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VoteTrustUSA Calls For Inquiry into Sequoia Ownership PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By VoteTrustUSA   
May 31, 2006
Election Watchdog Group backs Congressional call for Inquiry into Voting Machine Company’s Foreign Ownership

Third Largest Voting Machine Producer may be tied to Venezuelan Government; Citizens’ Group, Congresswoman call for inquiry

Citing national security concerns, the non-profit public integrity group voiced support for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s (pictured at right) call to investigate the ownership of Sequoia Voting Systems. A leading producer of computerized voting systems used in the U.S., Sequoia was purchased by the Venezuelan-owned Smartmatic International last year. In 2004, Smartmatic partnered with Bizta, a company owned partially by the Venezuelan Government of Hugo Chavez.

In the March Chicago primary, over a dozen Venezuelan nationals were present in the tabulation room, to ‘support’ the computation of the results according to testimony of Jack Blaine, Smartmatic President and CEO at a recent Chicago City Council hearing.

“Control of our election system must be considered a national security issue. The American voter deserves to know who is programming the software that will count their votes,” said Joan Krawitz, Executive Director of “The manufacturers of e-voting systems claim the software code as their ‘proprietary intellectual property’, preventing any independent examination. It is intolerable that a foreign-owned company with possible ties to a foreign government should be able to purchase that kind of power over our electoral system without any government oversight or investigation.”

“Just as the Dubai ports deal was a priority security issue, any potential foreign influence on our elections system is vital to our national security and deserves at least a look,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “It doesn’t seem that the deal for Sequoia was vetted by our government, and I want to know why.”

Representative Maloney has questioned whether the sale of Sequoia to Smartmatic was reviewed by the Department of Treasury or vetted in the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) process.
Washington Post 'Fox News-izes' the Diebold E-Voting Threat to Democracy PDF  | Print |  Email
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
May 30, 2006
Admits: 'Originally Dismissed as Exaggerations, Criticisms Now Viewed With Increased Gravity' - Otherwise, Article Creates a False 'Balanced Debate' Where There is None


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


Again, we're always happy to see coverage of the mess concerning Diebold's proven and severe security vulnerabilities as well as the hackable electronic voting machines made by their compatriot (competitor) companies. All of that, as our electoral democracy crumbles out from under us while very few are paying attention or giving a damn even if they are.

So, we're happy to see the issue brought up again in today's Washington Post "A section" in a "special to WaPo" by Zachary A. Goldfarb who has done some decent coverage on these issues in the past.

Not as happy, however, to see this report as yet another indication that the Fox "News"-ization of WaPo seems to be complete.

In the name of phony "balance" (the word Fox "News" has perpetrated on a gullible public and a terrified mainstream media in order to level decidedly unlevel playing fields to the advantage of the bad guys), today's report, headlined "Debating the Bugs of High-Tech Voting," creates a completely false sense of "balance" in an otherwise unbalanced "debate."

Aside from the article appearing in WaPo at all, the biggest upside to it is this admission in the following graf:

Many of the criticisms of voting technology were originally dismissed as exaggerations promulgated by partisans displeased with election results. But the criticisms have been viewed with increasing gravity as prominent computer scientists have rallied behind them.
Beyond that, however, the article sets up a phony "level playing field" between Computer Scientists, all of whom now criticize the Diebold electronic voting machines -- even folks like Prof. Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon who had previously been a major defender of e-voting -- Goldbarb then goes on to frame things as if the points of the defenders of E-Voting (those who have a financial stake it in) are somehow equal to those who have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that that the defenders were lying and/or wrong about E-voting.
ES&S Products Do Not Conform To The 2002 VVSG PDF  | Print |  Email
Election Systems and Software (ES&S)
By John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA Voting Technology Task Force   
May 26, 2006

This article and the follow-up article (posted here as Part Two, below) appeared on Washburn's World. They are reposted here with permission of the author. 


ES&S Equipment does not conform to the 2002 VVSG. This is the statement of Steven V. Freeman in an email to Bruce McDannold of the State of California on December 29, 2005 at 8:10 PM.


In a related email Paul Craft on December 30, 2005 at 5:38 am states the firmware on ES&S equipment are unique and created as a custom executable for each Election/Jurisdiction combination to which ES&S has sold equipment. Mr. Craft further states that because the system software is customized and intendended for single use in a single jurisdiction, it was not possible for him to determine with certainty if the system delivered to him for inspection was or was not the system tested by the ITA lab.

Who are Bruce McDannold, Paul Craft, Steven V. Freeman and why should you care?

Bruce McDannold is the Interim Director of the Office of Voting Systems Technology Assessment for the state of California.


Steven V Freeman is a member of the Voting Systems Board of the National Association of State Election Directors.


Paul Craft is also a member of the Voting Systems Board of the National Association of State Election Directors.

Together, Paul Craft, Steven V. Freeman along, and Brit Williams, are the 3 members of the Technical Sub-Committee of the NASED VSB. The technical sub-committee of the NASED VSB is responsible for reviewing ALL reports generated by the ITA test labs and for oversight concerning the work performed by the ITA labs. As a matter of fact Sandy Steinbach, states: “Brit Williams, Paul Craft and Steve Freeman are my heroes. These three men are the heart and soul of the voting system testing program and they do this work for free. None of them has a salaried position. They work as consultants and their time is valuable. Brit Williams, Paul Craft and Steve Freeman do the lion’s share of the work and make a big sacrifice to do it.” This is from page 3 of Ms. Steinbach’s statement of February 6, 2006.

Diebold Disaster: Newsweek Jumps In, Covers Latest E-Voting Debacle PDF  | Print |  Email
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
May 21, 2006
This article was originally posted at The Brad Blog. It is reposted with permission of the author.

"If Diebold had set out to build a system as insecure as they possibly could, this would be it," says Avi Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University computer-science professor and elections-security...

"If Diebold had set out to build a system as insecure as they possibly could, this would be it," says Avi Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University computer-science professor and elections-security expert.

Things aren't looking good for our friends at Diebold. Even NEWSWEEK is finally paying attention as Steven Levy files a report for this week's issue on the story we broke two weeks ago.

But back to NEWSWEEK...Levy's piece begins this way...

May 29, 2006 issue - Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth, here comes more disturbing news about the trustworthiness of electronic touchscreen ballot machines. Earlier this month a report by Finnish security expert Harri Hursti analyzed Diebold voting machines for an organization called Black Box Voting. Hursti found unheralded vulnerabilities in the machines that are currently entrusted to faithfully record the votes of millions of Americans.

How bad are the problems? Experts are calling them the most serious voting-machine flaws ever documented. Basically the trouble stems from the ease with which the machine's software can be altered. It requires only a few minutes of pre-election access to a Diebold machine to open the machine and insert a PC card that, if it contained malicious code, could reprogram the machine to give control to the violator. The machine could go dead on Election Day or throw votes to the wrong candidate. Worse, it's even possible for such ballot-tampering software to trick authorized technicians into thinking that everything is working fine, an illusion you couldn't pull off with pre-electronic systems.
Diebold Knew in Early 2004, Did Nothing to Fix Touch Screen Voting System Security Chasm PDF  | Print |  Email
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
May 16, 2006
This article was originally published at The Brad Blog

Two-Year Old Public Report Reveals Diebold Was Warned of 'Newly Discovered' Vulnerability Allowing Software to be Overwritten Without Password in Matter of Minutes
The massive security flaw recently revealed in Diebold touch-screen voting machines -- which allows election software and systems to be overwritten with rogue software in minutes, without need of a password -- and which has sent Elections Officials from Pennsylvania to California to Iowa to every state in the union which uses them, sequestering the machines and scrambling for a solution to mitigate the problem, was previously revealed in a 2004 security report commissioned by the state of Maryland, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

The security assessment of Diebold's touch-screen voting systems was completed by RABA Technologies, and presented to the Maryland State Legislature in January 2004. The report, reviewed at the time by both Maryland election officials and officials at Diebold, consisted of "a 'Red Team' exercise to discover vulnerabilities in the actual voting system" prior to the state's March 2004 primary election.

A "Red Team" attack is used by computer security teams to attempt to hack into a computer system or software package. The results of the RABA report in 2004, spelled out specific details of the latest Diebold security problems which have been splashed across the pages of maintream media outlets from coast to coast since last Wednesday.

PA State 'Directive' on New Diebold Security Hole Identical to Diebold's Inadequate 'Notification' PDF  | Print |  Email
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
May 15, 2006
This article was originally posted at The Brad Blog.

"It is like the nuclear bomb for e-voting systems," said Avi Rubin, computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University. "It's the deal breaker. It really makes the security flaws that we found (in prior years) look trivial."
-- From Security Focus, 5/12/06

Pennsylvania officials warned local election registrars last week about the vulnerability in the mechanism that installs and upgrades software on Diebold equipment. It said the risk of the vulnerability being exploited was "low".
-- From AP, 5/11/06
The first graf above, quoting Rubin, comes from a superb and indepth article by Robert Lemos at Security Focus on the latest Diebold security disaster. We recommend his report for a host of reasons, amongst them; his broad coverage of dozens of the stories we've yelled and screamed about here at The BRAD BLOG over the past several months, but also because he adds loads of details to the latest Diebold mess which is finally being picked up by the mainstream media. Big time. (Here's an eye-popping compilation of scores of articles from just last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with many more to come.)

We point to Rubin's quote -- similar to on the record statements from of the other computer scientists and e-voting security professionals familiar with the details of the built-in "feature" in Diebold's touch-screen systems now revealed to be an extraordinary security vulnerability -- by way of contrast to the way both Diebold and the State of Pennsylvania (and subsequently the bulk of the media) reported their characterization of the problem. That would be the second graf of this story in which AP quotes PA officials describing the risk as "low."

From Diebold's Mouth to Your Ears...

We're often asked, by media folks and others, why it is that Election Officials seem to stand by their E-Voting Machines and Vendors, such as Diebold, ES&S and others, instead of holding them accountable and independently verifying their (usually unsupported) claims about the security and reliability of their voting machines -- as Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections, Ion Sancho and Emery County, UT County Clerk, Bruce Funk, both rare exceptions -- did.
Texas: ES&S "Vendor Bender" in Wichita Falls Election PDF  | Print |  Email
Election Systems and Software (ES&S)
By Joan Krawitz, VoteTrustUSA   
May 14, 2006

While new revelations about the insecurity of Diebold touchscreen voting machines hit the national media this week, ES&S continues to pile up a record of unkept promises in counties across the country.


In Texas, the Times Record News reports what it calls a "vendor bender" as the Wichita Falls City clerk blames ES&S for Election Day difficulties

"And according to City Clerk Lydia Ozuna the blame rests firmly on the shoulders of Election Systems and Software, the county's election vendor.
Election results in the joint election were delayed until 11 p.m. Saturday because of problems involved with using two forms of ballot technology, Ozuna said.
Early voting began with paper ballots. The backdated form of voting was required because ES&S did not supply the information necessary to program electronic voting machines.
The machines were used in the last two days of early voting and on Election Day.

All problems originated at ES&S, Ozuna said.

Paper ballot returns had to be manually entered into a computer to obtain the total results from early voting and Election Day. Ozuna said the process was very time consuming and complicated.

If ES&S had provided optical scan ballots - similar to Scantrons - these problems could have been avoided, she said.

"Zoom, zoom. It would've been done," she said.

Besides a delay in ballot counting, Ozuna said she had received calls about difficulties with the electronic voting machines. Poll workers called in saying the machines were not working properly.

Diebold's Deliberate Security Vulnerability PDF  | Print |  Email
Contributed by John Gideon, VoteTrustUSA and   
May 12, 2006
Experts Agree: 'It's the Most Serious Security Breach Ever Discovered in a Voting System"Three States Issue Mitigation Plans, Georgia Ignores The 'Black Hole'

As was expected the corporate media picked-up the latest in Diebold's sordid story -- which we reported first here last Friday -- with articles by Ian Hoffman yesterday and today and even the Associated Press stepped in as well.

Unfortunately the headline of Hoffman's article yesterday characterized the security hole as being a 'glitch'; which this certainly is not. It is also not a 'flaw' as it was characterized by today's Hoffman and AP articles. (Ed note: Hoffman has been very good at reporting on all of these related stories, so we don't wish to be overly critical of him, but rather point out the inaccurate characterization.)

This is a 'feature' that was knowingly installed by Diebold. It was not a mistake or something that was overlooked in the design of the software. It is not a 'bug', 'glitch', 'flaw', 'error in programming' or any other simplistic name. Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor and veteran voting-systems examiner for the state of Pennsylvania has said this:

"It's the most serious security breach that's ever been discovered in a voting system. On this one, the probability of success is extremely high because there's no residue.... Any kind of cursory inspection of the machine would not reveal it."
Johns Hopkins University computer science professor Avi Rubin, who published the first security analysis of Diebold voting software in 2003 had this to say:

"I think it's the most serious thing I've heard to date. Even describing why I think its serious is dangerous. This is something that's so easy to do that if the public were to hear about it, it would raise the risk of someone doing it. ... This is the worst-case scenario, almost."
New York Times on New Diebold Touch Screen Security Disaster PDF  | Print |  Email
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
May 12, 2006
This article was originally posted on the Brad Blog.

(Welcome Aboard the E-Voting Train Wreck, NY Times!)

At the same moment the Wall Street Journal jumped in, the New York Times finally gets on board the E-Voting Train Wreck with a much better piece, also for tomorrow's edition, covering the latest Diebold touch-screen security vulnerability (which WSJ didn't touch). The one that is now officially rocking the e-vote from coast-to-coast.

The Times coverage basically comes down to E-Voting Security Specialists and Computer Scientists versus Diebold Spokemen and their Apologists who've put their careers on the line to support these machines after signing off on million dollar contracts for them.

Here's the scientists quoted from the article [emphasis ours]:

"It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is an examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania, where the primary is to take place on Tuesday. [ed note: Shamos has been an E-voting proponent in the past, and is the top examiner for the systems in PA]
"This is the barn door being wide open, while people were arguing over the lock on the front door," said Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, a state where the primary is June 6.
Aviel Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, did the first in-depth analysis of the security flaws in the source code for Diebold touch-screen machines in 2003. After studying the latest problem, he said: "I almost had a heart attack. The implications of this are pretty astounding."

At It Again: Diebold Ships Uncertified Machines to Florida PDF  | Print |  Email
By Joan Krawitz   
May 12, 2006
Before there's time to digest the news that Diebold's touchscreen voting machines come pre-equipped with a wide-open back door, comes the news that they're still shipping uncertified machines -- this time to Florida.

From AP May 12, 2006...

Five Florida counties get uncertified voting machines

ORLANDO, Fla. - Five counties received new touch-screen voting machines that weren't certified for use in Florida because they were upgraded without approval from state officials, officials said.

The Diebold Election Systems machines were delivered in Volusia, Polk, Leon, Putnam and Glades counties with memory, processor, display and other improvements.

More from the Daytona Beach News-Journal...

Touch-screen voting devices not certified

 DELAND -- A funny thing happened when Volusia County elections officials fired up their new touch-screen voting machines -- they discovered the equipment wasn't certified by the state.

Diebold Election System shipped upgraded models -- 210 of them -- not yet verified by the Florida Division of Elections.

Do you think it's time that Diebold suffered some serious consequences for the clear and present danger their products present to the security and integrity of our elections?

United States Election Assistance Commission
1225 New York Avenue N.W., Suite - 1100
Washington, DC 20005

Telephone: (202) 566-3100
Toll Free: (866) 747-1471
Fax: (202) 566-3127
E-mail Address:
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