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Maryland on the Verge of Major Election Reform PDF  | Print |  Email
By Kevin Zeese   
February 16, 2006

Maryland Illegally Used Uncertified Software in 2004 Election, Misled Media and Continues to Cover for Diebold

Maryland, the staunchest hold-out for paperless voting is about to change. Yesterday, Governor Robert Ehrlich joined the leadership of the Democratic Party to support a voter verified paper ballot saying: "I no longer have the in the State Board of Elections' ability to conduct fair and accurate elections in 2006."


At the same time new documents revealed in litigation as well as from California and Pennsylvania show that Maryland illegally used uncertified software in a 2004 election. Further, State Election Administrator Linda Lamone misled the media in July 2004 when she denied allegations that uncertified software was illegally used in the March 2004 primary election. In addition, she is failing to address the current serious security problems with Diebold machines.


Maryland is of national interest because Lamone is the President of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) and the most vociferous advocate for paperless voting in the United States. John Gideon Information Manager of says "NASED presently controls all federal voting systems qualifications. They control the panel that reviews the testing results from the Independent Test Authorities and because of that they control who gets qualified and who doesn't." Indeed, unless Maryland passes legislation immediately, it will be the only state to use a statewide paperless Diebold system as Georgia, the other statewide paperless state has announced it is changing its system. The Maryland legislature is currently considering legislation to end paperless voting. Not surprisingly, Lamone is fighting the legislation.


The use of uncertified software violates Maryland election law which requires the use of federally certified software saying: "The State Board may not certify a voting system unless the State Board determines that . . . the voting system has been. . . shown by the testing laboratory to meet the performance and test standards for electronic voting systems established by the Federal Election Commission." (See Title 9, Subtitle 1, Section 9-102 entitled Certification of Voting Systems.) Thus, federal certification is required. The purpose of voting system certification is to ensure security and reliability of the software through independent testing before being used in an election.

Maryland: Governor Ehrlich's Letter To State Board of Elections PDF  | Print |  Email
By Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich   
February 15, 2006

The following letter from Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich (pictured below at right) to Gilles Burger, Chairman Maryland State Board of Elections was released on February 15, 2006.

Dear Chairman Burger:

As you are aware, there has been widespread national concern about the reliability and security of electronic voting systems. Many states have decertified Diebold voting machines, including those similar to the ones used in Maryland, because certain components were never subjected to federal testing. In light of these recent national decertifications and the Maryland General Assembly’s decision to override my vetoes of bills implementing early voting and allowing voters to cast ballots anywhere in the state, I no longer have confidence in the State Board of Elections’ ability to conduct fair and
accurate elections in 2006.

California, Pennsylvania, and dozens of local jurisdictions recently have decertified or denied certification to the Diebold voting machines pending further testing by federal authorities, citing, among other concerns, the potential for manipulation of election results due to the susceptibility to tampering of the vote-counting memory cards. In response, the Independent Testing Authority (ITA) has been reviewing Diebold voting systems and their electronic components for almost two months and has not released any findings. The State Administrator issued a letter to Diebold requesting daily status reports on the testing, but to my knowledge, no information has been shared with the State Board of Elections members, the Administration or the General Assembly about the implications for Maryland with regard to this testing.

It is imperative that I receive accurate information on the potential consequences that these test results may have on Maryland’s ability to conduct fair and accurate elections this year. In discussions with my staff, you have stated that members of the State Board of Elections have not received regular updates on the testing controversy. I believe that it is time for the Board to get aggressive in responding to citizens’ concerns over public confidence in the elections system.

Flawed Election Machines Leave Maryland Voters Guessing PDF  | Print |  Email
By Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University   
February 15, 2006

This article was originally published by The Baltimore Sun on February 15, 2006. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

Maryland has adopted a technology for voting that makes it impossible to audit the results of elections, makes it impossible to perform recounts when races are close or controversial and makes it possible for manufacturers to rig the results without risk of detection.

No voting system is less transparent than a direct recording electronic (DRE) system.

One of the weaknesses of Maryland's voting machines is the lack of any kind of verification by the voter that his or her vote was recorded correctly. A rigged or buggy electronic machine can display one thing to the voter and record the opposite.

Since ballots are secret, there is no way that anybody can ever tell if a machine makes a mistake or cheats. The machines must be completely trusted. They must be trusted not to fail, not to have been programmed maliciously and not to have been tampered with at any point before or during the election.

The defenders of the DREs do not account for the ease with which a malicious programmer could rig an election. It is much easier to hide malicious code in software than it is to detect it. Without an external check on the system, a fully electronic voting machine cannot be properly audited.

Maryland Moving Toward Reliable Voting System PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
February 10, 2006
Voter Verified Paper Ballot Legislation Filed With 23 Bi-Partisan Co-sponsors


On February 7, SB 713, a Senate companion of the 'paper trail' bill was introduced by Maryland State Senator Paula Hollinger (pictured at right) along with with 22 co-sponsors of both parties.  The bill will require only 24 to pass when it reaches the Senate floor. All the members of the Senate Committee responsible for election issues support the bill. The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee has been announced that a hearing for SB 713 will be held on Thursday, February 16th at 1:00 p.m.. For information about how you can attend this meeting and support SB 713 visit TrueVoteMD.


Hollinger's bill is a companion to HB 244, introduced by Delegate Sheila Hixson last week. On the House side, Delegates are expressing confidence that HB244 will pass in a near unanimous vote. Civic organizations covering a wide range of interests support voter verified paper ballot legislation.

Both bills would require all votings systems used in the state to produce or require the use of a voter verified paper record. The bill also calls for hand counted audits of a percentage of the votes by each election board in the state. "Maryland is on the verge of enacting legislation that will ensure transparent elections that voters can trust. When HB 244/SB713 becomes law Maryland will move from a state with the least secure and least transparent election system to a state with one of the most secure and transparent systems," said Bob Ferraro of TrueVoteMD.

State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone remains steadfast in her allegiance to paperless touchcreens and, according to the Capital News Service, she told the House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee, which is considering HB 244, that a change would cause both physical and financial burdens to the state. Lamone's testimony contradicted that of more than 20 individuals who spoke in favor of instituting paper-trail machines, including some who were blind and handicapped. TrueVoteMD has published a point-by-point rebuttal of Ms. Lamone's testimony.

Maryland: Leaving a Paper Trail To Follow PDF  | Print |  Email
By Washington Examiner Opinion   
February 10, 2006

This editorial was published by The Washington Examiner on February 8, 2006.


So now it's just the money that's preventing Maryland State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone (pictured at right) from requiring paper records of all elections? That's funny. Last year Lamone was insisting that a paper trail wasn't necessary because Maryland's Diebold electronic touch-screen voting machines were tamperproof and secure.

That was before Dec. 13, when an election supervisor in Florida allowed a hacker to change voting results on a Diebold optical scan machine, something that wasn't supposed to happen. Ever. When the integrity of the election system is dependent on the integrity of a single individual, we're all in trouble.

In a Dec. 23 letter to Diebold CEO Thomas Swidarski, Lamone reportedly asked for an explanation of the Florida test in which Harri Hursti, a Finnish computer programmer, successfully hacked into a non-networked Diebold machine from outside the warehouse in Leon County where the test was being conducted. In a maneuver now know as the Hursti Hack, he managed to change two "Yes" votes to seven and six "No" votes to one. Significantly, test participant Susan Pynchon noted that the paper ballots also cast "were the ONLY evidence" available to discredit Hursti's vote tampering.


Read the Entire Editorial at The Washington Examiner 

Maryland: HB 244 Would Require Voter Verified Paper Records and Mandatory Audits of Voting Machines PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA   
February 03, 2006

TrueVoteMD and VoteTrustUSA Have Launched a Citizen Action in Support of HB 244. Please Click Here To Send A Message To Your State Legislators Urging Their Support of Voter Verified Paper Records and Mandatory Audits


Maryland House Delegate Sheila E. Hixson (D-Montgomery), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has introduced HB 244, a bill that would require all votings systems used in the state to produce or require the use of a voter verified paper record. The bill also calls for hand counted audits of a percentage of the votes by each election board in the state.

"Under this legislation, voters would be able to check and correct any error made by the voting system," said Del. Hixson (photo at left), was quoted in the Washington Post. "We must pass this bill so the trust and confidence of voters who are concerned about our new system can be restored." The bill is supported by House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and several other leading House Democrats. A Senate companion bill is expected next week.

State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone, an ardent proponent of paperless voting in the past, has begun to question the the vulnerability of the state's Diebold touchscreen machines. Lamone wrote to Diebold's top executive on December 23 after California's Secretary of State declared that some of that state's voting machines were susceptible to error and would not be certified for use.

In Response to Florida Diebold Hack, Lamone Expresses "Great Concern" About Threat to Maryland PDF  | Print |  Email
By TrueVoteMD   
January 24, 2006
TrueVoteMD Urges De-Certification of Voting System and Halt to ‘Secretive” Style of the State Board

A successful mock election hack in Leon County, Florida in December 2005 caused election officials across the nation to suspend, review or withhold certification of Diebold Elections Systems voting equipment, designating Diebold as unacceptable for use.

Maryland Elections Administrator Linda Lamone also responded with a strongly worded letter to Diebold demanding immediate and daily briefings. This letter recently came into the hands of TrueVoteMD and can be downloaded here.
In a letter to Linda Lamone, TrueVoteMD urged de-certification of the Diebold system as required by law and that all information be made public.
TrueVoteMD's Letter to Maryland State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone PDF  | Print |  Email
By Linda Schade, TrueVoteMD   
January 24, 2006
TrueVoteMD has written the following letter, dated January 25, 2006, to Maryland state Elections Administrator Linda Lamone. For more information vist TrueVoteMD and read their press release.

Given the crisis implied by the proven security breaches of Diebold Election System memory cards, and your acknowledgment of this situation in your letter to Diebold dated December 23, 2005, TrueVoteMD, a public interest project working for election integrity in Maryland, respectfully requests that you:
1) immediately make public all your correspondence to Diebold and their responses available on the SBE’s website – as other state election officials consistently do – to inform Maryland voters, public officials and the press about this critical and quickly evolving situation.

2) that you de-certify the Diebold System as required by Maryland law under COMAR.
In your December 23, 2005 letter to Diebold Elections Systems, you correctly express ‘great concern’ regarding the breached security of the memory cards used for Diebold’s touchscreen and optical scan voting systems, since these are used across the State of Maryland.

You correctly demanded a full briefing on December 27, 2005 and ‘daily telephone briefings’ from Diebold as well as detailed information about the status of independent reviews, Diebold’s response, as well as its contractual obligations to the state.

De-certification is required by Maryland law because:

Maryland COMAR requires compliance with federal standards.  You are likely aware that the 1990 and 2002 FEC technical standards ban the use of interpreted code on memory cards as it creates a serious security vulnerability. The recent mock election/hack in Leon County, Florida demonstrated that Diebold optical scanners can be hacked in this manner, causing California to stop Diebold certification and call for special re-testing of the memory cards on December 20, 2005.  Maryland uses these Diebold optical scanners to count absentee ballots.

As you know, Maryland uses the TS machines across our state except Baltimore where the TSX machines were recently deployed against the wishes of the City.  On January 5, 2006, Diebold Elections Systems admitted in their “Response to Pennsylvania Request for Clarification on ABasic Issues (memory card interpreter software) that their OS, TS and TSX voting equipment uses the interpreted code.
Thus it appears that the legality of all Diebold election equipment nationally and in Maryland is in question.  As you know Maryland law (COMAR) requires compliance with federal standards which we now know Diebold does not meet.  It seems appropriate then to urge you to immediately de-certify the OS, TS and TSX Diebold voting systems Maryland intended to use in the upcoming 2006 elections - or to provide extensive documentation showing why this should not occur.

Maryland voters and public officials urgently need to know if a new voting system must be procured by the State of Maryland in time for the 2006 elections.

Verify, Verify, Verify PDF  | Print |  Email
By Alex Zeese, TrueVoteMD   
November 18, 2005
Posted on the TrueVoteMD Website. Reposted here with permission of the author.

I am pleased to see that Del. Jon S. Cardin has shown concern for election integrity, and I agree that this is one of the most important issues our democracy has faced over the past five years (‘‘Audit the vote from booth to final tally,” Nov. 11 Issues for our times).
Delegate Cardin listed three key requirements that the state should consider when crafting legislation on this issue: a transparent system for auditing, a system for an accurate recount and an encrypted paper receipt allowing a voter to verify his vote.

I will not disagree with Delegate Cardin on the first two of his requirements, transparent auditing and recounts; these are vital. However, the ‘‘encrypted receipt” does nothing to get recounts and audits out of the black box and into the light of human observation that we enjoyed for generations. It does nothing for voters’ ability to verify an accurate recording of their vote. Further, it does nothing to protect against computer malfunction that sometimes results in blank or inaccurate ballots.

There is a basic problem with the encrypted receipt system. The way that it works is that a person is given a receipt after voting with a code of numbers and letters. The voter must take that coded receipt and check, by Web or phone, where it will say either ‘‘your vote has — or has not — been tampered with.” It cannot say whom you voted for or else you can have the potential for vote buying.
Maryland: Local Election Officials Violate DRE Protocols PDF  | Print |  Email
By Nancy Wallace, TrueVoteMD   
November 09, 2005
Nancy Wallace of TrueVoteMD filed this report of her experience observing the November 8th election in Rockville, Maryland.

There were 40 machines total out in use during the Rockville election. I was in District 8 (Lakeside Elementary School), and there were 4 machines. I heard there were 10 polling places, so there were probably about 4 per polling place.  The chief election judge, Barbara Elesh, said there were plenty of machines - and they had had "very good" turnout, whatever that means. I got there late, at 8:20 p.m., from work. The machines were completely packed up and gone into storage by the time I walked in the door, you could barely tell there had been an election, 20 minutes after the polls closed!

Elesh and another election judge (who being very respectful and friendly to the chief judge would not have disagreed with her) said that the machines worked very well, not a single problem all day. There was a very fancy book with a green cover at the polling place, "City of Rockville/2005 Electon Judge/Official Training Guide", about 1/2 inch think, that looked like it had had to have state input, since it was guiding the machine use, had plastic tabs, etc.

They did NO accumulating or totals of any kind at the polling place. They just put the memory cards and the register tapes (both morning zero tape and final summaries) in one red bag that went to the Board of Elections on Twinbrook - that's why it was so quick packing everything up, they did virtually nothing with the machines, just ran the tapes and popped out the memory cards. But interestingly enough, they sent the paper register books to the City of Rockville, completely separate. It would be very telling to get a count of one or two polling places' register books, and then compare that to the total of votes cast at each polling place, to see if the machines were recording different numbers of sessions, like we saw last November. But by not having the local judges touch anything, and splitting up the cards and the register books, it makes it extremely difficult for us to relatively quickly check whether there were any obvious discrepancies like we saw before, and document them.
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