Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Licence needed for work use Learn More
Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Bev Harris: Inside CA's Diebold Decertification

The inside story on California Diebold decertification -- Next: Ohio?

By Bev
Thursday April 22nd 2004
Read The Book…Support The Cause - Order Your Copy Today

SCOOP EDITOR'S NOTE: Bev Harris is presently on the road. The following is taken from a forum post from the Democratic Underground website updating the online community on yesterday's startling developments in the fight for an accountable vote counting system in the State of California.

See also…
Calif. Moves to Block Diebold's E-Voting Machines
By Jim Wasserman
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, April 22, 2004; 4:42 PM


Here's what pushed it over the top:

There were many, many people and groups involved, among them,,, True Majority, SAVE-Democracy, California Voter Foundation, but this produced intense stress and left, really, no choice:

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

California completed its audit of certified versions in use. ONLY ONE county in California was using certified software (Orange County). Even there, significant problems arose.

The California secretary of state's office issued a report, which was critical to all vendors but brutal on Diebold.

A couple weeks back, I got an email from James Dunn, a California citizen who reported interesting things about his experience as a tech putting together the Diebold TSx system. I thought his information was important and passed it to Jim March, a Republican/Libertarian gun lobbyist who lives in Sacramento, for follow up. Jim is on of my co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit in California asking for restitution from Diebold, and he is highly skilled in persuasive lobbying.

Jim drove to Stockton to take a formal declaration from James Dunn. It was devastating. Basically, Diebold hires techs, and "rovers" for election day, by having a temp agency place ads on They hired Dunn over the phone and told him to show up for work and start assembling Diebold machines. Diebold's voter card encoder was not functioning properly, and therefore Diebold created several patches and told Dunn and the others to put them on the machines. Later, at the county facility, the Secretary of State paid a surprise visit. The assistant county registrar and Diebold employees were there. The techs were told not to tell what they were doing, and not to answer questions. After a brief conference among county and Diebold project managers, the techs were sent home with pay.

There was no inventory control. Patches went on some voter card encoders but not others, and records weren't kept of which were which. Patches overwrote other patches on the installation cards, with hand written version numbers crossed out and competing with each other for attention.

Though Diebold's technical data specs for the TSx machines specify that Diebold is ISO compliant (a quality management system for software) no attempt was made to follow even the most basic quality control standards to comply with ISO 9000. Most machines were not even tested after the patches.

The batteries kept dying, even when the machines were in transit only for a short time. But the batteries didnt even need to run down; when they got low, the machines lost their software.

The techs warned everyone who would listen that this was going to be a problem on election day. Diebold instructed them to ship the machines out around to various counties (and to Johnson County, Kansas) despite the flaws. The encoders did indeed fail on election day, causing many,many people to lose their ability to vote at all.


At the hearing yesterday: Bob Urosevich started off, and said he had no idea of the battery problem, and that Diebold had fixed all the problems identified by the various reports (SAIC, RABA)

But then Dunn testified that they did know about the problems.

Urosevich was cross examined, and it got pretty cross (on the part of the voter board) and tense (on the part of Diebold's lawyer, who kept jumping up to whisper in Urosevich's ear). His answers were evasive, nonsensical, parsed words beyond the meaning of "is" and so frustrated the panel that one panel member said "so we can look at your answer two ways -- you were trying to be misleading or you were lying. Which is it?"


Enter the next set of documents -- the lawyers memos.

Out of perhaps 600 pages, about 50 pages were deemed to be of compelling public interest. The most important information on these was provided directly to two gentlemen who had an appointment to meet with Kevin Shelley who was, at that time, out of the state. On Monday, March had provided Dunn's declaration to the secretary of state's office and to the California attorney general.

While traveling a few days ago, my plane touched down for about 20 minutes in Oakland while I was on my way to Dallas. I grabbed my cell phone and called Ian Hoffman of the Oakland Trib to tip him off about a set of documents that had become available, and he was keenly interested. He made the correct inquiries to locate a selection of memos.

Hoffman printed two articles in the Oakland Tribune and the Tri Valley Herald, on Tuesday this week, detailing the problems exposed by the memos:
1) Diebold's lawyers were planning to lie to the secretary of state by saying the smart card system was commercial off the shelf, and didnt need to be certified. This was in response to a suggested interrogatory I provided for the January voting panel hearing via Jim March. Of course, this system is customized and heavily modified.

2)Diebold's lawyers described absurd answers to the interrogatories, like saying that to get hold of the source code for the TSx might take several months. However, if a software developer is following ISO 9000 standards, or any certification and auditability standards, of course they can lay their hands on their own source code. In a matter of a few minutes, certainly.

3) Diebolds lawyers said they needed to "find out what the secretary of state's office has" especially, if they had documents from the Diebold FTP site. They said they wanted to minimize document production. It so happens that strong evidence of the customized votercard programs was on that FTP site -- at least nine different versions of it.

4) Diebold's lawyers also outlined a number of areas where they had concluded that their client had probably broken the law.

5) They also made patently absurd written responses about the Windows CE system.

[Links to PDF copies of selected memos,

  • Alameda County Agreement

  • Atty fees for 2 months

  • California Elections Code--Countinq of Vo

  • Chart CA Desi COntracts

  • Chart of DESI certified systems 1.18.18 r

  • D McMillian to M Carrel Feb 2004

  • Discussion RE Windows CE

  • Equip list in CA Diebold COunties

  • Fed Quals and NASED Number

  • Issues Re CA SOS investigation

  • Memo Analyzing Alameda Contract

  • Q and A good stuff

  • SLO Investigation Notes

  • Scott Shaw to D McMillian

  • Scott Shaw to David McMillian

  • PLEASE NOTE – These links were not included in Bev Harris's post.]


    At the hearing, the voting panel cross examined Bob Urosevich and then his lawyer about information contained in these memos. The answers had the crowd squirming, guffawing and rolling their eyes.


    Jody Holder, a powerful researcher, brilliant guy, who is also a plaintiff in the consumers lawsuit against Diebold, obtained contracts between Diebold and the counties. In the Kern County contract was a "section O" where Kern agreed to let Diebold set up a dedicated phone line with direct access from corporate into their GEMS central tabulator system at any time.

    The voting panel asked the Kern County elections registrar why in the world she signed that. Her only answer was "we don't use it."

    But she agreed to give Diebold control of her central tabulator whenever they wanted.

    "But I don't do that" she repeated.

    "Oh I can sleep better now," said a member of the voting panel.


    Urosevich stated that all the flaws were fixed, but in GEMS 1.18.18, you see, I had obtained the release notes. Andy placed all of the release notes on this web address:

    When I testified, I was so sick of the lies that I was not as calm as usual. My testimony consisted of something like this: "Voting is a public trust. But Diebold LIES. You cannot have a company that lies have control of the vote." I then directed the 500-member audience to the web site to look at the release notes and see for themselves. The flaws we exposed in GEMS include ability to bypass password, ability to overwrite the audit log, ability to change votes, ability to enter minus votes, and the use of two sets of books, one which is used for spot checks and the other for the reported results. The two sets of books need not match.

    The release notes show that not one of these flaws were corrected.


    The chief obstacle to statewide decertification is the county registrars, many of whom are defending Diebold until the bitter end. Many testified, many told flat out lies, like "These machines have never miscounted" (Ahem: San Diego. Super Tuesday. GEMS. Miscounted 3000 votes).


    One of the main excuses was to blame the voting panel for putting pressure on everyone. Well, they came in spittin' mad today, and pretty much dressed Diebold down one side and up the other.

    And then they decertified the TSx (applies to 4 counties) and suggested submitting the case to the AGs office for possible criminal and civil prosecution.


    Some counties with touch screens did not get decertified (Alameda). That is because they have the TSr not the TSx. This is still not resolved, and may reopen. Also, the GEMS system still is not fully resolved, nor is the issue of wireless communications, which Diebold has never answered.


    Citizens, you really can make a difference. Right now I'm in Ohio. Tomorrow I'll meet with a group of African American ministers, with a few state senators, and do media interviews. Today we held a dramatic event at the Diebold stockholders meeting, and DU's own Jeff Seeman, who is running for office, questioned Wally O'Dell creating some most awkward moments.

    Ohio is a swing state. Its secretary of state has recommended dumping $128 million into touch screens. Its senate is trying to block the expenditure. Together with CASE Ohio, we are mobilizing support for the senators. I also networked with a fantastic, dynamic new youth voting group called "The League of Pissed Off Voters."

    Been mighty busy. You ain't seen nothing yet. I need contributions, of course, and at the moment they are funding travel for coalition-building among all the small local groups.

    - Bev Harris

    NOTE: You can donate towards Bev Harris's costs via Paypal at

    # # ENDS # #

    Bev Harris is author of Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering In The 21st Century … See and
    Read The Book…Support The Cause - Order Your Copy Today

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

    © Scoop Media

    Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
    Top Scoops Headlines


    Join Our Free Newsletter

    Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.