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.


"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.


Dave Berman, a member of the local electoral reform watchdog group the Voter Confidence Committee and author of, 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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