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statewide elections are coming up later this year but local elections officials say they’re working with outdated electronic voting booths.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:

“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.

CA-Future-Voting-020810-KXJZ-7779s.mp3897.55 KB

Premier Exacts Revenge on Humboldt County

The following article was first published at 5 and subsequently distributed to the California Election Protection Network and published as a featured guest post at at:  on 3.25.09. The original article is reprinted here by permission with appreciation to Parke Bostrom, and to Brad Friedman of 

Diebold Nukes Humboldt!

by Parke Bostrom

At the California Secretary of State's public hearing regarding the possible decertification of GEMS 1.18.19 related to the Deck Zero covert deletion of 197 ballots in the November election, the audit log's magical "clear" button, and the GEMS's audit logs failing to show when ballots were manually deleted by the operator, Diebold/Premier representatives tried to shift blame for the 197 deleted ballots onto Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich.

Crnich responded, "If you're saying that your system needs to be checked every damn time we turn it on, I agree with you."
Crnich's use of an expletive seems to have pushed Diebold/Premier's legal counsel over the edge, causing them to reach for and firmly press the "nuke" button.

Several days after returning to Humboldt, Crnich received two letters from Premier. Both letters arrived in a single envelope, but unlike Premier Khrushchev's two letters to President Kennedy, Crnich did not get to choose which letter to respond to.

'Apparently, section 25 allows Diebold/Premier

to terminate Humboldt County's annual license

. . . on 90 days' notice'

The first letter, dated March 17th, was regarding section 25 of the DIMS license agreement. The license agreement was signed on April 27th, 1999. Apparently section 25 allows Diebold/Premier to terminate Humboldt County's annual license to use the DIMS voter registration system on 90 days notice. Additionally the letter went on to revoke all of Humboldt County's licenses to use any Diebold/Premier election systems and software following the May 19th statewide special election. Diebold/Premier also required that many pieces of equipment would have to be returned.  (Click READ MORE to continue)

Related Coverage

3.27.09: California News Service radio story: PLAY AUDIO (1 min.)



7.16.08: Election Defense Radio interview with Humboldt Election Transparency Project and Registrar Carolyn Crnich

Humboldt Election Transparency Project 


The second letter, dated March 18th, asked for confirmation that Registrar Crnich had declined Diebold/Premier's offer of a free hardware and software upgrade to GEMS version 1.18.24. Such an upgrade would also require that Humboldt County's fleet of eighty precinct-based AccuVote optical scan machines receive a hardware retrofit.

Previously, Premier had offered to perform the upgrade at a cost of $324 per AccuVote (a total cost of $26,000), but they generously offered to throw in a free upgrade of the software part of GEMS. A week after Crnich rejected that deal, Premier offered a complete free upgrade of hardware and software, that Crnich also rejected. Instead of retrofitting Humboldt's current AccuVotes, Premier offered to provide refurbished retrofitted machines direct from Texas. According to Crnich, Santa Barbara and San Louis Obispo counties have accepted a free hardware and software upgrade to GEMS 1.18.24, including retrofitted and refurbished AccuVote optical scanners.

Apparently, after "every damn time", all offers were off the table and the nukes were launched.
I asked Crnich if Premier was taking back all the AccuVotes, too, or if Premier were merely taking all the "brains" and leaving us with "just the useless pieces". After pausing for a second, she replied, "they are leaving us with the rest of the useless pieces." I asked her if she really wanted me to quote her saying that. Crnich's reply: "What else can they do to me at this point?"

Back in December or January, when Crnich was discussing the transition to Hart InterCivic equipment, she did say that she was planning on continuing to use Premier's DIMS voter registration system. But now she has to scramble to switch to another system:

May 19th is the special election. After that, Crnich will have to take delivery of the replacement Hart equipment, test it, be trained on it, train voters and poll workers to use it, conduct a test election on it, and then start preparing for the November statewide election. At the same time, she will have to return Premier's equipment. And now, additionally, she will have to transition Humboldt's entire voter registration database to a new system. I think the voter registration system transition needs to be done within 90 days, meaning by June 17th-ish. In other words, the entire voter registration transfer will need to be done during the preparation for and post-election canvassing of the May 19th special election.

I asked Crnich for copies of the two letters so I could post them here. Absurdly, Crnich claimed that after having read both of the letters to members of the public at a public meeting, the letters are still attorney-client privileged because she had sent copies of the letters to county council. These are letters from Premier to Crnich terminating contracts between Premier and Humboldt County. (If there are any lawyers out there who think this claim is not absurd, and that the letters are indeed privileged, please let me know.)

And here is some free advice to any Premier public-relations types who may be reading this post and thinking about trying to do some damage control. Call up your corporate lawyers and get them to apologize to Crnich for terminating all the contracts in the middle of an election cycle. Then have them politely request that Crnich propose a schedule for discontinuing the use of DIMS at her convenience. It may take a little longer than 90 days, but I am pretty sure that at this point in time she is very eager to stop using any products that carry the Diebold/Premier name.


About Parke Bostrom:

Parke Bostrom became a poll worker in 2004 due to concerns with paperless voting machines (which are not used in Humboldt County). He became involved as a volunteer with the local Voter Confidence Committee, the Humboldt Election Advisory Committee, and Humboldt County Election Transparency Project over the course of 2008. Parke has also served as an election night election observer, most recently on behalf of the Humboldt County Republican Party. His professional background is in software and programming.

E-mail contact

Blog: 5













































CA Deputy SoS Finley Makes the Case Against Premier

Source: Scoop news

California Hearing on Premier Voting Systems

Stateside With Rosalea Barker, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

In Sacramento Tuesday morning, 17 March, the California Secretary of State’s Office held a public hearing on SoS Bowen’s report about a software problem that resulted in 197 votes being erased from an election tally in Humboldt County with no record of such deletion showing in the audit log. Tuesday's public meeting was made available via a listen-only phone link.

Background material, including a brief Staff Report to the SoS, and the Secretary of State’s earlier report to the Election Assistance Commission, is available here. A transcript of today’s hearing will later be available from the CA SoS website.

'In summary, Finley pointed to four main concerns, which were included in the SoS’s report to the federal Election Assistance Commission: a software error leading to deletion of ballots; failure of audit logs; the presence of the clear button on audit logs; and inaccurate timestamps on audit log entries.'

 The first speaker was Lowell Finley, the Deputy Secretary of State of California for Voting Systems Technology and Policy, who outlined how the missing votes were brought to the secretary of state’s attention as a result of an independent audit of voting in the November 2008 election.

 Video will take about a minute to load. Runtime: 1:22:09.

This video of the entire public hearing runs 1.5 hours and includes Deputy Secretary of State Lowell Finley delivering a 30-minute summary of investigation findings, a response by Justin Bale of Premier Election Solutions, and remarks by 10 citizen activists and Humboldt County Registrar Carolyn Crnich.

Note: There is a loud low-level hum in the recorded audio, and the final half of Crnich's remarks are lost when the microphone audio drops out.

Video provided by The California Channel.

Video URL:   

The Humboldt County Election Transparency Project had convinced that county’s registrar of voters to invest $25,000 in off-the-shelf optical scanning equipment, provided open source software to tally the results of their independent scan of ballots, and then proceeded to re-scan every ballot as well as handcount them if there was a discrepancy between the official and independently counted totals.

In summary, Finley pointed to four main concerns, which were included in the SoS’s report to the federal Election Assistance Commission: a software error leading to deletion of ballots; failure of audit logs; the presence of the clear button on audit logs; and inaccurate timestamps on audit log entries. (The “clear” button is the equivalent of using “delete” on a Windows system with the important difference that there is no backup of what was deleted.)

Finley pointed out that had any of these problems been discovered by the federal laboratory that certified the software, it would have required denial of federal approval of that version of the software. He said the federal lab didn’t report any such flaws, nor were the software error and audit log problems detected by the California Secretary of State’s testing processes.

One of the concerns Finley had was that back in October 2004, Premier—then known as Diebold—was aware of the problem, and failed to notify both the federal and state entities involved in certifying software and voting equipment, instead sending an “informal” email directly to the county elections officials with equipment running on that version, giving a workaround.

Finley said that at no time did Diebold update its operating manuals to include the workaround, and with a change of Registrar of Voters in Humboldt County between 2004 and 2008, the undocumented problem was not dealt with.

In his presentation this morning, Premier’s General Manager, Western Area, Justin Bale, said that the lack of proper handoff between the Humboldt County registrars, and a lack of vendor reporting protocols required by states back in 2004 were key to the loss of the votes in November 2008. Bale also said it was inaccurate to say that the email was the only contact. The software problem was discussed many times directly with county elections officials, he said. There are only three counties in California still using this old version of the software, and his company has repeatedly encouraged them to update. Premier also now distributes official Product Advisory Notices.

On the question of the work put in by the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project, Bale said he welcomed the fact that their independent audit had shown how accurate the electronic tally had been in all the other precincts where the chain of events had not taken place which led to the wiping of those 197 votes in one precinct. Questioned by one of the panelists about whether Premier has addressed a different problem—that of audit logs being wiped with no trace, or showing inaccurate timestamps—Bale replied, “No, not yet.” He said there was no malicious intent, but it was simply not addressed in the initial programming. “We’re now looking at it as a priority,” he said.

The public comment portion of this morning’s meeting allowed two minutes per speaker—down from the three minutes advertised in the agenda because of the number of people who wanted to have their say. Most of the speakers were from election protection advocacy groups and favored the use of open source software but differed on whether handcounting votes was a good thing.

Judy Alter of the Project to Protect CA Ballots, who lives in Los Angeles, and Gail Work of the San Mateo County Democratic Party, both spoke on the lack of access given to election observers, despite there being laws saying they should have that access, and called on Secretary of State Bowen to be more proactive in promoting the rights of credentialed observers.

Kevin Collins of the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project and Judy Bertelson of the Voting Rights Task Force emphasized that the solution put in place in Humboldt County—of using an independent scan and audit of the vote—is both cost-effective and efficient, and could be emulated throughout the country at the precinct and/or county level.

Kim Alexander of the CA Voter Foundation felt that discussions to date seem to suggest that the problem with the audit log is limited to only this one system. “But it’s not. Up to this point, everyone working on election integrity assumed the audit logs were reliable. The Secretary of State should make audit logs a priority.” Alexander noted that election integrity activists were in Sacramento in 2004 protesting the use of uncertified software, and now “we’re here because of certified software” despite the state’s best efforts to adopt more stringent certification.

Tom Pinto of the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project said that “What I’ve learned is that we need to conduct a 100 percent audit throughout California.” He pointed out that the first time they monitored an election, in June 2008, “we discovered boxes of absentee ballots that hadn’t been counted. That was before certification [of the election results]. Doing citizen audits we can correct problems before certification. . . . When you’re doing something important, you need to go back and count it twice.”

A full transcript of the Tuesday hearing will be made available here by the Office of Secretary of State.






















CA Hearing on ES&S Uncertified Machine Violations, 9/20/07



Office of the Secretary of State
1500 11th Street
First Floor – Auditorium
Sacramento, California 95814


September 20, 2007, 10:00 a.m.


Elections Code section 19213 provides that a voting system or part of a voting system which has been approved by the Secretary of State shall not be changed or modified until the Secretary of State has been notified of the change in writing and has determined that the change or modification does not impair the accuracy and efficiency of the voting system or part of a voting system sufficient to require a reexamination and re-approval of that system or part of a system.

Elections Code section 19214 authorizes the Secretary of State to seek injunctive and administrative relief when a voting system has been compromised by the addition or deletion of hardware, software, or firmware without prior approval. Elections Code section 19214.5 authorizes the Secretary of State to seek monetary damages and other relief for an unauthorized change in hardware, software, or firmware to any voting system certified or conditionally certified in California.

Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) has violated Elections Code section 19213 by deploying for use in polling places in several California counties hundreds of units of a version of the AutoMARK ballot marking device that was changed and modified from the version approved by the Secretary of State, without notifying the Secretary of State and without a determination having been made by the Secretary of State that the change or modification does not impair the accuracy and efficiency of the AutoMARK sufficient to require a reexamination and re-approval of the AutoMARK or the voting system of which it is a part.

Accordingly, pursuant to Elections Code section 19214.5(b) and Government Code section 6064, notice is hereby given that a public hearing will be held to give interested persons an opportunity to express their views regarding the intention of the California Secretary of State to seek administrative relief against Election Systems & Software, Inc., pursuant to Elections Code sections 19214 and 19214.5(a), seeking any or all of the relief specified in section 19214.5(a), including the following:

(1) Monetary damages from the offending party or parties, not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per violation. For purposes of this subdivision, each voting machine found to contain the unauthorized hardware, software, or firmware shall be considered a separate violation. Damages imposed pursuant to this subdivision shall be apportioned 50 percent to the county in which the violation occurred, if applicable, and 50 percent to the Office of the Secretary of State for purposes of bolstering voting systems security efforts.

(2) Immediate commencement of decertification proceedings for the voting system in question.

(3) Prohibiting the manufacturer or vendor of a voting system from doing any elections-related business in the state for one, two, or three years.

(4) Refund of all moneys paid by a locality for a compromised voting system, whether or not the voting system has been used in an election.

(5) Any other remedial actions authorized by law to prevent unjust enrichment of the offending party.

Premier Elections Goes to CA Hearing Over "Zero Deck" Failure

Findings Could Result in Vendor Decertification

Today (March 17) the Office of Secretary of State, California, held a voting systems review hearing on the "Zero-Deck Anomaly" of  the Premier (formerly Diebold) Elections System Ver. 1.18.19, a known flaw that can (and has) resulted in the erasure of votes without leaving any trace of miscount in the voting system's audit log.

The disappearance of 197 votes from Humboldt County election results in the November 2008 presidential election was discovered only through the monitoring effort of a local citizen group, the Humboldt Election Transparency Project (HETP), using a ballot-imaging scanner that made a separate record of the ballots available for independent citizen review.

This instance of the "Zero Deck" failure illustrates a fundamental problem with electronic voting systems in general: Namely, the poor-to- nonexistent quality assurance provided by the federal voting machine certification process. The programming flaw in the GEMS ver. 1.18.19 voting system evaded detection in all federal and state certification reviews. The software remains widely in use by electoral jurisdictions throughout the U.S.

'These standards would have required failure of the voting system containing the GEMS version 1.18.19 software had the flaws found in this investigation been identified and reported by the Independent Testing Authority (ITA) that performed the federal testing. . . .
The ITA testing of the system discovered no such flaws. The National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) approved GEMS version 1.18.19 in three voting system configurations between February 2004 and September 2004.'

-- Staff Report of the Secretary of State Office of Voting Systems Technology Assessment

At today's hearing, citizens opposed to the continued use of Premier Election Systems in California, testified for the public record, calling for the decertification of Premier voting systems.

Under the California Election Code, the secretary of state has the authority to decertify a voting system "if the Secretary determines that the system is defective or unacceptable." The secretary also has the authority to completely ban an E-voting vendor from doing business in the state for repeated failure to comply with election laws or meet minimal performance and reliability standards.

The secretary of state is expected to issue a finding within a matter of weeks that will determine the future of Premier Election Systems in California.


CA Elections Division Staff Report

Premier Election Solutions’ Global Election Management System (GEMS)
Software Version 1.18.19

Staff Report Prepared by: Secretary of State Office of Voting Systems Technology Assessment
March 13, 2009

I. Investigation & Findings

The attached California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s Report to the Election Assistance Commission Concerning Errors and Deficiencies in Diebold/Premier GEMS Version 1.18.19 (“Report”) identifies software flaws in the GEMS version 1.18.19 software that led Humboldt County to initially inaccurately certify results (which were subsequently corrected) for the November 4, 2008, General Election.

The flaws also led to inaccurate or missing audit trail information that was pertinent to the investigation into the cause of the inaccurate results. The Secretary of State’s investigation identified the following errors and deficiencies in GEMS version 1.18.19, all of which are discussed in the Report:

1. The “Deck 0” software error caused the deletion of 197 tallied ballots.
2. GEMS version 1.18.19 audit logs fail to record important events.
3. “Clear” buttons on the GEMS Poster Log and Central Count Log permit deletion of important audit records.
4. Date and time stamp on audit trail entries are inaccurate.

 II. Adherence to State & Federal Requirements

A. Federal Standards

As described in the Report, the investigation identified multiple failures to adhere to the 1990 Performance and Test Standards for Punchcard, Marksense, and Direct Recording Electronic Voting Systems, the federal voting system standards that the GEMS version 1.18.19 software was required to meet.

These standards would have required failure of the voting system containing the GEMS version 1.18.19 software had the flaws found in this investigation been identified and reported by the Independent Testing Authority (ITA) that performed the federal testing.

The ITA testing of the system discovered no such flaws. The National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) approved GEMS version 1.18.19 in three voting system configurations between February 2004 and September 2004.

B. State Testing and Review

The California Secretary of State’s office tested the three voting system configurations that include GEMS version 1.18.19 in June 2004, July 2004 and September 2004, respectively. The testing did not detect the “Deck 0”or audit trail problems. Between August 2004 and October 2004, the systems were approved for sale and use in California.

This Secretary of State investigation falls under the purview of California Elections Code section 19222, which states:

The Secretary of State shall review voting systems periodically to determine if they are defective, obsolete, or otherwise unacceptable. The Secretary of State has the right to withdraw his or her approval previously granted under this chapter of any voting system or part of a voting system should it be defective or prove unacceptable after such review. Six months’ notice shall be given before withdrawing approval unless the Secretary of State for good cause shown makes a determination that a shorter notice period is necessary. Any withdrawal by the Secretary of State of his or her previous approval of a voting system or part of a voting system shall not be effective as to any election conducted within six months of that withdrawal.

III. Conclusion

Elections Code section 19222 authorizes the Secretary of State to withdraw approval for use of any voting system if the Secretary determines that the system is defective or unacceptable. In the event the Secretary decides that withdrawal of approval is appropriate, the minimum period provided by statute before that decision could take effect is six months.

Download this Report

Download Hearing Agenda

 Related Documents from the Office of California Secretary of State

Public Announcements and Hearings

Premier (formerly Diebold) GEMS 1.18.19 (Humboldt Deck 0 Anomaly)

    * Public Hearing Agenda - March 17, 2009
             Staff Report - March 13, 2009 (.pdf, 19 KB)
             Secretary of State Debra Bowen's Report to the Election Assistance Commission - March 2, 2009 (.pdf, 154 KB)
             Letter to Election Assistance Commission Chairwoman Gineen Beach - March 2, 2009 (.pdf, 26 KB)
             Response from Election Assistance Commission Chairwoman Gineen Beach - March 10, 2009 (.pdf, 60 KB)
             Election Assistance Commission Voting System Testing and Certification Manual
             Public Hearing Notice - February 11, 2009 (.pdf, 87 KB)


Reporting on March 17 hearing by GovTech Magazine

Electronic Voting Flaw Eyed by California

Mar 17, 2009

By Matt Williams, Assistant Editor

The California Secretary of State's Office held a public hearing Tuesday to gather testimony about a software flaw in electronic voting systems that erased 197 vote-by-mail ballots in the Nov. 4, 2008, general election in Humboldt County, Calif. The ‘Deck 0" flaw automatically deletes the first batch of tallied votes from optical scan paper ballots after they are scanned into Premier Elections Systems' Global Election Management System (GEMS) version 1.18.19, according to the Secretary of State's Office. (Premier was formerly known as Diebold.)

The Secretary of State's Office also found problems with audit logs of version 1.18.19. It doesn't log important system events, records inaccurate timestamps, and contains a "clear" button that deletes logs.

Justin Bales, western region general manager of Premier, testified Tuesday that 16 California counties are using an updated version that fixes many of those problems. Premier isn't opposed to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertifying the flawed software version, he said. The deletion of ballots was inadvertent and election security is of paramount importance to Premier, Bales said.

Premier issued a workaround for the Deck 0 problem in 2004, but the Humboldt County elections worker who was informed about it left the county prior to the Nov. 4, 2008 election. Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich testified that the county has decided to move to a new vendor for its electronic voting, but will have to use Premier systems for its next election in May.

Crnich and her office oversee an innovative program called the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project that relies upon volunteers to use a high-end scanner in order to produce digital images of all ballots. The images are uploaded to the Internet and are also available on DVD.

Kevin Collins, a volunteer for the transparency project, testified Tuesday that the vote tally inaccuracies in Humboldt County beg the question of many other elections in the U.S. have been unknowingly impacted by flaws in version 1.18.19. The software version is federally and state-certified.

According to California Elections Code, the Secretary of State has the authority to withdraw approval of an electronic voting system if it's defective. The decision would go into effect after a minimum of six months.

gems-1-18-19-staff-report.pdf19.39 KB
hearing-agenda.pdf55.62 KB
SoS_Humboldt_CoverLetter_EAC_030209.pdf26.26 KB
SoS_Humboldt_Report_to_EAC_030209.pdf154.95 KB
EAC_Beach_Response_Premier1.18.19.pdf60.05 KB
Certification_Program_Manual_OMB_3265-0004_Exp 6.30.2010.pdf465.99 KB
SoS_Public_Hearing_Notice.pdf86.5 KB

McCormack, Former LA County Registrar, Subject of $1 Million Corruption Suit

The following article is borrowed with attribution from

Black Box Voting » News Headlines » (CA) 3/09 Los Angeles:

Lawsuit alleges corruption of Conny McCormack, former elections chief

McCormack has been the subject of corruption investigations before, in Dallas County TX, where the state attorney general was investigating charges of election-rigging by shorting ballots in Black districts. She moved out of state to take a position in San Diego, from an election official who had been indicted. Neither McCormack's Texas investigation nor the San Diego official's corruption investigation stuck, but she's back under fire again now with this lawsuit. McCormack abruptly resigned last year.

The Associated Press - March 16, 2009

LA County board considers $1.1M settlement

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal to pay $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit alleging corruption among former senior county employees.

The proposed settlement was approved Monday by a county claims board, sending the measure to supervisors for final consideration.

The lawsuit filed in February 2007 alleges former county Registrar Conny McCormack discriminated against elderly and nonwhite employees and provided favors for friends.

The plaintiffs include Alvarez Lecesne, his wife Desnee, and their co-worker, Kristen Heffron, who all formerly worked for McCormack's office.

The lawsuit alleges McCormack discriminated against elderly and nonwhite employees and managed the department by "dispensing favors; helping friends, often at the public's expense; and circumventing established procedures and rules, rather than serving the public good."

Lecesne alleges McCormack tried to persuade him to boost test scores for a friend's promotion and to participate in an attempt to defraud an insurance company on behalf of another friend, then retaliated against him when he refused.

McCormack retired at the end of 2007 following a battle with Secretary of State Debra Bowen over electronic voting machines. The state had decided to temporarily pull the plug on electronic voting machines that McCormack helped place in 5,000 precincts.

The county's former chief administrative officer, David Janssen, is also a defendant in the lawsuit.

Bev Harris comments:

"And guess who gets to pay the million dollar settlement? Not McCormack who, due to the settlement, will never appear in court, but the taxpayers--the same people who thought they were voting for people who would represent them.

Although I have no evidence of any such thing, it would seem likely that if anyone on the Board of Supervisors had been fraudulently elected with a little help from McCormack, they would probably find it preferable to bilk the taxpayers of a million bucks rather than risk the possibility of McCormack being cross-examined under oath in a court of law.

By the way, I learned many years ago that federal Civil Service test scores are frequently manipulated and I see no reason it would be any different at the State level.

One can find on this site scattered instances that would add up to an instructive list of cases where folk hired for illegal functions whose investigations are derailed, as well as those convicted of crimes, then get hired elsewhere for the same function they were so adeptly illegal about. It's in fact a long-standing, much used, US political and bizness tradition."



ES&S Settles $3.25 Million CA Lawsuit for Uncertified Machine Sales

Source: Capitol Alert report, Sacramento Bee

Bowen Settles Voting Machine Lawsuit

by Andrew McIntosh, Capitol Alert, March 19, 2009

Secretary of State Debra Bowen said today the state will get $3.25 million after she settled her department's lawsuit against Election Systems & Software Inc., the electronic voting machine manufacturer.

After paying for attorneys' fees, the remaining $2.93 million the state will get from Election Systems & Software will be used to improve and strengthen the integrity of California's electoral system, Bowen said.

"Californians have the right to know the systems they use for voting have met the legal standards for security, accuracy, reliability, and accessibility," Bowen said in a statement announcing the settlement.

Bowen filed a lawsuit against the voting machine manufacturer in November 2007, amid allegations that the company had sold 972 AutoMARK Model A200 ballot-marking machines to several counties that contained hardware changes that had were not authorized by the Secretary of State, as required by law.

Five California counties bought the modified Model A200 machines believing they were buying voting equipment exactly like the AutoMARK Model A100 machines the Secretary of State had actually tested and approved. The counties included: San Francisco (558 machines), Solano (160), Marin (130), Merced (104), and Colusa (20).

Manual Tallies in California: An Observor Checklist

Observing Manual Counts – A Checklist and Questionnaire
Prepared by the California Voter Foundation

California voters have the right to observe manual counts, which take place after the election and before the results are certified.  The purpose of the manual count is to publicly verify the accuracy of software vote
counts.  Counties comply with the manual count law by publicly counting a subset of ballots selected by hand and comparing the hand-counted totals to the software vote counts.

Under state law, counties must conduct their manual counts within a four-week period after Election Day.  In smaller counties, the entire process is often completed in one day, and usually occurs shortly after the election.  In larger counties, the process can take several days and sometimes does not begin until a week or two after Election Day.


Contact the county elections office
and inform the staff that you want to observe the manual count.  Be sure to provide your name and contact information so the staff can easily notify you.  (You do not have to reside in the county whose
manual count you wish to observe.)

  Ask the county to provide you with any written procedures in advance of the manual count.

Did the county election staff fulfill your request to be
notified?  How far in advance of the manual count start date and
time were you notified?

Q:  Were you provided with written procedures for the manual count?


California law requires each county to select one percent of its precincts at
random and manually recount the ballots from those precincts (Elections
Code Section 15360).

  Ask the county staff what method the counties will use to select precincts to count at random.

  Ask when and where the random selection process will take place so you  can observe it.

What method did the county use to randomly select precincts (i.e.
a  software program, rolling of dice, drawing numbers, etc.)?

Q:  Did you find the selection process to be random?  Were you able to observe this process?


  Bring a notebook for taking notes.  Some counties will also allow you to photograph the manual count while it is in progress.  A calculator may also be useful.

Take note of which precincts were selected for the manual count.

Ask the county to provide you with a statement of the vote tallies in the precincts so you are able to compare those numbers with the hand-counted totals.

If any forms are used to facilitate the manual count, ask if you can be provided with a copy.

Q: When you arrived at the manual count location, were you asked to sign in?
Did you have to provide any identification?
What security requirements or restrictions, if any, were in place?

Q: Who was your contact person at the election office who facilitated your manual count observation?

Some counties hand count all types of ballots cast in a precinct, including absentee and provisional ballots.  Other counties exclude absentee and provisional ballots from the hand count.

   Ask the county staff if absentee and/or provisional ballots are included in the manual count.

Q: Did the county include all ballot types in the manual count?  If not, what kind of ballots were included?


State law requires that results from electronic ballots must be verified
during the manual count using the voter-verified paper audit trails.
(Election Code Section 19253).

Q: Did the county use the voter-verified paper trails to perform the manual count?

Q: If the paper records were stored on one long spool, did the county use
any special devices to help manual counters manage and scroll through
the paper records?

According to state law, the purpose of the manual count is “to verify the accuracy of the automated count.” (Election code section 336.5).  With electronic voting, some interpret this to mean that the voter verified paper records should be compared to the electronic results recorded by the electronic voting machines.  Others interpret this to mean that the paper record tallies should be compared to the results generated by the software that produces the overall vote totals.

Q: In your observation, were the paper records compared to results from electronic voting machines (such as printouts of vote-totals produced from the machines at the close of polls) or results generated by the software that produces the overall vote totals (such as the semi-official canvas)?

Q: How much time did you spend observing the manual count?

Q: Can you give an estimate of how long it took the county to manually count a single precinct?



Q: Did you witness any discrepancies between the manual count and the automated count? 

Q:If there were discrepancies, was the cause determined?  If so, what caused the discrepancy?

Q: Overall, based on what you saw, how confident are you that the county’s vote count is accurate?

Please share any other observations you made during the day.  The California Voter Foundation values your input.  Please send your manual count observations via email to, or via fax, 530-750-1799.  Thank you!

Alameda County Actions -- Voting Rights Task Force

Voting Rights Task Force


Sequoia Security Testing



Alameda County

Phone Banking for Debra Bowen

  • Tuesday evenings, 6 - 9 pm

  • United Democratic Campaign
    1936 University Ave,Berkeley

    (between Milvia and M.L. King)

  • Click here for details.

Alameda - Sequoia Security Tests / Speak to the Supervisors Tuesday Morning

  • Insist that they carry out the security testing of the new Sequoia voting machines that they voted for June 8.

  • 11 AM, Tuesday, October 10

  • Board of Supervisors Chambers

    Administration Building, 5th Floor

    1221 Oak Street (at 12th), Oakland

  • This is item 14 on the agenda.

  • And write a letter to the board of supervisors!

  • For more information click on Security Testing.

Election Monitoring Course : Observing And Reconciling The Count

  • Wednesday, October 11-- 6:45 P.M. to 9 P.M.

  • Grand Lake Neighborhood Center
    530 Lake Park Avenue,Oakland

    (1 block east of Grand Lake Theater)

  • This is a free course.

  • For more details, click here.

Voting Rights Task Force (VRTF)

  • The Voting Rights Task Force, an autonomous committee of the
    Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club,
    has been working since 2004 to achieve secure, open, and verifiable elections.

  • Next meeting, Tuesday, October 10, 8 PM

    Royal Pizza
    2074 University Ave, Berkeley

    (1/2 block west of Shattuck)
    (510) 665 8866

  • VRTF Meetings are the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the
    month, from 7 to 9 pm. The location varies, but it's usually in north
    Berkeley. Please sign up to the VRTF discussion list for announcements.

  • To join the VRTF discussion list, go to
    or send an email to:

  • Discussion group home page :

Web Sites Authored by VRTF Members

For further information, email Jim Soper at : (October 8, 06)

Bowen Decertifies Premier GEMS Ver. 1.18.19 in California

Source: California Secretary of State

Download Press Release

Secretary of State Debra Bowen Withdraws State Approval of Premier Voting System
Legislation to Require Disclosure of Product Flaws Clears First Hurdle

SACRAMENTO – Secretary of State Debra Bowen today announced she has withdrawn state approval of Premier Election Solutions’ Global Election Management System (GEMS) version 1.18.19, which contains serious software flaws.  

Premier GEMS 1.18.19 contains the “Deck Zero” anomaly, a software error that can delete the first batch of optically scanned ballots under certain circumstances without alerting elections officials to the deletion. 

In addition, the system’s audit logs fail to record important events and  “clear” buttons permit deletion of key records, both of which violate federal standards.

Withdrawal Order 

The Secretary of State’s office conducted an independent investigation into the GEMS 1.18.19 system and held a public hearing on the matter March 17, at which a Premier representative said the company had no objection to discontinuing the system’s use in California.  Secretary Bowen reached her decision after analyzing the investigation findings and evaluating the written and oral public testimony on the system.   

“Clearly, a voting system that can delete ballots without warning and doesn’t leave an accurate audit trail should not be used in California or anywhere,” said Secretary Bowen, California’s chief elections officer. 

“I am putting together a comprehensive plan to examine the audit logs of other voting systems to determine if they suffer similar problems.  Having a reliable audit log is critical to ensuring that every Californian’s vote is counted as it was cast.”

The “Deck Zero” flaw caused 197 ballots to be inadvertently deleted from Humboldt County’s initial results in the November 4, 2008, General Election.  Humboldt County corrected its election results when it discovered the software error.  Two other California counties, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, used the same software for the November 4 election but encountered no similar problems in counting ballots.

Of the three counties that used Premier GEMS 1.18.19, Humboldt County has decided to switch to another vendor. 

San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have accepted Premier’s offer to upgrade their systems to a newer GEMS version that is approved for use in California.

State law gives the Secretary of State the authority to periodically review voting systems to determine if they are “defective, obsolete, or otherwise unacceptable.”  Once a system’s approval is withdrawn, counties have six months to remove the system from use.  Therefore, no California county may use Premier GEMS 1.18.19 for any election after September 30.

While the Secretary of State has responsibility for approving or denying voting systems for use in the state, each of California’s 58 counties is responsible for purchasing a system that has received state approval. To prevent similar problems in the future, Secretary Bowen is sponsoring SB 541 (Pavley), which requires ballot printers and voting system vendors to notify the Secretary of State when they discover previously undisclosed flaws in their products.  The bill passed its first legislative hurdle today when the Senate Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee approved it on a 3-to-2 vote.

DOWNLOAD the Decertification Order

More information about the investigation into Premier GEMS 1.18.19 and the public hearing, can be found at

More information about voting systems can be found at
To view this and other Secretary of State press releases, go to








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premier-11819-withdrawal-approval033009.pdf1.61 MB

CA Secretary of State Race is a Contest for Election Integrity

Original article published by California Progress Report

Debra Bowen: A Powerhouse California Secretary of State Rather Than an Appointed Placeholder

Will Have to Overcome Money Disadvantage and a Determined Republican
Effort to Keep Schwarzenegger Appointed Incumbent McPherson


By Frank D. Russo

There is no question that State Senator Debra Bowen would make one
of the greatest Secretary of States that California has seen and would
make sure that every vote is counted, accurately and fairly, a concern
on the minds of many voters. She has a record of accomplishment she can
point to as a California legislator since 1992 and has authored many of
the laws that she would be enforcing. She has served as Chair of the
Senate Elections, Reapportionment, and Constitutional Amendments
Committee and is regarded as an expert in government reform, consumer
protection and privacy rights, environmental conservation, and open

She just received a ringing endorsement by the San Jose Mercury News
"Bowen better suited to be secretary of state: Legislator's skepticism needed in move to electronic voting."

She is also the only woman on the ballot for any of the California
State Offices from Governor through all the down ticket races. And
she's a Democrat in a Democratic state.

She faces two major problems: A concerted effort by Republicans to
retain this office and a money disadvantage in an important but
relatively low visibility race. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed
McPherson to this position when Kevin Shelley resigned has been helping
behind the scenes and McPherson had $1 million in the bank as of the
last reporting period ending September 30, 2006, much of it from the
usual Republican suspects--insurance companies, the RJ Reynolds Tobacco
Company, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, energy companies--and some
folks who you would expect to be supporting a Democrat but hedged their
bets when it looked like McPherson would be the favorite to win. You
can bet there will be more last minute money from Republican sources
before the election.

But McPherson has upset many voters and organizations concerned
with the accurate counting of votes. In the spring, he
certified Diebold voting machines without proper hearings
and documentation. Bowen called him on it. In the latest survey, the
Los Angeles Times poll, Bowen had the edge by 35 to 33% with a huge
undecided segment of likely voters.

This is a big state and it
usually takes a lot of money--a lot more than the million McPherson has
to be able to communicate with the voters. In the same filing period,
Bowen has only $365,000 in the bank. But the one area that cannot be
discounted is the loyal following she has from many of the netroots. It
was the word of mouth from the grassroots and electronic version of
this from the internet that propelled Bowen to a landslide win in the
June Democratic primary. At this time in the primary race, polls showed
her trailing with a large undecided vote.

Her record should speak for itself. Just take a look at some of the
bills she authored in this last session that on election matters that
became law:

Voting Systems Standards (SB 370) Requires
elections officials, when doing the 1% manual recount required by law,
to use the paper ballots produced by electronic machines.

Voter privacy
(SB 1016) A three-part bill that: 1. Protects the confidentiality of
voter signatures by making signatures confidential the same way Social
Security numbers and driver's license numbers on voter records are
protected. 2. Protects the confidentiality of initiative petition
signatures by requiring initiative proponents to train signature
gatherers on keeping signatures confidential. 3. Helps people
registering to vote protect their privacy by putting clear disclosures
on voter registration forms telling people they only have to give a
driver’s license OR a Social Security number, not both; the phone
number and e-mail address on the form are optional, not mandatory;
victims of domestic violence have a right to keep their data
confidential; and voter data can be released to political campaigns,
journalists, researchers, and elections observers.

Safe At Home Program (SB 1062) Under current law,
only domestic violence and stalking victims are allowed to enroll in
the Secretary of State’s “Safe At Home” confidential address program,
which allows people to receive mail at a confidential address set up
and maintained by the Secretary of State. This bill allows sexual
assault victims to enroll in the program as well.

Voting Systems Standards (SB 1235) This expands
last year’s SB 370 (Bowen). The manual count law requires the votes in
1% of the precincts (with some exemptions) selected at random to be
counted manually and matched against the results from the electronic
tabulator. This bill requires: 1) All “early voting” center and
absentee votes to be included into this tally; 2) The precincts to be
included in the 1% count to be randomly selected by a random generated
number method or based on regulations drafted by the Secretary of
State; 3) A five-day public notice of when and where the precincts for
the 1% audit will be selected and of the audit itself; and 4) The
results of the audit to be made public.

Voting System Standards–Recounts (SB 1519)
Requires the Secretary of State to set up standards for how recounts
are to be conducted. There is no state law or regulation on how exactly
recounts are conducted. Instead, the procedures (which vary by voting
system) are laid out in an informal “best practices” manual between the
Secretary of State and the counties. This bill requires the Secretary
of State to create official rules and standards, so everyone (including
the public) will know how it’s done and it won’t vary from county to

Voting System Standards–Absentee Ballots (SB
1725) Requires counties to “track” absentee ballots so a voter can call
in (or log onto a web site) and check to see if their ballot arrived.
Bowen said at the time: “Nearly 47% of the people who voted in the June
primary did so by absentee ballot, yet unless they dropped their ballot
off in person, they have no idea if it arrived by the 8:00 p.m.
Election Day deadline. Nearly every county already puts bar codes on
absentee ballot envelopes so they can sort and track them more easily,
so using that existing system to let voters find out if their ballot
arrived in time to be counted is a cost-effective way to keep voters
involved and informed." A great idea.

Voting Machine Inspection (SB 1747) Right now,
the law restricts the ability of people to inspect voting machines,
limiting it to county central committees who can send in “data
processing specialists or engineers.” This bill expands it to every
qualified political party, removes the requirement that they be “data
processing specialists or engineers,” and permits up to 10 people from
a “bonafide collection of citizens.”

Voting System Standards–Paper Trail (SB 1760)
Precludes the Secretary of State from certifying any voting system
unless the paper ballots and the accessible voter-verified paper audit
trail (AVVPAT) retain their integrity and readability for 22 months.
That’s how long, under current law, elections officials are required to
retain these documents. This has been informally referred to as the
“Elephant Gestation Bill,” since 22 months is the gestation period for
a baby elephant.

Bowen has been a pioneer on many other voting reforms. In 1993 and
1995, for instance, she authored bills to allow any voters to sign up
for permanent absentee ballots, which ultimately became law in 2001.

Spread the word about Bowen to your friends and other voters any way
you can. This may be a squeaker of a low visibility race and there will
be a drop off as many will not bother to cast a ballot for this office.
Go to Bowen's website for more information. She even has a blog where you can get to know her better.

CA Voting Systems: Overview of Red Team Reports

Overview of Red Team Reports

Matt Bishop, Principle Investigator, University of California, Davis

1.0. Executive Summary

The California Secretary of State entered into a contract with the University of California to test the security of three electronic voting systems as part of her top to bottom review.
Each “red team” was to try to compromise the accuracy, security, and integrity of the voting systems without making assumptions about compensating controls or procedural mitigation measures that vendors, the Secretary of State, or individual counties may have
adopted. The red teams demonstrated that, under these conditions, the technology and security of all three systems could be compromised.

[Continued below]

Links to TTBR Overview, Red Team Reports, News Accounts

Voting System Review, main page, CA Secretary of State website

Read the full 12-page Red Team Overview

Click these download links to retrieve Red Team reports on each vendor system reviewed:

Hart InterCivic

For news accounts of the CA Voting System Top to Bottom Review ("TTBR") click here: TTBR News Stories

[Overview, continued]

2.0 Goals

In May 2007, the California Secretary of State began a study of all electronic voting systems currently certified in California. This “top to bottom review” (TTBR) was to determine whether the systems currently certified should be left alone, or specific procedures required to provide additional protections for their use, or the machines simply decertified and banned from use.

As part of this study, the Secretary contracted with the University of California to conduct a “red team” review of the systems. The specific goal of the Red Team study was “to identify and document vulnerabilities, if any, to tampering or error that could cause incorrect recording, tabulation, tallying or reporting of votes or that could alter critical election data such as election definition or system audit data.” ([1], p. 5).

A red team study, also called a penetration study, examines a system from the point of view of an attacker, and analyzes the system to determine how secure it is against an attack. Such a study requires establishing several parameters:

• The specific goals of the system: what is it to do?
• The threat model: with whom or what are the testers concerned?
• The information to be made available to the testers: how much do they know at
the start?
• The environment in which the system is used: what policies and procedures are to
be applied?
• The specific “rules of engagement”: what are the team members allowed to do?

For this TTBR, the specific goals of each system are to record, tabulate, tally, and report votes correctly and to prevent critical election data and system audit data from being altered without authorization. The threats were taken to be both insiders (those with
complete knowledge of the system and various degrees of access to the system) and outsiders (those with limited access to the systems). As a result, all information available to the Secretary of State was made available to the testers.

The testers were told to assume that the environments in which the systems were used would vary, and that the testers could do whatever they thought necessary to test the machines. The testers therefore assumed the attackers would include anyone coming in contact with the voting systems at some point in the process – voters, poll workers, election officials, vendor employees, and others with varying degrees of access [18].

In developing attack scenarios, the red teams made no assumptions about constraints on the attackers. We recommend that future Red Teams should adopt a similar attitude. The testers did not evaluate the likelihood of any attack being feasible. Instead, they
described the conditions necessary for an attacker to succeed. This approach had several benefits:

• The testers could focus on the technology rather than on the policies procedures, and laws intended to compensate for any technological shortcomings.

• In California, specific procedures for controlling access to the election systems and for setting up, using, and storing the election systems is a local matter. As there are 58 different counties, there are at least 58 different sets of procedures. It was impractical for the red team testers to evaluate them.

• If a problem is discovered, the people who know the law and election policies and procedures can modify their policies and procedures appropriately to attempt to address the problem.

• Finally, the effectiveness of the policies and procedures used to control and protect the election systems depends on their implementation. Policies and procedures that look effective on paper may be implemented poorly, rendering them ineffective. It was impractical to evaluate this aspect of the policies and procedures.

Therefore, the results of this study must be evaluated in light of the context in which these election systems are used. This emphasizes a key point often overlooked in the discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of electronic voting systems: those systems are part of a process, the election process; and the key question is whether the election process, taken as a whole, meets the requirements of an election as defined by the body politic.

The participants in this study hope our work contributes in some measure to answering that question. . . . [Continued]

CA_VS_RedTeam_Overview.pdf303.08 KB
CA_TTBR_accessibility_review.pdf1.08 MB

California Election Reform News, February 11, 2007


- Symposium with Steven Freeman, Paul Lehto & others, Oakland, Feb. 17, 2007
- Debra Bowen sworn in as California Secretary of State
- Lowell Finley appointed Deputy Secretary of State


- Sen. Feinstein holds hearing on Election Integrity
- Rep. Holt's election protection bill, H.R. 811
- Diebold - security key reproduced from photo on website!
- Sequoia - easy to pick the lock.



- Symposium with Steven Freeman, Paul Lehto & others, Oakland, Feb. 17, 2007

The Election Defense Alliance is sponsoring a symposium Sat., Feb. 17
at the Rockridge Library, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It is titled:
"Are We a Democracy? Vote Counting in the United States"
Speakers will include Dr. Steven Freeman, author of "Was the 2004
Presidential Election Stolen?", Attorney Paul Lehto, Dr. Joshua
Mitteldorf, and others.

- Debra Bowen sworn in as California Secretary of State

Videos of the ceremony at:
Also included in a video, "Inaugurating Change", by Eon Productions (27

- Lowell Finley appointed Deputy Secretary of State

Debra Bowen has appointed Lowell Finley as Deputy Secretary of State
in charge of voting system certification. He is the cofounder of
Voter Action, which is involved in suits in 10 states, including
the suit in Sarasota, Florida over the 18,000 undervotes in the
Congressional race.


- Sen. Feinstein holds hearing on Election Integrity

Senator Diane Feinstein is now chair of the U. S. Senate
Committee on Rules and Administration, which has jurisdiction
over elections. The committee had a hearing titled:
"The Hazards of Electronic Voting: Focus on the Machinery of Democracy"
ON fEB. 7. For a list of witnesses and statements, see:

The committee is accepting comments from the public.
To send comments to the committee, send them to:

Send them by Monday, Feb. 12 (sorry for the late notice).

- Rep. Holt's election protection bill, H.R. 811

Rep. Holt's bill is titled the "Voter Confidence and Increased
Accessibility Act of 2007". It already has 183 cosponsors. In the
previous Congress, Rep. Holt's H.R. 550 had 222 cosponsors (215
votes needed to pass a bill), but the House leadership would not
let it come to a vote. H.R. 811 is a lot better than H.R. 550 was,
but still has problems. Common Cause, People for the American Way,
and others are promoting it without regard for the problems, or
possibly hoping they will be fixed in committee. The best description
of the problems is at:

Scroll down past the cosponsors, and you will see links to the list
of problems with Rep. Holt's staff answers, plus other people's

- Diebold - security key reproduced from photo on website!

Diebold electronic voting machines use a memory card to store programs
and vote totals. This card is locked. However, Diebold had a picture
of the key on its web site which a blogger used to create an actual
key, which worked when tested on a real Diebold voting machine!
(Actually, since Diebold uses only one key model, the key would open
any Diebold voting machine anywhere in the country).

- Sequoia - easy to pick the lock.

A Princeton professor bought five Sequoia voting machines from
a government auction for $82, and a student picked the lock in
7 seconds!


If you want to subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, send
mail to This newsletter is issued infrequently,
so it won't fill your mailbox.

California State Election Laws

Click here for a searchable compilation of California State Election Laws.

California Voter Registration Information


Attached is the California Voter Registration Information as set forth in Making the List, Database Matching and Verification Processes for Voter Registration as published by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University on March 24, 2006. This document contains available information about voter regtistration current as of the date of publication.

Federal law now requires, as of January 1, 2006, that states create and maintain statewide databases to serve as the central source of voter registration information. Citizens’ ability to get on the rolls (and thus their ability to vote and have their votes counted) will now depend on the policies and procedures governing the use of these databases in the voter registration process. Evidence demonstrates that poor policy and procedure choices could result in the unwarranted disenfranchisement of millions of eligible citizens attempting to register to vote. The new statewide databases, and their role in the voter registration process, are poorly understood, but extremely consequential.

This Making the List report, issued just as the state databases begin to come online, presents the first comprehensive catalog of the widely varying state database practices governing how (and in some cases, whether) individuals seeking to register will be placed on the voter rolls. The report covers the state’s voter registration process, from the application form up through Election Day - including the intake of registration forms, the manner in which information from the forms may be matched to other government lists, the consequences of the match process, and any opportunity to correct errors. Each variation at each step of the process has tangible consequences for voters seeking to register and vote in 2006 and beyond.

IMPORTANT:  Because of the possibility that voter information may differ from database to database (abbreviations, street designations, etc.) or because of data entry errors, valid voter registration data may be rejected. Individual voters are urged to contact their county clerk or local election board to determine that they are properly registered. Many such election authorities maintain online services for this purpose, other will require a telephone call or perhaps a written inquiry to determine the voter's eligibility.

As an addendum to this state report, a fill-in form for voter registration is presented which can be completed, printed and sent to the appropriate registratrar of voters (generally the county Clerk or local election board). The proper form of submission and location is included on the registration form.



California_Voter_Registration.pdf1.11 MB

California and Federal Legal Research Guide


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Legal Links

These legal links are divided
into categories to help the researcher find the information
he or she requires. General Legal
Research links connect you to several websites that are
good at organizing law-related information by subject. These
websites are often a good starting point for the beginning
researcher. Links are then divided into California
legal research and Federal legal research.
See the Mini Research Class page
for more information on where to start your research. For
local law questions involving a city or county, refer to the
Local links. If you are looking for
an attorney, consult with the Legal
Directories links. And, finally, if you are looking for
court forms, or court rules, check the links provided under
Forms and Rules links.

General Legal Research:

Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute
site is useful for researching your legal issues. The site contains
many "Law About" topic entries with general background information on
different legal subjects and a few "Topical Libraries" on issues such
as social security and legal ethics. The site is especially useful for
searching for United States Supreme Court opinions, Federal Circuit
court opinions, and the United States Code.

This site contains
many subject guides to specific areas of law, links for finding
lawyers, and law related news and information. For California users,
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site is a product of Thomson/West, a legal publishing company.

California Resources:

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may also view the Constitution in a table of contents format.

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or search by keyword.

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allows users to purchase access to Shepard's to update their legal
research. The site also provides access to free case law (five years of
state and federal court opinions; United States Supreme Court opinions
from 1790). This site is operated by LexisNexis, a legal publishing

I-CAN! Legal Modules
is a web-based system that helps users create court paperwork and
educate themselves about how to proceed in their own legal matters. The
site contains a video guide that helps the user select and fill out
appropriate court forms in civil matters such as Domestic Violence,
Unlawful Detainer, Paternity, and more. I-CAN! is free of charge and is
available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. I-CAN! was developed by
the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and was sponsored by
organizations including: Legal Services Corporation, Judicial Council
of California, State Bar of California, Orange County Superior Court,
Orange County District Attorney, Orange County Public Library System,
Disneyland, City of Irvine, and the City of Fullerton.

State Judicial Council Forms-California
Official site for California's Judicial Council forms. Fill out online or print.

Forms from the Feds
Links to
downloadable federal agency forms, listed by agency. Useful place to
access forms from the INS, Copyright Office, and more.
Links to
over 60,000 court forms nationwide. Some free forms are available and
many are interactive forms that may be filled in online.

California State Court Rules
Links to California Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, Trial Court and Local court rules.

Court Rules-Law Library Resource Xchange
Links to over 1,400 sources for state and federal court rules. Browse or search by keyword.

California Voter Registration Database

California regulations and implementation of the centralized state voter registration database mandated by HAVA.

California_Brenn.pdf1.11 MB

Contract Provision for Public Disclosure of Voting System Software

The following contract provision, recently approved by the County of San Francisco
in negotiation with Sequoia Voting Systems, is presented here as an
example for implementing similar full software disclosure clauses in any contracts
with vendors providing electronic voting systems for public elections.

EDA does not endorse electronic voting systems; we're in favor of a complete transition
to hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB). But we do believe that full disclosure of any software
in any voting system is necessary, and must be paired with concurrent code verification
for the disclosure itself to constitute any meaningful public check on software-mediated voting processes.

Electronic voting is an existing fact; full-disclosure of voting system software is a minimal starting point--not a final solution-- for restoring some degree of public accountability and transparency to the privatized, secret-software voting systems that are already installed and operating in more than 96% of U.S. voting jurisdictions.

The following document was provided by Brent Turner.

Brent Turner is a California voting activist who works with Open Voting Consortium and The San Francisco Election Integrity League (
and was directly involved in getting the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors to approve this contract provision in their negotiations with Sequoia for an optical scan voting system for the City and County of San Francisco.

Brent is also an active participant in the Legislative Working Group of EDA.

Form Contract Provision for Public Disclosure

Section ___: Public Disclosure of Technology Required.

Prior to the delivery of any products, Vendor shall submit proof of
Public Disclosure in a form satisfactory to the City. At a minimum,
Vendor will affirm that it (1) has entered into an agreement for a
term concurrent with this agreement with the California Secretary of
State, the Open Voting Consortium, or other similar third party for
public access to the technology used in the subject products; (2) that
the disclosure is freely available through that third party to the
public at no cost; (3) the disclosure contains complete documentation,
including software source code of all hardware and software components
created or modified for the voting application; (4) the disclosure of
commercial off the shelf (COTS) components by manufacturer, model, and
revision; and (5) the disclosure of all product data sheets, manuals,
and other publicly available documentation for unmodified COTS

Vendor is not required to provide hardware to the public for testing
purposes; however, the technology disclosure package shall be
sufficiently detailed such that competent engineers with the correct
tools can fully recreate the hardware and software systems.

In the event that the Public Disclosure Service becomes unavailable
from Vendor's provider, Vendor shall provide City proof, within 30
days of unavailability that Vendor has contracted with another third
party public disclosure service provider for disclosure as provided
herein for the remainder of the term of this agreement.


The following is a policy statement from the Open Voting Consortium, sent to the San Francisco County Elections Commission members, in advocacy for inclusion of the above software disclosure clause in the pending voting systems contract between San Francisco County and Sequoia.



Citizens have the right to know how their votes are counted. Technology
shall not be used in a voting system that interferes with this right to

"Publicly Disclosed" technology refers to hardware and software whose design
details have been made public, freely available for public inspection. In
addition, the vendor of publicly disclosed technology grants the right to
the public to test the technology and publish the test results.

The technology disclosure package is an electronic file that contains all
the documents required to show exactly how the system works.

Voting system technology includes components specifically designed or
modified for the voting application, as well as components that are general
purpose commodity items (sometimes called COTS for
"commercial-off-the-shelf"). The vendor is not expected to reveal the inner
workings of unmodified COTS components. However, all unmodified COTS
components must be identified by manufacturer, model, and revision. In
addition, all product data sheets, manuals, and other publicly available
documentation should be included for unmodified COTS components in the
technology disclosure package.

All hardware and software components created or modified for the voting
application must have complete documentation, including software source
code, in the technology disclosure package.

"Open Source" technology refers to Publicly Disclosed technology where
additional rights have been conferred to the public. These additional rights
that go with open source software include the right to [1],

- Run the program for any purpose (not just testing)

- Adapt the program for your needs

- Freely redistribute copies

- Make improvements and release the improvements to the public

Open Source has additional features and benefits compared to Publicly
Disclosed source. Open Source enables [2]:

- Ensure interoperability

- Avoid vendor lock-in

- Avoid imposing technology decisions on the citizenry

- Drive cost effectiveness

- Enhance efficiency and service levels

- Ensure future access to information

- Ensure a level playing field for competition

- Maximize freedom of action, ensure flexibility

The City and County of San Francisco prefers "Open Source" -- and will
support efforts to reach this goal -- but requires, at a minimum, Public
Disclosure of all voting technology. The vendor is not required to freely
provide hardware to the public for testing purposes, but the technology
disclosure package shall be sufficiently detailed such that competent
engineers with the correct tools can fully recreate the hardware and
software systems.

All contracts that include the purchase of voting equipment executed by the
City and County of San Francisco shall include provisions for Public
Disclosure of Technology; specifically, the vendor must make arrangements to
have a complete technology disclosure package available for free public
download on Public Disclosure website, such as Open Voting Consortium, or
the California Secretary of State, or any other third party offering to make
publicly disclosed technology available for free download to the public. In
the event that the Public Disclosure service becomes unavailable from the
vendor's provider, the vendor agrees to make arrangements for Public
Disclosure with another entity within 30 days from the time the service
becomes unavailable from the original Public Disclosure service provider.

[1] Definition from Free Software Foundation

[2] IBM presentation on Open Computing, Open Standards and Open Source
Recommendation for Governments

Guide to CA Election Monitoring

Michelle Gabriel of the Voting Rights Task Force of Alameda County, CA
has compiled a training handbook for election monitoring based on CA
election code, and borrowing ideas from the BlackboxVoting Toolkit, the SAV R VOTE
(Riverside Co.) Election Monitoring Report, the DFA-NH report "We're Counting the Votes,"
other sources -- and her own experience as a pollworker and election observor.

You can view and open, or download and save the Election Monitoring Guide by clicking on the
file links you see immediately below, under the heading Attachments.

The guide is available in Word and PDF versions.

This is a work open to revision, and your comments and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged.
See below for the Table of Contents, and below that, click the attachment link to open the whole file.

Michelle is seeking monitors for the CA 11th Congressional District.
The 11th District covers portions of four counties in CA and is shaping up to be one of the most
contested House races in California this November 7.

Michelle is on the EDA Election Monitoring E-mail list.
You can communicate with her and other members of the EDA Election Monitoring Working Group
by subscribing to the E-mail list for this Working Group.

Look for the Discussion List heading in the top left corner of pages
in the Forums section of the EDA website.

Follow that link to the subscription page for the EDA working Groups.
Select Monitoring from the displayed list of EDA Group lists,
and follow the subscription instructions.

CA Election Monitoring Guide


What can I observe -- summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Who can observe -- summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
What can I reconcile -- summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Pre-observing preparation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
What can I observe -- detail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Before the Election:

Observing preparation and operation
of tabulation devices programming, and testing . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Observing logic and accuracy testing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Observing absentee ballot processing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Pollworker training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Observing poll set up. . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

During the Voting

Observing voting at the polls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Observing poll close. . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
After the Polls Close
Observing chain of custody . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Observing central counting. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Observe 1% manual tally . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
What can I reconcile -- detail. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Prioritizing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

Election Codes for Observing and Monitoring. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Election Codes for Reconcile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Examples of problems caught. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
How do I report an incident . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

ElectionMonitoring v1.0.doc222 KB
ElectionMonitoringV1.0.pdf83.27 KB

Joint Legislative Panel Hears of Widespread Failures in CA Primary

In response to widespread election breakdowns across California during the February 5th Primary Election, an unprecedented Joint Legislative Hearing heard testimony for more than five hours in Los Angeles Friday, March 7 concerning error-ridden voter registration rolls blocking eligible voters from voting, shortages of provisional ballots disenfranchising thousands, lax or nonexistenct ballot custody measures, and most notoriously, a completely avoidable, known ballot design issue that ended up voiding the candidate choices of 12,000 voters.

VIDEO: Tom Courbat, director of Save R Vote (and also EDA Coordinator for Election Monitoring) addressed the Joint Legislative hearing in Los Angeles, March 7, about problems he observed in Riverside County in the Feb. 5 primary election.
In addition to photo-documented evidence of election security violations, Tom told the panel that the state is failing to allocate adequarte resources to enforce existing election laws, and that the EI advocates who are doing the state's work to identify and document election problems need to be accorded more direct participation in investigatory hearings, instead of being relegated to the end of the agenda and limited to 60 seconds of speaking time.
Joining Secretary of State Debra Bowen on the hearing panel were the chairs of three California State Senate and Assembly committees charged with oversight of elections: Assemblymember Curren Price, Chair of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee; Senator Ron Calderon, Chair of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, and Constitutional Amendments Committee; and Senator Jenny Oropeza, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Integrity of Elections. Two other senators, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Dean Flores rounded out the panel.

Foremost in the witness role were the Acting Registrar of Voters for LA County, Dean Logan, and former Registrar Conny McCormack, who hand-picked Logan as her successor. Other invited speakers were Contra Costa County Clerk Steve Weir, President of the California Association of County Elections Officials (CACEO), and representatives of the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and California Voter Foundation.

More than 50 election integrity advocates turned out to give their testimony, but were scheduled at the very end of the hearing and in all but a few cases were allotted only 30 to 60 seconds each to speak.

The largest (known) disenfranchinsing incident in the state was the "Double Bubble" problem in Los Angeles County that initially threatened to disqualify the votes of nearly 60,000 "independent" voters (those not registered with any political party) who had voted for candidates in the California Democratic primary.

Not until EI advocates such as the LA Election Protection Task Force, Protect California Ballots, and the Courage Campaign raised public protest did the acting registrar of voters for LA County, Dean Logan, reverse his position and arrange to have the non-partisan ballots counted by hand.

In the end, there were still 12,000 ballots that went uncounted because of the double bubble problem.

The problem arises because the Inka Vote ballot cards have no candidate names or propositions printed on them. The only feature of these op scan ballots are the voting positions (bubbles) corresponding to candidates or propositions, to be marked by the voters.

Some of the ballot positions are keyed to the "double" bubble for either the Democratic or American Independent Party candidates. Cross-referencing precinct pollbooks with the ballots enabled determination of the voter intent in most of the cases, but only because of human hannd-counting, and even then, 12,000 ballots could not be resolved.

This arrangement of ballots without human-readable printing is wholly for the convenience of the scanners, and either difficult or impossible for purposes of human counting.

The scanners were programmed not to count any non-partisan ballots without the double bubble marked -- but they could have been programmed to kick back any such ballot for the voter to correct.

But that would have posed another problem, for the voters were not informed about the double bubble requirement as they went to vote at the polls and the pollworkers were not informed or trained to provide this crucial information to the voters.

For no good reason, LA has been using a ballot form designed 6 years ago by recently retired Registrar of Voters Conny McCormack that requires non-affiliated voters to not only mark their choice for candidates, but also to fill in an additional ballot item, the "double bubble," indicating they are a non-partisan voter casting their vote in a political party primary. (The Democratic and American Independent parties are the only two of California's seven registered political parties that allow non-partisan voters to vote in their primary elections.)

The "Inka Vote" optical scanners that count Los Angeles ballots were programmed to disqualify non-partisan ballots that lacked a mark in the "double bubble" indicating a non-partisan voter's intent to cast a vote for a Democratic or American Independent candidate.

Election officials of Los Angeles County -- which accounts for one-fourth of the state's 30-million registered voters -- have known about the double bubble problem for four consecutive elections spanning the previous six years, and in each of those elections the bubble issue has resulted in the routine and predictable voiding of tens of thousands of votes.

A Los Angeles Times editorial of Feb. 18, 2008 noted that: "Election officials are calling this a glitch, but the outcome was entirely foreseeable. In fact, it has happened before. In the March 2004 election, 44% of crossover ballots were unusable, and in June 2006, it was 42%."

Yet at the hearing, incredibly enough, McCormack testified that "no one could have foreseen" the double bubble problem this year.

Kim Alexander of the CalVoter Foundation had three solid recommendations that state and county officials should take immediate action to fulfill:

1. There needs to be a full accounting of all of the Decline-to-State ballots;

2. There needs to be a thorough, outside investigation; and

3. Los Angeles needs to move to a paper ballot voting system where the candidates and choices appear directly on the ballot.

Senator Jenny Oropeza indicated there is a likelihood of passing “urgency legislation” that would take effect immediately

Brad Friedman has published a chronology of the "Double Bubble" fiasco that includes numerous links to LA-area press accounts and video of the Los Angeles hearing shot by BradBlog contributor Alan Breslauer.

CA_Hearing_Election Problems_030708.pdf31.57 KB

Marin County Election Integrity Progress Report 10/30/06

[A model example of what concerted citizen action at the local county level can accomplish]

Date: October 30, 2006 3:04:59 AM PST

Subject: Marin County election integrity update
This update is going out to folks interested in Marin County election integrity issues. I wanted to keep you abreast of the progress we are making in securing our local elections and ask you to please take action (see item 2, below).

1. Progress Since May 2006
2. Take Action
3. Election Integrity Volunteers Needed
4. Remaining Issues of Concern
5. Learn More About Election Integrity Issues

1. Progress Since May 2006

With help from many of you who wrote emails and attended Board of Supervisors meetings, the Registrar of Voters office has implemented many of our requested reforms:

- Reduced recount costs, though they are still high. In November 2004 a recount of the Marin Healthcare Board race was quoted at about $160,000, or about $1.49 a ballot. In November 2005 a recount of the Fairfax Town Council race was quoted at about $15,500, or about $4.06 a ballot. However, after recount costs were reduced, a recount request for the Secretary of State primary race (Marin County ballots only) in June 2006 was quoted at $31,931, or about $0.47 a ballot. This is a notable improvement, though it is still high and unaffordable in some cases. For example, the entire No on Measure R campaign (SMART) is being done under $35,000. The new recount pricing would be unaffordable for them. (I estimated a countywide recount assuming a 70% turnout would cost approx. $49,000.)

- Posted recount costs on the web. These can be found in the Recount Procedures at, although it is vague.

- Expanded the hand-count audit to 3%. The California Election Code requires a 1% hand-count audit of the ballots as a check on the accuracy of the voting machines, but mathematicians have determined 1% is not sufficient to detect fraud. We asked the Registrar, Elaine Ginnold, to increase the percentage audited. She has asked a researcher at U.C. Berkeley to study the issue of what an optimal percentage for a manual tally would be. The researcher has also agreed to study the issue of what percent spread between winning and losing candidates should trigger a recount of the contest. In the meantime, Elaine has agreed to expand the audit to 3% of precincts for this November's election, a temporary measure until the study is completed. To give you a feel for the degree to which this is a safeguard, election integrity advocates have calculated that if a hypothetical 15% of precincts had fraud, a 3% audit (6 or 7 precincts) would have a 63-69% probability of finding it.

- Absentees will be audited in same manner as poll site ballots. Elaine Ginnold has agreed to include absentees in the 3% hand-count audit, auditing all races by precinct. Auditing by precinct is important so the public can compare the results of the hand tally with the official election results, which are reported by precinct.

- Randomly select precincts for audit. The county has a set of 10-sided dice they are using to select which precincts will be included in the post-election hand tally audit. The public is notified in advance of the date and time of the selection, so we can attend and observe. For the November 7 election, the random selection of precincts is tentatively scheduled for Monday, Nov. 20 at 8:30 a.m. at the ROV's office, rm. 121 of the county Civic Center, with the hand-tally audit to commence afterward. The 10-sided dice method was developed by a team of researchers at UC Berkeley.

- Established a Marin County Election Advisory Committee so the public can give input to the elections process. Members are: Greg Brockbank, Linda Bagneschi Dorrance, Susan Clark, Shirley Graves, Julie Grantz, Richard Hill, Mark Kyle, Anne Layzer, Donald Linker, David O'Connor, Donald Pino, Sherry Reson, Carlos Sanchez, Cat Woods, Patrick Connally, John Young, Carl Carter, Jeanne Leoncini, and Barbara Gaman. Two subcommittees have been formed: 1) Election Integrity and Voter Confidence and 2) Voter Outreach and Education. Members of the public are welcome to attend all meetings. The next meeting of the full advisory committee will be Dec. 8, 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Close races: Elaine also said she will consider doing an automatic machine recount during the canvass period if the percentage spread between a winning and losing candidate is equal to or less than 0.5%. The recount would be done on a different machine than the one used on election day, and the ROV (Registrar of Voters) will consider hand counting additional precincts in the contest if time permits.

Reforms we requested but did not get are:

" A public hand recount of recent close races, including the Nov. 2005 Fairfax Town Council race and the Nov. 2004 Marin Healthcare Board race.
" Expansion of the post-election hand-tally audit to 5%.
" Charge at most a nominal cost for recounts, and build recount costs into the cost of an election, to be paid for by the agencies requesting the election services.

2. Take Action:

Email the ROV and Board of Supervisors thanking them for implementing many of our requested election integrity reforms, and ask them to further reduce recount costs. Below is suggested text you can cut and paste. It's important to send a "thank you" to let them know we appreciate their responsiveness and encourage them to follow through on their commitments.

Send it to:,,,,,,,

Suggested text:

Ms. Elaine Ginnold, Marin County Registrar of Voters:

I recently learned about the various actions the County is taking to enhance election security and wanted to thank you for your responsiveness to community concerns. Measures such as expanding the hand-tally audit to 3% of precincts, auditing absentees by precinct, randomly selecting precincts for the audit, and establishing an elections advisory committee are very encouraging.

Please consider further reducing recount costs in time for the upcoming election. I appreciate that you have already reduced recount costs considerably compared to the past. However, at approximately $0.47 per ballot for a countywide race, recounts are still unaffordable in some cases. For example, the entire No on Measure R campaign (SMART) is being done under $35,000. A representative from that campaign confirmed the new recount pricing is entirely unaffordable for them. (At approx. $0.47/ballot a countywide recount assuming a 70% turnout would cost about $49,000.)

Please let me know what you plan to do. Thank you again for the positive steps you are taking to secure our elections.

Best Regards,
(your name and city)

3. Election Integrity Volunteers Needed

" Marin County election monitors: Email if you would like to help observe: the processing of absentee ballots, the polls on election day or evening, the post-election canvass, or the 3% hand tally audit. If you are working on behalf of a candidate or measure in a close race, you might be especially interested in observing the 3% hand tally, which begins at 8:30 a.m. on 11/20 (tentative) at the ROV's office.

" Phone bank for Debra Bowen, Sec. of State campaign: Sign up for phone banking at Electing Debra Bowen to CA Secretary of State is the most important thing we can do right now to enhance election security across the state. Watch her debate against Schwarzenegger-appointed Bruce McPherson at, click on Voter Guide.

" California Election Protection Network: CEPN has a host of different committees you can sign up for. Register at or email

4. Remaining Issues of Concern

Following are some remaining election integrity issues that still need to be resolved (partial list). Some of these issues are being discussed via the County's Election Integrity and Voter Confidence Subcommittee:

" Security of absentee ballots - Voting by absentee ballot has additional vulnerabilities that poll site voting does not. For example: it is difficult for election monitors to observe all aspects of the absentee process since it occurs over several weeks; insufficient/unknown security at post office, post office subcontractors, and mail houses; possibly en-route ballot disappearances/add-ons; concern about the possibility of selling votes; etc.
" Implement recommendations of the Brennan Center Task Force on Voting System Security - See
" Need to trust the insiders - The method of administering elections in California requires that we trust the insiders (the county ROV and elections staff). While we hope we can trust the elections staff in most counties, it would naïve to think we can trust all elections staff in all counties all the time. Many election integrity advocates want a return to hand-counting paper ballots at the poll site, and/or rigorous audits of machine counts before the ballots leave the poll site.
" Make copies of ballots available to public at no charge. This way folks can conduct unofficial recounts themselves at no charge. Adds a critical layer of transparency.
" Need to better understand County's security and chain-of-custody procedures for absentee ballots, memory cards, the central scanner, post office, mail houses, printers, reporting results to the Secretary of State, storing ballots and poll site scanners at the elections office, security seals, etc.
" Election-integrity problems in the state election code.

And more.

5. Learn More About Election Integrity Issues


Was the 2004 Election Stolen? By Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Rolling Stone, 5-1-06,

Will the Next Election Be Hacked? By Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Rolling Stone, 10-5-06,

Please forward this email to anyone you think would be interested. To be added to the email list to receive these updates, email To be removed from the list, reply to with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

Linda Bagneschi Dorrance
Member, Marin County Election Advisory Committee and Election Integrity and Voter Confidence Subcommittee

The Bowen CA Senate Hearings on Elections and Voting, 2005-06

Transcripts of each of the California Senate Election Committee hearings convened by Sen. Bowen  during 2005 and 2006 are online at this web address:
Each of the hearings is listed below with links to the transcripts so you can download them directly from this page.

If you weren't able to attend these hearings in person, now you can read what you missed. If you were there but couldn't believe your ears the first time, check out in print what the registrars, vendors, and Sec. of State officials actually said! Leading luminaries in computer security, the nation's most informed secretary of state candidate, and of course you, the passionate voting rights activists of California are all here in searchable HTML. There probably isn't a better collection of public discussions on the current status of American elections. Collect them all! (all links at above URL)

Joint Hearing of Senate Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee and Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee:

Proposition 77 (Redistricting)

September 26, 2005
Junipero State Building
320 West Fourth Street
Los Angeles, California

Instant Runoff and Ranked Choice Elections: Will They Lead to a Better Democracy?
October 25, 2005
Oakland, California

Federal Voting Rights Act
December 5, 2005
Junipero State Building
320 West Fourth Street
Los Angeles, California

Voting System Update: How Will California Voters Be Casting Their Ballots in 2006?
January 18, 2006
State Capitol
Sacramento, California

Informational Hearing on:
Open Source Software—
Does It Have A Place In California’s Electoral System?
February 8, 2006
State Capitol, Room 4202
Sacramento, California

Are California’s Voting Systems Accurate, Reliable and Secure? A Critical Look at the Federal Testing and Certification Process
Menlo Park City Council Chambers
February 16, 2006

Informational Hearing:
O Voter, Where Art Thou?—The Move Away From Election Day Balloting
State Capitol, Room 4203
February 18, 2005

Voting Rights Task Force, Alameda County

VTRF History

The Voting Rights Task Force (VRTF) was formed shortly after the presidential election of 2004. It's first success was to kickstart the effort to convince Senator Boxer to stand up with the citizens of Ohio to insist that Congress review of the 2004 election results. That was followed by the first national election integrity teach-in, held in Oakland in February of 2005.

In May 2005, the Alameda County supervisors were about to purchase 3000 Diebold touchscreen machines. A persistent, respectful lobbying effort convinced the supervisors to dump Diebold, buy only one (Sequoia) touchscreen machine per polling place, and to have every vote cast on those machines hand-checked in the November, 06 election. We also succeeded for a while in convincing the supervisors to run a security vulnerability test of the machines, though in the end they broke their promise to do so.

The VRTF supported State Senator Debra Bowen in her efforts to pass good election reform laws.

The VRTF has been present at numerous hearings in Sacramento, speaking out for fair and accurate elections.

The VRTF worked very hard to get Debra Bowen elected Secretary of State.

VRTF members help lead the monitoring effort in the 10 congressional district in the 2006 election. This covered 4 counties, and involved many hundreds of people.

The VRTF has worked hard to educate the public about election integrity issues. This included speeches, workshops, and publication of the following websites :

VRTF home page:

See Also:

Jim Soper
VRTF Co-Chair
510 258 4857

VRTF In Action

Spearheaded the effort to convince Senator Boxer to stand up with the citizens of Ohio to insist that Congress review the 2004 election results before accepting the state slates of electors (1/05)

Organized first national election integrity teach-in that drew leading speakers from all over the country. Resulted in a film "Vote Rigging 101" (2/05)

Strongly supported Senator Debra Bowens bills so that they could be come law. Most significantly, the bill that required that paper audit trails actually be used to check the vote. (9/05)

Made a critical contribution to the election of Debra Bowen as Secretary of State (4/06 - 11/06). This was the 2nd most important election in the US in 2006 (After the Virigina senatorial election that gave the democrats a majority in the Senate).

This campaign included:
- intense lobbying at the democratic convention to get her an 80+% endorsement of the party
- tireless phone banking and leafleting at BART stations, movie theaters, and even Raider games
- a non-stop effort to get the message out to clubs, newspapers, and radio stations
- houseparties to raise money for the campaign

In May of 05, Alameda county was on the verge of buying 3,000 Diebold touchscreen DREs. For the next year and a half the VRTF lead the fight for fair and accurate elections.

This effort included educating the Board of Supervisors in public hearings, and private meetings, initiating petitions, and emails and phone calls to the supervisors to insist on fair and accurate elections, holding press conferences and talks to local civic groups to educate the public, and writing numerous letters to the editor.

The result was, that in November 2006, voters in Alameda county:

- voted primarily on paper ballots
- the county save millions of dollars by purchasing only 1 touchscreen DRE per polling place (about 800 total)
- Diebold machines were thrown out of the county
- 100% fo all votes cast on touchscreen DREs were double-checked
- the county held a security assessment of the voting systems and procedures that, while far from sufficient, was more thorough than any county had conducted

Note: The certification conditions required by Secretary of State Bowen in July of 07 parallel the "Alameda model" - 1 touchscreen machine per polling place, vote primarily on paper, 100% audit of all votes on touchscreen DREs

Has spoken up in favor of fair and accurate elections at public hearings in Sacramento, for years - including organizing press conferences and rallies. At at least one hearing the VRTF was the only organization in Sacramento to speak up for democracy.

Has held meetings with the staffs of Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and Congresswomen Pelosi and Lofgren, to encourage legislation that would support fair and accurate elections nationwide (2006)

Educated the public at clubs, and websites through the Solano Stoll about the issues. (The VRTF also won 2nd prize for best "float" for the 200? Solano Stoll !)

Member authored websites include the,, and
Dan Ashby :
Jerry Berkman :,
Jim Soper :

VRTF efforts are continuing with the Stand Firm with Debra Bowen project, and proposals for new legislation to make elections in California more secure and accurate.

Workshops by Michelle and Jim on election integrity issues:

Voting Machines 101 was given on 9/20/06, by Jim Soper
Election Monitoring was given on 10-11-06, by Michelle Gabriel

Previous Presentations:

The Voting Rights Task Force
with the support of KPFA Free Speech Radio, 94.1 FM

Who's Cheating, and What We Can Do About It

An All-Day Expose´ of Vote Rigging and Suppression in Election 2004
featuring the nation's foremost fraud investigators, the best election documentaries you've never seen, action proposals by participating organizations, and follow-through networking

TUESDAY, September 13, Noon to 10 p.m.
Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Avenue, Oakland

Featured Speakers

Did George W. Bush Steal America's 2004 Election? -- Essential Documents

BEV HARRIS, investigative reporter and founder of Black Box,
The Mechanics of Vote-Rigging: How They Do It

Introductions by Larry Bensky, Pacifica National Affairs Correspondent, Radio KPFA


Act 1: Afternoon Fraud Fest of Documentary Shorts and Features, 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Suggested Donation: $6.00

Act 2: Evening Program: Elections In Crisis! 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Suggested Donation: $10.00

Act 3: Networking to Reclaim Democracy 9:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.