By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2006, 1:59pm PT  

We'll have another fairly enormous story shortly concerning the problems, as reported previously, in Tarrant County, TX where some 100,000 votes were incorrectly added to the results of the March 7th primary by ES&S and Hart InterCivic electronic voting machines in use there. For a bit more background on that, see our report on the Hart InterCivic whistleblower who also worked in Tarrant County. He tried, to no avail, to alert the Sec. of State of problems with both Hart and Tarrant as far back as July 2004. His alarming letters, included in the article, were ignored by both the TX Sec. of State and Attorney General.

But until the promised big story out of Tarrant...We received the following email last week after posting the aforementioned report. The writer, Jerry Lobdill, identifies himself as "a retired physicist and system engineer who has specified, designed, tested, and evaluated computing systems for the US Navy for 30 years." He was a supporter of Doreen Geiger who ran in Tarrant County for Democratic Party County Chair. Read Lobdill's note for details of how the Democratic Party seems to have rolled over in Tarrant County on this issue, chosing not to challenge the questionable results from the Hart InterCivic and ES&S machines.

All of which leads the Lobdill to conclude in his note: "Democracy is dead here."

That is, of course, particularly troubling considering the TX Sec. of State halted a recount in Tom Green County yesterday when the printed results differed from the reported results from Election Night by as much as 20%.

Lobdill's email follows in full...

Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 7:23 PM
Subject: EXCLUSIVE: Hart InterCivic Whistleblower Warned of Texas, Ohio E-Voting 'Fraud' Concerns in 2004!

I am a retired physicist and system engineer who has specified, designed, tested, and evaluated computing systems for the US Navy for 30 years.

I live in Tarrant County and have been involved closely with the campaign of Doreen Geiger for Democratic Party County Chair. The March 7, 2006 election included the general election for this race. I was there on election night when Tarrant County reported periodic results of the election. The numbers of votes reported were so large that they were astonishing. The results were updated at 90 minute intervals six times. The final reported vote count for County Chair was about 44,000.

The next day there were questions from all contested races, and at 4 PM there was a press conference at the Tarrant County Elections Administration. The speakers were Gayle Hamilton, interim Elections Administrator, a vice president from Hart Intercivic, and both the Democratic Party and Republican Party County Chairs. The theme was that the error was "procedural" and not a software error. It was an error in which the running sum of votes for each candidate was erroneously substituted for the incremental count for each of the six periods. The officials emphasized that the error would not change any of the announced winners.

Although the programmer who allegedly made the error was in attendance, he did not speak.

Ms. Hamilton said that because of the error any candidate who wanted a recount would get one at no charge. Ms. Geiger and a candidate for JP, John DeLorme asked for a recount. None of the reporters in attendance apparently knew enough about computer systems to ask technical questions.

After the conference I built a spreadsheet model of the erroneous processing algorithm and showed that it would not be possible to know what changes would occur in the outcomes of the races without reprocessing the original vote counts from each of the 212 polling stations. I sent this result to the Star-Telegram (Anna Tinsley) and to all of Doreen's staff and supporters. The next day the Elections Administration announced that at least one result was changed in a Republican race. This infuriated the Republicans.

On Tuesday, March 14, Gayle Hamilton announced that the Secretary of State had prohibited her from doing any free recounts. Also on Tuesday, Doreen was told that she could not have a promised Access database of precinct by precinct returns for her race until after the vote had been canvassed. And then, instead of getting it free as promised, she'd have to pay $50 for it.

Tonight the Democratic Party of Tarrant County, in violation of the State Rules voted to approve the vote when they didn't have a quorum present. The incumbent County Chair refused to recognize points of order several times during a heated exchange on the issue. The Chair shouted down several people who rose to a point of order, and rammed the vote through. This Chair behaves as if he had some sort of financial interest in electronic voting.

Democracy is dead here.