Election Defense Alliance Blog

Trailer: The Right To Count

Find out more about this video at http://www.righttocount.com!

Counting the Vote, Badly

Published: November 16, 2006
Go to Original.

Last week’s elections provided a lot of disturbing news about the reliability of electronic voting — starting, naturally, with Florida. In a Congressional race there between Vern Buchanan, a Republican, and Christine Jennings, a Democrat, the machines in Sarasota County reported that more than 18,000 people, or one in eight, did not choose either candidate. That “undervote” of nearly 13 percent is hard to believe, given that only about 2.5 percent of absentee voters did not vote in that race. If there was a glitch, it may have made all the difference. Ms. Jennings trails Mr. Buchanan by about 400 votes.

The serious questions about the Buchanan- Jennings race only add to the high level of mistrust that many people already feel about electronic voting. More than half of the states, including California, New York, Ohio and Illinois, now require that electronic voting machines produce voter-verified paper records, which help ensure that votes are properly recorded. But Congress has resisted all appeals to pass a law that would ensure that electronic voting is honest and accurate across the nation.

2006: A Year to Write Ballads About

by Mary Howe Kiraly

Here's to Election Integrity Activists. We didn't know it then, but in the bitter aftermath of the 2004 election, a miracle happened. People all across the United States planted their feet in their communities and said, "You may roll over me this time; but you are not taking this democracy down."

We knew what had happened in Ohio 2004, and we didn't stop talking about it. We knew what the original Mitofsky-Edison Exit Polls had shown and we didn't stop thinking and writing about it. We had no leadership and we didn't stop organizing. We had almost no funding and we didn't stop supporting each other. We were facing a political caravan whose leadership pompously planned to encamp on the castle grounds for the next several hundred years; and we were having none of it. We didn't have much; but we had a candle, some firecrackers, and a determination to save the vote.

Widespread Vote-Switching Detected by EDA Data Analysis

Update from Jonathan Simon, on EDA Data Analysis findings

To Everyone Keeping Score At Home--

My apologies for being out-of-touch over much of the past two very eventful days. I have been holed-up with Bruce O'Dell and a few others crunching numbers, lots of numbers, including historical data, pre-election polling trends, authentic(!) and adjusted official exit polls, independent exit polls and Election Day canvasses, and of course the reported returns. The analysis will go on for quite some time. But I want to give a very brief preliminary impression of what we see so far.

Asking for Precinct Voting Results Is a Crime in Cuyahoga

November 6th, 2006

Victoria Lovegren may be arrested on criminal charges for seeking to see precinct-level election results in Cuyahoga County!

Cuyahoga County is filing criminal charges against me because I asked some volunteers for the Vote Count Protection Project to call some of the Election Day Technicians, and ask them if they would be willing to write down some of the Voting Unit election results on a data-collection form, to used for vote-count verification purposes.

We were doing this because Blackwell’s directive on 11/1 said that we could not add any more “Observers” to the list of observers, so we could not get “inside access.”

Parallel Hand Counts Put Check on Scanners in New Hampshire

http://www.democracyfornewhampshire.com/node/view/3033

Memo to would-be election tamperers in New Hampshire: Back off. We are watching.

Democracy works with citizen oversight, checks and balances, and free
and fair elections where the votes are sorted and counted in open

Humboldt Co. (CA) Registrar Proposes 10% Manual Tally

Friday, November 03, 2006

Humboldt Registrar Crnich To Propose 10% Manual Audit

In a stunning development at Thursday's meeting of the Humboldt Citizens' Election Advisory Committee, Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich told the small group she would ask the County Supervisors on Tuesday for the funds to expand the County's manual audit to 10%, far exceeding California's minimum 1% requirement. Ten percent would be consistent with the recommendations of the Election Defense Alliance, which I have touted here at WDNC and through the Voter Confidence Committee (and below).

Supervisor Jimmy Smith was present and assured Crnich that there was sufficient time to properly announce the agenda change. Apparently Crnich was already planning to address the Supes during their election day meeting regarding expenses for the eSlate machines. It now would seem Crnich's intention for Tuesday is to present a plan outlining how much it would cost to have the additional hand counting done. This amount would not change based on the number of counters since in theory it would take the same total number of person-hours to do the work. How long this would take is the other relevant variable that is tied to the number of counters.


The Humboldt Transparency Project
was also discussed Thursday night. Much to her
credit, Crnich has continued to explore ways to bring this process to life, even
after her legal counsel suggested it could not be done. Crnich told us she is
awaiting a response from the state Attorney General. Meanwhile, some testing has
occurred that identified a physical obstacle - the scanner is clipping the
timing marks off the side of the ballot. Research is ongoing to find a suitable
"fit to page" program that would allow the ballot images to be recorded fully
intact so that they can be made available on CDs to community members wishing to
perform their own verification of the vote totals.

"It doesn't look like we'll be on the ground with the Transparency Project for this election, due
partly to legal reasons and partly to technical reasons," said Crnich. It was
immediately after this comment that she revealed her intention to introduce
greater transparency anyway via the expanded hand count.

The issue of transparency presented itself in yet one other way Thursday night. In an
exclusive WDNC report last Friday, guest blogger and VCC member Kathryn Hedges
revealed that County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams had stated that he
does not think it is required to post poll tapes outside polling places at the
conclusion of election day. This despite the language of the election code, section 19384:

Fraud in Pajamas: "Sleepovers" Pose Massive Security Violations


Across the country, election officials send election equipment home with pollworkers to be depoyed to the polls on election day.

Pull the Plug on E-Voting

Go to Original

Pull the Plug on E-Voting
By Bruce O'Dell
OpEd News

Wednesday 25 October 2006

The FBI is investigating the "possible theft" of the Diebold touch screen voting software in Maryland. Excuse me ... but I fail to see what all the fuss is about. I certainly don't condone theft; it's just that I don't understand why anyone would bother with stealing the Diebold source code - or why anyone would take the time to read it.

Don't get me wrong: I've spent twenty five years in the financial services industry helping to protect billions of dollars of other people's money. I designed internet security services as an employee of American Express to protect the online financial identities of hundreds of thousands of people, and recently spent a year at one of the twenty largest companies in America as chief architect of a project to replace the foundation of all their internal and external security systems. I understand risks from thieves and embezzlers - I've designed financial audit and control systems. In the world I work in, there's no room for excuses.

Lou Dobbs Unleashes on the Vendor - Testing Lab Relationship


Does the American government think Americans are the biggest fools in the world? Lou Dobbs thinks it must! Otherwise how does it expect to get away with a system where private so-called "independent testing labs" acting as the CLIENTS of the voting machine vendors, conduct all testing of the machines, are bought and paid for by the vendors and report back in secret ONLY to the "clients"! Lou really lets them have it, voicing the until now silent SCREAM of election activists who have been RAILING about this atrocity for years. He calls them "scurrilous" even. It's a great episode, only two or three years late, but who's counting when the trainwreck of 2006 is right around the corner?

How to Steal an Election by Hacking the Vote

By Jon "Hannibal" Stokes
Wednesday, October 25, 2006

One bad apple...

What if I told you that it would take only one person—one highly motivated, but only moderately skilled bad apple, with either authorized or unauthorized access to the right company's internal computer network—to steal a statewide election? You might think I was crazy, or alarmist, or just talking about something that's only a remote, highly theoretical possibility. You also probably would think I was being really over-the-top if I told you that, without sweeping and very costly changes to the American electoral process, this scenario is almost certain to play out at some point in the future in some county or state in America, and that after it happens not only will we not have a clue as to what has taken place, but if we do get suspicious there will be no way to prove anything. You certainly wouldn't want to believe me, and I don't blame you.

Major Independent Exit Poll Projects to Coordinate

With increased consciousness of the dangers of electronic vote-counting technology, there is increasing grassroots pressure for independent election verification. In elections around the world, public-domain exit polls are central to such efforts. Unfortunately, US media consortium exit pollsters have announced that they will no longer release any data even to their media clients until they can "correct" their numbers so as to make them conform to the official count. In other words, what they report is no longer exit poll data at all, but rather a meaningless affirmation of official numbers.

Molly Ivins: Don't Count The Republicans Out

by Molly Ivins / October 19, 2006
Go to Original.

Stunning coincidence. The verdict in the long-running trial of Saddam Hussein in Iraq is now due two days before our congressional elections in November. Astounding. How ineffable.

Sometimes you know the Republicans have just lost the rag completely. This week, Dick Cheney said to Rush Limbaugh regarding the Iraqi government, "If you look at the general, overall situation, they're doing remarkably well." The vice president also acknowledged there's some concern because the war wasn't over "instantaneously." We have now been in Iraq just one month shy of the entire time it took us to fight World War II. Seventy Americans dead so far in October. Electricity in Iraq this year hit its lowest levels since the war started.

What infuriates me about this is the lying. WHY can't they level with us? Just on the general, overall situation.

Put me in the depressive Dems camp. We always look good going into the last two weeks, until we get hit with that wall of Republican money (though I do think Ohio is beyond political recall at this point for the R's). Of course, both sides always complain about unfair advertising, but I must admit that almost all political advertising strikes me as ludicrous and I don't notice the D's looking simon-pure. A little shading, a little emphasis here and there -- I'm hard to shock on political ads, but I do get more than miffed when they take the truth and just stand it on its head.

For example, if ever there has been a friend to Social Security it would be Rep. Chet Edwards from Waco, Texas, a D loyal to the FDR, LBJ and government-exists-to-serve-the-people tradition. So what are the R's attacking him on? Not supporting Social Security. All this kind of thing does is render political debate completely meaningless.

The argument now is that D's have a seven-point structural deficit going into any election. I see the problem, I just have no idea what the actual numbers are.

Let's start with the easy end, the Senate. From the book "Off Center" by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, as recently quoted by Eric Alterman in his blog: "The mismatch between popular votes and electoral outcomes is even more striking in the Senate. Combining the last three Senate elections, Democrats have actually won 2.5 million more votes than Republicans. Yet now they hold only 44 seats in that 100-person chamber because Republicans dominate the less populous states that are so heavily overrepresented in the Senate. As journalist Hendrik Hertzberg (of the New Yorker) notes, if you treat each senator as representing half that state's population, then the Senate's 55 Republicans currently represent 131 million people, while the 44 Democrats represent 161 million people."

OK, we all know about the small-state advantage in the Senate. How did the People's House get so far out of fair? Paul Krugman explains: "The key point is that African-Americans, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic, are highly concentrated in a few districts. This means that in close elections many Democratic votes are, as political analysts say, wasted -- they simply add to huge majorities in a small number of districts, while the more widely spread Republican vote allows the GOP to win by narrower margins in a larger number of districts."

Book Review: Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? By Steven Freeman & Joel Bleifuss

By Charlie Smith / Oct. 12, 2006

"Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count" By Steven F. Freeman and Joel Bleifuss. (Seven Stories Press, 265 pp, $22.50, softcover.)

Immediately after George W. Bush won the 2004 U.S. election, tales of vote fraud began circulating over the Internet. Much attention focused on touch-screen electronic-voting machines, which don’t require paper ballots, making it impossible to physically verify results. Approximately 29 percent of U.S. voters used these machines in 2004. Another 35 percent used optical- scan systems (like the one used in Vancouver municipal elections), which require paper ballots.

Information Quality Professionals Issue Urgent Alert Regarding United States Elections

MEDIA RELEASE / October 12, 2006
Contact: Seth Johnson, (212) 543-4266

In a recent letter addressed to Congress and chief election officials in every state, a group of information quality professionals has voiced concerns as fundamental changes are being introduced in United States election processes under the provisions of the 2002 Help America Vote Act.

The signers of the letter:

- see United States election processes at grave risk
- express concern about the lack of means to observe the
present impact of changes being introduced in elections
- urge election officials to assess the accuracy of election
outcomes through a count of a random sample of ballots
- call for the use of dependable quality control measures and
the prevention of errors by incorporating reliable quality
processes

Commenting on a July 19, 2006 Congressional hearing on voting technology standards [1], the letter observes that factual assessments of the accuracy of election processes have not been offered, and that voting technology is being introduced in elections throughout the country without adequate means to observe the impact of the change.

The letter stresses that efforts to improve elections must be focused on the election process as a whole and the quality of the information it produces, and that a focus on voting technology certification is not sufficient to assure election integrity.

The signers of the letter point out that assessing the quality of voting technology is not adequate to understand the impact of technology on the election process, and that automation in itself does not assure accuracy and reliability of an information production process. They warn that efforts to improve usability of technology in the vote capture step that have arisen in response to issues illustrated in Florida during the 2000 general election, should not lead to an assumption that simply adding
automation to the process is sufficient to assure accuracy.

Among the letter's key points:

- A systems approach to assuring the reliability of elections
should address the process as a whole, not the technology
being introduced in itself.

- The election process produces vote counts as an information
product.

- Assessing the quality of vote counts is a means of managing
the complexity of the election process.

- Quality measures of information products reveal the effects
of defects in a process, even if the causes are not yet
known. Specific root causes, even if they relate to
intricate details of technology or code, can be identified
and corrected subsequently.

- A measure of election accuracy also helps assure security
against fraud.

The letter urges its recipients to act quickly to address these
concerns.

[1] Hearing testimony is available at: http://www.house.gov/science/hearings/full06/July%2019/index.htm

Contact: Seth Johnson
(212) 543-4266
275 Fort Washington Avenue, Suite 3C
New York, NY 10032

Click "read more" and scroll down for the full text of the letter

CA Secretary of State Race a Contest for Electoral Integrity

Original article published by California Progress Report

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

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

142-bowen.gif

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 government.

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.

Alaska Democrats Say 2004 Election Data Was Altered

By MATT VOLZ, Associated Press Writer, October 5, 2006
Last Modified: October 5, 2006 at 04:12 PM

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Alaska Democratic Party officials say the 2004 election data they sued the state to get may have been changed this year, and they want to know why.

Party Chairman Jake Metcalfe says a review of the central tabulator file containing that year's raw election results by precinct showed activity on the database between July 12 and 13 of this year. In a letter to Alaska Division of Elections director Whitney Brewster, Metcalfe said he does not understand why the data would be changed after the party petitioned for its release.