Monday, May 30, 2005

Miami Dade to Oust Voting Machines That Failed to Count Past Six Elections

Posted on Sat, May. 28, 2005

ELECTIONS
Voting system change in Dade likely

The Miami-Dade elections supervisor recommended switching from electronic voting machines to optical scanners, citing poor voter confidence and high costs.

BY NOAKI SCHWARTZ AND TERE FIGUERAS NEGRETE
nschwartz@herald.com

Miami-Dade is poised to be the first place in the nation to ditch the iVotronics paperless voting machines for paper-based balloting after the county's top election supervisor on Friday issued a memo ''strongly recommending'' the change.

''I don't know of any other jurisdiction that has been using iVotronics that has moved to a paper-based system,'' said Ken Fields, a spokesman for Election Systems & Software, the company that makes the machines. ``In fact, to the contrary, jurisdictions around the country have increasingly seen the value of the iVotronic technology.''

County Manager George Burgess forwarded election chief Lester Sola's report to county commissioners -- but cautioned that he has to give the question of ditching the iVotronics a complete review. Still, if commissioners vote in favor of the change, it could be a public relations black eye for ES&S, which sold the machines to Miami-Dade in 2002 for $24.5 million.

Broward County also uses ES&S machines.

Dade is one of ES&S' biggest clients. The company has more than 40,000 units in 20 states.

But with declining voter confidence and election day labor costs that have more than quadrupled, Sola said optical scanners could save big money.

If the county scraps the iVotronics, getting the new machines would take more than a year. County officials have been careful not to imply that the machines are faulty. The touch-screens are state certified and will continue to be used in upcoming elections while the issue is debated.

County leaders would have to choose one of seven optical scanners offered by three different vendors, including ES&S -- a process that could take seven months. The county would need 1,600 optical scanners, which cost as much as $6,000 each and take up to nine months to arrive.

Sola said they would have to spend $9.4 million to $12.3 million to equip the county's 749 precincts with the new machines. But he expects they could recoup the purchase price in a few election cycles through savings in operating costs and that the transition would be relatively smooth because the county already uses a handful of optical scanners to count absentee ballots.

''In fact, based on the initial analysis, the county could save more than $13.21 million over five years,'' Sola wrote.

The ATM style touch-screens were heralded as the best way to deliver Miami-Dade from under the clouds of the notorious 2000 presidential recount.

''That decision was based on the best information we had at the time. We were coming off the chads,'' said County Commissioner Katy Sorenson.

News of Sola's memo prompted U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, a longtime touch-screen critic, to urge Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood to study the accuracy of the voting machines in all touch-screen counties.

The move to ditch the iVotronics accelerated in April when elections chief Constance Kaplan resigned after her department found that human error led to hundreds of votes being tossed out in recent elections.

Days later, Burgess asked Sola to assess whether optical scanners, which count votes marked on ''bubble sheets,'' would deliver more accurate results. Burgess also wanted information on how much a switch would cost and how much it might save in the long run.

After the 2000 election debacle, county officials went with what they considered the most sophisticated technology around -- touch-screen voting machines. Miami-Dade bought 7,200 iVotronics, a paperless machine that stores votes on hard drives and discs.

In all, 16 of Florida's 67 counties chose touch-screen machines, including Broward. Other counties with large urban centers, except Orlando's Orange County, followed Miami-Dade's lead, choosing ES&S.

But in the machines' first major test, the September 2002 primary, Election Day was a disaster in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Complications with the machines prevented polls from opening on time, leading to the intervention of the governor.

The machines had relatively few glitches in later votes. But most recently, a coding error led to hundreds of ballots being thrown out in the March special referendum on slot machines. The same mistake was found in five other municipal elections, but Kaplan said the number of missing votes would not have affected outcomes.

In addition, the cost of the actual elections has escalated. There is about one election countywide each year and 30 or so municipal races. Sola's memo said that previous punch-card countywide elections cost about $1.5 million -- a price tag that has mushroomed to as much as $8 million with the iVotronics.

The county must replace the back-up batteries on the machines for about $1 million and the batteries on the cartridges used to program the machines for another $61,504. And, with an increase in registered voters, Sola said he expected the county would need to buy 1,000 more machines before 2008 for another $4 million.

In Broward, there is no effort to replace the iVotronics the county purchased for $17.2 million in late 2001.

Sola's memo already has the support of some commissioners.

''It doesn't really make any sense to put more money into these machines that nobody trusts,'' Sorenson said.

Either way, the county will continue to pay for its decision to buy iVotronics -- at least for the next seven years. It owes ES&S $20.5 million.

Staff writer Erika Bolstad contributed to this report.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/11759284.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp

© 2005 Herald.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.miami.com

Miami Dade FL to Throw Out $24 M in Ivotronic Touchscreens

These voting machines about to be thrown out by Miami Dade Co. are ES&S iVotronics. Contrary to the sentence citing 'due to human error' the machines are being ditched by this county after the discovery of software and machine 'bugs' that failed to count the votes in the past six FL elections - and even took votes from machines not in use adding them into the election totals. We vote on these machines in Pulaski, & Faulkner - Boone Co. used them in Nov, same software.

If there's no action, AR is likely to see iVotronics in all 75 counties. SOS Charlie Daniels 501-682-1010. Push for Accupoll DRE's with optical scanners in the precincts. That's the best we can do for now. We don't know if Accupoll works any better or any worse, but we do know they don't have a history of corruption and bribing election officials. Optical scanners are full of problems, but there is a paper ballot to use when the machines crash that you won't have on DRE's in the seven counties.

Accupoll has the paper ballot, printer and disabled device already equipped on it.


*************


From VotersUnite.org: The big news for today is the announcement from Miami-Dade County that they now realize that they made a mistake when they chose to go with DREs. This realization was made possible by the poorly designed machines and because the election director who bought and fought to keep the machines is no longer in a position where she has to defend her terrible decision. The truth has now come out. This story should be repeated to every state and local election official who has bought DREs or who may be buying DREs in the future.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/miami/sfl-delections28may28,0,6680437.story?coll=sfla-news-miami

Miami-Dade's elections chief urges new system
By Chrystian Tejedor and Ihosvani Rodriguez
Sun-Sentinel

May 28, 2005

After repeated embarrassing glitches at the polls, elections officials in Miami-Dade County have recommended scrapping the county's $24.5 million electronic voting system in favor of paper ballots with optical scanners.

Supervisor of Elections Lester Sola made the recommendation Friday in an initial analysis of the county's voting system and the feasibility of adopting a new one. In his report, Sola said that adopting the simpler system could save county taxpayers millions and restore voter confidence by providing a paper record of ballots cast.

In April, an outraged Mayor Carlos Alvarez requested a study on the merits of the optical scan system after revelations that the Elections Department lost hundreds of votes during the March 8 slot machine referendum because of a coding error.

The revelations led former Supervisor of Elections Constance Kaplan to resign on March 31 and were the latest embarrassing chapter in the county's elections. Sola took over the same day.

Alvarez also fumed that the current system has increased the cost of running an election to about $7 million per election.

Sola's report comes days after a voter advocacy group released a disparaging report that cited a litany of problems during last fall's general elections, among them malfunctioning voting machines.

After County Manager George Burgess reviews Sola's report, the issue could head to county commissioners, who could decide to switch systems Sola estimated that replacing the voting machines with paper ballots and optical scanners would take at least 15 months.

Alvarez was attending a funeral late Friday and could not be reached for comment, staff said. In a one-paragraph written statement, Burgess said he would meet with Sola in the coming weeks before making any specific recommendation.

In his report, Sola recommended that county leaders move carefully in exploring purchasing a new system.

But Sola said an initial analysis showed that the county would save more than $13 million over five years with an optical scan system through lower operating costs and the elimination of costly maintenance expenses.

Staff Writer Madeline Baro-Diaz contributed to this report.

Ihosvani Rodriguez can be reached at ijrodriguez@sun-sentinel.com or 305-810-5005.

Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

*******

Optical Scanners Hacked Into - 'Phoned Home'

http://arkansasvotewatch.blogspot.com/2005/04/top-10-reasons-for-paper-ballots-on_22.html

NCVV: We currently have optical scanners in use in 48 of 75 AR counties, with more on the way. # 2 of the Top 10 Reasons for Paper Ballots on Evoting Machines states the machines are not hacker proof, something all election officials vehemently deny. I first wrote that in 2003. LB

=======

"None of the attacks left any telltale marks, rendering all audits
and logs useless, except for hand-counting all the paper ballots".

http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?
file=/1954/5921.html

Posted on Friday, May 27, 2005 - 05:03 pm:           

---------------------------------------------------------------------
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Tallahassee, FL: "Are we having fun yet?"

This is the message that appeared in the window of a county optical
scan machine, startling Leon County Information Systems Officer
Thomas James. Visibly shaken, he immediately turned the machine off.

Diebold's opti-scan (paper ballot) voting system uses a curious
memory card design, offering penetration by a lone programmer such
that standard canvassing procedures cannot detect election
manipulation.

The Diebold optical scan system was used in about 800 jurisdictions
in 2004. Among them were several hotbeds of controversy: Volusia
County (FL); King County (WA); and the New Hampshire primary
election, where machine results differed markedly from hand-counted
localities.

New regs: Counting paper ballots forbidden

Most states prohibit elections officials from checking on optical
scan tallies by examining the paper ballots. In Washington,
Secretary of State Sam Reed declared such spontaneous checkups to
be "unauthorized recounts" and prohibited them altogether. New
Florida regulations will forbid counting paper ballots, even in
recounts, except in highly unusual circumstances. Without paper
ballot hand-counts, the hacks demonstrated below show that optical-
scan elections can be destroyed in seconds.

A little man living in every ballot box

The Diebold optical scan system uses a dangerous programming
methodology, with an executable program living inside the electronic
ballot box. This method is the equivalent of having a little man
living in the ballot box, holding an eraser and a pencil. With an
executable program in the memory card, no Diebold opti-scan ballot
box can be considered "empty" at the start of the election.

The Black Box Voting team proved that the Diebold optical scan
program, housed on a chip inside the voting machine, places a call
to a program living in the removable memory card during the
election. The demonstration also showed that the executable program
on the memory card (ballot box) can easily be changed, and that
checks and balances, required by FEC standards to catch unauthorized
changes, were not implemented by Diebold -- yet the system was
certified anyway.

The Diebold system in Leon County, Florida succumbed to multiple
attacks.

Ion Sancho: Truth and Excellence in Elections

Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho and Information Systems
Officer Thomas James had already implemented security procedures in
Leon County far exceeding the norm in elections management. This
testing, done by a team of researchers including Black Box Voting,
independent filmmakers, security expert Dr. Herbert Thompson, and
special consultant Harri Hursti, was authorized by Mr. Sancho, in an
unusual act of openness and courage, to identify any remaining holes
in Leon County's election security.

The results of the memory card hack demonstration will assist
elections supervisors throughout the U.S., by emphasizing the
critical importance of accounting for each and every memory card and
protecting access.

Findings:

Computer expert Harri Hursti gained control over Leon County memory
cards, which handle the vote-reporting from the precincts. Dr.
Herbert Thompson, a security expert, took control of the Leon County
central tabulator by implanting a trojan horse-like script.

Two programmers can become a lone programmer, says Hursti, who has
figured out a way to control the entire central tabulator by way of
a single memory card swap, and also how to make tampered polling
place tapes match tampered central tabulator results. This more
complex approach is untested, but based on testing performed May 26,
Hursti says he has absolutely no reason to believe it wouldn't work.

Three memory card tests demonstrated successful manipulation of
election results, and showed that 1990 and 2002 FEC-required
safeguards are being violated in the Diebold version 1.94 opti-scan
system.

Three memory card hacks

1. An altered memory card (electronic ballot box) was substituted
for a real one. The optical scan machine performed seamlessly,
issuing a report that looked like the real thing. No checksum
captured the change in the executable program Diebold designed into
the memory card.

2. A second altered memory card was demonstrated, using a program
that was shorter than the original. It still worked, showing that
there is also no check for the number of bytes in the program.

3. A third altered memory card was demonstrated with the votes
themselves changed, showing that the data block (votes) can be
altered without triggering any error message.

How to "Roll over the odometer" in Diebold optical scan machines

Integer overflow checks do not seem to exist in this system, making
it possible to stuff the ballot box without triggering any error
message. This would be like pre-loading minus 100 votes for Tom and
plus 100 votes for Rick (-100+100=ZERO) -- changing the candidate
totals without changing the overall number of votes.

A more precise comparison would be this: The odometer on a car rolls
over to zero after 999,999. In the Diebold system tested, the
rollover to zero happens at 65,536 votes. By pre-loading 65,511
votes for a candidate, after 25 real votes appear (65,511 plus 25 =
65,536) the report "rolls over" so that the candidate's total is
ZERO.

This manipulation can be balanced out by preloading votes for
candidate "A" at 65,511 and candidate "B" at 25 votes -- producing
an articifial 50-vote spread between the candidates, which will not
be obvious after the first 25 votes for candidate "A" roll over to
zero. The "negative 25" votes from the odometer rollover
counterbalance the "plus 25" votes for the other candidates, making
the total number of votes cast at the end of the day exactly equal
to the number of voters.

While testing the hack on the Leon County optical scan machine,
Hursti was stunned to find that pre-stuffing the ballot box to "roll
over the odometer" produced no error message whatsoever.*

*We did not have the opportunity to scan ballots after stuffing the
ballot box. Therefore, the rollover to zero was not tested in Leon
County. This integer overflow capability is discernable in the
program itself. We did have the opportunity to test a pre-stuffed
ballot box, which showed that pre-loaded ballot boxes do not trigger
any error message.

Simple tweaks to pass L&A test and survive zero tape

Though the additional tweaks were not demonstrated at the Leon
County elections office, Hursti believes that the integer overflow
hack can be covered up on the "zero tape" produced at the beginning
of the election. The programming to cover up manipulations during
the "logic & accuracy test" is even simpler, since the program
allows you to specify on which reports (and, if you like, date and
time of day) the manipulation will affect.

The testing demonstrated, using the actual voting system used in a
real elections office, that Diebold programmers developed a system
that sacrifices security in favor of dangerously flexible
programming, violating FEC standards and calling the actions of ITA
testing labs and certifiers into question.

In the case of Leon County, inside access was used to achieve the
hacks, but there are numerous ways to introduce the hacks without
inside access. Outside access methods will be described in the
technical report to be released in mid-June.

Security concerns

Putting an executable program into removable memory card "ballot
boxes" -- and then programming the opti-scan chip to call and invoke
whatever program is in the live ballot box during the middle of an
election -- is a mind-boggling design from a security standpoint.
Combining this idiotic design with a program that doesn't even check
to see whether someone has tampered with it constitutes negligence
and should result in a product recall.

Counties that purchased the Diebold 1.94 optical scan machines
should not pay for any upgraded program; instead, Diebold should be
required to recall the faulty program and correct the problem at its
own expense.

None of the attacks left any telltale marks, rendering all audits
and logs useless, except for hand-counting all the paper ballots.

Is it real? Or is it Memorex?

For example, Election Supervisor Ion Sancho was unable to tell, at
first, whether the poll tape printed with manipulated results was
the real thing. Only the message at the end of the tape, which
read "Is this real? Or is it Memorex?" identified the tape as a
tampered version of results.

In another test, Congresswoman Corrine Brown (FL-Dem) was shocked to
see the impact of a trojan implanted by Dr. Herbert Thompson. She
asked if the program could be manipulated in such a way as to flip
every fifth vote.

"No problem," Dr. Thompson replied.

"It IS a problem. It's a PROBLEM!" exclaimed Brown, whose district
includes the troubled Volusia County, along with Duval County --
both currently using the Diebold opti-scan system.

This system is also used in Congressman John Conyers' home district,
in contentious King County, Washington, and in Lucas County, Ohio
(where six election officials resigned or were suspended after many
irregularities were found.)

Diebold optical scans were used in San Diego for its ill-fated
mayoral election in Nov. 2004.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Optical scan systems have paper ballots, but election officials are
crippled in their ability to hand count these ballots due to
restrictive state regulations and budget limitations.

The canvassing (audit) procedure used to certify results from
optical scan systems involves comparing the "poll tapes" (cash
register-like results receipts) with the printout from the central
tabulator. These tests demonstrate that both results can be
manipulated easily and quickly.

Minimum requirements to perform this hack:

1. A single specimen memory card from any county using the Diebold
1.94 optical scan series. (These cards were seen scattered on tables
in King County, piled in baskets accessible to the public in
Georgia, and jumbled on desktops in Volusia county.)

2. A copy of the compiler for the AccuBasic program. (These
compilers have been fairly widely distributed by Diebold and its
predecessor company, and there are workarounds if no compiler is
available.)

3. Modest working language of any one of the higher level computer
languages (Pascal, C, Cobol, Basic, Fortran...) along with
introductory-level knowledge of assembler or machine language.
(Machine language knowledge needed is less than an advanced
refrigerator or TV repairmen needs. The optical scan system is much
simpler than modern appliances).

The existence of the executable program in the memory card was
discernable from a review of the Diebold memos. The test hacks took
just a few hours for Black Box Voting consultants to develop.

Nearly 800 jurisdictions conducted a presidential election on this
system. This system is so profoundly hackable that an advanced-level
TV repairman can manipulate votes on it.

Black Box Voting asked Dr. Thompson and Hursti to examine the
central tabulator and the optical scan system after becoming
concerned that not enough attention had been paid to optical scans,
tabulators and remote access.

Thompson and Hursti each found the vulnerabilities for their
respective hacks in less than 24 hours.

"Open for Business"

When it comes to this optical-scan system, as Hursti says, "It's not
that they left the door open. There is no door. This system is 'open
for business.'"

The question now is: How brisk has business been? Based on this new
evidence, it is time to sequester and examine the memory cards used
with Diebold optical scans in Nov. 2004.

The popularity of tamper-friendly machines that are "open for
business" in heavily Democratic areas may explain the lethargy with
which Democratic leaders have been approaching voting machine
security concerns.

The enthusiasm with which Republicans have endorsed machines with no
paper ballots at all indicates that neither party really wants to
have intact auditing of elections.

The ease with which a system -- which clearly violates dozens of FEC
standards going back to 1990 -- was certified calls into question
the honesty, competence, and personal financial transactions of both
testing labs and NASED certifiers.

Revamp and update hand-counted paper ballot technology?

Perhaps it is time to revisit the idea of hand-counted paper
ballots, printed by machines for legibility, with color-coded
choices for quick, easy, accurate sorting and counting. We should
also take another look at bringing counting teams in when the polls
close, to relieve tired poll workers.

This report is the "non-techie" version of a longer report, to be
made available around mid-June, with more technical information.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT GRANTED AS LONG AS YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO
http://www.blackboxvoting.org

Friday, May 20, 2005

WA County Sticks With Optical Scanners, Plus Touchscreen for Disabled Voters

NCVV: Oh well, we did what we could to inform these people for three years. At the very least when the scanners fail there will be a paper ballot to hand count, if it's detected.


County decides to stick with pencil-and-paper voting method

BY MARSHA L. MELNICHAK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Friday, May 20, 2005

URL: http://www.nwanews.com/story/nwat/28341

Washington County voters will continue to cast their ballots on paper and will still be able to watch their election commissioners count those ballots on a scanner at the county courthouse on election nights, following a unanimous vote by Election Commissioners on Thursday.

Commissioners voted to add one electronic voting machine at each of the 59 polling places in the county to be available to persons with disabilities. That machine, along with a required voter education program, will help the county meet minimum requirements of the Help America Vote Act, according to information from the office of the Secretary of State.

Most

of the county’s 80,000 registered voters will vote as they have in the past, on paper ballots. However, any voter may use the electronic voting machine, according to material from the Secretary of State’s office.

Cost of the new machines will be picked up by the State of Arkansas. The Secretary of State’s office is in the process of drafting a Request For Proposal for machines in all 75 counties, based on information submitted by each county,.

Commissioners could have voted to install an optical scanner at each polling site along with an accessible electronic voting machine. The cost of that solution for Washington County was estimated to be $610,000.

Another solution, adopting a full system of electronic voting throughout the county, was estimated to cost $1,056,000.

Washington County commissioners chose the least expensive of the three options with an estimated cost to the state of $280,000. Their option meets the minimum HAVA requirements, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Commissioners Tom Lundstrom and Pete Loras explained their support of the current voting system.

Lundstrom said he likes to see the public at the courthouse on election night. "I would hate to give up the involvement of the public by coming to the courthouse, watching us count the ballots. We’re all accountable in front of God and everybody. Right here. If there’s a problem, you see it. If it goes great, you see it," he said.

Lundstrom concluded, "It’s always been this commission’s position that we’re not really all that worried about the media or some candidate insisting that they have results by 10 o’clock at night. We count the ballots, we count them right and the results will come when they come."

Burrow asked Rob Hammons of the Secretary of State’s office about the education program required with the option they chose. Hammons explained that the state is waiting for federal guidelines before decisions are made.

Lundstrom asked, "Frankly, how difficult is it to hand somebody a ballot and say, ‘Take your pencil and circle in one person per race’?"

The county’s scanners, he said, are sensitive; but any problems, in his opinion, are not due to the machines. "The problem is people who, like last year’s presidential race, we had four or six people qualify for our ballot. They vote for three of them or six of them. I mean, why do they even bother to show up? I don’t know how you educate somebody just not to be stupid."

After the commissioners’ vote, County Clerk Karen Combs Pritchard inquired about the possibility of money from the state for more or other machines in five or six years as the number of voters increase.

Hammons said there was no such guarantee. Money left over from the counties may go into a pool to be divided among the counties based on a formula not yet determined.

After hearing the discussion of money, commissioners said they would not change their votes, and Burrow indicated after the meeting that the vote is final. "Washington County is going to do nothing but grow, grow, grow," Combs Pritchard said after the meeting. She explained her concern is that the county may need more voting machines in the not-too-distant future and there will not be money available from the state for purchase.
Copyright © 2001-2004 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact: webmaster@nwanews.com

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Bug in Software Causes Machines to Start Subtracting Votes

NCVV: These were ES&S machines, using the flawed Unity software. AR officials think this flawed software doesn't cross state lines and that the ES&S machines in 3/4 of AR counties are 'working well'. We've got news for them. The vendor software runs and instructs all their machines worldwide. The central vote tabulator mentioned below is nothing more than a plain old laptop computer.


Posted on Fri, Nov. 05, 2004

AMENDMENT 4
Gambling vote glitch mars tally

BY ERIKA BOLSTAD AND CURTIS MORGAN
ebolstad@herald.com

Broward County corrected a computer glitch Thursday that had miscounted thousands of absentee votes, instantly turning a slot-machine measure from loser to winner and reinforcing concerns about the accuracy of electronic election returns.

The bug, discovered two years ago but never fixed, began subtracting votes after the absentee tally hit 32,500 -- a ceiling put in place by the software makers.

''Clearly it's a concern about the integrity of the voting system,'' said Broward County Mayor Ilene Lieberman, a canvassing board member who was overseeing the count. ``This glitch needs to be fixed immediately.''

The problem, which resulted in the shocking discovery of about 70,000 votes for Amendment 4, a measure allowing a referendum on Las Vegas-style slots at parimutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward, came to light just after midnight Wednesday when Broward's canvassing board shut down.

Lieberman, Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes and several lawyers on both sides of the gambling amendment noticed votes suddenly disappearing on Amendment 4.

The problem was quickly traced to software in what is known as the central tabulation machine, a computer that collects data from optical scanners that read the individual mail-in ballots.

Besides reversing the Election Night outcome on a controversial gambling question, the error spurred finger-pointing and provided more ammo for critics of high-tech voting.

Florida's election chief, Secretary of State Glenda Hood, downplayed the significance of a miscount she blamed on ''inadvertent human error'' in the Broward elections office. Hood stressed that double-checking procedures had caught what she described as an isolated error.

Hood maintained that the incident shows the system worked. ``It's not a problem. . . . They made the correction.''

FINGERS POINTED

County officials blamed Election Systems & Software, the company that sold the machines and counting software to Broward.

County officials say they think ES&S failed to follow through on a problem that was brought to their attention two years ago, during the 2002 general election.

ES&S spokeswoman Becky Vollmer said the glitch -- which limits the number of votes that can be counted in each precinct to safeguard against ballot stuffing -- will be fixed in software updates they are submitting to the Division of Elections next year.

''This was not an error with the tabulating system,'' Vollmer said in an e-mail. ``This was a programming oversight that caused the results reporting software to contain incorrect information for preliminary, unofficial results. No votes were lost and no other ballot questions were affected.''

But Broward County Administrator Roger Desjarlais said ES&S was accountable. ``I believe they had an obligation to fix it. They just have an obligation to provide a product that works.''

ISOLATED PROBLEM?

While Broward insisted that the problem had exposed another hidden bug in the electronic voting system, the view was different in Tallahassee.

Alia Faraj, Hood's spokeswoman, said ES&S had not previously submitted any information about the counting cap in its tabulation software, which is supposed to be certified by the Secretary of State's Office.

But she said programmers had admitted a ''human error'' in setting up the absentee count and said there were no reports of similar problems from any of the 15 counties in the state that use electronic systems, 11 with the same ES&S gear. Another 21 use ES&S systems to tabulate paper ballots counted by optical scanners.

Other counties that use the same vote-counting software say they've never encountered the problem and it was never brought up at the users group meetings held annually.

Theresa LePore, Palm Beach County's elections chief, said her technology experts were aware of the potential issue, but that nothing like that had happened in the county, which uses different software. ''As long as you know about it, you can turn it off,'' LePore said.

The tabulation software was set to reverse the vote count at 32,500. It was triggered when Broward counted all 97,535 absentee ballots in one mega-precinct Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

The glitch only affected Page 2 of the ballot -- the one with five of the amendment questions -- because it contained only statewide measures that drew enough voting to trigger the cap, county officials said.

OTHER RESULTS STAND

Results on the other amendment questions were changed, as well, but, unlike the gambling question, their outcomes had not been in doubt.

When they saw the count going haywire, election officials were able to go to individual scanners feeding the main computer and obtain the correct vote count. Suddenly, they found thousands of uncounted votes that gave the gambling initiative a big boost.

Opponents of the amendment said they were suspicious of the newfound votes, especially because 94 percent of the 78,000 votes cast on Amendment 4 were in favor of the amendment. Other votes from Broward were 65 percent in favor.

''It certainly seems statistically remarkable,'' said state Rep. Randy Johnson, a Republican from Winter Haven who is chairman of No Casinos from Celebration.

CRITICS SPEAK UP

Lale Mamaux, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Boca Raton Democrat, said the miscount had proved the necessity of a paper trail that Florida elections officials have resisted for voting machines.

Broward was able to correct the count because they could simply run the absentee ballots through scanners again. That can't happen with touch-screen voting.

Wexler, an outspoken critic of Florida's election system, sued to create a paper record for manual recounts in close elections like the contentious 2000 presidential race. A federal judge rejected the suit late last month.

ANOTHER BLACK EYE

Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, said such errors can undermine public confidence.

''The bigger picture is that it cast doubt on the accuracy of the elections,'' she said. To resolve any concerns, Rodriguez-Taseff said Broward should recount everything -- not just absentees.

The miscounted votes were the second major flaw in Broward's election, which was also marred when thousands said they didn't get their absentee ballots in the mail.

''I wish it hadn't happened, in that we're trying to regain credibility for this office,'' Snipes said. ``But people will have to look at the whole issue and put it in perspective.''

Herald staff writers Mary Ellen Klas, Luisa Yanez, David Kidwell, Jason Grotto and Joe Mozingo contributed to this report.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/10103931.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp




© 2004 Herald.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.miami.com

Green Says Voting Company Tampered With Recount Effort

http://www.bluelemur.com/index.php?p=490

Green says voting company tampered with recount effort

By John Byrne | RAW STORY Editor

David Cobb, the unsuccessful Green Party presidential candidate, aired startling allegations at the Democratic House Judiciary Committee’s Columbus hearings Monday, alleging that a voting company representative tampered with voting equipment in an unspecified county last Friday and attempted to plant false information into the Ohio recount.

Cobb says that a witness who had requested anonymity watched a representative of Triad Systems enter a local Board of Elections unannounced and tamper with a vote tabulator which then lost all data.

The representative then, Cobb said, tried to convince employees to post false information so that it would appear as if the data was valid and had never been lost.

This following is RAW STORY ’s transcript Cobb’s speech as recorded by Inside Track News’ broadcast (mp3 file), an independent media outlet that covered the event. The story has been followed in detail at The Brad Blog.

“A representative from Triad Systems came into this county’s Board of Election’s office unannounced, that is on this Friday. He said he was just stopping by to see if they had any questions about the upcoming recount.

“He then headed into the back room where Triad supplies tabulators, that is the machine that counts the ballots, is kept. This Triad representative told them that there was problem with the system, that the system had a bad battery and it had ‘lost all its data.’

“He then took the computer apart and started swapping parts in and out of it. And in another [incomprehensible] in the room. And he had spare parts in his coat, as one of the people moved in [sic] remarked how very heavy it was.

“He finally reassembled everything and said it was working but not to turn it off. He then asked which precinct would be counted in the 3 percent recount test and that one which had been selected as if it had the right number of votes was relayed to him he then went back and did something else to the tabulator.

“The Triad Systems representative suggested that since the hand recount had to match the machine count exactly and since it would hard to memorize the several numbers which would be needed to get the count exactly right, that they should post this series of numbers on the wall where they would not be noticed by observers such as to make them look like employee information or something similar.

“The people doing the hand count could then he said just report those numbers no matter what the actually counted in the ballot. This would then ‘match’ the tabulator report for this precinct exactly.

Minority leader of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) replied, “David Cobb, I need to you to arrange

  a meeting with our staff immediately.”

Cobb asserted that such practices were “going on across the state.”

The Columbus Free Press’ Editor Robert Fitrakis also submitted a list of documented Ohio voting irregularities Dec. 8, which Conyers’ office has posted online in pdf format.

###

Correction: An earlier version of this article and headline incorrectly stated David Cobb was the Libertarian candidate. Cobb was the Green Party candidate.

Correction: Due to a transcription misunderstanding, an earlier version of this article stated that the Triad Systems representative entered the Columbus Board of Elections. Cobb did not in fact specify the Election Board in question.


http://www.bluelemur.com/index.php?p=494

AFFIDAVIT
December 13, 2004
Sherole Eaton
Re: General Election 2004 - Hocking County, TriAd
Dell Computer about 14 years old - No tower

On Friday, December 10 2004, Michael from TriAd called in the AM to inform us that he would be in our office in the PM on the same day. I asked him why he was visiting us. He said, “to check out your tabulator, computer, and that the attorneys will be asking some tricky questions and he wanted to go over some of the questions they maybe ask.” He also added that there would be no charge for this service.

He arrived at about 12:30PM. I hung his coat up and it was very heavy. I made a comment about it being so heavy. He, Lisa Schwartze and I chatted for a few minutes. He proceeded to go to the room where our computer and tabulation machine is kept. I followed him into the room. I had my back to him when he turned the computer on. He stated that the computer was not coming up. I did see some commands at the lower left hand of the screen but no menu. He said that the battery in the computer was dead and that the stored information was gone. He said that he could put a patch on it and fix it. My main concern was - what if this happened when we were ready to do the recount. He proceeded to take the computer apart and call his offices to get information to input into our computer. Our computer is fourteen years old and as far as I know had always worked in the past. I asked him if the older computer, that is in the same room. could be used for the recount. I don’t remember exactly what he said but I did relay to him that the computer was old and a spare. At some point he asked if he could take the spare computer apart and I said “yes". He took both computers apart. I don’t remember seeing any tools and he asked Sue Wallace, Clerk, for a screwdriver. She got it for him. At this point I was frustrated about the computer not performing and feared that it wouldn’t work for the recount. I called Gerald Robinette, board chairman, to inform him regarding the computer problem and asked him if we could have Tri Ad come to our offices to run the program and tabulator for the recount. Gerald talked on the phone with Michael and Michael assured Gerald that he could fix our computer. He worked on the computer until about 3:00 PM and then asked me which precinct and the number of the precinct we were going to count. I told him, Good Hope 1 # 17. He went back into the tabulation room. Shortly after that he (illegible) stated that the computer was ready for the recount and told us not to turn the computer off so it would charge up.

Before Lisa ran the tests, Michael said to turn the computer off. Lisa said, ” I thought you said we weren’t supposed to turn it off.” He said turn it off and right back on and it should come up. It did come up and Lisa ran the tests. Michael gave us instructions on how to explain the rotarien, what the tests mean, etc. No advice on how to handle the attorneys but to have our Prosecuting Attorney at the recount to answer any of their legal questions. He said not to turn the computer off until after the recount.

He advised Lisa and I on how to post a “cheat sheet” on the wall so that only the board members and

  staff would know about it and and what the codes meant so the count would come out perfect and we wouldn’t have to do a full hand recount of the county. He left about 5:00 PM.

My faith in Tri Ad and the Xenia staff has been nothing but good. The realization that this company and staff would do anything to dishonor or disrupt the voting process is distressing to me and hard to believe. I’m being completely objective about the above statements and the reason I’m bringing this forward is to, hopefully, rule out any wrongdoing.

200 Ballots Stuck in Broken iVotronic Touchscreen in S. Carolina

NCVV: The gizmo had to be sent to Canada to retieve the ballots stuck in it. We vote on iVotronics in Pulaski & Faulker Co. During the Nov. election iVotronics were used in Boone Co., on loan to them. They used them and shipped them back.


Posted on Thu, Nov. 04, 2004


Lexington town leaders criticize slow vote count

By TIM FLACH
Staff Writer

Lexington town leaders promise to end delays that kept the local election’s outcome under wraps until early Wednesday morning.

Some Town Council members are demanding that results tabulated from voting machines be disclosed as soon as they are available.

“I want a clear message that this is what we expect,” said Councilwoman Hazel Leggett-Tyndall, who was re-elected.

After Tuesday’s balloting, town election officials counted 540 paper absentee ballots by hand before releasing results.

Election officials spent 3½ hours on that count, ignoring repeated requests from other town officials to post the tally from the 3,300 ballots automatically counted by the machines.

All ballots were totaled and announced en masse shortly after midnight, well after a crowd of 100, including some candidates, had dwindled.

“I’m a little disappointed in the lateness of the results,” Mayor-elect Randy Halfacre said. “There probably could have been some things done differently.”

Results from three of six precincts were in before the absentee count began. Totals from the other three came in within an hour after.

“We didn’t want to quit on the absentee ballots,” town election commission chairman Fred Sons said. “It was an executive decision I made.”

It was the wrong decision, Leggett-Tyndall said.

She plans to propose guidelines requiring rapid public reporting of town ballots. The next local elections are in two years.

Meanwhile, town officials are searching for a way to tally more than 200 ballots stuck in a broken voting machine.

Those uncounted ballots aren’t crucial to determining the outcome of the race for mayor and three council posts.

Candidates supported by foes of the local 2 percent meal tax swept to victory Tuesday, ousting three incumbents who favor it.

Those elected, in addition to Halfacre and Leggett-Tyndall, are newcomers Kathy Maness and Ted Stambolitis.

http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/local/10094010.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp





© 2004 The State and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.thestate.com

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Evoting Code Filed With One Company-Not a Good Thing.

NCVV: The Discovery Channel had a show entitled "Breaking Vegas" on last week. The show was about a Nevada Gaming Inspector who was in charge of the source code for all the gaming vendors and all the slot machines in the state of Nevada. This programmer/gaming inspector stole the source code from the vendors submitted to him for inspection/clearance and wrote his own source code to rig the slot machines. He ripped the infected slots off to the tune of about $200,000 per month. He programmed the machines to hit the jack pot when coins were inserted in a series. e.g. 2, then 1, then 3 etc. The same thing could happen with evoting, if it hasn't already. Read on, the voting machine code is given to ONE company.

E-voting companies file code

Voting machine code available from the National Software Reference Library

"Touch screen voting" [Federal Computer Week, Sept. 6, 2004]
BY Michael Hardy
Published on Nov. 8, 2004

More Related Links

In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 2 election, officials at five electronic voting machine companies filed digital signature information for many of their software products with the National Software Reference Library, a repository maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Although the officials filed the signature information rather than source code that people can read, computer experts say that it could be useful, within limits, if disputes arise about voting software used in elections.

The data stored in the library can be used to verify that the software used on voting machines has not been modified, said Barbara Guttman, manager of the interoperability group in NIST's Information Technology Lab. However, the library does not have copies of the actual software code, she said.

What the library has is a "hash of the binary," said Aviel Rubin, a computer scientist at Johns Hopkins University and a critic of e-voting technology. Hashing is a cryptographic process that creates a signature code based on the binary machine language derived from the software's source code.

Verifying that the software itself is unaltered is not enough to ensure voting security, said Rebecca Mercuri, computer scientist and fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study and a critic of electronic voting.

"Just because it's archived doesn't mean that the software is safe," she said. "It doesn't mean it was used correctly. It doesn't mean the ballot was laid out correctly."

The filing offers only a back-end reference for checking and is not a visible assurance for voters, she added. "The voter going in to vote doesn't know that the machine has the same version of software" that the company filed, she said. "It's not a transparent process. It's one step in a multistep process."

Officials also have wide latitude in how they approve software for use, said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation. The process doesn't always require analyzing source code.

"The federal voting system standards are voluntary, and about 40 states claim to follow these standards, but doing so is not always a matter of state law," she said. "States that don't follow the federal standards do have their own standards sometimes, but those standards may not require source code examination."

Alexander said determining the best method to approve software might become more of an issue than it has been in elections so far.

"While it would be difficult and perhaps impractical to mandate a uniform voting system across the country, it seems obvious that, at a minimum, we should have mandatory security standards and procedures for federal contests imposed by the federal government," she said.

Officials at a sixth company, VoteHere Inc., submitted hashes of their auditing software. VoteHere's system is not a voting machine. Instead, it offers auditing capabilities for machines made by other companies. Avante International Technology Inc. officials will submit code for the Vote-Trakker system shortly, Guttman said.

E-voting has aroused considerable suspicion, and many fear that such machines can be programmed to skew election results in a way that would be difficult to detect.

The heightened attention makes it particularly critical that the software not be changed after voting authorities accept it, even with a seemingly innocuous software patch or bug fix, said Will Doherty, executive director of the Verified Voting Foundation, a group that favors paper backups and other safeguards for votes cast electronically.

The software reference copies will help ease those fears, Doherty said. "It's not all we would ask, but it is a step in the right direction."

Officials of the federal Election Assistance Commission had been urging companies since the summer to file the code.

NIST's library maintains similar code for more than 5,900 applications, Guttman said.

The reference copies improve the overall security of the electoral process, she said. With them on file, altering code without detection is harder than it would be otherwise. "Security is about making things harder, not impossible," she added.

A measure of uncertainty in the voting process always exists because of differing practices at individual polling locations and varying state laws, said John King and Ellen Theisen, who run an e-voting watchdog group called Voters Unite.

Theisen said the companies' gesture might be a publicity stunt. "It seems a lot like that to me," she said. "I can't see it being all that useful. I'm just wondering what real value it has." What if voting officials find out that their software has been changed, she said. "What recourse do they have but to say, 'Huh?' "

Alfie Charles, a spokesman for Sequoia Voting Systems, said the company will keep its software in the library up-to-date as new versions come out. "The objective is to make sure that there is a copy of whatever programs are in use in our elections," he said. "As upgrades are made, changes are made, the upgraded versions will be released" to the library.

http://www.fcw.com/print.asp

***

Code for safekeeping in library

Before Election Day, officials at five manufacturers of electronic voting machines placed digital signature information for their voting software in escrow, where it could be examined in the event of disputed election results. The companies are:
• Diebold Inc.'s Diebold Election Systems.
• Election Systems and Software Inc.
• Sequoia Voting Systems.
• Hart InterCivic.
• Avante International Technology Inc.

Local Printer Leaves Bar Codes off Ballots- Machines Won't Scan Ballots

NCVV: This occurred in Sevier County, AR in the May 04 primary. The local printer's employee printed the bar codes on the 'test' ballots, but not the actual ballots used during the election. The optical scanners would not scan the ballots in the election, resulting in a hand count. The employee was fired, the printer said he didn't want to comment.


Printer played role in Boulder voting woes

By Berny Morson, Rocky Mountain News
November 10, 2004

BOULDER - The head of a Denver company that printed ballots for Boulder County's troubled election acknowledged Tuesday he used a subcontractor who might have been responsible for the problems.

Howard Harris, president of Eagle Direct, declined to name the subcontractor, saying his company is ultimately responsible for the work.


Advertisement


Harris did not rule out the possibility that his own printers might be at fault.

Boulder County Clerk Linda Salas said she wasn't aware Eagle Direct had subcontracted out some of the $143,000 job.

Boulder officials say bar codes on several thousand ballots were the wrong size. Scanners would not count the ballots, requiring election workers to do the tally, race by race.

The vote count took three days, making Boulder one of the last counties in the nation to report results and running up what Salas called a "huge fortune" in overtime and other costs.

A spokeswoman for Xerox, which manufactured and maintains Eagle's printers, said the mistake wasn't caused by their machines.

Kara Choquette said Xerox believes the error was made by the subcontractor, which uses different equipment.

Harris said the subcontractor uses machines manufactured by a unit of Kodak.

Whether the bad ballots were printed by Eagle or the subcontractor won't be known until they can be examined when the vote totals are certified next week.

Harris also said his company isn't solely to blame for the massive vote-counting delays.

"We are a part of the problem, and I am not saying we are not, but I cannot say we are the only problem and all of the problem," he said.

Harris said delays were also caused by write-in votes, which must be tallied by hand. Jason Savela received more than 8,000 write-in votes in his failed race against District Attorney Mary Keenan.

"That slowed the process down as much as if the ballots were bad," Harris said.

The programming of the scanners might also be to blame for not letting machines read bar codes that were off by an amount so tiny that it was not visible to the naked eye, Harris said.

Some of the scanners were not functioning during part of the count, Harris said.

"We haven't laid everything at (Eagle Direct's) feet. We said we're looking into it," Salas said.

But, Salas said, the scanners were not the problem. They were down only while technicians were trying to figure out why some ballots were being rejected - a search that ended when the printing problem was identified.

Salas said Hart InterCivic, which manufactured the voting system, was involved in the trouble-shooting and ruled out a programming error.

URL: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/election/article/0,1299,DRMN_36_3317633,00.html

Copyright 2004, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

Voting Vendor Programs Voter Turnout Too Low on Machines

NCVV: Is this how voter turnout is predicted PRIOR to the elections being held? This article is not worded well, however it states mid way through that ES&S programmed the voter turnout on the machines too low. More people voted than the machines reflected, due to the programming. Notice the catch phrase used by 'that side' - "Doesn't affect the outcome of the election."

Voter turnout near 60 percent

Monday, November 08, 2004
By MICHAEL W. HOSKINS
Daily Journal staff writer, mhoskins@thejournalnet.com

Nov. 9, 2004

Voters in many parts of Johnson County rallied in record numbers to vote in last week’s elections.

White River Township gets a gold star for the most voters casting ballots in Johnson County last week, but Clark Township had the highest percentage of voters.

Two-thirds of the 28,007 registered White River Township residents cast ballots, meaning more than 18,500 residents voted in the election.

But that wasn’t the highest percentage turnout in Johnson County.

For example, the county’s growing east side in Clark Township had the highest turnout with 68.2 percent, or 950 of the 1,393 registered voters, casting ballots.

Most townships had turnouts higher than 60 percent, although Franklin and Pleasant townships were both about 55 percent.

Less than half the registered voters in Blue River Township cast ballots.

Johnson County turnout hit 59.85 percent, just shy of the 60 percent county clerk Jill Jackson had predicted before the election.

A total 51,558 of the 86,144 registered voters cast ballots in the election, according to county figures tallied late last week. The official figures were delayed and recalculated after election company Election Systems & Software made an error in figuring the number.

Company officials programmed the machines with a number from mid-September, when about 5,000 fewer voters were registered for the Nov. 2 election.

The error didn’t affect results or any races but did drop the turnout rate to lower than what was first thought. The nearly 60 percent still beats the turnout in 2000, when only about 56 percent of county residents voted.

This year, the turnout topped recent years despite constant rainfall and dark clouds that hovered over the county and much of central Indiana.

Greenwood Christian Church on Averitt Road had one of the best and one of the worst voter turnouts at the same time.

Three-fourths of the registered voters in Pleasant Township’s Precinct 22 cast ballots, while little more than a third of those registered voted in Precinct 37.

Both precincts vote at the church, separated by a sliding divider wall.

Between the two, 1,528 people are registered to vote at the church, which is at the southern end of Greenwood near the New Whiteland border.

Precinct 28 at Center Grove Elementary School posted the best turnout in the Nov. 2 election, with nearly 75 percent of voters casting ballots.

Election administrators will be studying the turnouts and voting registration as they review the election and possibly consider revamping precincts to better accommodate voters.

Jackson is not yet sure what, if any, changes will be made.

The county redrew precinct maps following the 2000 Census because of new population estimates, and the number of polling sites increased from 98 to 104.

http://www.thejournalnet.com/Main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=113&ArticleID=47172

Content © 2005 The Daily Journal, Johnson County, Indiana
Software © 1998-2005 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved

You Touch It, You Voted For It-Even If Hand Just Resting On The Screen

NCVV: These machines were the notorious ES&S iVotronic touchsreens. AR votes on these machines in Pulaski, Faulkner Co.'s. The machines were 'on loan' to Boone Co. for the Nov. 04 election. They used them, crated them up and sent them back. Boone Co. officials are deciding now whether or not to actually purchase the iVotronics.

October 21, 2004

You touch it, you voted for it

A potential user-interface problem has surfaced with the touch-screen voting machines being used during early voting in San Antonio. The problem also could affect voters nationwide.

Bexar County Elections Administrator Clifford Borofsky confirms that the problem is real, but he insists it is a minor issue.

A San Antonio Business Journal reader brought the problem to the attention of the newspaper after he claims his vote was registered for the wrong candidate. He said the bad vote was cast because he inadvertently rested his hand on the screen of the voting kiosk while using his other hand to vote.

"The machine registered the vote from my thumb when I rested my hand on the screen to vote," the reader claims.

The reader says he caught his error on the review screen before finalizing his vote, but he questions whether everyone -- especially new voters -- would do the same.

Borofsky says his office has received only two reports in 60,000 votes cast of votes being registered by individuals inadvertently resting their hand on the voting screen. However, there is no way to know how many people made the mistake without knowing it.

"That's what the review screen is for," Borofsky says, adding that it is the fail-safe built into the system to guard against inadvertent votes.

However, Borofsky does concede that it would be good to make voters aware of the problem, "especially people foreign to the voting process."

Currently, there are no warning signs on the machines or in the polling places to make voters aware of the hyper-sensitivity of the touch-screen voting machines, he says.

For early voting, Borofsky says Bexar County is employing some 200 electronic machines made by Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems & Software. He adds that Canton, Ohio-based Diebolt Inc. also makes a similar touch-screen voting system. Both companies are major suppliers of electronic voting systems for the 2004 election.

http://sanantonio.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/stories/2004/10/18/daily37.html?t=printable

© 2004 American City Business Journals Inc.

Programmer Says He Was Asked to Write Vote Rigging Code. He Did.

Curtis said Feeney asked for code that could go undetected on a voting machine and be easily triggered without any devices by anyone using the machine. Curtis had never seen source code for a voting machine, but in five hours, he said he designed code in Visual Basic that would launch if someone touched specific spots on the voting screen after selecting a candidate.

Once the code was activated, it would search the machine to see if the selected candidate's total was behind. If it was, the machine would award that candidate 51 percent of the total votes recorded on the machine and redistribute the remaining votes among the other candidates in the race.


More Questions for Florida 
By Kim Zetter



Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,66002,00.html

02:00 AM Dec. 13, 2004 PT

A government watchdog group is investigating allegations made by a Florida programmer that are whipping up a frenzy among bloggers and people who believe Republicans stole the recent election.

Programmer Clint Curtis claims that four years ago Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Florida) asked his then-employer to write software to alter votes on electronic voting machines in Florida.


He said his employer told him the code would be used "to control the vote" in West Palm Beach, Florida. But a fellow employee disputed the programmer's claims and said the meetings he described never took place.

Many questions have been raised about Curtis, the 46-year-old programmer, who said he doesn't know if anyone ever placed the prototype code on voting machines. But this hasn't stopped frustrated voters and bloggers from seizing his story. Daily Kos mentioned the allegations, and Brad Friedman of The Brad Blog has written extensively about them.

Staff members for Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) met with Curtis last week to discuss the election allegations. Representatives for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) inquired about other allegations from Curtis that his former company spied on NASA.

The FBI in Tallahassee, Florida, has set up a meeting with Curtis, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, said it was trying to corroborate his claims about possible election fraud and NASA spying.

The group hopes that even if the election allegations aren't proven, they will inspire legislators to pass a law requiring voting software to be open to public inspection to help deter fraud and restore public confidence in the election process. The software code used in voting machines is considered proprietary and it is protected from public examination -- an issue voting activists have been trying to address.

"I think Mr. Curtis helps make that issue a little more difficult to shunt aside," said CREW Executive Director Melani Sloan. "You don't even have to believe what he says (in order to be concerned about voting machines), just that he created a program. If he can do it, anyone can."

In September 2000, Curtis was working for Yang Enterprises in Oviedo, Florida, a software design firm that contracts with NASA, ExxonMobil and the Florida Department of Transportation, among other clients. According to Curtis, Feeney met with him and Lee Yang, the company's president, to request the voting software.

At the time, Feeney was Yang's corporate attorney and a registered lobbyist for the company as well as a member of Florida's legislature. A month later, he would become speaker of Florida's House of Representatives. In 2002 he was elected to Congress.

Curtis said Feeney asked for code that could go undetected on a voting machine and be easily triggered without any devices by anyone using the machine. Curtis had never seen source code for a voting machine, but in five hours, he said he designed code in Visual Basic that would launch if someone touched specific spots on the voting screen after selecting a candidate.

Once the code was activated, it would search the machine to see if the selected candidate's total was behind. If it was, the machine would award that candidate 51 percent of the total votes recorded on the machine and redistribute the remaining votes among the other candidates in the race.

Curtis said he initially believed Feeney wanted the code to see if such fraud were possible and to know how to detect it. The programmer told Feeney that such code could never be undetectable in source code, and he wrote a paper describing how to look for it. But when he gave the paper and code to his employer, Yang told him he was looking at it all wrong. They weren't looking at how to find code, Curtis said she told him. They needed code that couldn't be found.

"Her words were that it was needed to control the vote in West Palm Beach, Florida," Curtis said. "Once she said, 'We need to steal an election,' that put me back. I made it clear that I could not produce code that could do that and no one else should."

Curtis says he left the company in February 2001 because he found its ethics questionable. He doesn't know if his code was ever used.

Neither Feeney's spokeswoman nor election officials in Palm Beach County returned calls for comment. But a man who identified himself as Mike Cohen, Yang's executive assistant at the time whom Curtis said was in the meeting, told Wired News the meeting never occurred. Cohen said Curtis was "100 percent" wrong and that Cohen didn't attend such a meeting. He added he knew nothing of any meeting on the topic that occurred without him.

Yang attorney Michael O'Quinn called Curtis' assertions "absurd and categorically untrue." He said Curtis is an opportunist and a disgruntled former employee furthering an agenda by telling lies. According to O'Quinn, Curtis tried the same tactic in 2002 when he leveled other charges against Yang and Feeney.

Some details of Curtis' statements don't check out. West Palm Beach city didn't use touch-screen machines in 2000, something Curtis didn't know when Wired News spoke to him. It was the pregnant chad controversy in that year's presidential election that led Palm Beach county, where West Palm Beach resides, to replace its much-maligned punch-card system with touch-screen machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems in December 2001.

But Curtis said the program could have been adapted for use in the counting software used with punch-card machines and optical scan machines, or it could have been used on the new touch-screen machines in 2002, the year Feeney was elected to Congress.

Adam Stubblefield, a graduate student in computer science at Johns Hopkins University who co-authored a now-famous report (.pdf) about Diebold's voting machine code last year, thinks the chances that Curtis' code was used in a voting machine are nil.

"(Curtis) clearly didn't have the source code to any voting machine, and his program is so trivial that it would be much easier to rewrite it than to rework it," said Stubblefield.

Stubblefield also found fault in Curtis' statement that any malicious code would be detected in a source code review. This would be true only for unsophisticated malicious code, like Curtis' prototype.

Despite Curtis' concerns about statements Yang and Feeney supposedly made regarding election fraud, Curtis didn't tell the FBI or election officials in West Palm Beach about them, even after the 2000 election thrust Florida into the international spotlight.

He said he didn't worry about the code or Yang's statements because he believed if anyone installed malicious code on a voting machine authorities would find it when they examined the code. It wasn't until he read a news story last spring indicating that voting software is proprietary and is not open for inspection once it's certified that the earlier conversations began to concern him.

He claims he did later tell the CIA, the FBI, an investigator for Florida's Department of Transportation and a reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal about the voting issues when he gave them other information about Yang and Feeney. But so far this has not been corroborated. The FBI did not return calls for comment. The Department of Transportation investigator is dead.

And writer Laura Zuckerman who worked closely with Curtis on several stories for the Daytona paper, told Wired News he never mentioned the voting software code.

In 2002, Zuckerman wrote about allegations Curtis made that Yang Enterprises overcharged the Department of Transportation for work it never performed. In addition, Curtis told Zuckerman that Yang employed an illegal Chinese national while working on government contracts for NASA, and that the company was possibly spying on NASA by downloading documents from the NASA computer system.

"I didn't get a hint of anything like that at the time that I was writing any of these stories," Zuckerman (who no longer works for the newspaper) said.

However, other information provided by Curtis has been somewhat corroborated. The overbilling charge was confirmed by a Department of Transportation employee, although an official state investigation found no wrongdoing. Curtis thinks pressure from Feeney and others helped squelch the investigation, charges that Zuckerman did not find implausible from her own research.

And Last March, the Chinese national that Curtis discussed, Hai Lin Nee, was arrested in a 4-year-old Immigration and Customs Enforcement sting operation for trying to mail sensitive computer chips to Beijing in 1999 in violation of export rules.

But no one at Yang has been arrested for spying on NASA or stealing documents, despite a letter Curtis sent to a NASA investigator in February 2002 suggesting the company might be doing so. Curtis believes Feeney squelched that investigation as well to protect Yang. Both CREW and staff for Sen. Nelson's office are looking into those charges.

Curtis recently signed an affidavit (.pdf) and says he's willing to take a polygraph test. In the affidavit, Curtis stated that Feeney once "bragged that he had already implemented 'exclusion lists' to reduce the 'black vote'" and discussed ways of further impeding the black vote through strategic use of police patrols on Election Day.

His willingness to go on record with his vote fraud allegations is what makes some believe him.

Jon Kaney, a prominent Florida attorney who represents the Daytona Beach News-Journal and sparred with Feeney over articles the paper wrote about the lawmaker in 2002, said the affidavit does take things up a notch.

"You don't casually go around swearing under penalties of perjury unless you think you're right," Kaney said. "The affidavit struck me as something somebody ought to be looking at." But he said his first reaction to the affidavit was: "Gag. This can't be believed."

It remains to be seen if any new investigations can uncover the truth.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Machine Tapes, Pollbooks Don't Match Up in 35% of FL Precincts

NCVV: I've been going around the state discussing this very thing occurring on AR machines. The machine tapes, due to
bad software code, or due to faulty machines themselves are not matching the number of voters signing to vote on the pollbooks at the precincts. This is absolutely huge news coming out of Florid this week. We vote on these iVotronic touchscreens in Pulaski, Faulkner and now Boone Counties in AR. . The AR SOS office, per Tim Humphries legal counsel has this to say regarind this breaking news: "Although we are aware of the problems in FL, we have no significant probem with AR machines". If the machines are not counting votes in Florida and Indiana, you can be guaranteed they are doing this in Arkansas. Same software, same machines. There is one blatant difference: FL and IN election officials are admitting they have a problem. FL officials are ousting $24 million worth of ES&S iVotronics because they failed to count the vote in the past six FL elections. AR election officials consistently deny we have a problem.


Elections
Discrepancies found in 35 percent of Miami-Dade precincts


May 06, 2005 By: Jessica M. Walker


In the latest South Florida election mishap, workers in 35 percent of Miami-Dade County’s 749 polling places last November filed counts of voter signatures that differed from the number of ballots cast on the touch-screen voting machines, a new analysis has found.

On Nov. 2, election workers in 260 polling places submitted data to the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections office that did not match up with the total number of touch-screen ballots reported by the canvassing board, according to a study conducted by the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, a nonpartisan watchdog group.

Out of those 260 polling places, 23 submitted totals that were off by more than 50 voters, while 68 submitted totals that were off by more than 10 voters. In one polling place, the difference was 1,284. That polling place was one of five that showed very large discrepancies. The coalition is studying those five for possible clerical errors.

Not including those five polling places, the percentage difference between the reported signature totals and the machine ballot counts varied from less than 1 percent to 34 percent. The differences included polling places where there were more reported signatures than ballots cast, and others where ballots cast exceeded reported signatures.

A Daily Business Review inspection of voter logs showed that in some polling places where there were discrepancies, the totals reported by election workers equaled the total number of voters in the precinct, including absentee and early voters. But the county reporting form for signature totals, Certificate No. 2, asks workers to fill in the total of polling place signatures only, not the total of absentee voters.

The reform coalition said the discrepancies cast doubt on the county’s ability to check the accuracy of the controversial iVotronic touch-screen machines. Since there are no paper records votes cast, critics argue that it’s essential for election officials to carefully reconcile the total of voter sign-in signatures with the electronic tallies on the machines. To ameliorate this problem, critics have urged that the machines be outfitted with printers to produce backup paper records of individual votes.

“The counting of signatures and reporting of discrepancies to the canvassing board are fundamental to counting votes correctly,� said Martha Mahoney, a University of Miami law professor and member of the reform coalition who led the analysis. “It’s really important to do this on election night. How do we know otherwise whether the machines are correctly reporting every vote?�

Seth Kaplan, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections office, said the discrepancies do not necessarily indicate voting machine malfunctions. Human error in counting and the lack of a policy for the inclusion of absentee and early voters could account for many of the mistakes, he said.

Kaplan said his department recognized that the signature counts were off and said it was something the supervisor of elections’ office would seek to improve in the future. “Are we batting 1.000 on them all being correct? No,� Kaplan said. “It’s a training issue. Whenever we become aware of issues, we re-emphasize those certain issues in training.�

Kaplan said that under the department’s new leadership, the discrepancies would likely be looked into. Former Supervisor Constance A. Kaplan, who is not related to Seth Kaplan, resigned after irregularities were found in the March 8 slot machine referendum.

“All of these procedures are under review, and these are the kind of things we want to tighten up,� Kaplan said. “This is something that we will be looking at.�

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson, who served on the canvassing board in the 2004 elections, declined to comment on the discrepancies, saying she was not familiar with the coalition’s study. “Things can happen where people decide not to vote, they can sign in and leave, so I don’t really know if that’s a problem,� she said.

Jenny Nash, a spokeswoman for Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood, said the issue of reconciling signature totals and machine counts was a local one and is not the concern of her office. “Each supervisor has their own process for how they reconcile the numbers,� Nash said.

The discrepancies between the signatures and the ballots are not necessarily indicative of iVotronic machine problems or missing votes. In some instances the differences were due to sloppy counting of signatures by poll workers.

For example, Precinct 11 recorded 693 votes and 849 signatures. But a Daily Business Review inspection of the voting log found 694 signatures. Another precinct with a major difference was Precinct 362, which recorded 583 votes and 859 signatures. A review of that precinct’s signature log found 580 signatures.

Nevertheless, inaccurate signature counts could interfere with the ability of the supervisor of elections office and the county canvassing board to promptly identify problems in a close election, such as machine malfunctions and election fraud, before the election results are certified.

Latest glitch

Miami-Dade and Broward counties have experienced a series of embarrassing election glitches since they adopted touch-screen voting systems in 2002. In March, Constance Kaplan resigned as elections supervisor after reporting to the county manager that in the vote on slot machines, nearly 1,300 fewer votes were recorded than there were voters who showed up to vote in the single-issue election. County leaders are considering switching to a paper-based optical scan system.

In an audit of the 2002 general election, the Miami-Dade Audit and Management Services Department found discrepancies between signatures and ballots cast in 48 randomly selected precincts. The audit found that the discrepancies did not affect any election outcomes. But it recommended greater attention to reconciling signature and ballot counts. It called this an “an important audit control, as well as a positive tool for promoting precinct worker corrective action.�

Last October, the election reform coalition wrote to Secretary of State Hood, expressing its concern about the absence of a statewide system for reconciling voter signatures and electronic ballots.

“Despite the statutory requirement to account for voted ballots, the Polling Place Procedures Manual does not include a procedure for accounting for electronic ballots … counting signatures of voters, or explaining any gaps between these figures,� the letter to Hood said.

Despite the letter, Hood did not put any such system in place in the touch-screen counties.

Machine malfunction?

The voting process works like this: After entering the polling place but before casting a ballot on an iVotronic machine, Miami-Dade voters must sign next to their printed name in an election log of registered voters. At the end of Election Day, poll workers are responsible for counting the signatures and recording the total on Certificate No. 2, a paper document.

Poll workers are told prior to the election to compare the number of signatures to the number of votes tallied on the iVotronic machines to find discrepancies. Any differences could indicate vote fraud, election machine malfunction, poll worker error or other problems and should be reported to the department.

Seth Kaplan said that poll workers in the November election were told to visually check the signature count against the machine totals and to report any large differences to the department. However, that instruction was not written in the procedures guide for poll workers.

The reform coalition’s analysis and a Daily Business Review spot check found numerous polling places where there were large discrepancies — including polling places where there were more signatures reported than electronic ballots cast, and ones where there were more ballots cast than signatures reported.

At Precinct 124, the certificate documented 17 signatures, while the machines counted 1,301 votes. That precinct has been earmarked as a probable clerical error in the coalitions study. A check of the voter log by the Daily Business Review confirmed that there were far more than 17 signatures at the precinct.

It’s the smaller differences that will be scrutinized by the coalition. For example, in Precinct 41 there were 910 votes and 844 signatures, a difference of 62. At combined Precinct 117/166, the ballots totaled 995 and the signatures numbered 1,276.

In some of these polling places, Mahoney speculated, the differences may have been due to clerical errors by poll workers.

For Precinct 816, in the Church of the Ascension at 11201 SW 160th St., a Review inspection of the voter log showed 945 signatures, while the iVotronic computer tape showed a count of 1,032. But the individual machine counts are listed on the tape as well, and they add up to 945. But the number certified by the canvassing board came in at 1,116 votes.

In this case, the discrepancy may have been due to an iVotronic machine malfunction. Lynn Kaplan, a volunteer observer for the reform coalition who was at that polling place on Nov. 2, said in an interview that as a poll worker was closing down one of the iVotronic machines at the end of the day, an error message popped up on the machine’s digital screen saying: “Internal malfunction/unit closed to save data/vote data corrupted.�

Kaplan said that while a control number called a public count said that 84 voters had voted on that machine that day, the computer had tallied no results The public count shows up on the exterior of a machine and keeps tabs on how many ballots have been cast each day. The public count number should match the number of votes recorded on the machine’s memory.

Kaplan also said she witnessed a poll worker take the Personal Electronic Ballot cartridge from a nearby machine that was in the process of downloading election data, and insert the PEB into the malfunctioning machine.

The PEB is used by poll workers to control the machines. It starts up the machines at the beginning of the day. At poll closing time, PEBs are inserted into machines to download the election results. After the PEB is used to gather all the data, it should contain the results from the precinct.

After the PEB switch, Kaplan said, the poll worker did another computer printout of the results. Both machines showed zero votes.

A county computer specialist was summoned. After several printouts of election results including all machines in the precinct, the final printout showed 84 votes on both machines.

That left significant discrepancies between the signature total for the polling place, the control number showing votes on the machines and the computer printouts of voters.

The machine’s manufacturer, Omaha-based Electronic Systems & Software, did not respond to request for comment.

Lynn Kaplan said election workers at Precinct 816 had lots of trouble at the end of the Election Day reconciling the conflicting iVotronic numbers with the total number of signatures. “I shudder to think what goes on in all the other precincts if people aren’t keeping up with these things,� she said.

The reform coalition’s Mahoney said she wants the supervisor of elections’ office to investigate what happened that night at Precinct 816.

“It shows a lack of transparency in the system,� she said.

The Supervisor of Elections office said it is looking into what happened with Precinct 816 in response to a Daily Business Review request for an explanation.

Mahoney said the situation in Precinct 816 highlights the need for better procedures and training for reconciling signature and ballot totals. She also stressed that the county must investigate discrepancies to see if they resulted from fraud or equipment malfunction.

She noted that unless the numbers are inspected immediately after the election, mistakes would not be caught in time for certification, which must be complete in the 48 hours after the elections.

“It’s a very important comparison,� Mahoney said. “With electronic voting, how can you be sure you’ve got the right number of ballots? The benchmark has to be the number of voters that came into the polling place.�

Jessica M. Walker can be reached at jwalker@floridabiz.com or at (305) 347-6649.

http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/news.html?news_id=34733

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Microvote Machines Malfunctioned in TN

NCVV: We vote on Microvote machines in Conway and Perry Counties. They can print a paper receipt, yet they were excluded from the paper trail bill in AR.

Sumner County, Tennessee. May, 2005. Microvote.
Paperless Infinity voting machine locked up and failed to release votes.
VotersUnite.Org heard from a citizen in Cookeville, Tennessee:

A Microvote machine malfuntioned in a city of Portland election in Sumner Co., TN. The reports claims that 110 votes were not able to be retrieved on election night. The next morning changes were made and the 110 votes were supposed recaptured. This type of problem is very typical with the Microvote Infinity unit in the state of Tennessee.
VotersUnite! contacted Wayne Pruett, election director in Sumner County, TN. Mr. Pruett said the Microvote Infinity voting machine had locked up around 2:00 on election day and was taken out of service. He called a technician from Indianapolis to come into the office and retrieve the votes.
Mr. Pruett said the machine was always in public view in the county office and that the press and other observers were invited to view the retrieval process. He expressed complete confidence in the results.

See: Microvote in the News

http://www.votersunite.org/info/content/newmessup-14.asp

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

AR Senate OK's Bill for Paper Trail, Just Not For All AR Counties

http://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org/article.php?id=5631

NCVV: I sent out an action alert in late February asking for action to have the amendment written by the SOS office stricken by the AR Senate. The SOS office opposed this bill prior to tacking on an amendment that excluded seven touchscreen counties from paper receipt requirement, due to the supposed cost to the counties. They even stated these inflated costs to the House State Agency and Gov't Affairs Cmte. I was present at that committee hearing. When I called this to the attention of AR constituents, and email was sent out by the SOS office stating that my information was 'erroneous'. Everything I stated in my alert is stated in this article, in fact, it's stated by the SOS himself below. The interesting thing to note is that the Deputy SOS implied to the legislative committee that the cost to the counties would be $10 million to equip all counties with a paper requirement. The facts were not presented there, in fact the Deputy SOS never told the committee the number of machines needed for purchase. My question then and now: how could they quote a cost to the committee if they didn't know how many machines they needed for purchase? They've many times told constituents they were 'conducting a cost analysis' to see how many machines they would need. They said the same exact thing in 2003-and still number number is available?
*Warning* the counties that they can't afford machines with paper receipts is opposing the bill, and certainly not supporting it. The SOS office has not ever stated they were in favor of paper receipts until after the amendment was tacked onto HB 1360. In fact they've come up with some very ridiculous reasons why we should not have paper receipts to verify our votes.

As a result of this amendment 403,066 Arkansans are disenfranchised - as their votes cannot be verified. Arkansas is the only state in the nation with a law exempting some counties from paper requirements on voting machines.

Arkansas Senate OKs Bill for Paper Trail on Touch-Screen Voting

by Michael R. Wickline and Jake Bleed, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
March 4th, 2005

The Arkansas Senate sent to the governor Thursday a bill that would require touch-screen voting machines in Arkansas to produce a paper receipt for voters to verify their votes and for use in recounts.


By a 34-0 vote, the Senate approved House Bill 1360 by Rep. Ray Kidd, D-Jonesboro, that would bar the state Board of Election Commissioners and county boards of election commissioners from buying or procuring touch-screen machines that don’t include "a voter verified paper audit trail."


Such a trail is called a receipt, a printed representation of how the voter voted. The voter would get it before casting the ballot he had just voted on. The receipt wouldn’t contain information about the individual voter, and the voter wouldn’t take it with him, but he could see that it is the same as he voted. It would be retained by election officials to serve as the official ballot in the event a recount was ordered.


The bill would exempt from the requirement the touchscreen machines that Columbia, Faulkner, Ouachita, Pulaski and Union counties already use.


Supporters of the bill contend the state would be better off requiring touch-screen machines to produce the receipts, which would be produced by printers attached to the voting machine. The state should take this step, they say, because it is about to spend millions of mostly federal dollars on voting machines to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act.


Arkansas’ 75 counties’ voting machines must comply with the federal act by the May 23, 2006, primary election.


Alaska, California, Illinois, Maine, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin have enacted similar laws, said Jennifer Bowers of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. The secretaries of state in Missouri and Nevada also are requiring their touch-screen machines to produce a paper receipt for voters to verify, according to Electionline. org.


Twenty-one other states besides Arkansas are considering similar legislation, Bowers said.


Arkansas Secretary of State Charlie Daniels, the state’s top election official, said he supports the bill, too. "People need to believe that their vote will be counted, and [a paper trail] ends up being one of those ingredients that they will get to know and see and takes some of their fear away for voting on" touch-screen machines, he said in an interview.


Daniels has said he plans to let each county have either only touch-screen voting machines or optical-scan voting machines with at least one touch-screen machine per polling site. With an optical-scan machine, voters mark a paper ballot that’s later placed in an optical-scan unit that reads the marks and tabulates the votes.


He has set aside $18.5 million in federal and state funds to buy machines for the counties.


Last month Daniels warned a House committee that HB1360 could increase the $3,000-to-$3,500 cost of each touch-screen voting machine by about $500 to $1,000. That could mean that counties get fewer such machines or must shoulder more of the cost of the machines, he said. Daniels said Thursday that he won’t know the actual cost of the machines until he starts negotiating with voting machine companies after his office issues a request for proposals from the companies.