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California



California: Select Committee On Election Integrity To Investigate June Primary Elections PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By California State Senator Debra Bowen Press Release   
July 07, 2006

Problems Cited In San Diego, Kern, and San Jaoquin Counties 

 

"During the June primary, we had polling places that didn't open until several hours after they were supposed to, voting machines that didn't work at all, and thousands of voters who were told to 'come back later' once the problems had been sorted out. Ensuring the integrity of our electoral process isn't solely about making sure electronic voting machines are secure and accurately recording people's votes. It also involves taking care of some basic, fundamental issues that many people just take for granted. These are the types of fundamental, logistical problems we need to begin addressing now to ensure they don't repeat themselves in November."

That's the focus Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee, will bring to the newly-formed Senate Select Committee on the Integrity of Elections that she will chair. The three-member select committee - which includes Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) and Senator Joe Dunn (D-Garden Grove) - intends to hold hearings over the next two months to look at problems that arose during the June 2006 primary election and what can be done to prevent them from recurring in November.

"Clearly, the security issues involving electronic voting machines have garnered the bulk of the attention and rightly so, but there are logistical issues we need to deal with as well," continued Bowen. "In San Diego, electronic voting machines with well-known security holes in them were sent home with poll workers days and weeks before the
election. Why? Because the county has been sending paper ballots and other election equipment home with workers for years and it saw no reason to change that practice. Elections are different today than they were in the 1950s or even the 1990s, meaning many of the historical practices that elections officials have relied on may need to change to reflect that new reality."

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California: Voter Files For Manual Recount Of Congressional Special Election PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
July 07, 2006

50th District Voter Files Request On Behalf of Winning Candidate Brian Bilbray

 

A registered voter living in the 50th Congressional District has filed a formal request for a hand recount of the special election to filll the seat vacated by former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. Official results from the special election showed Republican Brian Bilbray won the runoff contest by more than 5 percentage points over Democrat Francine Busby. Bilbray took the oath of office on June 13 and immediately began serving as the new congressman representing the 50th District.

In a letter to San Diego Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas, San Diego resident Barbara Gail Jacobson said she was making the request because, "there were widespread and profound breaches of security allowed in the administration of this election." She said that because Haas had permitted some of the voting machines to be taken home by poll workers in the days leading up to the election, "both state and federal certification of the machines were invalidated and rendered null."

 

According to California state law, voter's making a request for a recount must declare a candidate on whose behalf the request is being filed. Jacobsen named winning candidate Brian Billbray.

Haas has defended the practice of sleepovers, contending that registrars in many California counties allow poll precinct captains to take the machines home so they will be able to set up the polling stations early on the day of the election. However, recent revelations concerning the extreme vulnerability of the Diebold equipment used in San Diego County have alarmed concerned citizens across the country, who have focused attention on the security risk posed by such “sleepovers”. The California Secretary of State's office has reported that no state law exists prohibiting poll inspectors from taking the machines home.

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California Voters File for Injunction to Block Use of Diebold DREs in November Elections PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By VoterAction   
July 03, 2006

Secretary of State failed to lawfully certify touch-screen machines prone to hacking and errors

A non-partisan and diverse group of California voters have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to block the use of Diebold Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) TSx touch-screen computerized voting systems in the state’s November 2006 elections. The motion is based on well-documented security and reliability problems and the impossibility of recounts with this system, and Secretary of State Bruce McPherson’s failure to follow certification procedures as required by California election code. Plaintiffs are seeking to have the case returned from Federal to State Superior Court in San Francisco, where it was originally filed, and in which it can be considered more expeditiously. The motion for preliminary injunction is filed conditionally to prevent additional delay in the event that the federal court refuses to return the case to state court, and is the most recent step in the California voters’ case. After the complaint was filed on March 21, the plaintiffs dismissed their claims against eight California counties after those county election officials agreed not to use the TSx and to submit sworn affidavits confirming their intent.

The California voters’ preliminary injunction motion is supported by sworn testimony from volunteer poll workers regarding serious physical security breaches, including assigned “sleepovers”, or home storage of electronic voting machines and missing security seals over memory card portals. Two of the nation’s leading electronic voting security and standards experts have provided sworn declarations on security and accuracy risks inherent in Diebold DRE technology.

 

"The evidence submitted in support of our motion demonstrates that use of Diebold DRE computerized voting systems in the upcoming election is fraught with peril," said John Eichhorst, partner in the law firm of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco, and Co-counsel for the California voter plaintiffs. "The Secretary of State has put Californians' vote and county Registrars of Voters at risk by certifying electronic voting technology that his own panel of experts found to be prone to undetectable hacking, and that is illegal in our state for this reason. Recent experience has shown that stop-gap security conditions imposed by the Secretary of State do not solve the problems, and use of this system in the upcoming election presents a grave danger of voter disenfranchisement and election result manipulation."

 

"The election clock is ticking," said Lowell Finley, Co-counsel, and Co-director of Voter Action, a non-profit, non-partisan group advocating election integrity. "The California Attorney General, representing the Secretary of State, should respond promptly so that the case can be heard, and local elections officials will know what to expect before the November elections."

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Yolo County CA Registrar Speaks Out On Voting Machine "Sleepovers" PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
July 03, 2006

'If E-Voting Systems can't be secured, perhaps they ought not be used at all. Period.'

 

Registrar Freddie Oakley Speaks Out on the Busby/Bilbray Controversy and the Crisis Concerning Deployment of Hackable Electronic Voting Systems

 

This article appeared on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

In an email discussion yesterday among a group of Election Integrity advocates, in reply to the horrendous San Diego Union-Tribune coverage of the Busby/Bilbray issue, Yolo County, CA Registrar of Voters Freddie Oakley posted a crystal clear statement on the concerns of sending voting machines home with poll workers prior to elections.

 

"As an election official, I understand the practical issues involved here perfectly. I am strongly of the opinion that it is exactly this kind of practical issue that should give election officials serious reservations about deploying electronic voting machines," Oakley wrote.

 

"If, as a practical matter, [the electronic voting machines deployed prior to an election] can't be secured, then perhaps they ought not be used at all. Period. Until the impediment can be removed," her email statement read.

 

Her comment was in direct reply to a discussion about how voting machines, in the post-Hursti Hack age, might be deployed now that sending them home unsecured for "overnights" with poll workers is no longer a secure option. That hack, in Leon County, Florida in December 2005 of a Diebold optical scan voting system, has set off a chain reaction revealing massive vulnerabilities in these systems, forcing both federal and state authorities to issue extraordinary security requirements for the machines in just the last few months. Those requirements were subsequently all but ignored in the June 6th Busby/Bilbray U.S. House special election — the first federal election in the nation to be administered since the additional mitigation requirements were put in place.

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California: Ultimate Insult! PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Art Cassel   
June 23, 2006

Many Riverside County California voters went to the polls on primary election day, June 6, with the plan that they would use their right to request paper ballots instead of voting on the Sequoia Edge Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, touch-screen) voting machines.

 

Those voters will probably be surprised to learn that the county Registrar of Voters thumbed her nose at them. The paper/absentee ballots they were given, Xerox copies of the ballot on 8 1/2×11 paper, were then punched into the DRE's by election workers later. The same touch-screen systems the voters had wanted to avoid by requesting a paper ballot in the first place. This was all done without their knowledge, without their permission, and without their ability to verify that their ballots were voted as they had voted them.

 

Moreover, the voters were forced to attach their names and addresses to the ballots! So much for private voting in Riverside! Riverside County voter Art Cassel has written this description of the process used at the polls in the county.

 

There is a growing trend in this country towards voting by absentee ballot.  Year after year, the percentage of the electorate choosing to vote by this method increases.  In the June 6th, 2006 primary election in Riverside County, California, the birthplace of electronic voting, 49% of those voting used an absentee ballot to exercise that right.

There is little question that a large percentage of these voters have selected to do so due to concern about the accuracy of electronic voting.  No election passes without the horror stories of machine failures from touchscreen anomalies to machines recording more votes than registered voters using them.  Controversy concerning ownership of the companies manufacturing electronic voting machines, as well as persistent reports of unapproved software being used in them adds fuel to the fire.

In addition to an absentee ballot, there is another alternative for those not trusting the touchscreens.  Despite being poorly publicized, in Riverside County paper ballots were available to those visiting their polling place.  While most questioning the accuracy and accountability of the electronic voting machines probably chose to vote absentee, over 150 registered voters in Riverside County asked for, and received a paper ballot.

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California: Diebold Accepts Responsibility For Problems in Kern County PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
June 17, 2006

In an unusual development, and voting machine manufacturer – Diebold Election Systems – has both accepted responsibility for problems with their equipment. The primary election earlier this month in Kern County, California was plagued with long lines, with many voters being turned away from polling places.

Kern County spent $5 million on the Diebold touch-screen voting system in 2004. On Election Day the machines are activated for each voter by a “smart card”. The county didn’t buy enough of the voter activation card in 2004, so they purchased more for this year’s elections.

The new cards worked with extra security software added to shortly before the June elections, but the old cards didn't. Training and testing of the election system was done with the new cards. When the voters tried to use the old cards on Election Day they were rejected by the new security system.

According to a report on KERO News, Diebold Vice President Steven Moreland "took full responsibility for the snafu", saying "the company didn't know the enhanced security measure on their voting machines would reject old voter access cards."

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California: Despite Protests, Alameda County Buys $13.5 Million Voting System PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Ian Hoffman, Oakland Tribune   
June 09, 2006

This article appeared on InsideBayArea.com. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

After a three-year experiment with Diebold Election Systems and touch-screen voting machines, Alameda County is paying $13.25 million for a new, more paper-based voting system - and still being accused of selling out to corporate election fixing.

You're completely ignoring every single piece of testimony today,'' shouted Allen Michaan, owner of the Grand Lake Theater, whose marquee has featured a near-weekly screed against any use of computers in voting.

County supervisors spent a year agonizing over what instruments of democracy to buy for the November elections and beyond. On Thursday, voting activists pressed the county to lead a national protest against computerized voting and rely instead on hand-marked, hand-counted paper ballots.

In a split vote, however, supervisors chose a middle-of-the-road system recommended by county officials and supplied by Oakland-based Sequoia Voting Systems. Sequoia would provide 1,000 optical scanners for most polling place voters and 1,000 touch-screen machines to accommodate voters with disabilities.

Most of the cost will be paid by $8.7 million in state and federal grants, plus $3 million that Diebold is paying Alameda County to buy back the 4,300 touch screens that the county purchased in 2002 for $12 million. Those monies will cover all but a fraction of the equipment cost, plus $350,000 that Sequoia wants for developing instant runoff voting for Berkeley and other cities.

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California: Alameda County Supervisors To Vote On Sequoia Contract PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
June 08, 2006

Proposed $13 Million Purchase Includes E-Voting Machines

 

VoterAction Threatens Lawsuit If Purchase Is Approved 

 
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is convening tomorrow to vote on a contract with Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc., to provide a new blended optical scan/direct recording electronic voting system. A range of constituents of the California Election Protection Network are expected to attend to urge rejection of the contract.  Lowell Finley, Esq., Co-Founder and Co-Director of Voter Action and expert on election law, electronic voting machine and election privatization issues will also testify in opposition to the purchase.

"Voter Action applauds Alameda County for its apparent decision to drop Diebold machines", commented Finley. "However, to replace Diebold’s with another insecure, unverifiable e-voting machine model from a different manufacturer does not solve the problem. If the Board of Supervisors decides to buy the Sequoia machines, Voter Action will go to court to block the purchase."

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California: Humboldt County Announces Transparency Project PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
June 01, 2006

Humboldt County, California registrar of voters Carolyn Crnich has approached TrueBallot, Inc. with an unprecedented request: to make publicly available scanned images of all ballots cast in the upcoming June 6, 2006 primary election. The registrar’s interest in the project resulted from a recommendation by her Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, which works with the county clerk to promote accurate, security and public confidence in elections. The goal of making ballot images publicly available is to allow the public to independently verify official vote totals and to detect any discrepancies that results from machine errors or fraud.

 

Rob Richie, Executive Director of Fair Vote, The Center for Voting and Democracy commented “…we see this proposal as extremely important, and, indeed, potentially historic”. 

The project promises several significant short- and long-term benefits. In the short-term, the project would establish a new level of transparency for public elections that would allow any member of the public to independently audit the election. It would enable the public to detect any discrepancies between the official totals and the scanned images if errors or fraud occurred. This would boost public confidence in or justify suspicion about the election process. The project would also create a set of data vastly richer than typical precinct-level results. This data would allow researchers and campaign strategists to study voter-level relationships between voting behavior in different races, and it would allow detailed study of voter errors, the usability of the voting system, and the accuracy of the read-heads on the county’s Diebold optical scan voting equipment.

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California: Measure To Improve Election Audit Process Clears Senate PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By State Senator Debra Bowen Press Release   
May 30, 2006

Senator Debra Bowen's Measure Clears Full Senate Over the Objection of Secretary of State

 

Closing a loophole in California’s election auditing procedures is the goal of SB 1235 by Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach, pictured at right), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee, which cleared the full Senate today on a bipartisan 38-0 vote over the opposition of California’s Secretary of State.

"Forty percent of Californians vote by absentee ballot and thousands of others take advantage of in-person early voting opportunities before every election, so the fact that some counties don’t include nearly half of the ballots cast in any given election in the auditing process undermines the integrity of the audit and the election itself," said Bowen. "The 1% manual audit is designed to ensure the electronic voting machines and the ballot counters tallied the results correctly, but there’s absolutely no way to conduct a meaningful audit if you’re only looking at half, or in some cases, fewer than half, of the votes."

Under California law, elections officials are required to conduct a public manual tally of the ballots cast in at least 1% of the precincts to check the accuracy of the votes tabulated by the electronic or mechanical voting systems. The law also requires the precincts subject to the audit to be randomly selected by elections officials, but it doesn’t define "random".

SB 1235 (Bowen) improves the election auditing procedures in two significant ways.  First, it requires elections officials to include absentee, provisional, and all other ballots that are cast before Election Day or at satellite voting centers in the 1% audit.  Second, it ensures the precincts subject to the manual audit requirement will truly be randomly selected by requiring elections officials to use either a random number generator to select the precincts to be manually counted or any other method set forth in regulations the Secretary of State would be required to adopt.

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Who Or What Is Stopping The California SoS From Allowing Eligible Californians To Register To Vote? PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By California State Senator Debra Bowen   
April 19, 2006
Legal Opinion Concludes the Roadblock is the Secretary of State

Bowen Says She’ll Introduce Legislation If Secretary of State Continues To Refuse To Alter Deal With Bush Administration That Has Prevented Tens of Thousands of People From Registering To Vote
 
The only thing that’s preventing the Secretary of State from altering his regulations and data matching standards to ensure eligible voters can register to vote is the Secretary of State.

That was the conclusion reached in a legal opinion issued late Tuesday by the Legislative Counsel of California. The opinion states there is nothing in federal or state law requiring the Secretary of State to adopt the regulations and data matching standards he’s been relying on that have combined to prevent tens of thousands of eligible California voters from registering to vote. A copy of the opinion is available here in PDF format.

“It's clear the Secretary has the legal authority to take the steps necessary to ensure eligible voters have the ability to register before the June primary, but whether he’s actually willing to put the voters ahead of the Bush Administration remains to be seen,” said Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee.

“I’ve been saying for three weeks that this problem needs to get solved and the quickest way to fix it is for the Secretary to abandon his deal with the Bush Administration and change the regulations and the data matching standards he’s adopted that have pulled the rug out from under thousands of eligible voters,” continued Bowen.  “If he won’t fix this problem for the voters, then, like everyone else who thinks preventing eligible voters from registering is a problem, I’m prepared to try and correct it legislatively.”
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California: Secretary of State Announces Voter Month While Making It Harder To Register PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By California State Senator Debra Bowen   
March 30, 2006
Want to Register or Re-register to Vote?
Whoa, not so fast, you're a "Mike" not a "Michael" 

 

State Senator Bowen Notes Arony as Secretary of State Declares April "California Voter Education & Participation Month" At the Same Time He's Preventing Eligible Californians From Registering To Vote

Just days after it was revealed that an agreement between the Bush Administration and Secretary of State Bruce McPherson (pictured at right with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) is preventing tens of thousands of Californians from registering and re-registering to vote, the Secretary of State today proclaimed April as “Voter Education & Participation Month.”

The irony wasn’t lost on Senator Debra Bowen, the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee.

“It’s ironic to see him proclaim April as ‘voter participation month’ after he signed a landmark agreement with President Bush’s Department of Justice that makes it hard for people to register and re-re-register to vote in California,” said Bowen.  “The deal he cut with the Bush Administration nearly five months ago has been a disaster for anyone who is trying to register for the first time or re-register because they moved, got married and need to change their name, or because they want to change parties.”

The Bush-McPherson agreement was announced on November 2, 2005, and emergency regulations were adopted to implement it with little or no public notice on December 12.  The Help America Vote Act requires states to have a Statewide Voter Registration Database and requires all voter registrations (and re-registrations) to be matched against any prior registration information and information in the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database and the Social Security Administration (SSA) database.  However, states have discretion over how exact the match has to be, as well as what happens to people whose voter registration forms don’t exactly match the DMV or SSA records.

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California: Democracy Crumbling - Voter Registration Database Rejects 43% of L.A. Voter Applications PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
March 29, 2006
26% Rejected State-Wide in California! Applications That Don't Match EXACTLY With DMV Records are Automatically Dumped by New System!

California's League of Women Voters Sends Letter of Objection to Secretary of State

 

This article was published on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author. 

 

We've been dreading this. And you're not gonna like it either.

It's an entirely new can of worms in the Electronic Rape of American Electoral Democracy. The next wave -- beyond the electronic voting machines, and perhaps even more alarming -- in the arsenal of those out to game the system for partisan advantage.

No matter what we do, no matter how many successes, the Bad Guys -- those who hate Democracy and American Values -- are always one step ahead of us, it seems.

The horrifically written and, of course, ironically named "Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002" requires, as of January 1, 2006, each state to implement "a single, uniform, official, centralized, interactive computerized statewide voter registration list."

And guess who's writing the software for it, in California, Ohio and elsewhere? That's right...our old friends at Diebold, Inc.

While we've put off reporting on much of this until now -- as prompted by story out today (in the MSM of all places!) -- we've been working on an extremely disturbing part of this story for some time relating directly to all of this out in, you guessed it, Ohio. We've yet to run the story for a number of reasons. But we hope to have much more on it, in all its troubling detail, in the not-too-distant future.

For today, however, we'll stick to the report coming out of California in this morning's Los Angeles Times which says that, since the first of year, when California's new computerized Voter Registration Database has gone state-wide, Los Angeles County has "rejected 14,629 people — 43% of those who registered from Jan. 1 to March 15."

The rejections occur, amongst other reasons, due to failures of exact matching between voter applications and the state's motor vehicle registration (DMV) database to which they are now auto-magically compared. So, if a voter registers (or re-registers after moving to a new location) as "Brad Friedman" but has "Bradley Friedman" on his driver's license, he'll be auto-kicked out of the voter registration system and may not find out until he shows up at the polls on Election Day! That is, if he even knows where to show up since he may no longer receive sample ballots and poll location information etc. in the mail!...

Jacqueline Jacobberger, the president of the League of Women Voters in California sent a letter yesterday (posted in full at the end of this article) to California's Sec. of State Bruce McPherson -- who is credited in the LA Times story as being behind the design and installation of the new system -- objecting to the new Voter Registration Database and the way it's being implemented.


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California: Voters Suing To Stop Diebold PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Ian Hoffman   
March 22, 2006

Action says 'trustworthy elections' are impossible

 

This article was published in the Oakland Tribune. It is reposted with permission of the author. 

 

Farm labor organizer Dolores Huerta and 24 other California voters sued top state and local elections officials Tuesday to block use of Diebold's latest touch-screen voting machine, saying the ATM-like devices are illegal, unsecure and unreliable.

The voters allege that Diebold's AccuVote TSx contains software prohibited by federal standards and offers a paper trail that is useless to disabled voters and difficult for elections officials to use to verify computerized voting.

"Quite simply, we can't have trustworthy elections with Diebold touch-screen machines," said Lowell Finley, a Berkeley-based elections lawyer leading the lawsuit. "And without trustworthy elections, we don't have democracy."

California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson approved the AccuVote TSx last month after more than two years of testing, modifications and reviews. As many as 18 counties — including Alameda, Marin and San Joaquin counties — are considering using the new Diebold touch screen in this year's elections.

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California Lawsuit Available PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
March 21, 2006
VoterAction has filed a suit in Superior Court in San Francisco, seeking to block the purchase of Diebold voting equipment and a reversal of  Secretary of State Bruce McPherson’s recent certification of that equipment.

A copy of the lawsuit can be downloaded here.

A Reuters article quoted Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America and plaintiff in the case:
"In certifying the Diebold machines, the secretary has sidestepped his duty to deny certification to voting systems that violate state and federal standards. Diebold systems have failed in security tests and in communities around the country."
The article also quoted Jennifer Kerns, a spokeswoman for McPherson, who said her office had not seen the lawsuit, but she said the Diebold systems were safe and reliable.

"The Diebold systems that we have certified have passed the most stringent requirements really in the nation," she said. "In fact we've actually been criticized about how stringent our process has been."

Election officials in  21 of California's 58 counties have used Diebold electronic voting systems for recent voting, and at least seven counties are planning to use the new TSX system this year.

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