Saturday, December 31, 2005

Listen Online New Year's Day GuvWurld Interview on KPFT

Houston's award winning Pacifica station is www.kpft.org. Visit the site and listen online, especially New Year's Day at 4pm PT when host Pokey Anderson (profile) will be interviewing me on her show Sunday Monitor. We will be discussing the impending demise of Diebold and how the election integrity community is working to euthanize this corporate person who has outlived usefulness to democracy and society.

Also scheduled to be on the show is Mark Crispin Miller (blog), author of such books as: "Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal The Next One Too," "Boxed In: The Culture of TV," "The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder," and "Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order."

For the happy, safe and peaceful new year, remember to keep your mind open, the future's coming.

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Friday, December 30, 2005

More Action Against Diebold's Illegal Programming Code

Response to my last post, Previously Certified Diebold Machines Approved Erroneously, has been quite good. I like that reader comments are finally starting to appear on this site, though several people who sent me e-mail yesterday have not followed up by posting their remarks. Anyway, Democratic Underground members voted the report onto the "Greatest Threads" page and VoteTrustUSA has republished the piece here. VoteTrustUSA has also recently republished two other GuvWurld posts, Further Humboldt Implications of the GAO Elections Report and A Campaign To Unite California Election Reformers (which is also here).

On Thursday, VoteTrustUSA launched an important new campaign:
VoteTrustUSA Launches Action Alert to Election Assistance Commission

By VoteTrustUSA
December 29, 2005

VoteTrustUSA has launched a campaign to hold the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) accountable for ensuring that all Diebold software is re-inspected and decertified until it can be shown that all prohibited code has been removed. We also urge the EAC to initiate the re-inspection of the election software of other vendors, which may also include software that is expressly forbidden in the FEC Voting System Standards. Please go to our action page and send an email to the EAC voicing your concern about the use of prohibited software on voting machines.
Read the rest of the campaign announcement. The action page is here and the suggested action is signing on to an open letter found here:
ITA Letter

By VoteTrustUSA
December 29, 2005

The following letter will be sent to the Election Assistance Commission and Brian Hancock, ITA Secretariat on January 3, 2006. To add your organization to the list of signers write to contact@votetrustusa.org.

Commissioners, Election Assistance Commission and
Brian Hancock, ITA Secretariat
United States Election Assistance Commission
1225 New York Avenue N.W. Suite - 1100
Washington, DC 20005

We the undersigned request that the Federal Independent Testing Authority (ITA) who inspected, for federal qualification, the software used on Diebold Optical Scan and Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines be ordered to reinspect all source code, including any code used on memory cards, looking in particular for 'interpreted' code.
Read the rest of the letter here. Expanding far beyond what I wrote about interpreted code, on Thursday VoteTrustUSA published John Washburn's excellent explanation of what interpreter code is and how it leaves voting technology vulnerable. I strongly recommend reading it for anyone interested in or concerned about election integrity. The better your understanding, the more compelling and persuasive you can be.

Finally, check out Brad Blog for the story of CA Secretary of State McPherson waving his magic wang to disappear concerns over ES&S voting equipment, also not worthy of state certification. First the company was threatened with this loss of status, but now they are again inexplicably back in the good graces of the good, good government.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Previously Certified Diebold Machines Approved Erroneously

While Diebold is engaged in a controversial and protracted effort to regain certification for its voting systems in California, it now appears to some in the election integrity community that previously certified Diebold machines were approved erroneously.

Diebold elections machines employ something called interpreter code which is expressly forbidden in the specs for federal qualification and CA state certification. This needs to become another angle worked in the campaign to unite California election reformers. I'm in the midst of gathering some legal opinions so this piece will have to get held over before I can issue a specific call to action.

However, I will share my thinking which is that people in each of the 17 Diebold client counties should be attempting to get an injunction or restraining order against any further use of the clearly out of compliance yet previously certified Diebold machines. To make it easier to discuss this possibility and feel out your own legal possibilities, the rest of this post covers related background.

As reported last week, the office of CA Secretary of State Bruce McPherson sent a letter to Diebold explaining that their voting systems could not be certified without further federal review of the source code.
It is the Secretary of State'’s position that the source code for the AccuBasic code on these cards, as well as for the AccuBasic interpreter that interprets this code, should have been federally reviewed.
Actually, even if you don't know what AccuBasic is or what AccuBasic interpreter does (I'll tell you later), it is simple to understand that interpreters are expressly forbidden by the 2002 Voting System Standards/Guidelines, which are required for federal qualification and California certification.
Volume 1, Section 4
4.2.2 Software Integrity

Self-modifying, dynamically loaded, or interpreted code is prohibited, except under the security provisions outlined in section 6.4.e.
Volume 1, Section 6
6.4.1 Software and Firmware Installation

The system shall meet the following requirements for installation of software, including hardware with embedded firmware:

e. After initiation of election day testing, no source code or compilers or assemblers shall be resident or accessible.
So it makes no sense for McPherson to demand "more" federal testing since the system will fail on its face and could only have "passed" previously in error.

For more context here, AccuBasic is Diebold's proprietary code. On December 23, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced that Diebold had demonstrated its commitment to keeping the code a secret by taking its machines out of consideration in North Carolina's certification process. Diebold could only be considered for certification if they revealed the code and they chose to walk away. McPherson has created a juicy new pickle for Diebold in California.

As far as what the interpreter code actually does, it is about translating data between programming languages in the counting/tabulation process. Imagine trying to convert currency but without a published exchange rate. Here is a more technical explanation provided by Harri Hursti in his 7/4/05 report filed for BlackBoxVoting.org based on Hursti's May 2005 hack testing in Leon County, FL:
Accu-Basic programming is a two phase process. First the Accu-Basic program source code needs to be pre-compiled with a compiler, converting it from a human readable source code form into token based pseudo-code. The pseudo-code is still a non-binary, ascii file. This first phase programming is normally done on a standard PC running Windows or *ix-–variant operating system. The author used the FreeBSD platform. Then this pseudo-code is transferred to the final execution environment (that is, to the voting machine), where the pseudo-code is executed by an interpreter.

Note: The interpreter, built into the optical scan firmware, will execute the code following the instructions on the memory card. No information has been provided about the interpreter.
Hursti's words are clearer in the context of his more recent hack test in Leon County. That demonstration was very widely reported and resulted in Elections Supervisor Ion Soncho resolving not to use Diebold for future elections. The following day Volusia County, FL followed suit.

So to review, some old information has come to be viewed in a new light. Diebold machines currently certified for use in CA contain illegal programming that should have precluded their certification in the first place. The suggestion is exploring legal means to prevent their future use and the promise is to come back with specifics on this in a near future posting. In addition, it may be useful to throw this line to elections officials and County Supervisors who should be looking for a way to abandon the sinking Diebold ship.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Monroe County, PA Refuses To Buy Election Machines

This is a great example of the municipal civil disobedience that I have been calling for, happening in Monroe County, PA.
December 26, 2005

Monroe won't pay for voting machines
U.S. wants county to fund half of $1.2 million. So far, the answer is no.

By Matt Birkbeck
Of The Morning Call

It was a year ago when the Monroe County commissioners drew a line in the sand and announced they would not allocate county funds to help pay for new voting machines mandated by the Help America Vote Act.

Last week the commissioners made good on their promise, approving a $75 million county budget for 2006 but deciding against raising taxes to pay the estimated $600,000 to cover their share of the $1.2 million needed to replace 120 lever voting machines.

''We've budgeted no county money and we're not kicking in any cash,'' said Commissioner Chairwoman Donna Asure. ''We are looking at meeting the HAVA requirements by any other means other than costing local taxpayers.''

With a Jan. 1 deadline days away and no local funds in place, the commissioners know they are treading on dangerous ground, opening themselves up to a fight with the federal government. It is the only county in Pennsylvania to refuse to use local funding to pay for voting machines.

(snip)

Asure said she will support any plan that doesn't call for spending county funds, leasing or otherwise, and also took issue with other elected officials for failing to take as strong a stand.

''Unfortunately there are a lot of elected officials that will scream for unfunded mandates but not stand up,'' Asure said. ''I'm extremely disappointed that more elected officials have not hollered about how much money this is costing local taxpayers.''
The article's emphasis is entirely on money, never mentioning election integrity issues. Still, taking a stand like this, "drawing a line in the sand," as the article calls it, is exactly what GuvWurld has advocated for since day one.

As local governments increasingly recognize their untenable situation, caused by the federal government, We The People must insist on an approach of "win-win or no deal." Implicit in this approach is the fact that any deal is not really between the federal and local governments, but rather between the federal government and We The People, with our local representatives authorized to negotiate on our behalf.

If local government does not negotiate, and simply accepts federal mandates, no deal has actually been made anyway. When We The People stand up, and insist that our local representatives actually represent our views, only then are we looking at making a deal, one which We would pursue to the benefit of everyone, or from which we would completely withdraw (no deal = municipal civil disobedience).

Message to Humboldt County Supervisors: No Deal With Diebold!

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Monday, December 26, 2005

New Zealand's Scoop Covers GuvWurld CA Unity Campaign

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/print.html?path=HL0512/S00246.htm

California Activists Call the Cops on Diebold
Sunday, 25 December 2005, 8:07 am
Opinion: Michael Collins

California Activists Call the Cops on Diebold:
The Campaign to Unite California Election Reformers

Humboldt Co., CA. A major challenge to election equipment maker Diebold Corporation began in California last week. Dave Berman is a nationally known internet activist who blogs under the name GuvWurld. He is calling on all Californians to ensure election integrity by holding public officials accountable for what he argues are gaping security holes and illegal alterations of Diebold voting machines. One part of the plan asks local activists to demand investigations of unauthorized changes to voting machines by the beleaguered election systems company.

Read the rest...

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Area Voting Machines Discredited By Government Reports

I like that title. In a letter to the editor of the Eureka Reporter, shown below, I suggested using it for their next article on election integrity.

I haven't used the term "election integrity" much until recently but I think it has a good ring. It clearly delineates from the likes of Diebold, voting machine maker cum snake oil salesmen. As Brad Blog has reported, on Thursday Diebold pulled out of North Carolina, and endured rejection by St. Louis.

Another Diebold note, omitted from my last post (Diebold Denied California Once Again), debunks the claims made by Dave Byrd, vice president of business operations for Diebold. An AP article I cited quoted Byrd saying:
"So far, we have complied with every certification test the Secretary's office has requested of us," Byrd said. "We have always complied with what the state has requested of us, and will treat this new request in the same spirit of cooperation."
This is strongly in contrast with the April 2004 CA Secretary of State Staff Report I've referenced heavily in recent weeks:
At the same time this office was seeking to ensure compliance with state certification requirements for the March Primary, the Secretary of State’s office was also working to verify the vendor’s [Diebold's] previous record of compliance with state law. The result of that investigation showed the record to be very poor.
Another point left over from Wednesday comes from the Eureka Times-Standard article, "County to miss federal election deadline." Though I have recently been critical of Humboldt Clerk-Recorder Carolyn Crnich for defending current election conditions and seemingly remaining in denial about their problems, on Wednesday the T-S made clear that Crnich has heard at least some of the community's concerns:
...many of the concerns people currently have with the Diebold system would still apply to almost any other system. They all have proprietary software, Crnich said.
A good portion of the rest of the article is concerned with the January 1 deadline for compliance with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), which Crnich says no CA county is likely to meet due to the handicapped accessibilty requirements and the lack of available certified equipment. As pointed out in the letter below, previously at GuvWurld, in Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution, and in a recent meeting I had with Crnich, the artificial and arbitrary deadline decreed by HAVA works directly counter to the People's concern for creating improved election conditions. We need local leaders who will resist being used by federal mandates against the interests of the local community. As inspiration, consider the good example set by Utah in resisting the No Child Left Behind Act:
New York Times
Utah Vote Rejects Parts of Education Law
By SAM DILLON
Published: April 20, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY, April 19 - In a stinging rebuke of President Bush's signature education law, the Republican-dominated Utah Legislature on Tuesday passed a bill that orders state officials to ignore provisions of the federal law that conflict with Utah's education goals or that require state financing.
Finally, the Times-Standard article from Wednesday closes with an announcement for the long awaited inaugural meeting of Humboldt's election advisory task force, first proposed by Voter Confidence Committee member Mark Konkler in April:
To discuss these issues, a task force on elections and voting will have its first meeting on Jan. 5, Crnich said. The public is invited to help decide who should be on the committee, and what it will discuss. She said it will center on the voting system, rather than on political issues.

It will be held at 6:30 p.m. in Conference Room A in the Humboldt County Courthouse.
* * *

http://www.eurekareporter.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?ArticleID=6653

Report on voting machines worthy of some follow-ups
12/23/2005

Dear Editor,

Thanks for tackling the crucial topic of election integrity (“Area voting machines could have flaws,” Dec. 16). We simply must come to terms with the subversion of our democracy. As you investigate this subject further, please consider a follow-up called “area voting machines discredited by government reports.” Some suggested sources:

1. The official nonpartisan watchdog arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office, in October released a 107-page report condemning the security and reliability of U.S. elections. See: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05956.pdf

2. An April 2004 California Secretary of State staff report revealed Diebold had illegally installed uncertified software in voting machines in Humboldt and 16 other California counties. See: www.ss.ca.gov/elections/ks_dre_papers/diebold_report_april20_final.pdf

3. A report prepared for the Maryland General Assembly explains how GEMS, Humboldt County’s vote-counting software (“central tabulator”), can be compromised. See: http://www.raba.com/press/TA_Report_AccuVote.pdf

4. The Department of Homeland Security’s cyber-threat division, U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, included GEMS in this Sept. 2004 bulletin: http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/bulletins/SB04-252.html

While not a government report like the others, visit www.votergate.tv for the free download of “Votergate,” the movie. Watch footage originally aired on CNBC featuring Bev Harris demonstrating for Howard Dean how to hack GEMS and alter vote totals without a trace in under two minutes.

Some hack demonstrations may test the access from an outsider’s reach. Others, such as the one you reported on in Leon County, Fla., grant the hacker the same access as an election official or machine vendor. Mr. McWilliams’ dumbfoundedness at this procedure notwithstanding, the software has proven unsecure.

In light of the fine example set by both Leon and Volusia Counties in Florida, it is time that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors declare its intention to do no further business with Diebold, a company now facing multiple class action lawsuits from its shareholders.

The looming deadline of the Help America Vote Act is inconsequential compared to the restoration of voter confidence and a basis for such.

The Supes should also start considering how else to have us vote in June, because no way should they expect us to use area voting machines discredited by government reports.

Dave Berman
Eureka

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Diebold Denied California Once Again

California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has denied Diebold's request for voting machine certification. In a letter sent to Diebold on Tuesday, McPherson's office cited "unresolved significant security concerns" related to Diebold's memory cards. As reported by the Associated Press:
The problems were discovered during routine testing of the machines by state employees and independent consultants, said Secretary of State spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns. She said each system approved for use in California must meet 10 security requirements, and the Diebold machines did not meet one of those standards.

"This is a unique case in which we discovered that the source code had never, ever been reviewed," said Kerns. "There were potential security risks with it."
It might seem, on its face, like it is inexcusable for the code to have evaded review. Yet that is the norm across the country as voting machine vendors have sought to protect their "proprietary" intellectual property. This makes it even more significant that McPherson's response included a demand for Diebold to submit their code to federal investigators before being eligible for further certification consideration in CA. In response to the move, State Senator and Secretary of State candidate Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) said McPherson punted:
"The Secretary of State shouldn't punt the decision about whether Diebold machines should be used to count ballots in California to the federal government and an 'independent' testing authority that's financed by the voting machine vendors," Bowen said in a statement. "That decision needs to be made in the open, right here in California."
For more background on the Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs), see this piece posted last Thursday at Huffington Post by computer science professor and widely recognized election security expert Dr. Avi Rubin:
The ITAs are hired by and paid by -- the vendors. That is, when a vendor has a voting machine that they want certified, they find an ITA who is willing to certify the voting machine. Any memos about flaws that are discovered remain confidential. There is no requirement to disclose any problems that are found with the machines. In fact, the entire ITA report is considered proprietary information of the voting machine vendor. After all, they paid for it. This provides an incentive for ITAs to certify machines, to satisfy their clients.
For perspective on what McPherson's deferral really means, see BlackBoxVoting.org:
And herein lies the trap. Federal testing authorities are supposed to rely on standards set by the Federal Election Commission. The FEC standards prohibit "Interpreted code" -– thus, the AccuBasic "interpreter" is illegal. (The entire AccuBasic source code tree is written in a home-brewed language that Diebold programmers made up themselves, making it more difficult for certifiers to examine.)

The Hursti memory card attack demonstrated in Leon County Florida manipulated the voting system by passing code through -- drum roll please -- the Diebold interpreter, using a set of programs called AccuBasic which was written in a concocted computer language and (now it is revealed) was never examined at all by federal testing labs.

The ITA dilemma: ITAs have the choice of either recommending code that explicitly violates FEC standards (placing an unsupportable liability burden on them) or admitting that the original certification was defective. If the ITAs retract their recommendation, it will effectively strip Diebold of its federal certification, and may also affect its older products.

The Diebold dilemma: Diebold can refuse to submit its code to the ITAs, but that will lose the state of California, continuing a pattern initiated last week when two Florida counties dumped their Diebold machines. Alternatively, Diebold can submit its code and watch as the federal authorities sever their product line from the U.S. market.

The position is made more unstable because Diebold is now fending off stockholder suits by an armload of attorneys piling on to solicit clients for a voting machine-related securities fraud lawsuit.
Diebold divestiture has been an activist strategy for quite a while, most notably organized by VelvetRevolution.us. Also circulating through various listserves today courtesy of Phyllis at CountPaperBallots.com was a list of mutual funds with Diebold as a Top 10 holding:







SymbolName% Assets
AVEDXAve Maria Rising Dividend Fund3.07
CDGCXCRAFWORD DIVIDEND GROWTH FUND C3.51
CDGIXCRAWFORD DIVIDEND GROWTH FUND C3.51
RSEAXREGIONS MORGAN KEEGAN SELECT MI3.29
RSECXREGIONS MORGAN KEEGAN SELECT MI3.29
TGVKXTCW GALILEO VALUE OPPS FUND K C2.36
TGVNXTCW GALILEO VALUE OPPORTUNITIES2.36
TGVOXTCW GALILEO VALUE OPPORTUNITIES2.36

So as the saying goes, vote with your dollars. They're like paper ballots and you can typically get a receipt. And as Diebold continues to self-destruct, it should get easier for election reform advocates to move local officials to drop Diebold.

In the meantime, it seems that counties such as Humboldt will find their previously certified equipment grandfathered in for continued approved use. As citizens and voters it behooves us to state clearly that these machines do not meet OUR standards. Every single person in a position to make a decision about this must answer to us, We The People. Our line in the sand has been drawn. We will not accept the inherently inconclusive results of elections held under these conditions, nor will we accept public officials who defend and excuse these conditions. See GuvWurld's Campaign to Unite California Election Reformers.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

GuvWurld Roundup: A Tumultuous Week For Election News

We are off to a fast start in our campaign to unite California election reformers. For the second consecutive day, yesterday, local Humboldt County media addressed Diebold's week from hell, including unsupportable claims from Humboldt County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams, and my response calling for him to resign. From Friday's Eureka Reporter:
Area voting machines could have flaws
by Shane Mizer, 12/16/2005

AccuVote machines used in Humboldt County elections may be vulnerable to hacking, according to a recent test in Florida.

The machines succumbed to security expert tampering in a Leon County, Fla., test observed by elections supervisor Ion Sancho.

(snip)

"I don'’t know why any election official would allow anyone to have access to their voting system," Humboldt County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams said, criticizing the Leon County test.

(snip)

Dave Berman, a member of the local electoral reform watchdog group the Voter Confidence Committee and author of guvwurld.blogspot.com, has recently called for McWilliams'’ resignation due to his failure to properly safeguard Humboldt County'’s elections.

"The conditions for our elections right now guarantee that we are going to have an inconclusive outcome because we'’ve got paperless electronic voting machines across the country,"” Berman said. "“If we can't verify the vote with a recount, how can we know what the true outcome is? Therefore there is no reason for confidence in the results that are given, just blind trust."”

Diebold spokesman David Bear claimed Sancho'’s test was not conducted in a real environment and therefore does not reflect a realistic outcome.

"At no time has he ever included us in his test or followed any industry standards or his own policies and procedures on how to properly conduct an election,"” Bear said. "It'’s somewhat foolish to be providing people with the ability to bypass securities by supplying passwords and unfettered access. It'’s sort of analogous that if I give you the keys to my house and the password to my alarm of course you can get into my house."”
Also see Thursday's Eureka-Times Standard (original/archive). Both pieces demonstrate the same flawed response from McWilliams, namely the assumption that a hacker would only be working externally. It is not hard to find questionable insiders. Think of Katherine Harris as Florida Secretary of State in 2000 while also serving as the Bush/Cheney campaign chair. Also consider Ken Blackwell coordinating the "re-election" campaign of 2004 while also serving as Ohio's Secretary of State.

Insiders don't have to be elected (or appointed either, as in McWilliams's case) but could instead work for one of the vendors. Remember the Triad technician involved with the 2004 recount in Hocking County, OH? Click here to read testimony and a sworn affidavit from, respectively, Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb, and whistleblower Sherole Eaton, who was the Hocking County deputy director of elections. Maybe you'd also like to read about the felons employed by Diebold, or the class action suits brought this week by its shareholders.

In criminal jury trials in America, we require a standard of "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." A great deal of incriminating circumstantial evidence could amount to nothing if jurors aren't quite convinced the accused was at the scene. With elections, there seems to be a standard that says voting equipment is flawless until proven flawed, but we don't accept as proof the GAO report, the Conyers report, hack tests, tens of thousands of reported irregularities, the absence of ballots to be recounted, a Homeland Security cyber alert (bulletin #SB04-252) or anything else that might indicate Democracy in America is a myth.

Of course it should be the other way around, viewing voting methods with caution unless and until they can be proven secure. Following the Leon County, FL hack test this week, elections Supervisor Soncho announced he would no longer use Diebold election machines. Less than 24 hours later, Volusia County, FL also swore off Diebold. Soncho also appeared on television (video - click picture to play) stating his belief that vote totals were tampered with in the 2000 presidential election.

So this is what it is coming down to, on a weekend when even the corporate media is discussing Mr. Bush's personal approval of secret wiretappings in America, without court approval: some people are waking up and drawing their line in the sand. It is not just two FL counties dropping Diebold, or the Senate refusing to renew provisions of the Patriot Act. This is a time when communities, such as Humboldt County, because there is no other choice, will stand up and say what we absolutely will not tolerate anymore. It is not a personal thing to call for the resignation of McWilliams. His boss, County Clerk-Recorder Carolyn Crnich also exhibits the same defense and denial of unacceptable election conditions. Anyone who defends them is defending elections guaranteed to be inconclusive. It is this to which we say no. And it is to all who would insist on keeping such conditions that we say it is time for a different attitude, or a different job.

Goodnight Manchuria, wherever you are.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Eureka Times-Standard Prints Call For Election Manager's Resignation

Based on the campaign launched Monday night in the GuvWurld blog, today's Eureka Times-Standard (original/archive) carries comments from Humboldt County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams defending Diebold, followed by a call for his resignation.
A few days after a Florida county election official swore off the use of Diebold voting machines for alleged security problems, Humboldt County Elections Officer Lindsey McWilliams said he still believes the system is safe from real-world tampering.

[snip]

McWilliams said the tests prove nothing, because the hackers in Florida had special access that real-life tamperers would not have.

[snip]

Dave Berman, a local advocate for election system reform, spoke critically of Diebold and praised the Florida county for its decision.

"I think the decision in Florida is long overdue and I think that there should be a complete product recall so that no county or voter in the country should have to use a Diebold voting machine and no voters should have to vote on a machine that uses proprietary technology at all because that amounts to a secret counting of the votes,"” Berman said.

He pointed to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office, which he said meticulously outlines problems with a variety of voting technologies.

"”Lindsey McWilliams is in denial,"” Berman said. "“He's defending technology that has been documented over and over again as being flawed."

He said McWilliams may need to step down.

"Frankly, if he is resigned to the status quo for voting systems, he should resign his office and make way for someone who is willing to work to improve the elections system,"” he said.
This message should be cited and repeated throughout the country, but especially in the 17 CA counties where Diebold installed uncertified software in its voting machines (see page 3 of this CA Secretary of State Staff Report).

This campaign has already received significant recognition and participation through Democratic Underground, VoteTrustUSA, Craigslist, and several prominent listserves including the California Election Protection Network.

Link back to the original campaign launch announcement for more details, official contacts, and recommended action steps.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

While you blinked...

Walden O'Dell, paragon of non-partisan virtue ("I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president"), has resigned as CEO of election machine manufacturer Diebold.

BradBlog.com was quick to post that story yesterday, along with an accurate prediction of its scoop today: shareholders have brought a securities fraud class action suit against Diebold. Here is a press release from the legal team representing the class. Reuters also published this brief.

Late Tuesday afternoon, BlackBoxVoting.org announced even more bad news for Diebold:
Due to security design issues and contractual non-performance, Leon County (Florida) 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.
Leon County, FL has been on election reformers' radars since the BBV crew performed a successful test hack there last summer. The promised forthcoming announcement is not yet on the County's website though it does include this special report attesting to the successful hacking.

Amid all of this, the Eureka Times-Standard joins the Humboldt Advocate and the Humboldt Sentinel in breaking the silence about the GAO report. Here is the brilliant conclusion to the T-S piece:
The GAO report covers concerns for the worst that could happen in U.S. elections, and provides evidence of the discrepancies that have happened. It goes on to say: "Nevertheless, there is evidence that some of these concerns -- including weak controls and inadequate testing -- have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes."”

So, with government-verified facts like this, how are voters like you and I supposed to believe in the official results announced each election day? Do we put blind faith in our existing voting technology, go on about our daily lives and hope for the best in a so-called "democracy" with unverifiably elected leaders? Or, shall we care enough about ensuring the foundations of our democracy, by looking deeper into our broken voting system, asking our officials to ensure conclusive election outcomes, and working to establish an accountable government that genuinely represents us?

To learn more about Diebold and GEMS software, other voting technology discrepancies and possible solutions, please visit: www.voterconfidencecommittee.org, guvwurld.blogspot.com, or www.blackboxvoting.org
And all of this is simply superbly timed to coincide with the GuvWurld campaign launched Monday night, aimed at bringing pressure on and possibly producing resignations from elections officials in the 17 counties where Diebold admitted (p.3) to installing uncertified software in voting machines. Discussion site Democratic Underground has taken notice of the campaign and various election reform groups and coalitions are expected to be on board shortly.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

A Campaign To Unite California Election Reformers

A recently released report by the non-partisan watchdog arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), has laid bare the unsecure and unreliable conditions of U.S. elections. Beyond just what could happen, the GAO has meticulously documented what has happened in the past few years, concluding:
Nevertheless, there is evidence that some of these concerns—including weak controls and inadequate testing—have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes. (p.38)
When votes are lost and miscounted, there is no way to be certain what the true outcome should be from an election. We can thus say that current election conditions ensure inconclusive outcomes, and provide no basis for confidence in the results reported. Among the many citations, the GAO report refers to an April 20, 2004, Staff Report from the California Secretary of State's office which reported that Diebold had admitted to violating state law in each of its 17 client counties (listed below):
[T]he VSPP [Voting Systems and Procedures Panel] initiated an audit of all 17 California counties using Diebold voting systems. The audit discovered that Diebold had, in fact, installed uncertified software in all its client counties without notifying the Secretary of State as required by law, and that the software was not federally qualified in three client counties. Diebold eventually acknowledged that it had failed to notify the Secretary of State of its proposed system modifications, and that its failure to obtain certification for those modifications violated state law. (p.3)
In response to that revelation, GuvWurld recently pondered:
Who allowed Humboldt's voting machines to have uncertified software installed in them? Was someone in the Humboldt County elections department complicit in this crime or merely negligent? Is this person still employed by the elections department, and if so, why?
These questions have been referred to the Humboldt County District Attorney and Grand Jury. These same questions are valid in each of the 16 other California counties using Diebold touch screens and/or scanners. GuvWurld hereby calls for a coordinated effort among election reformers to make this an issue throughout the state. Why? Look what appeared on page four of the same CA SoS report:
Diebold's conduct has created an untenable situation for both county and state elections officials. Some county officials have felt compelled to defend untested, unqualified and uncertified Diebold voting systems, having authorized large capital outlays only to find out on the eve of or during an election that the systems do not function as promised. Before the March [2004] Primary, county officials repeatedly warned that, without certification of particular voting system components, the election could not be conducted because it was too late to devise and implement back-up plans.
If elections officials were or are in an "untenable situation," then voters are in an even worse position. We are trying to draw a line in the sand demonstrating our refusal to accept election conditions that will continue to guarantee inconclusive outcomes. Necessary to this goal is a similar line in the sand laid down by elections officials. After all, if they say elections "could not be conducted" under certain circumstances, why have we not seen a cancelled election? Where will elections officials draw their line in the sand?

Many elections officials will never do that. Such people do not warrant the trust of the public and must be the first to resign or be removed from office. Try this line: "If you are resigned to the status quo, you must resign your office and make way for someone determined to improve election conditions." Anyone who continues defending, excusing or apologizing for current election conditions has no business in election administration or in any other public office.

Action Steps:
  1. Forward this message to District Attorneys, Grand Juries, County Supervisors, City Councilmembers, and local media in each of Diebold's 17 CA client Counties (listed below), requesting investigation of Diebold's crimes and any possible involvement of local elections officials.

  2. Follow up with phone calls requesting:

    • Election department officials be asked to acknowledge and affirm their understanding of the GAO's findings, or submit their resignation;

    • Diebold be declared an unfit business partner, ruling out any further use of Diebold voting equipment, any future contracts with Diebold, and all privately owned, proprietary voting systems;

    • City Councils and County Boards of Supervisors adopt the Voter Confidence Resolution outlining conditions necessary to ensure conclusive election outcomes and create a basis for confidence in the results reported.

  3. Turn to those around you and discuss how else to draw a line in the sand. In particular, we greatly need the leadership of California's many established election reform groups acting in solidarity with this call to action.
CA Counties Using Diebold:
Alameda
Fresno
Humboldt
Kern
Lassen
Marin
Mendocino
Modoc
Placer
Plumas
San Diego
San Joaquin
San Luis Obispo
Santa Barbara
Siskiyou
Trinity
Tulare
Click HERE to see which CA counties use which voting systems.

Resources:

CA election code: http://www.election-reform.us/laws/

CA voter complaint form: http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/elections_fraud.htm

CA newspaper contacts: http://newsdirectory.com/news.php?co=USA&p=ca

CA Grand Jurors Association: http://www.nvo.com/cgja

CA District Attorneys: http://doju.tripod.com/california.html

CA Boards of Supervisors: http://www.cicg.org/search/roster.php

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