ES&S

'Future of Voting in California' Hearing, Sacramento, Feb. 8

Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:00am - 4:00pm
Just learned of this.  Not sure there has been any widespread public announcement by SoS office.

This announcement (attached) went out to the county registrars and clerks.

An important meeting to make in person, for those of you who can.

The original is posted at:   http://www.sos.ca.gov/voting-systems/hearings/

--Dan Ashby

The Future of Voting in California:
The People, the Equipment, the Costs


Secretary of State's Office
First Floor Auditorium

February 8, 2010, 10:00 a.m.

I. Introductory Remarks

  • Debra Bowen, Secretary of State

II. Heading into 2010: Taking Stock of the Post-HAVA
Voting System and Election Administration Environment

  • Brian Hancock, U.S. Election Assistance Commission
  • Lowell Finley, Office of the California Secretary of State
  • Doug Chapin, Pew Center on the States

III. Existing Voting Systems in California

  • John Groh, Election Systems & Software
  • Eric Coomer, Sequoia Voting Systems
  • Marcus MacNeill, Hart Inter Civic
  • McDermot Coutts, Unisyn Voting Solutions
  • Curt Fielder, DFM Associates

IV. New Developments in Voting and Election Administration

  • Bob Carey, Federal Voting Assistance Program
  • Gregory Miller, Trust the Vote/Open Source Digital Voting Foundation
  • Efrain Escobedo, Los Angeles County, Voting Systems Assessment Project
  • Bill O'Neill, Runbeck Election Services
  • Sandy McConnell, King County Elections, State of Washington

V. Public Comment Period


See instructions below for submitting written testimony.


Privacy Statement | Free Document Readers
Copyright © 2010    California Secretary of State



Submit Written Testimony for the Record

February 2, 2010
County ClerklRegistrar of Voters (CCROV) Memorandum #10050

TO: All County Clerks / Registrars of Voters

FROM:
Jennnie Bretsclmeider
Assistant Chief Deputy Secretary of State

RE: Voting Systems: Public Infonnational Hearing on the Future ofVoling in California

Secretary of State Debra Bowen will be hosting a public informational hearing on "The Future of Voting in California: The People, the Equipment, the Costs" to be held Monday, February 8, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in the Secretary of State's auditorium at 1500 11th Street in Sacramento.

Attached is the agenda for the hearing.

Anyone can view a live webcast of the hearing by going to
 http://www.sos.ca.gov/voting-systems/hearings/

 The public is invited to attend and to provide testimony during the public comment portion of the hearing.

Written comments may also be submitted prior to or following the hearing and should  be addressed to:

Secretary of State Debra Bowen
1500 11th Street, 6th  Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Attn: Jennie Bretschneider


or via email to votingsvstems@sos.ca.gov
 
All written comments will be posted on the Secretary of State' s website.

If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Voting Systems Technology Assessment

at (916) 653-7244 or via email at voyingsystems@sos.ca.gov.

 
 
Dan Ashby
Co-Founder, Director
ElectionDefenseAlliance.org


EDA mail:      Dan@electiondefensealliance.org
Phone:
 
          877.375.3930

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The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected.
To take away this right is to reduce a
man to slavery. . . Thomas Paine

NJ Federal Court Hearing on ESS-Premier Merger

Tue, 09/29/2009 - 10:00am

Judge to Consider Blocking Merger of Two Voting Machine Makers

A New Jersey federal judge will hold a hearing today to decide whether to block the merger of the nation's two largest vote counting companies.

Jonathan Rubin, a Washington-based Patton Boggs partner who represents Hart InterCivic Inc., a smaller voting-machine maker, has asked Judge Robert Kugler of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to issue a temporary restraining order, alleging that the merger of the voting division of Ohio-based Diebold and Election Systems & Software poses a "threat of irreparable harm" to voters.

The combination of the two voting-machine giants would give ES&S control of election systems used in nearly 70 percent of the country's voting precincts.

More:  http://electiondefensealliance.org/Federal-court-hearing-ESS-Premier-merger

Who Knows What Really Happened in MA Senate Election?

Source: E-mail communication from Bev Harris at Blackboxvoting.org Jan. 20, 2010

EDA is reproducing this content as a public service,  with full credit to Bev Harris and Blackboxvoting.

Hand-counts Favored Coakley

Hand-counted Results Generally Arrived Faster Than Machine Counts

Machine  Counts Favoring Coakley Arrived Late -- After Concession

Sole-source E-voting Contractor, LHS Associates

. . . and No Exit Polls to Check Any of It

__________________________________________________

By Bev Harris

This article is about our right to know, not about Martha Coakley or Scott Brown. And lest you think something here favors a Democrat, just you wait, I'm still working on anomalies in the NY-23 election that are just plain hard to 'splain. As Richard Hayes Phillips says when people tell him to forget it, "I'm a historian, I've got all the time in the world." NY-23 still has history to be written. My public records are starting to arrive. But that's another story.

Back to Massachusetts, I think you have a right to know that Coakley won the hand counts there.
You can discuss this here:  http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/80830.html 

That's right.
According to preliminary media results by municipality, Democrat Martha Coakley won Massachusetts overall in its hand counted locations,* with 51.12% of the vote (32,247 hand counted votes) to Brown's 30,136, which garnered him 47.77% of hand counted votes. Margin: 3.35% lead for Coakley.

Massachusetts has 71 hand count locations, 91 ES&S locations, and 187 Diebold locations, with two I call the mystery municipalities (Northbridge and Milton) apparently using optical scanners, not sure what kind.

ES&S Results

The greatest margin between the candidates was with ES&S machines -- 53.64% for Brown, 45.31% for Coakley, a margin for Brown of 8.33%. It looks like ES&S counted a total of 620,388 votes, with 332,812 going to Brown and 281,118 going to Coakley. Taken overall, the difference -- 8.33% Brown (ES&S) added to 3.35% Coakley (hand count) shows an 11.68% difference between the ES&S and the hand counts.

Of course, as Mark Twain used to say, there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics. These statistics don't prove anything, and probably shouldn't be discussed without a grain of salt handy before examining more detailed demographics.

E-Vendors Dominate "Future of California Voting" Hearing

Source: Capital Public Radio, KXJZ Sacramento, CA

California's Electronic Voting Booths Need An Upgrade But It Won't Be Cheap

Aired 2/8/2010 on All Things Considered Aired
2/9/2010 on Morning Edition


Sacramento, CA -- California elections officials say their computerized voting booths are in need of upgrades, but they can’t afford to make big improvements. Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley reports: Listen

 

CA-SoS-panel-future-voting-020810Two statewide elections are coming up later this year but local elections officials say they’re working with outdated electronic voting booths. 

Private companies that sell the equipment say the state and counties would be better off buying new systems rather than trying to modernize the old equipment.

That would require millions of dollars that governments don’t have right now.


At a public hearing on the issue in Sacramento, some citizens urged the officials to get rid of electronic voting, period.

Photo: Steve Shadley, Capital Public Radio


Tom Courbat is with the Riverside County group Save Our Vote:

Courbat:
“We’re not convinced there is enough security in these voting systems to justify continuing to purchase them. We have seen demonstrations over and over again of machines being hacked...”

Courbat says it would be more secure if voters cast paper ballots that would be counted by hand.  
But advocates for the disabled say not everyone can fill out a paper ballot.



Florida Attorney General Investigating ES&S-Premier Merger

Source: Miami Herald
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/florida/story/1385770.html

Voting-Machine Firm Merger Investigated

Florida's attorney general is investigating a voting-machine company merger that has voting-rights groups worried that the move will concentrate too much power over democracy in one private company.

BY MARC CAPUTO
Miami Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau, Dec. 16, 2009

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is conducting an anti-trust investigation of a voting-machine company merger that would create a near-monopoly over the levers of democracy in Florida and much of the United
States.

McCollum's office has issued at least six subpoenas covering every major voting-machine company as part of a civil investigation of Election Systems & Software's $5 million acquisition of Diebold Inc.'s elections division -- a merger that would give a private company too much power over the machines used to castvotes, voting-rights groups say.

Similar Stories:

Miami Herald, 12.16.09:
•Voting machine monopoly seen in Florida

Miami Herald Op Ed, 12.17.09:
•Guard against voting-machine monopoly
"Our office engaged in this issue because anti-competitive behavior can seriously harm consumers," McCollum said in a written statement. "Competitive behavior encourages the best products be available to consumers, including technology, particularly in a market as sensitive as the voting systems market."

Under the state's 1980 anti-trust law, McCollum could persuade a court to levy fines against ES&S or prevent the company from operating in Florida. By next year, the company is expected to be the exclusive provider of voting machines and services in 65 of the 67 counties in Florida, the nation's most important swing state.
  
 
That means, under the acquisition announced Sept. 2, ES&S will provide election services to 92 percent of Florida's 11.2 million voters.

More broadly, ES&S's purchase of the competitor company gives it control of the voting machines in nearly 70 percent of the nation's precincts, according to a federal lawsuit in Delaware filed by a rival company, Hart Intercivic. The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting its own inquiry.

McCollum's investigation came to light Wednesday after eight voting rights groups sent him a letter urging him to open an inquiry -- unaware that his office had already opened its investigation Sept. 10. The first subpoena was sent out Oct. 2.

New York Certifies Electronic Voting Machines

Source: Gouverneurtimes.com

NYS Certifies Non-Compliant Voting Machines

Commentary by Howard Stanislevic  
Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Editor's Note:
The NYS Board Of Elections certified both the Dominion ImageCast and the ES&S Electronic voting systems at 1:10 p.m. today (Dec. 15th, 2009),  noting in the process that the machines were still "non-compliant."  The state passed an additional resolution requiring the operations department to work with the two vendors to bring the machines into full compliance.

NY Board of Elections Says Ballot Scanners Switched Votes in 2009 General Election

by Howard Stanislevic

The Help America Vote Act does not require computerized vote counting. But earlier this year in U. S. District Court, the New York State Board of Elections (SBoE) and the U. S. Department of Justice agreed that the Board would certify a new optical scan computerized voting system by December 15, 2009. As that date approaches, the Board is displaying a dismissive attitude toward the risks and problems encountered with the systems they say they will certify.

At a November 12th State Senate Elections Committee hearing in New York City, SBoE Co-Chair Douglas Kellner testified about what he called "glitches" in the programming in one of the new systems that went undetected by Erie County election officials in the 2009 general election. Only after officials noticed some anomalous election results, did they realize their system's configuration files had been compromised.

If future election results are not so anomalous, there is a strong chance such errors will not be detected at all.

Testimony

At the hearing, Commissioner Kellner confirmed our worst fears about e-vote counting (see his testimony below). Kellner stated that in Erie County, during the process of entering ballot programming data, vote switching between candidates had been programmed into the computer (Election Management System or EMS) that, in turn, programed the county's optical scanners. The scanners then proceeded to switch the votes at the polls as the ballots were cast on election day. This real-time vote switching was undetectable by voters, poll workers or other election officials.

Kellner said in this case the vote switching was detected later because the election results appeared to be implausible. The scanners supposedly failed their pre-election Logic and Accuracy test due to the vote-switching problem. That's good, but county election officials ignored the results of their own tests and held the election using the vote-switching configuration anyway

Commissioner Kellner also stated that this county, which uses ES&S systems, was among the best in the 2009 "pilot" elections (held with real voters and candidates). We don't doubt his word that the errors were eventually corrected. But if Erie was one of the best counties, we'd hate to see one of the worst counties that participated in this experiment.

Different Vendors, Same Design

Different vendors employ the same architecture of centralized EMS programming and configuration. Both of New York's new voting systems (including accessible ballot marking devices) are programmed this way for each election. There are no "stand-alone" voting devices in New York, except the lever voting machines. It is disingenuous to claim otherwise.

Even if the Logic and Accuracy testing had been done properly and had not been ignored, there is no guarantee that vote switching would have been detected. Computer scientists have proved that such tests can be rigged to perform correctly at any time, while the machines can be rigged to switch votes during the election without detection. Under such conditions, subtle manipulations of vote counts, whether intentional or not, would not be detected.

Maine Miscounts and Strangeness

[From a message circulated Friday, Nov. 13 to election integrity lists]
After about 50 follow-up questions, the secretary of state's office finally conceded that someone

could go in to their office and ask to see their results sheets, beginning 3 days after the election. . .

When I asked if ANYONE came in to ask to look at results for this election,

both persons I spoke with said "No."

By Bev Harris

Maine has many of the best things in elections -- 200,000 votes are counted by hand, without the typical centralization of control that we're seeing nowadays; election administration is disbursed throughout 500 locations, and statewide hand counts are affordable.

Now for the bad news: I spoke with two different people in the Maine Secretary of State's office this morning. I was incredulous at some of the answers I received, which were both misleading and inappropriate. I wrote this quote down as she was saying it:

"We have not and do not give out results to anyone, we have 23 days to do this."

I spoke with Julie Flynn, deputy secretary of state, and Tracy Willett, who I had to push very hard to get a last name out of.

Both confirmed that the ONLY results avaible to date come from the Bangor Daily News, and that this newspaper does NOT get its results from the secretary of state, but rather, from a volunteer network that calls in on Election Night. In fact, this volunteer network is probably the AP or Voter News Service setup, going by various names but basically, the reporting network for the news media which consists of local poll workers or elections people getting paid by the press to call in their numbers.

I pointed out to the Sec. State's office that the 2nd and 11th biggest municipalities in Maine both appear to have miscounts . . . or something.

Augusta appears to have a 27% overvote in the marijuana issue and no, I do NOT believe this is just some random difference in how they vote. That's because the variation in that issue averages about 1 percent when looking at all 500 locations, and rarely varies much more than that except in Lewiston, another apparently miscounted location. In Lewiston, it appears that there is an 8.5% undervote in the marijuana issue.

Now, I realize that the most high profile issue is the gay marriage issue, but the Augusta and Lewiston anomalies may reflect on the overall vote counting. Both use ES&S Optech machines. The miscounts may be due to ballot stuffing, or to a typo by the Bangor Daily News, or to a voting machine miscount, or to voting machine tampering. The miscounts of the marijuana issue may affect only that issue, or may be symptomatic of a problem affecting other issues like Question 1 (repealing gay marriage) or even all the issues.

I have made a formal request for the Augusta and Lewiston results to the Maine Secretary of State's office.

Can Open Source Save Democracy? No, Says Bev Harris

Originally published at Blackboxvoting
Discussion: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/80688.html

By Bev Harris
Founder, Black Box Voting http://www.blackboxvoting.org

Quite a wave of PR pieces have come out in the past few days about a new open source voting system -- NOT from Alan Dechert's well known Open Voting Consortium, but instead from an upstart, loosely connected to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and several cronies of the Holt-Bill-pushing verified voting fans.

So let's talk about this. I'm going to link you to Michael Hickens' piece, one of the many bloggers who jumped on this bandwagon. His article is headlined "Can Open Source Software Save Democracy?"

SHORT ANSWER: NO.

Before I get to that, and before outlining my concerns with the new "Open Source Digital Voting Foundation" concept, I'll point out that:

(1) THIS IS NOT ON THE IMMEDIATE HORIZON. The federal certification process takes two to three years

(2) Though not covered by U.S. antitrust laws, THIS IS STRUCTURED MUCH LIKE ANOTHER MONOPOLISTIC GRAB FOR U.S. ELECTION PROCESSES. This new group claims to have 26 states on board (though I doubt this) -- that would give a horizontal monopoly of over 50% of the USA; the "top to bottom" design also invokes vertical monopoly concerns, in that it wants to have the software control voter registration, ballot design, ballot counting, and even election auditing.

CAN OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE SAVE DEMOCRACY?

Counting votes inside computers conceals the counting from the public. If key processes are concealed from the public, you no longer have public elections. If you don't have public elections, The People no longer hold sovereignty over the instruments of government they have created, and it ceases to be a democratic system.

The core issues are not "security" or "assuring the public" as the author of this blog assumes. The ultimate issues are public right to know, and public ability to understand their own election without need for special expertise, and public controls. You cannot achieve these simply by replacing proprietary software with open source software.

Open source software DOES achieve two worthwhile things, though it doesn't solve our current elections problems. It does enhance our ability to get freedom of information requests filled, by eliminating the proprietary exemption, and it should significantly reduce cost. But costs are also reduced significantly by public hand counts, which, when done correctly, actually do restore democracy.

Case in point: Marion County, Indiana is conducting its next election by public hand count. This is a large jurisdiction (Indianapolis). The ballot is a small one, just four ballot questions. This will provide an excellent pilot project example for expansion of hand counts, beginning with elections with only a modest number of ballot questions. Marion County estimates that all together, it will save $288,000. In fact, the cost of just delivering the voting machines (be they open or closed source) was estimated by Marion County to be $22,000!

The German high court recently banned its e-voting system because it conceals the counting from the public. Open source changes this not a whit. Instead, Germany is now counting in public, by hand.

TWO MORE HALLMARKS OF PUBLIC ELECTIONS:

(1) The less centralized, the better (the more people, the better, the "many eyes" safeguard);

(2) the public needs to be able to understand how the election works, and be able to authenticate it, without need for special expertise.

IS THIS WHAT THE SENATE HEARING ON THE ES&S MONOPOLY IS LEADING TO?

You've gotta wonder. The acquisition of Diebold's elections division by Election Systems & Software, giving it 75% of the horizontal market and a vertical monopoly as well, is being questioned by a U.S. Senate committee, but the committee chosen is a bit odd: The Rules Committee. One might expect to see this investigation taken up by the Judiciary Committee (after all, monopolies are illegal and are typically investigated by the U.S. Dept. of Justice); or perhaps the Commerce Committee ... but the Rules Committee?

On this Rules Committee are the two key Senate pushers of forced voting machine purchase, Help America Vote Act sponsors Chris Dodd and Mitch McConnell. If only they had Steny Hoyer, they'd have the trifecta. Chairing the committee is Charles Schumer, who is now pushing an unwise Internet Registration bill (and Internet registration happens to be one of the areas this nifty new Open Source Digital Voting Foundation claims to be developing).

At first, after looking at the makeup of the senate committee undertaking the antitrust examination, I thought maybe they'd be using this as an excuse to expand the powers of the EAC. Now I expect the real reason these particular senators grabbed this particular investigation was to push an open source agenda -- but not just any open source agenda.

One particular open source agenda. The specific well oiled machine produced by a bunch of the folks who had been associated with the Quixote Group, who also have been associated with pushing the Holt Bill; those folks chummy with the multi-million-dollar NSF-funded ACCURATE. Always covered by Kim Zetter at Wired News. Usually pipelined in to the New York Times Editorial Page.

By the way, not all the "open source" code is being released.
And the only comment I can offer for that is:  Strange, but true.

Now, here's one of the blogs on this:

Information Week Government Blogs
Oct. 26, 2009, by Michael Hickens

http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2009/10/can_open_sourc...

Can Open Source Software Save Democracy?


Schumer Asks DOJ Review of ESS-Premier Merger

http://www.ajc.com/business/justice-dept-review-of-138396.html?cxntlid=d...

Justice Dept. Review of Vote-machines Sale Sought

The Associated Press   9.14.09

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — Sen. Charles Schumer on Monday asked the Justice Department to review Diebold Inc.'s sale of its U.S. voting-machine business to a bigger competitor, saying he is concerned it could have an adverse impact on American voting.

Diebold, of North Canton, earlier this month announced the sale of its Allen, Texas-based subsidiary Premier Election Solutions Inc. to Election Systems&Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb.

Schumer, chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, said the sale would give one company control over three-quarters of the U.S. market for voting systems.

"Since this industry provides a product vital to American governance, I am asking that the (Justice Department's) antitrust division examine this acquisition carefully to make sure there is no anticompetitive impact on election officials, states or voters," the New York Democrat said in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Schumer said a 2003 Congressional Research Service report raised concerns about the consolidation of voting systems.

"The report indicates that having a diversity of voting systems in our country may decrease the likelihood of widespread election fraud," Schumer said.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Diebold spokesman Mike Jacobson said the transaction is closed and referred questions to ES&S. ES&S spokesman Ken Fields said the transaction will result in stable service and sustainable support for upcoming elections.

ES&S Buys Premier (Diebold) Election Systems, for Near-Monopoly in U.S. Vote Count

Diebold Exits US Voting-Machine Business

By Veronica Dagher, Dow Jones Newswires, September 03, 2009
 
Diebold Inc. (DBD) has sold its money-losing U.S. election-systems business, just seven years after acquiring it amid hopes of rising demand for voting technology upgrades in the wake of the 2000 presidential election fiasco.

Diebold, whose main business is making automated teller machines, said Thursday it sold the voting-machine unit to privately held Election Systems & Software Inc. for $5 million, about one-fifth of what it paid in 2002.

"There were assumptions we made in that space that didn't materialize," Diebold spokesman Mike Jacobsen said, referring to the fact U.S. municipalities didn't adopt standardized voting systems.
========================================================

'Diebold has agreed to sell its elections systems business
for $5 million in cash plus future cash payments
representing 70% of any cash collected on the outstanding U.S. election systems business accounts . . .
As a result of this transaction, Diebold expects to recognize a pre-tax loss in the range of $45 million to $55 million'


--from Diebold Press Release, 09.03.09
===========================================================
Problems with paper ballots in the presidential election in 2000, which delayed the final tally and generated concerns about the legitimacy of the outcome, sparked calls for improved election systems. A federal law was passed in 2002 to provide states $2.32 billion to make required voting-technology upgrades, and industry watchers had expected standardization to follow.

Standardization - in which all voting districts would use machines built to the same specifications - would have cut down on costs of customization, but guidelines were never finalized.

Diebold, which was the industry's biggest maker of electronic voting machines heading into the 2004 presidential election, was in the spotlight as concerns increased about the reliability and security of the electronic systems.
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