Staying, as we were for a few days, just about five minutes from Diebold Election Systems, Inc., headquarters in Allen, Texas, we thought it might be nice to drive by and see the old place for ourselves late last Saturday night...
The results of California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's landmark "top-to-bottom" review of electronic voting systems in California are due on August 3rd. (UPDATE: The SoS's Office informs us the report will be released this Friday. Details now posted here.) It'll be the first such official analysis, performed by several teams of testers, in which these voting systems have actually been tested for vulnerabilities and failures by "red team" hack/penetration testers, as well as having the system source codes fully and independently tested.
An article by Steve Harmon published in several CA newspaper this week offers a preview of the battle which may be ahead, including one exceedingly disturbing suggestion that California Election Clerks may be preparing to "ignore Bowen's findings and continue to use their systems" no matter what she may find, and whether or not she decertifies the systems for use.
Yours truly is quoted early in the piece, suggesting that "voting machine companies are quaking in their boots," as Bowen is doing precisely what she was elected to do and is fulfilling her campaign promises through the unprecedented series of tests.
Of note in both reports, the voting machine company spokesholes are on the defensive, as expected. But the real battle after Bowen releases her findings may lie with the California Association of Clerks and Election Officers (CACEO), currently led by President Steve Weir, who makes some startling statements in the report...
(Hat tip to "journalist" "Jeff Gannon" who thought we'd not be interested in covering this story! Wrong again, old boy! Thanks for the tip!)
Apparently, it's neither a case of "sour grapes" nor "sore losers" when Republicans challenge elections that they reportedly lost. That's only the case when Democrats charge irregularities or illegalities in an election. And, of course, when it's a Republican whose ox has been gored, the GOP uses every available means to fight the results of the election, and the courts and the legislatures usually play along. And nobody bothers to call them "tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists." Go figure.
Yesterday, in Tennessee, three poll workers were indicted for adding ballots to an election for the state Senate in which a Democrat won by 13 votes.
Of course, the GOP has fought that election tooth and nail, as the GOP, unlike Democrats, always do. And they've even managed to convince the state Senate to overturn the election due to their "allegations" of "irregularities."
As you'll see in the report from AP, the idea of poll workers gaming an election has once again occured. That, despite many absurd claims of late from Diebold spokesperson David Bear to NEWSWEEK, NYTimes and others to this effect...
"For there to be a problem here, you're basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software," [Diebold spokesman, David Bear] said. "I don't believe these evil elections people exist."
Believe it, bitch.
Or this equally absurd comment from San Diego County Registrar Mikel Haas who discounted concerns of sending easily-hacked Diebold voting machines home for overnights with poll workers just before the Busby/Bilbray election. Even though the machines are incredibly vulnerable to tampering, and storage in poll workers' cars cannot be considered secure --- by Haas' own admission --- there is little to worry about when it comes to fears of poll workers doing anything untoward. As he made clear to me, "you'd have to want to commit a felony, which knocks out most of our poll workers."
Despite plenty of recent examples of "evil and nefarious elections officials" who were more than willing to "commit a felony," it looks like the story out of Tennessee yesterday makes the case against Haas and Bear's feigned Pollyanna-isms. Again.
There's an excellent article today in the Salt Lake Tribune concerning Emery County, Utah's 23-year elected (and now embattled) county clerk, Bruce Funk. Funk allowed computer security experts to examine his new Diebold touch-screen voting systems, resulting in the discovery of an enormous security flaw that would allow anybody with a bare minimum access to the machines to completely change the election software, the operating system, and even the computer firmware in a matter of minutes --- and with no password necessary!
We broke the early details on this story several weeks ago. States around the country have been scrambling to figure out how to deal with this huge security flaw ever since (as it effects every Diebold touch-screen machine in every state in the country, and access to one, can effect all the others in the same precint and/or county). States other than Utah, anyway, whose officials are attempting to push Funk out of his job and are claiming that everything is just fine with their hackable Diebold touch-screen voting systems. Nothing to worry about here.
Read the article. It's very good. But I'm pulling it out, just so that I can give you another taste of Diebold's sad spokesman, David Bear's latest --- and perhaps most pathetically ridiculous --- statement to date on this thing...
Diebold spokesman David Bear says the so-called security hole is really a "functionality" that allows the software to be efficiently updated. What critics call a fix, Bear prefers to call a "redundant enhancement." "Keep in mind, this is not a vulnerability," Bear says. "[Election officials] are just asking for an enhancement to the existing system." The machines are already well-protected through standard procedures, including integrity tests, seals and, of course, honest elections officials, Bear says.
"It's only a vulnerability to those who would commit a felony [tampering with an election]," he says.
And why would anyone, with millions and billions of dollars at stake in each and every one of these elections ever have any interest in committing such a felony? Good lord.
Bear's classic 'Orwellian/Bushian Doublespeak' concerning a "redundant enhancement" is one for the hall of fame. Keep slingin' it, Dave!
So much for those vaunted claims by California's Sec. of State Bruce McPherson and his partners at Diebold, Inc. about increased security surrounding the physical access to electronic voting machines in light of newly revealed vulnerabilities to easy tampering.
A tip received by The BRAD BLOG on Monday reveals that Temp Workers are currently being sought in San Francisco for California's upcoming primary election to "assist in dropping off election voting machines and picking these machines up when voting is complete," as the says.
A classified ad seeking the workers is currently posted on the Internet at Monster.com by Kelly Services. (A screenshot of the complete ad is posted at the end of this article.) The salary offered to temp workers hired for the job --- who will have private unsupervised access to the state's voting machines before and after election day --- is $11.99/hour according to the posting.
A litany of recent studies and independent scientific analyses of electronic voting machines, in California and elsewhere --- and reportedly widely in the mainstream media of late --- have warned that such systems and the data they contain are easily alterable via such physical access.
State and voting machine company officials have now admitted as much, but claim that stringent security procedures ensure that the danger posed by such access can be mitigated.
The ad, however, seeking temp workers for three weeks beginning on May 31, the week prior to California's June 6th primary election, would seem to belie official claims, while serving to underscore the extraordinarily precarious and dangerously vulnerable state of our current electoral system...
(Just pointing that out, so you generous BRAD BLOG donors realize you're getting your money's worth by getting the scoops long before the rest of the world even wakes up And by way of torturously cryptic value-added teaser: Much more to come from other major MSM sources in the near future. Much.)
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.
With that said, we recommend you read Levy's piece --- it's not long --- for a few more thoughts and details. But we'll nitpick one or two of them here. Most notably taking the opportunity to highlight Diebold's desperato spokesman, David Bear's latest gasp...
It is apparent that the PR machine has been cranked up and is working overtime. The Associated Press picked-up the Leon County story and the always available David Bear of Diebold is suddenly refusing to speak. Diebold did speak through a letter to Florida and Ion Sancho in Leon County. Of course, they made it all Mr. Sancho's fault. Florida just threw up their hands and said they had nothing to do with anything. In California, two Diebold counties have come out in support of Diebold and say that it can't happen there. That message will surely be repeated in "Diebold counties" across the nation as Diebold and their customers try to save the day. In the meantime there is an excellent OpEd from Centre County, PA below....