We thought it'd be a slow-ish night while guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show on Christmas Eve Eve tonight. Boy were we wrong! (We'll also be filling in next Thursday and Friday, by the way.) Hope you can tune in tonight! It'll be worth it!
We'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising, pre-Christmas globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
LORI COMPAS, the leading organizer of WI's "Recall Fitzgerald" campaign, demanding an apology from state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald who inaccurately claimed that she and her fellow petitioners were committing fraud in their signature gathering efforts to have him recalled along with Gov. Scott Walker.
PLUS! Everything else that's on your minds, via your calls over your public airwaves at 877-520-1150 and your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
POST-SHOW UPDATE: It was a Christmas miracle! Nothing but good news (mostly) on the Malloy Show tonight! How often does that happen?! (Ever?) Plus some rockin' holiday music from our awesome engineer Tony Sorrentino! Lots of stuff to keep you feelin' good over the holiday weekend, all now posted below, commercial-free as our holiday gift to you! Enjoy!...
Not to say we told ya so, but, ya know, we've been telling you so for years (and years.)
A new finding by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission --- a rare finding, first of its kind, in fact, as the woeful EAC has never before taken the time to investigate and report on serious failures of e-voting systems that it has previously blessed with federal certification --- reveals that ES&S paper ballot optical-scan systems used in a bunch of large swing states, result in machines freezing during elections, failing to log system events correctly, and, perhaps most troubling, ballots being misread and votes being lost entirely.
The paper ballot scanning computers were purchased as a replacement for the 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen systems used previously in Ohio's largest county, after a massive analysis of all of the state's e-voting systems, overseen by former Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner (D), revealed serious security issues and other major flaws in the touch-screen voting machines used there and in many other states.
The new findings of the failures of the ES&S op-scan system led Plain Dealer reporter/blogger Laura Johnston today to worry: "If the company can't correct the flaw, the government could decertify the machines --- leaving Cuyahoga and jurisdictions [throughout] the country no way to conduct elections in a presidential year."
Um, did the citizens of Cleveland lose their eyeballs? Or the ability to add 1 + 1 + 1, Ms. Johnston? Yes, there are other ways "to conduct elections in a presidential year." For example, one could simply count the ballots by hand in public, at the precinct, in front of all voters, all parties and video cameras, and report the results right then and there before the ballots are moved anywhere --- just as they still do in some 40% of the towns in the "First-in-the-Nation Primary" state of New Hampshire.
The flawed scanners manufactured by ES&S, the nation's largest e-voting vendor, are currently set to be used again in 2012, not only in Ohio, but also in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York and Wisconsin, among others states...
Well, whaddaya know? Suddenly, after all these years of warnings from The BRAD BLOG that electronic voting systems are exceedingly vulnerable to manipulation by insider election officials as well as outside hackers from almost anywhere, such as China or Iran or even al Qaeda, the GOP is now worried about electronic vote hacking in their Iowa Caucuses on January 3rd.
"Their fear," as AP reports today, is triggered by little more than a two-minute video posted on the Internet in early November, purportedly created by the "hacktivist" collective known as Anonymous, calling on members, in a trademark computer-generated voice, to "peacefully shut down the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses." [The complete video is posted at the end of this article.]
Progressive radio and television host Thom Hartmann covered the AP story on his radio show this morning, suggesting that while the GOP may have concerns about Anonymous shutting down or manipulating the results of the Iowa caucuses, they may also attempt to use the opportunity of heightened security to ensure that Republican candidate Ron Paul is not named the winner. A poll released last night by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows Paul vaulting into the lead in Iowa, as previous front-runner Newt Gingrich's numbers have collapsed in the Hawkeye State. Paul now leads over Romney in Iowa, according to PPP's poll, with 23%, followed by Romney at 20% and Gingrich at 14%.
According to AP's report, the GOP is now concerned about "an Iowa caucus marred by hackers who corrupt the database used to gather votes and crash the website used to inform the public about results that can shape the campaign for the White House."
They go on to report that "Experts in computer security said such concerns are valid."
Unfortunately, however, it appears as though the steps the GOP are planning to take to try and counter the threat will do little ensure the public can trust the results that the party eventually reports to the public. (In the Iowa Caucuses, party officials, rather than state election officials, tally and report results to the media and public.)
If Republicans in Iowa, or anywhere else for that matter, truly fear the manipulation of results, there is only one way to help make such manipulation as difficult as possible. Similarly, if supporters of Ron Paul are concerned about same --- and they have every good reason to be, particularly considering the well-documented history of vote manipulation by supporters of Mitt Romney in the past --- they ought to be calling for the very same solution to help ensure the integrity of results in Iowa (and, frankly, everywhere else) in 2012...
It's our last night guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show this week! Hope you can join us. I promise a BIG show tonight!
Once again, we'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
POST-SHOW UPDATE: On our last show before the Thanksgiving break, I'm thankful to the Malloys and all of their listeners for welcoming me so warmly each time I'm able to sit in. Thanks to you all. We had a helluva show tonight, with some very important news, interviews and calls. They all follow below in the commercial-free archives...
After the Municipal Council elections in Provo, Utah on November 8, residents had been told that Gary Winterton had narrowly defeated Bonnie Morrow for the District 1 seat --- by just 9 votes.
The margin was close enough that Morrow was allowed to ask for a recount of the paper ballots which were tallied on Election Night by the city's optical scan systems made by Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (Following years of failure of Diebold's voting systems, the company changed their name to Premier, only to see the assets of the failing company finally purchased last year by Dominion Voting, a Canadian firm which now services the machines.) The same optical scan systems are used all over the country, and are set once again for use in the New Hampshire's "first in the nation" GOP Presidential primary to be held in January.
The first "recount" of Provo's Municipal Council District 1 ballots --- carried out on the same op-scan systems that tallied them in the first place --- was held yesterday, only to be abruptly called off when the results were found to be "extremely in favor of the opposite candidate."
County officials recounted the ballots cast for the Provo Municipal Council District 1 Tuesday morning, but the discrepancy between the recount total and the total from election night became so large that officials stopped the counting process.
"They did a recount and the numbers came out so extremely in favor of the opposite candidate that there appears to be something wrong with the machine," said Helen Anderson, spokeswoman for Provo city.
Yesterday's tally, the paper reports, were "coming out overwhelmingly in [Morrow's] favor," so officials planned to begin a hand-count --- as per "Democracy's Gold Standard" --- for today...
Once again we'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
JOSHUA HOLLAND, senior writer/editor at Alternet.org from the #OccupySF demonstrations on what happened last night after we went off the air and police moved in to clear out tents and other property of protesters in San Francisco. And on his latest article on decades of increasing inequality as the top 1% has robbed the bottom 99% blind.
PLUS! More calls from "Occupation Nation" and "Occupiers" around the world (leaving Hour 3 open for calls from you all again!) and anything else that you'd like to talk about at 877-520-1150 and with your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
[Now UPDATED with tonight's audio archives below!]
The revolution may not be televised...but it will be radio-active as we #OccupyYOURPublicAirwaves!
I'll be guest-hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show tonight, tomorrow and Friday as Mike heads to D.C. to emcee the kick off of the October2011.org demonstration and we'll be
As ever, we'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
PLUS! Calls from "Occupations" and "Occupiers" around the nation (leaving Hour 3 open for calls from you guys! #OccupyYOURPublicAirwaves!) and anything else that you'd like to talk about at 877-520-1150 and with your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
By the way, there's been quite a bit of new news coverage on that new e-voting hack over the past 24 hours, since I last discussed it. You can check out some of it here. And still, there has been absolutely no response to the news from Dominion Voting, the current owners of what had been Diebold Election Systems, Inc., or from ES&S, which also services many of Diebold's old contracts. The voting machine companies used to get right out in front of these things, to lie about them as soon as possible. Not this time, for some reason. Perhaps more on that later.
Oh...and one more note! While we've been working on the above stories (and more to come) for quite a while, we haven't had time to do a proper fundraiser here for months and months and months. Hope to do one in the near future. But, until then, your financial support is always greatly appreciate and very much needed! Please consider leaving an online donation here, or using the snail-mail address in the light-blue box in our right sidebar if you can afford to do either. Thank you!!!
This afternoon on my Pacifica Radio show on KPFK here in Los Angeles (and up and down the West Coast) I interviewed Dr. Roger Johnston of Argonne National Lab's Vulnerability Assessment Team on their $26 "Man-in-the-Middle" attack on a Diebold touch-screen voting system as I reported yesterday in my exclusive at Salon (and here at The BRAD BLOG.)
While yesterday's reports included information on the team's previous, similar-ish hack of a Sequoia touch-screen system, and the fact they feel they could do the same with most other e-voting systems, among the interesting new points raised during our discussion on KPFK today is that Johnston believes they could use a similar method to manipulate the vote count on a paper-ballot based optical-scan system as well!
So, in other words, the low-rent attack Argonne has demonstrated --- requiring no knowledge of the voting system software, $10 to $26 in off-the-shelf computer parts, and little more than an 8th grade computer lab education --- could also be implemented not just on touch-screen e-voting systems, with or without a so-called "paper trail," but also on the paper ballot op-scanners used to count the majority of votes that will be cast in the U.S. in next year's Presidential election.
Note: Of the media outlets listed above, only CNET got the ownership of Diebold voting equipment correct in their reports. Both The Register and ComputerWorld incorrectly report that ES&S now has ownership of what had been Diebold Election Systems, Inc. In fact, while ES&S, the world's largest e-voting company, did purchase the company (that some refer to as DESI, but I do not, for personal reasons) in late 2009, the DoJ ordered them to sell it off due to anti-trust concerns. It was then purchased by Canadian firm Dominion Voting, though ES&S was allowed to retain a fair number of the contracts from Diebold jurisdictions that preferred to stay with ES&S. So while Dominion officially owns what was Diebold's election division, ES&S still maintains and services many Diebold machines as well. Dominion also took over Sequoia --- and lied about it --- shortly thereafter.
[UPDATE 9/28/11: I interviewed Argonne National Lab's Roger Johnston on my Pacific Radio show on KPFK today. In the interview, Johnston concedes that it's not only touch-screen systems of the type described below which are vulnerable to this newly developed hack, but that paper-ballot based optical-scan systems can likely be manipulated by the same techniques. My interview with Johnson is now posted here. - BF]
As noted by the computer scientists and security experts at Argonne's VAT, largely all that's needed to accomplish this hack is about $26 and an 8th grade science education.
"This is a national security issue," VAT team leader Dr. Roger Johnston told me, echoing what I've been reporting other computer scientists and security experts telling me for years. "It should really be handled by the Department of Homeland Security."
Johnston should know. While the VAT folks have been dabbling in the security (or lack thereof) of e-voting systems in their spare time of late, most of the work they do is related to issues like nuclear safeguards and non-proliferation.
What makes this hack so troubling --- and different from those which have come before it --- is that it doesn't require any actual changes to, or even knowledge of, the voting system software or its memory card programming. It's not a cyberattack. It's a "Man-in-the-middle" attack where a tiny, $10.50 piece of electronics is inserted into the system between the voter and the main circuit board of the voting system allowing for complete control over the touch-screen system and the entire voting process along with it.
Add an optional $15 radio frequency remote control device, and votes can be changed, without the knowledge of the voter, from up to half a mile away. Without the remote, the attack can be turned on and off at certain times, or by other triggers. The voter would have no idea that their votes have been changed after they've already approved them as "correct" on the various confirmation screens, and even on the so-called "paper-trail" (on e-voting machines which offer them --- though VAT has learned how to manipulate those as well, see photo at right.)
The inserted chip can later be removed after the election without there being any way to ever know that someone had completely manipulated the system. But since election officials rarely --- if ever --- examine the inside of their voting machines, it doesn't much matter, in truth.
"The level of sophistication it took to develop the circuit board" used in the attack "was that of basically an 8th grade science shop," says Argonne's John Warner. "Anybody with an electronics workbench could put this together."
The team, he says, had no knowledge of the voting machine's computer circuit diagram or owner's manual when they devised the attack. Moreover, VAT team leader Roger Johnston told me they believe they "can do similar things on pretty much every electronic voting machine." Indeed, in 2009, with little fanfare, they were able to carry out a similar manipulation of a Seqouia AVC Advantage e-voting system (as used across most of the state of New Jersey, for example). You can see that video demo here.
The team at Argonne has shared their demo video of the new Diebold Accuvote hack exclusively with The BRAD BLOG, as posted below. But please go check out the full details over at Salon (where we've embedded the video as well). The full details are chilling --- particularly as about 20% to 30% of U.S. voters are still set to use Diebold touch-screen systems, and others very similar to it, across the nation in the 2012 election cycle, no matter how many years The BRAD BLOG has been desperately trying to illustrate that these systems are simply antithetical to American democracy.
Among the states where voters will use these systems on Election Day in 2012, according to VerifiedVoting.org: Georgia, Maryland, Utah, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Texas and many more.
"One of the great questions of our time is whether the American people, through Congress, will control the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, or whether Wall Street will continue to wreak havoc on our economy and the lives of working families."
– Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 9/16/11
Sanders' question is indeed one of the "great" ones for our time. But, as Yoda said, "there is another."
If there was ever a candidate perfectly suited to expose the lie that is to be found in the pseudo-populism of the mega-billionaire Koch brothers funded and controlled 'Tea Party' that helped Scott Brown (R-MA) secure a reported upset win in the 2010 special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of the late Edward "Ted" Kennedy (D-MA), it would be Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat.
The brilliant, straight-talking Harvard Law Professor and special adviser appointed by President Barack Obama to oversee the development of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), whose interview with Michael Moore for Capitalism: A Love Story (see video below) established her to be the same thorn in the side of Wall Street's financial "products" that Ralph Nader was to GM when he exposed the Corvair in Unsafe at Any Speed, announced last week that she is a 2012 candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by a GOP Senator who has turned to Wall Street, in a big way, for financial support.
There is little question but that Warren's brilliance, eloquence, and sincerity will come into play during the ensuing campaign. But while Warren plants her flag in the fight for oversight, transparency, and accountability for our financial system, will she (and other candidates) come to understand the importance of oversight, transparency, and accountability for our electoral system before it's too late? Before yet another election --- like the one which brought Brown to the Senate in the first place --- is decided under a cloud of unverified results reported by easily-hacked, oft-failed, optical-scan voting systems such as those made by Diebold and programmed by a company with a criminal background in the great commonwealth of Massachusetts?...
[Update 7:19p CT: It looks as if officials have now restored the site. Sort of. Hat-tip again to Neal Schulz.]
The State Elections Board was replaced by the WI Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) in 2008 as the state's top election authority, combining responsibilities of both the Elections Board and the State Ethics Board into the agency. The G.A.B.'s website (http://gab.wi.gov/) does not appear to be hacked. For now.
Of course, that's just a website, not an actual election or e-voting database. So just because the state's Elections Board website proved to be insecure and was hacked does not mean their actual elections are vulnerable to hacking in any way, shape or form, right? That, even though the state, shamefully, does not bother to check even a single ballot to make sure it has been tallied accurately during an election by its computer op-scanners made by Diebold, Sequoia, and ES&S.
The BRAD BLOG has been warning about the manipulation of e-voting systems for years, along with members of the world's computer science and cyber security communities, and even the CIA, as our own Ernie Canning noted just last week. And yet, our nation continues to use the same vulnerable e-voting systems to tally our elections, rather than bothering to count them with our own, far more reliable and verifiable, hands and eyes, as per Democracy's Gold Standard.
Instead, we'll just tease you for now with news of yet another new e-voting hack --- perhaps the most disturbing one yet in a number of ways --- that we'll be reporting on very soon. Let's call that one a special delivery for election officials like Jones County, MS, Circuit Clerk Bart Gavin, who reportedly told his county Board of Supervisors this past week that the Diebold touch-screen voting machines used by the entire county "record every vote and there is no way for them to be tampered with."
Really, Bart? You're gonna stick with that, are ya?
The Jones County, Mississippi, slogan is "A Great Place to Live." While this may or may not be true, and I've never been there, it's clearly not a great place to vote. At least if voting in a way that is verifiably accurate for the citizenry is something one might care about. A remarkable statement by the county's Circuit Clerk, and a unanimous decision in support of it by the County's Board of Supervisors this week, has made that as clear as can be.
You may recall that just last week, e-voting system failures --- such as e-voting machines that wouldn't start up at all and votes that were counted twice --- led to chaos and uncertain results in Mississippi's state primaries, leading one official to declare days afterward, as they were all struggling to sort out results of several close elections: "At this point there is no election...Everyone is baffled."
Against that backdrop then, behold what Jones County, MS, Circuit Clerk Bart Gavin is now calling for --- and receiving unanimous approval from the Jones County Board of Supervisors for(!) --- as irresponsibly reported without even a hint of fact-checking by Laurel Leader-Call reporter Charlotte Graham under the laughably misleading headline, "Improving the voting process" [emphasis added]...
On Tuesday, we highlighted some of the many failures of e-voting systems in the Jackson, Mississippi (Hinds County), metropolitan area during their statewide primary election that day. Apparently enough systems failed, touch-screen systems that simply malfunctioned and refused to allow votes to be cast, names missing from electronic "ballots," etc., that the Clarion-Ledger quoted a senior Democratic party official yesterday offering this remarkable statement:
“What the public needs to know is that there is no election at this point,” said Claude McInnis, vice chairman of the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee. “All we have is numbers from precincts. Until the committee verifies the election, we don’t have one.”
What? Verify an election before announcing results?! Candidates refusing to concede before that's done?! And how exactly will they be able to "verify" those numbers from 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems? My goodness. It's anarchy in Mississippi!...
For weeks, we've been reporting on the mess seen in the statewide "recount" of Wisconsin's very close and very contentious April 5th Supreme Court election between Republican incumbent Justice David Prosser and his challenger, Asst. Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg.
To date, with about 25,000 "recounted" votes still to be canvassed from the now infamous Waukesha County, some 2,690 votes have been discovered during the "recount" to have been originally mistallied. That's according to the G.A.B.'s own figures, and includes hundreds of thousands of ballots which were simply re-tallied rather than counted by hand during the "recount," on the same computers which tallied them --- either correctly or incorrectly --- on Election Night.
31 out of the state's 72 counties counted some or most of their ballots by hand for the first time during the "recount" (including several of the largest counties). But, given the fact that supposedly "secured" ballot bags were discovered during the "recount" to have been "wide open" and not secured at all, with little or no explanation from officials, after being accessible for weeks by the same untrustworthy and partisan election officials, such as Waukesha's County's activist GOP County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, who screwed up the tabulation in the first place, how is it that anybody knows if the ballots finally counted by human beings are actually genuine?
We've been trying, with no small amount of frustration, to get a definitive answer from the G.A.B. on that question for the past week, as well as from the campaigns of both candidates in the race.
The G.A.B. generally agrees with the campaign of the election's current leader, incumbent Justice David Prosser, that broken security seals, opened ballot bags --- even some that are torn open and taped back shut with duct tape, as seen in Waukesha County this week (photos below) --- and other violations of chain of custody are of little concern. So long as the newly tabulated results largely match the results printed on the poll tapes by the computer tabulators at the end of Election Night on April 5th, that is, essentially, close enough for government work.
The G.A.B. and the Prosser campaign, as we confirmed with each directly, and as the G.A.B. indicated on a recent post to their website published in the wake of the specific questions we've been asking them --- are placing their faith largely in the accuracy of the state's oft-failed, easily-manipulated, privately-manufactured electronic voting systems made by companies like Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia. They are also placing faith in their election official colleagues around the state.
All of which begs the question: What's the point of having a "recount," or of using security procedures and physical seals for the ballots after the election, if violations of those procedures and seals are of little concern to the state's top election agency?
Worse, if the results printed on the poll tapes are the ultimate proof of the accuracy of results, what happens when --- as discovered among poll tapes from the City of Pewaukee in Waukesha County late last week --- the "recount" uncovers "Official Results Report" poll tapes dated a full seven days before the actual election was held?
Or, worse still, what happens when poll tapes failed to print at all on Election Day, as has been seen in a number of towns across the state?...