Voter Verification Newsletter -- December 22, 2003
Voter Verification Newsletter -- Vol 1, Number 16 December 19, 2003
David L. Dill
Please forward this newsletter to your friends!
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The last couple of weeks have been incredible. Major newspapers have taken a stand in favor of verifiable voting, multiple bills have been introduced in the senate, several states have decided to insist on verifiable voting, and more Diebold problems have surfaced.
We're including a Table of Contents because there is so much to report:
1. Operation Enduring Vote
2. Senate Bills Introduced!
3. Report on the NIST Conference
4. Major Editorials on Both Coasts Call for VVPT
5. CSPAN: Washington Journal Features Avi Rubin Videos of Public Meetings?
6. Nevada Goes VVPT
7. Ohio Legislators Introduce Bill Requiring VVPT Washington State Goes VVPT
8. West Virginia Goes VVPT
9. Montana HAVA Implementor Promises to Require VVPT
10. Arkansas Files for a HAVA Extension Boulder County, Colorado Delays Purchase of DREs
11. Uncertified Software Installed on All Audited Diebold Machines in California
12. More Diebold Problems
13. Fortune Magazine Gives its "Worst Technology" Award to DREs
OPERATION ENDURING VOTE
You may have noticed a new action item on the home page of VerifiedVoting.org - Operation Enduring Vote. We are actively encouraging everyone to find out their Representatives' and Senators' recess schedules and attend any "town meetings" they hold. If you live in any of the 10 states we consider key states (with committee members, for example), you may have received a special email about this.
Asking the legislators about their positions in person, in public, could help influence them to support the bills now in Congress. It is certain to help inform the public as well. We're hoping to have them flooded with questions about it at every turn, so they realize how important it is to pass H.R. 2239 and S.1980.
Find out how you can participate here:
Senate Bills Introduced!
For months we've been urging people to support Rush Holt's "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act", which requires a voter verifiable paper trail, disclosure of voting machine programs, and surprise random recounts. This campaign (along with lots of other people's efforts) has resulted in almost 100 co-sponsors for that bill from both parties.
Of course, the bill also needs to pass the Senate. It seemed almost impossible only a few weeks ago, but now TWO bills have been introduced in the senate to require voter verifiability, and a third is on the way.
On December 9, Senator Bob Graham introduced a companion bill into the Senate. The bill, S.1980, is identical to H.R. 2239 in both title and text. Contrary to what his initial press release stated, his office tells us that the bill has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration. http://www.senate.gov/~graham/pr120903.html. Obviously, since we endorse HR 2239, we endorse this bill as well.
Also on December 9, Senator Hillary Clinton introduced a bill, S.1986. This bill is much different from the Holt bill, and not as strict. You can read the text of the bill here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:S.1986: (be sure to include the final colon in the URL). We are still studying this bill.
And on December 11, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced that she will introduce a companion bill to H.R.2239. http://boxer.senate.gov/newsroom/200312/20031211_vot.html.
As of this writing, we have no details on the bill, but her announcement suggests that it will be very similar to H.R. 2239.
We assume there are discussions going on among the authors of these three bills. When we have more information about what's going on and what you can do to help, we'll post it on our web page.
Obviously, we'll need to get Senate Republicans on board.
REPORT ON THE NIST CONFERENCE
The Help America Vote Act reorganized the Federal system for developing election guidelines. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has a major role in helping develop these standards. This is a good thing, since NIST has a high level of technical competence and a low level of politicization compared with many Federal agencies. Unfortunately, it hasn't been funded to do the necessary work.
NIST held a workshop December 10-11 on "Building Trust and Confidence in Voting Systems" for the purpose of "building consensus" (which is probably an overly optimistic goal). I was invited to give a presentation at the workshop, along with other endorsers of the Resolution on Electronic Voting: Doug Jones, Rebecca Mercuri, and Avi Rubin. There were also speakers with differing viewpoints, including election officials and advocates for voters with disabilities.
The workshop was webcast, and the videos are archived. Some of the PowerPoint presentations are online as well (see vote.nist.gov). These presentations are a wonderful way to learn more about the politics and different constituencies involved in this issue. We would urge everyone to view this material, especially our speeches (of course), Donetta Davidson's (Secretary of State of Colorado) and Jim Dickson's (American Association of People with Disabilities). It's a good way to find out what we're up against. See http://realex.nist.gov/votingstandards/
This workshop was a great experience. I met a number of interesting people, including folks I had been communicating with electronically for some time. I was especially pleased to meet Bill Gardner, the Secretary of State of New Hampshire, who is the only secretary of state (so far) to have endorsed the Resolution on Electronic Voting. He is the longest serving Secretary of State in the U.S., and has been personally involved in 300 recounts (that's probably far more than any other U.S. election official). New Hampshire required all election equipment to have paper ballots in the early 1990's, after voters lost confidence in the touch-screen systems that were used briefly in Manchester.
I also met members of the Campaign for Verifiable Voting in Maryland. They are very experienced and enthusiastic activists with a tough fight ahead of them to stop the state of Maryland from buying Diebold touch screen machines. They have expressed interest in working with other state groups, including helping new groups get off the ground. Their web site is http://www.truevotemd.org
MAJOR EDITORIALS ON BOTH COASTS CALL FOR VVPT
During these two weeks, the primary editorials in both the New York Times and the LA Times called for a voter-verified paper trail.
In its December 8 editorial dedicated to the voting issue, the New York Times referred to Holt's bill and ended with this unequivocal statement: "Too many elections teeter on a few hundred votes, and candidates rightly expect human beings to be able to double-check the results. America's election apparatus needs to move firmly and quickly into the computer age. But the public must feel secure that each vote is really counted. At this stage, a voter-verified paper trail offers the public that necessary security." http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70D11FA3B590C7B8CDDAB0994DB404482
Then on the following Friday, December 12, the LA Times devoted its primary editorial to the subject. Warning that "It's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting," the article includes a strong endorsement of H.R. 2239: "Legislators should begin by passing a bill by Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.) that would require the new machines to provide a paper receipt to each voter" http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-ed-voting12dec12,1,466888.story
We encourage all of you to write to the editors in support of the strong position they have both taken.
CSPAN: WASHINGTON JOURNAL FEATURES AVI RUBIN
Major air time for the voting issue! Saturday, December 20, Avi Rubin appeared on Washington Journal. He spoke of the problems with electronic voting and answered callers' questions masterfully. The show aired at 7:00 am and 10:00 am EST. It will appear every day this week at 7:00 am. and both days next weekend at 7:00 and 10:00.
VIDEOS OF PUBLIC MEETINGS?
An independent filmmaker has asked whether anyone has videos of public statements at meetings where voting machine purchase decisions were being made. He asked specifically about some of the meetings we had at Santa Clara County January and February of this year, but I don't know if anyone was filming (I wasn't). If you have something you would like to volunteer, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEVADA GOES VVPT
Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller announced on December 10 that all Nevada's new voting machine purchases will include a voter verifiable receipt printer (NOTE: We disapprove of the word receipt because it leads people to believe voters will be able to carry them out of the polling place, even though that is not how the Nevada machines will work). All DRE's currently in use will be upgraded to include a printer by 2006. His press release says:
"Voting is the most fundamental freedom Americans enjoy; it is the backbone of a free and democratic society. As the State's Chief Elections Officer, my duty is clear: to provide voters with the highest level of confidence that elections in this state are fair, unbiased and secure. These critical principles led to my decision to be the first state in the nation to demand a vendor to include a voter verifiable receipt (VVR) printer on all DRE machines in time for the 2004 election." http://sos.state.nv.us/press/121003.htm
We have heard that this is not precisely correct, and that only new machines will have voter verifiable printers before November 2004. The majority of the population of Nevada is in Clark County, which already has older electronic voting machines. These may not be retrofitted by 2004.
Before making this decision, Heller spoke with Nevada Senator John Ensign, who wrote the audit trail language in the Help America Vote Act. Ensign said HAVA was intended to require a system that "permits voters to verify their vote at the time it is cast and used as the official record for recounts". http://www.rgj.com/news/stories/html/2003/12/05/58407.php
Unfortunately, HAVA is being perversely interpreted to mean that the voter can verify his or her vote on the touch screen, and paper records can be printed after the polls close.
Another interesting development: In response to the Nevada Gaming Control Board's review of Diebold and Sequoia voting machines, Heller has decided to deploy Sequoia systems statewide. Sequoia systems are already being used in Clark County, which has 70% of the population. The summary of the report from the Board includes this statement: "...the Diebold electronic voting machine, operating on the software analyzed in a John Hopkins report and the SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) Risk Assessment Report, represents a legitimate threat to the integrity of the election process."
Gambling machine security is about as good as computer security gets (although the machines are still defrauded occasionally). The Nevada gaming commission knows more about electronic fraud than anyone in the voting business. I suspect that partly explains Nevada's new paper trail requirement.
OHIO LEGISLATORS INTRODUCE BILL REQUIRING VVPT
U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) is an early co-sponsor of H.R. 2239. She promoted the efforts of members of the Ohio state legislature, Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and state Rep. Peter Ujvagi (D-Toledo), who introduced a bill calling for a voter verified paper ballot to be the official ballot for recounting and auditing.
WASHINGTON STATE GOES VVPT
December 16, Washington's Secretary of State Sam Reed announced that he will introduce a bill into the state legislature requiring "electronic voting machines in Washington to offer a paper audit trail. ... The bill requires all ballot-counting systems to be physically secure to guard against unauthorized access and prohibits the Secretary from certifying a system that operates with a connection to any electronic network, including the Internet."
The news release also says "the bill will also include language to permit electronic verification if such technology is approved by the Federal Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) and is practical and acceptable to voters." VerifiedVoting.org contacted the office to ask about this statement and was told that it would leave the door open for new technology advancements, without forcing the legislative process back to square one. The Secretary of State's office also said that the method of determining what would be "acceptable to voters" was pretty much how the office has received input from citizens on the HAVA plan.
We at VerifiedVoting.org have concerns about the standards for accepting new technology in this bill. At this point, we believe that radically new voting technology should only be deployed after two conditions are met (1) there is a consensus among experts that it is trustworthy (not a few experts saying its trustworthy -- a consensus), and (2) it is accepted by the public. There is no indication that the EAC approval process will require anything like expert consensus.
However, electronic voting activists in Washington State have been very effective. They will set a very high bar for deciding whether electronic verification is trustworthy and acceptable to the public.
Reed's announcement defines no timelines, and the bill has not yet been drafted. You can read the news release at: http://www.secstate.wa.gov/office/news.aspx?news_id=227
WEST VIRGINIA GOES VVPT
Under the HAVA requirements, West Virginia must replace its lever voting machines and its punch card machines, but Joe Manchin, West Virginia Secretary of State, is asking for an extension of time required to implement the accessibility requirements. Jan Casto, who oversees HAVA compliance for Manchin, said the reason they will present to federal officials is that, because of "recent reports of possible voting system manipulation," the state needs more time "in order to make a responsible decision when selecting the voting equipment." Casto also stated that Manchin "wants the new machines to print out while the voter is still standing there, but it must also keep the ballot private for the voter."
MONTANA HAVA IMPLEMENTOR PROMISES TO REQUIRE VVPT
Montana, like other states, is struggling with the tight deadlines of HAVA. Nevertheless, Amy Sullivan, Montana's HAVA coordinator in the Secretary of State's office, is determined to have a paper trail on all its equipment. The following article appeared as a two-page spread in the Missoula Independent at the end of November. It was written by one of our endorsers, Mike Keefe-Feldman. Read the entire article here. http://www.missoulanews.com/Archives/News.asp?no=3670
ARKANSAS FILES FOR A HAVA EXTENSION
Voting activists in Arkansas, inspired and motivated by Lisa Burks, President of the Hot Springs Chapter of the National Organization for Women, informed the state of the dangers of DREs and convinced Secretary of State Charlie Daniels to apply for a HAVA waiver. The group led by Ms. Burks has been working for a voter-verified paper trail since early this year.
In his press release, Daniels said, "Uncertainty about funding and standards gives me some pause at this point about moving forward with our May deadline." While this language does not speak directly to the concerns and efforts of the voting activists, Arkansas' HAVA waiver is the first requested by a southern state - a great success in the movement toward verified voting. http://www.sosweb.state.ar.us/news_press.html#waiver
BOULDER COUNTY, COLORADO DELAYS PURCHASE OF DREs
Citizens for Verifiable Voting, a Boulder County group working for a voter-verifiable paper trail scored a big win last week. Tom Halicki, the county's election manager, decided to buy new non-electronic machines after he learned that Colorado had asked for an extension of the time required to implement HAVA.
The Boulder Daily Camera reports: Joe Pezzillo, the man behind Citizens for Verifiable Voting, said his group was thrilled by the county's decision to wait. "We're not just pleased - we're very grateful because it seems to us that the clerk's office has listened to our concerns and has taken the citizens' request into consideration," he said. Pezzillo hopes the delay will give the county time to explore other voting machines just coming onto the market, including one that combines the touchscreen technology of the DRE machines with a printed paper ballot. http://www.thedailycamera.com/bdc/city_news/article/0,1713,BDC_2422_250125 3, 00.html
UNCERTIFIED SOFTWARE INSTALLED ON ALL AUDITED DIEBOLD MACHINES IN CALIFORNIA
In early November, after learning that Diebold had installed uncertified software on some electronic voting systems in two California counties without the state's knowledge, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley ordered an audit of the Diebold machines in all California's counties. Diebold was charged with paying for the audit, and certification of its new machine was to be delayed until the audit was complete. http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,61172,00.html
On December 17, the results of the audit were revealed. Uncertified software was found on machines in all of the 17 counties using its machines. Our VerifiedVoting.org representative, who was at the meeting where the results were discussed, tells us that NOT ONE of the machines audited was using certified software. Changes Diebold made to the "upgraded" software are still not known.
Marc Carrel, assistant secretary of state for policy and planning, said he was "disgusted" by the situation. He indicated that he wasn't opposed to turning the matter over to the district attorney's office. Bob Urosevich, president of Diebold, admitted negligence and promised this would not happen in the future.
California's Voting System Panel ordered all the voting machines in California to be audited, a process that will take about three months. http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,61637,00.html
MORE DIEBOLD PROBLEMS
Also on December 17, Bev Harris, author of "Black Box Voting," and Andy Stephenson, a Democratic candidate in next year's Washington State's Secretary of State election, held a press conference. They brought documents showing that managers of a subsidiary of Diebold included "a cocaine trafficker, a man who conducted fraudulent stock transactions and a programmer jailed for falsifying computer records." http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,61640,00.html?tw=wn_polihead_1
The full press conference summary is here: http://www.blackboxvoting.com/bbv/1216presskit.pdf
FORTUNE MAGAZINE GIVES ITS "WORST TECHNOLOGY" AWARD TO DREs
Fortune magazine has released its awards for best and worst technology of 2003. This year's winner of the worst technology award is "Paperless Voting." Fortune considers this technology even worse than implanted identification devices, which only won the runner-up award.