Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Response To Diebold Certification Is Strong

One month ago, CA Secretary of State Bruce McPherson was here in Humboldt County on his "I swear it's not a campaign" tour. At the time, GuvWurld obtained exclusive video of McPherson's press conference at the County Courthouse. graciously hosted the content for me, though Brad did not do a story about the event until this week. On Tuesday, the first business day for official Diebold certification blowback, Brad posted this fine article with a big splash about the video. This was the second time in less than a week that Brad threw out a GuvWurld link. Cheers! What would be better? Brad's Tuesday piece also went up on Huffington Post.

CA Senator Debra Bowen is asking everyone to sign on to her petition letter to McPherson.
I urge you to reverse your decision to certify Diebold electronic voting machines in California's 2006 elections -- and to delay any further action until you schedule hearings to allow experts and the general public to review and comment the latest study results.

Last December, you announced that you were sending Diebold voting machines back for federal review by the "Independent Testing Authorities" because their memory cards hadn't been reviewed. Now you're going back on your word, approving Diebold machines for use in California even before receiving the results of these federal tests.

Instead, you've based your findings on a supposedly "independent state audit" that didn't even give Diebold a glowing recommendation. In fact, the report determined that "there are serious vulnerabilities" with the Diebold machines "that go beyond what was previously known."

Apparently you've based your decision on a report made a board that you appointed yourself, with no opportunity for public review. That's not how you restore public confidence in California elections.

Why are you so intent to rush through this Diebold certification? Where are the results of tests conducted by the "Independent Testing Authorities?" And why not allow experts and the general public to review and comment on the report you requested BEFORE making a decision?

I urge you to delay certification of the Diebold electronic voting systems until you schedule a public hearing to review the latest study results and until Diebold resolves the many security and performance flaws that have previously been identified.
As far as I know, calls to the Senate Rules Committee are still useful in pressing for a subpoena to compel testimony from McPherson and all the election machine vendors before the Senate Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee. See this GuvWurld post for more details and contact info. I called all the Senators on Tuesday and each one acknowledged that they were getting a lot of calls on this.

More locally, I spoke with both Humboldt County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams and his boss, Clerk/Recorder Carolyn Crnich. I was assured that there wouldn't be an immediate move to close a deal with Diebold, if only because the process of making the deal can take some time, plus the machines likely wouldn't arrive in time for the June 6 primary. I exhaled relief and reprieve.

Of note, McWilliams still has no concerns about the Diebold OS machines currently used in Humboldt County. When I pointed out that the Secretary of State has accepted a security analysis (.pdf) that calls the machines illegal, and describes myriad technical flaws, McWilliams would only say "it's certified."

On the other hand, Crnich was a little more contemplative. She seems to appreciate the strong potential for a morass to develop as a result of legal challenges to McPherson's "conditional" certification. Referring to the lack of guidance provided by Friday's certification announcement (.pdf), Crnich said "I'm not satisfied with what we've got and I'm not sure we're ahead of where we were last week."

In a previous meeting I attended with Crnich and Vets For Peace Secretary Jim Sorter, I encouraged Crnich to consider municipal civil disobedience. She reacted quite negatively. However, yesterday we discussed what an untenable position she is in and it seemed like maybe, perhaps, I hope I'm not just wishing that she began to get the idea that being controlled by others is not a suitable excuse to offer after everything has gone to pot and people are seeking accountability.

I've also talked individually with several members of both the Eureka and Arcata City Councils, and I spoke during the public comment Tuesday night at Eureka's Council meeting. To all of them I said that they should make the opportunity now to speak to County Supes because a stalemate over the machines will not be good for the cities and when it happens it will be too late to influence the situation. Councilmembers can stand to hear more encouragement on this so please see this post for contact info and call them.

And of course we need to work on the Board of Supervisors. A few extraordinary people have come out of the woodwork to help me with a proposal I am developing to offer the Supes an outline of what it would take to be prepared to run the June 6 primary using hand counted paper ballots. Please contact the Supes and tell them the illegal machines are unacceptable and if they want to maintain the legitimacy of local government, it is going to require a transparent, secure, and verifiably accurate voting system: hand counted paper ballots.

I'm hearing/causing lots of rumbles about legal actions against the machines or some other variable in the equation. Lawyers willing to support this cause pro bono please contact me. I also want to recognize my attorney friend in WA, Paul Lehto. I've blogged about him several times before and bring him up now to recommend reading his great new essay "Officials say "Trust Us" When Very Basis of American System is Distrust!!"

I also can't resist recommending Rev. Rich Lang's new essay "We Dare Not Speak Its Name," calling on other preachers to use their pulpits to speak the truth about fascism.



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