Election Integrity News - December 13, 2005

This Week's Quote: "Voters vote occasionally and money votes all the time." Anonymous

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Actions to Take Now

National: Pass HR 550 As Written!

Pennsylvania: Support HB 2000 and S 977


In this issue ...

National Stories
Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell Resigns

US Senators, House Members Call for Probe of DoJ's Handling of Voting Rights Cases

Holt joins Obama in Introducing Bill To Stop Voter Intimidation

News From Around the States
Arizona: Senators Call on County Attorney to Approve Release of Ballots
Connecticut: Secretary Of The State Will Give Towns Optical Scan Option For Balloting
Florida: Volusia County’s Recurring Nightmare
New York: An Impulsive Rush to Test Voting Systems - Is this the Way to Responsible Government?
North Carolina: Voting Rights Group Files Suit to Challenge Recent Certification of Diebold and Others
Ohio: Senate Rules Committee Ignores all Citizen Input in Passing ID Requirement in H.B. 3
Pennsylvania: The Very Good and the Very Bad on the Senate Committee Agenda This Week
Wisconsin: State Senate Sends Election Bill To Governor With Unanimous Vote

The Facts
Diebold Insider Alleges Company Plagued by Technical Woes, Diebold Defends 'Sterling' Record

Upcoming Events
New York: December 14 - True Majority Panel Discussion for Election Integrity
New Mexico: December 14 - Last Meeting of Election Reform Task Force

Click Here for Previous Issues

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

#5 The Colorado SoS announced today that 10 counties may have to procure new voting machines. Their ES&S and Sequoia Optech Eagle III-P precinct scanners did not properly count the votes in last month's election and a hand recount in the 10 counties resulted in two races being changed. Is this just an excuse to force the counties to buy DREs? I dunno but these are precinct based optical scan machines and they were being used, in part, to count absentee and mail-in ballots. The Denver Post

#4 In a RawStory article, Miriam Rafferty talks to Dieb-Throat who alleges that the company is plagued by technical woes while Diebold defends it's 'sterling' record.

#3 A potential securities fraud Class Action lawsuit against Diebold is in progress according to a BradBlog Exclusive

#2 Court cases in Riverside County, CA and Florida continue. While a suit was filed in North Carolina against the State Board of Elections and the State Office of Information Technology Services.

#1 This week it was revealed that Department of Justice appointees ignored staff recommendations that the Georgia Voter ID bill was "Jim Crow Law" and that last years Texas redistricting was probably illegal. It was also revealed that partially because of leaks from the DoJ to the media, staff will no longer be asked to give their opinions on Civil Rights and Voting issues. Washington Post



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National Stories

Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell Resigns
PRNewswire Press Release

CEO O'Dell leaves company; Swidarski named CEO, Lauer named chairman; company reaffirms guidance

NORTH CANTON, Ohio - Diebold, Incorporated (NYSE: DBD) today announced senior management changes instituted by its board of directors.  Walden W. O'Dell, Diebold chairman and chief executive officer, has resigned from the company and its board of directors, effective immediately.  Thomas W. Swidarski, president and chief operating officer, has been named chief executive officer and elected to the company's board of directors.  Additionally, the board elected John N. Lauer as non-executive chairman of the board. Lauer has been a member of the company's board of directors since 1992.

The company is also reaffirming its EPS guidance for the fourth quarter of $0.50 to $0.60, including restructuring charges of approximately $0.13, and full-year 2005 EPS guidance of $1.70 to $1.80, which includes anticipated restructuring charges of approximately $.30 per share, manufacturing start-up costs and related issues of approximately $.08 per share, and the one-time gain of approximately $.18 per share on the sale of the campus card systems business.

"The board of directors and Wally mutually agreed that his decision to resign at this time for personal reasons was in the best interest of all parties," said Lauer.  "The board and I have been impressed with the initiatives Tom has launched in his role as COO, and feel Tom's demonstrated leadership is crucial to improving the company's performance moving forward." Read Entire Press Release Also See This Article in Raw Story

US Senators, House Members Call for Probe of DoJ's Handling of Voting Rights Cases
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog

Lawmakers Seek Inquiry in Wake of Revelations that Bush DoJ Appointees Overruled Staff Recommendations Against New Election Laws - Growing Unease Reported Amongst Hill Republicans Who Are 'Beginning to Realize They May Not Control All Branches of Government Forever...'

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

According to Matthew Cardinale of Atlanta Progressive News, 5 US senators and 13 members of the House of Representatives have now called for a probe of the Department of Justice in light of two recent cases where political appointees have overruled the recommendations of professional staff attorneys in deciding to give preclearance to new electoral laws which fall under the jurisdication of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Amongst the legislators exploring the possibility of congressional inquiry is Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA).

Not listed in Cardinale's report amongst those calling for a probe is Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee. Conyers announced he would request House Judiciary chair James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) schedule hearings in a press release issued on the day that Washington Post's Dan Eggen first broke the story of a 73-page DoJ memo revealing that eight staffers, including the lead attorney in the Voting Rights department, had unanimously recommended against approval of the now-infamous 2002 redistricting of the Texas congressional map. Read the Entire Article

Representative Holt Joins With Senator Obama in Introducing Bill To Stop Voter Intimidation

Bill Would Provide Voters with Protection from Voter Intimidation and the Dissemination of Inaccurate Voting Information

(Link to Press Release) Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today introduced the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2005 (HR 4463), a House version of the bill (S. 1975) offered by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) last month. Both bills are designed to prevent voters from being denied the opportunity to vote through deception or intimidation.

"As we've learned from previous elections, there are still people in the country who try to prevent their fellow citizens from voting so that their party or candidate can win,” said Holt. "Both parties have an interest in making sure that the federal government has a zero tolerance policy for that kind of conduct. Passing these identical bills in the Senate and House would send a clear message: disseminating false information or intimidating others so that they will not vote is punishable by large fines and jail time.  Voting is the fundamental act of a democracy, and no one should be allowed to interfere with or intimidate another citizen's right to vote, period."

"One of our most sacred rights as Americans is the right to make our voice heard at the polls," said Obama. "But too often, we hear reports of mysterious phone calls and mailers arriving just days before an election that seek to mislead and threaten voters to keep them from voting. And those who engage in these deceptive and underhanded campaign tactics usually target voters living in minority or low-income neighborhoods. This legislation would ensure that for the first time, these incidents are fully investigated and that those found guilty are punished." Read the Entire Article

News From Around the States

Arizona: Senators Call on County Attorney Andy Thomas to Approve Release of Ballots
by Jack Harper, Arizona State Senator

It's Time to Restore Integrity and Confidence to Election Process”
 
Arizona State Senator Jack Harper, a Republican, has issued subpoenas for access to ballots and tabulation equipment used in the 2004 LD20 Republican primary election, in which a machine recount in Maricopa County resulted in nearly 500 more votes counted on the same ballots. The data shows pretty conclusively that either the optical scanners failed (ES&S Optech IV-C) or there was tampering or at least mishandling of the ballots. The Maricopa County election officials have not been forthcoming as to the cause of the discrepancy. Harper has been talking with Doug Jones about conducting tests here later this month. The state senators supporting Harper are all Republicans, which is great, as this makes this a bipartisan concern here. Unfortunately, Harper is getting a lot of pressure from the Senate leadership to drop this investigation. Nevertheless, he just released the following message:

Stating that it is time to restore integrity and confidence to Arizona's election process, Senators Jack Harper, Karen Johnson, Thayer Verschoor, and Ron Gould called on Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas to respect the legislative subpoena issued by the Senate Government Accountability and Reform Committee and direct Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert to comply with the legislative subpoena and release the ballots from the 2004 District 20 Republican Primary to the Committee.
 
Last week, Senate Government Accountability and Reform committee chairman Jack W. Harper issued subpoenas to both the Maricopa County Recorders office and the Maricopa County Treasurer's office directing them to provide information and ballots from the District 20 Republican primary race for a review by the committee and its staff. As of today, County Treasurer David Schweikert has indicated that his office may not comply with the valid legislative subpoena and release the ballots. Schweikert has turned over the subpoena to the Maricopa County Attorney's office for review and has redirected all inquiries from the Committee. Read the Entire Article

Connecticut: Secretary Of The State Will Give Towns Optical Scan Option For Balloting
by John Voket, The Newtown Bee

Reprinted from The Newtown Bee.

In an exclusive interview Wednesday, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz told The Bee she plans to give all Connecticut communities the opportunity to use federal funds to purchase optical scanning technology to use in polling places.

During this latest conversation related to electronic voting technology conducted with the secretary of the state and members of her staff, Ms Bysiewicz initially responded to a request issued by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), which is chaired by Newtown First Selectman Herb Rosenthal.

In the November memo, the CCM initially requested that the secretary of the state's office exercise its "right to cancel, amend, modify, or otherwise change," its request for proposals for direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines. The correspondence goes on to cite significant cost savings and other advantages local municipalities could enjoy, if they were given an opportunity to purchase optical scanning voting machines equipped with technology developed by Automark Technical Systems. Read the Entire Article

Florida: Volusia County’s Recurring Nightmare (Part 1)
by Susan Pynchon, Executive Director, Florida Fair Elections Coalition

This report is being published in Three Parts: Part 1: In the Face of Threats, Intimidation, and Disinformation, Part 2: A County Divided, and Part 3: “Volusia County is like the Bermuda Triangle”.

Part 1: In the Face of Threats, Intimidation and Disinformation

"Voters vote occasionally and money votes all the time." unknown author

We thought we had won a victory in the fight for verifiable elections.  We thought we had kept Diebold “paperless” touch-screen voting machines out of Volusia County. But, like a bad penny or a recurring nightmare, the touch-screens just keep coming back.  

On December 16, 2005, the Volusia County Council will vote for the FIFTH time whether to accept or reject Diebold TSX “paperless” touch-screen machines to serve the needs of voters with disabilities.  Volusia currently has Diebold AccuVote optical scan voting machines but must purchase a disabled-accessible voting system by January 1, 2006 to meet the requirements of the Help American Vote Act (HAVA) and state law.

The council has thus far rejected the Diebold touch-screens in hopes the state would certify an alternative voting system for the disabled that also allows the county to retain 100% paper ballots. The alternative system is the AutoMark, a voting device that has more that has more disabled-accessible features than the Diebold touch-screen, and which also provides full language accessibility. The AutoMark electronically marks paper ballots, which are then fed into the optical scan machine along with the ballots of all other citizens.

Despite the fact that the AutoMark is federally certified and has been quickly and easily certified in other states, the state of Florida has stalled the AutoMark's application since February and appears to have no intention of certifying it before the end of the year. Read the Entire Article

New York: An Impulsive Rush to Test Voting Systems - Is this the Way to Responsible Government?
by William Edelstein, New Yorkers for Verified Voting

Politics?

In early December, members of the Voting Systems Citizen Advisory Task Force established by the New York Board of Elections (BOE) received a letter dated November 22 from the BOE. This letter informed them that the BOE would “conduct preliminary testing” of the LibertyVote voting system. The letter begins (emphasis added):

The Liberty Election System, a DRE voting machine which has never been submitted for certification in New York, has been delivered to us for certification testing. We are prepared to conduct preliminary testing - Phase I of this process - on December 7, 8 and '9, 2005. This voting system as submitted, does not include a voter verifiable paper audit trail nor access for a sip/puff device, as required by statute, however we can perform certain other functional tests, in anticipation of their required modifications. This machine will have to be re-submitted for additional testing, once new rules and regulations are approved, to ensure complete compliance with both HAVA and New York's newest statutes.
What exactly is the nature of this testing, and who will carry out the tests? What is “Phase 1,” and where is it defined? The BOE has not talked to the Citizens Advisory Task Force, or to the public, about any of the testing procedures.

This flies in the face of having an open process, as announced by the BOE, to consider the draft voting machine regulations. This discussion includes a 45 day comment period beginning on December 7 and public hearings around the state which will not even begin until December 13.

However, the notice of the public comment period and public hearings was published on November 30, well after the BOE had decided to carry out "preliminary testing." Read the Entire Article

North Carolina: Voting Rights Group Files Suit to Challenge Recent Certification of Diebold and Others
by John Gideon, Information Manager, VoteTrustUSA

'Rule of Law' Seems to Allude State Elections Board, Former Diebold Official Who Approved Companies Without Required Source Code Escrow

We are on the verge of seeing just how "Immaculate" was the "Immaculate Certification" of Diebold, and other voting systems, in North Carolina. Days before the certification, a North Carolina court found that Diebold would have to follow state law and provide their source code for inspection just like the rest of the vendors. Diebold then said that they would not comply so they were going to go home and not be a part of the selection process in the state.

Then, the North Carolina State Board of Elections decided that they would treat all of the vendors the same and they decided they would let them all ignore state elections laws. The advisor to the State Board is Keith Long, who until recently was an employee of Diebold. Of course that made Diebold happy and they accepted the invitation to be certified by the state.

Thus, the "Immaculate Certification".

Now, in steps the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who today announced that they were filing suit against the North Carolina Board of Elections and the North Carolina Office of Information Technology Services on behalf of voting integrity advocate and founder of The North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting, Joyce McCloy, asking that the Superior Court void the recent illegal certification of three electronic voting systems.

In a Media Release EFF attorney, Matt Zimmerman says, "This is about the rule of law. The Board of Elections has simply ignored its mandatory obligations under North Carolina election law. This statute was enacted to require election officials to investigate the quality and security of voting systems before approval, and only approve those that are safe and secure. By certifying without a full review of all relevant code, the Board of Elections has now opened the door for North Carolina counties to purchase untested and potentially insecure voting equipment."

Ohio: Senate Rules Committee Ignores all Citizen Input in Passing ID Requirement in H.B. 3
by Susan Truitt, CASE Ohio (Citizens' Alliance for Secure Elections Ohio)

CASE Warns of Increased Voter Disenfranchisement, the Dangers of Privately Run Elections, and the Unconstitutionality of Denying the Right to Challenge Election Results.

The Rules Committee of the Ohio Senate approved H.B. 3 December 7, 2005, despite two days of strong opposition testimony.  The four Democratic committee members refused to take part in the final vote as a protest to the Republican steamrolling the public and their colleagues as well.

HB3 requires a current, government issued ID with a current address and this requirement alone will affect several hundred thousand voters and disenfranchise many tens of thousands of them. Students, the elderly, youth, and recently moved families will have to produce alternate forms of ID. The result will be confusion, frustration, discouragement, and possibly anger directed toward the Ohio Senators who forced this bill into law.

HB 3 makes it impossibly difficult for voting advocacy organizations to register new voters by making the process extremely slow and expensive and punishing workers who make a mistake with the threat of a felony penalty. Workers who could be working state-wide are now required to register with every Board of Elections in the state, take a test from every board, and return any registration to the board of the newly registered voter. This makes registration drives at gatherings like the Ohio State Fair and similar events impossible. Read the Entire Article

Pennsylvania: The Very Good and the Very Bad on the Senate Committee Agenda This Week
by Marybeth Kuznik, VotePA

SB 977, Pennsylvania's much-needed bill for voter-verified paper records will share the Senate State Government Committee meeting agenda with the restrictive HB 1318 this Tuesday morning, December 13, prompting an urgent action alert to contact State Senators and Representatives in the Keystone State.

Introduced in early November by Senator Joseph Conti (R- Bucks), SB 977 is an exact clone of HB 2000 which was introduced in the PA House earlier this fall by Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny). HB 2000 / SB 977 would require voter-verified paper records on all voting systems with a routine 5% random manual audit, and would make the paper the official record in the event of discrepancy, audit, or recount. The Pennsylvania bills have been highly acclaimed nationally as well-planned "model" legislation for VVPR, and have already garnered co-sponsors making up over one-fourth of each chamber in the state legislature. HB 2000 and SB 977 are also receiving growing support from local and county governmental bodies as well as individual citizens throughout the state.

HB 1318, which started out last spring as a simple bill to amend requirements for candidates running for open seats on local governmental boards, was marked up on the PA House floor just prior to passage in June to require photo ID for all voters and further disenfranchise persons with a history of felony conviction. The Pennsylvania Senate has already added further language restricting polling places. The bill is so changed from its original intent, the original sponsor Rep. Marc Gergely (D-Allegheny) removed his name as prime sponsor last month. Read the Entire Article

Wisconsin: State Senate Sends Election Bill To Governor With Unanimous Vote
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA

With a unanimous voice vote, the Wisconsin State Senate has passed AB 627  and sent the bill to Governor Doyle for his signature. The legislation establishes a requirement for a paper record of every vote and the disclosure of voting system software. The Governor has repeatedly voiced his support for the bill.

The bill's author Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee), commented after the vote that “the Senate struck a blow for accuracy and fairness in Wisconsin elections today,” began Senator Plale. “This legislation will ensure that each and every vote cast in Wisconsin is counted correctly.”

"I look forward to watching the Governor sign this legislation into law." concluded Senator Plale. "This is an example of the success possible when cooperation not competition rules the day.”

Gov. Jim Doyle applauded the Assembly's passage of the bill last month and is expected to sign the bill before the end of the year. "The last election showed we urgently need to upgrade and modernize our election system," Doyle said in a statement. "This legislation will take an important step forward, ensuring that new touch screen voting machines also produce a verifiable, paper ballot. This is a vital step to ensuring we would be prepared for an event such as a recount or an election challenge." Read the Entire Article

The Facts

Diebold Insider Alleges Company Plagued by Technical Woes, Diebold Defends 'Sterling' Record
by Miriam Raftery, The Raw Story

This story was originally posted on THE RAW STORY. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

In an exclusive interview with RAW STORY, a whistleblower from electronic voting heavyweight Diebold Election Systems Inc. raised grave concerns about the company's electronic voting technology and of electronic voting in general, bemoaning an electoral system the insider feels has been compromised by corporate privatization.

The Diebold insider, who took on the appellation "Dieb-Throat" in an interview with voting rights advocate Brad Friedman (BradBlog.com), was once a staunch supporter of electronic voting's potential to produce more accurate results than punch cards.

But the company insider became disillusioned after witnessing repeated efforts by Diebold to evade meeting legal requirements or implementing appropriate security measures, putting corporate interests ahead of the interests of voters.

"I've absolutely had it with the dishonesty," the insider told RAW STORY. Blasting Wally O'Dell, the current president of Diebold, the whistleblower went on to explain behind-the-scenes tactics of the company and its officers.

"There's a lot of pressure in the corporation to make the numbers: `We don't tell you how to do it, but do it. [O'Dell is] probably the number one culprit putting pressure on people," the source said. Read the Entire Article

Upcoming Events

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

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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