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Candidate Arrested While Examining Public Records PDF  | Print |  Email
By VoteTrustUSA   
May 06, 2006

Charles Grapski (right), a candidate for Florida's State House, was arrested and briefly detained after Alachua City Manager Clovis Watson Jr. alleged Grapski recorded him without his knowledge on Friday, April 28.

Grapski had met with Watson "to discuss Grapski's request for public records relating to last month's Alachua city election." Watson alleged that he "left his office briefly during the discussion, and only realized when he came back in and saw a blinking red light on what appeared to be a phone that he was being recorded." Watson asked if the meeting was being taped and Grapski said it was and "since Watson is a public official, the recording was legal."

Watson disagreed. Grapski, in an e-mail to Watson, said "Watson could "clearly see" his recorder, because Watson "openly stated" he knew he was being recorded and because "as a public official . . . anything you say is deemed to be a public statement." " The two agreed to meet again on Monday where Watson told Grapski that the public records they discussed on Friday would be available.

Information Quality Experts Weigh in on Florida Election Administration PDF  | Print |  Email
By Seth Johnson, Information Quality Consultant   
May 01, 2006
The following letter was delivered to Florida's Secretary of State Sue Cobb (pictured at right) by a group of quality experts. The letter addresses the lack of appropriate controls under the  Help America Vote Act as technological changes are being introduced into elections across the country. It includes a one-page overview with recommendations, followed by comments on some basic principles for managing the quality of information production processes such as elections. It also refers to the situation in Leon County, where the Election Supervisor   recently allowed a test of the Diebold devices in his county.

Dear Ms. Cobb,

We are writing as practitioners in the field of information quality management, to express our concerns about the circumstances surrounding the administration of elections in numerous locations throughout the country and in your State. Below we comment on the developments you are presently confronting in Leon County. We believe that these circumstances are the result of misunderstandings regarding the nature of processes that produce information (such as elections) and a lack of application of established principles and practices for the improvement of such processes.

Unfortunately, the problems that are arising reflect fundamental misunderstandings built into the basic nature of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and its administrative processes. HAVA has incentivized the replacing of known-defective technology with new technology, without adequate provisions to effectively observe and control the impact of these changes.  While this may not be the intent, the result is that election processes are being placed further out of control throughout the country.
No Verifiable Elections For Florida This Year PDF  | Print |  Email
By Kitty Garber and Susan Pynchon, Florida Fair Elections Coalition   
April 24, 2006
On Tuesday, April 25, it will be official: the bills mandating verifiable elections in the state of Florida will die without even being considered by a committee, much less the entire legislature. As chair of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, Senator Bill Posey (R—Brevard, Seminole, and Orange Counties, pictured at right with Florida Governor Jeb Bush) was able to defeat the paper trail legislation by simply refusing to place it on the committee’s agenda—just as he has for three years in a row.

Election reformers had hoped this year would be different since problems with electronic voting systems have been in the public spotlight. In fact, last December, not far from Senator Posey’s office in the Florida Senate office building, a computer expert hacked into the Leon County Diebold voting machines and proved that a person in possession of a single memory card could alter the results of an election without detection. Governor Jeb Bush immediately called for an investigation into the security of voting systems, but no investigation ensued.  

The Florida Division of Elections (FDOE) chose to neither recognize nor investigate the Leon County hack. The reaction to it, however, reverberated across the country. The state of California immediately commissioned a study to determine the validity of the Leon County tests. Prepared by the California Voting System Technology Assessment and Advisory Board, the California report not only confirmed the security hole found in the hack, but identified 16 additional security “bugs,” all of which could alter election results without detection.
Florida: Report on Pinellas County "Audit" PDF  | Print |  Email
By Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay   
April 17, 2006
On April 11th and 12th David Drury, Chief, Florida Bureau of Voting Systems Certification (“BVSC”), Richard Harvey, also from the BVSC, and Paul Lux, Assistant Supervisor of Elections from Okaloosa County, Florida, came to Pinellas County, Florida, to make history by conducting the first ever audit of an election in Florida, and the first audit in the nation of an election using Sequoia Voting Systems equipment.

The March 7, 2006 election was a very small election involving only three municipalities, but the tabulation failed, rejecting memory cartridges as “already read,” when in fact they had not been read, and they were unable to restart the tabulation for about two hours. During multiple attempts to restart the tabulation, lines of code were sent via e-mail from Sequoia Voting Systems in an attempt to restart the count. Additionally, one candidate was unable to vote for himself, as reported by the St. Petersburg Times, and another was concerned that early votes in his favor made by family and friends were not reflected in the final vote tallies. The election was certified on March 10th.

Pamela Haengel, Executive Director of Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay (“VIA Tampa Bay”), immediately alerted Florida Secretary of State, Sue Cobb, to the problems with the March 7, 2006, election, the fact that VIA Tampa Bay’s observer had witnessed and recorded these problems, and called for an audit. VIA Tampa Bay also submitted a four-page public records request covering all documentation from the night of the failure. Though Dawn Roberts, Director, Division of Elections, originally stated that the audit would go forward, the next day a spokesperson for the Division backpedaled and said that they were going to talk to Deborah Clark, Supervisor of Elections of Pinellas County, first before making a decision. A couple days later, Clark sent a letter to the state admitting problems with the elections, blaming not enough database space, but asserting that the results were accurate.  Nonetheless, Clark requested in that letter that the state audit the March 7th election because of, “baseless allegations designed more to discourage rather than enlighten voters,” and that a state audit was needed to “reassure the public.”

When David Drury arrived on Tuesday last week, he admitted, “There are no auditing standards for Florida elections,” and, “We are on a learning curve here.” Despite being provided a copy of “Auditing Elections,” by Doug Jones, Professor of Computer Science, University of Iowa, in advance of the audit, the state decided only to attempt to determine how votes were counted, not– as one might expect from an audit designed to promote voter confidence-- whether the machines accurately recorded votes.  Asked specifically whether the state had a way of testing to be sure the votes were counted accurately, Drury responded, “No test is always accurate.”
ACTION ALERT!! All U.S. Citizens: Demand Fair Elections in Florida! PDF  | Print |  Email
By VoteTrustUSA   
April 03, 2006
As we learned in 2000, Florida’s flawed election laws affect not only Florida voters but all U.S. citizens. Yet Florida officials continue to promote paperless touch-screen voting machines, ensuring that Florida voters will be denied verifiable, secure, and auditable elections. To make matters worse, Florida’s Division of Elections pushed through regressive election laws in 2005, including a prohibition against full manual recounts of paper ballots under any circumstances.

You can help! And it will only take one moment of your time. Several good election reform bills have been submitted to the Florida Legislature, which is currently in session. The Florida Fair Elections Coalition, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections, , , , and VoteTrustUSA have launched a nationwide citizen action in support of election reform in Florida. Together, we can make a difference in Florida and the nation.

Click on the link below, follow the instructions on the each page and the following email will be automiatically sent to ALL Florida legislators demanding fair, transparent, verifiable, accessible, auditable and secure elections in Florida. You can edit the text of the email or send as written. You do NOT need to be a Florida resident.
Dear Florida Legislator,

With the 2006 elections quickly approaching, it is critical that the Florida legislature take action to ensure that Florida citizens and the nation have confidence in the integrity of Florida elections. Unfortunately, that is not currently the case. While the majority of states have passed legislation supporting verifiable, auditable elections, Florida has steadfastly moved in the opposite direction. The Florida Department of State has continued to promote touch-screen voting machines that do not provide a paper trail despite indisputable evidence that these machines have serious security vulnerabilities. To make matters worse, in 2005 the Florida Division of Elections pushed through several regressive election bills prohibiting the full manual recounts of paper ballots under any circumstances, allowing mass challenges of voters with no recourse other than to vote a provisional ballot, and mandating the breakdown of early voting results by precinct, a practice that will undoubtedly compromise many voters’ right to a secret ballot.
Florida Attorney General Subpoenas Voting Machine Companies PDF  | Print |  Email
By Charles Crist, Florida Attorney General   
March 29, 2006

The following announcement was released by Florida Attorney Genreal Charles Crist on March 29, 2006.


Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that his office has issued investigative subpoenas to the three companies certified to provide voting machines to Florida’s counties. The subpoenas seek copies of documents relating to sales of voting machines by Diebold Election Systems, Inc., Election Systems & Software, Inc., and Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. in Florida since January 2003.

The Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division will be assisting the Antitrust Division because of the importance of securing accessible voting systems for all Floridians. The subpoenas are seeking information about whether the companies agreed among themselves not to do business with the county.

Copies of the subpoenas are available at:$file/Diebold_subpoena.pdf$file/Election_Systems_subpoena.pdf$file/Sequoia_subpoena.pdf


It is critical for our democratic process to work efficiently and effectively, but of most importance, fairly, said Crist. These subpoenas are to ensure that the rights of our voters with disabilities as well as all Florida voters are secured.

Crist’s office began the investigation in early February. Diebold, Elections Systems and Sequoia have supplied voting equipment to every Florida county for several years. Part of the Attorney General’s investigation will look into how the companies marketed their voting machines to each of the counties. Another part of the investigation is to determine why all three companies declined to sell voting equipment to Leon County, placing the county at odds with the federal Help America Vote Act.

Florida: Protect Voters' Rights PDF  | Print |  Email
By Sandy Wayland, president, Miami Dade Election Reform coalition   
March 29, 2006

This letter to the editor was published in The Miami Herald on March 28, 2006.


Shame on Florida Secretary of State Sue Cobb for blaming Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho and not vendors for putting the entire state in jeopardy for not complying with federal election requirements.


Vendors ES&S, Diebold and Sequoia -- and not Leon County -- should be feeling the pressure to meet the needs of their clients: voters. The vendors must not be given the power to withhold voting machines when they have a true monopoly on the choices offered.


Cobb must use her authority to protect the voters' rights. She should convene emergency talks with these three privileged vendors, demanding answers as to why they refuse to sell to Leon County.


Attorney General Charlie Crist should be looking at possible anti-trust implications. Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature, now in session, should be considering immediate legislation requiring certified vendors to sell to all 67 Florida counties as a condition of certification.

Florida: Election Rights Group Asks Attorney General For Investigatation of Voting Machine Vendors PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
March 27, 2006

The Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition is asking Attorney General Charlie Crist to investigate the three voting-equipment companies certified to do business in Florida.

Last year, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho allowed a computer security expert to test the security of the Diebold voting system used in his county. The tests found that election results could be tampered with through the use of memory cards. 


The Tallahassee Democrat reported on March 10:

Since then, the three companies certified in Florida - Diebold Elections Systems, Election Systems and Software, and Sequoia Voting Systems - have declined to sell equipment to Leon County.
It appears as if “The Big Three” have successfully banded together to deny Leon County the ability to purchase the voting equipment of their choice. If it is true that these companies are intentionally colluding and conspiring with each other, then their tactics are unacceptable.

In another Tallahassee Journal article Sandy Wayland, president of the coalition, commented that she believes it's no accident that none of the companies are selling to Sancho, who last year tested Diebold equipment and found it to have security flaws.

"Why is it that all of them decided to say no?" Wayland asked. "We suspect that there is collusion and that there is an anti-trust violation here."

For more information contact The Miami Dade Election Reform Coalition.
Florida: Two Media Outlets File Complaint Against FL Sec. of State Over Closed E-Vote Meeting PDF  | Print |  Email
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
March 17, 2006

AP Joins 'Tallahassee Democrat' Alleging Violations of State Law When Meeting Between Sue Cobb and Ion Sancho Suddenly Closed, Police Ordered to Remove Reporters

Election Supervisor/E-Voting Hero Bouyed By Broad Support, But Controversy is 'Taking a Toll'
This article was published on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author. 

The Associated Press is now joining the Tallahassee Democrat in a complaint sent to the Florida Attorney General objecting to an open meeting in the state's capital last Monday which Florida Secretary of State Sue Cobb suddenly took it upon herself to close. She then called the capital police and ordered them to remove reporters from the area.

Earlier this week, The BRAD BLOG reported on the aborted "open meeting" as called by Cobb with Leon County Election Supervisor Ion Sancho and two other county commissioners. The meeting was called in order to discuss the situation in Leon County, where Sancho recently revealed that Diebold optical-scan voting machines could be hacked without a trace left behind.

Sancho told The BRAD BLOG last night he felt "there was no reason" to close the meeting.

"There was nothing we talked about in there that needed to be kept secret. They just don't like open meetings. They like doing their business in secret," Sancho said.

Cobb, on behalf of the state, has been putting pressure on Sancho to purchase new voting equipment, threatening him with removal from his elected position, and suggesting that U.S. Marshall's might come in to run the county's election. That, despite the fact that all three companies certified to do business in the state have now refused to work with Sancho.

Voting Machine Companies, it seems, don't like doing business in the open either.

Florida: Voting Groups Requests That Secretary of State Ensure Audit Integrity PDF  | Print |  Email
By VIA Tampa Bay   
March 17, 2006

Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay Requests That Secretary of State Ensure Credibility and Transparency of March 7 Pinellas County Election Audit

Concerned that the audit process requested by the Supervisor of Elections to examine the March 7, 2006, elections in of Pinellas County, will actually be credible and transparent, the Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay (VIA Tampa Bay), has sent a specific request to Secretary of State, Sue Cobb, setting forth the elements that must be contained in that audit.
“We are happy to see that the Secretary of State is conducting an audit, however we are very concerned that the audit process not be a sham,” said Pamela Haengel, Executive Director.  “We are looking to reaffirm voter confidence in their voting system, but this must be done by telling voters the truth and opening up the process to public scrutiny.” she continued.

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