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The Progressive Review

Watching the count
Ballot news from the Progressive Review


Topics

How to register to vote in your state

Ranked choice voting

Citizens United

Electronic voting problems

Voter suppression

Voting restrictions

A guide to election frauds

Three ways to take on corporate personhood

Fun ways to win elections

John Cleese explains proportional voting

Most needed election reforms

Why Nader wasn't responsible for Gore's loss

Groups

Fair Vote
More groups

Media

Brad Blog
More media

Essays

CAMPAIGN FINANCING

COUNTING THE VOTES RIGHT: Ways to rig an election and what's being done about it.

FUN WAYS TO STEAL ELECTIONS

THE CASE AGAINST LEGALIZED BRIBERY: Our system of campaign financing discussed in a speech by editor Sam Smith

PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION

URBAN STATEHOOD: Why America needs more states

ELECTING AN ATTORNEY GENERAL

Media

Election Law Blog
Brad Blog
Voting Rights Watch

Groups
BALLOT INITIATVE STRATEGY CENTER
BLACK BOX VOTING
CASE AMERICA

FAIR VOTE
HONEST ELECTIONS CAMPAIGN
INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM INSTITUTE:

NATIONAL VOTING RIGHTS INSTITUTE
OPEN VOTING FOUNDATION

PROPORTIONAL VOTING
US COUNTS VOTES
VELVET REVOLUTION

VERIFIED VOTING
VOTERS UNITE

WE DO NOT CONCEDE COALITION

12% of the US population controls 60% of the Senate

About a national popular vote

Fair Vote - The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia). Under the U.S. Constitution, the states have exclusive and complete power to allocate their electoral votes, and may change their state laws concerning the awarding of their electoral votes at any time. Under the National Popular Vote bill, all of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes-that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).

The bill has had bipartisan support. For example, the most recent state to enter the compact is New York, in April 2014. In the Republican-controlled New York Senate, the chamber approved of the bill 57-4, and majorities of both parties voted for the bill in both legislative chambers. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions possessing 165 electoral votes - 61% of the 270 necessary to activate it. The bill has also passed 32 legislative chambers in 22 jurisdictions (including the District of Columbia.) A total of at least 2,110 state legislators have endorsed the bill as of April 2014.

For more information on the National Popular Vote plan, including weekly updates and ways to get involved, please visit NationalPopularVote.com.

The effect of voter ID

Washington Post - In response to a request from a group of Democratic senators, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office analyzed the effect of voter ID laws in Kansas and Tennessee on 2012 turnout. Turnout dropped at least 1.9 percentage points in Kansas and 2.2 percentage points in Tennessee thanks to the laws. By our calculations, that's 122,000 fewer votes.

Voter suppression has worsened since 2010

Appeals court upholds early voting in Ohio

How some states cheat minority voters

Common Dreams - Lack of poll workers and low numbers of voting machines are key contributors to long voting lines, and precincts with more minorities experienced longer waits, according to a new study released today by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

Although many factors may contribute to long lines at the polls, little research has assessed how polling place resource allocation contributes to delays. In advance of the 2014 midterm election, Election Day Long Lines: Resource Allocation attempts to fill that gap by analyzing precinct-level data from states where voters faced some of the longest lines in the country in 2012: Florida, Maryland, and South Carolina.

Specifically, the study assesses how machine and poll worker distribution contributes to long lines and what role race played in predicting where lines might develop — providing an important roadmap exploring the causes of long lines that have plagued millions of Americans.

There are four major takeaways from our research:

Voters in precincts with more minorities experienced longer waits. In South Carolina, for example, the 10 precincts with the longest waits had, on average, more than twice the percentage of black registered voters (64 percent) than the statewide average (27 percent). Voters in precincts with higher percentages of minority voters had fewer machines. In Maryland, the 10 precincts with the lowest number of machines per voter had, on average, more than double the percentage of Latino voting age citizens (19 percent) as the statewide average (7 percent). Precincts with the longest lines had fewer machines, poll workers, or both. In Florida, for example, the 10 precincts with the longest lines had nearly half as many poll workers per voter as the statewide average. There is widespread non-compliance with existing state requirements setting resource allocation. Both Maryland and South Carolina set certain requirements for what polling places are supposed to provide voters, but we found that only 25 percent of the precincts studied in South Carolina and 11 percent of the precincts studied in Maryland complied with these requirements.

“We all saw the images of voters waiting in hours-long lines in 2012. Now we know more about why that happened and how to fix it,” said Myrna Pérez, report co-author and deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “The number of poll workers and voting machines can have a huge effect on Election Day problems, particularly in areas with more minority voters. Giving sufficient resources to election officials could dramatically improve voting in America.”

22 states have passed anti-democratic, anti-minority voting laws in past four years

Washington Post - Since the 2010 election, 22 states have passed new voting requirements, according to the nonprofit law and policy institute the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. In 15 of those states, this year marks the first major federal election with those new policies in place. Seven states are facing court challenges over their tighter voting laws.

The restrictions have a disproportionate impact on the black population, according to a review of census data. While the 22 states are home to 46 percent of the overall population, they represent 57 percent of the nation’s black population. The Hispanic population, however, is underrepresented: just 42 percent live in the states with new voting requirements. The restrictions range from photo ID requirements to narrower windows for early voting.

Most were passed by GOP-led legislatures in states with growing minority turnout, the report finds. In 18 of the 22 states, the restrictions were ushered through GOP-led bodies. The requirements will also have an outsized effect on states with high minority turnout. Seven of the states with new requirements are among the 11 with the highest African American turnout in 2008. Nine of the states with new restrictions are among the 12 with the highest Hispanic turnout.

How to get into Congress with two percent of the vote

Colorado movement for open public elections

First town to allow 16 year olds to vote

Cambridge MA shows how to vote

Charges filed against Diebold

What Ireland can teach America about voting

Supreme Court strikes down key Voting Act provision

Town sets path for better voting

Ranked choice voting
Back to top

University's new ranked choice voting boosts student participation

Overseas voters get to use ranked choice

Where instant runoff voting is being used

Instant runoff voting (the one-winner form of ranked choice voting) is used on the municipal, state, and national level in governments around the world, as well as by non-governmental organizations and corporations.

In the United States

State and local governments using instant runoff voting as of November 2013 

  • Arkansas (only overseas voters in runoffs): Adopted in 2005 and first used 2006
  • Alabama (only overseas voters): By agreement with a federal court, used in special election for U.S. House, 2013
  • Berkeley, California: Adopted in 2004 and first used 2010 (for mayor, city council and other city offices)
  • Hendersonville, North Carolina  Adopted and used as part of a pilot program in 2007, 2009 and 2011 (mayor and multi-seat variation for city council) and under consideration for future elections
  • Louisiana (only overseas and out-of-state military voters in federal and state runoffs): Adopted and used since the 1990s
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: Adopted in 2006 and first used in 2009 in elections for mayor, city council and several other city offices, including certain multi-seat elections
  • Oakland, California: Adopted in 2006 and first used in 2010 (for a total of 18 city offices, including mayor and city council)
  • Portland, Maine: Adopted in 2010 and first used in 2011 (for electing mayor only)
  • San Francisco, California: Adopted in 2002, first used in 2004 and used every November election since then (for mayor, city attorney,  Board of Supervisors and five additional citywide offices)
  • San Leandro, California: Adopted as option in 2000 charter amendment and first used in 2010 and every two years since  (for mayor and city council)
  • South Carolina (only for overseas voters in federal and state primary runoffs): Adopted and first used in 2006
  • St. Paul, Minnesota: Adopted in 2009, first used in 2011 and to be used every two years (mayor and city council)
  • Springfield, Illinois (for overseas voters only): Adopted in 2007 and first used in 2011 
  • Takoma Park, Maryland: Adopted in 2006 and first used in 2007, with elections every two years and with some special elections in between (for mayor and city council)
  • Telluride, Colorado: Adopted in 2008 and first used in 2011 (for mayoral elections)

Upcoming implementations  

  • Memphis, TN (adopted 2008; scheduled for 2015 for electing city council and other offices)
  • Santa Fe, NM (adopted 2008; scheduled for 2016 for electing mayor city council)

*Ann Arbor (MI), Aspen (CO), Burlington (VT), Cary (NC), New York (NY), Pierce County (WA) and Yonkers (NY) are among cities that have used instant runoff voting since 1900. North Carolina used IRV to fill judicial vacancies in 2010, including one statewide election for Court of Appeals and three county-level elections for Superior Court. **Cambridge (MA) uses ranked choice voting for its city council elections with the choice voting method of fair representation voting where each of the nine winners needs to earn a little more than 10% of the vote. Voters in Davis (CA) approved an advisory measure in 2006 in favor of this system.

In International Governments

  • Australia, to elect its House of Representaives since 1919 and to elect most state and territory lower houses.
  • Bosnia, for certain sub-national elections, since 2000.
  • Bougainville, first used IRV for presidential elections in December 2008.
  • Papua New Guinea, since 2001.
  • The Republic of Ireland, to elect its president since 1922.
  • London, to elect its mayor since 2000 (with voters limited to two rankings) Also, several other UK cities use IRV to elect their mayors.
  • Wellington, New Zealand, to elect its mayor since 2003. Other New Zealand cities use it as well.
  • Malta, to elect its president since 1921.
  • Sri Lanka, to elect its president since 1978.
  • India, indirectly for president and to fill vacancies.
  • Conservative Party in Canada for leadership elections.
  • Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, Canada for leadership elections.
  • Liberal Party of New Zealand (Optional Preferential Voting)
  • Labour Party in the UK for leadership elections.
  • Hong Kong's Legislative Council has 4 functional constituencies that use a preferential elimination system.

In American Organizations and Corporations

Major Associations that Use IRV

Rob Richie's Blog Post

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (OscarVotes123.com)

In American Colleges and Universities

Interest in fair elections systems for student elections around the country has been gaining momentum, with about five dozen colleges and universities using IRV as of 2013 for single-winner offices like student body president..

Ranked choice voting this year

2012

Long lines killed 50,000 votes in Florida Political Wire - An Ohio State University researcher has found that "as many as 49,000 people across Central Florida were discouraged from voting because of long lines on Election Day," the Orlando Sentinel reports. "About 30,000 of those discouraged voters -- most of them in Orange and Osceola counties -- likely would have backed Democratic President Obama ... About 19,000 voters would have likely backed Republican Mitt Romney ... This suggests that Obama's margin over Romney in Florida could

Holder calls for automatic voter registration

The GOP's Voter Suppression Strategy

Scott Walker already trying to suppress the vote again

Who had to wait at the polls


YES MAGAZINE

America's voting system is worse than most democracies
David Frum, CNN - When the polls close in most other democracies, the results are known almost instantly. Ballots are usually counted accurately and rapidly, and nobody disputes the result. Complaints of voter fraud are rare; complaints of voter suppression are rarer still. The kind of battle we ar..

Mail in votes badly counted

State laws on employees' time off for voting

Why people don't vote

Ten reasons to vote early

How voter suppression will affect poor and minority voters

Six million missing or stolen votes

Why do we vote on Tuesdays?

Republican vote fraud spreading

Eight of eleven states in the former Confederacy have passed restrictive voting laws since the 2010 election

Ohio agrees to standard voting hours in all districts

How to cheat on absentee ballots

States no longer have to engage in prison gerrymandering

How the Supreme Court has sold America to multinational corporations

The efficiency of public campaign financing

62% favor popular vote over electoral college

Even James Madison didn't like the electoral system

Local heroes: Where they still actually count ballots

 GOP voter suppression
BACK TO TOP

Washington Post

Ohio cuts early voting favored by blacks

Nearly six million citizens barred from voting by felon disenfranchisement laws


North Carolina poster

North Carolina's new voter deregistration bill

Ways to suppress the vote now that the Supreme Court says it's okay

Thanks to Supreme Court, six states pushing restrictions on voting

2012

GAO can find no evidence of voter fraud in states GOP is trying to lock down

What real protection of voting rights would look like

Voter suppression kickback in Pennsylvania

GOP rigging election ID laws to block student voters

Pennsylvania Supreme Court stalls on voter ID

Denial of Pennsylvania voting rights is major crime

Republican Judge okays massive disenfranchisment of Pennsylvania voters

The truth about Pennsylvania's voting law

GOP voter ID push is the real fraud

Ohio rigging voting times differently in Democratic & GOP locations

Pennsylvania voter restrictions beat 1960s segregationist Mississippi in impact

Republicans could prevent much of Philadelphia from voting

Pennsylvania admits there's no evidence of voter fraud

Recovered history: The last time voter registration was used big time against blacks

Justice Department takes on segregationist-style voting restrictions

Voter ID laws bring back segregationists' poll tax

Pennsylvania GOP threatens the right to vote of up to 9% state's citizens

Citizens United
BACK TO TOP

2012

One way to counteract the crime of Citizen United

How the Supreme Court has sold America to multinational corporations

Just three corporate front groups spent 13 times as much as labor unions to buy judicial elections

CAMPAIGN BRIBES SOAR THANKS TO SUPREME COURT RULING

 

Voting restrictions

Maryland town lowers voting age to 16

2012

Federal judge refuses to stop Florida from stripping voter rolls

Florida's governor, who is leading a disputed purge of voter registration rolls, had to cast a provisional ballot in 2006 because officials mistakenly thought he was dead, election officials said

41 states restricting citizens' right to vote

Florida governor involved in major denial of voting rights

Voter ID laws knocked down in two states

How Wisconsin could disenfranchise 3 million people

Ohio denies 86 year old WWII veteran right to vote

GOP vote restrictions biggest act of segregation in a half century

GOP's segregationist style voting restrictions will reduce ballots of seniors, young, minorities


Note how conservative states restrict voting

The GOP's war against democracy: blocking students from voting

Obamadmin challenges voter ID law

84 year old woman fights to prevent Scott Walker from taking away her right to vote

Electronic voting problems

Touch screen voting machines can be hacked for 26 bucks

2012

Romney's ties to major voting machine maker

Ireland dumps e-voting machines that America still uses

The article everyone should have read in 1988 about the dangers of computerized voting

A computer programmer explains how easy it is to rig an election

Researchers break into e-voting system in less than 48 hours, change almost all ballots

Bender Bending Rodríguez elected to school board thanks to electronic vote hacking

Kucinich lost in race using unreliable voting sytem

Forensic audit finds break-in of central election computer in Pennsylvania

Study finds $11 in parts and an 8th grade science education can hack voting machines used by one quarter of American electorate

INTERNET VOTING PROVED TRULY UNSAFE

ONE CORPORATION MOVING TO CONTROL 70% OF ALL VOTING MACHINES

WHY USING A SLOT MACHINE IS SAFER THAN ELECTRONIC VOTING

E-VOTE MACHINES A MASSIVE FAILURE 2008 ELECTION THREATENED

JUDGE OKAYS EXAMINATION OF NEW JERSEY VOTING MACHINES SEQUOIA DIDN'T WANT CHECKED

HOW TO HACK A VOTE MACHINE IN NH OR ELSEWHERE

INVESTIGATOR FINDS IRAN AND CHINA TRYING TO BREAK INTO CAPITAL'S INTERNET VOTING SYSTEM

WHY HOW THE VOTES WERE COUNTED IN NH MATTER

2009

ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES SCREW UP BADLY

CIA EXPERT SAYS ELECTRONIC VOTING EASILY HACKED

DIEBOLD ADMITS VOTE SYSTEM IN 31 STATES HAS MAJOR PROBLEM

LIST: MOST NEEDED ELECTION COUNT REFORMS

No one has done a better job of covering election count problems than Brad Friedman of Brad Blog. Here's his list of the most needed reforms:

- Hand-Marked Paper Ballots For All: All ballot selections, in all federal elections, must be hand-marked by the voter, on paper ballots, except for ballots marked by a non-tabulating assistive device, as may be required to meet HAVA's accessibility voting mandate, one per polling place, for use by those who wish such assistance in order to vote privately and independently.

- Fully Disclosed Hardware & Software: All electronic voting and tabulating systems (eg. ballot tabulators, ballot marking devices for optional use voters who wish assistance), in jurisdictions that may use such systems, must employ fully open source, publicly disclosed hardware and software.

- Precinct-Based Counting: Ballots cast at the precinct are to be counted in a fully public, transparent, and verifiable manner at the local precinct level, with full citizen observation allowed by law, and results posted publicly at the precinct before either ballots or results are forwarded to any other location(s).

- Voting Databases Released: All vote tabulation databases are to be made available to the public.

- Full Transparency: All ballot counting/tabulation/auditing processes are to be fully open and transparent to any and all members of the public.

- No Remote/Networked Communications: No voting system may have remote communication capabilities, infrared or bluetooth capabilities, or be attached to the Internet or to a local area network at any time.

- No Internet Voting: No ballots may be cast over the Internet.

- Disclosure of Federal Testing Processes/Results: All federal voting system testing/certification processes must be fully documented and results made immediately available for public inspection.

- Outlaw Deceptive Practices: Deceptive practices (such as disinformation concerning Election Day, poll locations, and registration information and processes, etc.), voter caging (the removal of voters from the rolls without notification or process for appeal), and voter intimidation (eg. use of threats, uniformed officers at the polls, etc.) shall be outlawed. These laws shall be enforced and penalized as felony crimes.

- Same Day Registration: Same day voter registration will be mandated for all voters in federal elections.

- Ban Disenfranchising Photo ID Restrictions: Restrictive Photo ID measures at the polling place must be outlawed. Federalize the types of voter ID that may be required at the polls for federal elections.

- Notification of Rejected Absentee Ballots: All voters are to be notified and allowed timely opportunity to appeal the rejection of their absentee ballots for any reason.

- Make Election Day a Holiday: Election Day must be made a federal holiday.

- Move Election Day to Wednesday: Election Day is to be moved to Wednesday. (Would likely require a Constitutional amendment - see this for a quick explanation of why moving it to Wednesday is a good idea.)

- "Right to Vote" Amendment: Amend the U.S. Constitution to declare a federal "Right to Vote" in all federal elections.

- Disenfranchisement a Felony Crime: The purposeful disenfranchisement of any legal voter, for any reason, by any person, in any election, at any time, is to be a felony crime. Each individual case of such disenfranchisement is to be prosecutable to the full extent of the law.

2010

EARLY VOTING OFTEN REDUCES TURNOUT

LIBERTARIANS USE RANKED VOTING TO SELECT BARR

WHY OREGON'S VOTE BY MAIL SYSTEM STINKS

OHIO FINDS ALL VOTING SYSTEMS USED TO ELECT BUSH CAN BE HACKED

TIME CALLS SHIFT AWAY FROM TOUCH SCREEN VOTING 'STUNNING REVERSAL'

2008

FEDS NOT TELLING LOCAL OFFICIALS OF VOTING MACHINE PROBLEMS

WHY OREGON'S VOTE BY MAIL SYSTEM STINKS

JUDGE OKAYS EXAMINATION OF NEW JERSEY VOTING MACHINES SEQUOIA DIDN'T WANT CHECKED

THE SOFTWARE MOST LIKELY TO STEAL ELECTIONS BUT REMAINS UNCHALLENGED

HOW TO CAST A BALLOT IN INDIANA NOW THAT THE SUPREME COURT HAS REINTRODUCED VOTER SEGREGATION

The chads on those ballots in Florida hung for a reason. As seven former employees of Sequoia Voting Systems, the company which produced FL's paper ballots in 2000 attest, they were forced by company superiors to use inferior paper for those ballots, only the ones going to Florida, and were further ordered to misalign the chads on those paper ballots, but only for those going to Dem stronghold, Palm Beach County. - Brad Blog

APRIL 2008

HOW TO CAST A BALLOT IN INDIANA NOW THAT THE SUPREME COURT HAS REINTRODUCED VOTER SEGREGATION

BRAD BLOG For those wondering what a legally registered voter needs to do to successfully cast a ballot in Indiana so that it might be counted, in the event the voter doesn't currently own a state-issued photo ID (no, military ID is not acceptable) we thought we'd offer a handy quick guide:

Note: It doesn't matter if you've voted in every single election for the last 40 or 50 years at the same polling place. . . You'll still need to do the following if you don't happen to have an IN drivers license:

How to cast a ballot in Indiana, if you don't currently have a state-issued ID:

- Find your birth certificate or passport. If you don't have either, you might be able to apply to the state to get a copy of your birth certificate, if you happened to have been born there, for just $12. A passport may cost you $100 . . .

- Get yourself to a Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Don't let the fact that you don't drive, or have a car, or have access to public transportation, as in many counties in Indiana, stop you from getting to the BMV before Election Day.

- Do the above every four years, without fail, or risk not being able to vote like everyone else at the polls in Indiana on Election Day.

If you fail in any step above, don't have the money to afford the necessary documents, or have a religious objection to having your photo taken, do not to worry. Indiana has you covered. . .

- When you get to the polls, and are told you can't vote like everyone else, because you have no state-issued ID, you'll get to vote on a provisional ballot (hopefully, at least that's the law).

- Don't forget to sign the affidavit on the ballot, stating that you are who you say you are, before dropping it into the box, so officials can match your polling place Election Day signature with your voter registration form signature.

- Before 10 days have elapsed after you've voted, you must now figure out how to get a ride to the county seat, however far that may be from where you live. Get to the courthouse there, and then sign yet another affidavit, similar to the one you signed on Election Day at the polling place on your provisional ballot, attesting again to the fact that you are you. And then maybe, just maybe, if that signature is also judged to match your registration, then your vote might be counted. . .

As Scalia and friends noted in their decision yesterday, "the burden at issue is minimal" So what could those losers on the Supreme Court have been thinking, just 42 years ago, when they struck down a simple $1.50 poll-tax on the grounds that it might keep some voters from being able to cast their legal vote? Silly them.

STATELINE The Supreme Court's ruling upheld an Indiana law requiring all voters to present photo ID. Indiana is one of three states that require photo IDs, but other states make voters produce other kinds of identification, which can include bills, bank statements or paychecks:

Every first-time voter: Kansas Pennsylvania

First-time voters who registered by mail: California Idaho Illinois Iowa Maine Maryland Massachusetts Minnesota Mississippi Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New York North Carolina Oklahoma Oregon Rhode Island Utah Vermont West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

Every voter: Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas Colorado Connecticut Delaware Kentucky Missouri Montana New Mexico North Dakota Ohio South Carolina Tennessee Texas Virginia Washington

Every voter must show a photo ID: Florida Georgia Indiana

Every voter is asked to show a photo ID: Hawaii Louisiana Michigan South Dakota

The court's 6-3 decision leaves the door open for future legal challenges, if proof is presented that voters couldn't cast their ballots because of the new rules- evidence that the court said was missing from the Indiana case. But the court didn't specify how many people must be affected for it to consider striking down the law.

"It's going to be an uphill battle for anybody who would want to (challenge the Indiana law) just because the state interests are so strong" in holding fraud-free elections, said Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher. Fisher defended the law at oral arguments before the high court. . .

Under the Indiana law, registered voters must present a government-issued photo ID - such as a driver's license - to take part in the elections. Voters without proper identification can cast provisional ballots, but those count only if those voters show a photo ID at a county election office within 10 days.

Republicans muscled the law through the Indiana General Assembly without a single Democratic vote when the GOP still controlled both chambers.

BRITISH TV EXPLAINS OUR ELECTORAL SYSTEM

GREAT MOMENTS IN POLITICAL HYPOCRACY

Texas legislator, wants to require voters to have photo IDs is photographed casting multiple votes. One legislator was even recorded casting three votes after the morning he died unexpectedly.

MARCH 2008

MEET THE GUY WHO'LL BE MAKING SURE THE PENNSYLVANIA VOTING MACHINES WORK RIGHT

FEBRUARY 2008

SANTA FE BECOMES 13TH CITY OR COUNTRY TO APPROVE INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING

JANUARY 2008

NY TIMES FINALLY NOTICES ITS OWN STORY

THE NY TIMES Magazine has finally run a major story on the problems with computerized voting. As Brad Blog reports, "The massive Clive Thompson article, titled 'The Bugs in the Machines,' is quite chilling. 'After the 2000 election,' it opens, 'counties around the country rushed to buy new computerized voting machines. But it turns out that these machines may cause problems worse than hanging chads. Is America ready for another contested election?' One key passage: 'The earliest critiques of digital voting booths came from the fringe --- disgruntled citizens and scared-senseless computer geeks --- but the fears have now risen to the highest levels of government.'"

Which sounds good except for one thing: the NY Times ran a story raising many of these issues over 20 years ago. On July 29 1985, David Burnham's story began:

"The computer program that was used to count more than one-third of the votes cast in the Presidential election last year is very vulnerable to manipulation and fraud, according to expert witnesses in court actions challenging local and Congressional elections in three states. The allegations that vote tallies calculated with the widely used computer system may have been secretly altered have raised concern among election officials and computer experts. That is because of the rapidly increasing use of such systems, the lack of Federal or state standards that mandate specific safeguards and the widespread lack of computer skills among most local voting authorities. One expert says that "about 10 percent" of the devices fail in each election."

Twenty years ago, Ronnie Dugger addressed many of these issues in a New Yorker article. And here is what we wrote the same year:

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW, 1988 - More than half the ballots cast on Election Day were highly vulnerable to fraud and error according to two reports recently released by the Urban Policy Research Institute and Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. These ballots were counted by computerized systems that, according to UPRI, can be affected by "various kinds of threats, error and manipulation." A single person can alter the outcome of any computerized election by tinkering with the computers, vote-counting software or machine readable ballots.

The UPRI report blames the vulnerability on inadequate procedural safeguards and on the vote-tallying systems themselves. The systems often prove to be too complex for local election officials to administer and can conceal evidence of tampering. In addition, they lack audit trails which would permit reconstruction of questionable election results. There have been law suits in four states, each of which involving vote-counting systems from the same vendor, whose products dominate the market. IBM dropped out of the election computer market after a 1970 election in Los Angeles using punch-card ballots was challenged with allegations of fraud.

Today, most election systems, according to the CPSR report, are purchased from small firms, some with just a few employees. CPSR points out that "elections computer programs are not subject to design or source code inspections by independent auditors outside the vendor, as banking software is." Even if elections officials had access to the source codes, "few would be able to obtain the resources to determine its quality."

In fact, CSPR report authors Bob Wilcox and Enk Nilsson suggest that the sloppy way in which some computer programs are created (and in some cases subsequently discarded) makes it difficult for even professionals "to determine if the program is designed correctly." The problem is not theoretical. In 1980, a programming error during the president primary count led California election computers in one county to give 15,000 votes belonging to Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy to Lyndon Larouche and Jerry Brown. In Gwinnet County, Georgia, the results of a close race were reversed after discovery of a computer hardware error. In Moline, Illinois, a faulty timing belt slipped intermittently on one card reader, leading to a miscount in which a candidate actually took office and then had to give it up. And a National Bureau of Standards report lists computer difficulties in 26 recent elections.

The possibilities for accidental or deliberate mischief are legion:

- Punch card ballots can be invalidated by adding an extra punch or two.

- Bogus ballots can be added or removed.

- Punched out dots can fall onto the next ballot in the stack, covering a hole and erasing-a vote.

- Orientation marks on ballots, that tell the computer how to read the ballot, can be misprinted or mispunched.

- Supposedly secret passwords can be leaked, allowing unlawful entry to the system.

- "Trapdoors" can be surreptitiously opened within the system, causing miscounts and then closing themselves with no record that they ever existed.

- "Time bombs" allow a computer to act in a certain way at a certain time, say election day, again with no record, but in this case the practitioner doesn't even have to be present.

- "Trojan horses" do their mischief by hiding inside another program, perhaps one that prints up election results as bar charts. According to UPRI, "Once election officials open the gates by using the bar chart program, the Trojan horse can let out its software soldiers and manipulate the vote-counting procedure, first turning off the computer's record-keeping system or audit trail.

Two Princeton computer scientists reviewed the most common computer vote-tallying system and found the software so poorly designed that it was virtually impossible to guarantee its functions. Another computer scientist called the system "a bucket of worms" with over confusing, badly written instructions, all of which must perfectly for the election results to be properly tallied and reported. CPSR has come up with a program for improving election accuracy and security. Its recommendations include:

- Independent review of software

- Separation of functions and powers within the election system, so that, for example, ballot creation, elections, and election analysis would be done by different people with different software

- Making sure that citizens and not computer experts run elections.

- Checking ballots for validity before they leave a precinct.

- Reducing or eliminating human interaction with computers on election day.

- A complete record of all elections with an adequate audit trail.

NEW YORKER ARTICLE
http://www.newsgarden.org/columns/dugger.shtml

NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE
http://www.newsgarden.org/columns/burnham1.shtml

DECEMBER 2007

OHIO FINDS ALL VOTING SYSTEMS USED TO ELECT BUSH CAN BE HACKED

NY TIMES - All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly swung two elections toward President Bush, have critical flaws that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election, a report commissioned by the state's top elections official has found. "It was worse than I anticipated," the official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, said of the report. "I had hoped that perhaps one system would test superior to the others."

At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.

Ms. Brunner proposed replacing all of the state's voting machines, including the touch-screen ones used in more than 50 of Ohio's 88 counties. She wants all counties to use optical scan machines that read and electronically record paper ballots that are filled in manually by voters.

She called for legislation and financing to be in place by April so the new machines can be used in the presidential election next November. She said she could not estimate the cost of the changes.

Florida, another swing state with a history of voting problems, is also scrapping touch-screen machines and switching to optical scan ones for the election. Such systems have gained favor because experts say they are more reliable than others and, unlike most touch screens, they provide a paper trail for recounts.

NOVEMBER 2007

TWO CITIES REPORT DRAMATIC DROP IN VOTER TURN-OUT

BEYOND CHRON - San Francisco has seen a 9% drop this year in the number of registered voters, according to the S.F. Chronicle. Some of that decline can be attributed to the Department of Elections finally cleaning up its lists of those eligible to part take in our ritual choosing of the lesser of two evils. Another reason cited is the new policy of banning oversized political signs from City property such as light poles and the "historic" areas including Mission and 16th, a usual hub of electoral activity. Who needs democracy when you can have pretty street poles?

The more obvious reason for the lack of interest in this election is that voters in San Francisco don't see much reason to go rushing off to do their civic duty. They're bored to tears. Who can blame them?

http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/Yawn_it_s_Election_Day_in_San_Francisco_5079.html

BOSTON GLOBE - Boston's voter turnout plummeted to its lowest level in more than two decades yesterday, especially in the city's predominantly nonwhite neighborhoods, a tide of apathy that swept the City Council's only Latino member, Felix Arroyo, out of office. . . Only 13.6 percent of registered voters cast ballots yesterday, less than half of the average turnout in similar elections since 1985, in which council seats were up for grabs but there was no mayoral election. Turnout in those elections ranged from 23 percent to 32 percent.

Reversing a trend of increasing voting by minority groups set over the last five years, turnout was especially low in nonwhite communities and disproportionately strong in traditionally white, Irish enclaves of South Boston, West Roxbury, and Dorchester. The shift propelled West Roxbury lawyer John Connolly onto the council, replacing Arroyo.

Community leaders and voting advocacy groups blamed the low turnout on a number of factors. A cold, gray drizzle blanketed much of Eastern Massachusetts for most of the day. And for the first time, there was no preliminary election this year to take the temperature of the electorate and inspire voters to rally behind vulnerable candidates. More broadly, it marks a further decline in Boston's storied culture of local political involvement, in which ward-level politics has been a crucial part of the community fabric. . .

Some observers say there has been an apathy among Boston residents that has been growing for years, the result of a transient population, younger demographics, and more diverse residents who are less likely to vote. . .

AUGUST 2007

OHIO'S LEMON VOTING MACHINES ALLOW VOTER CHOICES TO BE TRACED

DECLAN MCCULLAGH, CNET - Ohio's method of conducting elections with electronic voting machines appears to have created a true privacy nightmare for state residents: revealing who voted for which candidates. Two Ohio activists have discovered that e-voting machines made by Election Systems and Software and used across the country produce time-stamped paper trails that permit the reconstruction of an election's results--including allowing voter names to be matched to their actual votes.

Making a secret ballot less secret, of course, could permit vote selling and allow interest groups or family members to exert undue pressure on Ohio residents to vote a certain way. It's an especially pointed concern in Ohio, a traditional swing state in presidential elections that awarded George Bush a narrow victory over John Kerry three years ago.

Ohio law permits anyone to walk into a county election office and obtain two crucial documents: a list of voters in the order they voted, and a time-stamped list of the actual votes. "We simply take the two pieces of paper together, merge them, and then we have which voter voted and in which way," said James Moyer, a longtime privacy activist and poll worker who lives in Columbus, Ohio.

http://news.com.com/E-voting+predicament+Not-so-secret+ballots/2100-1014_3-6203323.html

CALIFORNIA STRICTLY LIMITS ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES AND PUTS MAJOR SECURITY WATCH ON THEM

[The Times plays down the import of this story, but basically the California Secretary of State found that these machines are not to be trusted]

NY TIMES - Expressing concern that several brands of electronic voting machines used in California were vulnerable to tampering, Secretary of State Debra Bowen late Friday ordered new security protections be added and limited the use of two types of machines that were to be used in next year's elections in several Southern California counties. Bowen also withdrew state approval of the InkaVote Plus machines used in Los Angeles County, saying that the machines' maker, Election Systems and Software, had failed to submit its equipment to her office in time to analyze its vulnerability to hacking. . .

Bowen ordered that some machines made by Diebold Election Systems and Sequoia Voting Systems be limited to one per polling place to limit the chances that they could be tampered with. The Sequoia machines are used in Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties.

Bowen said the presence of the machines, though limited, would be helpful for disabled voters, though any voter could use the machines. Weir, however, said she was creating a "separate but unequal" voting system.

The security requirements Bowen imposed include: reinstalling the software before the Feb. 5. election to ensure it has not already been tampered with; placing special seals at vulnerable parts of the machines to reveal tampering; securing each machines at the close of each day of early voting; assigning a specific election monitor to safeguard each machine; and conducting a complete manual count of all votes cast.

BRAD BLOG - The [review] had found that all electronic voting systems certified in California were easily accessible to hacking. A single machine, the testers discovered, could be easily tampered with by an election insider, voting machine company employee, or other individual in such a way that an entire election could be effected without detection. . .

KEY 2004 OHIO BALLOTS AND RECORDS HAVE DISAPPEARED

STEVEN ROSENFELD, ALTERNET - In 56 of Ohio's 88 counties, ballots and election records from 2004 have been "accidentally" destroyed, despite a federal order to preserve them -- it was crucial evidence which would have revealed whether the election was stolen. . .

Compared to Ohio's Democratic urban core, turnout in the Republican districts was higher than the 2000 election. Moreover, in a handful of counties there were vote count anomalies that made post-election observers question whether Bush's vote was padded. The most notable example is more than 10,000 voters from several Bible belt counties who voted for Bush and voted in favor of gay marriage, if the results are true. In a dozen rural counties, virtually unknown Democrats at the bottom of the ballot received more votes that Kerry, an oddity in a presidential year.

http://www.alternet.org/story/58328/?page=3

HACKERS ABLE TO TAMPER WITH ALL ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES TESTED

JOHN WILDERMUTH, SF CHRONICLE - State-sanctioned teams of computer hackers were able to break through the security of virtually every model of California's voting machines and change results or take control of some of the systems' electronic functions, according to a University of California study.

The researchers "were able to bypass physical and software security in every machine they tested," said Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who authorized the "top to bottom review" of every voting system certified by the state.

Neither Bowen nor the investigators were willing to say exactly how vulnerable California elections are to computer hackers, especially because the team of computer experts from the UC system had top-of-the-line security information plus more time and better access to the voting machines than would-be vote thieves likely would have. . .

The review included voting equipment from every company approved for use in the state, including Sequoia, whose systems are used in Alameda, Napa and Santa Clara counties; Hart InterCivic, used in San Mateo and Sonoma Counties; and Diebold, used in Marin County. . .

Bowen said in a telephone news conference Friday that the report is only one piece of information she will use to decide which voting systems are secure enough to use in next February's presidential primary election. If she is going to decertify any of the machines, she must do it by Friday, six months before the Feb. 5 vote.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/07/28/VOTING.TMP&feed=rss.news

JULY 2007

LETTER LINKS BUSH JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO VOTE CAGING SCHEME

GREG GORDON, MCCLATCHY - Four days before the 2004 election, the Justice Department's civil rights chief sent an unusual letter to a federal judge in Ohio who was weighing whether to let Republicans challenge the credentials of 23,000 mostly African-American voters. The case was triggered by allegations that Republicans had sent a mass mailing to mostly Democratic-leaning minorities and used undeliverable letters to compile a list of voters potentially vulnerable to eligibility challenges.

In his letter to U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott of Cincinnati, Assistant Attorney General Alex Acosta argued that it would "undermine" the enforcement of state and federal election laws if citizens could not challenge voters' credentials.

Former Justice Department civil rights officials and election watchdog groups charge that his letter sided with Republicans engaging in an illegal, racially motivated tactic known as "vote-caging" in a state that would be pivotal in delivering President Bush a second term in the White House. . .

Acosta, now the U.S. attorney in Miami, said in a statement that his letter was aimed at advising the court that a new Ohio law allowing challenges was "permissible," so long as no challenge was based on race. He said it also was intended to make clear that anyone whose eligibility was questioned had a right to file a provisional ballot.

Justice Department spokeswoman Cynthia Magnuson said that the Civil Rights Division "does not coordinate actions with any political party" and that any such suggestion would be "entirely unfounded."

But Robert Kengle, former deputy chief of the department's Voting Rights Section who served under Acosta, said the letter amounted to "cheerleading for the Republican defendants."

"It was doubly outrageous," he said, "because the allegation in the litigation was that these were overwhelmingly African-American voters that were on the challenge list."

Joseph Rich, a former chief of the department's Voting Rights Section, called the Ohio scheme "vote caging.". . . Rich said that challenges of caged voters have been stopped when brought to light before an election. The question is, he said, whether caging and subsequent challenges have occurred "and somebody didn't bring it to light."

The new Ohio law permitted challenges in 2004 but required political parties to list targeted voters in advance of the election. The Ohio Republican Party notified election authorities in the fall of 2004 that it planned to challenge more than 35,000 voters at the polls, a figure it later trimmed to 23,000.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/17303.html

MAY 2007

GOODLING ADMITTED TO MAJOR BUSH VOTING FRAUD. . . AND COMMITTEE DIDN'T EVEN CATCH IT

BRAD BLOG - From Monica Goodling's opening statement to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee:

"Despite my and others' best efforts, [Deputy Attorney General, Paul McNulty]'s public testimony was incomplete or inaccurate in a number of respects. As explained in more detail in my written remarks, I believe that the Deputy was not fully candid about his knowledge of White House involvement in the replacement decision, failed to disclose that he had some knowledge of the White House's interest in selecting Tim Griffin as Interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, inaccurately described the Department's internal assessment of the Parsky Commission, and failed to disclose that he had some knowledge of allegations that Tim Griffin had been involved in vote 'caging' during his work on the President's 2004 campaign."

[Caging is] the practice of sending registered mail to minority voters, asking for a reply, and if one doesn't come back, the voter's right to vote is challenged either at the polls, or attempts are made to remove them from the voter rolls - usually without their knowledge. Allegations have been made that this was done, based on race, in 2004, when registered letters were sent to the home addresses of African-Americans in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere. Most insidiously, letters were said to have been sent to U.S. troops who were away, serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, and thus did not (and could not) answer the registered mail. Their registrations were then reportedly challenged.

The RNC agreed to cease the practice in a 1986 consent decree in a court case brought after they had "tried to have 31,000 voters, most of them black, removed from the rolls in Louisiana when a party mailer was returned, " according to the Washington Post. "The consent decrees that resulted prohibited the party from engaging in anti-fraud initiatives that target minorities or conduct mail campaigns to 'compile voter challenge lists.'"

WIKIPEDIA - Voters targeted by caging are often the most vulnerable: those who are unfamiliar with their rights under the law, and those who cannot spare the time, effort, and expense of proving that their registration is valid. Ultimately, caging works by dissuading a voter from casting a ballot, or by ensuring that they cast a provisional ballot, which is less likely to be counted.

With one type of caging, a political party sends registered mail to addresses of registered voters. If the mail is returned as undeliverable - because, for example, the voter refuses to sign for it, the voter isn't present for delivery, or the voter is homeless - the party uses that fact to challenge the registration, arguing that because the voter could not be reached at the address, the registration is fraudulent. It is this use of direct mail caging techniques to target voters which probably resulted in the application of the name to the political tactic.

On the day of the election, when the voter arrives at the poll and requests a ballot, an operative of the party challenges the validity of their registration. . .

Examples of political caging

From the Washington Post: "In 1981, the Republican National Committee sent letters to predominantly black neighborhoods in New Jersey, and when 45,000 letters were returned as undeliverable, the committee compiled a challenge list to remove those voters from the rolls. The RNC sent off-duty law enforcement officials to the polls and hung posters in heavily black neighborhoods warning that violating election laws is a crime. . . In 1986, the RNC tried to have 31,000 voters, most of them black, removed from the rolls in Louisiana when a party mailer was returned. The consent decrees that resulted prohibited the party from engaging in anti-fraud initiatives that target minorities or conduct mail campaigns to 'compile voter challenge lists.'"

In October 2004, the BBC Newsnight program reported on an alleged so-called "caging list" maintained by the George W. Bush campaign that suggested that they may be planning possibly illegal disruption of African American voting in Jacksonville, Florida.

The BBC reports that it has obtained a document from George W. Bush's Florida campaign headquarters, inadvertently e-mailed to the parody website GeorgeWBush.org, containing a list of 1,886 names and addresses of voters in largely African-American and Democratic areas of Jacksonville. Democratic Party officials allege that the document is a "caging list" that the Bush campaign intends to use to issue mass challenges to African-American voters, in violation of federal law.

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=4591

GREG PALAST, BRAD BLOG - Goodling testified that Gonzales' Chief of Staff, Kyle Sampson, perjured himself, lying to the committee in earlier testimony. The lie: Sampson denied Monica had told him about Tim Griffin's "involvement in 'caging' voters" in 2004. The perplexed committee members hadn't a clue --- and asked no substantive questions about it thereafter. Karl Rove is still smiling. If the members had gotten the clue, and asked the right questions, they would have found "the keys to the kingdom," they thought they were looking for. They dangled right in front of their perplexed faces. . .

Our BBC team broke the story at the top of the nightly news everywhere on the planet - except the USA - only because America's news networks simply refused to cover this evidence of the electoral coup d'etat that chose our president in 2004. . .

The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked "Do not forward" to voters' homes. Letters returned ("caged") were used as evidence to block these voters' right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and --- you got to love this --- American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters. Why weren't these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation --- and the soldiers were overseas. Go to Baghdad, lose your vote. Mission Accomplished.

How do I know? I have the caging lists. I have them because they are attached to the emails Rove insists can't be found. I have the emails. 500 of them --- sent to our team at BBC after the Rove-bots accidentally sent them to a web domain owned by our friend John Wooden.

Here's what you need to know --- and the Committee would have discovered, if only they'd asked:

1. 'Caging' voters is a crime, a go-to-jail felony.

2. Griffin wasn't "involved" in the caging, Ms. Goodling. Griffin, Rove's right-hand man (right-hand claw), was directing the illegal purge and challenge campaign. How do I know? It's in the email I got.

3. On December 7, 2006, the ragin', cagin' Griffin was named, on Rove's personal demand, US Attorney for Arkansas. Perpetrator became prosecutor.

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=4594

APRIL 2007

USA TODAY COMES OUT FOR INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING

USA TODAY EDITORIAL - Every year, in scores of state and local elections, no candidate wins a majority. That results in either costly runoffs or "winners" who in fact have been rejected by as many as two-thirds of the voters in a multi-candidate field. . . There is, however, a worthwhile solution that can guarantee the majority really does rule. It's called instant-runoff voting, and over the past five years it has been adopted by communities as large as Minneapolis and San Francisco and as small as Ferndale, Mich., and Takoma Park, Md. Now, several more states and cities are experimenting with the idea or considering it. Sarasota, Fla., will vote on it in November. North Carolina has a pilot program for 20 municipalities to try instant-runoff voting in local elections and to use it for certain statewide elections.

In an instant-runoff election, instead of just placing an "X" beside the name of one candidate, voters have the option of ranking the candidates in order of preference: 1, 2, 3, etc. If no one gets 50% of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated from the count and the second-choice votes on those ballots are distributed among the remaining names. The process continues until one candidate with true majority support emerges.

Among the advantages of this system:

- Costly runoffs, in which voter turnout is often anemic, are avoided.

- Third-party or "spoiler" candidates finishing toward the bottom of the field are less likely to destroy a mainstream candidate's chances.

- Winners can claim a greater mandate from the voters.

- Campaigns can be more civil because candidates looking for second-choice as well as first-choice votes don't want to alienate a rival's supporters.

In most places, once the idea has been seriously advanced and explained, it has gained wide support. Some wary public officials warn of the cost - $1 million or more in big jurisdictions - of reprogramming voting machines or buying new ones to accept preferential votes. But San Francisco, for example, quickly recovered what it spent for that purpose by not having to hold a separate runoff election in 2004. If the nation really believes in "majority rule," instant-runoff voting is one way to get closer to it.

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/04/post_60.html

MARCH 2007

ROBERT GATES TIED TO VOTING SPYWARE COMPANY

SAN JUAN PUBLIC ACCESS MEDIA, NOV 1 2006 - Local Green Party members filed a lawsuit in San Juan County Superior Court challenging the legality of ballots tracked with personal ID bar codes. San Juan County was the first county in the country to implement a ballot tracking system using a bar code on each individual's ballot to uniquely identify the voter. . .

County citizens are rejecting their personal ballot bar codes in multiple letters to the editor, by blacking them out, cutting them off, and perhaps not voting at all. Turnout has plummeted. The local paper's feature editorial has condemned the system. One of the county's two Auditor candidates is calling for its abandonment.

Allan Rosato and Tim White of the Elections Working Group of the Green Party of San Juan County explained their action in a statement released today:

"We're seeking a Superior Court injunction stopping the use of Vote Here Inc.'s uncertified 'Mail-in Ballot Tracker' because it violates not only the Secretary of State's own Washington Administrative Code, but five Washington State laws explicitly prohibiting any distinguishing marks of any kind on any ballot. A key provision of our State Constitution 'secure[s] to every elector absolute secrecy in preparing and depositing his ballot.' We contend that what remains of ballot secrecy is contingent, not absolute. We want to vote secret ballots. Period."

BEV HARRIS, BLACK BOX VOTING, NOV 8 2006 - [Robert] Gates was on the board of directors of Vote Here, a strange little company that was the biggest elections industry lobbyist for the Help America Vote Act. Vote Here spent more money than ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia combined to help ram HAVA through. And HAVA, of course, was a bill sponsored by by convicted Abramoff pal Bob Ney and K-street lobbyist buddy Steny Hoyer. HAVA put electronic voting on steroids. . .

Vote Here never sold any voting machines that I can find, but apparently did set up some deals to embed its cryptography into some voting systems. We found memos in the Diebold trash about Vote Here's crypto-crap, and Maryland Director of Elections Linda Lamone shows up in Vote Here-related letters. Sequoia Voting Systems signed an agreement with Vote Here, but it's not clear to me whether they ever did anything about it. Robert Gates stepped away from Vote Here shortly before he showed up in Chapter 8 of my book, Black Box Voting, in a short bit about the Vote Here company history.

http://www.mindspring.com/~sjmedia/default.htm

CHAPTER 8
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf

LYNN LANDES, OP ED NEWS - Computer scientist Avi Rubin, whose Johns Hopkins University team found serious flaws in Diebold Election Systems software abruptly resigned from VoteH ere, another election software company. In a related story, on August 6th Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr(R) gave a contract to Science Applications International Corporation to review the Diebold Election System's software in preparation for elections in Maryland. . .

Vote Here is being sued by its former engineer, Dan Spillane, for wrongfully firing him in retaliation to his repeated warnings of potential defects in voting software applications and in the certification process.

SAIC is a behemoth military defense contractor with a shadowy, if not tarnished, reputation, while former SAIC executives also have ties to Vote Here. . .

Former President, Chief Operating Officer, and Vice Chairman of SAIC is Admiral Bill Owens, who is now chairman of the board for Vote Here. Owens also served as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was a senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney. Carlucci's company is Carlyle Group, while Vice President Dick Cheney's former employer is Halliburton.

Another former SAIC board member, also on the board of Vote Here, is ex-CIA director Robert Gates, a veteran of the Iran/Contra scandal.

Vote Here is already benefiting from the Diebold debacle, as it will be partnering with Sequoia Voting Systems, "to provide a new level of electronic ballot verification to customers of the AVC Edge touch screen voting system," according to the Vote Here website.

SAIC, which is supposed to vet Diebold's elections software, is itself in the elections business.

On a webpage of Diversified Dynamics (recently purchased by Northrop Grumman), a 1998 legal notice states, "Diversified Dynamics has brought the election process to the technological level of the new millennium by designing the world's most advanced electronic vote recording and election management system. We were supported in this effort by the engineering and software capabilities of Science Applications International Corporation, a world leader in systems development and integration."

All of the above companies are military defense contractors as well as information technology firms, whose clients include state governments and federal agencies. . .

"The federal government, its main customer, often doesn't want the public to know what the company is doing and, as one of the nation's largest employee-owned corporations, it escapes investor scrutiny," writes AP correspondent Elliot Spagat, in a July 26, 2003 article.

http://www.opednews.com/landes_voting_machine_fiasco.htm

IF ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES WERE A CAR, YOU WOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO DRIVE ONE

THERE's a bill - HR-811 - purporting to reform the numerous problems that have arisen with electronic touch screen voting devices - called DREs - which sounds good until you consider one thing: the touch screen devices don't work properly and if they were a car, you wouldn't be allowed to drive one.

This has been known to at least some since the mid-1980s but the voting machine lobby successfully conned Congress, states and localities into buying into their proprietary toys. Now Congress is being roped into continued use of these malfunctioning devices.

The problem with HR 811 is that it's not the government's job to find a way to make them work. The answer is to stop using them, as John Gideon points out in Brad Blog:

|||||

Some HR-811 proponents state that while DREs may be bad we have them now and we need to fix what we have. My problem with this thinking is that we are talking about elections; not a line of computers. Think about those things you know about for a minute. If your university purchased a specialized computer that failed as much as DREs do; would your university keep it and try to fix it for the future or would you send it back and go somewhere else? If you used an online legal library that was missing references; would you keep using that library or pay the money to change to another one? I know that when I was doing nuclear refueling on Naval ships if I had a tool that failed constantly, use of that tool would be stopped immediately and something else would be designed for use.

The big issue is that the special computer would never have gone on the market; the reference library would never have gone online; and the tool would never have been sold to the Navy. Industry does not work that way. Why is it that our elections are not as important as our work?

Why is it that it's alright to allow a technology that has constantly failed to continue to be used? And why is it that we can continue to use it while trying to fix the problems? How many votes are to be lost, flipped, or not counted while we continue to allow the use of the machines that are responsible for the loss, flipping and not counting?

||||

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=4298#more-4298

FEBRUARY 2007

STUDY FINDS UNDER-VOTE DROPS WHEN ELECTRONIC MACHINES ARE AVOIDED

BRAD BLOG - Details now out from New Mexico reveal that under-vote rates dropped precipitously in both Native American and Hispanic areas after the state moved from direct recording electronic touch-screen voting systems in 2004 to paper-based optical-scan systems in 2006. In Native American areas, under-vote rates plummeted some 85%. In Hispanic communities, the rate dropped by 6% according to the precinct data. . .

New Mexico banned the use of DREs across the state after their disastrous experience with Sequoia touch-screen voting machines during the 2004 Presidential Election. They now require a paper ballot for every vote cast statewide. As he signed the bill which banned DREs into law in early 2006, New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson wrote a letter to Election Officials in all 50 states, warning that while "some believe that computer touch screen machines are the future of electoral systems. . . the technology simply fails to pass the test of reliability."

"One person, one vote is in jeopardy if we do not act boldly and immediately," Richardson implored, while decrying the failures of DREs in his state and supporting paper ballots. "When a vote is cast, a vote should be counted," he wrote.

HOW PRISONS AFFECT VOTE TOTALS

MARIE GOTTSCHALK, LA TIMES - More than 2 million people, or nearly one out of every 100 adults, is sitting in a jail or prison in the United States - an incarceration rate unprecedented in U.S. history. The total number of prisoners is not in dispute. But how to tabulate them is emerging as perhaps the most vexing issue of the 2010 census.

The U.S. Census Bureau counts prisoners as residents of the towns and counties where they are incarcerated, even though most inmates have no ties to those communities and almost always return to their home neighborhoods upon release. . .

In California and 47 other states, imprisoned felons are barred from voting. Yet these disenfranchised prisoners are included in the population tallies used to draw legislative and congressional districts. This practice dilutes the votes of urban areas such as Los Angeles. Nearly one-third of the 172,000 inmates in California's state prisons come from Los Angeles County, but only about 3% are incarcerated in the county. . .

A provocative analysis by the Prison Policy Initiative estimates that if prisoners held in upstate New York were counted in their home neighborhoods, at least four state Senate seats - all Republican - would be in jeopardy after redistricting. Last May, a federal appeals court suggested that counting the thousands of black and Latino prisoners from New York City as upstate residents may be a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

BALLOT ACTIVIST COPIES DIEBOLD KEY USING PHOTO FROM COMPANY'S ONLINE STORE

BRAD BLOG - It was revealed in the course of last summer's landmark virus hack of a Diebold touch-screen voting system at Princeton University that, incredibly, the company uses the same key to open every machine. It's also an easy key to buy at any office supply store since it's used for filing cabinets and hotel mini-bars. That is, if you're not a poll worker who already has one from the last time you worked on an election.

The Princeton Diebold virus hack found that a single person with 60 seconds of unsupervised access to the system who either picked the lock (easy in 10 seconds) or had a key, could slip a vote-swapping virus onto a single machine which could then undetectably affect every other machine in the county to steal an entire election.

But the folks at Princeton who discovered the hack (after our own organization, Velvet Revolution, gave them the Diebold touch-screen machine on which to perform their tests) had resisted showing exactly what the key looked like in order to hold on to some semblance of security for Diebold's Disposable Touch-Screen Voting Systems.

But guess what? Diebold didn't bother to even have that much common sense.

This idiotic company has had a photograph of the stupid key sitting on their own website's online store.

Of course, they'll only sell such keys to "Diebold account holders" apparently --- or so they claim --- but that's hardly a problem. J. Alex Halderman, one of the folks who worked on the Princeton hack, but who had tried to keep the design of the key a secret for obvious reasons, revealed that a friend of his had found the photo of the key on Diebold's website and discovered that it was all he needed to create a working copy.

Halderman writes: "The shape of a key is like a password - it only provides security if you keep it secret from the bad guys. . . Could an attacker create a working key from the photograph? Ross [Kinard of Sploitcast] decided to find out. Here's what he did:

"'I bought three blank keys from Ace. Then a drill vise and three cabinet locks that used a different type of key from Lowes. I hoped that the spacing and depths on the cabinet locks' keys would be similar to those on the voting machine key. With some files I had I then made three keys to look like the key in the picture."

"Ross sent me his three homemade keys, and, amazingly, two of them can open the locks on the Diebold machine we used in our study."

Kinard's homemade key - created only from the photo at Diebold's online store - is seen opening the machine at Princeton in the video on the left. Unbelievable.

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=4066

JANUARY 2007

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PAPER TRAILS AND PAPER BALLOTS

[From a letter to Congress from election integrity activists]

Paper trails and paper records are not sufficient to safeguard elections and restore confidence among the electorate. Unless there is a paper ballot for every vote cast, three fundamental principles of democratic elections are violated:

1. Observable tallies. It is impossible for citizens to observe the counting of electronic ballots and audit the results.

2. Equal access. Requiring voters to cast votes on computers discriminates against those who are not familiar with the technology.

3. Accurate results. It is impossible to ensure that the reported results are accurate. In fact, a voter-verifiable paper audit trail cannot be depended on to provide the certainty lacking in electronic tallies. Clear evidence from several recent elections reveals instances in which:

- The electronic screen record did not reflect the voter's intent.

- The electronic count did not match the paper trail produced by the e-voting machine.

- The summary review screen did not match the paper trail produced by the e-voting machine.

- Voters did not know to verify the paper trail or were prevented from doing so by improper design, incorrect setup, or malfunction of the printer.

- Computer systems introduced unnecessary complexity into the entire election process and therefore increased the likelihood of errors by voters, poll workers, and election officials.

- Computerized voting relinquished control of the final outcome to the technical skills of those who programed the software.

While it is not easy to reconcile the money already spent on new DRE systems, it would be worse to continue using election equipment that is not accomplishing its critical task. If this were a public safety matter, no one would question the ban on the continued use of a dangerous product, even if it had been funded by billions of public dollars. Why should we act any differently when it comes to protecting the safety of our electoral process?

http://www.velvetrevolution.us/Campaigns/PaperBallots/

COST OF HACKABLE, UNRELIABLE, INACCURATE ELECTRONIC VOTE MACHINES MAY BE WHAT DOES THEM IN

BRAD BLOG - If you needed any more evidence to counter the argument that it would be "too expensive" to dump all the shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising touch-screen voting systems in favor of paper ballots, just take a look at Utah. They're the state which pushed out heroic 23-year Emery County Election Clerk Bruce Funk because he had the temerity to allow independent computer security experts to test the Diebold touch-screen systems the state was forcing him to use. (The experts found massive security flaws described as "the most serious" ever discovered).

Well, now Utah has finally discovered that their switch from punch-cards to shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising Diebold touch-screen systems has doubled the cost of their elections. And then some. Get a load of this from the Salt-Lake Tribune...

|||| "I'm not sure any of us realized how much it is going to cost to own and operate this system," said Michael Cragun, elections director for the Lieutenant Governor's Office.

Those costs are so prohibitive that many Utahns in next year's local elections will revert to a voting style used for generations: checking a box on a paper ballot. ... City leaders are worried, having heard rumors they may have to triple their election budget if they go with the touch-screen machines. . .

"We are not sure everyone understood what happened when they flicked that first domino over," Cragun said. ... Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen says she had to double the pay for poll workers because of the necessary training. She now spends $12,000 per month storing the bulky machines. And all of the memory cards, batteries and other essential machine accessories cost her office an extra $138,000 this year.

These costs will continue to accrue as Swensen and other county clerks say they need more machines for the 2008 presidential election. ||||

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3929

INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING SPREADING

NANCY VOGEL, LA TIMES - The cities of Davis, Calif.; Oakland and Minneapolis, as well as Pierce County, Wash.; have passed ballot measures that will lead to "instant runoff" or "proportional representation" voting in city and county elections. There was no organized opposition to the measures.

Their success has energized election reform advocates, who say the United States should join most other democracies and pick politicians in a way that doesn't shut out the 49% of voters who may have favored someone other than the majority winner. . .

For decades, Cambridge, Mass., has been the only American city to use the system. But in November, voters in Davis and Minneapolis approved proportional voting in city elections. . .

"It produces more of a mix of Democrats and Republicans that represent more of what we call purple California than red and blue California," said Steven Hill, political reform director for the nonprofit, nonpartisan New America Foundation. . .

In a November poll of 600 California voters, the foundation found that 52% said instant runoff voting sounded like a good idea. Half of those surveyed favored proportional voting. Nearly 70% said they feel like they often must vote for "the lesser of two evils."

Almost every democracy outside of Britain, Canada and the United States uses some version of proportional voting, including Australia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa. The new voting systems in Afghanistan and Iraq are proportional too.

In the United States, two dozen cities used the system in the early 1900s. All but Cambridge had abandoned it by the 1960s, and Illinois voters stopped using it to elect state lawmakers after a 1980 initiative . . .

According to a history written by Douglas Amy, a Mount Holyoke College politics professor, some cities jettisoned proportional voting along with other corruption-busting Progressive Era reforms such as replacing mayors.

New York City, where a Communist was elected to the City Council in the 1940s, abandoned the method during the Cold War era after Democrats decried it as a "political importation from the Kremlin."

Cincinnati rejected the system in 1957 after a campaign in which opponents asked whether the city wanted a "Negro Mayor." Proportional voting had allowed African Americans to win seats on the City Council for the first time in the city's history. . .

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-voting25dec25,1,4207139,full.story

[No small amount of the credit for this new interest in ranked and proportional voting goes to the work of the Center for Voting & Democracy, the first meeting of which, incidentally, took place in your editor's living room]

http:/fairvote.org

LAB THAT TESTED VOTING MACHINES TEMPORARILY BLACKLISTED BECAUSE OF SHODDY WORK

CHRISTOPHER DREW, NY TIMES - A laboratory that has tested most of the nation's electronic voting systems has been temporarily barred from approving new machines after federal officials found that it was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests. The company, Ciber Inc. of Greenwood Village, Colo., has also come under fire from analysts hired by New York State over its plans to test new voting machines for the state. New York could eventually spend $200 million to replace its aging lever devices.

Experts on voting systems say the Ciber problems underscore longstanding worries about lax inspections in the secretive world of voting-machine testing. The action by the federal Election Assistance Commission seems certain to fan growing concerns about the reliability and security of the devices.

The commission acted last summer, but the problem was not disclosed then. Officials at the commission and Ciber confirmed the action in recent interviews.

Ciber, the largest tester of the nation's voting machine software, says it is fixing its problems and expects to gain certification soon.

Experts say the deficiencies of the laboratory suggest that crucial features like the vote-counting software and security against hacking may not have been thoroughly tested on many machines now in use.

"What's scary is that we've been using systems in elections that Ciber had certified, and this calls into question those systems that they tested," said Aviel D. Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/04/washington/04voting.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

[Unmentioned in the Times story was Ciber's strong GOP connections]

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2004 - At Greenwood Village-based Ciber, employees and some spouses have donated more than $72,000 to GOP candidates and groups during the 2001-2002 and 2003-2004 election cycles, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog group.

http://corrente.blogspot.com/2004/08/election-fraud-2004-voting-machine.html

AP, DEC 21 - The chairman of information technology consultant Ciber Inc. sold 25,000 shares of common stock, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Wednesday. In a Form 4 filed with the SEC, Bobby G. Stevenson reported he sold the shares on Wednesday for about $6.71 apiece.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8M5DPH80.htm

AP, 2004 - Despite concerns over whether the so-called touch screen machines can be trusted, the testing companies won't say publicly if they have encountered shoddy workmanship. . . In Huntsville, the window blinds were closed when a reporter visited the office suite where Ciber Inc. employees test voting machine software. A woman who unlocked the door said no one inside could answer questions about testing.

DECEMBER 2006

34 ELECTION REFORM GROUPS JOIN FIGHT FOR PAPER BALLOTS & NOT JUST A 'PAPER TRAIL'

34 NON-PARTISAN ELECTION REFORM organizations have launched a campaign today urging Congress to enact legislation requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast. They expect this grassroots campaign to have broad public support and generate thousands of emails to the incoming Congress. Many of the organizations have previously supported voter-verified paper audit trails, but now, like other citizens across the country, they recognize that electronic voting machines have been a national mistake. "The e-voting machines are a threat to democracy. Putting a VVPAT on them is nothing more than a band-aid. It's like requiring a seat belt in a Ford Pinto. What good does it do when the Pinto explodes?" said Brad Friedman, who co-founded one of the organizations participating in the campaign. The letter states: "In light of lessons learned during the 2006 primary and general elections - with myriad contests resulting in uncertainty and thousands of voters in state after state turned away from the polls unable to cast a vote on DRE systems which failed throughout the day -- we now hold that a paper ballot, whether counted by optical-scan system or hand, is the minimum requirement for any Election Reform legislation in which voters may have confidence. Such a requirement is needed to help ensure Americans that every legally registered voter can vote, that every vote is recorded precisely as the voter intends, and that every vote is counted and, if necessary, re-counted accurately. "This year's elections have made crystal clear that electronic voting machines caused massive disruptions, undermined the results of crucial elections, and forced thousands of voters to leave the polls without being able to exercise their franchise."

LETTER
http://www.velvetrevolution.us/Campaigns/PaperBallots

BALLOT FAILURE UPDATE

PROGRESS REPORT - More than 18,000 people in Sarasota, FL (District 13), lost their votes in the recent midterm elections. Congressional candidate Vern Buchanan, whom the Florida Elections Canvassing Commission declared the winner by just 369 votes, has dismissed the missing ballots, arguing that we should emphasize "the 238,000 people that did vote in this race."

Both Democrats and Republicans lost their votes in the midterm elections. The Florida election was, unfortunately, just one example of problems nationwide with electronic voting machines that have no verifiable paper trail.

The electronic voting machines in Sarasota did not register a vote in the Jennings-Buchanan race for 13 percent of the voters. Since the machines were not required to provide a paper trail, there is no way to recover the vanished votes. Nevertheless, the FECC, made up of Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and two other elected officials, declared Buchanan the winner. While several reports have pointed to poor ballot design as a possible reason for the missing votes, there is little doubt that malfunctioning electronic voting machines with no verifiable paper trails were also responsible. According to a Herald-Tribune survey of voters who had trouble casting ballots on the ES&S Ivotronic machines, 36 percent were unable to find the congressional race on their screens and 62 percent said "their votes for either candidate did not initially register on the ballot summary page."

There is no way to reliably reconstruct what happened in the midterm elections without examining the Ivotronic equipment. A circuit judge will hold a hearing Dec. 19 to determine whether ES&S "will have to let others examine the 'source code' computer software for possible glitches." But ES&S is guarding its equipment, arguing that the source codes "contain trade secrets." As Kendall Coffey, an attorney for Jennings, notes, "This isn't Pepsi-Cola trying to get ahold of Coca Cola's trade secrets. This is a candidate and a public and a nation that wants to know what went wrong.

FL-13 wasn't the only district with voting problems in this year's midterm elections. The non-profit watchdog organization Common Cause received "five times as many complaints about mechanical problems with voting machines to their voter hot-line number in this election as in 2004." Programming errors and inexperience with electronic voting machines delayed voters in Indiana and Ohio, "leaving some with little choice but to use paper ballots instead." Almost 40 percent of U.S. voters now cast ballots on electronic voting machines. Use of these voting machines is on the rise, thanks in large part "to $3.8 billion in federal subsidies from the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which was supposed to help ensure the integrity of elections by upgrading voting technology." But as John Bonifaz of the National Voting Rights Institute notes, "Now, we're faced with this predicament: Millions of federal dollars have been spent on a product that appears to be seriously flawed."

The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently issued a report concluding that paperless electronic voting machines "cannot be made secure." The Election Assistance Commission, set up to improve elections after 2000 presidential controversy, reviewed NIST's report and "affirmed the need for paper trails or other independent verification going forward," but unfortunately "recommended giving a pass to localities already using flawed machines." Twenty-eight states currently "have laws that require electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail, or voters to cast ballots on paper ballots, which are typically counted by optical scanning machines. And 13 states mandate periodic audits of the machines."

34 ELECTION REFORM GROUPS JOIN FIGHT FOR PAPER BALLOTS & NOT JUST A 'PAPER TRAIL'

34 NON-PARTISAN ELECTION REFORM organizations have launched a campaign today urging Congress to enact legislation requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast. They expect this grassroots campaign to have broad public support and generate thousands of emails to the incoming Congress.

Many of the organizations have previously supported voter-verified paper audit trails, but now, like other citizens across the country, they recognize that electronic voting machines have been a national mistake.

"The e-voting machines are a threat to democracy. Putting a VVPAT on them is nothing more than a band-aid. It's like requiring a seat belt in a Ford Pinto. What good does it do when the Pinto explodes?" said Brad Friedman, who co-founded one of the organizations participating in the campaign.

The letter states: "In light of lessons learned during the 2006 primary and general elections - with myriad contests resulting in uncertainty and thousands of voters in state after state turned away from the polls unable to cast a vote on DRE systems which failed throughout the day -- we now hold that a paper ballot, whether counted by optical-scan system or hand, is the minimum requirement for any Election Reform legislation in which voters may have confidence. Such a requirement is needed to help ensure Americans that every legally registered voter can vote, that every vote is recorded precisely as the voter intends, and that every vote is counted and, if necessary, re-counted accurately.

"This year's elections have made crystal clear that electronic voting machines caused massive disruptions, undermined the results of crucial elections, and forced thousands of voters to leave the polls without being able to exercise their franchise."

LETTER
http://www.velvetrevolution.us/Campaigns/PaperBallots

TWO DECADES OF VOTE COUNT NEGLIGENCE

IN THE 1980s, two journalists - David Burnham of the NY Times and Ronnie Dugger writing in the New Yorker - laid out the fundamentals of the problems the nation would face with computerized voting. Although politicians, election officials and media treat this as a new crisis, Burnham in 1985 and Dugger in 1985 gave them more than adequate warning. Why were these serious warnings so universally ignored?

The full articles are on the web. Here are just a few excerpts:

DAVID BURNHAM, NY TIMES, JULY 29, 1985 The computer program that was used to count more than one-third of the votes cast in the Presidential election last year is very vulnerable to manipulation and fraud, according to expert witnesses in court actions challenging local and Congressional elections in three states. . .
"There is a massive potential for problems," said Gary L. Greenhalgh, director of the International Center on Election Law and Administration, a consulting group in Washington. He added that the problem with computer-assisted voting systems was that they "centralized the opportunity for fraud.". . .
John H. Kemp, president of Computer Election Systems, said in a telephone interview that he absolutely denied the company was involved in fraudulent schemes. County officials involved in the cases have also categorically denied participation in fraud. But Mr. Kemp also said that any computer system could be tampered with. "It is totally economically unfeasible to have a fraud-proof system," he said. Such a system, he suggested, might cost $1 billion.
Mr. Kemp said that while there were some differences in the programs used by various jurisdictions, the company's fraud-prevention controls had remained "essentially unchanged" in recent years. He added that the company's six or seven programmers "always are looking for ways to prevent fraud.". . .

Eva Waskell, a Reston, Va., writer on computer and scientific matters who was among the first to become aware of the court cases pending against the company, said she was astonished because it appeared that "even when local officials learned of the problems, little apparent effort was made to correct them." . . .
The allegations that the Computer Election system was open to manipulation were supported by two other experienced computer consultants who independently examined material obtained in the pending court cases for The New York Times.
http://www.newsgarden.org/columns/burnham1.shtml

RONNIE DUGGER, NEW YORKER 1988 - It appears that since 1980 errors and accidents have proliferated in computer-counted elections. Since 1984, the State of Illinois has tested local computerized systems by running many thousands of machine-punched mock ballots through them, rather than the few tens of test ballots that local election officials customarily use. As of the most recent tests this year, errors in the basic counting instructions in the computer programs had been found in almost a fifth of the examinations. These "tabulation-program errors" probably would not have been caught in the local jurisdictions. "I don't understand why nobody cares," Michael L. Harty, who was until recently the director of voting systems and standards for Illinois, told me last December in Springfield. "At one point, we had tabulation errors in twenty-eight per cent of the systems tested, and nobody cared.". . .

The election-equipment companies, which thus both sell and program the computers that tabulate public elections, have long contended, in and out of court, that they own the source codes and must keep them secret from everyone, including the local officials who conduct elections.

Thus most of the local officials who preside over computerized elections do not actually know how their systems are counting the votes, and when they officially certify that the election results are correct they do not and cannot really know them to be so.
Computer operators do not leave fingerprints inside a computer, the events that occur inside it cannot be seen, and its records, and printouts can be fixed to give no hint of whichever of its operations an operator wants to keep secret. . .

Whether or not elections have ever been stolen by computer before, some citizens and some officials are asking if it could happen in the future. Could a local or state office or a seat in the United States House of Representatives be stolen by computer? Might the outcome of a close race for a United States Senate seat be determined by computer fraud in large local jurisdictions? Since, under the state-by-state, winner-take-all rules of the electoral college, a close Presidential election can be decided by relatively few votes in two or three big states, could electronic illusionists steal the Presidency by fixing the vote-counting computers in just four or five major metropolitan areas? Could people breaking into or properly positioned within a computerized-vote counting company, acting for political reasons or personal gain, steal House or Senate seats, or even the White House itself?

Randall H. Erben, the assistant secretary of state in Texas, who served as special counsel on ballot integrity to President Ronald Reagan's campaign in 1984 and, in 1986, headed a similar group for Governor Bill Clements, of Texas, told me in Austin, "I have no question that somebody who's smart enough with a computer could probably rig it to mistabulate. Whether that has happened yet I don't know. It's going to be virtually undetectable if it's done correctly, and that's what concerns me about it." Willis Ware, a Rand Corporation computer specialist, warned those attending a 1987 conference on the security of computer-tabulated elections, "There is probably a Chernobyl or a Three Mile Island waiting to happen in some election, just as a Richter 8 earthquake is waiting to happen in California." The chief counsel of the Republican National Committee, Mark Braden, told me that he has yet to see a proved case of computer-based election fraud, but added, "People who work for us who know about computers claim that you could do it."

Some officials concerned with elections think about the unthinkable in their field; namely, the stealing of a Presidential election by computer fraud in the vote-counting in metropolitan areas of key states. Steve White, the chief assistant attorney general of California, said to me last spring in Sacramento, "It could be done relatively easily by somebody who didn't necessarily have to be all that sophisticated. Given the importance of the national election, sooner or later it will be attempted. There is a real reluctance to concede the gravity of the problem.". . .

Computers can be ordered to transfer votes from one candidate to another, to add votes to a candidate's total, to determine an outcome in accordance with a specified percentage spread. All the computer experts I have spoken with agreed that no computer program can be made completely secure against fraud. . .

http://www.newsgarden.org/columns/dugger.shtml

BALLOT FAILURE UPDATE

PROGRESS REPORT - More than 18,000 people in Sarasota, FL (District 13), lost their votes in the recent midterm elections. Congressional candidate Vern Buchanan, whom the Florida Elections Canvassing Commission declared the winner by just 369 votes, has dismissed the missing ballots, arguing that we should emphasize "the 238,000 people that did vote in this race."

Both Democrats and Republicans lost their votes in the midterm elections. The Florida election was, unfortunately, just one example of problems nationwide with electronic voting machines that have no verifiable paper trail.

The electronic voting machines in Sarasota did not register a vote in the Jennings-Buchanan race for 13 percent of the voters. Since the machines were not required to provide a paper trail, there is no way to recover the vanished votes. Nevertheless, the FECC, made up of Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and two other elected officials, declared Buchanan the winner. While several reports have pointed to poor ballot design as a possible reason for the missing votes, there is little doubt that malfunctioning electronic voting machines with no verifiable paper trails were also responsible. According to a Herald-Tribune survey of voters who had trouble casting ballots on the ES&S Ivotronic machines, 36 percent were unable to find the congressional race on their screens and 62 percent said "their votes for either candidate did not initially register on the ballot summary page."

There is no way to reliably reconstruct what happened in the midterm elections without examining the Ivotronic equipment. A circuit judge will hold a hearing Dec. 19 to determine whether ES&S "will have to let others examine the 'source code' computer software for possible glitches." But ES&S is guarding its equipment, arguing that the source codes "contain trade secrets." As Kendall Coffey, an attorney for Jennings, notes, "This isn't Pepsi-Cola trying to get ahold of Coca Cola's trade secrets. This is a candidate and a public and a nation that wants to know what went wrong.

FL-13 wasn't the only district with voting problems in this year's midterm elections. The non-profit watchdog organization Common Cause received "five times as many complaints about mechanical problems with voting machines to their voter hot-line number in this election as in 2004." Programming errors and inexperience with electronic voting machines delayed voters in Indiana and Ohio, "leaving some with little choice but to use paper ballots instead." Almost 40 percent of U.S. voters now cast ballots on electronic voting machines. Use of these voting machines is on the rise, thanks in large part "to $3.8 billion in federal subsidies from the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which was supposed to help ensure the integrity of elections by upgrading voting technology." But as John Bonifaz of the National Voting Rights Institute notes, "Now, we're faced with this predicament: Millions of federal dollars have been spent on a product that appears to be seriously flawed."

The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently issued a report concluding that paperless electronic voting machines "cannot be made secure." The Election Assistance Commission, set up to improve elections after 2000 presidential controversy, reviewed NIST's report and "affirmed the need for paper trails or other independent verification going forward," but unfortunately "recommended giving a pass to localities already using flawed machines." Twenty-eight states currently "have laws that require electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail, or voters to cast ballots on paper ballots, which are typically counted by optical scanning machines. And 13 states mandate periodic audits of the machines."

NOVEMBER 2006

GOVERNMENT AGENCY ABOUT TO URGE END TO TOUCH SCREEN VOTING

MICHAEL HICKINS, INTERNET NEWS - A federal agency is set to recommend significant changes to specifications for electronic-voting machines next week. . . The National Institute of Standards and Technology is recommending that the 2007 version of the Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines decertify direct record electronic machines.

DREs are currently used by more than 30 percent of jurisdictions across the U.S. and are the exclusive voting technology in Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and South Carolina.

According to an NIST paper to be discussed at a meeting of election regulators at NIST headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md., on Dec. 4 and 5, DRE vote totals cannot be audited because the machines are not software independent. In other words, there is no means of verifying vote tallies other than by relying on the software that tabulated the results to begin with. . . The NIST paper also noted that, "potentially, a single programmer could 'rig' a major election." It recommends "requiring SI [software independent] voting systems in VVSG 2007.". . . The lack of software independence has reared its ugly head in Sarasota's Congressional race, where 18,000 fewer votes were cast than in other races on the same ballot. A recount was futile in that election because Sarasota uses a DRE-type machine.

http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/3646231

BRAD BLOG - This is a tremendously important development. To be clear, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the group that oversees the formulation of the so-called federal "voting systems standards." Those are the standards, such as there are any, which are in effect today at the federal level to determine federal certification of voting systems. . . This report will likely have an enormous impact in shaping whatever may happen next concerning any upcoming Election reform or legislation in DC.

But wait, it gets even better. . . NIST agrees that paper trails don't cut it:

"The NIST is also going to recommend changes to the design of machines equipped with paper rolls that provide audit trails. Currently, the paper rolls produce records that are illegible or otherwise unusable, and NIST is recommending that paper rolls should not be used in new voting systems.

[These paper rolls are not the same as actual paper ballots used in optical screen voting. As Brad Blog explains, "Paper trails, such as they are used with DRE/Touch-Screen systems, do not work. Voters don't verify them, elections officials don't count them, they are not accurate, they can be gamed, they jam the printers which leads to voters being turned away without being able to vote."]

BRAD BLOG - Yesterday Sarasota County, FL, began their state-run test audits of the paperless ES&S touch-screen systems used in Florida's 13th District House race where 18,000 votes disappeared, resulting in a 369 vote margin between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R) to fill the seat vacated by former Secretary of State of Katherine Harris.

The first day of testing revealed miscounting errors on all four of the machines used during the test, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and at least two citizen observers who blogged their account of the day's testing. . .

The results differed from the votes in "scripted" ballots that state testers had punched into them. Ironically, the errors ended up giving Jennings a higher vote total than she should have had according to the prepared voting scripts.

At least three votes recorded as under-votes in the election changed to Jennings votes in today's "audit." That's comes out to an approximate 7% shift in a race decided by less than two-tenths of one percent.

http://www.bradblog.com/

MONTANA COUNTS IT VOTES RIGHT

ED KEMMICK, BILLINGS GAZETTE, MT Steve Corrick, an election-reform advocate in Missoula, has a simple formula for ensuring the most reliable election results: "Trust paper, and then count the paper."

That, in essence, is also what is required under Montana law. A bill enacted by the 2005 Legislature requires all voting technology in the state to use paper ballots that also can be counted by hand.

That's why the most recent election - when the eyes of the nation were trained on a handful of all-night tabulations in Montana, with the balance of the U.S. Senate at stake - didn't turn into a Florida-style debacle. It may have been a long night, but nobody questioned the results the next morning.

It is also why the balance of the Montana House of Representatives will be decided Tuesday in Yellowstone County, where a tie vote in a Laurel House race will be subjected to a hand recount of nearly 4,500 ballots. Some states use electronic voting devices that involve a touch screen. With those, there is no paper trail, no way of verifying results or conducting a recount. In Montana, 16 sparsely populated counties still hand-count ballots, but even in counties where optical scanners are used to tally votes, the ballots, with their penciled-in ovals, can be examined by hand, as in the recount planned for Tuesday.

Having those paper ballots to fall back on is a distinction that makes Montana the envy of election activists in many states.

Warren Stewart, a Californian who is the policy director for Vote Trust USA, said there is no replacement for being able to examine individual paper ballots manually filled out by voters.

"By and large, the system you have in place in Montana is the system we advocate most strongly for," he said.

John Gideon of Seattle, executive director of Voters Unite, said paper ballots are "the gold standard.". . .

Rep. Brady Wiseman, D-Bozeman, who introduced the law requiring paper ballots in the 2005 session and who was elected to a second term on Nov. 7, said the next reform needed is a law mandating an audit of election results. The audit would involve hand-counting a large sample of paper ballots from each precinct in counties where vote-counting machines are used, then running those votes through the machines again to measure their accuracy. . .

Wiseman said a private company looking to buy machines to perform a function as important as counting votes would insist on a "huge number of acceptance tests" before closing the deal, and election officials should insist on no less. "The missing link in our election technology at this point is random audits on vote-counting machines," Wiseman said. . .

Sara Busey of Missoula, the Help America Vote Act representative for the Montana League of Women Voters, said the requirement for an audit-recount will be the league's top priority for election reform in the upcoming legislative session. She said 26 states have some kind of mandatory paper trail for votes, and 15 of those require random audits. . . .

http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2006/11/26/news/state/27-votemachines_z.txt

BRAD BLOG - Ron Rivest visited Georgia on Nov. 7 and has recently reported on what he saw as he visited with the head of the state's elections and some polls in different counties. He was told by Kathy Rogers, the state elections boss, that the state did illegally use uncertified software in 2002. Rivest also found that the state seems to have decided it's OK to violate federal law as they turn voters with questionable registrations away from the polls without offering them a provisional ballot. . .

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3856#more-3856

BRAD BLOG - The Alaska Division of Elections is violating the public records law and should immediately release copies of the electronic records of the 2006 election results so they can be examined before the election is certified, Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake Metcalfe said today. . . On Nov. 7, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Stephanie Joannides ordered the Division of Elections to preserve backup copies of the state's 2006 electronic computer database and subsequent tallies of the election results. The Division of Elections had refused to make backup copies of the Diebold computer GEMS database in response to a request from the Alaska Democratic Party, which then sought an emergency court order requiring that copies be preserved of these election records. The Judge agreed with the Democratic Party and issued a temporary restraining order . . .

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3855#more-3855

 

 

FOUR MORE CITIES GO FOR INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING

NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION - Instant Runoff Voting, continued to gain favor in California and elsewhere as four cities strongly approved November 7 ballot measures supporting the idea. In California, where San Francisco became the state's first Instant Runoff Voting city in 2004, voters in the cities of Oakland and Davis approved the idea, which would allow voters to rank their first, second, and third choices for office. Oakland overwhelmingly supported the measure by 68% of the returns, meaning voters will use Instant Runoff Voting for all local offices in November 2008. The Davis measure was an advisory recommendation.

Elsewhere, voters in Minneapolis passed their ballot measure with 65% support. And in Pierce County, Washington, voters supported the move to IRV for their partisan county elections with vote.

http://www.newamerica.net/programs/political_reform

NEW PROBLEM WITH TOUCH SCREEN VOTING

WALL STREET JOURNAL WASHINGTON WIRE - There's another potential problem for those touch-screen voting machines that millions of Americans used on Tuesday: It's tough to recount their votes. The machines work by collecting votes on a memory card that's inserted in each machine and backed up by an internal memory. The memory cards and internal memory record an image or "screen shot" of each ballot - that is, a record of each voter's choice on every ballot question. But many state recount laws call only for an examination of the totals on the memory cards - in other words, reading the votes rather than examining the screen shots.

The backup memory records the same data as the memory card, moreover. That means that any glitch will be recorded the same way in both memories. Some voters complained on Election Day of a software glitch called vote jumping, which occurs when a vote for one candidate jumps to that of another. If that happened, and a voter didn't correct it, the wrong vote would show up on both tallies.

Most election offices don't have the technical skill to retrieve the screen shots, and most vendors don't allow them access, claiming the software is a trade secret. "You would need involvement by the company," said Matt Zimmerman, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which follows technology and privacy issues. That has raised the ire of voting-rights groups, which contend that the introduction of high tech voting equipment is "privatizing" elections and taking them out of the hands of public officials.
Even if voting-machine companies looked at the screen shots, they're unlikely to allow election-watchers in on the process, said Larry Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. The recount process "won't be publicly transparent," he said.

Seventeen states require that their touch screens come equipped with a back-up paper ballot that spools into the machine after a voter has a chance to review it, and records the vote. A House bill would extend that requirement to equipment used in all federal elections. The bill has no Senate companion, but the high anxiety over voting machines this election could put it on the Senate agenda before 2008. - June Kronholz

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/

upscale clientele, according to court papers.

http://www.katu.com/news/national/4575976.html

THE PROBLEMS WITH WRITE-IN BALLOTS

WHY RUNOFFS DON'T WORK

INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING EXPLAINED ON YOU TUBE

HOW TO MAKE VOTING MACHINES WORK BETTER

KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE CALL

THOSE DEMANDING voting machine reform often refer to the need for a paper trail. But as Thomas McBirney wrote to the Washington Post, "It is just as easy to build a machine that prints a non-trustworthy piece of paper as it is to build a non-trustworthy machine that does not." The best present solution appears to be this:

- Touch screen voting with a paper replica of the cast vote.

- Paper replica is inserted in an optical scan machine

- Paper ballot is deposited in a ballot box.

Both the touch screen and optical scan votes are counted and compared for anomalies - with the paper ballot as a backup.

Short of that, it's best to use the old paper ballots and hope the counters are honest.

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