By Brad Friedman on 6/16/2006, 8:04am PT  

PBS' News Hour with Jim Leher covered electronic voting as it occurred in last week's California primary. Suffice to say, while the report was "balanced" strongly towards a pro e-voting position, there were a number of points worth noting, and which underscore the points I've been making re: the illegalities in the Busby/Bilbray election fiasco.

UPDATE: Thanks to David Edwards, the video of the report is now available here: Video in Streaming Flash format...

1) Virtually every shot of a Diebold touch-screen voting machine shown in use on Election Day last week in the story, clearly reveals the (nearly-inexplicably) opaque plastic door designed into these systems as being closed over the view window of the so-called "Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT) printer --- begging the question of how many voters actually bothered to verify their so-called "paper trail" when using these machines.

2) One long-time poll worker is asked what he's seen so far this year with the new voting machines. "Confusion," he replies. Then he goes on to report that voters are supposed to confirm their choices on the screen instead of via the "paper trail"...

SPENCER MICHELS: Don LeBlanc manned the polls in Stockton.

Will they get to look at the paper trail to see if they've voted correctly?

DON LEBLANC: Well, you look on the computer screen.

SPENCER MICHELS: But not the paper itself?

DON LEBLANC: No, that's for the computer --- that's for the people at the office.


3) Computer Scientist David Jefferson from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who examined the systems for CA Sec. of State Bruce McPherson, in light of the recent Utah analysis of Diebold touch-screen systems revealing they could be hacked with two minutes of physical access and no password necessary says (Francine Busby campaign, please take note!)...

DAVID JEFFERSON, Computer Scientist: What Mr. Hursti discovered in Utah is the most serious vulnerability that we've ever seen in a voting system. This particular vulnerability is serious enough that you can affect multiple machines from a single attack. That's what makes it so dangerous.

SPENCER MICHELS: Mark Radke, marketing director for Diebold, says it's not possible to infect multiple machines and the problem is being exaggerated.

MARK RADKE, Diebold Election Systems: I think a very minimal issue is being sensationalized, to be blunt. It's a situation where a lot of the procedures, a lot of the layers of protection involved with electronic voting that you see in every jurisdiction are being ignored.

And, of course, the units are stored in locked enclosures.

Of course they are, Mark.

4) Diebold's spokesperson Deborah Hench (actually, the Registrar of Voters for San Joaquin County, CA, but she may as well be paid by Diebold since she's so deeply hooked into the Diebold disinfo network) lies thusly to PBS (without challenge or correction, like the smug Radke) about what it would take to corrupt an election:

DEBORAH HENCH, Registrar of voters, San Joaquin County: You're going to have to break into my warehouse before we deploy. You're going to have to change 1,660 units. You're going to have to do it all within about an hour or two, because my alarm is going off somewhere along the line and we expect the police department to be there shortly.

Hench's record of misleading the very voters she's entrusted to serve continues to grow. Waytago Deb!

5) CA SoS Bruce McPherson quotes his own press materials (again without challenge) to say: "I established the strictest voting procedures and voting system procedures in the nation." Well, he may have "established" some strict voting procedures (his predecessor Kevin Shelley's were far stricter,) but he doesn't actually bother to enforce them. At all. Zero. And, in fact, has violated his own "strict procedures" and the California state law many times in the bargain. But don't tell PBS.

6) Oh, and then there's that one precinct the PBS crew happened to stop by where the poll workers "started tearing all the seals off all of the machines. And three out of the four machines in this polling place do not have those security seals on them right now," according to California Voter Foundation's Kim Alexander in the report. Those machines, of course, would also be illegal for use in an election with the tamper seals torn off. PBS has video tape if McPherson is interested. But I'm sure such pesky legalities, which violate his own "strict standards" are not all that important to McPherson for whom rules, laws and regulations --- even his own --- don't actually seem to apply.

Other than was a great report!

The complete text transcript and the audio (but not the video, unfortunately, with all the shots of the cover down over the "paper trail" printers) is at the PBS News Hour site.

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