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Wisconsin: Colorado Drops Accenture; Problems Here Remain PDF  | Print |  Email
By Judith Davidoff, The Capital Times   
December 02, 2005
This article appeared in The Capitol Times. It is reposted here with permission of the author and publisher.

Glitches Plague Voter Registration System

Another state has pulled the plug on its voter registration contract with Accenture LLP, the controversial firm that is also compiling a statewide voter registration system for Wisconsin. According to an Associated Press report this week, Colorado terminated its $10.5 million contract with the management and technology company, citing several problems, including difficulty signing up voters. Accenture spokesman James McAvoy, in turn, blamed Colorado officials for project delays. The state had already spent $1.5 million on the system. Earlier this year, Kansas also terminated its contract with Accenture.

Wisconsin Elections Board Executive Director Kevin Kennedy issued a news release Thursday noting that Wisconsin "is in a different situation and stage of development" than Colorado. But his news release indicated bugs still plague the system. "We are still working hard with Accenture to solve some software problems," Kennedy said. "At the same time, other challenges are telling us to slow down our deployment."
North Carolina: "Immaculate Certification'! Diebold Allowed in North Carolina After All! PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, Information Manager, VoteTrustUSA   
December 01, 2005
Voting Company Apparently Just Kidding About Pulling Out of State!

Former Diebold Rep, Now on NC Election Advisory Board Certifies Diebold, Despite Apparent Failure to Comply with State Law Requiring Source Code Escrow!

Orginally posted on The Brad Blog.
Surprise! Diebold got certified in North Carolina today. In what the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling the "Immaculate Certification" the North Carolina State Board of Elections has decided to certify Diebold. This is the same Diebold that three days ago said that they would have to pull out of consideration in the state because they were not willing to put their buggy software source code from their flawed Voting Machines into escrow claiming they had third-party software that could not be submitted to the state. This is the same Diebold that was apparently making faux claims about their need to pull out of NC due to a court's refusal to allow them exemption from that state law. But what else is new for a company like Diebold?
Diebold, North Carolina, and the Immaculate Certification PDF  | Print |  Email
By Matt Zimmerman, Electronic Frontier Foundation   
December 01, 2005
Orginally posted on EFF's Deep Links.

On Monday, EFF went to superior court in North Carolina in order to challenge e-voting recidivist Diebold and their attempt to skirt the state's strong new election transparency rules. Diebold pleaded with the court for an exemption from the statute's requirement to escrow "all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system" and to release a list of all programmers who worked on the code because... well... it simply couldn't do it. It would likely be impossible, said Diebold, to escrow all of the third party software that its system relied on (including Windows).


What a difference a few days make.

Despite Diebold's asserted inability to meet the requirements of state law, the North Carolina Board of Elections today happily certified Diebold without condition. Never mind all of that third party software. Never mind the impossibility of obtaining a list of programmers who had contributed to that code.

EFF Convinces North Carolina Judge To Throw Out Diebold E-Voting Case PDF  | Print |  Email
By Electronic Frontier Foundation   
November 28, 2005
Electronic Frontier Foundation Press Release

E-Voting Company Forced to Comply with Election Transparency Laws

Raleigh, North Carolina - Responding to arguments made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a North Carolina judge today told Diebold Election Systems that the e-voting company must comply with tough North Carolina election law and dismissed the company's case seeking broad exemptions from the law.

EFF intervened in the case earlier this month, after Diebold obtained a broad temporary restraining order that allowed it to evade key transparency requirements without criminal or civil liability. The law requires escrow of the source code for all voting systems to be certified in the state and identification of programmers. In today's hearing, the judge told Diebold if it wanted to continue in the bidding process for certified election systems in the state, it must follow the law and if it failed to do so, it would face liability.

"The North Carolina legislature showed great leadership and courage in passing one of the most robust voting machine transparency laws in the country," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "The court decision reiterates what EFF had been arguing on behalf of our client all along: Diebold is not entitled to special rules."
North Carolina: Diebold Loses in Court - Withdraws From Bidding Process PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA   
November 28, 2005

In a dramatic development in North Carolina this afternoon, a Wake County Superior Court judge declined to issue an injunction that would have protected Diebold Elections Systems from possible prosecution resulting from the state's new voting equipment standards. Earlier this year the state legislature passed S223/H238, The Public Confidence in Elections Act (S 223/ H 238) in response to the numerous voting system malfunctions across the state in last year’s election. Under the new law, manufacturers must place in escrow "all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system," as well as a list of programmers responsible for creating the software.

In a last-minute filing, Diebold asked the court to exempt it from the new requirements, and in an extraordinarily broad order, allowing it to avoid placing its source code in escrow with the state and identifying programmers who contributed to the code. Diebold argued that since it uses Microsoft Windows software it would be impossible to provide the names of every programmer who worked on Windows. In spite of assurances from the State Board of Elections that in supplying the source code, vendors could merely explain why some information is unavailable, Diebold remained concerned about possible legal exposure. A company spokesman said that Diebold had no choice but to withdraw their bid.

The case was argued on behalf of election integrity activist Joyce McCloy of North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "The new law was passed for a reason: to ensure that the voters of North Carolina have confidence in the integrity and accuracy of their elections," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman in a press release issued over the weekend. "In stark contrast to every other equipment vendor that placed a bid with the state, Diebold went to court complaining that it simply couldn't comply with the law. Diebold should spend its efforts developing a system that voters can trust, not asking a court to let it bypass legal requirements aimed at ensuring voting integrity." AP News Article Report

Pennsylvania: Activists work with Allegheny County on Voting Machine Evaluation Process PDF  | Print |  Email
Accessibilty Issues
By Pat Clark, The Center for Civic Participation and Everybody VOTE   
November 28, 2005
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) mandates that counties choose electronic voting machines by January 1, 2006, and that the voting technology “be accessible to individuals with disabilities in a way that provides the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, as for other voters.” This is an important selection process that has to occur within an extremely short timeframe. The result of the decisions around these machines will affect voting for decades to come.

Allegheny County had originally intended to present its final decision without public input but was induced by local community activists, particularly those representing the disability community, to allow those with disabilities, as well as the general public, to inspect and test machines prior to the County’s decision.

So, on Thursday, November 17, 2005, in response to HAVA, Allegheny County hosted three sessions to test new voting machines. The HAVA committee members attended a private session (8:30-10:30 am); the ADA and community activists attended a 10:30am-12:30pm session; and the general public attended the 1:00 – 9:00 pm session. We were committed to ensuring that valid, reliable, consistent data was collected at these sessions so that the County factored public input into its decisions.
Florida Improperly Certified the Diebold TSX PDF  | Print |  Email
By Susan Pynchon, Florida Fair Elections Coalition   
November 28, 2005
Florida Fair Elections Coalition's preliminary review of documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request to Florida's Division of Elections reveals that the state improperly certified the Diebold "paperless" TSX voting machine and improperly certified Diebold's so-called "blended" system. Our preliminary findings include the following:
1. Twenty-five percent failure rate The Florida testing of the TSX took place in March 2005.  Four TSXs were supposed to be part of the testing procedure. However, according to handwritten notes found in the margins of the testing procedures, "one TSX died." Another note said that TSX serial #203213 was not used due to a "bad screen." Further notes indicate that the tests were then conducted on only 3 machines. Although this constitutes a 25% failure rate, no mention of this breakdown (or breakdowns) is made in the final test results.

2.  Provisional ballots not private
A handwritten note in the margin of the test procedures document says the following: "Note: Review of provisional ballots can occur before ballot acceptance. This needs to change." This is startling because it indicates that the TSX shows voter information (name, address, etc.) and how that voter voted before a decision is made as to whether to accept a provisional ballot. This means that provisional voters do not have a secret vote on the TSX. It would seem that this alone should prevent certification of the TSX. No mention of this problem is made in Florida's official test results report and, in fact, Florida certified the TSX the very next week.

3.  Manual Procedures Improper The Reference Guide for the GEMS version 1.18 reveals that manual procedures are required to define "vote centers" and to accumulate voting results. These manual procedures mean that the validity of the voting results ultimately rests on the individual(s) who are implementing these manual procedures.  No amount of testing can cover or guarantee that these manual processes will be properly implemented. Therefore, the system is not certifiable because it should not permit manual functions that cannot be tested and which could affect election results. These manual procedures are an end run around security features. They may make the system more flexible and make the supervisor's job easier, but flexibility is the enemy of security.
Ohio's Diebold Debacle: New machines call election results into question PDF  | Print |  Email
By by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman   
November 26, 2005
Originally published in the Free Press.  Reposted by permission of the authors.

Massive Election Day irregularities are emerging in reports from all over Ohio after the introduction of Diebold's electronic voting in nearly half of the Buckeye State’s counties. A recently released report by the non-partisan General Accountability Office warned of such problems with electronic voting machines.

E-voting machine disasters

Prior to the 2005 election, electronic voting machines from Diebold and other Republican voting machine manufacturers were newly installed in 41 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The Dayton Daily News reported that in Montgomery County, for example, “Some machines began registering votes for the wrong item when voters touched the screen correctly. Those machines had lost their calibration during shipping or installation and had to be recalibrated. . . .”

Steve Harsman, the Director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections (BOE), told the Daily News that the recalibration could be done on site, but poll workers had never performed the task before.
Democracy in America Has Officially Become a Privatized Circus PDF  | Print |  Email
General Topics
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
November 26, 2005
Pollster Mark Blumenthal Joins the Crowd of Folks Who Simply Don't Get It or Otherwise Just Don't Care
Originally published on the BradBlog 11/23/05.  Reposted by permission of the author.

"Mystery Pollster" Mark Blumenthal follows up his recent post on the matter of the extraordinarily questionable results of Ohio's November 8th, '05 Elections. All four of the Election Reform initiatives on the ballot that day mysteriously and spectacularly failed to win approval in stark opposition to the pre-election polling by the historically accurate Columbus Dispatch which had predicted most of them would win by large margins.

That they lost by large margins instead, has been the subject of some controversy. We've blogged about it (here and here) and responded (here) to Blumenthal's analysis of tweaks in the Dispatch polls methodology that he feels "might" have skewed their findings this time around. Despite the major changes in the "methodology" used to gather the actual Election Results in Ohio this year (44 of Ohio's 88 counties installed all-new Touch-Screen Electronic Voting Machines for the first time ever) Blumenthal's presumption is that it must have been the tweaks in the Dispatch poll's methodology rather than any problem with the Election Results as gathered by these all-new, untested, unaccountable, untransparent and demonstrably prone-to-failure Electronic Voting Systems.
In Defense of the Full Face Ballot PDF  | Print |  Email
General Topics
By Howard Stanislevic   
November 26, 2005
The Brennan Center for Justice of the New York University School of Law has recently opined that New York's so-called full-face ballot law, which requires all races on the ballot to be displayed within a single ballot frame, is somehow obsolete. Their primary reason for this assertion was that this ballot format makes it more expensive for vendors peddling electronic touch screen voting machines to do business in New York.

The state legislature has been accused of retaining the full-face ballot just so that local races will be on the same "front page" as federal and statewide races. In fact, a bill advocating exactly what the Brennan folks have, did not even make it out of committee last session.

But let me point out a much more important reason for the continued use of the full-face ballot: ballot and election integrity.
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