebold Rep, Now on NC Election Advisory Board Certifies Diebold, Despite Apparent Failure to Comply with State Law Requiring Source Code Escrow!

Orginally posted on The Brad Blog.
Surprise! Diebold got certified in North Carolina today. In what the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling the "Immaculate Certification" the North Carolina State Board of Elections has decided to certify Diebold. This is the same Diebold that three days ago said that they would have to pull out of consideration in the state because they were not willing to put their buggy software source code from their flawed Voting Machines into escrow claiming they had third-party software that could not be submitted to the state. This is the same Diebold that was apparently making faux claims about their need to pull out of NC due to a court's refusal to allow them exemption from that state law. But what else is new for a company like Diebold?
Read the Entire Article

Pennsylvania: A New Wrinkle in Undue Vendor Influence
by Kathy McPherson, Mercer County Citizens for Better Government

On December 1 a Voting System Forum was held in Mercer County, Pennsylvania with the four final voting systems candidates- Unisys/AccuPoll, Diebold TSx, Sequoia Edge, and ES&S iVotronic available for public evaluation. Though there were many eye-popping claims made by vendor representatives throughout the day (such as " we have NEVER lost a vote"), one very startling revelation was made regarding undue influence of the vendors in the negotiating/purchase process.

We all know that the voting system vendors will go to great lengths with their claims, but yesterday many Mercer County voters were told byES&S representatives not to be concerned about the VVPAT option on their iVotronic voting system because the proposed PA VVPR legislation was NOT going to happen –- thankfully”, I heard a fair number of voters taking them to task and telling them that we have over 25% of both our State House and State Senate already co-sponsoring twin Bills for VVPR (HB 2000 and S 977) and Pennsylvania WILL more than likely get our VVPR law and told the ES&S representatives they were wrong to say otherwise. If you think that's bad, it gets even better.

William Penn Printing Company, a large, well-established supplier of printed paper ballots and various documents used here in western Pennsylvania, attended the forum yesterday in the company of ES&S. Apparently they have signed a contract to act as the representative for ES&S in the stae of Pennsylvania. This makes good business sense but is it appropriate? Read the Entire Article

Wisconsin State Election Board Taking a Dive
by John Washburn, Washburn's World

This article was originally posted on November 28, 2005 on Washburn's World. It is reposted by permission of the author. John testified at the Election Board Certification Hearing on Nov. 30 at which the Diebold Accu-Vote TSX, Accu-Vote OS, and GEMS Management System; the ES&S Unity Management Suite; AutoMARK ballot marker, and AccuPoll AVS 1000 were rejected. Only the Sequoia Edge is currently certified in Wisconsin.

The staff of the Wisconsin State Election Board is taking a dive on voting machinery. Here is the staff report. The last 2 paragraphs summarize the document well.

Using these questions as a guide, Elections Board staff recommends approval of the Diebold and AccuPoll voting systems. Each system completed the mock election and were able to accommodate the ballot style and voting requirements of the Wisconsin election process. In addition, each system includes several accessibility features which will allow individuals with disabilities to vote.
Elections Board staff recommends approval of the [AutoMark/ES&S system] contingent on a successful staff test of the November general election.
I will deal with the ES&S exemption first. AutoMark blended with the ES&S unity system only has a 1990 qualification number, N-1-16-22-12-001 (1990). The system is not qualified under the 2002 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. No HAVA money for you!! What the staff is recommending is this: because ES&S has gotten some weak-minded municpal clerk to agree to buy a system which is unqualified at the federal level, the Board should approve ES&S anyway. Inablility to get federal certification and bamboolzing municipal clerks being "Good Cause" under ElBd7.03(5). This is manifestly unfair to AccuPoll, Diebold, Populex and other vendors who have abided by Wisconsin's fair but rigorous approval process.

With regards to Deibold and AccuPoll, the staff report looks objective. It is not. It is biased in its ommissions.Read the Entire Article

The Facts

Digital Voting Fears Are Grounded in Facts
by Justin Moore, Duke University

This article was originally posted in the New River Forum at Roanoke.com. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

I wanted to comment on two articles I have seen on Roanoke.com, both concerning the Advanced Voting Solutions WINVote machines specifically and paperless electronic voting in general. The first, "Voter paper trail might be a blind alley," contains a relatively standard defense of paperless machines from Registrar Randall Wertz, based on security steps the state and localities take against tampering.

All of these steps are useful and necessary, but in the grand scheme they are nothing more than a sugar pill. The software that collects and tallies votes is complex, written to meet poor standards and has a history of failure. We, as computer scientists, know how to write good code -- it runs our airplanes, our pacemakers and our military equipment -- but we don't know how to do it on the cheap. Boeing spent $2 billion over five years to write the control software for the 777, and the final product contains less than one-fourth of the total amount of software that runs on your voting machines.

If airplane code were written to the same standards of reliability as voting machines, every day about 10 planes flying out of Baltimore/Washington International would experience a software failure during flight. Read the Entire Article

Colorado Drops Accenture; Problems In Wisconsin Remain
by Judith Davidoff, The Capitol Times

This article appeared in The Capitol Times. It is reposted here with permission of the author and publisher.

Glitches Plague Voter Registration System

Another state has pulled the plug on its voter registration contract with Accenture LLP, the controversial firm that is also compiling a statewide voter registration system for Wisconsin. According to an Associated Press report this week, Colorado terminated its $10.5 million contract with the management and technology company, citing several problems, including difficulty signing up voters. Accenture spokesman James McAvoy, in turn, blamed Colorado officials for project delays. The state had already spent $1.5 million on the system. Earlier this year, Kansas also terminated its contract with Accenture.

Wisconsin Elections Board Executive Director Kevin Kennedy issued a news release Thursday noting that Wisconsin "is in a different situation and stage of development" than Colorado. But his news release indicated bugs still plague the system. "We are still working hard with Accenture to solve some software problems," Kennedy said. "At the same time, other challenges are telling us to slow down our deployment." Read the Entire Article

Upcoming Events

Florida: December 8th, 5:30 p.m. - Rally For a Voter Verified Paper Ballot "Time To Keep The Promises"
Supervisor of Elections Office - North East corner of Gun Club and Military Trail, West Palm Beach

Join the Palm Beach Coalition for Election Reform in asking Arthur Anderson to "keep the promises" he made to his supporters for voter verified paper ballots. We will be rallying outside the Supervisor of Elections Office and filling the room for the Technical Advisory Committee meeting. For more info Contact Echo Steiner

New York: December 14th, 6:30 p.m. - TrueMajority Panel Discussion on Election Integrity
Unitarian Universalist Church, 40 E. 35th Street, New York City

TrueMajority.org is sponsoring a panel discussion on election integrity on December 14 that will feature Bo Lipari of New Yorkers for Verified Voting, Mark Crispin Miller, and Bob Fritakis. Details for this event have not been finalized. Contact New Yorkers for Verified Voting for more information.

New Mexico: December 14th, 9:00 a.m.- Last Meeting of Election Reform Task Force
Room 307, Roundhouse, Santa Fe

The last meeting of the New Mexico Election Reform Task Force will be held on Wednesday December 14 at 9 a.m. in room 307 of the Roundhouse. A good crowd in the gallery to show support for our key issues will be really important in getting our key concerns addressed. United Voters of New Mexico and Verified Voting New Mexico have identified the likley top issue will be paper ballots. Another important issue that they are likely to raise is assuring that the paper ballots or paper audit trails are hand counted rather than machine counted. A third issue is that the Task Force is recommending that correcting problems in the audit provision can be put off until the 2007 legislative session because that would still leave time to be ready for the 2008 presidential elections. It is critical that such a delay not be allowed to result in dropping the matter entirely

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