Sen. Diane Feinstein has announced a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee to be held in September. In her press release she says:
“I was very surprised to read how easily these machines could be hacked into and election results distorted,” Senator Feinstein said. “This report demonstrates the precarious risk of relying on electronic voting machines, especially when a verified paper record is not provided. These findings are yet another reason that states and counties should consider a move to optical scan machines that provide an auditable, individual voter-verified paper record without having to rely on a separate printer.”
If she really feels states and counties should consider a move to optical scan then why not say so in her legislation instead of doing all she can to protect Direct Recording Electronic machines? It’s time to step up and match the rhetoric with action, Senator.
Today is a big news day with big stories breaking nationally. King Co. Washington’s county commission decided to take the voters advice and not use tax-payers money to purchase an untested, uncertified high-speed optical scan system from Diebold. Florida State University has released a new study that discusses problems with the Diebold optical-scans used in the state. We are still trying to get that report. Plus the heat is being turned-up in congress.
All of those stories and many more today, all exhaustively linked below...
According to a story in the Miami Herald by Marc Caputo;
"the Florida Secretary of State's office has conducted an elections study that confirmed Tuesday what a maverick voting chief discovered nearly two years ago: Insider computer hackers can change votes without a trace on Diebold optical-scan machines."
The study by the Florida State University Security and Assurance In Information Technology Laboratory (SAIT) has found that the issues discovered by Harri Hursti in the now famous Hursti I hack have not been addressed by Diebold. The SAIT Team also inspected the state's Diebold DREs and DRE Bootloader.
In a letter to David Byrd of Diebold, Secretary of State Kurt Browning gave Diebold until August 17 to correct the identified problems. Failure to do that will result in the system not being certified for use in the next election in the state.
To date the "Red Team" reports have been released; a preliminary report on audits has been released; and the accessibility report has been released. Our cup nearly runneth over.
But wait, there's more?
Yes, there are still 6 more reports that have not been released. There are three reports, one for each vendor, on the source code review. There are also three reports, one for each vendor, on the document review. All six of these reports are important to the total picture and all of them will be used in the final decision making process.
We encourage the Secretary of State to let the voters see those remaining reports. If the reports are 100 pages each, that's 600 pages of information that we need time to read and study.
Secretary Bowen, release the reports, please.
UPDATE 01 August: Today Princeton Prof. Ed Felten of Diebold Accuvote TS hack fame, asked on his blog, FreedomToTinker, "Where are the California E-Voting Reports". In his blog Prof. Felten says:
With the Secretary having until Friday to decide whether to decertify any e-voting systems for the February 2008 primary election, the obvious question arises: Why is the Secretary withholding the other reports?
Here’s the official explanation, from the Secretary’s site:
The document review teams and source code review teams submitted their reports on schedule. Their reports will be posted as soon as the Secretary of State ensures the reports do not inadvertently disclose security-sensitive information.
This explanation is hard to credit. The study teams were already tasked to separate their reports into a public body and a private appendix, with sensitive exploit-oriented details put in the private appendix that would go only to the Secretary and the affected vendor. Surely the study teams are much better qualified to determine the security implications of releasing a particular detail than the lawyers in the Secretary’s office are.
More likely, the Secretary is worried about the political implications of releasing the reports. Given this, it seems likely that the withheld reports are even more damning than the ones released so far.
If the red team reports, which reported multiple vulnerabilities of the most serious kind, are the good news, how bad must the bad news be?
We ask again; Secretary Bowen, release the reports, please.
UPDATE 02 AugustAnother set of reports, source code review, has been released today. Thank you Secretary Bowen.
Blogged by Brad Friedman from somewhere in Texas...
If you've yet to find time to read the hundreds of pages from the landmark "Top-to-Bottom Review" of voting systems from California University, as commissioned by CA SoS Debra Bowen, we don't blame ya.
So after plowing through dozens of articles covering the reports, we'll make it easy for you, and recommend two short articles which will get you all quickly caught up with an overview of some of the most notable findings from all of the various reports as written in nearly human-being language.
As well, we're happy to sum up --- and destroy --- the pathetic, predictable, and lock-step Election Officials' and Vendors' response to Bowen's report in a few easy paragraphs....
Now that the California Secretary of State's "Top-To-Bottom Review" testing is complete and the reports have been submitted, nearly everyone is falling over themselves to read and talk about the many startling vulnerabilities easily found by the "Red Teams" who performed hack testing on the systems.
However, there is another report that has been overlooked, for the most part, by the media and the public. That is the "Accessibility Review" which examined whether the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems meet federal requirements to allow voters with disabilities to cast their votes privately and independently as required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Maybe it's because, as some have pointed out, accessibility issues are not as "sexy" as hacking into voting machines. Or maybe it's because this report is 155 pages long as compared to less than 20 pages for the "Red Team" reports. Either way, the failures found in the accessibility report may pack more dynamite and leave more questions unanswered than the security reports.
The "Executive Summary" of that report says it all:
Three voting systems, the Diebold AccuVote TSx, Hart eSlate and Sequoia Edge I and II, were evaluated for usability and accessibility for voters with disabilities and voters with alternate language needs, using both heuristic and user testing techniques. Although each of the tested voting systems included some accessibility accommodations, none met the accessibility requirements of current law and none performed satisfactorily in test voting by persons with a range of disabilities and alternate language needs. In some cases the accessibility or usability deficits could be partially or wholly mitigated. Some of these mitigations would not require new federal and state certification testing.
Notice that the researchers say, "none met the accessibility requirements of current law." That's federal and state law. The machines have been sold for years --- and, in fact, the use of DRE machines as a whole has been jammed down America's polling places --- on the basis that they meet federal HAVA mandates for an accessible means of voting in every polling place. And yet, the California analysts found, they are not accessible at all...
Guest Blogged from Sacramento by Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us (with assistance from Michelle Gabriel, photos by Bill Lackemacher of Sacramento for Democracy) from the public hearing on 7/30/07, called by California Secretary of State to receive comments on her landmark "Top-to-Bottom review" of the state’s electronic voting systems. No internet access was available in the hearing room, so I wasn’t able to live blog as I’d hoped. I did, however, take copious notes, which are posted in full below this brief summary.
ED NOTE: The video of the hearing, which was not easily available as it streamed live today, is now posted here and here. But I recommend Emily's detailed description below for a great deal of value-added content and perspective! And it's faster! - BF
Note: Story very slightly updated with some corrections in the spelling of names, plus one substantive correction regarding Jim Soper's testimony (the very last one in the entire article).
SACRAMENTO - California Secretary of State Debra Bowen made opening remarks, followed by an overview of the Top-To-Bottom Review by the chief investigator, Matthew Bishop, University of California Davis (UCD) Professor of Computer Science.
Following that, each of the three vendors whose machines went through the Top-To-Bottom Review were given 30 minutes to respond to the report. Diebold went first and only took about five of the 30 minutes, followed by Hart Intercivic and Sequoia.
I’m absolutely thrilled to report that Sequoia knows just how to solve the problems found in the Top-To-Bottom Review: California should just by newer systems from them!
After lunch was the public comment period, the longest part of the hearing. I’ve paraphrased and sometimes quoted the comments of just about every person who testified (including my own testimony). There were maybe 25 or 30 county election officials present, many of whom spoke. Freddie Oakley of Yolo County, an election integrity hero, spoke in favor of the Top-To-Bottom Review and said we bought these systems to accommodate voters with special needs and disabilities and “we have let them down in the most appalling way” by certifying systems with such obvious defects and continuing to use them despite those defects.
I believe every other elections official spoke critically of the Top-To-Bottom Review, most criticizing Bowen for not including county elections officials in the review, not reviewing policies and procedures as part of the Top-To-Bottom Review, and conducting the review in a laboratory setting rather than a real election setting. (I, in contrast, think our elections in recent years have been nothing but one giant beta test!)
It will take some scrolling to find my notes on the remarks of the many election integrity advocates who spoke. Most spoke late in the day, probably because they signed up later, after the pre-hearing press conference they held outside the Secretary of State’s office building. But it’s worth the scrolling, because many important things were said. Many of the EI advocates encouraged Secretary Bowen to decertify not just the three election systems tested, but all electronic voting systems. Many advocated for hand-counted paper ballots. Testimony was frequently backed up with credentials, experience, statistics and technical information. The depth and breadth of expertise in the election integrity movement continues to amaze me. (Note: I’ve posted my own comments in full because I had them available. If others who spoke would like their testimony posted in full, I invite them to paste them into the “comments” section of this blog item.)
Several people with disabilities and advocates for people with disabilities spoke. Some, notably Jennifer Kidder, spoke about the importance of election integrity. Kidder said, “The purpose of any equal opportunity legislation is to get marginalized voices heard,” and went on to note that this purpose is defeated if, after voting privately and independently, the vote of a disabled voter is changed by an electronic voting system.
Most of the people with disabilities and their advocates, however, cautioned against going “back” to paper ballots, saying that would be a move in the wrong direction in terms of the accessibility of voting systems. In general, they were supportive of the types of mitigations recommended by the accessibility team of the Top-To-Bottom Review, despite the findings that none of the systems tested actually met the federal accessibility standards as required by law.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office is accepting public comments by email until Wednesday, August 1 at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov On Friday, August 3, Bowen will announce what actions she will take in light of the Top-To-Bottom Review. We can only hope that she remembers why she was elected, and will take bold action to protect California's elections.
Detailed notes on the hearing appear below. Where I have paraphrased a speaker, I have done so in the first person, sometimes making my own [occasionally snarky] comments inside square brackets. I hope this isn’t confusing...
Hannity & Colmes break new terroritory tonight by discussing exorcism with two Catholic priests in light of a botched exorcism of a three year old child in Phoenix. First, Father Jonathan Morris, who believes more in God when he sees the presence of evil in someone, assures viewers that what took place in Phoenix was not actually an exorcism. Father Edward Beck then explains that being possessed by the Devil or an evil spirit is possible and that the cure for such a malady is exorcism.
Signs to look for to determine if the Devil has taken possession of a person include: speaking in a foreign language that is not one's own language, speaking in tongues, having a certain power or knowledge that one should not have, and seeing into the future.
At one point, Sean Hannity turns to Father Morris, who has witnessed an exorcism, and states:
I don't want to minimize this, I was just kidding about Alan. But, this is really serious here. I mean Christ, if we believe the Bible and I do, um, he exorcised demons with regularity. I mean often. What did you see at the exorcism you were at?
Father Morris, a Fox News contributor, responds by telling a story that happened to him in Spain while promoting the movie The Passion of the Christ. Long story short, the chief exorcist in Spain didn't know what to think about the movie until he went to his most difficult exorcism case and mentioned the Mel Gibson flick. The Devil inside the tough case immediately went crazy which assured the chief exorcist that the movie was okay since the Devil hates all good things.
Next week, the chief exorcist reviews The Simpsons Movie.
As expected today’s news is mostly from California in response to the “Top-To-Bottom” Review. In their response to the California “Top-To-Bottom Review” Sequoia had this to say about accessibility:
As for the Accessibility report, Sequoia’s equipment complies with all requirements of the current 2002 VVSG as well as all California state requirements. Sequoia has worked with both national and local accessibility groups to design our voting system and we continue to do so in an effort to make all of our voting equipment as accessible as possible and continually improve our products as advances are made in technology to better assist persons with disabilities.
The fact that they can say their machines comply with all requirements is amazing. The Sequoia Edge I and II tested in California has a toe-to-knee distance of 26.5 inches. The 2002 VVSG require 30 inches minimum. We can’t expect either of the other two vendors to be any more factual in their defense of their systems.
Links to Sequoia's excuses, and a great deal of coverage of California's landmark reports and other voting news from around the country, is all below...
Raising Bill O'Reilly's ire this time is a doctored photograph that appeared on the DailyKos website of Senator Joe Lieberman on his knees seemingly unzipping George W. Bush's pants in prelude to performing a sexual act. The fairly tame photo is clearly meant as parody but, according to O'Reilly, is "very offensive" and a "disgraceful exposition." O'Reilly assures viewers that Lieberman "is a patriot and a man of conviction" who is "opposing the loons in the Senate" and deserves "respect not hatred."
O'Reilly goes on to threaten JetBlue and the Democratic candidates speaking at the dKos Convention before bringing on two consultants to discuss the matter further where he again compares dKos to Nazis and the KKK. And when Lanny Davis offers a weak defense that not everyone on DailyKos is a hater, O'Reilly screams, "Hey look, there was some good stuff on the Nazi site. You know, give to the kids, give to the Aryan kids."
Blogged by Brad Friedman from somewhere in Texas...
"Publicly observable post-election audits are the single most important safeguard we can have for the integrity of elections in this era of computer-assisted voting," according to Livermore National Labs computer scientist David Jefferson.
"They allow everyone, winners and losers alike, to be satisfied that the races are correctly called, but without the need to trust any computers or software," he added in a press release from the California Sec. of State's office released just moments ago (posted in full at the bottom of this item) on the study he led for the SoS Debra Bowen, which examined the effectiveness of --- and made recommendations to improve --- the state's 40-year old 1% manual audit law.
In addition to her stunning announcement on Friday that her team of independent analysts at Univeristy of California, attempting to hack the states electronic voting systems as part of her promised "Top-to-Bottom Review," were able "to bypass both physical and software security measures in every system tested," Bowen has also convened a "Post-Election Audit Standards Working Group" in order to "examine whether California’s post-election audit standards should be strengthened."
Among recommendations made by the group (emphasis in original):
Take a risk-based approach to conducting post-election audits by manually counting a higher percentage of precincts – above the 1% required by law – in close races and in races involving only a small number of precincts.
Develop an adjustable sample model that fits California’s needs. With an adjustable audit, the size of the random sample for close elections and small races is not a flat percentage, such as California’s current 1%, but is calculated using the margin of victory, number of precincts in the race and other key factors to produce a desired confidence level (for example, 99%) that the winner of the election has been correctly declared.
Develop a comprehensive approach to verifying election results, including rules for escalating an audit when errors in the machine counts are discovered during the manual count and rules for determining whether to trust the outcome of the election when small discrepancies are found between the manual and machine counts. In California, the law sets no standards when it comes to audit escalation.
"No matter what voting systems California counties use," Bowen said in the statement, "we have to make sure we’re doing meaningful audits of election results to provide voters with the confidence that every vote is counted as it was cast."
The complete press statement on the just-released finds of the "Post-Election Audit Standards Working Group" follows in full below...
CA SoS Debra Bowen's public hearing concerning her "Top-to-Bottom Review" of electronic voting systems carried out by the University of California, takes place at 10am today (Monday) in Sacramento. Her office has just let us know that the hearing will be webcast live here.
According to a statement from Bowen's office this morning, the hearing will be at "the Secretary of State’s Sacramento building auditorium at 1500 11th Street."
"Secretary Bowen’s decisions on system certifications will come on or before August 3, after her thorough review of the UC team reports and input from voters, voting system vendors and local elections officials," the state says. "Today, the independent UC review teams, led by nationally respected computer science experts David Wagner and Matthew Bishop, will provide an overview of their reports. Voting system vendors will have an opportunity to respond, then public comment will be welcome."
UPDATE 1:00pm PT: The live webstream out of the hearing is almost completely unwatchable, as they must not have enough bandwidth to accommodate those trying to watch. As well, though Emily is at the hearings, there is no Internet access available in the room. So despite all best-laid plans, we'll have to wait for the her report to be posted here later tonight, and for a video archive of the hearing itself to hopefully be made available later.
Rep. Rush Holt's HR 811 Election Reform bill has become an enigma. After years of healthy dialogue with the election integrity community, Congressman Holt’s office now seems unresponsive. Just last week, rumors began to circulate that the Holt bill was adrift, its future uncertain. We later learned that the bill had entered into a series of secret negotiations, involving Majority Leader Hoyer, Speaker Pelosi, and other undisclosed parties.
Despite repeated attempts to contact anyone from the offices of Holt, Hoyer or Pelosi for a simple update, the week went by without a single call returned.
Now, we receive our first glimpse of the newly compromised Holt. We learn of the bill not from its author, nor Leader Hoyer, nor any elected, public official. Instead, it would seem that communications surrounding the bill flow through People For the American Way (PFAW), in the form of a late-Friday press release.
At a time when public confidence in our elected officials, and indeed the very process by which they are elected, is badly shaken, this is not helpful. VotersUnite will form an opinion of Hoyer-Holt only after careful reading of the text, which remains unavailable at the time of this writing. However, we are troubled that our Representatives would choose to conduct themselves in this circuitous manner, especially while considering something as fundamental as our right to vote.
Following is the full text of the original press release on the new, compromise version of HR-811, as issued by PFAW on Friday...
Blogged by Brad Friedman from somewhere in Texas...
We'll certainly have more, from various voices, in the days ahead concerning CA SoS Debra Bowen's landmark independent "Top-to-Bottom Review" of electronic voting systems. The reports from the teams at University of California are now available online here.
As well, Bowen will be taking public statements on these reports both via email at email@example.com and, in person, during a public hearing tomorrow (Monday, July 30) at her office in Sacramento beginning at 10:00am. She'll announce her decisions for decertification or otherwise next Friday, August 3rd. So your input is important, as she mentioned on during a media phone call last Friday.
But even while the results, as Bowen described them on that phone call just prior to their release, found that "the independent teams of analysts were able to bypass both physical and software security measures in every system tested," and as the report on accessibility for disabled voters found that none of the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems met federal disability standards, Democrats and People for the America Way (PFAW) in the U.S. House were busy hammering out a deal to institutionalize the continued use of such disastrous voting systems into federal law.
Out of touch much? Which part of a transparent, counted, paper ballot (not a "trail" or a "record") for every vote cast in America do these guys not understand?
Late Friday, as Bowen's UC Report was being released, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) finally came to terms, reportedly, on a deal for a revision of Holt's HR 811 Election Reform bill which allows for the use of DREs as preferred, almost exclusively, by PFAW, elections offficials, and voting machine companies. We've been reporting for months that PFAW was the main insider advocacy group moving the ball with this disappointing bill, and Saturday's New York Times confirms that it was "Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, [who] helped broker the deal" between Holt and House Leadership.
That despite Neas having previously chided me for suggesting that PFAW had the power to make or break this legislation in Congress. As we've also long reported, of course, by their own written admissions, PFAW prefers unaccountable DRE systems to paper ballot voting systems.
And though Christopher Drew's reporting at the New York Times is getting slightly better with each new story, it would be nice if "The Paper of Record" could learn enough about our voting systems so they could accurately report, and help Americans understand what's really at stake here and how the technology actually works.
Drew reported --- misleadingly --- that "The House bill would require every state to use paper records that would let voters verify that their ballots had been correctly cast and that would be available for recounts."
That's just plain wrong. The fact is that adding "cash-register-style printers to...touch-screen machines," as Drew describes it, does not allow a voter to verify that their "ballots had been correctly cast." It allows them only to verify that the paper record of their invisibly-cast electronic ballot accurately matches their intention. Maybe. The fact is: There is no way to verify that a voter's vote is correctly cast on a DRE touch-screen voting machine. Period.
Unless, of course, it's me who is out of touch in presuming that if a "ballot" is "cast" it means it will actually be counted by someone or something. Paper trails added to DRE systems are not counted --- only the internal, invisible, unverifiable ballots are. A "cash-register-style" print-out prior to the ballot being cast and counted internally does not change that.
But more on all of that, and Bowen's UC reports, as we move forward. For the moment, if you'll allow me, I wanted to touch base on a few items I asked Bowen about during the phone call which followed up on several specific issues that we've been reporting on here at The BRAD BLOG over the last several weeks.
Specifically, I asked her whether there had yet been a resolution to the discrepancies in version numbers for LA County's InkaVote system source code as turned in by ES&S, versus the version secretly stored in escrow. And whether or not she could explain the comments reportedly made by Steve Weir, Registrar-Clerk of Contra Costa County, CA and President of the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO), that CA election officials could choose to ignore Bowen's recommendations if they wanted to.
According to Bowen (full transcript and audio below) the ES&S LA County InkaVote issue remains unresolved, and she's unaware of what Weir might have been referring to. A transcript of my questions with Bowen follows, and I hope to have more on Weir soon --- and the adversarial comments he's been making in the media on behalf of CACEO --- but this article has already become much longer than I had intended...
Naturally nearly all of the news is from California in regards to their “Top-To-Bottom” review. However for those of you who are concerned about election audits there is also a great report from a group who have been working with VerifiedVoting.
Also reported is that scientists, under the GAO, may get a chance to look at the source code from the machines used in Sarasota Co last Nov.
Back to the “Top-To-Bottom” review; only one of the articles listed, the SF Chronicle article, mentions anything about the accessibility report that was also done by the California researchers, and they gave that report one sentence. The accessibility report says, “Although each of the tested voting systems included some accessibility accommodations, none met the accessibility requirements of current law and none performed satisfactorily in test voting by persons with a range of disabilities and alternate language needs.” In other words if a jurisdiction uses any of the three machines tested for accessibility they are violating federal law (HAVA).
Last night --- nearly three years after it was first reported by the BBC --- PBS's NOW finally exposed the Republican Party conspiracy to steal the 2004 Presidential Election. Whaddayaknow?
The 15 minute segment concentrates on "Voter Caging" and features appearances by Greg Palast and former US attorney David Iglesias. Readers will recall that Palast, who originally broke this story in 2004, has written BRAD BLOG exclusives on voter caging and on Tim Griffin, who was one of the leaders of the illegal scheme.
For even more on the NOW story, voter caging, and the Republican conspiracy to steal the 2004 election, listen to the replay of Brad guest hosting on the Peter B. Collins Show yesterday. Brad speaks to Palast in the first hour and interviews Bryan Myers, who produced the NOW segment, in the second hour.