Election Integrity News - December 19, 2005

This Week's Quote: "When your vote doesn't count, neither do you." Missy Beattie, author

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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

FEC Nominations: Yet Another Case of Foxes in the Henhouse

Bad News Keeps Rolling In for Diebold

News From Around the States

Florida Gov. Bush Expresses Concern About State Election Systems in Light of Leon County Hack Test

New York: Bo Lipari Testifies Before the State Board of Elections

Ohio: Election Reform Bill Put Off Until Next Year

The Facts

The Dirty Little Secrets of Voting System Testing Labs

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

#5 - This has been a busy week for Diebold. First their CEO announced his resignation. Then two days later Scott+Scott, LLC announced that they had filed a securities fraud class action suit against the company.

#4 The Election Assistance Commission announced that they had adopted the 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. Unfortunately these new guidelines do not take effect until Dec. 2007.

#3 A judge in North Carolina delayed acting on a lawsuit challenging the certification of three voting machine vendors Wednesday because he needed more time to familiarize himself with details of the case. "The lawsuit, filed by California-based Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of a Winston-Salem activist, asks the court to block the approval of what it called "unqualified voting systems."", as reported by the Associated Press

#2 The county council in Volusia County, Florida decided to ignore misinformation from some as they voted 4 to 3 in favor of getting rid of their Diebold voting machines so they can have a voting system that is voter verified, auditable and recountable. The county has made a deal with ES&S who will lease the county DREs until such time as the AutoMARK is state certified and then they will allow the county to trade in the DRE's for the AutoMARK. As reported by BradBlog

#1 As reported in the Miami Herald and other media sources across the nation, "A top election official and computer experts say computer hackers could easily change election results, after they found numerous flaws with a state-approved voting-machine in Tallahassee." Ion Sancho, the election chief in Leon County, Florida and two computer experts working with BlackBoxVoting.org were successful in changing the results in a mock election on the counties Diebold Optical-scan machines. The results of this test caused Sancho to go to his county council and get them to agree to dump their Diebold voting machines. They will follow the plan from Volusia County (#2 above).



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National Stories

FEC Nominations: Yet Another Case of Foxes in the Henhouse
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA, December 18, 2005

President Bush's recent nominations to the Federal Election Commission have been described by the Washington Post as "controversial". Following tradition, Bush last Friday put forward equal numbers from each party in nominating three new Commissioners, Democrats Robert Lenhard and Steven Walther and one Republican, Hans von Spakovsky and recommending a second six year term for one current Commissioner, Republican David Mason.

Most of the attention has focused on Republican Hans von Spakovsky, a lawyer in the Department of Justice Voting Section. Von Spakovsky has supported state programs to require voters to have photo identification and was one of the two Department of Justice lawyers who overruled expert recommendations that the Department file a formal objection to the 2002 Texas redistricting plan under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Washington Post article quoted Senator Ted Kennedy commenting that von Spakovsky "may be at the heart of the political interference that is undermining the [Justice] Department's enforcement of federal civil laws."

Democrat Lenhard, is no less controversial than the Republican von Spakovsky. Lenhard, who met with strident oppostion when his name was circulated as a possible FEC nominee in 2003, worked as counsel with one of the many labor organizations that unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of McCain-Feingold in the courts. While the legal challenge was unsuccessful, as an FEC Commissioner would be in a position to eviscerate the campaign finance provisions from within the agency tasked to enforce them. Sen. John McCain, one of the authors of the campaign finance law bitterly opposed Lenhard's previous nomination and described Lenhard as “someone who is not going to enforce the law".  Adding to the controversy swirling around Lenhard is the fact that he is the husband of Viveca Novak, whose testimony now provides the foundation for Karl Rove's defense in the CIA leak case. Read the Entire Article

Bad News Keeps Rolling In for Diebold
by John Gideon, Information Manager, VoteTrustUSA

On the heels of the filing of a securities fraud law suit today, BlackBoxVoting.orghas announced that a test election was done on a machine in Leon County, Florida today and the Diebold security measures were easily defeated.

In a report of the test and it's results, Jim March of BlackBoxVoting relates: Due to security design issues and contractual non-performance, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho told Black Box Voting that he will never use Diebold in an election again. He has requested funds to replace the Diebold system from the county. He will issue a formal announcement to this effect shortly.

Finnish security expert Harri Hursti proved that Diebold lied to Secretaries of State across the nation when Diebold claimed votes could not be changed on the memory card.

A test election was run in Leon County today with a total of eight ballots - six ballots voted "no" on a ballot question as to whether Diebold voting machines can be hacked or not. Two ballots, cast by Dr. Herbert Thomson and by Harri Hursti voted "yes" indicating a belief that the Diebold machines could be hacked. Read the Entire Article

From Around the States

Florida Gov. Bush Expresses Concern About State Election Systems in Light of Leon County Hack Test
by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog

Counters Previous Positions by both the Acting Secretary of State and Voting Machine Company Diebold

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

Over the weekend, at least two reports out of mainstream Florida papers -- one in the Miami Herald and one in the Tallahassee Democrat -- report that Gov. Jeb Bush himself is now questioning the reliability of Florida's electronic voting system in light of the recent hack test in Leon County, home of the state's capitol Tallahassee. That security test, carried out last week, successfully flipped the results of a simple mock election test held on Diebold, Inc. voting equipment. The hack, which changed the results of an election from 2-6 to 7-1, left no trace of evidence behind.

After reports of the test were released, Florida's Sec. of State's office had initially criticized the messenger, Leon County's Director of Elections, Ion Sancho, suggesting that the matter was not the state's concern, but rather was an issue between Diebold and the county. That, despite the fact that it was the state of Florida who had certified the particular Diebold made machinery for use in the Sunshine State.

Acting FL Sec. of State David Mann also echoed Diebold's statement on the matter, criticizing Sancho himself because they believe that in allowing the hackers to gain access to the memory cards -- where a very short executable program capable of changing the election results had been secretly placed -- the test did not replicate 'real world' conditions.

Bush, who may be realizing the untenable position the state and their friends at Diebold now find themselves in, is at least taking the public stance that Sancho's findings and concerns should be taken seriously. Read the Entire Article

New York: Testimony Before the State Board of Elections
by Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting

The following testimony on the Draft Voting Systems Standards was delievered by Bo Lipari to the New York State Board of Elections on December 16, 2005 in Albany, NY.

My name is Bo Lipari. I am the Executive Director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting, a grassroots citizen advocacy group concerned with ensuring the integrity of our vote in an age of computers. I had a long career as a software engineer developing commercial and custom software, and managing software development teams and projects for several companies. Most recently I held the position of Senior Software Engineer in the Ithaca NY branch office of Autodesk, the fifth largest software company in the world. I have spent the last three years educating the public, state, county and town officials, about the potential problems with computerized electronic voting systems, and advocating for adoption of a paper ballot based systems using precinct based optical scanners and ballot marking devices for the disabled.

I understand that the purpose of these hearings is to comment on the Draft Voting Systems Standards, and I will do so in just a moment. In a few weeks, New Yorkers for Verified Voting will submit to the State Board of Elections a technical analysis detailing the significant problems and omissions of the proposed standards. Today, due to the time limitations, I will only present a high level overview of the problems with the Draft Standards. But before I do that, I would like to first comment on the State Board of Elections approach to this important moment in New York State.

We are on the cusp of fundamental and far reaching changes to our elections. New York State has not seen such deep seated changes in generations. The public has a vested interest in the integrity, accuracy, and security of our elections, and citizens all around this great state have been voicing their concerns and demanding a transition process that is open and fully visible to the public. We have demanded that all types of voting systems be objectively evaluated and analyzed, and that fair, accurate and thorough evaluations of voting systems in widespread use throughout the United States be performed and presented to the public.

This is what the public has demanded of the State Board. Unfortunately, none of this has happened. Read the Entire Article

Ohio: Election Reform Bill Put Off Until Next Year
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA

Last Wednesday, the Ohio House voted unanimously to reject Senate amendments to an omnibus election reform bill (HB 3). The vote had the effect of delaying action on the legislation until next year. The House had passed an earlier version of the bill but the heavily-ammended version approved by the Senate on Tuesday in a party-line, 21-11 vote, generated objections on both sides of the aisle in the House.

Several news articles pointed out that House Republicans rejected the Senate version because of a provision to limit local government workers from giving more than $200 to their bosses' political campaigns during the officeholders' terms. It is likely that the sustained pressure from citizens in Ohio and nationwide may have had some effect as well - and activists intend to use the "reprieve" afforded by the House vote, to intensify that pressure.

Though HB 3 is a massive piece of legislation - over 400 pages long - it has been reduced in the public consciousness to one issue. It is Ohio's "Voter ID bill" because of provisions requiring voters to present photo IDs at the polls. Democrats walked out of committee deliberations on the bill, charging that it was designed to make voting more difficult for the poor, the elderly, students and the homeless, who may have more trouble producing identification and, most argue, vote Democratic.

Republicans argue that "election reform" is needed to restore voter confidence after Ohio's 2004 election fiasco, but the Voter ID requirements in HB 3 are just another attempt to manipulate legitimate citizen concern about the security and accuracy of elections into a justification for partisan gain. Similar efforts are underway in the Pennsylvania State Senate and in state houses across the country. A voter ID bill passed in Georgia earlier this year was blocked by a Federal court in October. Read the Entire Article

The Facts

The Dirty Little Secrets of Voting System Testing Labs
by Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University

This article appeared in The Huffington Post. It is reposted with permission of the author.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at a voting system testing summit hosted by the Secretary of State of California, Bruce McPherson. It was an event that included members of the US Election Assistance Commission, Secretaries of State, local election officials, vendors, voting machine testers, representatives from NIST, social scientists who study voting issues, and computer scientists, such as myself.

Most notable by their absence were Wyle Laboratories and Ciber Inc. Let me explain.

Before election officials can purchase voting systems, those systems need to be certified by a federally accredited lab called an Independent Testing Authority (ITA). There are three such labs in the US: Ciber, Wyle Labs, and Systest. These labs are tasked with testing any proposed voting systems against federal standards, in this case, the 2002 federal standards, soon to be replaced by the 2005 voluntary voting system guidelines (VVSG). You would think that these labs would be very interested in attending a summit such as this, and in fact, they were all invited. Only Systest showed up. Read the Entire Article

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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