Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #493–494 Two Interviews with Daniel Hopsicker about Electoral Fraud

Record­ed Jan­u­ary 2 and 9, 2005
Lis­ten to #493:
MP3 Side 1 | Side 2
RealAu­dio

Lis­ten to #494
MP3 Side 1 | Side 2
RealAu­dio

Due to the over­lap­ping nature of FTRs #493 and #494, the descrip­tions for the two pro­grams are merged into a sin­gle, longer doc­u­ment. The pro­grams set forth the crooked nature of com­pa­nies that make the elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines for US elec­tions, as well as that cor­rup­tion’s effects on the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal process. One of the most dis­turb­ing points of infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed here con­cerns the appar­ent use of pho­ny ter­ror alerts to manip­u­late vote-tab­u­lat­ing com­put­ers in two bor­der­line states. In War­ren Coun­ty, Ohio and Tal­la­has­see, Flori­da, dubi­ous “ter­ror alerts” caused the evac­u­a­tion of key elec­tion facil­i­ties and the secur­ing of both by secu­ri­ty per­son­nel. Much of the dis­cus­sion focus­es on Sequoia Pacif­ic and its long-stand­ing rela­tion­ship with both orga­nized crime and the GOP. A sup­posed com­peti­tor of Sequoia Pacific—ES&S—actually works close­ly with its “oppo­nent.” Daniel Hop­sick­er inves­ti­gates var­i­ous gam­bling ini­tia­tives, and how the orga­nized crime and polit­i­cal ele­ments involved in elec­tion tam­per­ing skew­ered the vote tal­lies on those pro­pos­als. Charles Kane is a “for­mer” CIA offi­cer who advised the Ukraine on elec­tion mat­ters in 1996, and was involved in the high­ly sus­pi­cious han­dling of absen­tee bal­lots in Mar­tin Coun­ty, Flori­da in 2000. The arti­cles by Daniel Hop­sick­er have been repro­duced here, for the con­ve­nience of the lis­ten­er.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The crim­i­nal con­vic­tion of Lloyd Dixon, head of Sequoia’s pre­de­ces­sor com­pa­ny; Dixon’s successor—Louis Wolfson—tried to bribe Supreme Court Jus­tice Abe For­t­as; Sequoia’s involve­ment with a New Orleans gam­bling ini­tia­tive; the con­vic­tion of SP’s South­east rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pasquale “Roc­co” Ric­ci for brib­ing Jer­ry Fowler, Louisiana’s elec­tions over­seer; the sus­pi­cious “sui­cide” of the New Orleans offi­cial in charge of secu­ri­ty for the build­ing hous­ing the elec­tion machines; Deb­o­rah and Richard Clark’s high­ly ques­tion­able involve­ment with both Sequoia Pacif­ic and SP’s sup­posed com­peti­tor ES&S; the man­ner in which SP and ES&S swap machines back and forth; the extra­or­di­nary maneu­ver­ing Kathryn Fer­gu­son used to pur­chase SP machines for Las Vegas; numer­ous exam­ples of the strange and anom­alous results achieved by some of these elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines.

1. Before pre­sent­ing text that illu­mi­nates the dis­cus­sion in FTRs 493 and 494, we present (in line-items 1–4) Daniel Hop­sick­er’s arti­cles upon which the pro­grams are based:

The Big Fix 2004
How to Fix a Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tion Pt. 1: Con­vict­ed, Felons, ‘Shad­owy Financiers’ Own Com­pa­nies Count­ing Votes

An inves­ti­ga­tion into the sur­pris­ing­ly-sor­did his­to­ry of Amer­i­ca’s “elec­tion ser­vices indus­try” has revealed that exec­u­tives and own­ers of the two largest com­pa­nies, E S & S and Sequoia Pacif­ic, have been con­vict­ed of bribery and sub­orn­ing pub­lic offi­cials in more than a dozen states.

And while a felony con­vic­tion may be enough »Con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle»

2.

Elec­tion Com­pa­ny Has Long Crim­i­nal His­to­ry

Thugs, Rack­e­teers Count­ing Amer­i­can Votes

While Ukraini­ans poured into the streets of their cap­i­tal Kiev to protest a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion they say was stolen by that coun­try’s cur­rent regime, here in the U.S. a lit­tle-known elec­tion com­pa­ny called Sequoia Pacif­ic, respon­si­ble for putting our own ‘cur­rent regime’ in pow­er­four years ago, was at the cen­ter of con­tro­ver­sy last week... for the sec­ond Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in a row.

While U.S. news­pa­pers have been filled with quotes from Amer­i­can offi­cials pon­tif­i­cat­ing »Con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle»

3.

Back In The USSR
CIA “Help­ful” in Ukraine Elec­tions

A retired CIA agent, whose ille­gal and unfet­tered access to elec­tion rolls in Mar­tin Coun­ty Flori­da was a major source of legal con­tention after the 2000 Elec­tion, trav­eled to the Ukraine four years ear­li­er to teach “grass-roots pol­i­tics” to peo­ple there, The Mad­Cow­Morn­ingNews has learned.

The news came even as cit­i­zens in the Ukraine cel­e­brate »Con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle»

4.

Fraud by Com­put­er in Flori­da
Elec­tion Offi­cial Thwarts Recount Using Pho­ny Vote Totals

A “mis­take” made in the office of a seri­ous­ly-com­pro­mised Super­vi­sor of Elec­tion in Pinel­las Coun­ty whose hus­band is a top exec­u­tive of the coun­try’s largest elec­tion ser­vices com­pa­ny has almost unno­ticed spiked the best hope for a elec­tion recount in Flori­da that might have thrown a spot­light on the dark cor­ners of the Flori­da elec­tion process con­ceal­ing wide­spread sys­temic and sys­tem-wide vote fraud.

The office of Super­vi­sor of Elec­tions in Pinel­las Coun­ty, Deb­o­rah Clark, pro­vid­ed inflat­ed totals on the YES side of the gam­bling »Con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle»

5.

Rogue State: The Covert Op that Ate the World

While both of the ter­ror­ist pilots who crashed into the World Trade Cen­ter were stu­dents at Venice Flori­da’s Huff­man Avi­a­tion, the flight school’s own­er Wal­lace J. Hilliard, 72, of Naples, FL., was simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pur­su­ing his own diplo­mat­ic open­ing to Fidel Cas­tro’s Cuba. A pho­to­graph (left) recent­ly made avail­able »Con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle»

One of the cen­tral themes in Daniel Hop­sick­er’s arti­cles on elec­tron­ic vote fraud con­cerns the per­va­sive­ness of orga­nized crime in the milieu of the crooked vot­ing machines. In addi­tion, gambling—one of the prin­ci­pal sources of income for orga­nized crime syndicates—also fig­ures in this con­cate­na­tion. It is impor­tant to note, how­ev­er, that orga­nized crime is but one of the ele­ments in the crooked vot­ing machine pha­lanx. One of the com­pa­nies that has both Repub­li­can right-wing AND orga­nized crime influ­ences is Sequoia Pacif­ic. A Gam­bi­no crime fam­i­ly oper­a­tive was involved with the com­pa­ny’s oper­a­tions in New York. ” . . . In fact, the Gam­bi­no fam­i­ly and Sequoia Pacif­ic have had more than a nod­ding acquain­tance, accord­ing to news­pa­pers in New York report­ing on the intrigue sur­round­ing the award­ing of a mul­ti-mil­lion dol­lar con­tract for elec­tion machines in New York City dur­ing the mid-90’s, where Sequoia’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the bid­ding gained noto­ri­ety for attempt­ing to grease the skids a lit­tle at a marathon lun­cheon host­ed by Sal­va­tore Reale, a Gam­bi­no under­boss who lat­er pled guilty to rack­e­teer­ing. . . .”
(“Elec­tion Com­pa­ny Has Long Crim­i­nal His­to­ry” by Daniel Hop­sick­er; Mad Cow Morn­ing News; 11/24/2004; p. 3.)

6. From its incep­tion, Sequoia has been inex­tri­ca­bly linked with crim­i­nal activ­i­ties. Begun as Amer­i­can Vot­ing Machine, the com­pa­ny was under the con­trol of stock­hold­ers in [North Amer­i­can] Rock­well, a major defense con­trac­tor. Pres­i­dent and CEO Lloyd Dixon was con­vict­ed of brib­ing an offi­cial and sen­tenced to prison. ” . . . It [Sequoia Pacif­ic] began its mod­ern life as Auto­mat­ic Vot­ing Machine, spun off to share­hold­ers of Defense con­trac­tor Rock­well in the 1960’s. The com­pa­ny’s founder, Lloyd A. Dixon Jr. resigned as pres­i­dent and CEO on Jan. 10, 1973, and lat­er went to prison, after being indict­ed by a New York fed­er­al grand jury for brib­ing Buf­fa­lo elec­tion offi­cials. The com­pa­ny was fined near­ly $50,000 for brib­ing Texas and Arkansas offi­cials. . .” (Idem.)

7. Things did­n’t get any bet­ter after Dixon’s depar­ture and impris­on­ment: ” Last week, we briefly relat­ed the sor­did tale of the next own­er of Sequoia Pacif­ic, financier and cor­po­rate raider Louis Wolf­son. Wolf­son was con­vict­ed of brib­ing the only Supreme Court Jus­tice ever forced to resign in dis­grace, ‘Dis­hon­est Abe’ For­t­as. For­t­as got caught palm­ing a life­time year­ly ‘retain­er’ from the wily Wolf­son’s fam­i­ly foun­da­tion. Alas for ‘Dis­hon­est Abe,’ as he came to be called, the law draws no dis­tinc­tion between ‘accept­ing a retain­er’ and ‘tak­ing a bribe.’ For­t­as cut him­self a deal. He taped phone calls, at the FBI’s behest, with Wolf­son, who was plead­ing with the Supreme Court Jus­tice to dum­my up. In the tran­scripts of these phone calls the word ‘cov­er-up’ enters the Amer­i­can lex­i­con for the first time. Appar­ent­ly, For­t­as coined it at the instant of need, when he said (prob­a­bly for the tape recorder), ‘No I can’t do that! That be a cov­er-up!’ ” (Ibid.; pp. 3–4.)

8. Gam­bling was at the epi­cen­ter of a scan­dal con­cern­ing the appar­ent bribery of Louisiana’s Com­mis­sion­er of Elec­tions Jer­ry Fowler. ” . . . Fowler got him­self in big gam­bling trou­ble at Har­rah’s casi­no in Atlantic City in the mid-’90’s, which helped explained his tak­ing bribes. It was at this same time when alle­ga­tions of vot­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ty became com­mon­place in Louisiana. Curi­ous­ly, gam­bling was the burn­ing issue on the bal­lot in state elec­tions at the same exact time. One propo­si­tion con­cerned Har­rah’s pro­pos­al to build a casi­no in down­town New Orleans. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

9. Fowler was con­vict­ed of tak­ing bribes from Pasquale “Roc­co” Ric­ci, the South­east­ern rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Sequoia Pacif­ic. ” . . . We first learned of Sequoia Paci­fic’s pen­chant for greas­ing the palms of cor­rupt pub­lic offi­cials from the well-pub­li­cized news accounts in the year 2000 about Louisiana’s Com­mis­sion­er of Elec­tions Jer­ry Fowler, con­vict­ed of tak­ing as much as ten mil­lion dol­lars over a peri­od of a decade from Sequoia’s South­east Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, a man named Pasquale ‘Roc­co’ Ric­ci, from Marl­ton, New Jer­sey. Even after plead­ing guilty to sub­orn­ing democ­ra­cy in the state of Louisiana for more than a decade, Ric­ci remained some­thing of a mys­tery fig­ure, we learned to our sur­prise. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

10. The Ricci/Fowler liai­son was brought to light when Susan Bernack­er, a los­ing can­di­date test­ed the vot­ing machines. When she vot­ed for her­self, the Sequoia Pacif­ic machines reg­is­tered a vote for her opponent—Nick Giambel­lu­ca. ” . . .Vot­ing machine tests per­formed and video­taped by a sus­pi­cious local can­di­date imme­di­ate­ly after this elec­tion demon­strat­ed that votes Susan Bernack­er cast for her­self dur­ing the test were elec­tron­i­cal­ly record­ed for her oppo­nent. (The test was repeat­ed sev­er­al times with the same result. The aston­ish­ing video footage is in our doc­u­men­tary The Big Fix 2000.) . . .” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

11. It is inter­est­ing to note that the Super­vi­sor of Elec­tions in New Orleans—Tony Giambelluca—allegedly com­mit­ted sui­cide behind a dump­ster two weeks before the elec­tion. It is unclear whether Tony was relat­ed to Nick Giambel­lu­ca. ” . . . Tony Giambel­lu­ca, who held the keys to the ware­house where the elec­tion machines were kept, turned up an appar­ent sui­cide. He had cho­sen to take his life behind a garbage dump­ster, which seems an odd deci­sion. Giv­en the choice, we fig­ure most peo­ple would choose to end their exis­tence in a slight­ly more scenic locale. . .” (Idem.)

12. Sequoia Pacif­ic and anoth­er elec­tron­ic vot­ing company—E S & S—operated in con­junc­tion with one anoth­er, rather than in com­pe­ti­tion. The col­lu­sion between E S & S and Sequoia will be high­light­ed again lat­er on in this descrip­tion. (For more about E S & S, see FTRs 470, 487.) ” . . . Study of this case revealed some inter­est­ing details about the way the ‘elec­tion ser­vices’ indus­try works. . . First, the scheme showed that there was col­lu­sion, rather than com­pe­ti­tion between the two major elec­tion ser­vices firms, Sequoia Pacif­ic and E S & S. Court doc­u­ments revealed the two sold vot­ing machines back and forth to each oth­er until they had arrived at the fig­ure they want­ed the client, the state of Louisiana, to pay. Nor was this an iso­lat­ed case. The bribery con­vic­tion of Arkansas Sec­re­tary of State Bill McCuen, for exam­ple, revealed that E S & S’s pre­de­ces­sor com­pa­ny. Busi­ness Records Corp. of Dal­las, arranged for con­tracts which led to Smur­fit Pack­ag­ing Corp. and its sub­sidiary, Sequoia Pacif­ic Vot­ing Equip­ment Inc. More col­lu­sion. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 6.)

13. Sequoia oper­ates through dum­my front com­pa­nies: ” . . . Anoth­er dis­cov­ery was that, like the CIA, Sequoia Pacif­ic oper­ates through a num­ber of dum­my front com­pa­nies. For exam­ple, two Flori­da elec­tion execs, Glenn Boord and Ralph Escud­ero, pled guilty to con­spir­a­cy to com­pound a felony (pub­lic bribery), who had owned a paper vot­ing-machine com­pa­ny called Uni-lect, which was just a front for Sequoia Pacif­ic. Pasquale ‘Roc­co’ Ric­ci’s com­pa­ny, Inter­na­tion­al Vot­ing Machines, was also real­ly Sequoia Pacif­ic. So, too, was Harold Web­b’s Gar­den State Elec­tions. (And also Herb Web­b’s Elec-tec.) Webb, a New Jer­sey elec­tions equip­ment exec­u­tive who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the bribery and kick­back scheme that result­ed in the con­vic­tion of Fowler also played a key role in the infa­mous Mar­tin Coun­ty, Flori­da dra­ma over Repub­li­can absen­tee bal­lots in the 2000 elec­tion.” (Idem.)

14. “New Jer­sey elec­tion ser­vices com­pa­nies con­trolled by Webb were key sup­pli­ers to Mar­tin Coun­ty, Flori­da, which calls into ques­tion the ver­sion of events sur­round­ing the tam­per­ing with absen­tee bal­lot appli­ca­tions tes­ti­fied to by Repub­li­can Par­ty oper­a­tives in court in 2000. In coun­ties where their name nev­er sur­faced, Sequoia sup­plied both com­put­er and punch card sys­tems, and used tab­u­lat­ing machines from Sequoia Pacif­ic dis­guised as being from oth­er ven­dors, and used the same (doc­tored) machines as Louisiana, sup­plied by the same ‘shad­owy’ sources. When a reporter for the Fres­no Bee inter­viewed Sequoia’s chief exec­u­tive, the reporter told us lat­er he had been ‘tak­en aback by his secre­tive nature.’ In truth, Sequoia’s chief exec­u­tive has a lot to be secre­tive about. . . .” (Idem.)

15. Next, the dis­cus­sion turns to the issue of the vote tam­per­ing in Mar­tin Coun­ty, Flori­da. (Sub­se­quent dis­cus­sion of the Flori­da elec­tion scams will return to the appar­ent role of gam­bling in these machi­na­tions.) A pro­found irony con­cern­ing elec­toral fraud in the U.S. con­cerns the dif­fer­ence between the reac­tion of the U.S. media and elec­torate to the Amer­i­can and Ukrain­ian elec­tions. The exit polls in both the U.S. and Ukraine were fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent from the elec­tion results. How­ev­er, the U

krain­ian peo­ple were vocal and vis­i­ble in their reac­tion to the appar­ent fraud. The Amer­i­can peo­ple, on the oth­er hand, were alto­geth­er pas­sive. It is par­tic­u­lar­ly note­wor­thy that The Wash­ing­ton Post and The New York Times were vehe­ment in their con­dem­na­tion of the elec­tion results in the Ukraine, while dis­miss­ing U.S. crit­ics of the elec­tions as “con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists.” (For more about this, see FTR#485.) DANIEL HOPSICKER NOTES THAT THERE IS A LINK BETWEEN UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS AND THE FRAUDULENT BALLOT TALLIES IN FLORIDA—“FORMER” CIA OFFICER CHARLES KANE. “A retired CIA agent, whose ille­gal and unfet­tered access to elec­tion rolls in Mar­tin Coun­ty Flori­da was a major source of legal con­tention after the 2000 Elec­tion, trav­eled to the Ukraine four years ear­li­er to teach ‘grass-roots pol­i­tics’ to peo­ple there, the Mad­Cow­Morn­ingNews has learned. The news came even as cit­i­zens in the Ukraine cel­e­brate their new-found free­dom, while in the U.S. sus­pi­cion con­tin­ued to fes­ter that vote fraud may have cost Amer­i­cans their own right to free and hon­est elec­tions.”
(“Back in the U.S.S.R.: CIA ‘Help­ful’ in Flori­da, Ukraine Elec­tions” by Daniel Hop­sick­er; Mad­Cow­Morn­ingNews; 12/8/2004; p. 1.)

16. “In a bit­ter­ly iron­ic twist, Charles Kane, for­mer Direc­tor of Secu­ri­ty at the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency, and mem­ber of the Flori­da Repub­li­can Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee, spent four days in Kiev, the cap­i­tal of the for­mer Sovi­et repub­lic, host­ing train­ing ses­sions for Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal par­ties in 1996. Insti­tute offi­cials chose Kane to go to the Ukraine, accord­ing to the Feb­ru­ary 20, 1996, Stuart/Port St. Lucie News, appar­ent­ly straight-faced, ‘because of his expe­ri­ence in grass-roots cam­paigns.’ ” (Idem.)

17. Kane lat­er par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Mar­tin Coun­ty (Flori­da) elec­toral shenani­gans: “Four years lat­er, Kane’s cre­den­tials as a pro­po­nent of democ­ra­cy were receiv­ing much clos­er scruti­ny. . . . ‘Kane’s efforts were part of a sin­is­ter under­ground con­spir­a­cy to help Bush,’ Edward Stafman, attor­ney for the Mar­tin Coun­ty chal­lengers told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press on Decem­ber 7, 2000. . .” (Ibid.; pp. 1–2.)

18. ” . . . The career of the much-trav­eled Kane, it must be stat­ed, resem­bles noth­ing so much as a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist’s wet dream. . . He was also involved, years ear­li­er, in the inves­ti­ga­tion into the JFK assas­si­na­tion, dis­patch­ing a memo to the FBI regard­ing the where­abouts on the day of the assas­si­na­tion of noto­ri­ous pipe-smok­ing Water­gate bur­glar E. Howard Hunt.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

19. As Daniel notes, Kane’s pres­ence in the Ukraine and Flori­da (as well as his intel­li­gence back­ground), rais­es ques­tions about his activ­i­ties in Mar­tin Coun­ty. (For more about Kane, see FTR#268. An excel­lent web site fea­tur­ing infor­ma­tion about the appar­ent fix­ing of the 2004 elec­tion is www.campaignwatch.org. Infor­ma­tion about Charles Kane can be found here.) Daniel relates Kane’s role in the Mar­tin Coun­ty vote sna­fu: “Char­lie Kane’s pres­ence in both the Ukraine and the 2000 elec­tion deba­cle prompt­ed us to take a quick back­ward glance at the con­tro­ver­sy which became famil­iar dur­ing the weeks fol­low­ing the infa­mous Flori­da Vote Sna­fu of 2000. Two heav­i­ly Repub­li­can coun­ties in Flori­da had allowed par­ty offi­cials access which they said was to fix hun­dreds of flawed absen­tee bal­lot appli­ca­tions that had been sub­mit­ted by vot­ers but reject­ed by the elec­tions office. The Mar­tin Coun­ty super­vi­sor of elec­tions, a Repub­li­can, let Repub­li­can Par­ty work­ers take away the bal­lot requests on a dai­ly basis, add miss­ing vot­er iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers and resub­mit them, a deputy elec­tions super­vi­sor said.” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

20. “Just days before the Nov. 7 elec­tion, Charles Kane and his bud­dy Thomas Hauck were labor­ing in front of a com­put­er at the local Repub­li­can head­quar­ters in Stu­art, sup­pos­ed­ly as part of their par­ty’s sophis­ti­cat­ed but botched statewide effort to get out the absen­tee vote. A print­ing com­pa­ny had failed to put the required vot­er iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers on thou­sands of absen­tee bal­lot request forms that were mailed to vot­ers. So Hauck and Kane got busy in Mar­tin Coun­ty, aid­ed by a Repub­li­can super­vi­sor of elec­tions who let them remove forms from her office.” (Idem.)

21. Daniel notes that Kane’s access to the print­ing com­pa­ny forms may have led to fraud in oth­er parts of Flori­da, since the same forms were used all over the state. “Kane, who chaired the 2000 Bush-Cheney cam­paign in Mar­tin Coun­ty, sup­pos­ed­ly read the num­bers from the par­ty’s data­base. Hauck, the local GOP trea­sur­er and a 20-year vet­er­an of local cam­paigns, sup­pos­ed­ly filled in the blanks on the request forms. But the print­ing com­pa­ny’s forms were used state-wide. Had this per­haps ‘con­ve­nient’ fact been used as an excuse to allow ille­gal access in oth­er places in Flori­da as well? The ques­tion was nev­er answered.” (Idem.)

22. Still more about the absen­tee bal­lots and the role they may have played in both the Mar­tin Coun­ty vot­ing results and in the results of Flori­da as a whole: “More­over, while Gov. George W. Bush edged Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore by 56 per­cent to 44 per­cent in Mar­tin Coun­ty, the absen­tee votes—control of which vio­lat­ed the rules of chain of custody—broke near­ly 2 to 1 for Bush. . . . Oth­er tan­ta­liz­ing clues have emerged, like the recent state­ments made by Jeff Fish­er, Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date for the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Flori­da’s 16th Dis­trict, which, curi­ous­ly, encom­pass­es both Mar­tin as well as Palm Beach Coun­ty, where the vote count has been dis­put­ed in an analy­sis by UC Berke­ley researchers. Fish­er has evi­dence, he says, not only that the Flori­da elec­tion was hacked, but of who hacked it and how. Per­haps the proof of vote tam­per­ing, if proof is ever found, will be found by pierc­ing through the implau­si­ble expla­na­tion offered for Char­lie Kane’s ille­gal access to elec­tion records . . .” (Idem.)

23. In anoth­er of Daniel’s arti­cles on vot­er fraud, he returns to the sub­ject of Sequoia Pacif­ic, its rela­tion­ship to ES&S and evi­dence of elec­toral fraud in Flori­da. Exem­pli­fy­ing the shady over­sight of the elec­toral process in Flori­da is Deb­o­rah Clark, appoint­ed by Jeb Bush to the office of Super­vi­sor of Elec­tions in Pinel­las Coun­ty. And once again, we see gam­bling ini­tia­tives fig­ur­ing in the sce­nario. “I’m shocked—shocked—to learn that there’s gam­bling going on in this estab­lish­ment!” ” . . . The office of Super­vi­sor of Elec­tions in Pinel­las Coun­ty, Deb­o­rah Clark, pro­vid­ed inflat­ed totals on the YES side of the gam­bling ini­tia­tive which were then used by state offi­cials in the offi­cial state tal­ly of the hot­ly-con­test­ed gam­bling ini­tia­tive known as Amend­ment 4. The ini­tia­tive would allow casi­no slot machine gam­bling in South Flori­da, an out­come devout­ly to be wished by own­ers of the spank­ing new $700 mil­lion Hard Rock Café Casi­no in Hol­ly­wood, Flori­da, a facil­i­ty all dressed up but with cur­rent­ly nowhere to go.”
(“ ‘Fraud by Com­put­er’ in Flori­da: Elec­tion Offi­cial Thwarts Recount Using Pho­ny Vote Totals” by Daniel Hop­sick­er; Mad­Cow­Morn­ingNews; 12/14/2004; p. 1.)

24. Daniel relates Deb­o­rah Clark’s curi­ous behav­ior with regard to the gam­bling ini­tia­tive: “Pinel­las Coun­ty vot­ers defeat­ed the gam­bling ini­tia­tive by more than 17,000 votes. But t

he offi­cial state record says the exact oppo­site, the result of a ‘mis­take’ by the office of Pinel­las Elec­tions Super­vi­sor which would have gone unno­ticed, said local reports, had it not been caught by out­side observers. A recount of Flori­da’s votes on the state gam­bling ini­tia­tive offered an oppor­tu­ni­ty to cor­re­late what was found with what are so far just ‘the­o­ries’ of how the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Flori­da might have been stolen. Deb­o­rah Clark pro­vid­ed an extra 34,000 votes on the YES side of the ini­tia­tive, suf­fi­cient to legal­ly pre­clude what would have oth­er­wise been a man­dat­ed recount.” (Ibid.; pp. 1–2.)

25. Return­ing to the inces­tu­ous rela­tion­ship between Sequoia Pacif­ic and ES&S, the dis­cus­sion high­lights Deb­o­rah Clark’s hus­band Richard, after not­ing that a recount of votes on the gam­bling ini­tia­tive might very well have shed light on how the vote was manip­u­lat­ed for the pres­i­den­tial race. “As a long­time top exec­u­tive with ES&S, the com­pa­ny which counts more than half the U.S. vote, Richard Clark prob­a­bly had more to lose from a recount than almost any­one alive. . . . Should rumored anom­alies sur­face in the recount, the for­tunes of any elec­tions firms involved would no doubt suf­fer. A recount of the gam­bling ini­tia­tive, known as Amend­ment 4, elec­tion experts said, would have offered clues as to how and why 90,000 extra YES votes for gam­bling were record­ed in Broward Coun­ty, for exam­ple. This num­ber is almost equal to the ‘extra’ votes for Pres­i­dent Bush cast in Broward Coun­ty, which researchers say were inex­plic­a­ble except through manip­u­lat­ed elec­tron­ic vote tabulation—which were count­ed in the same coun­ty’s tal­ly.” (Ibid.; pp. 2–3.)

26. More about Deb­o­rah Clark’s hus­band Richard and his pro­fes­sion­al involve­ment with ES&S and Sequoia: ” . . . More seri­ous­ly, while Deb­o­rah Clark had worked as a top offi­cial in the Pinel­las Super­vi­sor of Elec­tions Office, her hus­band Richard Clark’s employ­er Elec­tions Sys­tems & Soft­ware, was award­ed more than $400,000 in busi­ness with the office, and was up for a lucra­tive con­tract worth as much as $15-mil­lion to sell new vot­ing machines to Pinel­las Coun­ty. . .” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

27. When read­ing the text that fol­lows, recall the inces­tu­ous nature of the rela­tion­ship between ES&S and Sequoia dis­cussed above. The two sup­pos­ed­ly com­pet­ing com­pa­nies swap machines back and forth. ” . . . He [Clark] said he quit ES&S for about five years, hav­ing joined the firm when it acquired the com­pa­ny that pre­vi­ous­ly employed him, Busi­ness Records Corp. [For more about Busi­ness Records Corp. and its con­nec­tions to the ultra right-wing Hunt fam­i­ly of Texas, see FTR#470.] But Clark said he quit ES&S just before his wife was named elec­tions super­vi­sor because he was wor­ried that his employ­ment with the firm could appear as a con­flict. But so far, Clark’s new com­pa­ny, Richard A. Clark Enter­pris­es, works for just one com­pa­ny, ES&S. The selec­tion process in Pinel­las Coun­ty became mired in eth­i­cal con­flicts after coun­ty com­mis­sion­ers learned in July 2001 that ES&S had ‘very’ close ties to Deb­o­rah Clark.” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

28. ” . . . Even Clark’s deputy admin­is­tra­tor, Karen But­ler, is a sis­ter of San­dra Mortham, Flori­da’s for­mer sec­re­tary of state and a lob­by­ist for ES&S before the state leg­is­la­ture. . . .” (Idem.)

29. More about Richard Clark and his rela­tion­ship with the inces­tu­ous­ly-relat­ed ES&S and Sequoia Pacif­ic and the lat­ter’s rela­tion­ship with orga­nized crime, includ­ing the Louisiana scan­dal: ” . . . Clark had been work­ing in Birm­ing­ham, Ala. as an inde­pen­dent con­trac­tor, after resign­ing from the com­pa­ny. . . Appar­ent­ly, no one noticed that when Richard Clark went to Birm­ing­ham, anoth­er Birm­ing­ham elec­tion exec, Phil Fos­ter, was being indict­ed on felony bribery charges. Fos­ter, a region­al sales vice pres­i­dent was alleged­ly involved in a con­spir­a­cy and mon­ey-laun­der­ing scheme that involved the sale of machine parts at inflat­ed prices and kick­backs of near­ly $600,000. Pinel­las com­mis­sion­ers were sur­prised when the St. Peters­berg Times report­ed that Fos­ter, a key employ­ee for front-run­ner Sequoia Vot­ing Sys­tems, had been indict­ed for the elec­tions kick­back scheme in Louisiana. . . .” (Ibid.; pp. 5–6.)

30. ” . . . Tes­ti­mo­ny in Fed­er­al Court in Baton Rouge revealed that, in fact, Sequoia had engi­neered the com­plex scheme, an action which pro­vides yet anoth­er elec­tion irony. Pinel­las Com­mis­sion Chair­man Calvin Har­ris told the Times he assumed the state had checked out the com­pet­ing com­pa­nies while their machines were being cer­ti­fied. Not so, said Clay Roberts, direc­tor of the state’s Divi­sion of Elec­tions, who main­tained that back­ground checks were a job for coun­ties. So while the state of Flori­da was death on vot­ing by con­vict­ed felons, there were no safe­guards in place to pre­vent the votes from being count­ed by felons. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 6.)

31. It is inter­est­ing to note Deb­o­rah Clark’s capri­cious views on spend­ing for vot­ing tech­nol­o­gy. She was against spend­ing $2 mil­lion to retro­fit Pinel­las Coun­ty’s machines. But she was in favor of spend­ing $14 mil­lion on Sequoia machines in the first place. ” . . . Although she had­n’t shown much con­cern over spend­ing $14 mil­lion on the machines, she said that the $2 mil­lion expense of retro­fitting Pinel­las Coun­ty’s new touch screen vot­ing machines to gen­er­ate a receipt for vot­ers which would ver­i­fy how their bal­lots were cast was unnec­es­sary. The coun­ty’s touch screen vot­ing sys­tem, built by Sequoia Vot­ing Sys­tems, was safe from tam­per­ing.” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

32. Before return­ing to the Flori­da vote sub­terfuge, let’s once again note the pres­ence of gam­bling (“ . . . shocked, shocked!”) in the envi­ron­ment of the crooked vot­ing machine com­pa­nies. ” . . . For why this hap­pens, there’s no bet­ter exam­ple than. . . . where else? Las Vegas. . . Back in 1993–94, many observers won­dered why new Clark Coun­ty elec­tions chief Kathryn Fer­gu­son would com­mit to what turned out to be tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in expen­di­tures to adopt Sequoia Paci­fic’s elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines. So deter­mined was Ms. Fer­gu­son to buy the Sequoia machines for Las Vegas that a for­mer mem­ber of her elec­tions depart­ment team stat­ed Fer­gu­son resort­ed to the sim­ple exi­gency of hav­ing Sequoia Paci­fic’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive send a list of bid spec­i­fi­ca­tions designed so that Sequoia’s machines were the only ones that could meet them. [Empha­sis added.].” (Ibid.; p. 7.)

33. Note again the inces­tu­ous rela­tion­ship between ES&S and Sequoia: “This hard­ly seems sport­ing. And it’s def­i­nite­ly ille­gal. Asked at the time, Fer­gu­son said she had no con­cern that her accep­tance of a job at Sequoia Pacif­ic might appear to be a pay­off for favors ren­dered. Today, Kathryn Fer­gu­son is ES&S’s chief spokesman. She’s good to go.” (Idem.)

34. At times, the vote sna­fus in Flori­da were of tru­ly com­i­cal pro­por­tions. In a 2002 pri­ma­ry elec­tion, Hills­bor­ough Coun­ty record­ed a total of 118,699 votes for state attor­ney. Con­sid­er the fol­low­ing: ” . . . A total of 118,699 peo­ple turned out to vote coun­ty­wide. But some­how, 125,891 vot­ed in the race for state attor­ney.” (Idem.)

35. One town in Hills­bor­ough coun­ty was remark­able for its per­for­mance in that same pri­ma­ry elec­tion: ” . . . For exam­ple, in the Aug. 31, 2002 pri­ma­ry, the pop­u­la­tion of an entire small town—12,498 voters—appeared at the polls in Hills­bor­ough Coun­ty and appar­ent­ly decid­ed not to vote in the race for state attor­ney. The town cast votes in all the oth­er con­tests, but not in the race for state attor­ney. Had there been a town-wide secret pact?” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

36. In the 2004 elec­tion, there were two sus­pi­cious ter­ror alerts—one in War­ren Coun­ty (Ohio) and one in Tal­la­has­see (Flori­da). It appears alto­geth­er pos­si­ble that the evac­u­a­tions result­ing from the alerts per­mit­ted vote tam­per­ing. ” . . . In Ohio, there was the famous ‘War­ren Coun­ty Lock­down’ because of ‘ter­ror’ threats, and in Flori­da, a ‘bomb threat’ at the State Elec­tions Office in Tal­la­has­see. The State Elec­tions Office in Tal­la­has­see holds, of course, that state’s main tab­u­lat­ing com­put­ers. . .”
(“Back in the USSR”, p.4.)

37. ” . . . ‘The Repub­li­can-dom­i­nat­ed (War­ren Ohio) Coun­ty threw out all the media and inde­pen­dent vote watch­ers when votes were being count­ed at the end of Elec­tion Day, claim­ing ‘home­land secu­ri­ty’ issues.’ ” (Idem.)

38. The cir­cum­stances in Tal­la­has­see are sus­pi­cious as well. Note the nature of the “threat” that neces­si­tat­ed the evac­u­a­tion of the build­ing hous­ing the cen­tral tab­u­lat­ing com­put­er. What hap­pened dur­ing that evac­u­a­tion? ” ‘State elec­tions work­ers got off to a slow start this morn­ing after Tal­la­has­see police evac­u­at­ed their build­ing. Inves­ti­ga­tors called in the bomb squad after find­ing a sus­pi­cious pack­age.’ The events seem strange­ly sim­i­lar. More­over, the expla­na­tion giv­en in Flori­da lacks a cer­tain je ne sais quoi, we dis­cov­ered in an area that stores quilts and oth­er art­work that is part of the depart­men­t’s his­toric archive.’ The pack­age turned out to be a bun­dle of doc­u­ments, sup­pos­ed­ly being blown by an air vent. . . . ‘Call­ing out the troops’ to pro­tect Flori­da’s col­lec­tion of quilts seems a dubi­ous excuse. . . made far more sus­pi­cious by the unfor­tu­nate box’s prox­im­i­ty to the state’s cen­tral tab­u­lat­ing com­put­er on the eve of the elec­tion. They must be some real­ly impor­tant quilts.” (Ibid.; pp. 4–5.)

39. The last arti­cle (as of the time FTR#494 was record­ed) that Daniel pub­lished on elec­toral fraud draws con­nec­tions between Wal­ly Hilliard (of Huff­man Avi­a­tion) and Adnan Khashog­gi, the Egypt­ian-born Sau­di weapons deal­er who was a prin­ci­pal fig­ure in the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal. Daniel uncov­ered trips that Hilliard had made to Cas­tro’s Cuba. “While both of the ter­ror­ist pilots who crashed into the World Trade Cen­ter were stu­dents at Venice Flori­da’s Huff­man Avi­a­tion, the flight school’s own­er Wal­lace J. Hilliard, 72, of Naples, Fl., was simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pur­su­ing his own diplo­mat­ic open­ing to Fidel Cas­tro’s Cuba. A pho­to­graph recent­ly made avail­able to the Mad­Cow­Morn­ingNews shows a smil­ing Hilliard strap­ping a Rolex with the must-have dia­mond beveled-face onto the pre­sum­ably grate­ful wrist of one of Fidel Cas­tro’s top aides, Guiller­mo Gar­cia Frias, known in Cuba as ‘the Com­man­dante of the Rev­o­lu­tion.’ ”
(“Rogue State: the Covert Op that Ate the World” by Daniel Hop­sick­er; Mad­Cow­Morn­ingNews; 1/4/2005; p. 1.)

40. What was Hilliard doing in Havana? ” . . . Hilliard was look­ing to cut a deal with Cas­tro, said Rob Tiller, who pro­vid­ed the pho­to­graph, to buy a 10,000 acre cat­tle ranch on the island for the Mor­mon Church in Utah, report­ed­ly in antic­i­pa­tion of the resump­tion of nor­mal diplo­mat­ic rela­tions between Cuba and the Unit­ed States.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

41. Next, Daniel ties Hilliard in with Adnan Khashog­gi. They appear to be involved in an effort to secure land­ing rights on Rum Cay in the Caribbean, appar­ent­ly in con­nec­tion with drug smug­gling activ­i­ties. ” . . . But it’s Hilliard’s involve­ment with Adnan Khashog­gi, the Sau­di bil­lion­aire and inter­na­tion­al fugi­tive, which is most intrigu­ing. We learned of it from a busi­ness rival of the two men, both vying for rights to build a casi­no on a remote island in the Bahamas. Like a ‘ban­dit cab’ in the air, Hilliard’s Lear jet was fly­ing with­out any appar­ent offi­cial sanc­tion. Though the FAA license under which it oper­at­ed has been sus­pend­ed, (that of Air Flori­da, belong­ing to Pak­istani Per­vez Khan) the plane was mak­ing reg­u­lar runs to the Bahamas. We received a pho­to tak­en in Rum Cay attest­ing to its pres­ence bol­ster­ing one side in a strug­gle for con­trol of the iso­lat­ed island and its cov­et­ed run­way, which had recent­ly been upgrad­ed for jets.” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

42. “Locat­ed 375 miles to the south­east of Ft. Laud­erdale in the remote south­east­ern Bahamas, Rum Cay, we soon learned, is the very def­i­n­i­tion of ‘seclud­ed.’ In fact, that’s its charm. The island once served as a refuge for pirates, and had been a cen­ter of gun-run­ning dur­ing the Amer­i­can Civ­il War before grow­ing to true promi­nence dur­ing Pro­hi­bi­tion as a port used for boot-leg­ging. What was going on at Rum Cay was that there was a new run­way, which now allowed pri­vate jets like Hilliard’s Lear to land on the island. Local news­pa­pers were run­ning reg­u­lar items with head­lines like ‘Cops Seize $50 Mil­lion in Drugs.’ ” (Idem.)

43. “The reput­ed head of one group vying for con­trol was a South African named Les­ley Greyling, report­ed­ly fronting for Khashog­gi. News accounts about Mr. Greyling relied rather heav­i­ly on the ‘M’ word. . . . Mob­ster. But not a mob­ster of the ‘dese dem & dose’ vari­ety. . . Greyling helmed a Palm Beach com­pa­ny, Mem­bers Ser­vice Corp., whose chair­man was for­mer Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor of Flori­da Claude Kirk, and includ­ed not­ed attor­ney F. Lee Bai­ley, and Sau­di arms deal­er Adnan Khashog­gi. Greyling was said to be also con­sid­er­ing help­ing the Sau­di arms mer­chant and Iran-Con­tra mid­dle­man build a casi­no on the Gaza Strip. Saud­is and the Mob and ter­ror flight school own­er Wal­ly Hilliard all bump­ing chests togeth­er in the world’s Bermu­da Tri­an­gle of nar­cotics traf­fick­ing. It’s a Strange Brew. . . .” (Ibid.; pp. 4–5.)

44. Evi­dence sug­gests that Khashog­gi may be involved with com­pa­nies impli­cat­ed in some of the funky vote tech­nol­o­gy. (Note that this link has not been com­plete­ly “closed” as yet.) ” . . . Hilliard is in busi­ness, to cite one exam­ple, with Sau­di bil­lion­aire arms deal­er and inter­na­tion­al fugi­tive Adnan Khashog­gi, whose name has now sur­faced in con­nec­tion with at least one, and pos­si­bly two, Amer­i­can elec­tion com­pa­nies mired in con­tro­ver­sy. The sto­ry which fol­lows is of vital cur­rent inter­est only for what it reveals about the milieu in which the 2004 elec­tion was fixed. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

45. ” . . . Was Adnan Khashog­gi a prin­ci­pal in a com­pa­ny which has been count­ing the votes of Amer­i­can ser­vice­men over­seas? Answer: high­ly like­ly. Both Election.com and Tri­ad, the elec­tion com­pa­ny cit­ed for caus­ing most of the prob­lems in Ohio, should receive close scruti­ny for evi­dence of Khashog­gi involve­ment.” (Ibid.; p. 7.)

46. Next, Daniel notes that Khashog­gi has been involved with a num­ber of enter­pris­es named “Tri­ad.” Whether he was in any way involved with the elec­tion machine com­pa­ny of the same name remains to be seen. “While there has been no sug­ges­tion of it any­where in the media, the name ‘Tri­ad’ was used exten­sive­ly by Khashog­gi at exact­ly the same time (the ear­ly 80’s) and in exact­ly the same place (Palm Beach, Flori­da) as the ‘Tri­ad Gov­ern­men­tal Sys­tems’ involved in Ohio’s cur­rent elec­tion ‘dif­fi­cul­ties.’ Khashog­gi owned a num­ber of com­pa­nies named ‘Tri­ad.’ Khashog­gi owned ‘Tri­ad Inter­na­tion­al Mar­ket­ing.’ ‘Northrop the Los Ange­les-based air­craft and elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­tur­er owes Tri­ad Inter­na­tion­al Mar­ket­ing, S.A., a Liecht­en­stein cor­po­ra­tion con­trolled by Khashog­gi. $31 mil­lion in com­mis­sions on sales to the Sau­di air force,’ report­ed the L.A. Times on August 29, 1987. Kashog­gi owned ‘Tri­ad Amer­i­ca.’ ‘Cred­i­tors claim they are owed more than $100 mil­lion by Tri­ad Amer­i­ca and its sub­sidiaries. . . in Salt Lake City. Leonard Gumport, the court-appoint­ed exam­in­er, also is rec­om­mend­ing that Tri­ad Amer­i­ca seek repay­ment of the $189.2 mil­lion loaned to com­pa­nies con­trolled by the Khashog­gis,’ report­ed the Salt Lake Tri­bune.” (Idem.)

47. “In 1982, Khashog­gi owned Tri­ad Farms in Ken­tucky. In The Blue­grass Con­spir­a­cy by Sal­ly Den­ton, she revealed that the large drug smug­gling oper­a­tion called ‘The Com­pa­ny,’ [had] head­quar­ters near Lex­ing­ton, Ken­tucky, at Tri­ad Farms, owned by Khashog­gi. That’s just about the same time (1982) that TRIAD Gov­ern­men­tal Sys­tems was found­ed. From the com­pa­ny’s lit­er­a­ture: ‘TRIAD Gov­ern­men­tal Sys­tems, Inc., is a nation­al­ly rec­og­nized cor­po­ra­tion that is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing qual­i­ty, com­put­er based sys­tems for gov­ern­men­tal vot­ing units. Incor­po­rat­ed in 1982, TRIAD GSI was found­ed to pro­vide qual­i­ty sup­port and ser­vices for Rapp Sys­tems’ Elec­tion prod­ucts, with elec­tion expe­ri­ence that spans a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry.” (Idem.)

48. Tri­ad had prob­lems as far back as 1988. “We also dis­cov­ered that a strik­ing­ly sim­i­lar alle­ga­tion of Tri­ad employ­ee tam­per­ing was lodged against the com­pa­ny all the way back in 1988. . . Accord­ing to Jack­ie Beville, a for­mer employ­ee of the Super­vi­sor of Elec­tions in Hills­bor­ough Coun­ty, Tri­ad work­ers adjust­ed the soft­ware to clear up a bal­lot-count­ing prob­lem short­ly before the elec­tion, and the machin­ery should then have been re-cer­ti­fied fol­low­ing the work. When ques­tioned she was told that Tri­ad work­ers were just fix­ing prob­lems caused by a light­ning strike. Beville dis­putes that the weath­er had any­thing to do with the repair work. But even if it did, ‘My ques­tion is, why was it a secret? The par­ty chair­men were not called in. The can­vass­ing board was not noti­fied. The Divi­sion of Elec­tions was not noti­fied.” (Idem.)

49. “ ‘Why was I for­bid­den to men­tion it? If the par­ty chair­men and divi­sion had been noti­fied, it may not have been a big deal. But it should have been made pub­lic. Every­one has a right to know.’ Tri­ad man­u­fac­tures punch-card vot­ing sys­tems, and also wrote the com­put­er pro­gram that tal­lied the punch-card votes cast in 41 Ohio coun­ties last Novem­ber. The com­pa­ny is owned by a man named Tod Rapp, who has donat­ed mon­ey to the Repub­li­can Par­ty as well as the elec­tion cam­paign of George W. Bush. Giv­en the broad dis­tri­b­u­tion of Tri­ad vot­ing sys­tems in Ohio, the alle­ga­tions that have been lev­eled against this com­pa­ny strike to the heart of the assumed result of the 2004 elec­tion. And not just Tri­ad. . . .” (Ibid.; pp. 7–8.)

Discussion

10 comments for “FTR #493–494 Two Interviews with Daniel Hopsicker about Electoral Fraud”

  1. Don’t wor­ry ES&S: Hart-Inter­civic may be get­ting most of the vote-theft atten­tion this year, but you’re still a very com­po­nent of the GOP’s vote-rig­ging scheme:

    Ohio Offi­cial: Vot­ing Machine Law­suit ‘Ridicu­lous’

    By: Asso­ci­at­ed Press | NBC4
    Pub­lished: Novem­ber 05, 2012
    Updat­ed: Novem­ber 05, 2012 — 11:22 PM

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — A law­suit filed on the eve of Elec­tion Day alleges that soft­ware in some state vot­ing equip­ment could make results vul­ner­a­ble to being altered after bal­lots have been cast.

    The fed­er­al law­suit against Ohio’s elec­tions chief and Oma­ha, Neb.-based Elec­tion Sys­tems and Soft­ware alleges that soft­ware installed by the state could allow vote manip­u­la­tion by non-elec­tion board offi­cials.

    A “back door” in ES&S soft­ware and hard­ware cre­ates “an immi­nent risk” that peo­ple not super­vised by elec­tion boards could “alter the record­ing and tab­u­la­tion of votes cast by Ohio vot­ers in the Gen­er­al Elec­tion,” accord­ing to the law­suit, filed Mon­day on behalf of Bob Fitrakis, a long­time Ohio elec­tions activist.

    The law­suit asks a judge to order Ohio Sec­re­tary of State Jon Husted, a Repub­li­can, not to use ES&S hard­ware or soft­ware on Tues­day and to break state con­tracts with ES&S for equip­ment to be used this year. A hear­ing was sched­uled for Tues­day morn­ing.

    A Husted spokesman called the law­suit “ridicu­lous,” say­ing the soft­ware allows faster trans­mis­sion of results from coun­ty elec­tion boards to the report­ing sys­tem after polls close. Spokesman Matt McClel­lan said it has noth­ing to do with vot­ing machines, only the results that are tab­u­lat­ed after­ward.

    “With­out this tool, we’re basi­cal­ly going to set elec­tion night report­ing back a num­ber of years to where offi­cials would be hand-enter­ing results into our sys­tem,” he said.

    The equip­ment is in Ohio’s 25 most pop­u­lous coun­ties, said Colum­bus attor­ney Cliff Arnebeck, who filed the law­suit.

    “The claim is friv­o­lous, with­out mer­it, and appears to have been filed on elec­tion eve with the sole intent of under­min­ing vot­er con­fi­dence,” ES&S said in an emailed state­ment.

    Also Mon­day, Husted defend­ed an order he issued late last week that places the respon­si­bil­i­ty of explain­ing what kind of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion vot­ers use on pro­vi­sion­al bal­lots on the vot­ers them­selves.

    The order requires vot­ers to check a box explain­ing what ID they can offer if they weren’t able to pro­vide the last four dig­its of their Social Secu­ri­ty num­bers or their Ohio dri­ver’s license num­bers. Alter­na­tive ID could include a mil­i­tary ID or a util­i­ty bill.

    Vot­er advo­cates say putting the require­ment on vot­ers increas­es the like­li­hood that bal­lots could be wrong­ly reject­ed.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 6, 2012, 2:29 pm
  2. Sung to the tune of It’s Only A Paper Moon

    I nev­er feel a vote is real
    When I’m away from paper
    Out of the embrace of pen
    The fix is in and we all pre­tend

    Mmm, mm, mm, mm
    To buy the fan­ta­sy for anoth­er term
    Mmm, mm, mm, mm
    The suits smile, the totals have a smell about them

    Say..........
    Its only a paper bal­lot
    Sail­ing into a card­board box
    But it would­n’t be make-believe
    If we burned down Hart Inter­Civic

    Yeah, the rhymes get a lit­tle rough in places. My bad.

    Posted by Dwight | November 6, 2012, 10:08 pm
  3. Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 16, 2012, 1:22 pm
  4. Great, Antonin Scalia seems to think the land­mark Vot­ing Rights Act is “a per­pet­u­a­tion of racial enti­tle­ment”:

    TPM
    Scalia: Vot­ing Rights Act Is A ‘Per­pet­u­a­tion Of Racial Enti­tle­ment’
    Sahil Kapur Feb­ru­ary 27, 2013, 1:40 PM

    In express­ing his deep skep­ti­cism Wednes­day for the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of a cen­ter­piece of the Vot­ing Rights Act, Jus­tice Antonin Scalia ques­tioned the moti­va­tions of Con­gress for repeat­ed­ly reau­tho­riz­ing it since it was ini­tial­ly passed in 1965.

    “I don’t think there is any­thing to be gained by any Sen­a­tor to vote against con­tin­u­a­tion of this act,” Scalia said dur­ing oral argu­ments in Shel­by Coun­ty v. Hold­er. “They are going to lose votes if they do not reen­act the Vot­ing Rights Act. Even the name of it is won­der­ful — the Vot­ing Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?”

    At issue was the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of Sec­tion 5 of the 1965 law, which requires state and local gov­ern­ments with a his­to­ry of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion to pre-clear any changes to their vot­ing laws with the Jus­tice Depart­ment pri­or to enact­ing them.

    Con­gress has renewed the law four times, most recent­ly in 2006 for a peri­od of 25 years. The mar­gin of vic­to­ry was 99–0 in the Sen­ate and 390–33 in the House.

    Scalia attrib­uted the repeat­ed renew­al of Sec­tion 5 to a “per­pet­u­a­tion of racial enti­tle­ment.” He said, “When­ev­er a soci­ety adopts racial enti­tle­ments, it is very dif­fi­cult to get out of them through the nor­mal polit­i­cal process­es.”

    ...

    If at first you don’t suc­ceed, try, try again. And if that does­n’t work, call in the Supremes:

    Think Progress
    What Hap­pens If The Vot­ing Rights Act Los­es In The Supreme Court

    By Ian Mill­his­er on Feb 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    We do not have to guess what the states cur­rent­ly sub­ject to a key pro­vi­sion of the Vot­ing Rights Act will do if the Supreme Court grants their wish to have that pro­vi­sion declared uncon­sti­tu­tion­al — top Repub­li­cans in those states have already told us. In a brief filed last August, Repub­li­can attor­neys gen­er­al from six of the states cov­ered, at least in part, by Sec­tion 5 of the Vot­ing Right Act com­plained that this land­mark leg­is­la­tion is all that stands between them and imple­ment­ing a com­mon method of dis­en­fran­chis­ing minor­i­ty vot­ers. Two of those states, South Car­oli­na and Texas, admit that the Vot­ing Rights Act stopped them from imple­ment­ing a vot­er sup­pres­sion law their gov­er­nors already signed.

    ...

    The Vot­ing Rights Act, of course, pro­tects against laws that expose minor­i­ty vot­ers to greater bur­dens than oth­er vot­ers. Sec­tion 5, the pro­vi­sion that the Supreme Court will con­sid­er tomor­row, requires parts of the coun­try that have his­tor­i­cal­ly engaged in vot­er sup­pres­sion to “pre-clear” any new vot­ing laws with the Jus­tice Depart­ment or a fed­er­al court in DC to make sure they do not impose racial bur­dens. Thus, vot­er sup­pres­sion laws such as vot­er ID can be blocked before an elec­tion is held, pre­vent­ing offi­cials from being elect­ed to office by an elec­torate that has been unlaw­ful­ly culled of minor­i­ty vot­ers.

    Lest there be any doubt, vot­er ID laws are just one of many tac­tics Repub­li­can law­mak­ers have turned to in order to reshape the elec­torate into some­thing more like­ly to elect their favored can­di­dates. Cuts to ear­ly vot­ing days did not sim­ply lead to long lines in states like Flori­da, they were also a direct attack on minor­i­ty vot­ers. As one Repub­li­can con­sul­tant admit­ted after last November’s elec­tion, “I know that the cut­ting out of the Sun­day before Elec­tion Day was one of [the Flori­da GOP’s] tar­gets only because that’s a big day when the black church­es orga­nize them­selves.” Vot­er purges tar­get­ed Lati­no vot­ers. Repub­li­can laws restrict­ing vot­er reg­is­tra­tion also cut into the minor­i­ty vote, as “His­pan­ic and African-Amer­i­can vot­ers are approx­i­mate­ly twice as like­ly to reg­is­ter to vote through a vot­er reg­is­tra­tion dri­ve as white vot­ers.”

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 27, 2013, 1:45 pm
  5. Vir­ginia just banned a type of vot­ing machine used in ~20% of the state’s precincts that turn out to be appalling­ly easy to hack and had eas­i­ly guess­able pass­words. And if they are hacked there’s no way to know. Inves­ti­ga­tors first dis­cov­ered the secu­ri­ty flaw on elec­tion day last Novem­ber when machines in one coun­ty start­ed shut­ting down ran­dom­ly. For­tu­nate­ly, experts are unable to point to any evi­dence of tam­per­ing on the machines. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we just have to hope that’s the case since there’s no way to know:

    NPR
    Vul­ner­a­ble Vot­ing Machine Rais­es Ques­tions About Elec­tion Secu­ri­ty
    April 16, 2015 5:03 AM ET

    Pam Fessler

    Com­put­er secu­ri­ty experts have warned for years that some vot­ing machines are vul­ner­a­ble to attack. And this week, in Vir­ginia, the state Board of Elec­tions decid­ed to impose an imme­di­ate ban on touch­screen vot­ing machines used in 20 per­cent of the state’s precincts, because of new­ly dis­cov­ered secu­ri­ty con­cerns.

    The prob­lems emerged on Elec­tion Day last Novem­ber in Spot­syl­va­nia Coun­ty. The AVS WIN­Vote touch­screen machines used in precinct 302 began to shut down.

    “One machine would go and crash. They’d bring it back up. Anoth­er one would crash,” said Edgar­do Cortes, the state’s elec­tions com­mis­sion­er. “Start­ing in the ear­ly after­noon, they brought in a piece of replace­ment equip­ment that expe­ri­enced the same issues when they set it up in the precinct.”

    Cortes added that elec­tions work­ers had a the­o­ry about what had caused the prob­lem.

    “There was some inter­fer­ence,” he said, “poten­tial­ly from a wire­less sig­nal from an elec­tion offi­cer [who] was stream­ing music on their phone.”

    When state audi­tors inves­ti­gat­ed, though, they did­n’t find that par­tic­u­lar prob­lem. Instead, they found some­thing more dis­turb­ing. While using their smart­phones, they were able to con­nect to the vot­ing machines’ wire­less net­work, which is used to tal­ly votes.

    Oth­er state inves­ti­ga­tors eas­i­ly guessed the sys­tem’s pass­words — in one case, it was “abcde” — and were then able to change the vote counts remote­ly with­out detec­tion.

    Jere­my Epstein is co-founder of Vir­ginia Ver­i­fied Vot­ing and one of many com­put­er experts who had warned about the secu­ri­ty flaws. He’s not at all sur­prised by the state’s find­ings. He said there’s no evi­dence that any­one has ever tam­pered with Vir­gini­a’s vot­ing machines, but if they had, there’s no way to tell.

    Epstein said the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties could be used to cre­ate a lot of mis­chief, “to change the list of races, change the list of can­di­dates, change the votes that have been record­ed, change the totals record­ed, things like that.”

    The state board of elec­tions found that risk unac­cept­able and vot­ed to decer­ti­fy the equip­ment imme­di­ate­ly. But the deci­sion leaves offi­cials in 30 coun­ties and cities scram­bling to find replace­ments, in some cas­es as ear­ly as June, when some hold pri­maries.

    The good news, is that these machines — pur­chased over a decade ago — are no longer made or used any­where else in the coun­try. But the Vir­ginia action comes amid grow­ing con­cern that much of the nation’s vot­ing equip­ment is get­ting old and out­dat­ed and will need to be replaced soon.

    ...

    Patrick said the biggest obsta­cle for local­i­ties will be find­ing enough mon­ey to buy new equip­ment. And that’s the chal­lenge now for Vir­ginia local­i­ties that had hoped to eke out anoth­er elec­tion or two using the old machines.

    Fair­fax City offi­cials say it will cost them about $130,000 to replace the WIN­Vote machines. And they’re upset. They nev­er had any prob­lems, and the city’s gen­er­al reg­is­trar, Kevin Line­han, thinks set­ting up a new vot­ing sys­tem too quick­ly pos­es a greater risk to vot­ers than a hypo­thet­i­cal hack­er.

    “My most vul­ner­a­ble aspect of run­ning an elec­tion is hav­ing prop­er­ly trained offi­cers of elec­tion. I’m look­ing at a very short time­line get­ting my offi­cers trained in a whole new sys­tem,” he told the state board.

    Karen Alexan­der also isn’t sure what to do. She runs elec­tions in Powhatan Coun­ty and has a pri­ma­ry in June. Still, she thinks the state made the right move.

    “I would feel very uncom­fort­able using the WIN­Votes,” she said. “I would­n’t want my vot­ers to know what I know and feel they had to vote on these machines. The secu­ri­ty risk is too high. ”

    She said her coun­ty might bor­row equip­ment from a neigh­bor­ing coun­ty to get through the pri­ma­ry. Or, since only a few hun­dred vot­ers are expect­ed, they might count bal­lots the old fash­ioned way — by hand.

    That’s some great spin:

    The good news, is that these machines — pur­chased over a decade ago — are no longer made or used any­where else in the coun­try. But the Vir­ginia action comes amid grow­ing con­cern that much of the nation’s vot­ing equip­ment is get­ting old and out­dat­ed and will need to be replaced soon.

    Good news! The machines that allowed for untrace­able tam­per­ing have been in use so long they’re going to have to be replaced soon!

    Of course, that point at the end real­ly was some pret­ty good news:

    She said her coun­ty might bor­row equip­ment from a neigh­bor­ing coun­ty to get through the pri­ma­ry. Or, since only a few hun­dred vot­ers are expect­ed, they might count bal­lots the old fash­ioned way — by hand”.

    Yes, elec­tion offi­cials are actu­al­ly con­sid­er­ing count­ing by hand again. Has Amer­i­ca final­ly healed from the psy­cho­log­i­cal trau­ma of the chad-poca­lypse? What’s next?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 16, 2015, 5:09 pm
  6. So appar­ent­ly a large num­ber of Ken­tucky vot­ers were vot­ing for Democ­rats for offices like Attor­ney Gen­er­al and state Audi­tor, but for some rea­son decid­ed to vote for the Tea Par­ty guy that was lag­ging in the polls and pledge to dis­man­tle the state’s high­ly pop­u­lar health­care pro­gram. Either that or some­thing else was going on with the vote...:

    Brad Blog
    Ques­tion­ing the Unver­i­fied Com­put­er Results of Ken­tuck­y’s Gov­er­nor’s Race: ‘Brad­Cast’ 11/4/2015
    GUEST: Karoli Kuns of CrooksAndLiars.com...

    By Brad Fried­man on 11/4/2015, 5:21pm PT

    It is a pri­mal scream of a Brad­Cast today, fol­low­ing what hap­pened — once again — on Elec­tion Day yes­ter­day. We see, again, the night­mare sce­nario I’ve warned about for so many years: a U.S. elec­tion where all of the pre-elec­tion polls sug­gest Can­di­date X is set to win, but Can­di­date Y ends up win­ning by a huge mar­gin instead and nobody even both­ers to ver­i­fy that the com­put­er tab­u­lat­ed results accu­rate­ly reflect the intent of the vot­ers. (Audio link to today’s full show is below.)

    That’s exact­ly what hap­pened in Ken­tucky on Tues­day, where Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jack Con­way was lead­ing by a fair mar­gin (about 3 to 5 points) in almost every pre-elec­tion poll in his race for Gov­er­nor, but then end­ed up being announced as the los­er to ‘Tea Par­ty’ Repub­li­can can­di­date Matt Bevin by a land­slide (almost 9 points) — accord­ing to the state’s 100% unver­i­fied com­put­er tab­u­la­tion sys­tems.

    As detailed on today’s pro­gram with my guest Karoli Kuns of Crooks And Liars, there are a num­ber of rea­sons to ques­tion the report­ed results. Among them, as Kunspoints out today at C&L, the Democ­rats run­ning in the down bal­lot races — for Sec­re­tary of State, Attor­ney Gen­er­al (Con­way’s cur­rent job) and even state Audi­tor — each report­ed­ly received tens of thou­sands more votes than Con­way did at the top of the tick­et!

    Bev Har­ris, of BlackBoxVoting.org, who I spoke with ear­li­er today, described the high­er vote totals in the down bal­lot races as a “sig­nif­i­cant anom­aly”. She tells me that, at least until more records are request­ed and exam­ined, the KY-Gov­’s race “has to be looked at as a ques­tion­able out­come, par­tic­u­lar­ly because of the dis­crep­an­cies in the down bal­lot races. More votes in those races and not at the top...that just does­n’t hap­pen.”

    (Here is a link to a help­ful Pub­lic Records Request toolk­it [PDF] from Black Box Vot­ing for those of you who may be inter­est­ed in help­ing to try and obtain some trans­paren­cy in this race, as we also dis­cussed on today’s pro­gram.)

    There are many oth­er rea­sons for sup­port­ers to ques­tion the report­ed results in the KY-Gov­’s race, as I detail dur­ing the show. Of course, the report­ed results could also be com­plete­ly accu­rate. But, with­out pub­lic, human exam­i­na­tion of the hand-marked paper bal­lots (which, thank­ful­ly, now actu­al­ly exist across most of the state!) and oth­er relat­ed records, we have yet anoth­er unver­i­fied, 100% faith-based elec­tion to leave sup­port­ers won­der­ing if they real­ly won or lost.

    We’ve seen this before, of course. Too many times. We’ve seen mal­func­tion­ing paper bal­lot op-scan sys­tems report losers as “win­ners” until a hand-count cor­rects the record. We’ve seen how easy it is for hack­ers to game elec­tion equip­ment. We’ve seen elec­tion insid­ers, even as recent­ly as last week, break­ing in to com­put­er­ized cen­tral tab­u­la­tors. And we’ve even seen high-rank­ing elec­tion offi­cials in Ken­tucky (includ­ing Coun­ty Clerks, Cir­cuit Court Judges and School Super­in­ten­dents!) con­vict­ed for decades of insid­er elec­tion fraud, includ­ing the manip­u­la­tion of elec­tron­ic vot­ing sys­tems.

    We’ve seen both Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans alike fall vic­tim to sim­i­lar­ly anom­alous and unver­i­fied results. And, while none of it bodes well for 2016 and beyond, nei­ther does it bode well for those imme­di­ate­ly and direct­ly impact­ed by Tues­day’s elec­tions — such as the 400,000 Ken­tuck­yians who stand to lose health care under a new Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor who has vowed to shut down the state’s expan­sion of cov­er­age under Oba­maCare by the very pop­u­lar if term-lim­it­ed and out­go­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor.

    ...

    “We’ve seen this before, of course. Too many times.”
    Yep. And if Amer­i­ca’s aging elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines, many of which were nev­er vet­ted or vet­ted using stan­dards that are now known to be flawed, don’t get replaced soon, we’re going to see this a lot more:

    Wired

    The Dis­mal State of America’s Decade-Old Vot­ing Machines

    Kim Zetter
    09.15.15 12:01 am.

    As the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion sea­son heats up, the pub­lic has focused on the can­di­dates vying for the nation’s top office. But whether Don­ald Trump will secure the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion is sec­ondary to a more seri­ous quandary: whether the nation’s vot­ing machines will hold up when Amer­i­cans head to the polls in 2016.

    Near­ly every state is using elec­tron­ic touch­screen and opti­cal-scan vot­ing sys­tems that are at least a decade old, accord­ing to a report by the Bren­nan Cen­ter for Jus­tice at New York Uni­ver­si­ty School of Law (.pdf). Beyond the fact the machines are tech­no­log­i­cal­ly anti­quat­ed, after years of wear and tear, states are report­ing increas­ing prob­lems with degrad­ing touch­screens, worn-out modems for trans­mit­ting elec­tion results, and fail­ing moth­er­boards and mem­o­ry cards.

    States using machines that are at least 15 years old include Flori­da, Ken­tucky, Mass­a­chu­setts, New Hamp­shire, Texas, Vir­ginia, and Wash­ing­ton, which means they are far behind even a casu­al tech user in keep­ing pace with tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments.
    The aver­age lifes­pan of a lap­top com­put­er is three to five years, after which most con­sumers and busi­ness­es replace their machines. Com­put­er users also gen­er­al­ly upgrade their oper­at­ing sys­tems every oth­er year or so as Microsoft and Apple release major soft­ware overhauls—including secu­ri­ty upgrades. But US vot­ing machines, which are respon­si­ble for over­see­ing the most impor­tant elec­tion in the coun­try, have failed to keep up.

    “No one expects a lap­top to last for 10 years. How can we expect these machines, many of which were designed and engi­neered in the 1990s, to keep run­ning?,” write Lar­ry Nor­den and Christo­pher Famighet­ti, authors of the Bren­nan Cen­ter report. “[T]he major­i­ty of sys­tems in use today are either per­ilous­ly close to or past their expect­ed lifes­pans.”

    What’s more, many of the machines are run­ning an embed­ded ver­sion of Win­dows XP, an oper­at­ing sys­tem MMicrosoft no longer sup­ports or is about to stop sup­port­ing, depend­ing upon the ver­sion of XP the sys­tem is using. That means Microsoft won pro­duce patch­es for any new secu­ri­ty holes found in the soft­ware. Almost all of the machines in Cal­i­for­nia run on XP, and some even run on Win­dows 2000.

    In addi­tion to this prob­lem, a num­ber of vot­ing machine ven­dors have gone out of busi­ness, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for states to find parts to ser­vice their machines. Forty-three states use sys­tems that are no longer man­u­fac­tured. Some elec­tion offi­cials have resort­ed to scour­ing eBay for decom­mis­sioned equip­ment they can can­ni­bal­ize to extend the life of their machines. Geor­gia was in such dire straits over the lack of parts for its vot­ing machines that it hired a con­sul­tant to build cus­tomized hard­ware that could run its Win­dows 2000-based elec­tion sys­tem soft­ware..

    ...

    One of the most seri­ous prob­lems with aging machines is they are prone to crash­es and screen freezes, which can lead to long lines at polling sta­tions and dis­en­fran­chised vot­ers who leave with­out cast­ing bal­lots.

    “We have had moth­er­boards go down—in essence the vot­ing machine just stops work­ing on Elec­tion Day because the moth­er­board is dead,” Joe Rozell, direc­tor of elec­tions in Oak­land Coun­ty, Michi­gan, told the Bren­nan Cen­ter about his aging opti­cal-scan machines.

    In 2013, New Mex­i­co was hav­ing sim­i­lar prob­lems with the mem­o­ry cards used with opti­cal-scan machines it pur­chased in 2006. “As the machines got old­er, they had more and more func­tion­al­i­ty issues,” Mag­gie Toulouse Oliv­er, the coun­ty clerk in Bernalil­lo Coun­ty, New Mex­i­co, told the authors. “In par­tic­u­lar there was a high fail­ure rate for mem­o­ry cards. It got so bad that we had to replace one-third of machines in every elec­tion.”

    Even more impor­tant are reli­a­bil­i­ty and integri­ty issues with mal­func­tion­ing machines that fail to record votes, or record votes improp­er­ly. Numer­ous vot­ing dis­tricts have report­ed cal­i­bra­tion prob­lems over the years with elec­tron­ic touch­screen vot­ing machines seem­ing­ly ““flip­ping” votes—that is, record­ing a vote for a dif­fer­ent can­di­date than the one the vot­er select­ed onscreen.

    The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is well aware of the prob­lem of aging machines. In Jan­u­ary 2014, the Pres­i­den­tial Com­mis­sion on Elec­tion Admin­is­tra­tion issued a report (.pdf) warn­ing of an “impend­ing cri­sis … from the wide­spread wear­ing out of vot­ing machines pur­chased a decade ago.” But so far, law­mak­ers have done n
    oth­ing to rem­e­dy the sit­u­a­tion.

    Mon­ey Prob­lems

    Most of the vot­ing machines in ques­tion today were pur­chased after the con­tentious pres­i­den­tial race between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000, when the Supreme Court had to set­tle the Flori­da recount dis­pute. Elec­tion offi­cials had been com­plain­ing for years before­hand about dan­gling chads and oth­er prob­lems with the machines, warn­ing that they were an impend­ing cat­a­stro­phe. No one lis­tened until it was too late.

    In 2002, Con­gress passed the Help Amer­i­ca Vote Act, which allo­cat­ed about $4 bil­lion in fed­er­al funds to help states pur­chase new vot­ing equip­ment. The bill also estab­lished the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion (EAC) to devel­op vot­ing stan­dards and over­see fed­er­al test­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of new vot­ing equip­ment.

    Most states replaced their anti­quat­ed punch­card and lever machines with new elec­tron­ic touch­screen and opti­cal-scan vot­ing machines by 2006. But many of the machines installed then, which are still in use today, were nev­er prop­er­ly vetted—the ini­tial vot­ing stan­dards and test­ing process­es turned out to be high­ly flawed—and ulti­mate­ly intro­duced new prob­lems in the form of inse­cure soft­ware code and design.

    “For bet­ter and worse, by pro­vid­ing a huge infu­sion of mon­ey to replace vot­ing equip­ment in 2002, Con­gress fun­da­men­tal­ly changed the vot­ing machine mar­ket, and it did so before new vot­ing sys­tem stan­dards or test­ing pro­grams were in place,” the authors write.

    At least 28 states are using sys­tems that were nev­er EAC-cer­ti­fied because they were pur­chased pri­or to the estab­lish­ment of the EAC’s stan­dards, accord­ing to Famighet­ti, a Vot­ing Rights Researcher for the Democ­ra­cy Pro­gram at the Bren­nan Cen­ter. But even vot­ing machines that the EAC did cer­ti­fy were held to a flawed stan­dard, one that had been writ­ten years before the iPhone was on the mar­ket, he notes.

    “Today there are tougher secu­ri­ty stan­dards than there were years ago when all of these machines were bought,” he says. “The sys­tems we’re using were not test­ed to the secu­ri­ty stan­dard that we con­sid­er nec­es­sary today.”

    Ear­li­er this year, for exam­ple, Vir­ginia decer­ti­fied 3,000 vot­ing machines used in about 30 coun­ties after deter­min­ing that there were severe secu­ri­ty prob­lems with the sys­tems, includ­ing a poor­ly secured Wi-Fi fea­ture for tal­ly­ing votes that would have allowed some­one to alter elec­tion results with­out leav­ing a trace. The machines had been used in hun­dreds of Vir­ginia elec­tions since 2003.

    Despite appar­ent prob­lems with today’s vot­ing machines, many elec­tion offi­cials are reluc­tant to com­plain about their machines pub­licly, for fear of under­min­ing vot­er and can­di­date con­fi­dence in the machines and elec­tion results.

    ...

    Offi­cials in near­ly three dozen states told the Bren­nan Cen­ter they’re inter­est­ed in replac­ing their anti­quat­ed vot­ing machines but don’t have mon­ey to do so. Most states have used up the Help Amer­i­ca Vote Act funds allo­cat­ed to them in 2002 to pur­chase the flawed machines they now have. The issue with aging vot­ing machines cuts across class lines: wealth­i­er elec­tion dis­tricts in some states have already found the mon­ey to buy new machines, while the poor­er dis­tricts around them remain stuck with fail­ing machines.

    The Bren­nan Cen­ter esti­mates that the cost of replac­ing sys­tems would run more than $1 bil­lion. Vir­ginia spent about $12,000 per precinct to replace its vot­ing machines this year, and last year New Mex­i­co replaced its aging vot­ing equip­ment at a cost of $12 mil­lion across the state.

    Although Nor­den and Famighet­ti say it’s prob­a­bly too late for many dis­tricts to obtain the mon­ey to replace their machines before next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, there is still plen­ty that elec­tion offi­cials can do in terms of prop­er stor­age, pre­ven­tive main­te­nance, pre- and post-elec­tion test­ing of machines and con­tin­gency plan­ning to pre­pare for pos­si­ble fail­ures on elec­tion day.

    “Ulti­mate­ly, if a juris­dic­tion needs new machines, these pre­cau­tion­ary rec­om­men­da­tions can only serve as a stop­gap, and are cer­tain­ly no guar­an­tee that prob­lems will be avoid­ed,” they write. “But if extra pre­cau­tions are not tak­en, what is already an extreme­ly wor­ry­ing sit­u­a­tion may be far worse.”

    “Offi­cials in near­ly three dozen states told the Bren­nan Cen­ter they’re inter­est­ed in replac­ing their anti­quat­ed vot­ing machines but don’t have mon­ey to do so. Most states have used up the Help Amer­i­ca Vote Act funds allo­cat­ed to them in 2002 to pur­chase the flawed machines they now have. The issue with aging vot­ing machines cuts across class lines: wealth­i­er elec­tion dis­tricts in some states have already found the mon­ey to buy new machines, while the poor­er dis­tricts around them remain stuck with fail­ing machines.
    Classy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 6, 2015, 6:09 pm
  7. With the GOP once again in the midst of some sort of melt­down and estab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans pan­ick­ing over the pos­si­bil­i­ty that either Don­ald Trump or Ben Car­son could become the GOP nom­i­nee while oth­ers point out that Ted Cruz has a very real chance of tak­ing that prize, it’s worth keep­ing in mind that there’s still a very good chance that the next pres­i­dent could be a Repub­li­can no mat­ter who the GOP nom­i­nates. All they have to do is stay rel­a­tive­ly close enough in the polls in key swing states like Ohio to make a sur­prise surge seem plau­si­ble, and let the machines do the rest:

    Alter­Net
    New evi­dence emerges of vote count­ing sub­terfuge in Ohio pot bal­lot ini­tia­tive

    Steven Rosen­feld,
    09 Nov 2015 at 21:59 ET

    More evi­dence is emerg­ing call­ing into ques­tion the offi­cial­ly report­ed results of Tuesday’s mar­i­jua­na legal­iza­tion vote in Ohio, where Issue 3 was defeat­ed by a two-to-one mar­gin.

    On Fri­day, the Colum­bus Free Press pub­lished a series of screen­shots of live tele­vised elec­tion returns from Dayton’s WHIO-TV pro­vid­ed by Ohio’s Sec­re­tary of State. The sequence showed hun­dreds of thou­sands of votes flipped with­in min­utes from the “yes” to “no” col­umn of Issue 3. The con­tro­ver­sial mea­sure would have estab­lished a state-licensed car­tel of 10 licensed grow­ers oper­at­ing reg­u­lat­ed indoor grow sites of up to 300,000 square feet each. The pro-mar­i­jua­na activist com­mu­ni­ty was divid­ed on the mea­sure.

    The screen­shots, post­ed below, show hun­dreds of thou­sands of votes flip­ping from the “yes” to the “no” col­umn in 11 min­utes, even though the num­ber of precincts report­ing only increased by 6 per­cent. In the first screen­shot, with 39 per­cent of precincts report­ing, the pot mea­sure is win­ning 65-to-35 per­cent.

    [see screen­shot]

    In the sec­ond screen­shot those per­cent­ages are reversed, even though the num­ber of precincts report­ing results has only increased by 6 per­cent. Look at the num­ber of votes in each col­umn and you will see that hun­dreds of thou­sands have been jumped from sup­port­ing to oppos­ing the mea­sure.

    [see screen­shot]

    Late on Fri­day, Bob Fitrakis, Free Press edi­tor and pub­lish­er, received anoth­er set of screen­shots tak­en by an Ober­lin Col­lege fac­ul­ty mem­ber on her cell phone from anoth­er media out­let in anoth­er part of the state. (Dis­clo­sure: Fitrakis, his col­league Har­vey Wasser­man and I co-authored a 2006 book doc­u­ment­ing how Ohio Repub­li­cans rigged the rules and vote count in the 2004 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion that returned George W. Bush to the White House.)

    The first of these new­ly obtained screen­shots shows Issue 3 pass­ing statewide with 84 per­cent approval, based on 58 per­cent of precincts report­ing. More than 700,000 vot­ers are sup­port­ing legal­iza­tion.

    [see screen­shot]

    The next screen­shot, tak­en sev­en min­utes lat­er, shows a dra­mat­ic rever­sal. Issue 3 now only has 35 per­cent vot­er approval, based on 67 per­cent of precincts report­ing their tal­lies.

    [see screen­shot]

    These screen­shots raise sub­stan­tial ques­tions about the accu­ra­cy of the offi­cial­ly report­ed vote count. In the sec­ond screen­shot, more than 1.3 mil­lion No votes have been added to the offi­cial results, yet the num­ber of precincts report­ing has only gone up by 8 per­cent. That does not make sense, because in Ohio, like the rest of the coun­try, precincts are uni­form­ly sized, even the largest ones. These results sug­gest there were more vot­ers in the lat­est 8 per­cent of precincts report­ing than the pre­vi­ous 58 per­cent.

    More­over, if the sec­ond screen­shot is accu­rate, it would appear that almost all precincts that were first to report were filled with pro-pot vot­ers, while almost all of the vot­ers in this lat­est wave of precincts were anti-legal­iza­tion vot­ers. Such a swing of the elec­toral pen­du­lum seems ques­tion­able.

    Final­ly, it is odd that in both of these sets of screen­shots the pro-pot vote set­tled at 35 per­cent.

    While there may be a log­i­cal expla­na­tion for these anom­alies, these sets of screen­shots, tak­en at dif­fer­ent times in dif­fer­ent parts of the state, sug­gest some­thing is not right with how the state’s top elec­tion administrator—Secretary of State Jon Husted—managed the vote count.

    ...

    Look­ing toward 2016, Ohio is once again con­sid­ered a swing state, mean­ing it will have an out­sized role in elect­ing the next pres­i­dent. These anom­alies in Tuesday’s elec­tion should mer­it a thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion of the state’s plans, espe­cial­ly when it comes to trans­paren­cy and account­abil­i­ty of the 2016 vote count.

    Are you ready for Pres­i­dent Cruz? You should be.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 13, 2015, 7:09 pm
  8. Will this FINALLY force Geor­gia to update its high­ly hack­able elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines? Let’s hope so because if this case does­n’t pro­voke wide­spread vot­er out­rage than it’s pret­ty clear that Geor­gia has a prob­lem with hack­able vot­er minds too:

    It turns out the com­put­er run­ning the Geor­gia state elec­tion sys­tems was com­plete­ly wiped just days after a law­suit was filed by a group of vot­ers suing to demon­strate the unre­li­a­bil­i­ty of the state elec­tion sys­tems. On July 3 a group of elec­tions reform advo­cates filed the suit and in July 7 the data was destroyed. Inter­est­ing tim­ing.

    For­tu­nate­ly there were two back­up servers. Unfor­tu­nate­ly both of those were destroyed too. It’s pos­si­ble the FBI has a copy of the destroyed data but that has yet to be con­firmed yet.

    It also turns out that this par­tic­u­lar serv­er in ques­tion was found to have a seri­ous secu­ri­ty hole that a secu­ri­ty expert dis­cov­ered in August of 2016. This researcher informed the state gov­ern­ment of this hole but it remained open until the July 7th mys­tery wipe. Accord­ing to the researcher this kind of secu­ri­ty hole could have allowed a mali­cious actor to change elec­tion out­comes.

    In addi­tion, the state offi­cial in charge of the elec­tion sys­tem and the main defen­dant in the suit is Georgia’s sec­re­tary of state, Bri­an Kemp, a Repub­li­can who is run­ning for gov­er­nor in 2018. It’s all quite a ‘mys­tery’:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    APNews­Break: Geor­gia elec­tion serv­er wiped after suit filed

    By FRANK BAJAK
    10/26/2017

    A com­put­er serv­er cru­cial to a law­suit against Geor­gia elec­tion offi­cials was qui­et­ly wiped clean by its cus­to­di­ans just after the suit was filed, The Asso­ci­at­ed Press has learned.

    The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by tech­ni­cians at the Cen­ter for Elec­tions Sys­tems at Ken­ne­saw State Uni­ver­si­ty, which runs the state’s elec­tion sys­tem. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assis­tant state attor­ney gen­er­al to plain­tiffs in the case that was lat­er obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a pub­lic records request con­firmed the wipe.

    The law­suit, filed on July 3 by a diverse group of elec­tion reform advo­cates, aims to force Geor­gia to retire its anti­quat­ed and heav­i­ly crit­i­cized elec­tion tech­nol­o­gy. The serv­er in ques­tion, which served as a statewide stag­ing loca­tion for key elec­tion-relat­ed data, made nation­al head­lines in June after a secu­ri­ty expert dis­closed a gap­ing secu­ri­ty hole that wasn’t fixed six months after he report­ed it to elec­tion author­i­ties.

    WIPED OUT

    It’s not clear who ordered the server’s data irre­triev­ably erased.

    The Ken­ne­saw elec­tion cen­ter answers to Georgia’s sec­re­tary of state, Bri­an Kemp, a Repub­li­can who is run­ning for gov­er­nor in 2018 and is the main defen­dant in the suit. A spokes­woman for the sec­re­tary of state’s office said Wednes­day that “we did not have any­thing to do with this deci­sion,” adding that the office also had no advance warn­ing of the move.

    The center’s direc­tor, Michael Barnes, referred ques­tions to the university’s press office, which declined com­ment.

    Plain­tiffs in the law­suit, who are most­ly Geor­gia vot­ers, want to scrap the state’s 15-year-old vote-man­age­ment sys­tem — par­tic­u­lar­ly its 27,000 Accu­Vote touch­screen vot­ing machines, hack­able devices that don’t use paper bal­lots or keep hard­copy proof of vot­er intent. The plain­tiffs were count­ing on an inde­pen­dent secu­ri­ty review of the Ken­ne­saw serv­er, which held elec­tron­ic poll book and oth­er elec­tions stag­ing data for coun­ties, to demon­strate the system’s unre­li­a­bil­i­ty.

    Wip­ing the serv­er clean “fore­stalls any foren­sic inves­ti­ga­tion at all,” said Richard DeMil­lo, a Geor­gia Tech com­put­er sci­en­tist who has close­ly fol­lowed the case. “Peo­ple who have noth­ing to hide don’t behave this way.”

    STATE SECURITY

    The serv­er data could have revealed whether Georgia’s most recent elec­tions were com­pro­mised by mali­cious hack­ers. The plain­tiffs con­tend that the results of both last November’s elec­tion and a spe­cial June 20 con­gres­sion­al runoff— won by Kemp’s pre­de­ces­sor, Karen Han­del — can­not be trust­ed.

    Pos­si­ble Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in U.S. pol­i­tics, includ­ing attempts to pen­e­trate vot­ing sys­tems, has been an acute nation­al pre­oc­cu­pa­tion since the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion first sound­ed the alarm more than a year ago.

    Kemp and his GOP allies insist Georgia’s elec­tions sys­tem is secure. But Mar­i­lyn Marks, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Coali­tion for Good Gov­er­nance, a plain­tiff, believes the serv­er data was erased pre­cise­ly because the sys­tem isn’t secure.

    “I don’t think you could find a vot­ing sys­tems expert who would think the dele­tion of the serv­er data was any­thing less than insid­i­ous and high­ly sus­pi­cious,” she said.

    NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T

    It could still be pos­si­ble to recov­er rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion from the serv­er.

    The FBI is known to have made an exact data image of the serv­er in March when it inves­ti­gat­ed the secu­ri­ty hole. The Oct. 18 email that dis­closed the serv­er wipe said the state attor­ney general’s office was “reach­ing out to the FBI to deter­mine whether they still have the image.”

    On Wednes­day, it noti­fied the court of its intent to sub­poe­na the FBI seek­ing the image, accord­ing to a court doc­u­ment obtained by the AP that was Thurs­day emailed to lawyers in the case.

    Atlanta FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett, respond­ing to AP ques­tions on Wednes­day, would not say whether that image still exists. Nor would he say whether agents exam­ined it to deter­mine whether the server’s files might have been altered by unau­tho­rized users.

    Oth­er back­ups also appear to be gone. In the same email to plain­tiffs’ attor­neys, assis­tant state attor­ney gen­er­al Cristi­na Cor­reia wrote that two back­up servers were also wiped clean on Aug. 9, just as the law­suit moved to fed­er­al court.

    FAILING TO SERVICE THE SERVER

    A 180-page col­lec­tion of Ken­ne­saw State emails, obtained Fri­day by the Coali­tion for Good Gov­ern­ments via an open records search, details the destruc­tion of the data on all three servers and a par­tial and ulti­mate­ly inef­fec­tive effort by Ken­ne­saw State sys­tems engi­neers to fix the main server’s secu­ri­ty hole.

    As a result of the failed effort, sen­si­tive data on Georgia’s 6.7 mil­lion vot­ers — includ­ing social secu­ri­ty num­bers, par­ty affil­i­a­tion and birth­dates — as well as pass­words used by coun­ty offi­cials to access elec­tions man­age­ment files remained exposed for months.

    The prob­lem was first dis­cov­ered by Atlanta secu­ri­ty researcher Logan Lamb, who hap­pened across it while doing online research in August 2016. He informed the elec­tion center’s direc­tor at the time, not­ing in an email that “there is a strong pos­si­bil­i­ty your site is already com­pro­mised.”

    Based on his review of the emails, Lamb believes that elec­tron­ic polling books could have been altered in Georgia’s biggest coun­ties to add or drop vot­ers or to scram­ble their data. Mali­cious hack­ers could have altered the tem­plates of the mem­o­ry cards used in vot­ing machines to skew results.

    An attack­er could even have poten­tial­ly mod­i­fied “bal­lot-build­ing” files to cor­rupt the out­come, said Lamb, who works at Atlanta-based secu­ri­ty firm Bastille Net­works.

    ...

    ———-

    “APNews­Break: Geor­gia elec­tion serv­er wiped after suit filed” by FRANK BAJAK; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 10/26/2017

    “The law­suit, filed on July 3 by a diverse group of elec­tion reform advo­cates, aims to force Geor­gia to retire its anti­quat­ed and heav­i­ly crit­i­cized elec­tion tech­nol­o­gy. The serv­er in ques­tion, which served as a statewide stag­ing loca­tion for key elec­tion-relat­ed data, made nation­al head­lines in June after a secu­ri­ty expert dis­closed a gap­ing secu­ri­ty hole that wasn’t fixed six months after he report­ed it to elec­tion author­i­ties.”

    So a gap­ing secu­ri­ty hole was­n’t fixed for six months, a peri­od that includ­ed the Novem­ber 2016 elec­tion and this year’s Geor­gia spe­cial elec­tion which cer­tain­ly lends cre­dence to the plain­tiffs’ charge that the results of both of those elec­tions can’t be trust­ed:

    ...
    The serv­er data could have revealed whether Georgia’s most recent elec­tions were com­pro­mised by mali­cious hack­ers. The plain­tiffs con­tend that the results of both last November’s elec­tion and a spe­cial June 20 con­gres­sion­al runoff— won by Kemp’s pre­de­ces­sor, Karen Han­del — can­not be trust­ed.

    ...

    The prob­lem was first dis­cov­ered by Atlanta secu­ri­ty researcher Logan Lamb, who hap­pened across it while doing online research in August 2016. He informed the elec­tion center’s direc­tor at the time, not­ing in an email that “there is a strong pos­si­bil­i­ty your site is already com­pro­mised.”

    Based on his review of the emails, Lamb believes that elec­tron­ic polling books could have been altered in Georgia’s biggest coun­ties to add or drop vot­ers or to scram­ble their data. Mali­cious hack­ers could have altered the tem­plates of the mem­o­ry cards used in vot­ing machines to skew results.

    An attack­er could even have poten­tial­ly mod­i­fied “bal­lot-build­ing” files to cor­rupt the out­come, said Lamb, who works at Atlanta-based secu­ri­ty firm Bastille Net­works.
    ...

    And don’t for­get that George is one of those states that uses 15 year old machines that don’t keep a paper trail so there’s basi­cal­ly no reli­able way to audit the results. The only hope for an audit was the wiped serv­er:

    ...
    Plain­tiffs in the law­suit, who are most­ly Geor­gia vot­ers, want to scrap the state’s 15-year-old vote-man­age­ment sys­tem — par­tic­u­lar­ly its 27,000 Accu­Vote touch­screen vot­ing machines, hack­able devices that don’t use paper bal­lots or keep hard­copy proof of vot­er intent. The plain­tiffs were count­ing on an inde­pen­dent secu­ri­ty review of the Ken­ne­saw serv­er, which held elec­tron­ic poll book and oth­er elec­tions stag­ing data for coun­ties, to demon­strate the system’s unre­li­a­bil­i­ty.
    ...

    So that hap­pened. And while all sus­pi­cions will undoubt­ed­ly be direct­ed towards ‘Russ­ian hack­ers’ poten­tial­ly mess­ing around with the elec­tion results, let’s not for­get that these 15 year old vot­ing machines Geor­gia has been run­ning some of the most bla­tant­ly hack­able elec­tions for yeas start­ing with the 2002 when when these joke elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines were first put into use with high­ly sus­pi­cious results. And those same bla­tant­ly hack­able machines that are still in use today! That’s what this law­suit is all about.

    Well, at least no one mys­te­ri­ous died as part of this par­tic­u­lar vote hack coverup. Could be worse!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 26, 2017, 2:58 pm
  9. With Geor­gia’s munic­i­pal elec­tions fast approach­ing, it’s prob­a­bly worth not­ing some­thing impor­tant regard­ing the unver­i­fi­able and high­ly hack­able elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines that prompt­ed a law­suit that, in turn, appears to have prompt­ed the era­sure of Geor­gia’s vot­ing sys­tem servers and back­ups the day after the law­suit moved from state to fed­er­al courts (with no expla­na­tion giv­en thus far) and after it become pub­lic that the serv­er was left com­plete­ly acces­si­ble to the pub­lic with no pass­word need­ed for months: Those same hack­able vot­ing machines are the exact same machines set to be used in the upcom­ing munic­i­pal elec­tions, just FYI:

    Brad­Blog

    State AG Quits Defense of GA Sec. of State in Elec­tion ‘Serv­er Wipe’ Case: ‘Brad­Cast’ 11/2/2017
    Guest: Mar­i­lyn Marks, Repub­li­can elec­tion integri­ty advo­cate of Coali­tion for Good Gov­er­nance and Geor­gia elec­tion law­suit plain­tiff...

    By Brad Fried­man on 11/2/2017, 6:21pm PT

    The fall­out — and dis­turb­ing mys­ter­ies — fol­low­ing a law­suit filed in Geor­gia after its U.S. House Spe­cial Elec­tion last June get curi­ouser and curi­ouser, as we learned late last night that the state Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s office has now quit its defense of the Sec­re­tary of State and the state’s oth­er top elec­tion offi­cial defen­dants in the case. We dis­cuss all of those bomb­shells and still-drop­ping shoes with one of the plain­tiffs in the law­suit on today’s Brad­Cast. [Audio link to today’s must-lis­ten show fol­lows below.]

    We’ve been cov­er­ing this entire mess for months now (years, real­ly), but par­tic­u­lar­ly since the law­suit [PDF] was filed in July, after the some­what sur­pris­ing results from June’s U.S. House Spe­cial Elec­tion in Geor­gia’s 6th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, where GA’s for­mer Repub­li­can Sec. of State Karen Han­del report­ed­ly defeat­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Jon Ossoff, but only on the state’s 100% unver­i­fi­able Diebold touch-screen vot­ing sys­tems. (He defeat­ed her near­ly 2 to 1 on the only ver­i­fi­able bal­lots in the race, the mail-in paper votes. Every­thing else regard­ing the results is unver­i­fi­able spec­u­la­tion.)

    Late last week, we learned via Frank Bajak at the Asso­ci­at­ed Press, that tech­ni­cians at Ken­ne­saw State Uni­ver­si­ty’s Cen­ter for Elec­tions, which has been con­tract­ed to pro­gram all of Geor­gia’s com­put­er vot­ing and tab­u­la­tion sys­tems sys­tems for some 15 years, “wiped clean” the elec­tion serv­er that was used to pro­gram the elec­tions, bal­lots and tab­u­la­tors, just days after the suit was filed in July. Its two back­up servers were also sub­se­quent­ly wiped and “degaussed three times” in August, the day after the suit was moved from state to fed­er­al court.

    GA’s chief elec­tion offi­cial, Repub­li­can Sec. of State Bri­an Kemp, claims he knew noth­ing of the serv­er dele­tions until AP’s report last week. Pre­vi­ous­ly, a huge fan of the Cen­ter for Elec­tions at Ken­ne­saw, Kemp cit­ed the “gross incom­pe­tence” and “unde­ni­able inep­ti­tude” of the folks at KSU for what­ev­er hap­pened. Nobody has yet to take cred­it, how­ev­er, for giv­ing the instruc­tions to delete the servers which held crit­i­cal evi­dence that plain­tiffs had hoped to have foren­si­cal­ly inves­ti­gat­ed as part of the law­suit. And then yes­ter­day, in anoth­er flip-flop, Kemp called the entire mat­ter “#fak­e­news”.

    All of that is dis­turb­ing on its own, but even more so in light of rev­e­la­tions ear­li­er this year that the elec­tion serv­er in ques­tion — which stored per­son­al data for all of GA’s 6.7 mil­lion vot­ers and the elec­tron­ic bal­lot pro­gram­ming and admin­is­tra­tive pass­words for the state’s vot­ing and tab­u­la­tion sys­tems — was left com­plete­ly acces­si­ble online, no pass­word nec­es­sary, for at least 6 months. Ken­ne­saw was noti­fied about the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty by a data secu­ri­ty researcher in August of 2016 (months before last year’s Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion), but they failed to secure the serv­er until after Politi­co’s Kim Zetter revealed the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty just pri­or to the GA-06 U.S. House race this year. (Saman­tha Bee’s Full Frontal cov­ered much of the sto­ry up to this point on her show last night, post­ed here.)

    Then, on Wednes­day evening, AP’s Bajak offered anoth­er bomb­shell in report­ing that the Repub­li­can state Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s office, which had been defend­ing Kemp, Ken­ne­saw and the state Elec­tions Board in the mat­ter, has now pulled out from defend­ing them. The rea­sons offered by the state AG and Kem­p’s cam­paign for Gov­er­nor (he’s run­ning in 2018) have con­flict­ed with each oth­er or with known evi­dence obtained dur­ing the mul­ti-par­ti­san law­suit, which a Kemp cam­paign spokesper­son describes to AP yes­ter­day as “a taste­less noth­ing­burg­er cooked up by lib­er­al activists who know their law­suit is noth­ing short of stu­pid.”

    One of those “lib­er­al activist” plain­tiffs, Repub­li­can MARILYN MARKS, a long­time Elec­tion Integri­ty advo­cate and Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Coali­tion for Good Gov­er­nance, joins me today to try and help us all fig­ure out just what the hell is actu­al­ly going on in this increas­ing­ly dis­turb­ing case.

    Marks con­firms that nobody still knows who ordered the serv­er dele­tion, nor why the state AG has dropped out of the case. “It’s an enor­mous mys­tery, and the mys­ter­ies con­tin­ue to increase every day,” she says.

    “I think that Bri­an Kemp is — and right­ful­ly so — get­ting a black eye here,” Marks tells me. “What he has done is shame­ful. There’s no way to explain it. So I’m sure his defend­ers and cam­paign man­agers are doing every­thing they can to go on the offen­sive and try to make oth­er peo­ple look like they are to blame, and that their can­di­date is inno­cent. But I think when peo­ple step back and say, wait a minute, if they erased the servers — and they did it twice — they did it for some rea­son. And it was­n’t because our law­suit was stu­pid.”

    She goes on to explain the “num­ber of con­flict­ing sto­ries that Bri­an Kem­p’s peo­ple are telling” about when and why the com­pro­mised servers were delet­ed and why the AG’s office is no longer will­ing to defend the case. She also details whether any of the infor­ma­tion plain­tiffs had hoped to exam­ine from the servers might still be avail­able in what is believed to be a par­tial copy of the servers obtained by the FBI when they came in to exam­ine the report­ed data breach that occurred ear­li­er this year, when the servers were dis­cov­ered to have been left vul­ner­a­ble online.

    Marks’ appear­ance on today’s show comes just days before Geor­gia vot­ers head to the polls for munic­i­pal elec­tions being held next Tues­day, which will also be over­seen by Kemp, pro­grammed by Ken­ne­saw, and run on the same wild­ly-hack­able, 100% unver­i­fi­able touch-screen vot­ing and tab­u­la­tion sys­tems that lead to this entire mess in the first place. She recent­ly wrote [PDF] to Kemp and oth­er elec­tion offi­cials to ask them to make paper bal­lots avail­able to vot­ers since, as she tells me today, if the sys­tem was con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed dur­ing the months it had been left vul­ner­a­ble on the Inter­net, “They would­n’t have had time, even with­in the last year, to have cleaned up every­thing. Because, as you know, that mal­ware can trav­el down to the mem­o­ry cards, the vot­ing machines, the opti­cal scan­ners, and the jump servers down in the coun­ties. Things could have trav­eled there in the last six months, year, two years — and there’s been no effort to try to dis­in­fect all of the var­i­ous com­po­nents. I mean, there are 27,000 of these touch-screen vot­ing machines in Geor­gia. There’s no way that they should be in use when we know that this sys­tem was sub­ject to a high degree of risk.”

    ...
    ———-
    “State AG Quits Defense of GA Sec. of State in Elec­tion ‘Serv­er Wipe’ Case: ‘Brad­Cast’ 11/2/2017” by Brad Fried­man; Brad­Blog; 11/02/2017

    “We’ve been cov­er­ing this entire mess for months now (years, real­ly), but par­tic­u­lar­ly since the law­suit [PDF] was filed in July, after the some­what sur­pris­ing results from June’s U.S. House Spe­cial Elec­tion in Geor­gia’s 6th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, where GA’s for­mer Repub­li­can Sec. of State Karen Han­del report­ed­ly defeat­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Jon Ossoff, but only on the state’s 100% unver­i­fi­able Diebold touch-screen vot­ing sys­tems. (He defeat­ed her near­ly 2 to 1 on the only ver­i­fi­able bal­lots in the race, the mail-in paper votes. Every­thing else regard­ing the results is unver­i­fi­able spec­u­la­tion.)

    Mys­te­ri­ous unver­i­fi­able Diebold vot­ing machines that Repub­li­cans just hap­pen to exclu­sive­ly win on. Those were at the cen­ter of the law­suit file after the sur­pris­ing results of the June spe­cial elec­tion:

    ...
    Late last week, we learned via Frank Bajak at the Asso­ci­at­ed Press, that tech­ni­cians at Ken­ne­saw State Uni­ver­si­ty’s Cen­ter for Elec­tions, which has been con­tract­ed to pro­gram all of Geor­gia’s com­put­er vot­ing and tab­u­la­tion sys­tems sys­tems for some 15 years, “wiped clean” the elec­tion serv­er that was used to pro­gram the elec­tions, bal­lots and tab­u­la­tors, just days after the suit was filed in July. Its two back­up servers were also sub­se­quent­ly wiped and “degaussed three times” in August, the day after the suit was moved from state to fed­er­al court.
    ...

    And then we learn that the serv­er which stored per­son­al data for all of Geor­gia’s vot­ers and admin­is­tra­tive pass­words for the state’s vot­ing and tab­u­la­tion sys­tems was wiped clean:

    ...
    GA’s chief elec­tion offi­cial, Repub­li­can Sec. of State Bri­an Kemp, claims he knew noth­ing of the serv­er dele­tions until AP’s report last week. Pre­vi­ous­ly, a huge fan of the Cen­ter for Elec­tions at Ken­ne­saw, Kemp cit­ed the “gross incom­pe­tence” and “unde­ni­able inep­ti­tude” of the folks at KSU for what­ev­er hap­pened. Nobody has yet to take cred­it, how­ev­er, for giv­ing the instruc­tions to delete the servers which held crit­i­cal evi­dence that plain­tiffs had hoped to have foren­si­cal­ly inves­ti­gat­ed as part of the law­suit. And then yes­ter­day, in anoth­er flip-flop, Kemp called the entire mat­ter “#fak­e­news”.
    ...

    And then we learn that this same serv­er had been left open to the inter­net for 6 months, mak­ing all of that serv­er con­tent poten­tial­ly avail­able to any­one. And this vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty was left in place even after a secu­ri­ty researcher noti­fied the serv­er admin­is­tra­tor until after this year’s spe­cial elec­tion:

    ...
    All of that is dis­turb­ing on its own, but even more so in light of rev­e­la­tions ear­li­er this year that the elec­tion serv­er in ques­tion — which stored per­son­al data for all of GA’s 6.7 mil­lion vot­ers and the elec­tron­ic bal­lot pro­gram­ming and admin­is­tra­tive pass­words for the state’s vot­ing and tab­u­la­tion sys­tems — was left com­plete­ly acces­si­ble online, no pass­word nec­es­sary, for at least 6 months. Ken­ne­saw was noti­fied about the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty by a data secu­ri­ty researcher in August of 2016 (months before last year’s Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion), but they failed to secure the serv­er until after Politi­co’s Kim Zetter revealed the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty just pri­or to the GA-06 U.S. House race this year. (Saman­tha Bee’s Full Frontal cov­ered much of the sto­ry up to this point on her show last night, post­ed here.)
    ...

    Next we learn that Geor­gia’s Repub­li­can state Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s office is no longer defend­ing the Sec­re­tary of State, Ken­ne­saw, or the state Elec­tions Board on the mat­ter. But we don’t know why the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s office with­drew their sup­port:

    ...
    Then, on Wednes­day evening, AP’s Bajak offered anoth­er bomb­shell in report­ing that the Repub­li­can state Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s office, which had been defend­ing Kemp, Ken­ne­saw and the state Elec­tions Board in the mat­ter, has now pulled out from defend­ing them. The rea­sons offered by the state AG and Kem­p’s cam­paign for Gov­er­nor (he’s run­ning in 2018) have con­flict­ed with each oth­er or with known evi­dence obtained dur­ing the mul­ti-par­ti­san law­suit, which a Kemp cam­paign spokesper­son describes to AP yes­ter­day as “a taste­less noth­ing­burg­er cooked up by lib­er­al activists who know their law­suit is noth­ing short of stu­pid.”

    One of those “lib­er­al activist” plain­tiffs, Repub­li­can MARILYN MARKS, a long­time Elec­tion Integri­ty advo­cate and Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Coali­tion for Good Gov­er­nance, joins me today to try and help us all fig­ure out just what the hell is actu­al­ly going on in this increas­ing­ly dis­turb­ing case.

    Marks con­firms that nobody still knows who ordered the serv­er dele­tion, nor why the state AG has dropped out of the case. “It’s an enor­mous mys­tery, and the mys­ter­ies con­tin­ue to increase every day,” she says.

    “I think that Bri­an Kemp is — and right­ful­ly so — get­ting a black eye here,” Marks tells me. “What he has done is shame­ful. There’s no way to explain it. So I’m sure his defend­ers and cam­paign man­agers are doing every­thing they can to go on the offen­sive and try to make oth­er peo­ple look like they are to blame, and that their can­di­date is inno­cent. But I think when peo­ple step back and say, wait a minute, if they erased the servers — and they did it twice — they did it for some rea­son. And it was­n’t because our law­suit was stu­pid.”
    ...

    And while we have answers to none of the major ques­tions sur­round­ing this case, we do have an answer for one of the most urgent ques­tions raised by this case: Do these same vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties exists today? And the answer is, of course, a resound­ing “Yes”:

    ...
    Marks’ appear­ance on today’s show comes just days before Geor­gia vot­ers head to the polls for munic­i­pal elec­tions being held next Tues­day, which will also be over­seen by Kemp, pro­grammed by Ken­ne­saw, and run on the same wild­ly-hack­able, 100% unver­i­fi­able touch-screen vot­ing and tab­u­la­tion sys­tems that lead to this entire mess in the first place. She recent­ly wrote [PDF] to Kemp and oth­er elec­tion offi­cials to ask them to make paper bal­lots avail­able to vot­ers since, as she tells me today, if the sys­tem was con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed dur­ing the months it had been left vul­ner­a­ble on the Inter­net, “They would­n’t have had time, even with­in the last year, to have cleaned up every­thing. Because, as you know, that mal­ware can trav­el down to the mem­o­ry cards, the vot­ing machines, the opti­cal scan­ners, and the jump servers down in the coun­ties. Things could have trav­eled there in the last six months, year, two years — and there’s been no effort to try to dis­in­fect all of the var­i­ous com­po­nents. I mean, there are 27,000 of these touch-screen vot­ing machines in Geor­gia. There’s no way that they should be in use when we know that this sys­tem was sub­ject to a high degree of risk.”
    ...

    So that’s the dis­turb­ing back­drop for Geor­gia’s vot­ers head­ing into elec­tion day, which is why it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that the most effec­tive way to thwart a rig­gable vot­ing sys­tem is to have large vic­to­ry mar­gins. It’s a lot hard to get away with hack­ing a race that isn’t even close. It might seem counter-intu­itive, but the best way to defeat a sys­tem appar­ent­ly set up to manip­u­late your for vote is to vote. In large num­bers. And ide­al­ly for a par­ty that does­n’t sup­port ram­pant vote manip­u­la­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 6, 2017, 3:59 pm
  10. What a coin­ci­dence: a num­ber of oth­er juris­dic­tions in the US con­tin­ue to use inse­cure elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines with no paper trail. But that’s chang­ing. At least in Geor­gia, Delaware, Philadel­phia where offi­cials are plan­ning on replac­ing their inse­cure vot­ing machines with new machines for 2020. But the new vot­ing machines just hap­pen to still be very vul­ner­a­ble to hack­ing and mass fraud. Sur­prise!

    The new machines these juris­dic­tions are plan­ning on pur­chas­ing are from ES&S. They do at least have a paper trail in the form of paper slips of the selec­tions for each vot­er that can be used for audits and recounts. But here’s the prob­lem: the infor­ma­tion on the paper slips isn’t sim­ply print­ed out. It’s stored both as print­ed text and a bar­code. And if there’s a recount, it’s the bar­code that’s actu­al­ly read in by machines, not the print­ed text. And that means it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble for hack­ers to exe­cute a hack where the print­ed text accu­rate­ly reflects the selec­tion of the vot­er but the bar­code reflects hacked vote selec­tions. Secu­ri­ty experts, includ­ing those at the Nation­al Acad­e­mies of Sci­ences, Engi­neer­ing and Med­i­cine, are already warn­ing that this bar­code tech­nol­o­gy is vul­ner­a­ble, but offi­cials in these juris­dic­tions have decid­ed that this is secure enough and they’re going to go ahead with putting these machines in place by 2020:

    Politi­co

    State elec­tion offi­cials opt for 2020 vot­ing machines vul­ner­a­ble to hack­ing

    The new machines still pose unac­cept­able risks in an elec­tion that U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials expect to be a prime tar­get for dis­rup­tion by coun­tries such as Rus­sia and Chi­na.

    By ERIC GELLER
    03/01/2019 05:30 PM EST

    Elec­tion offi­cials in some states and cities are plan­ning to replace their inse­cure vot­ing machines with tech­nol­o­gy that is still vul­ner­a­ble to hack­ing.

    The machines that Geor­gia, Delaware, Philadel­phia and per­haps many oth­er juris­dic­tions will buy before 2020 are an improve­ment over the total­ly paper­less devices that have gen­er­at­ed con­tro­ver­sy for more than 15 years, elec­tion secu­ri­ty experts and vot­ing integri­ty advo­cates say. But they warn that these new machines still pose unac­cept­able risks in an elec­tion that U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials expect to be a prime tar­get for dis­rup­tion by coun­tries such as Rus­sia and Chi­na.

    The new machines, like the ones they’re replac­ing, allow vot­ers to use a touch­screen to select their choic­es. But they also print out a slip of paper with the vote both dis­played in plain text and embed­ded in a bar­code — a hard copy that, in the­o­ry, would make it hard­er for hack­ers to silent­ly manip­u­late the results.

    Secu­ri­ty experts warn, how­ev­er, that hack­ers could still manip­u­late the bar­codes with­out vot­ers notic­ing. The Nation­al Acad­e­mies of Sci­ences, Engi­neer­ing and Med­i­cine has also warned against trust­ing the bar­code-based devices with­out more research, say­ing they “raise secu­ri­ty and ver­i­fi­a­bil­i­ty con­cerns.”

    That hasn’t stopped some states from forg­ing ahead, how­ev­er, as they face pres­sure to retire their out­dat­ed paper­less machines before the next pres­i­den­tial race.

    The replace­ments, known as bal­lot-mark­ing devices, are “a rel­a­tive­ly new and untest­ed tech­nol­o­gy,” said J. Alex Hal­der­man, a vot­ing secu­ri­ty expert who teach­es at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan. “And it’s con­cern­ing that juris­dic­tions are rush­ing to pur­chase them before even basic ques­tions have been answered.”

    Many states have adopt­ed what experts call a much more secure option — paper bal­lots that vot­ers mark with a pen or pen­cil and that are then scanned and tal­lied. But elec­tion offi­cials in Geor­gia, Delaware and Philadel­phia have reject­ed that option in favor of the bar­code devices, say­ing they are secure enough and bet­ter suit­ed for many vot­ers with dis­abil­i­ties.

    Philadel­phia city com­mis­sion­ers on Feb. 20 select­ed a bar­code sys­tem called the ExpressVote XL from the major ven­dor Elec­tion Sys­tems & Soft­ware, despite warn­ings about the risks. So did Delaware, which in Sep­tem­ber chose the ExpressVote XL as part of a $13 mil­lion over­haul of elec­tion equip­ment.

    Ear­li­er this week, Geor­gia law­mak­ers advanced a bill to approve the bar­code devices in a 101–72 vote that split along par­ty lines. Democ­rats tend­ed to agree with experts who have said the machines are still too vul­ner­a­ble.

    “Right now, we do not have the abil­i­ty to con­duct elec­tions safe­ly and secure­ly and be able to cor­rect­ly audit them,” Demo­c­ra­t­ic Geor­gia state Rep. Jas­mine Clark told POLITICO. “When it comes to peo­ple being able to access the demo­c­ra­t­ic and make sure their vote is count­ed, paper is the way to go.”

    Repub­li­cans large­ly hailed the tech­nol­o­gy. “We can put our vot­ers first in Geor­gia and bring us into the 21st cen­tu­ry,” Repub­li­can state Rep. Bar­ry Flem­ing said after the vote, accord­ing to The Atlanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion.

    Geor­gia has long been at the cen­ter of the debate over inse­cure vot­ing tech­nol­o­gy. Elec­tion integri­ty groups unsuc­cess­ful­ly sued to ban the state’s paper­less vot­ing machines before then-Sec­re­tary of State Bri­an Kemp’s 2018 guber­na­to­r­i­al vic­to­ry over Demo­c­rat Stacey Abrams. A judge agreed that the paper­less machines posed an unac­cept­able risk but ruled that it would have been too dis­rup­tive to change sys­tems months ahead of the elec­tion.

    In Jan­u­ary, a com­mis­sion cre­at­ed by Kemp rec­om­mend­ed replac­ing those paper­less machines with bar­code devices. Elec­tion secu­ri­ty experts had urged the com­mit­tee to instead rec­om­mend a paper-based sys­tem.

    States, cities and coun­ties switch­ing to new tech­nol­o­gy will prob­a­bly have to live with their choic­es for years to come, giv­en the expense and dif­fi­cul­ty of chang­ing sys­tems.

    The dis­pute over the bal­lot-mark­ing devices cen­ters on the fact that they use bar­codes, which can be read by scan­ners but not by humans. Though the paper records also dis­play a voter’s choic­es in plain text, which the vot­er can dou­ble-check, the bar­code is the part that gets tal­lied.

    The dan­ger: Hack­ers who infil­trate a bal­lot-mark­ing device could mod­i­fy the bar­code so its vote data dif­fers from what’s in the print­ed text. If this hap­pened, a vot­er would have no way of spot­ting it.

    “We sim­ply don’t know whether BMDs can gen­er­ate a paper trail that’s suf­fi­cient­ly hard for attack­ers to manip­u­late,” Hal­der­man said.

    Even so, many state and local offi­cials believe that the bal­lot-mark­ing devices are a vast improve­ment over a ful­ly paper­less sys­tem. Bal­lot-mark­ing devices also address acces­si­bil­i­ty con­cerns about total­ly paper-based sys­tems.

    While elec­tion secu­ri­ty advo­cates have sug­gest­ed precincts use paper-based sys­tems for most vot­ers and a few bal­lot-mark­ing devices with­out bar­codes for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, dis­abil­i­ty-rights advo­cates say that set­ting aside spe­cial machines amounts to a dis­crim­i­na­to­ry sys­tem.

    Giv­en that dis­pute, bal­lot-mark­ing devices strike many elec­tion offi­cials as a rea­son­able com­pro­mise.

    “It’s crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant that we make vot­ing eas­i­er and equal­ly acces­si­ble for all Philadel­phi­ans while also con­sid­er­ing the need for a secure, resilient vot­ing sys­tem,” Al Schmidt, a mem­ber of the Philadel­phia City Com­mis­sion, said in a Feb. 20 state­ment after the group vot­ed to select the ES&S ExpressVote XL. “Every vot­er in Philadel­phia should be con­fi­dent that their bal­lots are cast secure­ly, and their votes are count­ed accu­rate­ly, and our new, auditable paper bal­lot sys­tem will help ensure that.”

    But the bar­code-based set­up “makes a mock­ery of the notion that the bal­lot is ‘vot­er-ver­i­fi­able,’” said Dun­can Buell, a com­put­er sci­ence pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Car­oli­na, because “what the vot­er ver­i­fies is not what is tal­lied.”

    “It basi­cal­ly turns the sys­tem into one that has all of the well-known prob­lems that paper­less … vot­ing machines have,” said Matt Blaze, a com­put­er sci­ence and law pro­fes­sor at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty. “You have to trust the soft­ware that’s being used to cast the vote.”

    “This bad bal­lot-mark­ing tech­nol­o­gy is a real­ly unfor­tu­nate devel­op­ment,” he added, “and it’s one that I’m hope­ful will not pro­lif­er­ate.”

    In a land­mark report pub­lished last year, the Nation­al Acad­e­mies rec­om­mend­ed against vot­ing devices that tal­ly bar­codes. “Elec­tron­ic vot­ing sys­tems that do not pro­duce a human-read­able paper bal­lot of record raise secu­ri­ty and ver­i­fi­a­bil­i­ty con­cerns,” it said. “Addi­tion­al research on bal­lots pro­duced by BMDs will be nec­es­sary to under­stand the effec­tive­ness of such bal­lots.”

    Not every expert agrees. Joe Kiniry, CEO and chief sci­en­tist at the elec­tion tech­nol­o­gy firm Free & Fair, said forth­com­ing vot­ing secu­ri­ty guide­lines from the fed­er­al Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion would require bar­code for­mats to adhere to a pub­licly defined and ver­i­fi­able for­mat. (Those guide­lines, how­ev­er, are option­al for states to adopt.)

    “We will only see bar­code-like things that have open for­mats and are actu­al­ly use­ful for real­iz­ing trust­wor­thy elec­tions,” Kiniry said.

    In a state­ment to POLITICO, ES&S called the ExpressVote XL “thor­ough­ly test­ed and proven.”

    But Richard DeMil­lo, a pro­fes­sor at the Geor­gia Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy, said he wor­ried that Georgia’s and Philadelphia’s bal­lot-mark­ing devices “will be a step back­ward” from their cur­rent “noto­ri­ous­ly inse­cure and unman­age­able” machines.

    ...
    ———–

    “State elec­tion offi­cials opt for 2020 vot­ing machines vul­ner­a­ble to hack­ing” by ERIC GELLER; Politi­co; 03/01/2019

    “Many states have adopt­ed what experts call a much more secure option — paper bal­lots that vot­ers mark with a pen or pen­cil and that are then scanned and tal­lied. But elec­tion offi­cials in Geor­gia, Delaware and Philadel­phia have reject­ed that option in favor of the bar­code devices, say­ing they are secure enough and bet­ter suit­ed for many vot­ers with dis­abil­i­ties.”

    The bar­code paper trail is ‘secure enough’. That’s the con­clu­sion of elec­tion offi­cials in Geor­gia, Delaware, and Philadel­phia despite that the fact that secu­ri­ty experts are warn­ing that this sys­tem still has the exact­ly same fun­da­men­tal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty that paper­less vot­ing sys­tems have: they can be hacked with­out vot­ers notic­ing because its the bar­code, not the print­ed text, that’s actu­al­ly used to read the paper slips:

    ...
    The new machines, like the ones they’re replac­ing, allow vot­ers to use a touch­screen to select their choic­es. But they also print out a slip of paper with the vote both dis­played in plain text and embed­ded in a bar­code — a hard copy that, in the­o­ry, would make it hard­er for hack­ers to silent­ly manip­u­late the results.

    Secu­ri­ty experts warn, how­ev­er, that hack­ers could still manip­u­late the bar­codes with­out vot­ers notic­ing. The Nation­al Acad­e­mies of Sci­ences, Engi­neer­ing and Med­i­cine has also warned against trust­ing the bar­code-based devices with­out more research, say­ing they “raise secu­ri­ty and ver­i­fi­a­bil­i­ty con­cerns.”

    That hasn’t stopped some states from forg­ing ahead, how­ev­er, as they face pres­sure to retire their out­dat­ed paper­less machines before the next pres­i­den­tial race.

    The replace­ments, known as bal­lot-mark­ing devices, are “a rel­a­tive­ly new and untest­ed tech­nol­o­gy,” said J. Alex Hal­der­man, a vot­ing secu­ri­ty expert who teach­es at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan. “And it’s con­cern­ing that juris­dic­tions are rush­ing to pur­chase them before even basic ques­tions have been answered.”

    ...

    The dis­pute over the bal­lot-mark­ing devices cen­ters on the fact that they use bar­codes, which can be read by scan­ners but not by humans. Though the paper records also dis­play a voter’s choic­es in plain text, which the vot­er can dou­ble-check, the bar­code is the part that gets tal­lied.

    The dan­ger: Hack­ers who infil­trate a bal­lot-mark­ing device could mod­i­fy the bar­code so its vote data dif­fers from what’s in the print­ed text. If this hap­pened, a vot­er would have no way of spot­ting it.

    “We sim­ply don’t know whether BMDs can gen­er­ate a paper trail that’s suf­fi­cient­ly hard for attack­ers to manip­u­late,” Hal­der­man said.

    ...

    But the bar­code-based set­up “makes a mock­ery of the notion that the bal­lot is ‘vot­er-ver­i­fi­able,’” said Dun­can Buell, a com­put­er sci­ence pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Car­oli­na, because “what the vot­er ver­i­fies is not what is tal­lied.”

    “It basi­cal­ly turns the sys­tem into one that has all of the well-known prob­lems that paper­less … vot­ing machines have,” said Matt Blaze, a com­put­er sci­ence and law pro­fes­sor at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty. “You have to trust the soft­ware that’s being used to cast the vote.”

    “This bad bal­lot-mark­ing tech­nol­o­gy is a real­ly unfor­tu­nate devel­op­ment,” he added, “and it’s one that I’m hope­ful will not pro­lif­er­ate.”
    ...

    “It basi­cal­ly turns the sys­tem into one that has all of the well-known prob­lems that paper­less … vot­ing machines have...You have to trust the soft­ware that’s being used to cast the vote.”

    Giv­en the obvi­ous prob­lems with this sys­tem, it should prob­a­bly come as no sur­prise that when Geor­gia law­mak­ers advanced a bill to approve of these bar­code machines the votes split long par­ty lines. Repub­li­can law­mak­ers hailed the vul­ner­a­ble tech­nol­o­gy as ‘bring­ing Geor­gia into the 21st cen­tu­ry’, of course:

    ...
    Philadel­phia city com­mis­sion­ers on Feb. 20 select­ed a bar­code sys­tem called the ExpressVote XL from the major ven­dor Elec­tion Sys­tems & Soft­ware, despite warn­ings about the risks. So did Delaware, which in Sep­tem­ber chose the ExpressVote XL as part of a $13 mil­lion over­haul of elec­tion equip­ment.

    Ear­li­er this week, Geor­gia law­mak­ers advanced a bill to approve the bar­code devices in a 101–72 vote that split along par­ty lines. Democ­rats tend­ed to agree with experts who have said the machines are still too vul­ner­a­ble.

    “Right now, we do not have the abil­i­ty to con­duct elec­tions safe­ly and secure­ly and be able to cor­rect­ly audit them,” Demo­c­ra­t­ic Geor­gia state Rep. Jas­mine Clark told POLITICO. “When it comes to peo­ple being able to access the demo­c­ra­t­ic and make sure their vote is count­ed, paper is the way to go.”

    Repub­li­cans large­ly hailed the tech­nol­o­gy. “We can put our vot­ers first in Geor­gia and bring us into the 21st cen­tu­ry,” Repub­li­can state Rep. Bar­ry Flem­ing said after the vote, accord­ing to The Atlanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion.
    ...

    Keep in mind that Geor­gia has long been the state with the most vot­ing machine anom­alies in the 21st cen­tu­ry so far, start­ing in 2002 when elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines were first pushed on the states by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. For instances, the com­put­er run­ning the Geor­gia state elec­tion sys­tems was com­plete­ly wiped just days after a law­suit was filed by a group of vot­ers suing to demon­strate the unre­li­a­bil­i­ty of the state elec­tion sys­tems in 2017. All the back­ups were wiped too. And as the arti­cle notes, Geor­gia was actu­al­ly sued over its inse­cure vot­ing machines last year in an effort to pre­vent the machines from being used in the 2018 elec­tions and a judge agreed that the exist­ing paper­less machines posed an unac­cept­able risk. But the judge also deter­mined that there was­n’t enough time to replace them before elec­tion day. So it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly omi­nous to see Geor­gia on the list of states where these bar­code sys­tems are being embraced. Espe­cial­ly when only the Repub­li­cans are doing the embrac­ing:

    ...
    Geor­gia has long been at the cen­ter of the debate over inse­cure vot­ing tech­nol­o­gy. Elec­tion integri­ty groups unsuc­cess­ful­ly sued to ban the state’s paper­less vot­ing machines before then-Sec­re­tary of State Bri­an Kemp’s 2018 guber­na­to­r­i­al vic­to­ry over Demo­c­rat Stacey Abrams. A judge agreed that the paper­less machines posed an unac­cept­able risk but ruled that it would have been too dis­rup­tive to change sys­tems months ahead of the elec­tion.

    In Jan­u­ary, a com­mis­sion cre­at­ed by Kemp rec­om­mend­ed replac­ing those paper­less machines with bar­code devices. Elec­tion secu­ri­ty experts had urged the com­mit­tee to instead rec­om­mend a paper-based sys­tem.

    States, cities and coun­ties switch­ing to new tech­nol­o­gy will prob­a­bly have to live with their choic­es for years to come, giv­en the expense and dif­fi­cul­ty of chang­ing sys­tems.
    ...

    So a judge ruled just last year that, yes, Geor­gia’s vot­ing machines posed an unac­cept­able risk. Then a com­mis­sion set up by Bri­an Kemp, who was defend­ing the exist­ing vot­ing machines in that law suit, rec­om­mends replac­ing Geor­gia’s machines with new machines that just hap­pen to basi­cal­ly pose the same hack­ing risk. That’s not super sus­pi­cious or any­thing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 5, 2019, 5:03 pm

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