Tom Flocco: Website Removed Before Recall Vote
Election-Fraud Website Removed Before Tuesday Recall Vote
Voting Machine Memos Suggest Suspect California Election, As Domain Register Company Refuses To Allow Blocked BlackBoxVoting.org To Move To New Internet Server Until After today's Electronic Vote-Count. Site's Explosive Book & Memos Raise Serious Ballot-Count Questions.
By Tom Flocco
October 7, 2003
Archived By Scoop Tuesday, 11 November 2003
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - ( TomFlocco.com) -- "The results of Tuesday's California recall election should be challenged in the courts," said Beverly Harris, advocate of honest voting and owner of BlackBoxVoting.org, in a phone interview yesterday.
The vibrant 52 year-old activist-grandmother told us that internet service provider Advance Internet Technologies (AIT) notified her that BlackBoxVoting.org--devoted to exposing election fraud in America--had been flagged for ten to fourteen days, effectively blocking the site and its damaging information from public view until after the California recall/gubernatorial election ballots are counted.
At issue is the controversial contents of Harris' website and potential candidate vote-count challenges that could result after today's election--regardless who wins. "At the website, there is analysis of internal memos and actual files from Diebold Corporation's Global Election Management Systems (GEMS), maker of both touch-screen and optical-scan voting machines to be used in 14 California counties on Tuesday--including the two largest minority and ethnic--Los Angeles and Oakland-Alemeda," Harris said, adding "the memos indicate possible end-runs around the integrity of the voting system in California's recall election."
[Introduction: Chapters from Beverly Harris' new book, Black Box Voting, will be an astonishing read for all citizens who worry about the integrity of the election process, what with so many recent, yet curious national and state-wide election results. Also, in light the Golden State's imminent recall vote, it is Chapter 7 (linked and reprinted below with permission) which is going to draw widespread attention--let alone possible county and statewide voting machine product liability concerns, potential civil challenges from losing candidates who have been (or soon will be) paying off campaign loans, but also the ire of substantially more than a quarter-million Texas citizens who never knew that much of their personal privacy has previously been compromised.
It's all there on Harris' curiously blocked website (BlackBoxVoting.org); and it will eventually become quite clear why unknown individuals with high-placed authority and connections seem to be striving mightily to prevent volatile information in her website files and book from reaching mainstream media and general public awareness throughout the country. Indeed, much like a pogo-stick, Beverly Harris' website has lately been up and down--online and offline.
But California recall or not, Americans may want to consider why Harris says "our current (voting) certification system is fundamentally broken. The system is secret, relies on a few cronies and is accountable to no one. Worse, the certifiers have clearly given a passing grade to software so flawed that it miscounts, loses votes and invites people to come in the back door to make illicit changes to anything they want." Accordingly, this piece will endeavor to engender continued citizen interest and inquiry into the current potential for fraudulent election behavior and its long-term effects upon citizen trust in vote-count veracity. This, as competently qualified candidates are probably still contemplating the role that electronic voting played in many questionable election losses. For the integrity of our democracy demands such scrutiny; and there is an ethical obligation for Harris' work to be reported--despite undisclosed machinations to the contrary.]
BlackBoxVoting.org contains stories, files, and memos about election wrongdoing, plus sample chapters from Harris' new book by the same title which describe how elections can be fixed, with articles and analyses of voting machine company systems. However, Harris' revelations regarding how Diebold Election Systems, Inc. allowed personal information about 310,000 Texas voters to be left open and un-password-protected on it's internet site may ultimately raise the most legal questions and public relations problems.
Harris told TomFlocco.com that "the unprotected statistics left out on the worldwide web include the Texas voter names, street addresses, apartment numbers, birth-dates, school districts, political party registration, and voting habits (early walk-in or absentee)," adding that "ninety-five thousand people from Plano are in the unprotected file, and a couple hundred thousand more from Richardson, McKinney, Wylie, Dallas, and surrounding areas." (Black Box Voting, Bev Harris, Plan Nine Publishing, 2003, Chapter 7, page 149)
"This private information--with citizen voting propensities of 310,000 Texans--was left totally unsecured; and the legal implications are enormous--let alone how this information may have affected the election of Governor George W. Bush back in 1998," said Harris. Interestingly, Bush was the only winning Republican running statewide in the 1998 Texas race--as the Lone Star state has been traditionally governed by Democrats.
Unscrupulous Or Malevolent Insiders?
In their "Analysis of an Electronic Voting System" (July 23, 2003), Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Information Security Institute computer scientists Tadayoshi Kohno, Adam Stubblefield and Aviel D. Rubin, and Rice University Computer Science Professor Dan S. Wallach say that "For these new computerized voting systems, neither source code [the program that tells the computer what to do] nor the results of any third-party certification analyses have been available for the general population to study, because [private and unaccountable] vendors claim that secrecy is a necessary requirement to keep their systems secure."
In the research report, the JHU-Rice University computer scientists caution against the many municipalities adopting electronic voting systems to be heavily deployed by the 2004 presidential election; moreover, the computer scientists reveal that "this voting system is far below even the most minimal security standards applicable in other contexts." (page 1)
Security issues they highlighted include "unauthorized privilege escalation, incorrect use of cryptography, vulnerabilities to network threats, and poor software development processes." For example they found that "common voters, without any insider privileges, can cast unlimited votes without being detected by any mechanisms within the voting terminal." Thus, the potential for electronic vote fraud during Tuesday's California recall could be quite high--if one believes the pronouncements of these vote-security experts who indicated that the [electronic voting] system "places our very democracy at risk."
Available all over the internet, we examined copies of leaked internal memos from Diebold insiders which confirm Harris' assertions that employees "allegedly admit to doing 'end-runs' around the voting system," Moreover, the memos "allegedly admit that a 'replacement' set of vote totals via a memory card was uploaded in Volusia County, Florida, which took 16,022 votes away from Al Gore in November, 2000." Harris said no one has explained to her "how a supposedly secure system can have replacement memory card votes put on it." And only an alert Florida clerk realized the vote totals were changed and blew the whistle.
Given the leaked documents, no one has revealed how many other uploaded "computer vote-count replacement cards" were employed in Florida during the 2004 presidential ballot litigation which may have ceased justification for the Supreme Court to determine the results of the election.
The JHU-Rice professors decry the "widespread adoption of direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems," as generally speaking, they "completely eliminate paper ballots from the voting process." Expanding on the issue, they say "the entire election hinges on the correctness, robustness, and security of the software within the voting terminal," adding "should that code have security-relevant flaws, they might be exploitable either by unscrupulous voters or by malevolent insiders."
The university voting security experts warn about certain "insiders" that California voters should keep an eye on during today's recall-gubernatorial race: "election officials, the developers of the voting systems being used, and the developers of the embedded operating system on which the voting system runs," adding that "if any party introduces flaws into the voting system software or takes advantage of pre-existing flaws, then the results of the election cannot be assured to accurately reflect the votes legally cast by the voters."
Cell-Phones And Lap-Tops: Uncertified "Add-ons" To Voting Process?
One can just picture individuals with cell phones and lap-top computers sitting in a van outside the polls at the local middle school, tabulating and changing ballot totals as they come in via modems during election day--having already been armed with names, ages, and addresses secretly available from merged lists, party registrations, and other similar private data that seems to be clandestinely available in a state like Texas.
But don't laugh. You can bet that FOX, CNN, and MSNBC editors and producers will be told by corporate-insiders and politically-connected higher-ups to spike this story.
Consider the following from some of the widely-available but leaked Diebold internal memos: On April 12, 2000, former Global Election Systems (now Diebold) support specialist Mike Brown asked "What is Global's [Global Election Management Systems] stand on using cell phones with AccuVote? Are there any written instructions?" [Harris describes AccuVote as Diebold's optical scanning system that sends voting result files to the central county office during an election via a memory card transferred by modem.]
But California voters may want to know if anyone with a cell-phone could transfer or intercept the voting tabulation, and also whether each cell-phone used was individually certified and identified prior to its use while managing normal election procedures.
Diebold sales representative Steve Knecht wrote on April 12, 2000 that "We are [already] using cell phones in Tulare and Marin [California counties]," while also introducing a rather curious, unfamiliar electronic election official called a 'rover:' " Rovers are the ones who are given the cell phone with the modem [using memory cards to transfer ballot totals to central vote tabulation centers] for end of night totals upload, not the precinct worker, at least in these two locations."
Harris says no one knows whether these California 'rovers' are federally or state certified--if at all. So Californians should also be observing the "Diebold Rovers" after the polls close tomorrow. She added that some rovers are from Canada; while many election software programmers are from Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hong Hong and Canada--an internationalist approach to the American voting system via NAFTA and concurrent loss of U.S jobs.
Guy Lancaster, Diebold software programmer, wrote on April 12, 2000, regarding cell phones: "I know of no written instructions," leading us to wonder if there were rules and traceable documentation, or why cell phones were being used in the first place or who was certifying and identifying the phones and their numbers prior to an election--and what security issues were involved.
support specialist Juan A. Rivera wrote on April 14, 2000
that "In Puerto Rico we did use cell phones with AccuVote
successfully," adding much more significant information: "If
the connection can support a decent voice conversation, the
AccuVote will work via a cell phone. Also, we did not have
to dial the phone manually; the AccuVote did that just as if
it was connected to the wall jack." [Will this also
modem / voting memory-card transfers or" replacements"?"] And for those California voters interested in more intricate ballot-tabulation maneuvers on Tuesday, Rivera reports that "On the new cells, they have an adaptor for connecting your lap-top to the internet with an RG-11 connector available. This will also do the trick."
So now we have private cell-phones, lap-top computers--and rovers, ostensibly uncertified by any government authority--but no one has reported or documented how or if this "add-on" equipment or the individual rovers are registered, tested, certified, identified--or secured by state or federal authorities prior to an election. And it is possible for unidentified people, cell-phones, or lap-tops to gain access to this seemingly loose system?
On April 17, 2000, Guy Lancaster wrote more about the Diebold AccuVote internal modem: "We use what's called 'blind dialing' (ATX0) which means that it'll dial with nothing plugged into it. Thus if the AV won't work without this Dial Tone Emulator, then it's doing something in addition to providing a dial tone." But Lancaster didn't get into what other actions he thought the software was affecting.
Harris told us, "In other words, the AccuVote machine is able to dial out continually to 'home base' to check with its 'master'--or whoever else around the world gains access with a compatible cell-phone and laptop--regarding vote-tabulation reports."
Georgia--On California's Mind
Rob Behler, a short-term Diebold employee from
the ABSS Temp firm shared this staggering inside information
to Beverly Harris in a recent phone interview:
Rob: "I had my laptop out....and one of them had to go in and get it from the FTP [FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol. It allows users of the internet to transfer files to and from computers all over the world. It works in a similar way to a library, where you can copy files onto your computer (download) or send files to store on their computer (upload)], put it on a [memory] card, make copies of the cards and then we used them to update the machines." [Could hackers from other countries breach Diebold's security?]
Harris: "So one of the people downloaded the patch and then made copies of it.?"
Rob: "They used my laptop. It was not secure either. They just used the laptop to reproduce the cards. Diebold never gave us anything with a PCMCIA slot, then they'd tell us, "Go download this," so we'd have to get out our own laptop to do it."
Harris: "Who instructed you about the FTP site? Was it a Diebold employee?"
Rob: "It was Diebold....The people in McKinney [Texas]. I remember one of the guys, Ian. One of the main guys we dealt with was a guy named Ian. He was actually involved in the design of the motherboard. He was very much involved in trying to figure out how to fix the problems. [Ian Piper, who was listed as a stockholder of Global Election Systems, the company Diebold bought in January, 2002 and renamed Diebold Election Systems.] From what I understand they ended up figuring out that the cards that we were loading the fix that Diebold provided for us, well they were never tested, they just said 'Oh here's the problem, go ahead and fix it.'"
Harris: "So what is your opinion about the certification testing?"
Rob: "No, it's not just that. NOBODY even tested it! [Rob Behler was working with James Rellinger in DeKalb County preparing for the 2002 Georgia elections.] When I found that out--I mean you can't not test a fix--I worked for a billing company, and if I'd put a fix on that wasn't tested I'd have gotten FIRED!....But they didn't even TEST the fixes before they told us to install them." [This was a federal election--not a billing company.]
Harris: "After your experience with Diebold, how confident are you that the machines count votes accurately?"
Rob: "If you were to ask me to tell you how accurate I thought the vote count was [in Georgia], I'd have to say 'no comment' because after what I saw, I have an inherent distrust of the machines....I took [this job] because of James [Rellinger], who is my friend, and because I'm A-plus certified. But when I came in there was a bunch of internal bickering. They had no inventory control in the warehouse. I guarantee you that the state of Georgia can't accurately reflect where each machine is." [Harris also told us that she has a letter from a Georgia election official that shows that machines are being found in stairwells, in hallways, and in trunks of cars. So much for federal election security.]
Harris: "What about program patches begun in August [Before November elections]?"
Rob: " August 20....they had shipped us 6,000 machines and NO ONE had ever done a quality check. I'd come in on a Saturday, I had two of my sons with me, and I thought I'm going to just look. And it was bad. Then first thing Monday morning I raised the question, I said, 'Hey guys, we've got a problem--there's 20-25% of the machines that are palletized that are failing,' and then they had a new machine come out and I was doing an update, and then they sent a new one. I updated a whole bunch of machines....But later they put in another one, I guess. In August. Actually in August and then again in September/October."
Rob: "You've gotta' go take care of this junk sh*t equipment, I told them. Finally, I raised it as high as you go; I raised it to Bob Urosevich, he's the head of it. I told him personally, 'This is bad, I don't see us putting an election on with these machines!' [ Bob Urosevich is President of Diebold Election Systems, who reports to Diebold, Inc. CEO Wally O'Dell, who recently promised to "deliver the votes" to George W. Bush at an Ohio fundraiser.] There was about three updates, the CE software, the date that would come up would be the last. After that they came up with another fix, that's the August one at that point. [internal memos show June, July 1,4,5,7, August 8 and then another done in September-October, immediately prior to the Georgia election.]
Harris: "Do you know who was writing the fixes?"
Rob: "He came out of Canada....That's it! Talbot Iredale would actually fix it and say, "Oh here's the problem," and stick it on the FTP site and we'd grab it, stick it on the card, and make a bunch of copies and use it."
Harris: "So you took the patches right off the FTP site [on the worldwide web] and installed them on the machines?" [for the Georgia election]
Rob: "That's what we did. He'd FTP it, and tell us to grab it, we'd put it on a laptop, copy it....You know one of the main things that really just made me so upset, they were just like, 'This Brit guy.' [Dr. Brit Williams, Kennesaw State University--member of the NASED Committee that chooses the voting machine certifiers] 'Don't even speak to him, it's a political game, you've gotta play the politics.' Well, he walks in and says, 'What are you guys doing?' I said, 'We're putting in an update.' He said, 'Will it change what it does?' We said, 'Just do your normal test, we're supposed to get the machines ready for you.' "
Rob: "He tells someone at the office and they freaked out. They were like, 'What the heck are you doing???' I wasn't supposed to talk to him at all, I guess....but because I spoke to him I got reprimanded. They said, 'If they ask you any question, you gotta say Talk to Norma, to one of us.' .... But the thing that blew me away was when I'm told they'd NEVER TESTED THE FIX. They produced it and got it to us in 24-48 hours. If I'd have known they hadn't tested it, I simply wouldn't have installed it! My background tells me that's a no-no. I went into this Diebold thing with no real knowledge of the voting industry. When I left, I not only had a complete grasp, but I had a complete disrespect for these machines. And with the folks in the office who were so--you know, 'I'm the political person, you have to know how the system works'--they were so much more concerned about their own self importance, they were losing track of DO THE MACHINES COUNT THE VOTE PROPERLY! Because that's what the people of Georgia need. And I'm one of them!"
Harris: "Were there passwords on the FTP [internet site] files? Any passwords on the files themselves? Or on the site?"
Rob: "No. What we got never had passwords. You just pick it up and use it."
Harris: "Do you think anybody could have tampered with a machine, if they wanted to?"
Rob: "Well, when we did the quality control check we'd open it up, they have a little box for the printer. We would find the key still in the printer. Someone could literally take that [or copy it]. We found [vote-count memory] cards left in the machine. I wondered what would happen if the wrong person got it."
California voters [and other concerned Americans]should click here to view the $200,000 damage control "Draft Plan, Activities, and Pricing" that we obtained, which describes how the electronic voting industry is going to explain away the above-described voting security disaster perpetrated upon the citizens of Georgia.
The public relations program is being employed for the purpose of "creating confidence and trust in the elections industry and promoting the adoption of technology-based solutions for the elections industry. Repair short-term damage done by negative reports and media coverage of electronic voting. Over the long term, implement strategy that educates key constituencies about the benefits of public investments [read taxpayer dollars] in electron voting, voter registration and related applications."
Voting Machine Conflicts of Interest: Free Republic Meets BuzzFlash
Democrats claim legitimate concern--given Harris' evidence of potential vote fraud and stolen elections in America--that Republican-linked individuals either own or influence the operations of the two largest voting machine makers. In response, however, Republicans have been screaming for years about heavily Democratic Chicago and Philadelphia wards and precincts with 110 % voter turnouts--indicating that dead citizens are so caught up with electoral fervor that they literally rise up from their graves to cast ballots the first Tuesday in November.
The issue of stolen elections is reaching a head; and recently, internet powerhouses BuzzFlash.com and Free Republic.com--representing opposite ends of the political spectrum on most issues--considered Harris' information. BuzzFlash interviewed Harris after Free Republic had already initiated a forum-posting thread about electronic voting..
Harris said that Election Systems & Software (ES&S), the largest voting machine company, has as its main owner, the company owned by Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel's campaign finance director, Michael McCarthy. Hagel has owned approximately $5 million in shares in both the voting machine company itself and the parent company. Incredibly, Hagel was the CEO and Chairman of ES&S while it built the voting machines that counted 86 % of his landslide upset senatorial election ballots. We still wonder how the Federal Election Commission permits a U.S. Senator to own the voting machine company that counts his votes. Is it us? Or does it just look bad?
Harris' BuzzFlash interview noted that Diebold, the second largest voting machine company, is run by CEO Wally O'Dell, who recently visited George W. Bush at his Crawford ranch along with an elite group of Bush supporters called "Rangers" and "Pioneers." While that may look bad to Democrats, O'Dell really caused an uproar in an August 14 letter to Ohio Republicans, promising to help "deliver the votes" for George W. And O'Dell sponsored a $600,000 fund raiser for Dick Cheney in July, 2003, while Diebold board of directors member W. H. Timken is also a Bush "pioneer."
Free Republic forum poster "MJY1288" said "Democrats are really grasping for straws now....that's just the way it is. Not to mention......the machines do the counting, not the CEO," adding "my hope is that these new machines will put an end to all those votes for democrats, from the occupants of the cemeteries across the country." Freeper MJY1288 has a point; but given the above leaked dialogue and memos from Diebold employees, Californians from all sections of the political spectrum may want to pay attention today--particularly to workers, rovers and anyone else hovering inside or outside the polls, talking on cell-phones or using laptops. Everything else is secret.
Free Rupublic's "Commiewatcher" posted an August 29 comment regarding the O'Dell revelations originally reported by Julie Carr Smyth of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on August 28, 20003, saying "Legal AMERICAN money from legal AMERICAN donors. I know that sounds strange to democRATS used to getting their money from communist China." The parrying started to become intense; but the conflicts of interest regarding electronic voting in both the Clinton and Bush administrations may be in need of long-overdue repairs. And the Federal Election Commission has obviously been unable to control the situation.
Diebold's O'Dell was quoted in a July 25, 2004 Akron Beacon-Journal story by Erika B. Smith, "Group Challenges Voting Software--Flaws found," pronouncing that "We protect the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We protect the Hope Diamond. Now, we protect the most sacred treasure we have, our secret ballot."
Another telling, but choice memo leaked by a Diebold employee was written on February 3, 1999 by regional manager Barry Herron: "It is all fine and well to upload results over the internet; but we don't exactly have a lot of experience in internet security in this company, and government computers are crackers' favorite targets."
And this February, 2003 memo from Guy Lancaster, the Diebold software programmer and guardian of our sacred voting privileges: "Sometimes our customers use the FTP site to transfer their own files. It has been up quite some years. People go there from countries, cities, [and] sometimes there is stuff there for state certification boards, federal certification; a lot of test material gets passed around." (Bev Harris' interview with Guy Lancaster) From Guy's lips to God's ears.
Pocketing The Vote--Owning The "System"
After Tueday's recall vote is tabulated and results are final in seven days, things could get interesting if highly controversial publisher and California gubernatorial candidate--but also first amendment activist--Larry Flynt decides to dial up the internet and take a look at Diebold's memos. This, added to the fact that Californians are basically blocked from auditing, analyzing, or verifying Tuesday's "electronic vote-count."
Losing candidates may also be concerned about machine mechanisms, certification reports, employment lists, remote communication devices like cell-phones and laptops--but especially the chain of custody of the vote-count memory cards which are essentially portable electronic ballot-boxes the size of a credit card. A stack of them fit in a pocket.
Considering the current state of electoral affairs in the United States, it may not be too long before presidential candidates--not just senators--can get away with owning the electronic voting systems that "deliver the votes."
Click Here to read the explosive Chapter 7 from Beverly Harris' new book, Black Box Voting.
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Permission is granted to reprint the first three paragraphs of this story; and websites are welcome to link to TomFlocco.com for the remaining pages.