Friday, April 30, 2004

Calif. secretary of state pulls plug on some electronic voting > News > Politics --

By Jim Wasserman
2:21 p.m. April 30, 2004

SACRAMENTO – Secretary of State Kevin Shelley banned touch screen voting Friday in four California counties in the November election, saying the lack of a paper trail makes them unreliable and he threatened to block computerized voting in 10 other counties.

Shelley cited concerns about the security and reliability of new computerized voting machines manufactured by Texas-based Diebold Election systems, many of them used for the first time in the March election.

"We are acting boldly and responsibly to improve the system in time for November," Shelley said.

The decision means as many as 2 million voters in San Diego, Solano, San Joaquin and Kern counties will see paper ballots in November, marking their choices in ovals read by optical scanners.

It's also a setback for a national leader in electronic voting machine technology as counties gear up to spend billions of dollars to modernize the way Americans vote.

The action will idle 10,200 Diebold AccuVote-TSx machines in San Diego County, 1,626 machines in Kern County, 1,350 in San Joaquin County and about 1,100 in Solano County.

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CA takes the lead!

Join's "The Computer Ate My Vote" campaign at

Join and get involved at!

Head over to and get involved, buy the book... do whatever you can!

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The Republicans will probably manipulate the Vote in Florida as they did in 2000


One million votes will disappear in a puff of very black smoke. And when the smoke clears, the Bush clan will be warming their political careers in the light of the ballot bonfire. HAVA nice day.


Vanishing Votes by Gregory Palast

n October 29, 2002, George W. Bush signed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Hidden behind its apple-pie-and-motherhood name lies a nasty civil rights time bomb.

First, the purges. In the months leading up to the November 2000 presidential election, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, in coordination with Governor Jeb Bush, ordered local election supervisors to purge 57,700 voters from the registries, supposedly ex-cons not allowed to vote in Florida. At least 90.2 percent of those on this "scrub" list, targeted to lose their civil rights, are innocent. Notably, more than half--about 54 percent--are black or Hispanic. You can argue all night about the number ultimately purged, but there's no argument that this electoral racial pogrom ordered by Jeb Bush's operatives gave the White House to his older brother. HAVA not only blesses such purges, it requires all fifty states to implement a similar search-and-destroy mission against vulnerable voters. Specifically, every state must, by the 2004 election, imitate Florida's system of computerizing voter files. The law then empowers fifty secretaries of state--fifty Katherine Harrises--to purge these lists of "suspect" voters.

The purge is back, big time. Following the disclosure in December 2000 of the black voter purge in Britain's Observer newspaper, NAACP lawyers sued the state. The civil rights group won a written promise from Governor Jeb and from Harris's successor to return wrongly scrubbed citizens to the voter rolls. According to records given to the courts by ChoicePoint, the company that generated the computerized lists, the number of Floridians who were questionably tagged totals 91,000. Willie Steen is one of them. Recently, I caught up with Steen outside his office at a Tampa hospital. Steen's case was easy. You can't work in a hospital if you have a criminal record. (My copy of Harris's hit list includes an ex-con named O'Steen, close enough to cost Willie Steen his vote.) The NAACP held up Steen's case to the court as a prime example of the voter purge evil.

The state admitted Steen's innocence. But a year after the NAACP won his case, Steen still couldn't register. Why was he still under suspicion? What do we know about this "potential felon," as Jeb called him? Steen, unlike our President, honorably served four years in the US military. There is, admittedly, a suspect mark on his record: Steen remains an African-American.


I feel like Casandra people..

We are screwed. Pardon my pessimissim. I don't have the time to do detailed research and since and already have, I just watch for news and opinion peices and post them here.

The bottom line is it's too late for 04. The Fix is in and no matter what happens the GOP will hold the White House and both houses of COngress on November.

F&^*!#g brilliant move on their part from a purely tactical point of view.

p.s. there's always 06 right..

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Two Voting Companies & Two Brothers Will Count 80% of U.S. Election -
Using BOTH Scanners & Touchscreens

by Lynn Landes 4/27/04

Voters can run, but they can't hide from these guys. Meet the Urosevich brothers, Bob and Todd. Their respective companies, Diebold and ES&S, will count (using BOTH computerized ballot scanners and touchscreen machines) about 80% of all votes cast in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Both ES&S and Diebold have been caught installing uncertified software in their machines. Although there is no known certification process that will protect against vote rigging or technical failure, it is a requirement of most, if not all, states.

And, according to author Bev Harris in her book, Black Box Voting, " of the founders of the original ES&S (software) system, Bob Urosevich, also oversaw development of the original software now used by Diebold Election Systems."

Talk about putting all our eggs in one very bogus, but brotherly basket.

Even if states or counties hire their own technicians to re-program Diebold or ES&S software (or software from other companies), experts say that permanently installed software, called firmware, still resides inside of both electronic scanners and touchscreen machines and is capable of manipulating votes. For those who are unfamiliar with the term 'firmware', here's a definition by "Software that is embedded in a hardware device that allows reading and executing the software, but does not allow modification, e.g., writing or deleting data by an end user."

The ability to rig an election is well within easy reach of voting machine companies. And it does not matter if the machines are scanners or touchscreens, or are networked or hooked up to modems.

So, for those states and counties who think they're dodging the bullet by not buying (or not using) the highly insecure and error-prone touchscreen voting machines (which will process 28.9% of all votes this year), a huge threat still remains - computerized ballot scanners. They will count 57.6% of all votes cast, including absentee ballots.

And don't count on recounts to save the day. In most states, recounts of paper ballots only occur if election results are close. The message to those who want to rig elections is, "rig them by a lot." In some states, like California, spot checks are conducted. But, that will not be an effective way to discover or deter vote fraud or technical failure, particularly in a national election where one vote per machine will probably be enough to swing a race.

Although touchscreens have been getting the bulk of negative publicity lately, electronic ballot scanners have a long and sordid past, as well. Electronic scanners were first introduced into U.S. elections in 1964, and ever since then a steady stream of reports of technical irregularities have caught the attention of scientists, journalists, and activists, most notably the 1988 report, Accuracy, Integrity, and Security in Computerized Vote-Tallying, by Roy G. Saltman, and the 1992 book, Votescam: The Stealing of America, by Jim and Ken Collier.

Even though there are several foreign and domestic corporations involved in the U.S. vote counting business, ES&S and Diebold clearly dominate the field. ES&S claims that they have tabulated "56% of the U.S. national vote for the past four presidential elections", while a Diebold spokesperson told this writer that the company processed about 35% of U.S. electronic vote count in 2002.

But, is there any real difference between Diebold and ES&S? Perhaps not.

Bob Urosevich is currently president of Diebold. Todd is vice president of ES&S. In 1999, American Information Systems (AIS), purchased Business Records Corporation (BRC) to become ES&S. AIS (1980) was formerly Data Mark (1979). Both AIS and Data Mark were founded by the brothers Urosevich. In 2002 Diebold acquired Global Election Systems. Global was founded 1991, which itself acquired the AccuVote system the same year. Bob Urosevich is a past president of Global.

Of course, most interested observers don't believe that the Urosevich brothers are the real brains behind their respective operations. For information on their financial backers, check out Chapter 8 of Bev's book -, and my webpage -

Diebold and ES&S have been involved in countless election irregularities over the years, involving both ballot scanners and touchscreens. But, it seems that they've always managed to finesse a happy ending for themselves. Now, it appears that at least Diebold might be in real trouble.

On April 22, 2004, Jim Wasserman of the Associated Press (AP) reported, "By an 8-0 vote, the state's (California) Voting Systems and Procedures Panel recommended that (Secretary of State) Shelley cease the use of the machines, saying that Texas-based Diebold has performed poorly in California and its machines malfunctioned in the state's March 2 primary election, turning away many voters in San Diego County...In addition to the ban, panel members recommended that a secretary of state's office report released Wednesday, detailing alleged failings of Diebold in California, be forwarded to the state attorney general's office to consider civil and criminal charges against the company."

Interestingly, no one in the U.S. federal government seems to be paying usual. There is no federal agency that has regulatory authority or oversight of the voting machine industry - not the Federal Election Commission (FEC), not the Department of Justice (DOJ), and not the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The FEC doesn't even have a complete list of all the companies that count votes in U.S. elections.

Once again we are witness to an 'eyes closed, hands off' approach to protecting America. The 2004 election rests in the private hands of the Urosevich brothers, who are financed by the far-out right wing and top donors to the Republican Party. The Democrats are either sitting ducks or co-conspirators. I don't know which.

My mantra remains - Vote Paper Ballots, Ditch the Machines.


Lynn Landes is one of the nation's leading journalists on voting technology and democracy issues. Readers can find her articles at Lynn is a former news reporter for DUTV and commentator for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Contact info: / (215) 629-3553


this is truly depressing..

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Calif. panel wants paper-ballot backups

Salon: By Jim Wasserman
April 28, 2004 | SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) --

Ten counties with touch-screen voting machines can use them in November -- but only if alternative paper ballots are offered in each precinct, a state advisory committee recommended Wednesday.

The committee considered banning touch-screen voting in the 10 counties, but voted 7-0 for a compromise that sets up numerous conditions.

The vote also bans other counties in California from introducing new ATM-like electronic voting equipment in November, unless the machines include a verified paper trail of votes cast.

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley has the final say on the panel's recommendation; he's expected to decide by Friday.

The committee's action follows its recommendation last week to ban the use of 15,000 Diebold Elections Systems voting machines in four counties, citing security concerns, malfunctions in the March election and Diebold's last-minute changes to its machines just before the election.

Shelley will also rule on that recommendation by Friday.

The 14 counties that use touch-screen machines represent 6.5 million voters, 43 percent of the state's total.

The panel acted after more than two days of testimony that largely challenged the security and accuracy of paperless voting.

But advocates for the disabled defended touch-screen voting for allowing them to vote privately, and many of the state's registrars of voters argued against a ban.

Registrars say the machines are popular with voters and produced accurate vote counts. They argue a ban forcing the counties back to paper ballots would cost up to $30 million.

If Shelley decides against a blanket statewide ban, the Legislature is also considering a pair of bills that would ban touch-screen voting this November.


Go CA!

Calif. panel wants paper-ballot backups

Salon: By Jim Wasserman

From today's Talking Points Memo by - Joshua Micah Marshall 4/28/2004

"I've been giving this matter a lot of thought recently. And if John Kerry is going to win this election, he will have to make it, in large measure, an election about accountability.

The president seldom any more makes a positive argument for how things have been handled up till this point. He doesn't admit mistakes, certainly. But what he does and doesn't say is telling.

Most of the president's speeches amount to a) My heart was in the right place and, b) The past isn't what's important. Where we go from here is what's important.

(Look at his ads and you'll see he's making little attempt to make a positive case for himself.)

His partisans chime in with something similar, quickly dismissing any discussion of what's happened up until this point -- all the many mistakes made over expert advice counseling against -- and arguing, militantly, that all the matters now is who has a better plan on where to go from here, etc.

This is certainly true, to an extent. But there's that double matter of accountability. Accountability first, just as a matter of principle. But at some point you have to ask whether the crew that has gotten so much wrong -- making almost every mistake makable in Iraq -- is really the team to get things back on track, to walk the situation back from the precipice. As in so much else in life, we predict the future based on past performance. And if you look at what's happened over the last eighteen months, I think that's a very hard argument for the administration to confront. "


On March 25th I wrote my friend Dave Johnson who runs Seetheforest with exactly the same message. He was planning on attending a Kerry function that night in the Bay Area. I suggested he speak to Kerry about this (how naive of me).

I raise the notion that this is in fact the Administration of Zero Accountability.

You can go down a long list of issues and see a solid pattern that smacks of an administration that does not hold itself accountable to the American people.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - E-voting developers on the defensive - Apr 26, 2004

Computer scientists, lawmakers worried about glitches
Tuesday, April 27, 2004 Posted: 9:24 AM EDT (1324 GMT)

SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- A growing number of federal and state legislators are expressing doubts about the integrity of the ATM-like electronic voting machines that at least 50 million Americans will use to cast their ballots in November.

Computer scientists have long criticized the so-called touchscreen machines as not being much more reliable than home computers, which can crash, malfunction and fall prey to hackers and viruses.

Now, a series of failures in primaries across the nation has shaken confidence in the technology installed at thousands of precincts. Despite reassurances from the machines' makers, at least 20 states have introduced legislation requiring a paper record of every vote cast.

On Thursday, a key California panel unanimously recommended banning a popular Diebold Inc. paperless touchscreen model -- a move that could force North Canton, Ohio-based Diebold and other manufacturers to overhaul their business practices nationwide. Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, who said Diebold glitches "jeopardized the outcome" of the March 2 primary, has until April 30 to decide whether to decertify Diebold and possibly other touchscreen terminals in California.

The head of a newly created federal agency charged with overseeing electronic voting called Diebold's problems "deeply troubling." The bipartisan U.S. Election Assistance Commission, formed in January to develop technical standards for electronic voting, will conduct a May 5 public hearing in Washington, D.C.

"We wanted to jump into this issue in time to impact November's election," said agency director DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. "There are so many troubling issues that have emerged surrounding electronic voting and so much money has been spent since 2000 on converting to electronic voting systems that it requires our attention -- particularly because many states assume the computer is the solution."


This is good traction for the issue...CNN..nice.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Diebold May Face Criminal Charges


By Kim Zetter

08:55 AM Apr. 23, 2004 PT

SACRAMENTO, California –- After harshly chastising Diebold Election Systems for what it considered deceptive business practices, a California voting systems panel voted unanimously Thursday to recommend that the secretary of state decertify an electronic touch-screen voting machine manufactured by the company, making it likely that four California counties that recently purchased the machines will have to find other voting solutions for the November presidential election.

The panel also voted to send the findings of its recent Diebold investigation to the state's attorney general for possible criminal and civil charges against the firm for violating state election laws.

Following a contentious six-hour hearing during which the Voting Systems and Procedures Panel grilled Diebold president Bob Urosevich about his company's business practices, the panel voted to recommend decertifying the Diebold AccuVote-TSx machine, which was used for the first time in California during the March primary in Kern, San Joaquin, Solano and San Diego counties.

The decision was based partly on the fact that a peripheral device for the machine performed poorly in the March primary and partly on the fact that Diebold had marketed and sold the TSx to counties before it was certified by the state. The panel also said Diebold misled the state about issues pertaining to the federal certification of the system.


Don't mess with California :)

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Black Box Voting Machines Banned

Post on South Knox Bubba

Electronic voting machines dealt blow

Sacramento -- A panel of top elections officials recommended Thursday that 15,000 electronic voting machines in four counties -- including Solano -- be banned in the November election because glitches in some devices turned voters away from the polls in the March primary election.


Click on over and read...

Kucinich Calls for Suspension of Electronic Voting
, 2004

APRIL 23, 2004
6:08 PM
CONTACT: Kucinich Campaign
Matt Harris, 216.403.3980,
Terre Lundy, 515.988.5534

Kucinich Calls for Suspension of Electronic Voting

CLEVELAND - April 23 - Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, who has been sounding warning alarms regarding electronic voting systems since he began his campaign last year, today called on federal, state and local election officials “to suspend immediately the implementation of any voting systems that do not provide a 100 percent reliable paper-trail back-up to corroborate results.”

A decision yesterday by the eight-member California Voting Systems and Procedures Panel that 15,000 electronic voting machines in four counties be banned in the November election because of “glitches” in the March primary election “is more than enough evidence that these systems could undermine the integrity and affect the results of November’s general election,” Kucinich said.

Especially in terms of the Presidential election, Kucinich said, “we cannot entrust the future of our country to technologies that are flawed, suspect, and proven to have failed, especially when those technologies have been developed by companies that have their own political agendas.”

Diebold Election Systems, which came under the harshest criticism from the California elections panel, is headed by Chief Executive Officer Walden O'Dell, who last year became active in the re-election effort of President Bush, even attending a strategy meeting with wealthy Bush benefactors at the President's private ranch in Texas. Soon after, O’Dell wrote a fundraising letter where he said he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

Although Diebold is the most embattled voting equipment company, Newsday reported that “paperless systems made by Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. and other competitors also expose elections to malicious attack, software glitches and mechanical errors that could delete or alter millions of ballots.” The story went on to report a variety of other problems in Indiana, Maryland, and other states. According to Newsday, “Because votes that only exist in electronic form can be altered or deleted, Oregon, New Hampshire and Illinois require paper ballots; and California, Missouri and Nevada will require paper backups on touchscreen terminals by 2006.” The newspaper also reported that “Secretaries of state in Washington and West Virginia are calling for paper trails, while Ohio is reconsidering the switch to new machines.”

Kucinich said he will take his challenges to the newly created federal agency charged with overseeing electronic voting, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, established in January, which will conduct a May 5 public hearing in Washington, D.C. on May 5.

“The technological problems are real,” Kucinich said, “and the potential for further problems, mischief, and outright fraud is equally real, and far more dangerous.”

(Extensive information on electronic voting systems is available at
For information about the National campaign:
For Congressman Kucinich's Schedule:
To schedule an interview with Kucinich or spokesperson:


This is still positive momentum.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Yahoo! News - Maryland Group Sues to Upgrade E-Voting Machines: "Maryland Group Sues to Upgrade E-Voting Machines"

Wed Apr 21, 6:36 PM ET Add Politics - Reuters to My Yahoo!
By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Maryland voters' group said on Wednesday it planned to force the state to add printers to electronic voting machines to ensure they can be double-checked after a disputed election, such as the 2000 presidential vote.

The group said it would file a lawsuit on Thursday to force state officials to stop using the machines until they fix software to keep out hackers and add printers to produce paper receipts.

"These machines are vulnerable to human error, computer malfunction and fraud," said Linda Schade, co-founder of the Campaign for Verifiable Voting in Maryland. "We are talking about the system, of course, by which we will elect the next president of the United States."

Maryland officials should stop using their machines until manufacturer Diebold Inc. . fixes programming to make the software more secure and adds a printer to each machine, said Ryan Phair, an attorney with Kirkland & Ellis who will handle the lawsuit.


Receipts are fine but a audit trail which provides a way to do a recount is the main requirement AFTER taking the software out of the hands of the Diebold types.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Stealing an Election

Bruce Schneier offers a back-of-the-envelope estimate of what we're up against.

In 2002, all the Congressional candidates together raised over $500M. As a result, one can conservatively conclude that affecting the balance of power in the House of Representatives is worth at least $100M to the party who would otherwise be losing. So when designing the security behind the software, one must assume an attacker with a $100M budget.

Conclusion: The risks to electronic voting machine software are even greater than first appears.


I ripped this post from SeeTheForest. But hey I bought the guy a nice sushi dinner last night so he won't mind.