Thursday, March 02, 2006

Election Integrity Advocates Swarm Sacramento

Election integrity advocates descended upon Sacramento on Wednesday to attend the public hearing on all the other election machine vendors besides Diebold. GuvWurld correspondent Dan Ashby filed this report.
Hi all,

I got home about 8:30. Glad to see you were able to catch some of the TV news. We had fewer TV cameras this time than last, but I think we actually received much more air time.

Great sign, Jackie, and a reminder of the power of graphic display. I think that your sign filling the screen for 5 seconds with that message probably achieved more media impact than any other single thing we did.

Here's what else I can tell you about the day:
The crowd started out small, perhaps 30 people, but with some good signage; and we had a literature and sales table with several informational placards on the stolen 2004 election.

Early on, Kevin Yamamura of the Sacramento Bee interviewed me. Then I was simultaneously interviewed by two radio stations and one TV station. I think the TV may have been Channel 2, and one of the radio stations I think was an ABC affiliate.

I didn't have time to get their cards, because the next immediate thing was to pull together the group for a press conference. We had about 50 people at that point, and formed into a tight group to fill the camera, with signs in the back.

Alan Dechert, Jim Soper, Judy Alter, Phil Harlan, and Judy Bertelsen each gave short talks, a good mix of people covering the issue from a variety of angles: open source and pending legislation, Sequoia security holes, Sequoia voting hacks, disability access relative to integrity of the count, and a recap of McPherson's Diebold recertification travesty.

As people filed inside to the hearing, I did another interview with Capitol News TV.

People continued to arrive for the hearing, so that what initially looked like a small turnout turned quite respectable. Some of our party counted the sign-in sheets and concluded there were 100 to 120 people in the auditorium.

The hearing format consisted of a reading of the Secretary of State's staff report summaries for each vendor certification item, followed by some responsive comments from vendor representatives, and then open comments from the public and assorted elections officials. The registrars of Contra Costa, Riverside, and Napa counties spoke (the latter two expressing complete confidence in their vendors, claiming never to have lost a vote, and assuring us their constituents just love their DREs).

Throughout the day, citizens--including many from CEPN, VRTF, Mainstream Moms, and CaliforniaBallots--made cogent, sharp, persuasive and moving comments against the machines, and for honest, transparent and secure elections. Comments opposing privatized electronic voting led by a ratio of about 97 to 3.

Everyone who wanted to speak got three opportunities for two minutes each. Testimony went on until 4:00.

At the noon break, San Jose NBC Channel 11 did a series of interviews with Ted Newman, myself, and Michelle Gabriel, for a total of about 20 minutes.

Ian Hoffman covered the hearing, so expect a good story in the morning.

Bruce McPherson was seen in the lobby. This was a first.

Registrars from Contra Costa, Riverside, and Napa spoke--the latter two praising their e-voting vendors, claiming they'd never lost a vote, and that their voters love their DREs.

Jim Soper gave a 15 minute presentation describing a Visio Basic script hack on Sequoia WIN-Eds software demonstrated by the latest addition to our CEPN team, Jeremiah Akin of Riverside County. Jim also told the secretary of state's staff that there really is an Easter bunny who lays well-hidden Easter eggs in voting software.

Riverside Registrar Barbara Dunmore asserted that whatever Akin was talking about, hadn't happened in Riverside. Dunmore also said there is no modem, internet or network connectivity on Riverside voting systems. (Two weeks ago, CEPN member Paul Jacobs reported the Riverside supervisors approving "use of a county Intranet system called "CORNET" to send election data from the Indio desert to Riverside . . . the CORNET Wide Area . . . according to the county Web site. . . will be accessible to all government agencies."

"There will be no transmission limitation placed on the CORNET. File transfers, interactive traffic and graphics can be transmitted at any time.")

Judy Alter came up from L.A. to present her findings, complete with machine internal tape copies, showing a vote-shifting routine on Sequoia Insight and Optech 400 scanners used in New Mexico, 2004.

At lunchtime, Ferris Gluck and Sherry Healy demonstrated the Equalivote assistive voting device they have developed, and Phil Harlan tried it out.

Around noon, Michelle fielded a radio interview on her cell phone (not sure which station). After the hearing, I did a 5-minute radio interview via cell phone with the Peter B. Collins show out of Monterey. On Monday I also had a 5 minute call-in on the Christine Craft show on 1240 AM Sacramento.

So, that's at least 2 newspaper stories, 5 radio interviews, and 5 TV interviews. Not bad.

When I got home, my answering machine messages included a follow-up call from Yamamura of the Bee, a Latina reporter from a Spanish-language newspaper (La Union) in L.A., and an aide to Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-SF) regarding the recertification of Diebold voting machines, "to get a sense of what you guys are doing about this, get some information from you, and find out how we can be of assistance; to let you know we're definitely interested in doing something about this situation."

My bet is that it was that 5-second TV billboard by Jackie that got Leno's attention. I'll bet it got McPherson's too, if he was watching. (scroll down)

Oh, and the VRTF literature table generated $90 in book, CD, and message-media sales income.

Dan Ashby
The Sacramento Bee article appeared online late Wednesday. While perhaps not overtly biased, it does seem to give the unwarranted benefit of the doubt to McPherson and the vendors. For instance, McPherson is allowed to get away with calling his certification procedures "stringent" and "transparent." Of course, the article does not point out, as I did last week, that McPherson didn't even follow his own "strict standards" (.pdf).

In addition, the certification justification (.pdf) that offered assurances that documented security flaws are "fixable" and "manageable" set the bar way too low. You might as well shoot me in the head, stab me, run me over with a truck and drown me, and then offer me a band-aid. Current election conditions provide no basis for confidence in the results reported and McPherson has no right to ask for blind trust.



When I got home, my answering machine messages included a follow-up call from Yamamura of the Bee, a Latina reporter from a Spanish-language newspaper (La Union) in laptop batteries.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:45 AM  

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