Guest Blogged by Michael Richardson
Election Assistance Commission Executive Director Thomas Wilkey moved to the EAC after serving on the National Association of State Election Directors Voting System Board, which he chaired.
Wilkey's current boss at the EAC is Donetta Davidson, Chair of the federal commission. Davidson is a former president of NASED and served with Wilkey on the Voting System Board, which was tasked with certifying "independent testing authorities" to perform tests on electronic voting machines used throughout America.
In 2002, the Help America Vote Act transferred testing responsibility from NASED to the EAC, which took over the duties in July 2006. When it came time to issue interim accreditation to the test labs, EAC technical specialists found that Ciber, Inc. had failed to adequately document security testing while under NASED's certification. Serving "ex officio" on the Voting Systems Board, headed by Wilkey, was Shawn Southworth of Ciber.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has since recommended to the EAC that two other test labs perform the work formerly done by Ciber. Davidson, who twice testified before Congressional hearings last year on voting machine certification, failed to disclose the problems with the Ciber test lab to members of Congress. Senator Diane Feinstein has since asked Wilkey to explain why Ciber was not issued interim accreditation and why the public and election officials around the country were not notified before the November 2006 elections.
During the six months of secrecy from the EAC about the test lab ban, Ciber founder Bobby Stevenson sold $1.6 million worth of stock in the company. Ciber CEO Mac Slinglend also did some insider trading unloading $115,000 worth of the stock while the public was unaware of the EAC action against the company.
The failures of Ciber testing that led to the denial of interim accreditation were not under the EAC watch but instead arose under certification by Wilkey's NASED's Voting Systems Board.
Can EAC Chair Davidson be counted on to properly supervise her new subordinate? Maybe not, according to emails obtained by BlackBoxVoting from 2004 when both served on the NASED certification panel. Email traffic between the pair raise questions about their relationship.
On July 15, 2004 at 2:21 pm, Wilkey emailed Davidson: "You are actually reading your emails...WOW!!! Yes I will see you on Saturday. I get in about 9 pm so we will have a nightcap if you are not out partying on Bourbon Street. Love, Your New York Brother."
Two weeks later on July 29, 2004, after the nightcaps in New Orleans, Davidson sent Wilkey an email: "My Dearest Brother, Life has not slowed down, but I am staying out of trouble. Hope to talk to you soon, on the PHONE. That way I get to hear your voice. Love your Sis."
Now the cozy relationship between the two former NASED regulators can blossom at EAC where Wilkey reports to Davidson.
Wilkey's role in certifying electronic voting machines goes back a long way. According to his official agency biography, Wilkey helped draft the first voting system standards in country back in 1983 while working with the Federal Elections Commission.
"An early proponent of the creation of the National Association of State Election Directors, Wilkey has served as secretary, treasurer, vice-president and was elected president for 1996-1997. In January, Wilkey was named chair of NASED's Independent Test Authority Accreditation Board, which reviews and approves laboratories and technical groups for the testing of voting systems under NASED's national accreditation program. He was reappointed chair in 2000."
Wilkey's watchdog role over voting system security also gained him appointment to an advisory board of the Department of Defense's Federal Voting Assistance Program, which assists six million military and overseas voters. Ciber, one of Wilkey's NASED approved test labs, since banned, conducted the security testing of the FVAP computer system.
Now "New York Brother" and "Sis" are tasked with protecting the voting machine security for the entire nation. The earlier role of the two EAC leaders in oversight of Ciber's lax work that led to non-accreditation may well be the subject of Congressional hearings before the year is out.