READER COMMENTS ON
"King County, WA, May Buy Diebold Tabulators As New Election Director Pronounces Them 'The Solution With Least Amount of Risk'"
(22 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 12:57 pm PT...
I'd say it is time to play "follow the money", and see if this Sherril Huff has been enjoying any Ruth's Chris dinners and/or free private jet trips courtesy of Diebold.
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 1:26 pm PT...
We need to find the factory for Pod People and destroy it!
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 1:36 pm PT...
Incredible. Anybody who advocates Diebold for anything (even bank ATMs) is either a)a fool or b)a corporate whore.
This is not just a regional American issue, by the way. The whole world watches nervously, hoping beyond hope that a superpower founded on the principle of democracy, that preaches democracy beyond its shores, won't compromise its own democracy and tip the nation towards fascism, due to the ignorance, cowardice, or corruption of public officials on the US taxpayers' payrole. This would be bad for the whole world, not just the US.
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 1:50 pm PT...
Point of clarification: King County is already using Diebold, has been since 1998. They are planning to embark on something even worse: A Diebold privacy-theft and vote-switching machine made specifically for mail-in votes.
1) The machines King County wants to buy are the Diebold High Speed Central Count machines. These machines do not tabulate the BALLOT, but instead tabulate a digital photograph of the ballot produced by the scanner.
A feature: The users can, at their option, change the way the digital image is read. This is a FEATURE, not a bug. Right-click the yes and it becomes a no.
2) The machines automatically create directories full of ballot photographs, which I once thought was cool. No more. Because here's Part 2 of the privacy-stealing machine:
The county is planning to buy a ballot tracking system. I thought, at first, that this was a system to put a bar code on the outer envelope that allows the voter to check whether their ballot made its way through the post office. Well yes, but that's only PART of the goodies. It turns out that this same ballot tracking system optionally allows the County to put the ballot tracker bar code ON THE BALLOT itself.
This is already being done, and citizens, upon finding the bar codes ON THEIR BALLOTS in San Juan County, have filed a lawsuit. It's illegal, and the head of VoteHere --- Ralph Munro --- knows that full well, since he used to be secretary of state in Washington. No matter, he's successfully been pushing the development of, sales of, and implementation of vote-tracking bar codes printed on the BALLOT.
Now enter the Diebold image scanner again: No need for someone to sit in the warehouse digging through the ballots themselves to see how you voted, now that the bar code will be on the ballot. Nope, with the Diebold image scanner, this ballot-tracker bar code is photographed right there on your ballot, then neatly stored in a directory with thousands of others, easy to download the whole batch in minutes with a small USB thumb drive.
With or without the ballot tracker, this system of collecting images is dangerous. King County is also demanding the right to count the mail-in votes EARLY. They can guard the ballots to their heart's content, but no one will need the ballots any more to get sneak peeks at results BEFORE the election.
This new Diebold machine makes that as simple as plugging in a little USB drive, downloading, and off you go.
For an added bonus, you can get the ballot tracker bar code on your download, simply by purchasing the ballot tracker system and opting for the option to implant it on ballots as well.
Simply a promise not to use that feature is insufficient. It puts a burden of vigilance upon the citizenry to make sure the "ON" switch is never pulled for the privacy-theft device, and that burden is unreasonable.
You don't stick a toddler at the top of the stairs and say "well, the babysitter is watching him." You gate it off.
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 2:03 pm PT...
As always, Bev Harris provides details and insight on election integrity that can't be found elsewhere. Thank you, Bev!
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 2:03 pm PT...
I think that with Diebold's "fraudulent" and "despicable" history, State Kevin Shelley decribed them, asserting that as that "they can't do business in California" (and apparently, like honorable election official Bruce Funk in Utah, being stripped of his power by corrupt anti-American powers-that-be because of it), it is time not only for American voters to eradicate Diebold voting machines, but time for bank consumers to seriously consider doing the same with Diebold ATMs (banks are nothing without you. Express your concerns to your bank today). It is time to destroy Diebold. It is shocking that they're not on trial for treason. Why didn't Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley investigate and prosecute Diebold and Wyatt, Tarrant& Coombs, the law firm that aided and abetted their crimes in California? Oh, yeah, because Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley is a corporate whore; anti-democratic thug Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley is Diebold's bitch.
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 2:33 pm PT...
You say that a law to keep the bar-code off the ballot would not be sufficient because it requires too much citizen oversight to ensure. If those images were posted in the Internets on Election Night (after close of polls), making it easy, in theory to check to make sure no barcodes were present, do the trick?
Even if so, that wouldn't speak to your concerns about the ease of getting at those results early, as mentioned. Do you see any legislative way to safely handle that issue as well?
I ask, because I *do* like Hursti's plan so far, in making those images available online via use of Digitial Image Op-Scan (if not necessarily Diebold's)
Your thoughts in response to the above are appreciated, of course.
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 3:20 pm PT...
Thanks for posting on this. We'll be covering the plan for highspeed ballot tabulation. There's a hearing coming up and we'll arrive prepared. Right now, we're focusing on the mail ballot tracking portions of the plan. Announcement follows.
Cheers, Jason Osgood / Seattle WA
King County plans to adopt mail ballot tracking. This is more than envelope tracking. It adds a unique barcode to your ballot that is linked to your voter’s id. This eliminates your secret ballot, taking away all voter privacy. Unique barcodes on ballots are unconstitutional, illegal, and bad policy.
Protect Our Secret Ballot - May 1st 7:00pm
How Your Vote Can Be Tracked to You: San Juan County Ballot Tracking
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 3:37 pm PT...
Brad, I was thinking of counties, not laws. King County recently responded to a reporter's questions about the privacy problem with "oh, we won't buy that kind of ballot tracker." Well, since to the best of my knowledge all the ballot trackers on the market have the option to also stick it on the ballot, that's really just promising "not to use" the feature and sticking citizens with the obligation to police officials to make sure they NEVER use it, which is what I refer to as a requirement for unreasonable diligence.
I do favor legislation on this and, in fact, I think laws prohibiting any unique mark on the ballot --- language is already in several state laws to that effect --- are essential. Such laws will help protect our right to political privacy.
In fact, I think such language needs to be added in to Susan Davis's "right to mail in voting" bill that encourages using ballot tracking devices. We do need to bear in mind, though, that Washington State already has such a law and they're basically forcing citizens to pony up the dough to take them to court over the illegal insertion of ballot tracking bar codes on ballots.
Citizens shouldn't have to go to court over this stuff. Sucks. As we know, forcing citizens to go to court enables use of illegal features a few times before the whole thing can be adjudicated.
Laws are a start, but insufficient.
If we are going to have a testing and certification system, this ballot tracking software needs to be subjected to it. And if we are to have guidelines, this ballot tracking software (and hardware) needs to be subject to it. That's IF --- I'm not sure that's the most efficient and simple way to deal with this.
I think a simpler way to deal with it would be to ban the purchase of any software that contains an option for a tracker on the ballot, to also ban the use of any unique mark on the ballot (remember, the serial numbers, which are a good accounting procedure, are supposed to be REMOVED from the ballot before it is submitted by the voter). Added to that we'd need to do public education about the dangers of bar codes and any other non-human readable marking on ballots.
To block the quick cheat-peeks by downloading the ballot images directories --- and as many probably know, fantastic work by Jim March and John Brakey have proven that early cheat-peeks at results are already being done in some locations --- we need laws to prohibit early scanning of mail-in votes.
Jim March / John Brakey Cheat Peek study: http://www.bbvforums.org...messages/1954/46569.html
Washington State already prohibits early scanning, but is trying to change it; California permits early scanning, which will make cheat-peeks a lucrative business with the downloadable digital ballot images. Why pay for polls, with a margin of error, when you can surreptitiously buy a file with all the mail-in ballots themselves and know EXACTLY how the election is going, just in time for highly targeted last minute political maneuvers.
I like the Hursti plan too. Indeed, the Hursti plan --- which was funded and published by Black Box Voting --- would kill off the ballot tracker privacy stealer.
There remain troubling questions about how the Hursti Plan could be used for coercion and vote-buying. My concerns with that are a little greater than they used to be. I think that particularly in our diverse country which has many naturalized immigrants, who are often subject to employer exploitation, the Hursti Plan may enable a system of very subtle marking purchased or coerced by employers to manipulate votes. Tammany Hall scandals involved employers manipulating immigrant employee voting.
One of the chief reasons to have a private ballot is not not about wholesale coercion and selling, and doesn't require the quantities that can change election results. One critically important reason for political privacy is to encourage us to vote our conscience. In this perspective, even if one person feels they cannot vote their conscience because of loss of privacy, it is a concern. Publishing the images would offer ways for abusive spouses to make it hard to vote one's conscience, and while this would not affect election results, it would disenfranchise people. In fact, those citizens most vulnerable to exploitation of all types are the very ones at most risk when political privacy can be removed. People in nursing homes. Very low-wage workers with families to support. Persons being subjected to domestic violence. Persons dependent on caregivers.
Those issues may be solvable, but probably do need to be addressed for the Hursti method to be accepted.
Hursti, unlike any other technologist, does understand the need for SIMPLICITY and CITIZEN OVERSIGHT. As a technology approach, his method is by far the most accomodating to real, meaningful Sunshine in Elections. But it still has a few kinks to be worked out in order to get it accepted.
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 4:26 pm PT...
Glad to hear you're on the job up there! Keep us upped, and be sure to read Bev's post above re: the existing privacy laws in WA (which you likely know already). But to help counter her concern of citizens being forced to go to court AFTER the fact, it seems smart to make all kinds of noise now about the privacy law and the concerns about the ability to use ballot marking, so the issue gets nipped in the bud, given your existing laws.
There remain troubling questions about how the Hursti Plan could be used for coercion and vote-buying. My concerns with that are a little greater than they used to be. I think that particularly in our diverse country which has many naturalized immigrants, who are often subject to employer exploitation, the Hursti Plan may enable a system of very subtle marking purchased or coerced by employers to manipulate votes.
I too was concerned about the vote buying until I talked to Hursti about it who pointed out that it's already easily (much more easily) done, in fact, via absentee ballots. And I had my "Duh" moment, since I should have already realized that.
On the other hand, coercion is another matter all together. The abusive spouse scenario, I think, is likely already done away with, by and large, because of the ability to do exactly that via absentee ballots.
Employer/employee coercion would be another matter which would be less mitigated by absentee ballots (since presumably, a Husband/Wife have more control over each others use of absentee voting, whereas an Employer might not have that kind of access, but could arguably be given that via posting of the ballots online.)
I'm certainly not ready to do away with the Hursti Plan on that basis, but I agree that it merits consideration and/or solutions.
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 5:03 pm PT...
I agree, Brad, not willing to do away with the Hursti plan over this yet. The difference in regard to the vote-buying scenario with publishing the images on the 'net is that it makes them easily accessible to everyone (which is a good thing, for citizens!) but that also makes them easily accessible for "proof" by those who are manipulating the vote.
So, I'm an employer of a whole bunch of people in a small county. My industry, blasting mountains to smithereens to scrape out the coal, while raping the environment, would be affected negatively by a bill in my state to prohibit me from certain exceptionally destructive practices. My employees are dirt-poor Appalachian laborers. I tell them, "when you vote, write in 'Mr. Snerd' for county commissioner and squiggle your initials after it but real hard to read, so no one gets wise to this. If you do that, I'll pay you $20 and if you don't, I won't give you any of the overtime gigs."
If you don't put ballots on the Internet, this employer is hard-pressed to get any proof of anything; note that he could use any type of secret code, but almost nowhere do they post the names of write-in results so he'd not be able to know. BUT --- put it on the Internet, he knows the ballots will be on the Internet, and he can check quick and easy.
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 4/27/2007 @ 8:06 pm PT...
There are no "options" that won't be used.
Is it possible to put a bar code on the ballot that you cannot see but that can be read by the right machine?
Someone with more expertise please advise.
I don't think the companies involved would go to the trouble of creating an "option" like the bar code without some way to use it regardless.
Just because a citizen can't see one doesn't mean it isn't there.
It's time for the major voting machine companies to go away- way away.
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 4/28/2007 @ 6:51 am PT...
Badger, that's reaching a bit... but just for discussion:
"By not seeing the message that is there before you"... look up steganography.
If there is anything variable about the formatting of, or anything resempling an image on the ballot then it might technically possible, but it very much depends on the precise details.
On the other hand there is the danger of seeing things that just aten't there... like all those people who mistook cryptic roadsign markers as routes to secret Amtrak-based concentration camps... not knowing that when the balloon went up the brand new concentration camps were built openly by Halliburton and friends with government contracts.
COMMENT #14 [Permalink]
said on 4/28/2007 @ 9:39 am PT...
Thanks for the input. I looked up steganograph and also found this:
If Wikipedia is right, some form of invisible bar code may already be in use by the Post Office:
"Some vendors now offer invisible ink for use in computer inkjet printers.  Such inks are usually visible under ultraviolet light. Typical uses include printing information on business forms for use by the form processor, without cluttering up the visible contents of the form. For example, some United States Postal Service mail sorting stations use UV-visible ink to print bar codes on mailed envelopes giving routing information for use by mail handling equipment further down the line before delivery."
I don't want to hijack the thread by narrowing the topic.
But if the Postal Service already uses UV-visible ink bar codes for "routing," think what kinds of use that could be put to on mail-in ballots, especially if that bar code links the ballot to the voter or even to an area of a particular demographic.
COMMENT #15 [Permalink]
said on 4/28/2007 @ 4:20 pm PT...
I live in Seattle, which is about 85% democratic, to say that it would look odd if a republican won here is an understatement, and would be highly suspicious to say the least. I find it baffling that they would even try something like that here, how stupid are these people?????
COMMENT #16 [Permalink]
said on 4/29/2007 @ 6:01 am PT...
Who said that the bad actors need be Republicans... or indeed of any particular label?
(Ya gots to pardon some of the locals if they seem a bit hair-triggered in that regard... but who can blame them?)
COMMENT #17 [Permalink]
said on 4/29/2007 @ 8:59 am PT...
Perhaps I was trying to oversimplify the issue, without getting in to the complexities of the various types of voting machines, methods, etc. However I am correct in my sentiment that it would look beyond strange if all of a sudden the republican candidate for president in 08 won here in King county. Obviously you have never been here and perhaps reside in a more scarlet state...
COMMENT #18 [Permalink]
said on 4/29/2007 @ 2:00 pm PT...
But you seem to be saying that because a certain set of circumstances apply in WA that a particular tactic will be ineffective.
But perhaps I'm thinking you're thinking of the wrong tactic. Or as was once said:"Vote! There may not be anyone you want to vote for, but there is certain to be someone you want to vote against."
... perhaps someone wouldn't be all that disappointed if they were assured that the "wrong" Democratic candidate(s) will not win in any particular election in the Northwest...
Perhaps my point is that there is literally no safe place when ballots are at risk... and since "safe areas" or "safe seats" are a longstanding tenent of political strategy...
COMMENT #19 [Permalink]
said on 4/29/2007 @ 4:05 pm PT...
I think people would wax suspicious if any candidate who was in the minority in a precinct won; and won against the pre-election polls; won against the exit poll predictions, and won against the logic when compared with the other votes on the same ballot.
For instance if Dick Cheney (at 9% in the polls) were to win 51%-49% in the next presidential election, no sugar sounding, personality cult rhetoric, or slapping on the back side in various locations, would overcome the common sense of that situation.
"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows".
Don't leave your common sense at home or the dog will eat your homework, and you will lose all 8 million of your emails, and won't be able to "recall your recollection of past memories".
Know what I'm sayin?
COMMENT #20 [Permalink]
said on 4/29/2007 @ 5:42 pm PT...
Didn't Kerry win in the exit polls in Ohio in 04?
Point well taken Dredd, and perhaps I have a read a bit too much Orwell, but I just believe that they would attempt such a turn around.
By the way, not to change the subject too much, but would someone please enlighten me as to how impeaching Bush and Cheney would result in the Dems. losing the 08 race????
I mean Clinton was impeached (at a much higher approval standing) and the repubs. still stole 2000 (pun intended).
COMMENT #21 [Permalink]
Rick in Kirkland
said on 4/29/2007 @ 9:25 pm PT...
Melissa - King County is not uniformly Democratic. The 8th congressional district in east county has always gone Republican. In the last election, Democrat Darcy Burner came within 5 votes per precinct of defeating Republican Dave Reichert. Also, we have had some close votes on various ballot issues. So, every vote does count, and a little hanky-panky might not be easily discovered.
COMMENT #22 [Permalink]
said on 5/3/2007 @ 4:25 pm PT...
I guess you are right, I suppose I live in a bit of a bubble here in urban hippie Seattle. I do notice when I happen to stray too far east that the political slant seems to noticeably change.
I remember the Burner/Reichert race, and how it took days before they reported the final results, perhaps that was a fishy race...
It is such a frightening country we live in at this time.