"I worry that what we have here in Georgia is the Titanic Effect," Georgia Tech Computer Scientist Richard DeMillo observed, regarding the myriad security issues revealed during the course of last month's U.S. House Special Election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.
"Georgia officials are convinced the state's election system cannot be breached. Shades of the 'unsinkable ship'. They have neglected to give us life boats...a fail-safe system designed so that in case of a catastrophe Georgia voters can easily verify that reported vote totals match voter intent. It is the sort of common-sense approach that first-year engineering students learn. Other states have that capability. Inexplicably, Georgia does not," DeMillo said in a statement quoted in support of a legal challenge filed contesting the 100% unverifiable results of the June 20 contest.
The computer scientist's concerns are hardly the first expressed about Georgia's absurd voting system. In fact, they cap well over a decade of chilling revelations, shocking vulnerabilities and dire warnings issued from the community of experts who have examined the Peach State's voting system, including a number of those who installed it in the first place back in 2002.
For election integrity advocates, the allegations set forth in the July 3 complaint (Curling II) --- filed by the Coalition for Good Governance and a multi-partisan (Republican, Democratic and Constitution Parties) group of electors --- should be enough to make their hair stand on end. That's especially true as it relates to official intransigence and even outright hostility towards computer scientists and researchers who revealed critical vulnerabilities within the state's 100% unverifiable and Orwellian-named Diebold "AccuVote" TS touch-screen voting and tabulation system.
Curling I involved an earlier unsuccessful effort, filed just prior to the election, to secure a temporary restraining order that would have compelled Georgia to use paper ballots during what had become the most expensive U.S. House race in American history.
With the exception of a relatively small number of verifiable paper absentee ballots, Georgia 6th Congressional District electors were forced to cast their votes into electronic black holes. The result: an "election" in which Republican Karen Handel reportedly defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff 51.9% to 48.1%, despite almost all pre-election polls predicting an Ossof win, with some surveys finding the Democrat with a 7 point lead over his Republican opponent. The touch-screen "victory" for Handel, the state's former Secretary of State, is now being contested in Curling II precisely because the reported results were produced by a wildly vulnerable and 100% unverifiable e-vote tabulation system.
As Brad Friedman accurately reported in his first BradCast following Election Day, the results "may be absolutely right or completely wrong...Nobody knows for certain either way...[What we] do know, according to the state's reported results, [is] that Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Republican Karen Handel in GA-06 by a nearly 2 to 1 margin on the only verifiable ballots used in the race, the paper absentee mail-in ballots"...
On today's BradCast, after great news on voting rights from a bunch of state and federal courts over the past week, and sudden concerns from the the Right, the Left and the corporate media about the possibility of stolen elections, the Dept. of Homeland Security is finally looking into taking action. [Audio link to today's program posted below.]
"We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process is critical infrastructure, like the financial sector, like the power grid," DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said this week. "There’s a vital national interest in our electoral process."
Years ago, I began reporting on the serious vulnerability of our election system to manipulation (and error) from both foreign and domestic sources. In 2006, for example, after helping supply computer security analysts at Princeton University with a Diebold touch-screen voting system for the first independent tests of such a machine, I reported both at The BRAD BLOG and at Salon that the analysts were able to hack into it, in about 60 seconds time, with a virus that would flip election results and pass itself from machine to machine with virtually no possibility of detection. That followed on an Exclusive series of 2005 reports from a Diebold insider who I called "DIEB-THROAT" at the time, describing how the company's lead programmers admitted that the security on their systems was terrible and that a branch of DHS had already warned, in 2004, about an "undocumented back door" in the systems.
In 2009, by way of just one more example, we reported here on remarks delivered to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) by CIA cybersecurity analyst Steven Stigall, describing how "wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to make bad things happen," before going on to note that the CIA became interested in electronic voting systems years earlier "after concluding that foreigners might try to hack U.S. election systems."
So, it is with some skepticism that I regard Johnson's remarks this week about finally taking action to identify our existing, vulnerable electoral system as "critical infrastructure". Is it too little, too late on the eve of another Presidential election? And is it even possible to protect the type of electronic vote casting and counting systems we currently use in our elections? And what does the designation as "critical infrastructure" actually mean any way?
I'm joined on today's program for some answers by Scott Shackelford, cybersecurity law and business expert from Indiana University and the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfter Center, to explain some of this, and to describe some of the ways in which the U.S. might expand existing international agreements to keep domestic elections from being tampered with by foreign powers. Shackelford, writes about the issue this week at the Christian Science Monitor in an op-ed titled "How to make democracy harder to hack."
"It definitely is too late at this point to wake up and get all 9,000 jurisdictions on board for November," he tells me today. "Maybe instead of focusing quite so much on driver's licenses [to prevent fraud] and making sure we have different IDs in some of these states, it would've been great to have put that focus a little bit more on cybersecurity. But that didn't happen."
For what it's worth, my answer, after more than a decade on this beat: No, it's not possible to protect the type of electronic systems we currently use without moving to what I describe as "Democracy's Gold Standard". But Shackelford offers several ways we can, at least, try to improve the situation and mitigate the current dangers, as well as some thoughts on why action has been so long in coming. "Elections do quite a bit to focus minds. It is unfortunate that we lose some of that focus in the aftermath of these elections," he says.
Also today, why the right to vote is so important, whether you like it or use it or not, and why, for me, at least, it's still about rights, not politics, some 52 years to the day after the bodies of civil rights activists Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney and Michael Henry Schwerner were found after being murdered in Mississippi for trying to help register African-Americans to vote in 1964.
And, finally, speaking of vulnerable, as deadly, climate-fueled extreme weather continues across the planet, Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, up for re-election this year against former Democratic U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, offers up some of the dumbest, most embarrassing, scientifically disproven and just out-and-out inaccurate arguments against taking action on climate change that he could possibly muster. All of that and more on today's BradCast...
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On today's BradCast: Tragic breaking news, ridiculous wingnut 'outrage', good news for Maryland voters, and, perhaps, a better way to nominate public officials. [Audio link to the full show is posted below.]
First up, coverage of the shocking loss of musical icon Prince, whose death today at age 57 at his home in Minnesota has stunned the world; Then, Rightwing "outrage" about U.S. President Andrew Jackson, the racist, slave holding, "genocidal maniac" (as Desi Doyen describes him today, with good reason) being replaced on the $20 bill by African-American abolitionist and former slave Harriet Tubman; And some (hopefully) good news about next week's Presidential Primary elections in MD, where voters will, for the first time in more than 15 years, finally be allowed to vote on hand-marked paper ballots instead of 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machines.
Then, I'm joined by John Opdycke, President of OpenPrimaries.org, for a fascinating discussion about the anti-democratic (small "d") problem of primary nomination contests that are closed to non-party affiliated voters. The conversation kicks off following concerns about Tuesday's primary in New York, where voters faced voter registration purges and other problems at the polling place, along with the nation's earliest voter deadline for changing party affiliation in order to be allowed to participate in the state's closed primary elections. (Voters had to change party affiliation by October 9th of last year to be able to vote in this year's Presidential Primary on April 19th!)
Opdycke explains why shutting non-party affiliated voters out of the process is of particular concern in primaries that are run with tax-payer funding and resources. But, he explains, the problem is larger than that. "This is a very serious question. Who does the political process belong to? Does the process itself belong to the people, or does it belong to the political parties? Right now, our democracy belongs lock, stock and barrel to the political parties, from top to bottom. And that is a very big problem and it is beginning to come to light."
"What the open primaries movement is pushing for is public primaries, not partisan primaries," he tells me, citing states like California, Nebraska and Washington that hold "Top Two" primaries (also known as "Cajun" or "Jungle" primaries) for many elected public offices, allowing candidates of all (or no) parties to compete against each other to run in the general election. "This is a fundamentally different conception of what a primary is. It's a public primary. Not a partisan primary."
While recognizing that political parties are private organizations with a First Amendment right to organize as they see fit, Opdycke explains how the result blocks people from the process and makes it nearly impossible to change the system. "They control the political process. They control the boards of elections. They control how redistricting is done. They control the primaries. They control voter registration. They control every aspect. They even control the Presidential debates. And we Americans, we've participated in that. We have in some ways ceded our power to these political organizations and I think the time has come to take that back. Not abolish political parties, but simply return them to an appropriate place."
He goes on to respond to various concerns and critiques of "Top Two" primary systems, as we have reported on them in years past (here and here, for example) at The BRAD BLOG, in what I hope is a very enlightening conversation and one that needs to be continued in the months and years ahead, all over the country.
Finally, we finish up with a much-needed laugh, courtesy of Stephen Colbert, on a day when we could all really use one...
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Blogged by Brad Friedman from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri...
In a late comment posted just this morning, in reply to the article and photos about my recent visit to Diebold in Texas, a person claiming to be an employee of one of Diebold's New England distributors believes I am "totally full of shit"...
COMMENT #29 [Permalink] ... Ken Hajjar said on 8/10/2007 @ 7:30 am PT...
Dear Brad, you are totally full of shit. I used to think that all of the looney idealogues were on the right. There are just as many on the left and you are one of them. You have no idea how elections are conducted and how many safeguards are in place, including human oversight. But, facts don't matter to ideologues, so I'm probably wasting my time. To think that many of your paranoid fellow travellers would actually think that the hand counting of paper ballots is nirvana just shows how deluded you and they are. I work for LHS Associates in New England. We are distributors for Diebold and while I have many reasons to criticize things that the company has done over the past few years, the thought that there is a company wide culture of fraud and deception is ludicrous. But, as I said, facts don't matter to you. Stop blaming the vendors and look to the incompetence and cowardice of the Democratic party for its failures. Couple that with the criminal activities of the GOP relative to vote suppression and you've got your answers. It's not the machines that are the cause of our problems, it's the people. I challenged Bev Harris and Harri Hursti a couple of years ago and they backed off. I issue the same challenge to you. Pick a forum and I'd be happy to discuss how we run elections in New England and how difficult, if not impossible it is to game the system. Bring it on.
I don't know Mr. Hajjar, nor his company, LHS Associates, and don't have much time again today, as I'm still on the road, to look into them, but I'll presume both are legitimate entities and he is the one who posted the above comment. Hajjar, according to LHS's website, appears to be their "Director of Sales and Marketing," so it's little wonder he's a bit deluded about the products his company represents and upon which his livelihood depends. It makes sense that he might be a tad paranoid about what may come in the wake of recent devastating findings out of California concerning Diebold and their shitty, hackable voting systems, as far as his continuing ability to make a living off them courtesy of the tax-payer teat.
Nonetheless, I am happy to reply to a point or two of his silly, ill-conceived screed, along with gladly accepting his invitation to debate these particular issues publicly...
The BRAD BLOG has received exclusive detailed information about a developing potential class action securities litigation against Diebold, Inc. (stock symbol: DBD). The class for the suit will involve shareholders who purchased or owned stock in the Ohio-based company any time from October 22, 2003 through September 21, 2005.
Though we are not at liberty at this time to discuss the specifics of the potential litigation and the causes of action in the complaint being compiled, The BRAD BLOG has learned that the class action lawsuit, currently being drawn up, will involve securities fraud violations and other troubling matters for the controversial company, its CEO as well as current and former members of its Board of Directors.
VelvetRevolution.us (an organization co-founded by BRAD BLOG managing editor, Brad Friedman) is seeking additional individuals and groups who may qualify as plaintiffs in the specified class. Those who owned or purchased Diebold stock, or mutual funds which carried Diebold during the period mentioned, are asked to contact LawSuit@VelvetRevolution.us where information submitted may be turned over to attorneys for possible addition to the plaintiff class.
Union groups who own or owned shares of Diebold or mutual funds which invest in the company are specifically urged to contact VR about joining the class action.
The mutual funds which are most heavily invested in Diebold are listed here. Information on "Insider Transactions" is listed here.
Diebold, Inc. is the controversial Voting Machine and ATM manufacturer who was recently compared to Enron by an anonymous company insider The BRAD BLOG dubbed "DIEB-THROAT" in a series of exclusive reports. The Internet news site, RAW STORY ran a new exclusive interview with DIEB-THROAT yesterday revealing additional details on the inner-workings of the company and potential legal issues they may face.
Shortly after our first report on DIEB-THROAT, Diebold's stock price plummeted some 15.5%. The company attributed their troubles at the time to shortfalls in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and on the same day announced the resignation of their chief operating officer (COO) and President, Eric C. Evans. Our source, DIEB-THROAT, challenged the company's response to the falling stock prices in the wake of lower than expected earnings by suggestion that "Using Hurricane Katrina is a poor excuse for bad products - the last time this kind of deception occurred it was called Enron."
Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell has come under harsh criticism for his statement to Republican fundraisers that Diebold he (see explanation for correction below) was committed to delivering the electoral vote of the state of Ohio to George W. Bush prior to the 2004 Presidential Election. O'Dell was part of Bush's "Rangers and Pioneers," a group of individuals who had raised at least $100,000 each for Bush/Cheney's 2004 re-election campaign.
As well, the company has been facing other mounting troubles, legal and in the court of public opinion, over their implementation of software, hardware and various Elections Systems contracts around the United States as has been reported in have charged the company may be in violation of a court order stemming from that agreement. In North Carolina, Diebold recently lost an attempt in the court system to receive exemption from parts of a state law requiring the escrow of their voting system's software source code. They were certified anyway the next day in North Carolina, and some activists have questioned whether or not the certification was done according to state law and whether or not new legal proceedings may be launched there. And in California, a debate rages on concerning the possible re-certification of Diebold's touch-screen voting machines here after some 20% of their machines failed in a recent mock election test.
According to internal "Privileged and Confidential" documents of "Attorney Work Product" originally obtained and reported by Ian Hoffman of The Oakland Tribune in 2004, an estimate of legal costs in California for the Voting Machine giant was pegged by their attorneys at $535,000 - $925,000 for just a single two month period in order to fight mounting legal troubles in the state. Diebold's law firm, Jones Day fought in Los Angeles County Superior Court to keep those leaked memos from being further circulated.
The document estimating legal expenses [PDF] lists costs in regard to the Qui Tam Action filed (and eventually settled) by election watchdogs at BlackBoxVoting.org, the costs for fighting "Criminal Exposure" such as "legal analysis of potential criminal violations" and "White collar criminal law attorney pre-grand jury investigative advice" and even costs to the firm to "Monitor selected Web sites to gain key intelligence."
Concerning the potential of a new lawsuit against the company, DIEB-THROAT is not surprised, and expressed hopes to The BRAD BLOG in a recent email that some good may come from the possibilities of upcoming litigation:
"The denial of every documented problem with Diebold's voting system was bound to unravel sooner or later. I am not surprised that such a lawsuit has developed [as] the company consistently offered Wall Street deceptive information. Perhaps with the help of few patriotic plaintiffs our nation will be saved from Diebold's corporate takeover of our right to vote - and have that vote counted free from corporate and political influence."
The BRAD BLOG will, of course, continue to follow this story as it develops...
UPDATE 12/12/05: Diebold CEO, Walden O'Dell resigns in wake of imminent fraud litigation! MUCH MORE...
CORRECTION: A reader correctly pointed out that O'Dell promised that he, not necessarily his company, Diebold, as we originally reported, was committed to delivering the state of Ohio to George W. Bush in the 2004 election in his now-infamous fundraising letter to Republicans. More details here on that letter, here....
More on our DIEB-THROAT reports can be found here. Please help us to continue reporting on such stories with a donation to The BRAD BLOG! Our work is almost solely financed by your support and any help is much appreciated!
Raftery previously delivered the terrific San Diego CityBeat story in October on all manners of electile dysfunction since the November 2004 election mess, right on up to the recent Mayoral boondoggle on Diebold machinery in San Diego. She's covered the Election Reform and Diebold beat in various outlets for some time.
Amongst the revelations reported by Raftery for RAW from her exclusive interview with the anonymous whistleblower who has chosen to keep their identity undisclosed for the time being due to "a continuing sensitive relationship with the company":
DIEB-THROAT blasts "the dishonesty" of the Diebold company and their CEO Walden O'Dell who has come under much fire since announcing his intention to "deliver the state of Ohio" to George W. Bush in a Republican fundraiser."
Says Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell is "the number one culprit" in putting pressure on employees to "make the numbers."
More quickly disproved statements from Diebold spokesperson David Bear who describes the company as having "a sterling reputation in the industry." Denies (at first) that paper trail rolls in Ohio's '05 election came in completely blank.
DIEB-THROAT blasts the "corporate takeover of elections" as a "very dangerous precedent that needs to be stopped"
DIEB-THROAT compares the massive new wave of Electronic Voting Machines to a Civil Rights-era "denial of rights"
New details on the Georgia 2002 gubernatorial election where Diebold installed patches to the software described as "never certified by the state." DIEB-THROAT was involved in some of those allegedly illegal and apparently malfunctioning patches. Heavy Democratic counties ended up electing Republicans.
The source says Diebold has installed such patches "many times," it's just that they "got caught in Georgia and California."
Uproar from the public for paper ballots was the reason Diebold finally conceded to add "paper trails" to their touch-screen machines for jurisdictions who specifically requested them.
Details on a failed Cook County, IL test of the Diebold touch-screen machines.
Details on several convicted criminals (for "computer-aided embezzlement" and "cocaine traffick[ing]") who were key to Diebold's software development and deployment, one of whom may still be working to program Diebold ballots around the country.
Refers to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which DIEB-THROAT once, but longer supports, as "a big money grab."
Describes Diebold machines as "purposely complex and poorly designed."
The fight for democracy in America --- even as we still scratch our head with continued wonder that a "pro-democracy" movement is actually necessary in the United States of America in 2005 --- continues to be a difficult one. But the fight is well worth it. Even as our victories tend to come in small, but continually accruing pieces.
We're not supposed to be talking about this issue at all, 11 months after November 2nd, 2004...and yet more and more are doing so every day. The Mainstream Corporate Media may not get it yet. But the ranks of great patriots who give a damn about their country continues to burgeon as the noise in favor of an accountable democracy increases every day due to the folks like the good readers of The BRAD BLOG who take their civic duty to heart.
Here are just a few of the latest positive signs in the continuing fight for a free, fair, verifiable and transparent democracy that many would prefer we simply didn't even discuss. We will continue to do so nonetheless. The burden is well worth carrying. The rewards for doing so are well worth the effort.
Debra LoGuercio, editor of Winters Express and columnist in Daily Republic and elsewhere, makes it a hat trick with her third column in as many weeks on our tenuous Electoral System. She was haunted by the siren sounded by our first article on the Diebold insider we dubbed DIEB-THROAT, who alerted us to the Dept. of Homeland Security website where a Cyber Alert was issued last year prior to the election about the vulnerability to hackers in Diebold's central tabulator software. That vulnerability has, by Diebold's own admission, never been addressed.
In her latest column titled "E-voting fraud is an American issue" LoGuercio joins the ranks of those of us who continue to be stunned at the remarkable indifference by the Mainstream Corporate Media to what DIEB-THROAT refered to as "one of the greatest threats democracy has ever known":
So many topics, so little column space. And yet soooooo much e-mail. In the media, we talk of a story having �legs,� meaning that it just keeps running. It seems the topic of electronic voting fraud is a centipede.
I've accumulated a mountain of studies and reports on Diebold's electronic voting machines since I wrote the Dieb-Throat columns, all pointing to the same conclusion: The software can be hacked - undetected - relatively easily by someone with the technology skills.
Why isn't the national media all over this topic like stink on a monkey? Why are we hearing about Brad and Angelina rather than a story that may shatter the foundation of American democracy if it's true? Maybe it's just not sexy enough. Maybe it won't move enough Viagra. Or maybe the grotesquely wealthy owners of the national media don't want this issue to come to light.
Maybe that's why people are frantically encouraging me to keep pushing the issue, as if they're pinning their hopes on me. If that's the case, we're in big trouble. In the media world, I'm not even a small fish in a small pond. I'll keep on splashing, but it's hard for a guppy in a mud puddle to make waves.
However, it brings to mind a children's story about Swimmy, a little fish that encouraged all the other little fish to swim together in the formation of one large fish. Working together, they survived the perilous waters among the sharks. That's what all us little fish must do - swim together.
Again, read her full column to find out about her response from AP and NBC affiliates when she contacted them about all of this, and see if you can find a way to help swim together with her efforts. It's well worth it, and the support means the world to folks like us who go out on a limb on these matters...even when doing so may be neither popular nor the easiest thing to do.
In the meantime, there are signs that more and more folks are taking notice of what is going on and walking out on that limb as well. C-NET's News.com ran an article yesterday by Declan McCullah headlined "E-voting hobbled by security concerns".
The first couple of grafs:
It's been nearly five years since Americans received a painful education on the perils of traditional voting machines in Florida and almost one year since the 2004 election revealed perplexing irregularities in Ohio's vote tabulation methods.
Yet no uniform security standards exist for electronic voting machines. Even though they were used to tabulate a third of the votes in last year's presidential run, nearly all electronic voting machines in use today remain black boxes without external methods of verifying that the results have not been altered or sabotaged.
The article covers both the ongoing concerns, and the internal debates --- even amongst election reformers --- about how and when to produce and count paper ballots...or "receipts" as they are regrettably becoming known in many circles.
On the point of the difference between reformers on these issues, I hope to produce a one-page "Declaration of Democracy" in the next couple of weeks, a page on which we worked diligently at the Portland Election Reform summit. I believe we can bridge the differences between reformers on these matters to get everyone on the same page. I've been working hard on that effort personally behind the scenes, and hope to have something to show for it in the next couple of weeks. Just by way of a heads-up...So that perhaps we may be able to "swim together" on these issues.
A second article from News.com published yesterday over at ZDNet covers a similar discussion on the problems with E-Voting vulnerability and the need to open the software for inspection:
Overlooked bugs and malicious code pose a plausible threat to software on electronic voting machines, a panel of election experts said Friday.
And finally, there it was yesterday...smack dab in the middle of The New York Times: a full-page ad that asks the the too-obvious questions, "Would you trust a bank that refused to issue ATM receipts? Will you trust your democracy to voting machines without them?"
The ad calls for support of Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) H.R. 550 "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005" which we generally support as a good first step towards accountability. (You can send your words of support as well to your folks in congress quickly by using Velvet Revolution's easy Email generator here.)
Here's the very welcome ad, signed by many election reformers. Amongst them, our friend the heroic Robert Koehler (listen to our interview with Koehler at the Portland Summit as broadcast on The BRAD SHOW by clicking here and selecting HOUR 3.)
To read the full text of the ad in PDF format, click it, or click here.
Let's all keep swimming...together...
If you need some added inspiration to keep up the fight for democracy, we'll strongly recommend this great song [mp3], courtesy of Victoria Parks. "It's well worth fighting for..."
In a story about Diebold, Inc. continuing trouble the Cleveland Plain Dealer's business section reports that the Ohio-based company "lost almost a fifth of its share value last week." (Trading of DBD continues flat again today with shares off some .50% on the day.)
As well as comparing the company's restructuring to the failed strategies at Enron, reporter Alison Grant picked up on BRAD BLOG's Exclusive story of the Insider we refer to as DIEB-THROAT:
The news about troubles at Diebold also hit online opinion sites where voting-rights groups long have criticized what they say are security problems in Diebold's voting equipment.
U.S. Newswire carried a release saying that a whistle-blower, "Dieb-Throat," was spilling the beans on practices at the company.
The insider, when contacted by a reporter, described a company groping to get its voting-equipment business stabilized after a series of equipment malfunctions and sales setbacks.
"We have no response to that kind of nonsense," [Diebold spokesman Mike] Jacobsen said.
Diebold shares closed Friday at $36.15, down 18.5 percent from Tuesday's close.
Apparently, Diebold has no response to all sorts of "nonsense." Like a branch of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security sending out a Cyber Alert Bulletin prior to last year's November Election warning that Diebold's central vote tabulator was open to any malicious user who might wish to change the results of an election. Diebold failed, apparently, to offer a security upgrade even after that Alert was issued, and to this day acknowledges it as no more than an "unproven allegation."
Failure to respond to such "nonsense" seems to be costing the company dearly. And more trouble, our so-far very reliable inside sources tell The BRAD BLOG, is soon on its way...
Debra LoGuercio, editor of the Winters Express in California, takes a look at our DIEB-THROAT stories in her latest column for McNaughton Newspapers. She closes with this graf:
If someone can refute the Dieb-Throat story and www.bradblog.com posts, please do. Because if they're true, our votes and elections are meaningless. Which means the very foundation of American democracy is meaningless. Which means our country as we know it is dead.
We're glad LoGuercio has noticed, and that more and more such folks are beginning to take notice of what we've been yelling and screaming about since at least November 3, 2004 here at The BRAD BLOG
We also join her call for refutation of the points made by DIEB-THROAT in our stories covering just some of the information that the still-anonymous source has shared with us. Those stories, if you haven't caught them yet, are respectively here, here and here. You can reach LoGuercio at this email address, and you can reach us at this one should you have any information or evidence that in any way questions the validity of our reporting or the information we've presented so far from DIEB-THROAT.
So far, that hasn't been done. As well, we are told that more coverage of our reporting from other media outlets (larger ones) is likely on the way.
Today, Diebold Inc's stock price stayed largely flat (gaining about .61%), closing at $36.15.
Last February, when we launched our "Divestiture for Democracy" campaign at VelvetRevolution.us shares of Diebold, Inc. (DBD) stock were more than $53/share. The value of the company's stock has fallen more than 30% since we began our campaign, plunging some 20% in the last week alone since our first DIEB-THROAT story.
The DV4D Campaign put America's Voting Machine Companies on notice. We let them know we expected them to do the right thing for this country and introduce transparency, security and accountability into the electronic election systems which they were foisting on a misinformed electorate.
We hope that the other major American Voting Machine companies are taking note of what is happening right now at Diebold, and before they get too excited about trouble at their competition, we hope they all understand our promise (The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VR) to do anything and everything legally and within our power to hold the anti-American owners and management of all of those companies accountable for putting our democracy at grave risk through their careless and unpatriotic business practices.
Democracy is not for sale. At least it shouldn't be. And we intend to continue to do something about it. Wherever and whenever possible.
We didn't set out to write a fundraising article for VelvetRevolution, but now that we've written it, we realize, this is as good a time as any to ask for your support of VR, so that we can keep up such work to help take our great country back from the cretins and bad guys that have --- and continue to --- hijack it from the good citizens of this country.
P.P.S. Katrina Wilcox, our Information Manager extraordinaire from VR, will be Guest Blogging here all weekend from D.C. where she's covering the rally for us! Please come back soon for thoughts, pictures and even video if we're lucky from on the ground in D.C. all weekend!
Our still-anonymous Diebold Insider --- who we call DIEB-THROAT --- has some thoughts on Wednesday's sudden and stunning 15.5% one-day plunge in Diebold, Inc. share prices as reported earlier today by The BRAD BLOG.
"What a difference a few months makes," DIEB-THROAT wrote after the market close on Wednesday. "Back in July, Diebold told investors during its conference call the election revenues were sound and expected to grow." Yes, DIEB-THROAT was on that conference call. "Now all of a sudden Diebold's [CEO Walden] O'Dell tells investors of $10 million in lower revenues from election systems alone. Perhaps what Diebold isn't talking about is the $500,000 a month in legal fees they were spending in California, or the current rash of problems with touch screen systems that freeze up when votes are cast. Using Hurricane Katrina is a poor excuse for bad products - the last time this kind of deception occurred it was called Enron."
The blistering comments about Hurricane Katrina were in regard to Diebold's press release early Wednesday morning attributing much of their lowered forecasts for 3rd quarter and full-year earnings to the hurricane. The "freeze up" on Diebold's touch-screen voting machines has long plagued the North Canton, Ohio-based company, and a recent massive test of the equipment by California's Republican Sec. of State Bruce McPhereson confirmed that a full 20% of Diebold's machines either froze up or had printer jams.
When The BRAD BLOG spoke last week with Diebold spokesperson, David Bear about the California tests, Bear repeated several times times that "there were a total of 10 printer-jams after 11,000 votes were cast." When asked several times about similar statistics concerning the number of screen freeze-ups, Bear was unable to give us any information or numbers whatsoever.
The Tri-Valley Herald, however, had some numbers in their report on the massive California tests:
[W]hen Diebold representatives trucked in 96 brand-new TSx machines, and local elections officials voted on them July 20 in a San Joaquin County warehouse, nearly twice as many machines froze or crashed as had paper jams.
In all, 19 machines had 21 screen freezes or system crashes, producing a blue screen and messages about an illegal operation or a fatal exception error. A Diebold technician had to restart the machine for voting to resume. Ten machines had a total of 11 printer jams. Almost a third of all machines in the mock election had one problem or another.
Those tests, the largest of their kind, led to Sec. McPhereson's banning of the Diebold TSx touch-screen voting machines in the State of California, the largest voting "market" in the country.
Amongst other problems the company blamed on the hurricane in this morning's release, they claimed, "the impact of Hurricane Katrina is negatively affecting scheduled election systems deliveries in the Gulf region, resulting in approximately $10 million in lower elections systems revenue during the quarter."
As well, O'Dell himself is quoted in the release as suggesting "operational inefficiencies" as one of the factors contributing to lowered earnings expectations:
"I am extremely disappointed with our lack of progress in correcting our operational inefficiencies, and I am personally committed to taking immediate action to improve our effectiveness in these areas," said Walden W. O'Dell, Diebold chairman and chief executive officer.
However, O'Dell --- who took over today as President and Chief Operational Officer for Eric C. Evans who announced his resignation this morning --- didn't mention if correcting "operational inefficiencies" would include any changes to the $3,058,650 paycheck that O'Dell himself took from the company in 2004.
As well, DIEB-THROAT believes there's more bad news ahead for Diebold stockholders, pointing to the failure of stock prices to bounce back quickly today after the early morning plummet. "Typically the stock would bounce back after such a dip. This is a sure sign of a troubled company," says the source who continues to request anonymity based on a continuing sensitive relationship with the company.
More trouble in the days and weeks ahead was also predicted by DIEB-THROAT, who feels the trouble isn't as much the weather, as it is a poorly run company.
"If Hurricane Katrina was at fault this stock should go through the floor when Hurricane Rita hits. The fact of the matter is Diebold is mismanaged and unethical. The revolving door in top management we've seen in the last few months is perhaps the sprint for cover. After all who wants to be around when the feds pull back the curtain on the Homeland Security issue," said DIEB-THROAT in regard to the Cyber Alert issued last year, prior to November's election, by the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) --- an arm of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security --- as reported in a BRAD BLOG Exclusive late last week.
That "Cyber Security Bulletin", little-noticed by the media, and apparently wholly ignored by Diebold when it was originally posted in late August of 2004 is still available on the US-CERT website. It warns of an "undocumented backdoor" in Diebold's GEM Central Tabulator software used with its electronic voting machine systems. The security vulnerability could allow a local or remote user to modify vote tallies stored in the system according to the warning and corroborated by several different sources.
"This backdoor means that one malicious person can change the outcome of any Diebold election," DIEB-THROAT said in our previous article. "Diebold's election system," the source added, "is one of the greatest threats our democracy has ever known."
There's been quite a hullaballoo both here and elsewhere since I posted my exclusive interview with DIEB-THROAT last Thursday pointing to the Cyber Alert from the arm of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security which warned about Diebold's hackable machinesprior to last November's election. That's good. Without noise and vigilance from the citizenry, the story of what has happened and continues to happen to our Electoral System in this country will be drowned out by those who have an interest in the system remaining as is...and real democracy in America will drown along with it.
It is up to you to make sure that something is done now about what DIEB-THROAT described as "one of the greatest threats democracy has ever known." Here's a link you can use right away to alert your Congressional Representatives (both Dem and Rep!) about the problem, and ask them to support at least one piece of legislation --- Rep. Rush Holt's HR 550 --- that attempts to deal with at least some of the problems in the current disastrous system. Holt's bill has over 100 co-sponsors now, including some Republicans as we understand, and thus it has the best chance of seeing the light of day in Congress at this time. It's worth supporting.
Several Mainstream Media organizations have contacted me since publishing Thursday's story to get more info and/or interviews with DIEB-THROAT. I've done everything I can to accommodate them, and hopefully we'll be seeing more on this story soon. Then again, I was also contacted by many MSM'ers after I broke the amazing Clint Curtis story, and we're still waiting for those exposes to appear in the MSM. So we'll see what happens. Don't wait for them! Make noise yourself right now!
Amongst the notable noise out there on the net was this coverage by Mako Yamakura at the Detroit News and Free Press weblog site. Yamakura does a fine job of explaining --- in laymen's terms --- the significance of the US-CERT Cyber Alert discussed in my original article.
Over at BlackBoxVoting.org where the backdoor vulnerability to Diebold's central tabulation software was originally discovered more than a year ago, there is a thread discussing our article, its ramifications and a great deal of additional information along with both kudos and critiques for yours truly. To be frank, I was a bit surprised there wasn't more appreciation for the story originally over there, since it provided independent corroboration to so much of what they've been trying to get folks to pay attention to for so long. Nonethess, I'm glad that folks are talking about it.
A few of the notable links found via BBV's thread would include:
Lastly, for those folks who are just now waking up to unaccountable, unverifiable, untransparent privatization of America's elections by Diebold (the Halliburton of the Voting World) and others, I would recommend you:
And b) read the remarkable story of Clint Curtis about which I've been reporting since last December. Curtis, a Republican, claims to have been asked by Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL) to create a Vote-Rigging Software Prototype in 2000. He has signed a sworn affidavit, given sworn Congressional testimony, and passed a polygraph test about all of that since then. Tom Feeney, notably, has not.
Wanna Do Something About All of This?
Other than linking to our DIEB-THROAT article, emailing it around, and writing letters to the editor at your local newspaper about both that story and other reasons to be greatly concerned about what has happened to America's Electoral System, you can help light a fire under some Congressional feet! Both Dems and Reps! They must get to work and pass some legislation that begins to deal with this incredible threat to our Democracy! VelvetRevolution.us has made it easy to SEND A LETTER TO YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES demanding that they support Congressman Rush Holt's "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act" (H.R. 550). Click here now to do it! It'll just take a minute of your time! And thanks for giving a damn!
P.S. I'll be on Pacifica's Sunday Monitor program out of KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston to discuss all of this today (Sunday, natch) at 4:15p PT if you want to listen in...
In exclusive stunning admissions to The BRAD BLOG some 11 months after the 2004 Presidential Election, a "Diebold Insider" is now finally speaking out for the first time about the alarming security flaws within Diebold, Inc's electronic voting systems, software and machinery. The source is acknowledging that the company's "upper management" --- as well as "top government officials" --- were keenly aware of the "undocumented backdoor" in Diebold's main "GEM Central Tabulator" software well prior to the 2004 election. A branch of the Federal Government even posted a security warning on the Internet.
Pointing to a little-noticed "Cyber Security Alert" issued by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the source inside Diebold --- who "for the time being" is requesting anonymity due to a continuing sensitive relationship with the company --- is charging that Diebold's technicians, including at least one of its lead programmers, knew about the security flaw and that the company instructed them to keep quiet about it.
"Diebold threatened violators with immediate dismissal," the insider, who we'll call DIEB-THROAT, explained recently to The BRAD BLOG via email. "In 2005, after one newly hired member of Diebold's technical staff pointed out the security flaw, he was criticized and isolated."
In phone interviews, DIEB-THROAT confirmed that the matters were well known within the company, but that a "culture of fear" had been developed to assure that employees, including technicians, vendors and programmers kept those issues to themselves.
The "Cyber Security Alert" from US-CERT was issued in late August of 2004 and is still available online via the US-CERT website. The alert warns that "A vulnerability exists due to an undocumented backdoor account, which could [sic: allow] a local or remote authenticated malicious user [sic: to] modify votes."
The alert, assessed to be of "MEDIUM" risk on the US-CERT security bulletin, goes on to add that there is "No workaround or patch available at time of publishing."
"Diebold's upper management was aware of access to the voter file defect before the 2004 election - but did nothing to correct it," the source explained.
A "MEDIUM" risk vulnerability cyber alert is described on the US-CERT site as: "one that will allow an intruder immediate access to a system with less than privileged access. Such vulnerability will allow the intruder the opportunity to continue the attempt to gain privileged access. An example of medium-risk vulnerability is a server configuration error that allows an intruder to capture the password file."
DIEB-THROAT claims that, though the Federal Government knew about this documented flaw, originally discovered and reported by BlackBoxVoting.org in August of 2004, they did nothing about it.
"I believe that top Government officials had an understanding with top Diebold officials to look the other way," the source explained, "because Diebold was their ace in the hole."...