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California: Presentations from Voting Systems Testing Summit PDF  | Print |  Email
By Caren Daniels-Meade, Chief of Elections, State of California   
December 15, 2005
<>Secretary of State Bruce McPherson hosted a Voting Systems Testing Summit on November 28 and 29 to bring together experts from state and federal elections administration to discuss testing as it applies to state certification processes for voting equipment. Several panels of nationally recognized experts will share their expertise, from which we hope to develop a best practices model that all states can use in their examination of voting equipment. Please see the agenda and remarks linked to this page for additional information.

Materials and Presentations

Session 1 - The Federal Role - Where Things Stand Today and Where They're Headed, HAVA and Voting Systems, Accessibility

Session 2 - Demystifying the ITA's

Session 2.5 - A Vision for Testing Election Systems

Session 3 - National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

A Campaign To Unite California Election Reformers PDF  | Print |  Email
By Dave Berman,   
December 13, 2005
This article appeared in GuvWurld on December 12, 2005. It is reposted with permission of the author.

A recently released report by the non-partisan watchdog arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), has laid bare the unsecure and unreliable conditions of U.S. elections. Beyond just what could happen, the GAO has meticulously documented what has happened in the past few years, concluding:
Nevertheless, there is evidence that some of these concerns - including weak controls and inadequate testing - have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes. (p.38)
When votes are lost and miscounted, there is no way to be certain what the true outcome should be from an election. We can thus say that current election conditions ensure inconclusive outcomes, and provide no basis for confidence in the results reported. Among the many citations, the GAO report refers to an April 20, 2004, Staff Report from the California Secretary of State's office which reported that Diebold had admitted to violating state law in each of its 17 client counties (listed below):
California: Further Humboldt Implications of the GAO Elections Report PDF  | Print |  Email
By Dave Berman, GuvWorld   
December 07, 2005
This article was originally published in the author's GuvWorld blog

For the past week and a half I've been studying the GAO report condemning the conditions under which our elections are held. Last Tuesday I posted this searing analysis of the report's implications on Humboldt County, which I also circulated as a Media Advisory to Humboldt press outlets. So far the Humboldt Advocate and Eureka Reporter have expressed interest in the story and I consider this very encouraging.

On the other hand, it is perplexing to have to tell of the response from the Eureka Times-Standard. Before issuing the Advisory I contacted editor Charles Winkler with a head's up just to check out the GAO report. He always seems pleasant enough in greeting me. Then comes the confounding factor. Winkler tried to tell me the GAO report was only about Ohio. Knowing that I could show him otherwise, I let it go. After receiving the actual Advisory, Winkler e-mailed saying "we don't have these machines here, as far as I know..." He copied that fantasy to Dave Rosso. I spoke with Rosso on Friday when he repeated the delusion that "we don't have these machines here." I asked then what software counts votes in Humboldt? Silence.

I want to say that I don't know what to make of this contrary behavior. But it is strikingly similar to what I've been describing recently in more abstract terms. And it is not isolated.
California: Diebold Voting Machines Must Pass the Hack Test! PDF  | Print |  Email
By Debra Bowen, California State Senator   
December 02, 2005
<>It's time to restore the public's trust in how our votes are counted here in California.  But, if Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has his way, that may not happen. With a January 1, 2006 deadline looming, Secretary of State McPherson is considering recertification of Diebold electronic voting machines for use in California elections -- even though recent studies have shown failure rates of up to 20% on some Diebold systems.

That's outrageous!  The very integrity of our elections is on the line -- and the people of California deserve a thorough, rigorous testing of these Diebold voting machines before they're used in our state ever again.

Unfortunately, these Diebold electronic voting machines have shown themselves to be extremely vulnerable to hacking.  Last May, computer expert Harri Hursti from Finland successfully hacked into a Diebold machine in Florida, flashing a message that read "Are we having fun yet?" across the screen.

Uncertainty Clouds Future of E-Vote Tests PDF  | Print |  Email
By Ian Hoffman, Staff Writer, Oakland Tribune   
December 01, 2005
Despite movement toward new standards for machines, change may be years away

This article appeared originally at It it reposted here with permission of the author.

SACRAMENTO — For 11 years, most states have relied on voting systems tested to minimal federal standards, the results withheld from public scrutiny and given the green light by a nongovernmental agency working on a shoestring budget.

The era of approving tools of democracy on the cheap is coming to an end, and judging by talk at a national gathering of voting experts here this week, few will be sorry to see it go.

Carnegie Mellon University computer expert Michael Shamos, a state voting-systems certification official for Pennsylvania, is one of the staunchest advocates for new, fully computerized electronic voting systems.

But judging by what he has seen emerge from secretive, private labs known as "independent testing authorities" and approved by the National Association of State Elections Directors, Shamos said, "There's stuff in there that's so horrible, I can't understand it."
California Voting Summit Shuts Out Voting Reform Advocates PDF  | Print |  Email
By Miriam Raftery, The Raw Story   
December 01, 2005
Panels Appear Stacked With Electronic Voting Proponents

This article appeared originally on The Raw Story and is reposted here by permission of the author. VoteTrustUSA's Director of Legislative Issues and Policy was similarly not invited and received the same form email mentioned below.

A California summit on voting equipment, where many of the speakers had apparent conflicts of interests, barred entry to consumer groups calling for election reform, RAW STORY has discovered.

California Election Protection Network, a nonpartisan coalition representing 25 California election integrity groups held a press conference Monday outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sacramento, where the "Voting Systems Testing Summit" was convened by Republican California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.

The State appears to have skewed presentations in favor of electronic voting, with advocates far outnumbering critics. Some panels contain exclusively vendors of electronic voting equipment and representatives of testing labs chosen by these vendors.
Election Reform Activists Locked Out of California SoS Summit on Electronic Voting! PDF  | Print |  Email
By Bard Friedman, The Brad Blogged   
December 01, 2005
Orginally posted on Brad Blog. Reposted by permission of the author. VoteTrustUSA's Director of Legislative Issues and Policy was similarly non-invited and received the same form email copied below.

State Stacks Panels, Invitees With E-Voting Proponents!
RAW STORY Report Confirms, Adds Many Details to Information Previously Reported by BRAD BLOG

RAW STORY's Miriam Raftery opens up on the scam apparently being perpetuated by California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson in what appears to be a last-minute effort to quickly re-certify Diebold's TSx touch-screen voting machines in California as the Jan 1, 2006 deadline for the Help America Vote Act looms.

A recent "Voting Systems Testing Summit" convened last week by McPherson in Sacramento appears to have been purposely rigged by the SoS's office to tilt strongly towards the presentation of information that supports the return of Diebold's buggy and unsecured voting machines to the state.

As reported by Raftery...

"This smacks of Dick Cheney meeting with the energy companies and locking out opposing interests of environmental groups," Sherry Healy, a member of the California Election Protection Network steering committee, told RAW STORY. "Diebold and other vendors selling electronic voting equipment have been invited to attend, along with all 400 members of the California Association of Election Officials," she said. "It costs one hundred and seventy five dollars a ticket and will be picked up by the state."
A massive public test of the machines held over the summer by Republican McPherson revealed that 20% of the Diebold machines had failed to perform properly (RAW STORY lists the number as 30%). But a subsequent test held privately, using machines specially prepared by Diebold gave only a reported 3% error rate.
California: Confusion, Misreporting Surround Reports on Diebold Voting Machine 'Hack' PDF  | Print |  Email
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
November 30, 2005
With Additional Reporting by John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA

Mainstream Media Reports Indicating Scheduled Attempt to 'Hack' Voting Machines Appear to Be Incorrect

State, Activists Still Negotiating Paramaters, Scheduling of Test as State and Federal Deadlines Draw Near…

On Friday, November 25, a news story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle by political writer John Wildermuth reporting that the California Secretary of State's office would be allowing Election Reform activists to perform an attempted hack of voting machines on Wednesday, November 30th. That report was soon picked up by the Associated Press and other outlets where it was repeated, in part, in newspapers, radio and television across the nation. Headlines along the line of "Hacker to try to attack state voting machines" were blared across the media throughout the holiday weekend.

While the story seems to be based in some reality, reporting by The BRAD BLOG over the last several days has revealed that the matter seems to be a far cry from the way it has been reported by the Mainstream Media. In fact, while negotiations for such a test are ongoing, the parameters to be used are still being hashed out, no definite schedule has yet to be determined, and Finnish computer scientist Harry Hursti, who created this particular method for hacking into Diebold voting machines has made no plans at this time to travel to the United States to perform the hack attempt.

Such a test, if performed, could be crucial to a decision soon to be made by California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson about whether to allow various Diebold voting systems in the state. That decision, in turn, will likely effect decisions by other states and counties around the U.S., all of whom are facing a January 1, 2006 deadline set by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to be met if jurisdictions are to receive millions of dollars in Federal money to help pay for "upgraded" Electoral Systems.
Diebold in California: Machinations Behind Closed Doors PDF  | Print |  Email
By Sherry Healy, California Election Protection Network   
November 23, 2005
November 21 was an exhilarating day in Sacramento. Deja vu of the last Diebold hearing, this new attempt to certify Diebold wares once again raised the near-unanimous ire of concerned citizens. The passion and dedication of the people attending was palpable. To witness more than 125 citizens, journeying great distances - on short notice and on a short holiday week - who all came together to defend the integrity of our democratic processes, was to witness the real "Patriot Act."

Without the dedication and vigilance of these activists, other concerned citizens would never have known that behind closed doors, the machinery of the Secretary of State’s office was in high gear ready to certify Diebold.

Testing Diebold

Diebold suffered some setbacks earlier this year trying to meet the new state requirement for a voter verified paper audit trail. In its initial test this summer, the AccuView printer attachment to the TSx model touch screen voting machine had a staggering 30% performance failure rate. Diebold made adjustments, resubmitted, and reportedly passed a second test in September, clearing the way for rectifying the Tsp machines in four counties where they've been suspended since spring 2004.

Test Results: Passing With a Weak Thumb’s Up

California's official voting equipment certification tester, Steve Freeman, issued a slightly qualified "thumbs up" for Diebold. Freeman applied his stamp of approval despite the fact that he did not run tests on the specific security holes revealed by computer security experts Avi Rubin, Herbert Thompson and Harry Hursti, which later applied in demonstrations of undetected vote-switching conducted under simulated election conditions. As one election official (who asked not to be identified) said of the State’s passing grade on the testing results, “Isn’t it like examining a patient for small pox and proudly announcing that their teeth are clean?”
California: Secretary of State To Hold A “No Hearing Hearing” PDF  | Print |  Email
By Sherry Healy, California Election Protection Network   
November 18, 2005
California Election Protection Network Protests Secretary of
State Bruce McPherson’s Decision

On November 21, 2005, citizens may voice their concerns about what voting system will record their votes, but thanks to a decision by Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, there’s no guarantee that anyone with the authority to certify voting systems in California will hear those voices.

California law requires the Secretary of State to conduct a public hearing as a condition of certifying any voting systems in the state. The Secretary of State has scheduled a hearing for November 21, 2005 on the question of whether certain Diebold voting systems should be re-certified before the end of the year.

Te Secretary of State has disbanded the Voting Systems Panel that’s supposed to conduct these hearings and has replaced it with one person, a stenographer, and a tape recorder. This defies the notion of 'public input'.

Jody Holder, a long time election reform activist, summed up his concerns by saying “What Bruce McPherson, the chief elections officer of our state, is trying to do is to prevent people from using their right to influence the process for approving the voting systems. It’s these people’s votes these machines are counting! Time and time again, this administration has arbitrarily disregarded all established precedents on how public’s voices can be heard.
California: A Report from Precinct 204300 PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA   
November 10, 2005
Elections take place in polling places and it is in polling places that an individual informed citizen, concerned about the accuracy and security of the election process, can make a difference. I served proudly as poll inspector for Precinct 204300 in Berkeley (Alameda County), California on November 8th. Alameda County was one of nine counties in the state that used paperless DREs one more time before the requirement for a voter verified paper audit trail goes into effect next year. But my precinct was not entirely paperless.

We had a strong turnout given the fact that it was a special election with no candidates - just eight statewide ballot initiatives - and a high number of absentee voters. Official ballots were cast by 323 voters and 31 additional provisional ballots were cast, most by voters who had applied for absentee ballots and either lost or failed to receive them.

What made this polling place different from most was that every voter, after signing the roster, was given the option (by me) of voting on an optical scan paper ballot or on a Diebold touch screen machine. This option, available to every California voter in counties that use DREs, came as a surprise to most and the range of responses was informative. Many made their decisions immediately (almost a third chose paper), but many asked questions. Most importantly, every voter was in the precinct was presented with the issue of voting technology.
California: Is Los Angeles County Above the Law? PDF  | Print |  Email
By Sherry Healy, California Election Protection Network   
November 06, 2005
Officials in the nation's largest county appear to be laboring under an alarming misinterpretation of the state's venerable mandatory random audit provision. According to an email from Conny McCormack, Registrar/Recorder of Los Angeles County has asserted that “early voted ballots on DREs…are not required to be a part of the 1% manual tally.” Subsequent correspondence with the Registrar’s office revealed that neither absentee ballots nor early vote ballots are audited and that the county apparently intends to violate the state election code by reporting those votes by ballot type rather than by precinct.

The One Percent Recount is detailed in California Election Code 15360  which states that “during the official canvass of every election in which a voting system is used, the official conducting the election shall conduct a public manual tally of the ballots tabulated by those devices cast in 1 percent of the precincts chosen at random by the elections official.” Nowhere are early votes, which are considered a subset of absentee votes, nor any particular type of voting system excluded from this 1% recount. If McCormack has been routinely excluding absentee, early votes, or votes on DREs from the recount in her county, the selection of precincts can hardly be considered to have been “random”.
California: Mail Ballot Request Deadline is Nov. 1st PDF  | Print |  Email
By from California Voter Foundation   
October 28, 2005
Voters in Nine Counties Urged to "Get It On Paper"

Davis, CA -- With the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot fast approaching, the California Voter Foundation is urging voters in nine electronic voting counties to "Get it on paper."

That's because these nine counties - Alameda, Merced, Napa, Orange, Plumas, Riverside, Santa Clara, Shasta, and Tehama -- will be using paperless, electronic voting machines in polling places on November 8.
California: Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chooses Promises Over Evidence PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, Information Manager, and VoteTrustUSA   
October 19, 2005
santacruzUpdated: October 20, 2005. The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to allow the County Clerk, Gail Pellerin, to enter into contract negotiations with Sequoia Voting Systems, a recently purchased subsidiary of Smartmatic, Inc. which is a Florida-registered, Venezuelan-owned, company. Pellerin recommended a blended system using Sequoia optical scanners and one Sequoia Direct Record Electronic (DRE) voting system with voter-verified paper audit trail in each polling place.

The 94-page report Pellerin presented to the Board contains 69 pages of information supplied by citizen opponents of the purchase, including documented failures of Sequoia DRE systems in past elections, analyses showing the higher operating cost of DREs, and testimony by disabled individuals explaining the difficulties they had using Sequoia voting machines. Read the report here.

California: Schwarzenegger Signs SB 370 PDF  | Print |  Email
By Evan L. Goldberg, Chief of Staff, Senator Debra Bowen   
October 08, 2005
Press Release

Governor Signs Two Election Reform Measures and Vetoes Two Others

SACRAMENTO – “People need and deserve to know their votes have been counted accurately, and the best way to ensure that happens is to use the paper printout that the voter has already verified as being accurate and check it against the results tallied by the electronic machine.”

That’s how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee responded to the Governor’s decision to sign SB 370 into law tonight.

“This isn’t complicated, either you care about whether the election results are accurate or you don’t,” said Bowen.  “I don’t see how the Secretary of State, who led the opposition to the bill, could say with straight face that he’s for fair elections, he’s for having a paper trail on electronic voting machines, yet he’s against using that paper trail to ensure the accuracy of the vote count.”

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