New Jersey Voting and Elections News

Suit Prompts New Jersey to Reinvent Voting System New York Times, NY - Mar 19, 2007 By Ronald Smothers. TRENTON, NJ March 19 — With the reliability of the state’s electronic voting machines on trial in Superior Court and under the gaze of the ...
Judge urges state to raise bar on electronic voting machines Newark Star Ledger, NJ - 22 hours ago
BY Kevin Coughlin. Volunteers who approve electronic voting machines in New Jersey lack technical savvy and rely too much on vendors to explain how the ...
Judge: Electronic voting machine advisors needed
Newark Star Ledger, NJ - Mar 19, 2007
A state judge voiced concerns today that state volunteers who approve electronic voting machines lack technical expertise and must rely too heavily on ...

EDA Opens Sequoia Voting System Source Code to Public Exam


Election Defense Alliance Opens Public Review of Sequoia Voting System Source Code

By Jim March

Election Defense Alliance, a nonprofit organized to review and improve voting system technology and operations, has come into possession of thousands of lines of software written by Sequoia Voting Systems as part of a public records response from Riverside County, California. (Sequoia is the third-largest E-voting vendor in the nation, whose secret proprietary software counts the votes for approximately 17% of the U.S. electorate).

Because the files were obtained from a government agency in an above-board fashion, for the first time the analysis process and actual code can be released to the public and studied in a public and transparent fashion.

The entire analysis project and associated files to study are available at a new wiki:

How You Can Help Shine Light on Sequoia

Previous voting system software analysis has been in secret, either due to non-disclosure agreements, court ordered secrecy or the review of code from legally questionable sources.

In this case, no such restrictions exist and the analysis process will be open, online and public as is proper when looking at the engine of our democratic process. “What was done in the dark will be brought to the light” as Johnny Cash put it.

The software was buried inside of data files used to store the tabulation of votes from the November 2008 general election. This practice of blending data and software has been long suspected and even alluded to in documents from Sequoia; however, the details had been obscured under “trade secrets” claims. Sequoia asserted and exercised an alleged “right” to strip the data files of anything proprietary before Riverside County turned the files over to EDA.

Although Sequoia attempted to redact their proprietary code from the election database files, they failed to strip out thousands of lines of software buried in the electon data.

The software appears to control the logical flow of the election, and is detailed enough to name the authors and dates of modifications along with what the code is actually doing to our votes. Some of it might actually have been stripped out, but we strongly suspect not due to the volume of code present.

EDA is expressing concern that such human-readable and “field modifiable” software has been banned by the federal rulebook on voting system design and testing.

Pending a detailed review, we expect to do a legal analysis of the structure of the Sequoia system thus revealed and file complaints with the proper state and federal authorities.

EDA is concerned about other known cases of failure in the certification of voting systems in which legally flawed products were allowed into the market, a trend noticed recently by NIST (National Institute of Science and Technology) in a formal letter throwing one of the authorized test labs out of the voting system test business.

Of the four labs ever credentialed for voting system testing, three have at various times been thrown out for misconduct or incompetence, only to be let back in under “restrictions.”

We believe that the source code analysis from Sequoia will document yet another such case of test lab failure along with a failure at Sequoia.


Shine Light on Sequoia

This Sequoia code review is one part of a larger EDA Public Record Election Project (PREP), based on public records freedom of information law. We have convened an expert group of investigators and are filing public records requests for voting system database records in a number of counties.

If you can lend your software programming skills to the Sequoia code analysis, we invite your participation at the SequoiaStudy wiki.

Seeing Through Sequoia's Transparent Election System

Staying Focused on the Real Solutions


Today's announcement of the Sequoia Frontier open-source E-voting system is a significant fork in the trail to election integrity, but it would be a mistake to confuse this half-way mark for our destination.

I had thought ES&S would be first to market with an all-open-source E-voting system. No doubt, they're not far behind. The dwindling number of E-voting vendors still in business are now obliged to follow suit or be expunged from the marketplace, and for that we should be glad.

Although Sequoia's press release is essentially good news, the operative reality is that between now and sometime after 2012 when the open-source voting system announced today is certified for use,  there will be another federal election  conducted with the same batch of secretly programmed black boxes that hijacked the U.S. government in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006, and skewed the 2008 primaries, and whose predecessors, more likely than not, have been manipulating elections since shortly after their introduction in 1965.

Even if it weren't so dangerous, misapplied technology would still be an unnecessary distraction from the philosophical and practical issues that are properly the core issues of electoral democracy.

It's up to the EI movement to explain to the voting public, that even though open-source code, open data schema, and human-readable data formats are undeniably improvements over the secret, closed voting software currently in use,  these features do not and can not address these fundamental civil rights principles  on which democracy depends:

1. All aspects of the electoral process (except the casting of secret ballots) should be transparently observable and accountable to the citizenry,  without the intermediation of secret actors or unobservable software processes.

2. Public elections should be a wholly public exercise, free of dependence on for-profit corporations or any technological priesthood.

Even as the E-voting industry as a whole follows Sequoia in a transition to open-source platforms, the public will remain  dependent on private contractors, costly equipment, expensive upgrades, and even more expensive maintenance and service fees in perpetuity, so long as the institution of software-mediated voting is allowed to supplant the appropriately low-tech, citizen-mediated election model based on voter-marked paper ballots hand-counted in the precincts on election night, by the citizens themselves.

Sequoia Announces Open-Source, Open-Architecture "Frontier Election System"


* Press Release
* Source: Sequoia Voting Systems
* On 8:00 am EDT, Tuesday October 27, 2009

Sequoia Voting Systems Announces the First Transparent Election System with Fully Disclosed, Freely Available Source Code and Open Architecture Developed to Meet Federal Voting System Guidelines

Sequoia’s Frontier Election System Source Code Will Be Available for Public Download Through the Company’s Website Beginning November 2009

System Slated to Enter the Election Assistance Commission’s Federal Voting System Certification Program in Mid-2010  

DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Sequoia Voting Systems officially introduced its latest revolutionary new offering – the Frontier Election Systemtm – the first transparent end-to-end election system including precinct and central count digital optical scan tabulators, robust election management and ballot preparation system, and a tally, tabulation, and reporting applications based on an open architecture with publicly disclosed source code developed specifically to meet current and future iterations of the federal Voting System Guidelines.

“Security through obfuscation and secrecy is not security,”
said Eric D. Coomer, PhD, Vice President of Research and Product Development at Sequoia Voting Systems. “Fully disclosed source code is the path to true transparency and confidence in the voting process for all involved. Sequoia is proud to be the leader in providing the first publicly disclosed source code for a complete end-to-end election system from a leading supplier of voting systems and software. Sequoia’s Frontier Election System has been designed to comply with all the current Election Assistance Commission’s Voluntary Voting System Guidelines.”

Frontier is a comprehensive election system centered around digital scan Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) tabulators with patent-pending triple-relatable-records, open data formats, and publicly disclosed source code.

Sequoia’s Frontier Election System has been in active development for 18 months and has been demonstrated at various state, national, and international election conferences over the past 12 months to positive feedback from election officials and all facets of the election community. The company expects the system to enter the federal Voting System Certification Program during the first half of 2010.

“Frontier is a new system developed from the ground up with the full intention of releasing all of the source code to any member of the public who wishes to download it - from computer scientists and election officials to students, security experts and the voting public,” said Dr. Coomer. “While we are extremely confident in the quality of the software that our skilled team has developed, no software is perfect. Transparency and collaborative review will yield the most robust and secure product with the highest voter confidence.”

To this end, Sequoia will begin releasing fully functioning modules of Frontier’s systems with all source code on the company’s website at beginning in mid-November, 2009.
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