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Arizona: Security of Vote Machines Still In Doubt PDF  | Print |  Email
By Tuscon Citizen   
August 03, 2006

This editorial was published in The Tuscon Citizen.


Before Pima County commits to using touchscreen voting machines, it must know that the system is totally secure.

Members of the Pima County Board of Supervisors this week will make a decision that goes to the very heart of democracy.
Computer experts have studied Diebold's machines extensively and found several ways in which someone can use a paper clip to open the machines and change vote totals. There also have been documented problems blamed on programming errors.
The supervisors, in a special meeting Friday, will have in their hands one of our most cherished rights - the right to vote and to have that vote counted accurately.
The supervisors will decide whether to authorize the use of Diebold touch-screen voting machines for the fall primary and general elections.
It has been well documented that the machines, manufactured by Diebold Elections Systems, have serious security concerns that could allow people with a modicum of technical knowledge to hack in and alter vote totals.
Arizona: Pima Co. Arizona County Officials Mislead Voters PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
July 30, 2006

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


Today the Arizona Daily Star printed their awaited opinion piece that has three members of the county government responding to questions that were compiled by the paper's staff from their readers' responses to the paper's ill-researched editorial of earlier in the week.


Responding to the Letter To The Editor comments and questions were County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, who allowed the county to spend over a million dollars to buy new Diebold TSx machines. Also responding are Elections Director Brad Nelson and John H. Moffatt, of the county's Office of Strategic Technology Planning. Both are proponents of the Diebold TSx. And, by the way the questions/concerns were answered, both seem willing to do nearly anything to ensure Diebold gets the Pima Co. taxpayers' money…


A couple of the questions compiled by the Daily Star and their response and comments from activists in Arizona or from yours truly follow: [See the article for all of the questions and make up your mind about the county's responses]

Election Reform Victory in Arizona PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
June 21, 2006

Bill Provides For Voter Verified Paper Records, Mandatory Audits, Source Code Review


A bill to require voter verified paper records, mandatory random audits, and other important election reform measures is headed to the desk of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. The bill, SB 1557, passed the Arizona House unanimously and the Senate 25-3. The Senate version. The House effort was led by Rep. Ted Downing (D-28, pictured at right), while the Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sen. Karen Johnson (R-18, pictured at left).

Sen. Johnson said in the AZ Star that the current tallying process — done strictly by computers — isn't enough to ensure accuracy. "We cannot trust computers; that's the main purpose of this," Johnson said. "You hope everything will be great, but we've already had problems."

The passage of this landmark legislation, described by Maricopa County Election director Karen Osborn as “one of the most significant election reforms bills in decades”, is the culmination of years of efforts from activists and concerned legislators. AZ Audit, Arizona Citizens for Fair Elections, and Arizona Citizens for Election Reform have all focused their efforts on establishing basic election safeguards in the state.


The struggle has often been contentious, most recently in the controversial decision of Pima County to purchase Diebold touchscreen voting machines. Concern about the current unauditable system in Arizona stems from the results of a 2004 Republican legislative primary race in the Phoenix area. One candidate's four-vote victory there triggered an automatic recount, giving a 13-vote victory to another candidate and uncovering nearly 500 additional votes.

Arizona: Electronic Ballots Are Unreliable, Not Secure PDF  | Print |  Email
By John R. Brakey, Americans United for Democracy, Integrity & Transparency in Elections   
June 11, 2006

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." Joseph Stalin


This editorial appeared in the Arizona Star. It is reoposted with permission of the author. 


To an increasingly large extent, "those who count the votes" in the United States are privately owned corporations, not our election officials. In fact, Arizona law prevents election officials and workers from manually counting ballots or auditing elections results.


In New Mexico, the public-interest organization Voter Action documented that "undervotes" for president were as high as 37 percent in some Hispanic and American Indian precincts that used Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting machines. Similar precincts using optical-scanners with durable paper ballots had undervotes of less than 1 percent.


This result led Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico to order all DRE touch-screen voting machines dumped in favor of a return to durable paper ballots.

In a March 31 letter to officials in all 50 states, Richardson wrote: "Some believe that computer touch-screen machines are the future of electoral systems, but the technology simply fails to pass the test of reliability."

With voter confidence in elections at historic lows, citizens in Pima County and around the country are questioning the security, accuracy and reliability of DRE touch-screen voting machines.

Lawsuit Against Arizona Secretary of State to Halt Use, Purchase of Diebold, Sequoia Touchscreens PDF  | Print |  Email
By Brad Friedman, The BradBlog   
May 10, 2006
Motion Demands Preliminary Injunction, Alleges E-Machines Are Not Secure, Not Fully Accessible to Disabled Voters
Suit is latest in growing line of similar actions being taken around the country


his article was posted on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author. John Gideon contributed to this report.

A group of Arizona voters have filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction against Sec. of State Jan Brewer to halt the purchase of electronic touch-screen voting systems in the state made by both Diebold, Inc. and Sequoia Voting Systems.

The voters announced today that the motion was being filed in time to stop the use of the Diebold TSx and Sequoia Edge II systems in the state's upcoming 2006 elections, due to security, verifiability, and disability access problems with these systems.

In addition to the litany of security issues concerning Diebold's TSx, details from the most severe one to date were just revealed publicly last Friday with more chilling details filed in the Oakland Tribune by Ian Hoffman today, the suit also contends the machines, being purchased and implemented in many Arizona counties for the first time this year, are accessible only for a small number of voters with disabilities.

Arizona: Next Battleground Over Touchscreen Voting Machines? PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
March 21, 2006

Legal Advocacy Group cites Vulnerability and Inaccessibility of touchscreen Voting Machines


After a successful lawsuit in New Mexico prompted the state legislature to mandate a statewide paper ballot optical scan voting system in that state, the legal advocacy group Voter Action today announced that they are suing California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson over his recent “conditional” certification of Diebold voting systems. Now news reports from Arizona indicates that the state may be the next battleground in the debate over touchscreen voting.


According to an article in the The Arizona Republic:

Voter Action is ready to pick a legal fight with Arizona over some of the more than 2,100 touch-screen machines the state is ordering to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act. Voter Action asserts that two of the most popular models of touch-screens, both of which are expected to come to Arizona, are unreliable and vulnerable to tampering.
The group also distrusts the machines because they do not produce a marked paper ballot. Paper ballots read by optical scanners are less subject to technical manipulation or fraud, activists say, and easily can be recounted or audited in the case of a contested election.
"My clients are not conspiracy theorists," said attorney Chuck Blanchard, a former state lawmaker whose firm is representing Voter Action. "Our problem is just that you have to assure some sense of integrity in the system."
Legal actions in other states appear likely as well.
Arizona: State Senator Huppenthal Guts Election Reform Bill PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
February 15, 2006

On Monday, members of the Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman John Huppenthal (pictured at right) gutted SB 1557, the comprehensive election integrity bill, substituting in its place a watered-down version that rendered the bill’s effort to restore confidence in Arizona’s election meaningless.


Huppenthal had initally refused to schedule the bill for the committee. However, after legislators receiving overwhelming citizen input in support of SB 1557 in the form of emails, letters, and phone calls over the past week, Huppenthal grudgingly scheduled a hearing on the bill. Then, with an amendment that drastically reduced the original scope of the bill introduced barely over an hour before a hearing, Huppenthal succeeded in eviscerating it.

Amended SB1557 has been reduced from 4,079 words to 1,601 or by over 60%. Michael Shelby of Arizona Citizens for Election Reform had prepared the following testimony but was not allowed to speak at the hearing:

Election Integrity Groups Launch Citizen Action In Support Of Verifiable Elections In Arizona PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart   
February 12, 2006

Arizona Citizens for Election Reform and Arizona Citizens for Fair Elections, together with VoteTrustUSA have launched a citizen's action in support of SB 1557 and HB 2859. These bills would provide for mandatory verification of electronic voting machines by precinct at the time of an election, require a durable voter verified paper record of every vote, mandate enough polling places to avoid long lines on election day, and comply with federal government HAVA standards. The lead sponsors of the legislation are Rep. Ted Downing (D-28th), Rep. Ben Moranda (D-16th), Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia (D-27th), and Sen. Jack Harper (R-4th).


HB2859 and SB1557 would require that all voting systems in Arizona produce or require the use of a voter verified paper record of each vote cast. This requirement is absolutely essential for recounts and audits to be able to ensure the integrity of our elections. Paperless systems make it impossible to do a valid check on system accuracy. The bills would also establish a random post-election audits of paper records.


The legislation would also allows a voter the option of a "no vote" or "none of the above", a provision already in place in Nevada and other states that clarifies when an undervote was intentional. There are also provisions in the bill to prevent long precinct lines by limiting precinct size.


The bills also call for open source voting system software. currently, vendors can protect their intellectual property with patents and copyrights, but not by keeping source code secret from election officials and their technical representatives. Secret proprietary designs have no place in public elections. Open source software makes it possible for a variety of computer security experts to evaluate the software and make suggestions for changes. Finally the legislation would require independent testing of voting systems. Arizona currently does no such testing. For a detailed analysis of the legislation click here.


  Send A Message To Your Arizona Legislators And Demand Verifiable Elections In Arizona!
FBI Subpoenas Ballots from Contentious 2004 Arizona Republican Primary Election PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
February 01, 2006
Expert Report Said Tabulating Machines Were 'Improperly Calibrated', But Only Examination of Ballots Can Explain Mysterious Appearance of 439 Ballots During Recount of LD20 Race


This article appeared on The Brad Blog on February 1, 2006.

As we reported in January the Maricopa County, AZ elections officials and county attorney have done all they can do to keep anyone from looking at the ballots from the Nov. 2004 District 20 race. As you may recall, the matter came into question after a recount in a Republican Primary race revealed 439 ballots magically appearing and which resulted in the final results of the election being changed. The county has even gone to the lengths of refusing subpoenas from a State Senate committee to provide the ballots, even after an expert was brought in to examine the voting machinery and found the optical scan counters completely out of calibration. The expert said that examination of the ballots was the only way to determine what had actually happened.

Today The Arizona Republic announced that the FBI has now stepped in and provided a court ordered subpoena for those ballots.

The paper reports:

County Treasurer David Schweikert refused to release them, saying he needed a valid court order before he would relinquish control.

On Tuesday, he got one.

"We were just elated," Schweikert said of the moment his secretary called him to say that there were FBI agents waiting for him in his office. "I know it sounds odd to be elated to receive a subpoena, but it was what we'd all been asking for."
It seems odd that Schweikert would refuse to obey a subpoena from the state legislature and then be delighted when he got a subpoena for the same thing from the FBI. We are just going to have to continue to watch this extraordinary case and see where the twisted road continues to lead us.
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