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Governor Crist Signs Legislation Creating Paper Trail for Florida Votes PDF  | Print |  Email
By Governor Crist Media Release   
May 23, 2007
Governor Charlie Crist (pictured at right) has signed House Bill 537 that will establish a paper trail for all votes cast in Florida elections. The election-reform legislation will provide optical scan machines for counties that do not already have them for Election Day voting and early voting sites. The legislation also changes the date of Florida’s presidential primary to the last Tuesday in January.


“There is no greater testament to our nation’s democracy than the people’s ability to choose their leaders,” Governor Crist said. “When Floridians cast ballots in an election at any level – local, state or federal – they can leave the polling place knowing that their vote has been counted and recorded and can be verified.”


Governor Crist signed the bill at the Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections office in West Palm Beach. He was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Arthur Anderson, Congressman Robert Wexler, bill sponsors Representatives David Rivera (R-Miami) and Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) and Senators Lee Constantine (R-Altamonte Springs) and Jeremy Ring (D-Margate) and other legislators.


Representatives from the following organizations also attended the bill signing ceremony: the Voters Coalition, Broward Election Reform Commission, Miami-Dade Elections Reform, Palm Beach Elections Reform, Voting Integrity Alliance, and the Palm Beach League of Women Voters.

Florida Voters Coalition and Florida Council of the Blind Announce Strategic Alliance PDF  | Print |  Email
By Florida Voters Coalition   
May 16, 2007
All Voters Deserve Paper Ballots - Voters With Disabilities Must Not Be Left Behind

The Florida Voters Coalition (FVC) and the Florida Council of the Blind (FCB) today announced a strategic alliance calling on Florida state and county officials to provide paper ballots for all voters in all elections. “This is an historic day,” said FVC Co-Founder, Dan McCrea, “when those demanding the security of paper ballots and those demanding HAVA compliant accessibility for voters with disabilities speak with one unified voice. Listen up, state and county officials. No voter should be left behind, especially in the name of equality. That is simply absurd. It’s time to scrap your DREs and replace them with non-tabulating ballot marking devices, providing all voters paper ballots – no exceptions.”

“No exception needed or wanted for voters with disabilities,” said Paul Edwards, former President of the American Council of the Blind, speaking for the Florida Council of the Blind, the state-wide chapter. “The very purpose of HAVA Section 301 was to provide an equal opportunity to voters with disabilities. ’Equal’ doesn’t only apply to the ability to cast a private and independent ballot – something precious to blind and other disabled voters - it also applies to the ability to cast a secure ballot. Only optical scan paper ballot systems are secure in Florida today. Florida’s newly passed legislation requires paper ballots for everyone then provides an exception for voters with disabilities. Until 2012, counties can choose to provide us paperless electronic DREs. Our message today is, NO THANK YOU. We don’t want them and should not be forced to use them. Paperless electronic DRE voting systems are fit for no one.”
Florida Moves To Paper Ballots! PDF  | Print |  Email
By Florida Voters Coalition   
May 03, 2007

Florida Voters Coalition Congratulates Governor Crist and the Florida Legislature for Ending Paperless Voting

In a historic vote, the Florida House today unanimously passed CS/HB 537, already passed in the Senate, that provides almost all voters paper ballots in time for the 2008 Presidential election, and bans paperless DREs outright by 2012. The bill now goes to the Governor where he’s sure to sign it since it’s his initiative.

Counties will have the option to pitch DREs immediately and provide ballot marking devices for voters with disabilities. “FVC urges all 67 counties to convert to uniform paper ballot systems without delay and leave no voter behind voting on failed electronic voting machines,” said FVC Co-Founder, Dan McCrea.

The bill is funded with $27.9 million in HAVA funds and there’s plenty more money in that account should more be needed next year. Counties will get help from the state to purchase optical scan equipment to count the paper ballots; ballot-on-demand equipment to ease paper congestion problems in Early Voting; and ballot marking devices to serve the disabled.

While there was talk earlier in the legislative session about retrofitting printers to failed touchscreen DREs, that talk faded as legislators saw it would be throwing good money after bad. Additionally, they are sure to have understood that currently available “VVPAT” printers would not comply with proposed federal legislation which, if passed, will supersede Florida law. (Federal bill HR 811, sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt, currently has 212 bi-partisan co-sponsors in Congress.)

Governor Crist Applauds Legislature for Boldly Reforming Florida's Elections PDF  | Print |  Email
By Governor Charlie Crist Media Release   
May 03, 2007

Florida House Passes Election Reform Bill Unanimously


Governor Charlie Crist today congratulated the Florida Legislature for passing legislation that will replace touch-screen voting machines with optical scan machines statewide for Election Day voting and early voting sites. He also praised the Legislature for changing the date of Florida’s presidential primary to an earlier date – the last Tuesday in January.
“The right to vote is the foundation of our nation’s democracy, and Florida voters can rest assured that they will have an election system they can believe in,” Governor Crist said. “With an earlier presidential primary, Florida will now take its rightful place near the front of the line in determining the next leader of the free world.”
Lost Votes in the 2006 Election: A Look at Extraordinary Undervote Rates on the ES&S iVotronic PDF  | Print |  Email
By Kitty Garber, Research Director, Florida Fair Elections Center   
April 14, 2007

Nearly five months after the 2006 general election, the controversy over the undervotes in the Congressional District 13 race in Sarasota County continues. In recent days, however, an August 15, 2006 letter from ES&S, the maker of the iVotronic voting machines used by Sarasota, has refueled speculation about the cause of the problem and renewed efforts to determine if races in other counties were affected. Even though the iVotronic is the primary voting equipment for only 11 of Florida’s 67 counties, these include the state’s most populous counties in south Florida. Thus, problems with iVotronics have a huge impact on statewide races.


The newly revealed letter, along with evidence of undervote problems from the state’s analysis of overvotes and undervotes, and reports of undervote problems in other counties using the iVotronic, led us to initiate a review of undervote rates in top-of-the-ballot races in the eleven Florida counties that use the iVotronic for precinct voting.1


Stones Unturned: Gaps in the Investigation of Sarasota's Disputed Congressional Election PDF  | Print |  Email
By David Dill and Dan Wallach   
April 13, 2007

Executive Summary


Download the full report: PDF 


The November 2006 race for Florida's 13th Congressional District resulted in a 369 vote margin of victory for the winning candidate with more than 18,000 undervotes recorded on the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines used in Sarasota County. Since then, the losing candidate and a coalition of local voters have filed suit against the state and local election officials (among other defendants), seeking a judicial order to rerun the election. A key question is whether a system malfunction may have induced the undervote rate. We evaluate the two major efforts previously undertaken by the State: a mock election, conducted by the State, and an analysis of the iVotronic source code, conducted by academic computer scientists under contract to the State. Press reports and summaries of the State's findings have created a public perception that the investigation was thorough and that the voting machines have been exonerated of contributing to the undervote. Based on our evaluation of the investigation, this perception is not justified.


There are many significant gaps in the tests conducted by Florida and its experts. The defined scope of the mock election specifically excluded examination of the vote selection process, which, based on voter complaints, should have been a major focus of the investigation. The tests were conducted in an artificial setting with the iVotronics mounted vertically, unlike their horizontal orientation in real elections. Furthermore, the State's report claims that there were no anomalies observed during the vote, yet video recordings of the test show occasional vote selections not registering on the machines.

Florida: Source Says Second ES&S Letter Tried to Dictate What Florida Test Reports Could Say PDF  | Print |  Email
By Kim Zetter   
March 26, 2007

In the article below, originally posted at Informed Consent and posted here with the author's permission, Kim Zetter discusses a letter that has been uncovered in which ES&S attempted to dictate the terms of the source review undertaken under the authority of Florida State University. There are links to the letter from ES&S at the end of the article. The FSU review team has posted a following statement in response to the release of the ES&S letter that is available for download on their website.


After my story about the ES&S memo posted yesterday I heard from someone in Florida who sent me a copy of a second ES&S letter, this one sent to David Drury, who oversees voting system certifications for the state's Division of Elections. ES&S sent the correspondence on December 15 as state officials and Florida State University's SAIT Lab were preparing to conduct two examinations to test voting systems used in Sarasota county last November and do a source code review of the software. The testing was done to try to determine the reason that some 18,000 ballots didn't have any vote cast in the 13th Congressional District race.


The letter is a detailed list stating what the testing reports should and should not say. In the letter, ES&S refers to its list as "guidelines," but the instructions are extensive -- running a page and a half -- and make some pretty strong demands. Among them, that the report should make (the quotes are ES&S's):

* No statements about possible "vulnerabilities"
* No statements about the "style" of the source code
* No statements commenting on the use of less desirable techniques, instructions, or constructs
* No statements regarding conformance to source code standards of any type or kind
* No statements regarding ES&S hardware or software engineering practices or design methods
* No statements regarding the use of preferred or non-preferred data structures, data types, data formats, databases, storage methods
* No statements rendering opinions on security techniques employed or not employed
* No statements discussing presence or absence of cryptography or other security methods and techniques
The part about security techniques appears several times.
Rep. Gonzalez to Chair Committee on House Administration's Task Force PDF  | Print |  Email
By Rep. Charles Gonzalez Press Release   
March 23, 2007
On March 22, Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, Chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, formally announced the creation of a three member task force to address matters concerning the November 2006 elections in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.  Members of the task force will examine factors surrounding the under-vote of approximately 18,000 votes, including issues with election procedures, administration processes, voting machines, and ballots. 

Conducting oversight of federal elections falls under the jurisdiction of the Committee on House Administration. While awaiting Ranking Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) to appoint a member of the Minority party to serve, Chairwoman Millender-McDonald named the following members to the task force: Congressman Charles Gonzalez (pictured at right) – Chair (D-TX) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).
Smooth Undervoting In Sarasota County PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA Voting Technology Task Force   
March 15, 2007

It turns out there may be an explanation as to why Florida congressional district 13 (FL CD-13) in Sarasota Florida received so many under-votes relative to other races on the iVotronic terminal. 


Page 23 of the FSU security analysis of the iVotronic firmware states: (emphasis mine) Investigate Reports that the Display Was Slow to Respond to Touch.


Overview. We consider a scenario in which technical impacts from slow touch screen response may unintentionally prevent the voter's selection from registering during the vote selection process, but not during the review cycle.


Hypothesis. If a voter is able to interact with the touch screen in a sequence that causes the screen to display a candidate selection that does not match their most recent touch, it may cause the voter to misinterpret their selection for that race. Specifically, consider a situation where a voter touches a vote box twice in rapid succession. If the software delays updating the display in response to the second touch for some reason, after a very short period the voter may accept the first display response as conclusive, and due to the delay (if it exists) the voter might not notice the delayed update in response to the second touch. It is also possible that the second touch would cause the candidate to be deselected after having been selected.


Similarly, we consider a situation where a voter touches a vote box and waits patiently for her vote to display for a few moments before assuming her touch was not detected and touching the screen again. If the first touch is recorded and if the display is updated only after the second touch, the voter may accept the first display response as conclusive, while a delay (if it exists) could cause later display of the second recorded touch that the voter may not notice.


These scenarios are consistent with reports by some voters that they voted for a candidate, but noticed their vote was not registered when they reviewed their selections on the summary screen.


The remainder of the section goes on to dismiss this as a possible cause of the under-votes for 2 reasons; no support for such delay could be found in the inspected source code and such delays would have been present in other races.


The reason for the FSU team to dismiss this hypothesis as a cause has now been refuted by ES&S itself. The vendor of the iVotronic acknowledges delays in displaying selection are indeed a known defect of the iVotronics software.

The FSU Report on the ES&S iVotronic Used in Sarasota County PDF  | Print |  Email
By Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University   
March 14, 2007

This article was posted on Avi Rubin's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.


On February 23, a team of computer scientists, based out of Florida State University put out an exceptional report analyzing the ES&S iVotronic voting machine firmware. The reason that this particular machine was of interest is that it was used in the 13th Congressional race in Sarasota County last November. As many of you know, this is the machine that was responsible for approximately 18,000 undervotes in that race. The research team was chartered with the task of attempting to determine if anything related to that code could have caused the missing votes due to some bug in the software on the voting machine. Of course, they could only analyze the source code of software that was supposed to be on the machine. They did not have an opportunity to examine whether or not the binaries actually running on those machines corresponded to that source code, nor is such a determination possible today.

When I first heard about this study (and I was even approached about joining it), my first thought was that it is a silly idea to try to figure out what went wrong in Sarasota County by analyzing the source code. So many factors that have nothing to do with the source code could have contributed to the problem, and source code analysis cannot be used to find all problems that may have arisen in the software. There are all kinds of run time conditions such as, for example, race conditions and runtime bounds errors that could cause problems without the ability to be detected by source code analysis.


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