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Bev Harris: Embezzler Programmed Voting System

Bev Harris: Embezzler Programmed System To Connect Ballots To Voter

Friday Dec 19, 2003
By Bev
See also… 17 Dec. press conference release and materials.
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An embezzler who specialized in sophisticated alteration of records of computerized systems was programming our voting system, and also had access to the printing of the ballots, and ties to the private company that sorts King County absentee ballots. Let’s look at some of the features he put into the voting system software:

Jeffrey W. Dean, January 22, 2002 RE: serial numbers on ballots: “The BOD [Ballot on Demand] application that we have been running in King County since 1998 does put serial numbers on the ballots (or stubs) along with a variety of optional data. The application also will optionally connect the ballot serial number to a voter.

Will a voter-verified paper ballot solve the above problem? What, exactly, are we fighting for?

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In June, 2003, I queried many in the voting activism community about what, exactly, we should do with a voter-verified paper ballot system when we get it. No one seemed quite sure. It’s been a long, hard fight and I’m confident that we’re going to get the paper ballot — but not soon enough, and it’s not worth a thing if we don’t audit.

Congressman Rush Holt from New Jersey proposed HR 2239 to mandate voter-verified paper ballots, get rid of risky remote access tools, and require a spot check audit. His bill has been a giant step in the right direction, but still doesn’t address auditing.

We’ve had people doing “end runs” and we’ve used uncertified software, and we are stuck with just trusting those who have access.

In King County, an individual named Jeffrey Dean obtained a contract to program the voter registration system. According to sources within the King County elections office, Dean also had a key to the computer room, the passcode to the GEMS computer, and 24-hour access to the building. Dean sometimes urged upgrades to new, uncertified software right before elections.

So here’s a man with access to our personal information and access to the programs that count 800,000 votes. He also had involvement with the Windows CE operating system used by the touch-screens:

From: Ian S. Piper, October 20, 2001: “I don’t know the outlook for implementing WinCE 3.0. Jeff Dean would be the person to make an inquiry to on that matter.

From: Larry Dix, October 20, 2001: Can anyone other than Jeff give an update on this? Any idea when CE will be available ...”

Jeffrey Dean was largely responsible for programming the 1.96 version of the optical scan software, which is used not just in Seattle, but throughout the U.S. (1.96.4 was certified in May 2003).

From: Jeff Dean, 23 Feb 2001: “What we are doing is certifying a firmware release that is backward compatible with the 1.94, 1.95 spider’s web of uncertified features currently in use ... let’s get 1.96 tested and certified.”

Jeffrey W. Dean was the senior vice president of Global Election Systems and a director of the company in 2000 and 2001. He had access not only to King County, but to the entire suite of optical scan software used in 37 states, and the security-sensitive Windows CE program for the touch-screens. Jeffrey Dean had access to our votes, but what he is not allowed to have is access to handling any checks.

That is because his criminal sentence for twenty-three counts of felony Theft in the First Degree forbids him to handle any checks, now that he has been released from prison. According to the findings of fact in case no. 89-1-04034-1:

“Defendant’s thefts occurred over a 2 1/2 year period of time, there were multiple incidents, more than the standard range can account for, the actual monetary loss was substantially greater than typical for the offense, the crimes and their cover-up involved a high degree of sophistication and planning in the use and alteration of records in the computerized accounting system that defendant maintained for the victim, and the defendant used his position of trust and fiduciary responsibility as a computer systems and accounting consultant for the victim to facilitate the commission of the offenses.”

Diebold told The AP wire that Dean left the company when they took over, but in fact, Diebold retained him as a consultant:

From: Steve Moreland, 4 Feb 2002: “I am pleased to announce that effective today, John Elder will be assuming the role of General Manager of the Printed Products department of Diebold Election Systems, Inc. John brings a wealth of knowledge along with a passion for success to this role which will be essential as we strive to gain market share and improve profitability. Jeff Dean has elected to maintain his affiliation with the company in a consulting role, reporting to Pat Green. The Diebold Election Division management team greatly values Jeff’s contribution to this business and is looking forward to his continued expertise in this market place.

Diebold also cannot say that the voting machines it built had nothing to do with Jeffrey Dean. Though Diebold actually purchased Global Election Systems in January 2002, they contracted to build machines for Global in 2001. This was because Diebold had loaned money to Global, planning to buy the firm, and Global had sold 500 machines that it did not have the liquidity to manufacture.

While in prison, Jeffrey Dean met and became friends with John Elder, who did five years for cocaine trafficking. At the time of this writing, Elder is still on Diebold’s payroll; in fact, he manages a division and oversees the printing of both ballots and punch cards for several states. Punch cards, remember, can also be rigged, by selectively die-cutting so that some chads dislodge more easily than others. Diebold’s printing division also bids on printing for Sequoia.

King County contracts the mailing of its absentee ballots out to Elder’s division, and Elder’s division subcontracts with a firm called PSI Group Inc. to sort the incoming absentee ballots — the most high-risk security point for absentee ballots. You see, we know how many absentee ballots we send out, but we have no idea how many are filled out and sent back in, especially if they pass through a middleman before being counted by elections officials. The elections division may tell you they count the ballots before outsourcing for precinct sorting, but in major metro areas, up to 60,000 ballots arrive in a single day and they are simply not staffed for this. It makes no sense to count ballots by precinct and then send them out for sorting.

According to a 2001 SEC document, our felon friends had contracted for absentee and ballot processing for the following counties:

King County Records and Elections-Ballot Production 7/15/98
King County Records and Elections-Absentee Process 7/10/98
Fresno County Elections-Ballot Production 2/28/99
Fresno County Elections-Absentee Process 2/28/99
Tulare County Elections-Ballot Production 9/03/99
Los Angeles Elections-Absentee Process 8/01/00
Santa Clara County Elections-Absentee Process 9/12/00
Sacramento County Elections-Absentee Process 9/05/00

Purchase Orders based upon Spectrum's ballot production and absentee Statements of Work
Santa Barbara County
San Luis Obispo County
Marin County
Lassen County
Siskiyou County
Humboldt County
Trinity County

Jeffrey Dean was released from prison in August, 1995 and Elder was released in November 1996. In their prison release documents, both wrote that they had lined up employment at Postal Services of Washington, Inc., the firm that sorts 500,000 mail-in absentee ballots for King County.

Jeffrey Dean, when released from prison, had $87 in his inmate account. He was ordered to pay $385,227 in restitution for his embezzlements. For most of us, this would be a crushing financial blow, and we would find it difficult to bankroll a business, yet somehow Dean (and his wife, Deborah M. Dean) managed to become the owners of Spectrum Printing & Mailing. In 2000, Dean’s printing and mailing firm was purchased for $1.6 million by Global Election Systems.

So when we try to find out what software is actually authorized, we get the buffalo shuffle. We’ve got a cocaine trafficker printing our ballots, an embezzler programming our voting system, and our absentee ballots are being funneled through a private company that hires people straight out of prison.

I don’t believe there is a certification program in existence that can protect us from inside access. We need criminal background checks and robust, fraud-deterring audits.

* * * * *

Everybody Out Of The Pool, We Need To Disinfect It

We need procedural protections. These are public policy issues, not certification techniques. And I contend that our system is currently so flawed, and so poorly conceived, that it is time to get everyone out of the pool so that we can disinfect it.

We need a temporary moratorium on machine voting. We must count the paper ballots by hand, at least for elections in the very near-term, because we really have no idea how widespread this problem is and we do not have safeguards in place. Remember, we just lucked into the Diebold files. In an audit, when there is an anomaly with your spot check, you pull the whole subset of records for a more careful examination. We just spot-checked Diebold. I’d say we found an anomaly. Now we need to pull the subset of voting system vendors and give everyone a background check, and send an auditor in to check our their records. And perhaps their memos.

Trust is critical, so transparency must become a requirement. The Declaration of Independence does not say “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the computer programmers.”

No matter how clever the cryptography, no matter how great the open source program is, unless ordinary citizens with no computer expertise can see with their own eyes that votes are being counted accurately, the audit system fails. In a democracy like ours, you don’t need to be a lawyer to sit on a jury. You shouldn’t need to be a computer programmer to count a vote.

The “many eyes” method is a great way to eliminate conspiracy and prove that a system is trustworthy. “Many eyes” simply means that we let as many independent parties as possible view the vote-counting. I spoke with Christopher Bollyn, a reporter who has written several articles about the erosion in integrity of our voting system as it migrated to computerized counting. He described an election he witnessed in France which illustrates “many eyes”:

Voters cast ballots on paper, and when it comes time to count, the room becomes crowded with citizens. As many citizens as can fit in the room are allowed to watch the counting. Sworn election officials, some from each party in the election, in front of all the observers, count the ballots into piles of 100. Each set of ballots is placed in a bag. Then, one bag at a time, the election officials count the ballots, announcing each one. They tally up one bag and move to the next, until all are done.

It takes a relatively short time to count 1,000 votes, and by having many election precincts throughout the country, all of France can be counted in a matter of hours, in front of thousands of eyes.

I think you’ll agree that the above system creates very little suspicion about the vote-counting procedure.

* * * * *

We need to bring in the real experts — the auditing consultants — and keep the system simple. Here are some of the procedural safeguards we should consider, and (because in California, at least, some of these are in the law but haven’t been enforced) we need to put some teeth into noncompliance penalties:

- Verify the machine tally while still at the polling place. Run a report of the tally from the polling place before phoning, modeming, or driving anything to the county. Post this report on the door of the precincts and make copies available to the press.

- Compare the polling place tally with the matching totals assigned by the central county office. This makes it much harder to get away with changing votes after they leave the polling place, and manipulations of programs like GEMS will be caught.

- Provide more clearly delineated accounting for the votes that appear after the precinct totals (provisional votes, mail-in votes). These after-the-fact additions need not make for messy and confusing accounting — polling place tallies should match what is posted at the polling place, and must be separated from after-the-fact additions and the reason for the additions must be noted in a way that is easily understandable for reporters, candidates and the public.

Make sure anomalies are hand-audited. Make sure that hand-audits are a routine part of every election, not just used for recounts.

Allow more people have the right to audit: Allow the press, and any citizen, to audit if they pay for it. If they discover that the election was miscounted in a significant way, reimburse them, because they have done a public service. Give some thought to how to do these audits inexpensively.

Allow the parties to select some precincts to hand audit.

Make “random” spot checks truly random, by prohibiting a handful of officials from selecting them. Instead, use a transparent and public method for random selection.

Require triggered audits for insufficient randomness (e.g. three candidates get 18,181 votes; poll book shows voters arrived in alphabetical order; every Republican wins by exactly 3 percent of the vote; the results of one machine vary widely from other machines at the same precinct)

Require a hand audit if there is a breach of security (e.g. memory cards misplaced, unusual time lag between poll closing and reporting of the votes.)

Require that the audit be expanded if the difference between machine count and manual count is excessive, whether or not the identified discrepancy would overturn the election.

- Require voting machines that miscount to be publicly reported, and if it is the fault of the vendor, require accuracy failures to be disclosed to prospective buyers.

Consider a 100 percent audit of the paper ballots. It may be easier and cheaper to do a 100 percent audit than to counter the political tricks that will arise when we introduce judgement (like what constitutes an “anomaly”) into a robust spot-checking procedure.

The biggest objection to proper auditing is that it takes too much time. If we aren’t willing to invest the time to safeguard the system, maybe we should rethink the idea of using voting machines altogether.

# # ENDS # #

Bev Harris is author of Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering In The 21st Century … See and it's activist arm

Pre-Order your copy of Black Box Voting today…

For more background and live news links on this news subject see also Scoop's Special Feature – A Very American Coup…


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