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
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.
* * *

Report on voting machines worthy of some follow-ups

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:

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:

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

4. The Department of Homeland Security’s cyber-threat division, U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, included GEMS in this Sept. 2004 bulletin:

While not a government report like the others, visit 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



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