Rejects Judge Vic Rawl's protest in 5 hour hearing with expert testimony on how ES&S voting system failed
Greene not at hearing, presented no case, evidence that election results were accurate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2010, 5:53pm PT  

The South Carolina Democratic Party Executive Board rejected Judge Vic Rawl's official protest to the results of last week's U.S. Senate primary, despite no evidence presented that the results were accurate, and despite Alvin Greene having not even shown up to the protest hearing. Rawl had originally filed his protest based, in large part, on the "well-documented unreliability and unverifiability of the voting machines used in South Carolina."

Greene's election as the Democratic party nominee for the U.S. Senate, to run against incumbent Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, stands. The vote of the Executive Board was 38.5 to 7.5 in favor of rejecting Rawl's protest and upholding the results. Not kidding.

The Rawl campaign presented an impressive five-hour case in Columbia today, including two computer scientists and security experts who both asserted that there was no reasonable explanation for election results other than some kind of voting system malfunction in either the hardware or software. Voters testified that they had trouble selecting Rawl on the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen systems, and that their votes were flipped to Greene. Campaign workers testified that they received calls all throughout Election Day concerning problems with the machines and reports that pollworkers were swapping out sensitive memory cartridges.

Despite the historical record of failure of the ES&S voting system, and numerous state-sponsored studies (in state's other than SC) which all found that the systems are poorly coded and exceptionally vulnerable to malicious manipulation, Rawl's team of computer scientists were not allowed access to the voting system hardware and software in order to examine it for bugs or tampering.

Rawl's attorney instructed the Executive Board that they were required to vote on the protest on the basis of whether the evidence presented in the hearing demonstrated the results to be true and accurate or not. No evidence was presented that the results were accurate, only that they were not. Nonetheless, the SC Democratic Party's Executive Board voted resoundingly to reject Rawl's protest, which the candidate has said he will not appeal.

After the motion was rejected, and the meeting adjourned, Rawl quieted the crowd to say a few words (the following is now transcribed directly from the audio)...

RAWL: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk to you, I'm gonna take about two minutes of your time. This is not about me. This is not about Republicans. This is not about blacks, it is not about whites. It's about the sanctity of our electorial process and the only thing that I can do here today in the time frame allowable, which is ten days --- this is a Democratic primary, this is absolutely not a general election --- we cannot seize, legally, the machines. We don't have the ability nor the power to go back through and look at everything as people would request us to do. If this were a general election, perhaps we could have done that. We were allowed ten days and ten days only.

What I would like to see the party do is to correct its rules to take this into consideration, since they've had plenty of time to do so over the past...I believe Mr. Frazier is now running his 15th or 16th term...Uh, ladies and gentlemen, this is not about the Democratic Party. This is about the opportunity to do something that is necessary in my opinion, and to look at, as an issue that has been around for a while, that the politics and the statehouse is not going to address, considering the make-up of who is there, and because of the rights and the power that they have.

This is the only opportunity that I had to bring it before a group of people who have the best interest of the Democratic Party and the state of South Carolina in their hearts and minds.

I appreciate the opportunity to present it. I did present it to the best of my ability and the best ability of my staff. I thank them profusely, from the bottom of my heart. They have done absolutely magnificent things, with little time and little money. Thank you very much.

REPORTER QUESTION: Will you appeal this decision?

RAWL: No! I'm not gonna talk any more. Thank you very much. [applause]

Wow. See our entire LIVE BLOG of the full proceedings below...

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Below is the LIVE streaming broadcast of the protest hearing being held right now in Columbia, SC, before the state's Democratic Party executive board, concerning the bizarre results of last week's Democratic U.S. Senate primary. Judge Vic Rawl has filed a protest alleging "systemic software problems" within the state's oft-failed, easily-manipulated 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic e-vote system, leading to results that show the jobless, unknown Alvin Greene having defeated him by 59% to 41%...


Live commentary from Brad during protest hearing (latest on top)...

8:28pm ET: BREAKING: SC Dem Party Exec Board rejects protest to Sen Election despite NO evidence presented that results were accurate! Alvin Greene's election upheld by SC Dem Party Exec Board 38.5 to 7.5. Not kidding.

8:24pm ET: Mr. Fowler (husband of Dem Party chair) says "Rawl has performed great service for the Democratic Party". (Round of applause.)

8:22pm ET: Chair says: "I believe votes were clearly in favor. ... Was overwhelmingly 'for'"...

8:21pm ET: There are 92 members of the SC Dem Party exec board, though many are not there. Votes strongly in favor, so far, of REJECTING the protest and upholding the election of Alvin Greene, despite NO evidence presented that the election results were accurate...

8:12pm ET: Taking voice vote on whether to REJECT the protest, and thus to uphold the election results. (Geez, could they be any more confusing about this?!)

8:05pm ET: Woman member: I couldn't let only white folks speak up. I believe what happened was deeply flawed. If we react on emotion, and not based on the law, how does that make us any different than the Republicans? Depending on results of this motion, there may be more anger. Suggest we make a decision, vote it up or down, and then focus on November, because that's what's important. If we spend our time fighting about this in the courts.... we are all deeply conflicted. But we've got to move on. As we continue to debate, the GOP continues to mount a fall campaign. (She gets round of applause. Seems to be in favor of REJECT Rawl's motion.)

8:04pm ET: Male board member (didn't get name) to speak against Rejecting motion: What do we do if we make a decision that runs contrary to the election. This thing is like a dog chewing it's own tail. Could go for a long time and we don't have the time for that.

8:02pm ET: Woman (did not catch name) It does come down to the machines. In '08 SC League of Women Voters told commission: "You have flawed machines, seriously flawed machines." We have a candidate at this moment who has shown respect to the SC Dem Party. (Implies Greene didn't show up at any party events, conventions, or even at hearing today.)

8:01pm ET: "Mr. Fowler": Against protest and overturning election. Any fair understanding of how voters make decisions, one cannot likely conclude we would have gotten a result of 60/40. Despite of this, not enough evidence shown that election would be overturned by flaws. (Carolyn Fowler is state party chair, don't know if "Mr. Fowler" is related.)

7:57pm ET: A member moves to deny, reject the protest and to urge Rawl to seek judicial relief instead. Another member speaks in favor of protest: This election is flawed, our system is flawed because there is no paper trail. They have shown us with preponderance of evidence, that election can be rigged. I say we deny motion, and uphold the protest.

7:55pm ET: Now back in open session.

7:23pm ET: Closed session will be to deliberate with lawyers, to determine legal standards of how to proceed. Currently recessed during that closed Executive Session. Vote will (presumably) occur on whether to accept or reject Rawl's protest to the election results afterwords. If so, will a new election be run? That's what Rawl's camp is asking for. We wait...

7:20pm ET: Chair takes vote on whether to go into executive session (presumably, a closed session). Vote is very close on that! Takes a recount! :-) Goes to voice vote to find out for sure. Looks like closed session wins! Recess for private Executive Session. :-(

7:16pm ET: Q: What is your request? Nettles: I request is you find this election invalid, and order a new primary for the U.S. Senate.

7:15pm ET: Nettles: We presented expert review of data and stats. This is an anomaly, not right. If someone else says results are inaccurate because of machines, they'd have to prove that it was the machine's fault, as we did.

7:14pm ET: Nettles: Does the SC Dem Party want Alvin Greene to run for U.S. Senate?

7:12pm ET: Nettles: These thing happened across the country. When you see these things, all the experts agree, something's wrong, there's a flaw in the program. Whatever decision executive comm. makes, it has to be based on the evidence in this case. What evidence have you heard today that this was a true, valid election? None. (That's true also because Greene didn't even show up, nobody represented his side. - BF)

7:10pm ET: Nettles: Summarizes the expert testimony, and theories of what could have happened that were dismissed by statistical studies. Focusing on only a problem with the machines left. "When there is no paper trail, you can't have a recount. You're only going to get what was printed out the first time. On absentee precincts, you can have a recount."

7:09pm ET: This is not a criminal standard. We don't have to prove what happened, just that something ruined results. When you eliminate all other possibilities as to what went wrong, you are left with only one possible solution.

7:04pm ET: The standard is that if you find enough questions about validity of this election that could change the results of this election, that's the standard.

7:03pm ET: Nettles notes the only question is whether this election, not others on the ballots, should be thrown out. If board grants request, it'll be a two man race for Senate primary.

7:02pm ET: Rawl atty Nettles begins closing argument by answering a few remaining questions from board.

6:58pm ET: [Notes during pause here: For the record, I've been trying to live Tweet these proceedings via @TheBradBlog. If you're not a follower! Please do! Also, we are supported by reader donations! Please feel free to DONATE HERE!]

6:46pm ET: Prior to Rawl attny Nettles closing argument, a 10 minute recess now ongoing...

6:44pm ET: Q: Were the passwords stored on the machines accessible? Expert Buell: We don't know the answer. The state elections commission would have the answer.

6:43pm ET: Q: How does replacing memory cards in middle of race effect the process? Expert Abrams: Haven't run experiments, but according to ES&S manual, you can't close machine if a different card than the one when it was opened. If you do, you lose the data on the cards.

6:38pm ET: Ludwig: I've run state elections, I've run local elections. I've never seen anything like this before. Greene ran no campaign. Rawl had a very aggressive campaign. There's never been anything like this, since running campaigns in SC since 1996 that compares.

6:34pm ET: Cmpgn Mgr Ludwig: We've seen these same problems all over the country. (See BRAD BLOG's article on historical ES&S failures here - BF)

6:32pm ET: Q: Is there a way to check for programming errors? Comp. Expert Buell: Only way to check for programming errors is to conduct extensive tests. Thousands of lines of codes. Ballots are programmed differently for each election, so it's a moving target.

6:30pm ET: Comp Expert Buell: Actual data will be lost in next day or so, due to upcoming run-off election! (GET COURT ORDER TO KEEP DATA!!! - BF)

6:29pm ET: Is there more research that could be done if there were more time? Comp Expert Buell: Yes. FL did a very narrow study after probs in '06 election. CA SoS ordered a more thorough study. OH did a study and decertified the machines. One problem doing that research is that software and hard are considered proprietary.

6:27pm ET: Chair Q: Did you personally test hardware and software of machines used in election? Comp Expert Abrams: I went to examine them, but officials refused to let me do so. We had the technology, but were thwarted by the county.

6:26pm ET: Rawl Cmpgn Mgr Ludwig: If we had paper ballots, we could go back and count them. But we don't have that. So we can't tell you what went wrong.

6:25pm ET: Rawl Cmpgn Mgr Ludwig: We're not asserting they were hacked. We don't know what happened. We know the results are wrong. Don't know it was malicious hack. Could be a mistake, a hack. These machines are incredibly frail. We just know the results were wrong.

6:22pm ET: Expert Abrams: 42 out of 46 counties have data on ballots prepared by SC Election Comm. If there was a problem at that commission, then basically all the counties could have a problem because of that one problem --- due to malicious code or a mistake. Expert Buell: Let me corroborate that. A bug could propagate statewide if only one place sets up all the systems.

6:18pm ET: Chair Q: We all recognize computers and voting machines are subject to error. Is it expected to get reasonable results in all races accept U.S. Sen race in Democratic primary? How can this be explained? Expert Buell: In software with bugs, its not that uncommon that one particular flaw stands out. I don't find that to be an unusual kind of event. If somebody were to tamper with machines, you'd expect one change, and not the rest.

6:13pm ET: Chair Q: If vote tampering could have happened, what other evidence do we have other than results of this election? Expert Buell: I don't think that we do. Many of the studies have shown that the security is very very low. Code can be tampered with a bug, and then self-erase itself on way out. Virtually every study has shown how it can be done. So it looks like original software was there when investigating after election.

6:10pm ET: Chair Q: Could a hacker cause totals to simply be reversed? Answer from Abrams: Could be done in one of two ways. Could have hacked into software that produces ballots, or it could be done on the tabulation software on the Unity computers were the votes were being computed. If someone had hacked them, it would be a fairly easy job.

6:08pm ET: Chair Q: Any physical evidence that shows voting machines were connected to Internet on Election Day. Answer from Abrams: I don't know that voting machines were elected, but clearly Unity (tabulator computers) were connected.

6:06pm ET: Chair: If machines were flawed or corrupted, why was this the only race corrupted? Abrams: Is possible that there was only a bug, or a hack on a single line on a ballot. Assumption is there was a problem with just the Senate race.

6:02pm ET: Chair asked if any witnesses were paid, and if so, how much. Expert witness Abrams says he wasn't paid yet, but hourly rate is $100/hour. Estimates maybe 7 days, 4 hours a day for investigation, not for testimony. No other witnesses raise hand to say they were paid.

6:01pm ET: Someone asks if all this is true then ALL the machines in SC "are bad". Chair says only question here is whether protest should be accepted, and if so, what is remedy.

6:00pm ET: During short pause, I'll note that the Rawl campaign MUST get a court order to get all memory cards and machine chips quarantined immediately before they are scrubbed!

5:57pm ET: Rawl attorney Nettles completes presentation. Witnesses still in room for questioning from members of SC Dem Party exec board.

5:53pm ET: Joan Weigel from Lexington Cty. Voted for Gov first, went to second race, hit Rawl's name, it lit up, went to 3rd race and went to confirm and GREENE's name had a check mark by it! (This is a very familiar prob with ES&S iVotronic probs reported in the past!)

5:52pm ET: Voter (a teacher, but I missed the name) says Rawl was not on the ballot at all.

5:49pm ET: Susan Turner, voter, college teacher: Tried to vote for Gov., got a "grey screen" and then a vote for Alvin Greene, Senate lit up!

5:47pm ET: Ann: Trouble with machines reported all day long. Memory cards had to be changed in the middle of voting (oy!)

5:46pm ET: Ann: Voters said they got D ballot when attempting to vote R and vice versa.

5:45pm ET: Ann: Affidavits that Rawl wasn't even on the ballot in some cases. Didn't have reports of reverse happening (attempts to vote for Greene, but Rawl lighted up).

5:44pm ET: Abrams finishes. Ann ????, a campaign worker takes stand to testify to problems received from voters on Election Day. Voters tried to "repeatedly press it" for Rawl "4 to 6 times" and it wouldn't light up. "They tried and pressed Greene and it did light up".

5:41pm ET: Abrams: Some flash cards sent to Rice U. Found no individual ballots on flash cards. One more link in the chain that we cannot verify.

5:40pm ET: Abrams: I don't believe results a "true accurate count of vote" and "no way to verify" whether it is.

5:39pm ET: Abrams: No independent paper record of vote totals. Only software totals.

5:37pm ET: Abrams: Berkley (sic?) County "Unity" computers, the tabulators, were hooked to the Internet (despite dangers of accessing these machines via Internet). Would be possible for someone to alter the vote via Internet.

5:34pm ET: Abrams: Hired to look at software, flash cards. Wasn't allowed to. (if I heard that correctly). Would be very easy for a voter to tamper with computer in many different aspects.

5:30pm ET: Computer forensic expert Steve Abrams of NYU takes stand. Lots of impressive credentials.

5:28pm ET: Buell: These machines should be used with an enormous amount of skeptism. It's entirely reasonable to believe if we got a surprising result, that something went wrong with software. None of the external reviews have found these machines acceptable.

5:23pm ET: Buell: Federal testing authorities do no tests of software or counting of votes.

5:18pm ET: Buell: Has reviewed all academic reviews of e-voting machines. Especially Ohio's EVEREST report and FSU's study. These machines are "exactly the type of programming a student shouldn't do... If password routines were done by a Senior student, we wouldn't give him a passing grade. One password was stored in the software, and was same password used on every machine ... you absolutely do not store passwords in the sourcecode!"

5:14pm ET: Duncan Buell, computer science expert from U. of S.C. called to testify on ES&S iVotronic e-voting.

5:12pm ET: Ludwig finishes: "Judge Rawl actually won, if all of the votes had counted correctly."

5:09pm ET: Ludwig still: "Vic Rawl campaign hard, compared to Mr. Greene who did not campaign at all. ... It isn't that he wasn't competitive, he wasn't competing". Rawl had paper endorsements, campaigned across state, etc. Internal poll showed Rawl running against DeMint 50-43. Campaign did over 200k robo-calls, over 330k GOTV mailers.

5:02pm ET: Racial preference doesn't explain discrepancy either, according to more experts at and SwingStateProject blog. "No relationship between race and results in counties".

5:01pm ET: We did not start at "50/50" as some have said. Rawl did actual campaigning, Greene did not. Ballot order does not explain discrepancy, since Greene was first on absentee paper ballots too.

4:56pm ET: Ludwig: If inauditable Election Day totals were equal in percentage to absentee paper ballots, Rawl would have won.

4:53pm ET: Ludwig: Paper-based absentee ballots had disparity with Election Day ES&S voting machine ballots in many counties. Nothing even close occurred in any other race on the Dem ballot. Rawl won in absentees, lost on Election Day.

4:50pm ET: Ludwig believes results not true. "Serious abnormalities".

4:48pm ET: Nettles calls Walter Ludwig, Rawl campaign chair to testify.

4:45pm ET: Rawl attorney Truet Nettles (sp?) begins case: "Results not true, do not reflect majority of votes. ... Will show committee real math, real statistics and real explanations of what SC voters really wanted to do ... Will have presentation from Professor Buell and Steve Abrams, forensic expert in computers, testimony from staff about what happened on Election Day and voters as to what happened when voters tried to vote for Rawl. All the evidence today shows that is not a valid, true result of the way voters voted."

4:41pm ET: Greene NOT at protest, apparently. Was given "every opportunity" to be in the room today. Chair says she had folks tell him personally that the proceedings were important.

4:39pm: ET: Back in session.

4:27pm ET: Taking a five minute recess. Rawl/Greene protest should take place after break.

4:25pm ET: Motion passes, so they are voting on whether to REJECT the U.S. House race protest (Senate protest coming up next). Motion to REJECT protest of U.S. House race, on grounds that there are not enough problems reported to change the results of the election.

4:24pm ET: Now voting on whether they have enough members of the Exec Board present to vote on whether they can vote on changing results of an election. That motion passes.

4:22pm ET: Live stream is now back!!

4:12pm ET: Rawl camp just told me:"There's a protest in front of us --- will go up when ours starts." I recommended they get back on air now instead!

3:53pm ET: I've sent a note to the Rawl camp to let them know the feed is suddenly "off air", if they don't know. Hopefully it'll get back up shortly! House race was still being protested, so I don't think the Rawl/Greene Senate race protest has begun yet...

3:45pm ET: Live feed just stopped for some reason...

3:33pm ET: First up is a protest concerning a U.S. House race. Rawl's protest will come second today.

3:15pm ET: State Dem Party chair Carolyn Fowler gives ground rules, counts to assure quorum, etc.

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Previously related at The BRAD BLOG:

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