View Full Version : How to Hack an Election

January 31st, 2004, 03:35 AM
January 31, 2004


How to Hack an Election

Concerned citizens have been warning that new electronic voting technology being rolled out nationwide can be used to steal elections. Now there is proof. When the State of Maryland hired a computer security firm to test its new machines, these paid hackers had little trouble casting multiple votes and taking over the machines' vote-recording mechanisms. The Maryland study shows convincingly that more security is needed for electronic voting, starting with voter-verified paper trails.

When Maryland decided to buy 16,000 AccuVote-TS voting machines, there was considerable opposition. Critics charged that the new touch-screen machines, which do not create a paper record of votes cast, were vulnerable to vote theft. The state commissioned a staged attack on the machines, in which computer-security experts would try to foil the safeguards and interfere with an election.

They were disturbingly successful. It was an "easy matter," they reported, to reprogram the access cards used by voters and vote multiple times. They were able to attach a keyboard to a voting terminal and change its vote count. And by exploiting a software flaw and using a modem, they were able to change votes from a remote location.

Critics of new voting technology are often accused of being alarmist, but this state-sponsored study contains vulnerabilities that seem almost too bad to be true. Maryland's 16,000 machines all have identical locks on two sensitive mechanisms, which can be opened by any one of 32,000 keys. The security team had no trouble making duplicates of the keys at local hardware stores, although that proved unnecessary since one team member picked the lock in "approximately 10 seconds."

Diebold, the machines' manufacturer, rushed to issue a self-congratulatory press release with the headline "Maryland Security Study Validates Diebold Election Systems Equipment for March Primary." The study's authors were shocked to see their findings spun so positively. Their report said that if flaws they identified were fixed, the machines could be used in Maryland's March 2 primary. But in the long run, they said, an extensive overhaul of the machines and at least a limited paper trail are necessary.

The Maryland study confirms concerns about electronic voting that are rapidly accumulating from actual elections. In Boone County, Ind., last fall, in a particularly colorful example of unreliability, an electronic system initially recorded more than 144,000 votes in an election with fewer than 19,000 registered voters, County Clerk Lisa Garofolo said. Given the growing body of evidence, it is clear that electronic voting machines cannot be trusted until more safeguards are in place.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Freedom Tower
January 31st, 2004, 11:58 AM
Unfortunately this was the best way they could think for the US troops in Iraq to vote in the elections. They are probably not going to do it because of security concerns. Does anyone know if the troops will still be able to vote somehow?

February 2nd, 2004, 03:59 PM
This is a great site concerning digital voter fraud:


The creator of the site, and various other liberal activists sites, got sued by Diebold for releasing an internal memo exposing their voting machines weaknesses. Diebold claimed that publishing the memo was unfair use of their material without their consent (copyright violation).

February 3rd, 2004, 09:55 AM



February 7th, 2004, 07:06 AM
February 7, 2004

Electronic Voting: Not Ready for Prime Time (3 Letters)

To the Editor:

Re "How to Hack an Election" (editorial, "Making Votes Count" series, Jan. 31):

Insecure voting machines undermine every American's faith in our democracy. Immediate action must be taken to prevent a repeat of the 2000 presidential election.

But simply requiring a voter-verified paper trail on electronic voting machines is a dangerously naïve solution.

If the machines are so easy to hack into, what would prevent someone from changing the software so that the machine prints out a vote for one candidate and records electronically a vote for the other?

It is obvious that electronic voting machines are not yet ready for use in a national election. Technologies like the simple paper ballot have sufficed for centuries, and can do so for a few more years.

Safeguarding our democracy is paramount. I, like most Americans, am not yet willing to entrust our democracy to voting machines whose security is so remarkably sub-par.

Middletown, Conn., Jan. 31, 2004

To the Editor:

I know of no better way to undermine democracy than to adopt a computerized voting system in which people have no confidence ("How to Hack an Election," editorial, Jan. 31).

Let the computer industry eliminate the possibility of hacking. Then it can sell computerized voting. The same people who can steal your identity can steal your vote.

Springfield, Mass., Jan. 31, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "How to Hack an Election" (editorial, "Making Votes Count" series, Jan. 31):

Have you ever agreed to arrive at a decision by the toss of a coin?

How would it be if the person doing the tossing also does the catching, slaps it on the back of his hand, and then proclaims that chance has favored him, without giving you the opportunity of seeing the proof?

"Electronic voting" without a paper trail is the same thing.

St. Petersburg, Fla., Feb. 5, 2004

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 23rd, 2004, 06:43 AM
May 23, 2004

Demand Grows to Require Paper Trails for Electronic Votes


WASHINGTON, May 22 - A coalition of computer scientists, voter groups and state officials, led by California's secretary of state, Kevin Shelley, is trying to force the makers of electronic voting machines to equip those machines with voter-verifiable paper trails.

Following the problems of the 2000 election in Florida, a number of states and hundreds of counties rushed to dump their punch card ballot systems and to buy the electronic touch screens. Election Data Services, a consulting firm that specializes in election administration, estimates that this November 50 million Americans - about 29 percent of the electorate - may be voting on touch screens, up from 12 percent in 2000.

But in the last year election analysts have documented so many malfunctions, including the disappearance of names from the ballot, and computer experts have shown that the machines are so vulnerable to hackers, that critics have organized to counter the rush toward touch screens with a move to require paper trails.

Paper trails - ballot receipts - would let voters verify that they had cast their votes as they intended and let election officials conduct recounts in close races.

Not everyone agrees that paper trails are necessary, or even advisable. Numerous local election officials - the ones who actually conduct elections - argue that paper trails could create worse problems than the perceived ones that they are intended to cure. They warn of paper jams, voter confusion and delays in the voting booth while voters read their receipts.

There are no national standards to help resolve the disputes. The federal commission that Congress created after 2000 to guide states is behind schedule, and the research body that was supposed to set standards for November 2004 has not even been appointed. So states, prompted by voter organizations, are taking matters into their own hands.

Nevada, which is using touch screens in all its voting precincts this November, has become the first state to require the manufacturer to attach printers in time for Election Day.

California is requiring voter-verified paper trails for any electronic machines that counties in the state buy after November; for this November, it has banned touch-screen machines unless counties meet certain security standards. Three counties are suing the state to overturn the ban and a fourth has said it plans to use the touch screens anyway.

Mr. Shelley said he was requiring counties to allow voters to vote on paper if they wanted to, even if there were no apparent problems with the touch screens. "It's a voter-confidence issue," he said in an interview. "It should be a no-brainer."

More than a dozen other states are considering legislation to require paper backups, and Congress, which had left the matter on the back burner, is considering several similar proposals.

"People are demanding this," said Representative Rush D. Holt, a New Jersey Democrat who has introduced a bill to require that by November, all voters be able to cast ballots that they can verify. This would entail either retrofitting touch screens with printers or requiring a county to go back to a paper-based system like optical-scan equipment or even punch cards.

Election groups, spurred to organize after a report last July from computer security experts at Johns Hopkins University warned of touch-screen pitfalls, have encouraged a voter revolt. During the primaries this spring, groups like the Campaign for Verifiable Voting urged thousands of voters in various states to cast paper ballots rather than use touch screens without paper trails.

Unfortunately for voters in Maryland who followed that suggestion, though, local officials ruled that those paper ballots were invalid and did not count them.

"The Maryland primary was a very instructive learning experience for all activists," said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the California Voter Foundation, a grass-roots watchdog group in Sacramento that is helping to organize voter groups across the country.

"There are movements in a lot of states, and we're sharing information," she said. She said she took it as a mark of success that 75 percent of the voting jurisdictions in the country will be using the same equipment in November as they used in 2000.

"I'd rather have voters vote on punch cards than on an electronic system that can't be verified," she said.

Ohio is the latest state to hit the paper trail. Earlier this month, Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican, signed legislation requiring all counties to have paper trails with their touch-screen machines by November 2006. But the law also allows counties to use the machines this November without paper trails.

Some officials, like state Senator Teresa Fedor, Democrat of Toledo, said this made no sense. If a paper trail is so important, she asked, why should voters go through even one election without them - especially in a state where the presidential vote could be close. She successfully argued to the Legislature that Ohio counties should be able to postpone buying the machines. "There are too many concerns for us to keep a blind eye," she said.

As a result, elections boards in 31 counties are debating whether to postpone their purchases. Since Governor Taft signed the bill, 18 have voted to wait.

"Ohio is the big struggle state right now," said Will Doherty, executive director of VerifiedVoting.org, a group advocating for paper trails.

Doug Chapin of Electionline.org, a clearinghouse for election information set up by the Pew Charitable Trust, said that Ohio was "rolling the dice" to see whether paper trails were necessary.

"You can either build a fence around a cliff or put an ambulance in the valley," he said. "The paper trail is the ambulance in the valley. Certifying the machines and testing them in the first place to make sure they are secure is the fence around the cliff."

But even as some states clamor for paper trails, machines equipped to provide them are scarce.

David L. Dill, a professor of computer science at Stanford University and founder of VerifiedVoting.org, said that models with paper trails had been tested in only a few counties. And a handful of small manufacturers provide them.

Officials from several large manufacturers have said that they could produce paper trails if they were required to, but they have so far resisted, arguing that they are unnecessary.

If more jurisdictions require them, though, vendors want to be first in line for the potentially lucrative contracts. Should a big state like New York, for example, which is considering making paper trails mandatory, joins California, the industry could probably gear up quickly.

Howard Cramer, vice president for sales at Sequoia Voting Systems, which is providing Nevada with its touch screens and printers, said that the company had no worries about the security and accuracy of its touch screens. He said he saw putting printers in Nevada as a useful experiment because other jurisdictions will require them, although he said he expected voters to become so comfortable with touch screens that they would soon drop the fad for paper trails.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 29th, 2004, 09:08 PM
May 30, 2004


A Really Open Election



This fall, as many as 20 percent of American voters will be able to cast their ballots on A.T.M.-style electronic voting machines. But to put it mildly, these machines -- where you simply touch a screen and a computer registers your vote -- have not inspired much confidence lately. North Carolina officials recently learned that a software glitch destroyed 436 e-ballots in early voting for the 2002 general election. In a Florida state election this past January, 134 votes apparently weren't recorded -- and this was in a race decided by a margin of only 12 votes. Since most of the machines don't leave any paper trail, there's no way to determine what actually happened. Most alarmingly, perhaps, California's secretary of state recently charged that Diebold -- the industry leader -- had installed uncertified voting machines and then misled state officials about it.

Electronic voting has much to offer, but will we ever be able to trust these buggy machines? Yes, we will -- but only if we adopt the techniques of the ''open source'' geeks.

One reason it's difficult to trust the voting software of companies like Diebold is that the source code remains a trade secret. A few federally approved software experts are allowed to examine the code and verify that it works as intended, and in some cases, states are allowed to keep a copy in escrow. But the public has no access, and this is troublesome. When the Diebold source code was accidentally posted online last year, a computer-science professor looked at it and found it was dangerously hackable. Diebold may have fixed its bugs, but since the firm won't share the code publicly, there's no way of knowing. Just trust us, the company says.

But is the counting of votes -- a fundamental of democracy -- something you want to take on faith? No, this problem requires a more definitive solution: ending the secrecy around the machines.

First off, the government should ditch the private-sector software makers. Then it should hire a crack team of programmers to write new code. Then -- and this is the crucial part -- it should put the source code online publicly, where anyone can critique or debug it. This honors the genius of the open-source movement. If you show something to a large enough group of critics, they'll notice (and find a way to remove) almost any possible flaw. If tens of thousands of programmers are scrutinizing the country's voting software, it's highly unlikely a serious bug will go uncaught. The government's programming team would then take the recommendations, incorporate them into an improved code and put that online, too. This is how the famous programmer Linus Torvalds developed his Linux operating system, and that's precisely why it's so rock solid -- while Microsoft's secretly developed operating systems, Linux proponents say, crash far more often and are easier to hack. Already, Australians have used the open-source strategy to build voting software for a state election, and it ran like a well-oiled Chevy. A group of civic-minded programmers known as the Open Voting Consortium has written its own open-source code.

But if our code were open, wouldn't cyberterrorists or other outlaws be able to locate flaws and possibly rig an election? Well, theoretically -- except that it's highly unlikely that they could spot an error that escaped thousands and thousands of scrutineers. Indeed, it may be far easier to infiltrate a private-sector company and tamper with its software. Diebold, after all, kept quiet about the bugs it found in its programs -- including one that subtracted more than 16,000 votes from Al Gore in a single Florida country during the initial vote counting in the 2000 election. Open-source enthusiasts, by contrast, are precisely the sort of people you'd like to see inspecting the voting code; they're often libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power, and they'd scream to the high heavens if they found anything wrong.

From the classification of documents to the refusal to name detainees, the Bush administration's actions show a high regard for secrecy. In essence, it's hiding its code, too. Inside such closed systems, nasty things can happen, as we're learning to our chagrin. Perhaps a blast of open-source candor is exactly what America needs right now.

Clive Thompson writes frequently for the magazine about science and technology.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 29th, 2004, 09:27 PM
May 30, 2004


Who Tests Voting Machines?

Whenever questions are raised about the reliability of electronic voting machines, election officials have a ready response: independent testing. There is nothing to worry about, they insist, because the software has been painstakingly reviewed by independent testing authorities to make sure it is accurate and honest, and then certified by state election officials. But this process is riddled with problems, including conflicts of interest and a disturbing lack of transparency. Voters should demand reform, and they should also keep demanding, as a growing number of Americans are, a voter-verified paper record of their vote.

Experts have been warning that electronic voting in its current form cannot be trusted. There is a real danger that elections could be stolen by nefarious computer code, or that accidental errors could change an election's outcome. But state officials invariably say that the machines are tested by federally selected laboratories. The League of Women Voters, in a paper dismissing calls for voter-verified paper trails, puts its faith in "the certification and standards process."

But there is, to begin with, a stunning lack of transparency surrounding this process. Voters have a right to know how voting machine testing is done. Testing companies disagree, routinely denying government officials and the public basic information. Kevin Shelley, the California secretary of state, could not get two companies testing his state's machines to answer even basic questions. One of them, Wyle Laboratories, refused to tell us anything about how it tests, or about its testers' credentials. "We don't discuss our voting machine work," said Dan Reeder, a Wyle spokesman.

Although they are called independent, these labs are selected and paid by the voting machine companies, not by the government. They can come under enormous pressure to do reviews quickly, and not to find problems, which slow things down and create additional costs. Brian Phillips, president of SysTest Labs, one of three companies that review voting machines, conceded, "There's going to be the risk of a conflict of interest when you are being paid by the vendor that you are qualifying product for."

It is difficult to determine what, precisely, the labs do. To ensure there are no flaws in the software, every line should be scrutinized, but it is hard to believe this is being done for voting software, which can contain more than a million lines. Dr. David Dill, a professor of computer science at Stanford University, calls it "basically an impossible task," and doubts it is occurring. In any case, he says, "there is no technology that can find all of the bugs and malicious things in software."

The testing authorities are currently working off 2002 standards that computer experts say are inadequate. One glaring flaw, notes Rebecca Mercuri, a Harvard-affiliated computer scientist, is that the standards do not require examination of any commercial, off-the-shelf software used in voting machines, even though it can contain flaws that put the integrity of the whole system in doubt. A study of Maryland's voting machines earlier this year found that they used Microsoft software that lacked critical security updates, including one to stop remote attackers from taking over the machine.

If so-called independent testing were as effective as its supporters claim, the certified software should work flawlessly. But there have been disturbing malfunctions. Software that will be used in Miami-Dade County, Fla., this year was found to have a troubling error: when it performed an audit of all of the votes cast, it failed to correctly match voting machines to their corresponding vote totals.

If independent testing were taken seriously, there would be an absolute bar on using untested and uncertified software. But when it is expedient, manufacturers and election officials toss aside the rules without telling the voters. In California, a state audit found that voters in 17 counties cast votes last fall on machines with uncertified software. When Georgia's new voting machines were not working weeks before the 2002 election, uncertified software that was not approved by any laboratory was added to every machine in the state.

The system requires a complete overhaul. The Election Assistance Commission, a newly created federal body, has begun a review, but it has been slow to start, and it is hamstrung by inadequate finances. The commission should move rapidly to require a system that includes:

Truly independent laboratories. Government, not the voting machine companies, must pay for the testing and oversee it.

Transparency. Voters should be told how testing is being done, and the testers' qualifications.

Rigorous standards. These should spell out in detail how software and hardware are to be tested, and fix deficiencies computer experts have found.

Tough penalties for violations. Voting machine companies and election officials who try to pass off uncertified software and hardware as certified should face civil and criminal penalties.

Mandatory backups. Since it is extremely difficult to know that electronic voting machines will be certified and functional on Election Day, election officials should be required to have a nonelectronic system available for use.

None of these are substitutes for the best protection of all: a voter-verified paper record, either a printed receipt that voters can see (but not take with them) for touch-screen machines, or the ballot itself for optical scan machines. These create a hard record of people's votes that can be compared to the machine totals to make sure the counts are honest. It is unlikely testing and certification will ever be a complete answer to concerns about electronic voting, but they certainly are not now.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 30th, 2004, 04:35 AM
so long democracy.

June 1st, 2004, 04:58 PM
so long democracy.

Why HELLO big brother!!!!!

(Remember to smile at the screen while posting!!!!)

June 12th, 2004, 09:23 PM
June 13, 2004


Gambling on Voting

If election officials want to convince voters that electronic voting can be trusted, they should be willing to make it at least as secure as slot machines. To appreciate how poor the oversight on voting systems is, it's useful to look at the way Nevada systematically ensures that electronic gambling machines in Las Vegas operate honestly and accurately. Electronic voting, by comparison, is rife with lax procedures, security risks and conflicts of interest.

On a trip last week to the Nevada Gaming Control Board laboratory, in a state office building off the Las Vegas Strip, we found testing and enforcement mechanisms that go far beyond what is required for electronic voting. Among the ways gamblers are more protected than voters:

1. The state has access to all gambling software. The Gaming Control Board has copies on file of every piece of gambling device software currently being used, and an archive going back years. It is illegal for casinos to use software not on file. Electronic voting machine makers, by contrast, say their software is a trade secret, and have resisted sharing it with the states that buy their machines.

2. The software on gambling machines is constantly being spot-checked. Board inspectors show up unannounced at casinos with devices that let them compare the computer chip in a slot machine to the one on file. If there is a discrepancy, the machine is shut down, and investigated. This sort of spot-checking is not required for electronic voting. A surreptitious software change on a voting machine would be far less likely to be detected.

3. There are meticulous, constantly updated standards for gambling machines. When we arrived at the Gaming Control Board lab, a man was firing a stun gun at a slot machine. The machine must work when subjected to a 20,000-volt shock, one of an array of rules intended to cover anything that can possibly go wrong. Nevada adopted new standards in May 2003, but to keep pace with fast-changing technology, it is adding new ones this month.

Voting machine standards are out of date and inadequate. Machines are still tested with standards from 2002 that have gaping security holes. Nevertheless, election officials have rushed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy them.

4. Manufacturers are intensively scrutinized before they are licensed to sell gambling software or hardware. A company that wants to make slot machines must submit to a background check of six months or more, similar to the kind done on casino operators. It must register its employees with the Gaming Control Board, which investigates their backgrounds and criminal records.

When it comes to voting machine manufacturers, all a company needs to do to enter the field is persuade an election official to buy its equipment. There is no way for voters to know that the software on their machines was not written by programmers with fraud convictions, or close ties to political parties or candidates.

5. The lab that certifies gambling equipment has an arms-length relationship with the manufacturers it polices, and is open to inquiries from the public. The Nevada Gaming Control Board lab is a state agency, whose employees are paid by the taxpayers. The fees the lab takes in go to the state's general fund. It invites members of the public who have questions about its work to call or e-mail.

The federal labs that certify voting equipment are profit-making companies. They are chosen and paid by voting machine companies, a glaring conflict of interest. The voters and their elected representatives have no way of knowing how the testing is done, or that the manufacturers are not applying undue pressure to have flawed equipment approved. Wyle Laboratories, one of the largest testers of voting machines, does not answer questions about its voting machine work.

6. When there is a dispute about a machine, a gambler has a right to an immediate investigation. When a gambler believes a slot machine has cheated him, the casino is required to contact the Gaming Control Board, which has investigators on call around the clock. Investigators can open up machines to inspect their internal workings, and their records of recent gambling outcomes. If voters believe a voting machine has manipulated their votes, in most cases their only recourse is to call a board of elections number, which may well be busy, to lodge a complaint that may or may not be investigated.

Election officials say their electronic voting systems are the very best. But the truth is, gamblers are getting the best technology, and voters are being given systems that are cheap and untrustworthy by comparison. There are many questions yet to be resolved about electronic voting, but one thing is clear: a vote for president should be at least as secure as a 25-cent bet in Las Vegas.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 23rd, 2004, 02:45 AM
July 23, 2004

Insurance for Electronic Votes

This November, millions of voters will use electronic voting machines of questionable reliability. The election is by now too near for the sort of major overhaul that electronic voting requires. But there is still time for states and localities to protect the integrity of the voting and build public confidence in the results. The public should insist that election officials put these protections in place right away.

There has been extensive documentation of the problems with electronic voting. Several studies have found that it is vulnerable to vote theft and to inadvertent errors that can alter the outcome of an election. These inherent flaws are made worse by the reckless, and possibly illegal, actions of voting machine companies. This spring, California banned 14,000 Diebold voting machines because of allegations of "fraudulent actions" by the manufacturer.

In a well-run election system, electronic voting machines costing millions of dollars would not have been purchased before there were adequate standards for ensuring that they work properly. But given that nearly one-third of voters may be voting electronically this fall, it is fortunate that a number of private groups - including the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School and the Caltech/M.I.T. Voting Technology Project - have stepped forward with ideas for how election officials can minimize the risks. Kevin Shelley, the California secretary of state and a pioneer in the field, has also issued useful directives, many of which are on his official Web site.

Here are some things voters should demand:

Physical security for electronic systems Electronic voting machines must be kept secure at all times. It seems like an obvious point, but it's been ignored too often. In Georgia's March primary, voting machines were reported to have been delivered early to a polling place in a university student center, and left unattended. Some places start up machines the night before the election, a clear security risk.

The locks and antitampering devices on machines must be more secure. A study earlier this year in Maryland found, unbelievably, that all 16,000 electronic voting machines in the state had identical locks, which could be opened with a single key. The entire "chain of custody" of the voting, from the casting of ballots to the final tabulation, must be kept secure. Computers used in elections must not be used for anything else. All software used on them should be certified, and logs should be kept of everyone who has access to them.

Rigorous testing of electronic machines In many jurisdictions, testing is woefully inadequate. The machines should be exhaustively tested in advance, with real people casting votes, not simply machines "self-testing" their accuracy. The tests should use all of the ballot configurations that will be used in the election, and in large enough sample sizes to draw meaningful conclusions.

Randomly selected machines should be continually tested throughout Election Day. This "parallel monitoring," as it is known, can test parts of the system that come into play only during actual voting. It can ensure that no malicious software was installed that was designed to look honest before and after voting, but to steal votes during the election itself.

Properly trained poll workers, and rapid-response teams on Election Day Many of the problems that have occurred so far with electronic voting were due to election workers' errors. Poll workers must be extensively trained in the use of electronic voting machines, and given clearly written materials. On Election Day, there should be enough technology experts available to handle problems as they occur, monitoring teams doing spot checks for malfunctions and tampering, and rapid-response teams available for quick on-site visits.

Public records at the precinct level The more records that are created of vote totals, and the earlier in the process such records are created, the harder it is to steal votes. When the polls close, the results should be printed out and posted at each precinct and should remain there for at least one day to protect against alterations in the totals during transmission to the central office. Election results for precincts should also be immediately posted online.

The option to vote non-electronically Many voters do not trust electronic voting, and many are not confident of their computer skills. Any voter should be able to use a paper ballot. A review of Florida's primary this March found that elderly voters were more likely than others to cast ballots that did not select a candidate. Forcing people to vote electronically could lead to a rerun of the infamous "butterfly ballot" of 2000, with overly complicated voting technology that disenfranchises voters.

Independent security experts The short history of electronic voting has shown that manufacturers cannot be trusted when it comes to the reliability of their products. Jurisdictions that use electronic voting should employ outside experts to test their systems. These tests should be done well in advance and made public. Voters should be told what is being done to address any problems.

Transparency in electronic voting As we saw again this month in Florida, which was forced to scrap a flawed list of felons to be purged from voter rolls that it had originally kept from the public, secrecy in election administration is often a cover for incompetence, or even partisan manipulation. Voters should be able to monitor every aspect of electronic voting, from the purchase of machines to the final tabulation of votes, and offered enough training that they can understand what they are seeing.

In the long run, electronic voting should not be allowed without unimpeachable and mandatory security standards, and machines that allow voters to see paper records and ensure that their votes are properly recorded. Unfortunately, a large part of the electorate will be using electronic machines this fall that lack these safeguards. Election officials have an obligation to act now to make the system as reliable as possible.

Making Votes Count: Editorials in this series remain online at www.nytimes.com/makingvotescount .

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 27th, 2004, 03:22 PM
July 27, 2004


Fear of Fraud


It's election night, and early returns suggest trouble for the incumbent. Then, mysteriously, the vote count stops and observers from the challenger's campaign see employees of a voting-machine company, one wearing a badge that identifies him as a county official, typing instructions at computers with access to the vote-tabulating software.

When the count resumes, the incumbent pulls ahead. The challenger demands an investigation. But there are no ballots to recount, and election officials allied with the incumbent refuse to release data that could shed light on whether there was tampering with the electronic records.

This isn't a paranoid fantasy. It's a true account of a recent election in Riverside County, Calif., reported by Andrew Gumbel of the British newspaper The Independent. Mr. Gumbel's full-length report, printed in Los Angeles City Beat, makes hair-raising reading not just because it reinforces concerns about touch-screen voting, but also because it shows how easily officials can stonewall after a suspect election.

Some states, worried about the potential for abuse with voting machines that leave no paper trail, have banned their use this November. But Florida, which may well decide the presidential race, is not among those states, and last month state officials rejected a request to allow independent audits of the machines' integrity. A spokesman for Gov. Jeb Bush accused those seeking audits of trying to "undermine voters' confidence," and declared, "The governor has every confidence in the Department of State and the Division of Elections."

Should the public share that confidence? Consider the felon list.

Florida law denies the vote to convicted felons. In 2000 the state hired a firm to purge supposed felons from the list of registered voters; these voters were turned away from the polls. After the election, determined by 537 votes, it became clear that thousands of people had been wrongly disenfranchised. Since those misidentified as felons were disproportionately Democratic-leaning African-Americans, these errors may have put George W. Bush in the White House.

This year, Florida again hired a private company - Accenture, which recently got a homeland security contract worth up to $10 billion - to prepare a felon list. Remembering 2000, journalists sought copies. State officials stonewalled, but a judge eventually ordered the list released.

The Miami Herald quickly discovered that 2,100 citizens who had been granted clemency, restoring their voting rights, were nonetheless on the banned-voter list. Then The Sarasota Herald-Tribune discovered that only 61 of more than 47,000 supposed felons were Hispanic. So the list would have wrongly disenfranchised many legitimate African-American voters, while wrongly enfranchising many Hispanic felons. It escaped nobody's attention that in Florida, Hispanic voters tend to support Republicans.

After first denying any systematic problem, state officials declared it an innocent mistake. They told Accenture to match a list of registered voters to a list of felons, flagging anyone whose name, date of birth and race was the same on both lists. They didn't realize, they said, that this would automatically miss felons who identified themselves as Hispanic because that category exists on voter rolls but not in state criminal records.

But employees of a company that prepared earlier felon lists say that they repeatedly warned state election officials about that very problem.

Let's not be coy. Jeb Bush says he won't allow an independent examination of voting machines because he has "every confidence" in his handpicked election officials. Yet those officials have a history of slipshod performance on other matters related to voting and somehow their errors always end up favoring Republicans. Why should anyone trust their verdict on the integrity of voting machines, when another convenient mistake could deliver a Republican victory in a high-stakes national election?

This shouldn't be a partisan issue. Think about what a tainted election would do to America's sense of itself, and its role in the world. In the face of official stonewalling, doubters probably wouldn't be able to prove one way or the other whether the vote count was distorted - but if the result looked suspicious, most of the world and many Americans would believe the worst. I'll write soon about what can be done in the few weeks that remain, but here's a first step: if Governor Bush cares at all about the future of the nation, as well as his family's political fortunes, he will allow that independent audit.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 31st, 2004, 09:12 AM
October 31, 2004


Where the Action's at for Poll Watchers: Ohio as the New Florida


In a sleek law firm conference room 19 stories above Park Avenue last Thursday night, the subject was where people wanted to go to monitor elections this week. A few hands shot up for Florida, and more for Pennsylvania. But while Florida may still be the marquee name in election mismanagement, Ohio is where most people wanted to be on Nov. 2. The most inscrutable of all the swing states, it's where the Republicans have filed objections to 35,000 new voter registrations and are sending 3,600 poll challengers, mainly to heavily minority precincts that tend to produce Democratic votes. The law students and lawyers in the Midtown law offices, volunteers for a group called Election Protection, wanted to be there, too, pushing in the opposite direction.

The legacy of Florida 2000 was public knowledge of a secret that election officials had long kept to themselves: that every year millions of eligible voters are wrongly prevented from voting, and millions of votes are thrown out. Many states, including Ohio, still use punch-card machines that produce the hanging, dimpled and pregnant chads Americans expected to see eliminated after the last fiasco. Reckless voting-roll purges are still throwing eligible voters off the rolls. And this year has produced new outrages, such as Glenda Hood, the Florida secretary of state, ordering election officials to throw out voter registrations when applicants fail to check a box saying they are citizens - even though they swear they are elsewhere on the form.

In the face of this government indifference and hostility to voters, private citizens have begun to step in. When Election Protection, a nonpartisan coalition of more than 50 groups, ranging from the League of Women Voters to Rock the Vote, sent out a call for volunteers, the response was overwhelming. A thousand people showed up to be trained in a single day last month at Columbia Law School. The coalition will send out 25,000 poll monitors next week to "high risk" precincts in 17 states, and operate a toll-free nationwide hot line, 1-866-OUR-VOTE, on Election Day.

More voters are disenfranchised every year by incompetent or malevolent election administrators than anything else. During Florida's August primary, Election Protection monitors observed a poll worker shouting through a bullhorn that no one would be allowed to vote without photo ID, even though Florida law does not require voter ID. Anyone who has spent any time observing local voting officials at work can attest that there is enough incompetence out there to cover a multitude of disenfranchisements. Still, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that at least some of these officials are intentionally trying to stop eligible people from voting. Ohio's secretary of state recently issued an order, which he rescinded in the face of loud protests, that voter registrations submitted on insufficiently thick paper would be thrown out. Last week, Missouri's secretary of state said there was nothing wrong with groups that run registration drives throwing out registrations that they promised to hand in.

Inevitably, the sight of all these eager young people piling onto buses to help people vote in other states calls up comparisons to the civil rights movement in the 1960's. If nothing else, the latest generation of voter rights advocates are identical in their enthusiasm. Last week in New York, Jon Miller, a third-year law student, was training his fellow volunteers on what to expect after they board their buses for Ohio at 9 Monday night. When they arrive the following morning, he said, they will pick up a stack of voter bills of rights, put on their You Have the Right to Vote T-shirts, and arrive at their assigned polling places by 5:30 a.m. "Even though you've just gotten off an eight-hour bus ride," he assured his charges energetically, "you are going to feel fresh and great."

Making Votes Count: The editorials in this series remain online at www.nytimes.com/makingvotescount .

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

November 4th, 2004, 06:55 AM
November 4, 2004


Lessons of the Ballot Box

When the last of the Ohio returns came in, the 2004 election ended up being outside the so-called margin of litigation. But an uncontested election is not necessarily a well-run one. In Ohio, and around the country, this year's election exhibited flaws that will continue to detract from our democracy until they are addressed. One of the first issues that both parties should commit to is working to produce a first-class elections system.

There were significant problems with the Ohio voting, even though the Kerry campaign determined that a recount would not change the outcome. Incredibly, four years after the 2000 election mess, more than 70 percent of Ohioans still cast their vote on punch-card machines, whose hanging, pregnant and dimpled chads routinely disenfranchise as many as 2 percent, or more, of the voters who use them. Many of the more than 130,000 Ohioans who were forced to vote on provisional ballots were registered voters who should have been on the rolls. The system did not melt down, but there were plenty of problems that showed its vulnerability.

Partisan poll workers challenged voters in Ohio and Florida, relying on laws that in future elections could be used to disenfranchise large numbers of voters and to slow voting in some precincts to a crawl. Voter identification requirements were arbitrarily, and often incorrectly, enforced. Minority voters in some states were the targets of dirty tricks, including leaflets telling newly registered voters that they could not vote in this year's election.

One of the most troubling problems with the voting was the extraordinary lines many voters faced at the polls. In some areas, the wait to vote was four hours or more, and in many cases the longest lines were in minority neighborhoods. Many people literally cannot afford to wait that long to vote, and there were numerous reports of voters leaving the lines without voting. The nation should commit itself to providing enough voting machines and election workers to make waiting times reasonable.

The controversy over provisional ballots, one of the few reforms to come out of the 2000 election, showed that the rules governing them need improvement. Many states quietly adopted laws requiring these provisional ballots to be thrown out if they are cast in the wrong precinct. But election officials are often unable to direct voters to the right precinct on Election Day. A valid ballot should count wherever it is filed. There were also too many reports of absentee ballots duly applied for, including by military personnel, that did not arrive in time.

Nearly one-third of voters nationwide cast their ballots on electronic voting machines that do not produce a paper trail. As the public has learned more about the vulnerability of electronic voting to errors and intentional tampering, there has been a fast-growing movement to require voter-verified paper trails. Until these are provided, many voters will not have confidence in these machines.

The good news about the election system this week is that more than 114 million Americans, including many young people and new voters, believed in it enough to vote. There is great work to be done, however, to give them the system they deserve.

Making Votes Count: Editorials in this series remain online at www.nytimes.com/makingvotescount .

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

November 28th, 2005, 08:39 AM
Can Diebold machines pass the test

Reputation, sales riding on e-voting devices' ability to withstand new experiment

by Ian Hoffman
Oakland Tribune
November 27, 2005


Back in May, voting activists went on the Internet and for $300 apiece purchased two devices used to record moisture levels in corn.

Certain corn scanners use the same memory cards as Diebold Election Systems' optical-scanning machines for ballots and can easily modify them.

That makes corn scanners into a tool for vote hacking.

Sitting by a hotel pool last spring in Florida, Finnish computer expert Harri Hursti wrote his own program onto a memory card so it could alter poll results on a Diebold machine in Leon County and flash a screen message — "Are we having fun yet?" — that shocked the local elections supervisor.

Prodded by activists with nonprofit Black Box Voting, California elections officials have agreed to a test hack of the Diebold voting machines running in 17 of its counties, from San Diego to Los Angeles and Alameda to Humboldt.

The test, first reported by the Oakland Tribune last week, originally was scheduled for Wednesday but is likely to be delayed until mid-December.

At risk for Diebold is reputation, millions of dollars in sales and possibly its mantle as the nation's largest supplier of electronic voting equipment.

If Hursti or another computer expert succeed in hacking Diebold's voting machinery, the McKinney, Texas, firm could be forced to redesign software fundamental to each major component of its voting system. Securing new state and federal approvals would bring delay and loss of sales the company is counting on prior to the June 2006 primary.

Counties face Jan. 1 state and federal deadlines for acquiring new, handicapped-accessible voting systems that also offer some form of paper record. Those counties relying on Diebold might turn to other voting-system makers.

As a result, there have been extensive, ongoing negotiations between Black Box Voting and the California Secretary of State's office, which also is talking to Diebold, over conditions of the test, confidentiality of the results and measures of success. Those talks continued this weekend, but state officials said they remain committed to performing the test.

"Secretary (Bruce) McPherson takes testing these systems very seriously," said his spokeswoman Nghia Nguyen Demovic. "He wants safeguards in place so that every vote cast is secured. He's doing his due diligence to assure voter confidence."

Last week, state officials said they instead will select the voting equipmentat random from a California county using Diebold.

The hacks — there are two — are almost elegantly simple.
Before every election, Diebold optical-scanning machines usedin polling places are programmed for ballot and report details using memory cards. Touchscreen machines, as Alameda County uses, are programmed with PC cards.

Hursti realized this was a way into the voting system after looking at some of the Diebold software that Black Box Voting founder Bev Harris downloaded from an unsecure company Web site.

"Within 24 hours, he said I have found the Holy Grail," Harris recalled.

Hursti taught himself the rudiments of Diebold's programming language, AccuBasic. Using the crop scanner, he then wrote his own Diebold programs onto the memory cards.

Touchscreens apparently can be reprogrammed the same way, but more easily because PC cards can be written with a laptop computer.

The optical-scanning machines and the touchscreens are accessible to thousands of volunteer pollworkers on Election Day and often for several days before.

The AccuBasic files themselves are generated by the core of the Diebold voting system, a central vote-tabulating computer known as GEMS.

Another expert, Herbert Thompson, chief security strategist for Security Innovations, a Wilmington, Mass., computer-security firm, found that inserting no more than 60 lines of software into the computer's database program could change vote totals.

Getting the hack into GEMS requires access to the machine, typically kept in a locked room. But for an insider with that access, the rest of the task is as simple as sliding in a compact disc.

Both hacking strategies can be caught by recounting the ballots. California law requires a recount in 1 percent of precincts after every election.

But in Los Angeles County and other jurisdictions, elections officials do not recount absentee ballots, which are mailed in and scanned at election offices. Absentee ballots are more than a third of the vote in California and in several counties more than half of the vote. "You just tamper with the GEMS database for the absentee vote, and then if you exclude the absentees from the one percent recount then you completely own the process," said Jim March, a board member of Black Box Voting.

© 2005 ANG Newspapers

December 6th, 2005, 03:11 PM
Diebold insider alleges company plagued by technical woes, Diebold defends 'sterling' record

Miriam Raftery


In an exclusive interview with RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/), a whistleblower from electronic voting heavyweight Diebold Election Systems Inc. raised grave concerns about the company’s electronic voting technology and of electronic voting in general, bemoaning an electoral system the insider feels has been compromised by corporate privatization.

The Diebold insider, who took on the appellation “Dieb-Throat” in an interview (http://www.bradblog.com/Diebold.htm) with voting rights advocate Brad Friedman (BradBlog.com (http://bradblog.com/)), was once a staunch supporter of electronic voting’s potential to produce more accurate results than punch cards.

But the company insider became disillusioned after witnessing repeated efforts by Diebold to evade meeting legal requirements or implementing appropriate security measures, putting corporate interests ahead of the interests of voters.

“I’ve absolutely had it with the dishonesty,” the insider told RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/).

Blasting Wally O’Dell, the current president of Diebold, the whistleblower went on to explain behind-the-scenes tactics of the company and its officers.

“There’s a lot of pressure in the corporation to make the numbers: `We don’t tell you how to do it, but do it.’ [O’Dell is] probably the number one culprit putting pressure on people,” the source said.

Diebold spokesman David Bear rebuts the charges. “Diebold has a sterling reputation in the industry," Bear said. "It’s a 144-year-old company and is considered one of the best companies in the industry."

Previous revelations from the whistleblower have included evidence that Diebold’s upper management and top government officials knew of backdoor software in Diebold’s central tabulator before the 2004 election, but ignored urgent warnings—such as a Homeland Security alert posted (http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/bulletins/SB04-252.html#diebold) on the Internet.

“This is a very dangerous precedent that needs to be stopped—that’s the corporate takeover of elections,” the source warned. “The majority of election directors don’t understand the gravity of what they’re dealing with. The bottom line is who is going to tamper with an election? A lot of people could, but they assume that no one will.”

Concerns about Georgia, Ohio elections

The insider harbors suspicions that Diebold may be involved in tampering with elections through its army of employees and independent contractors. The 2002 gubernatorial election in Georgia raised serious red flags, the source said.

“Shortly before the election, ten days to two weeks, we were told that the date in the machine was malfunctioning,” the source recalled. “So we were told 'Apply this patch in a big rush.’” Later, the Diebold insider learned that the patches were never certified by the state of Georgia, as required by law.

“Also, the clock inside the system was not fixed,” said the insider. “It’s legendary how strange the outcome was; they ended up having the first Republican governor in who knows when and also strange outcomes in other races. I can say that the counties I worked in were heavily Democratic and elected a Republican.”

In Georgia’s 2002 Senate race, for example, nearly 60 percent of the state’s electorate by county switched (http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=3381) party allegiances between the primaries and the general election.

The insider’s account corroborates a similar story told by Diebold contractor Rob Behler in an interview (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0307/S00078.htm) with Bev Harris of Black Box Voting.

Harris revealed that a program patch titled “rob-georgia.zip” was left on an unsecured server and downloaded over the Internet by Diebold technicians before loading the unauthorized software onto Georgia voting machines.

“They didn’t even TEST the fixes before they told us to install them,” Behler stated, adding that machines still malfunctioned after patches were installed.
California decertified Diebold TSX touch screen machines after state officials learned that the vendor had broken state election law.

“In California, they got in trouble and tried to doubletalk. They used a patch that was not certified,” the Diebold insider said. “They’ve done this many times. They just got caught in Georgia and California.”

The whistleblower is also skeptical of results from the November 2005 Ohio election, in which 88 percent of voters used touch screens and the outcome on some propositions changed as much as 40 percent (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002030.htm) from pre-election exit polls.

“Amazing,” the Diebold insider said.

Diebold is headquartered in Ohio. Its chairman Wally O’Dell, a key fundraiser for President Bush, once promised in an invitation to a Republican fundraising dinner to deliver Ohio’s electoral votes for Bush. The staffer said the company has a deep conservative culture.

“My feeling having been really deep inside the company is that initially Diebold, being a very conservative and Republican company, felt that if they controlled an election company, they could have great influence over the outcome,” the source, a registered independent, said.

“Does that mean fixing elections? Not necessarily, but if your people are in election departments and they are biased toward Republicans, you will have an influence…I think this is what they were buying, the positioning. Obviously screwing with the software would be a homerun—and I do think that was part of their recipe for getting into the election business. But the public got involved and said 'Hey, what’s going on?' That pulled the sheet off what their plan was with these paperless voting machines.”

The difficulties of installing paper trails

Responding to public demand for paper trails, Diebold has devised a means of retrofitting its paperless TSX system with printers and paper rolls. But in Ohio’s November 2005 election, some machines produced blank paper (http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051120/NEWS09/511200359).

The whistleblower is not surprised. “The software is again the culprit here. It’s not completely developed. I saw the exact same thing in Chicago during a demonstration held in Cook County for a committee of people who were looking at various election machines… They rejected it for other reasons.”

Asked if Ohio officials were made aware of that failure prior to the recent election, the source said, “No way. Anything goes wrong inside Diebold, it’s hush-hush.”

Most officials are not notified of failed demonstrations like the one in Cook County, the insider said, adding that most system tests, particularly those exhibited for sale are not conducted with a typical model.

California, which recently conducted a test of the system without public scrutiny that found only a three percent failure rate—far lower than earlier tests that found a 30 percent combined failure (http://www.votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=96&Itemid=30) due to software crashes and printer jams.

Asked if the outcomes of the newest test should be trusted, the whistleblower, who does not know the protocols used in the California test, warned, “There’s a practice in testing where you get a pumped-up machine and pumped-up servers, and that’s what you allow them to test. Diebold does it and so do other manufacturers. It’s extremely common.”

Neither the TSX nor the older TS6 election equipment systems used by Diebold were designed to be retrofitted with paper trails. “The TSX was designed and brought to market after the paper trail issue erupted, yet it was introduced as a paperless system. But the uproar became so great… The public forced Diebold to put printers on their machines.” Adding printers to existing computer hardware together poses challenges.

The TS6 machines can’t be retrofitted with paper at all, leaving 35,000 voters in Maryland and Georgia to rely on paperless, faith-based voting.

Even if the blank paper problem could be solved, there are other serious problems with some TSX equipment. “The system that was offered to San Diego was purely experimental—the TSX and the electronic poll book, the check-in device,” the Diebold insider stated. “Voters couldn’t access the system to vote with the electronic poll book if the batteries died.” The high rate of breakdowns involving access cards for the poll book caused major problems, the source added. “The interesting part about this device is that it had never been used before. That was probably not certified.”

San Diego has since warehoused its TSX system, pending a decision by the state on whether to recertify. San Diego County now uses Diebold optical scanners—but those pose security problems as well.

Although Black Box Voting demonstrated during a demonstration in Leon County, Florida that computer experts could hack into a similar system in less than a minute and alter a memory card to switch votes, election officials still brush off concerns for additional security precautions.

San Diego County Registrar of Voters, Mikel Haas, for example, was questioned by this reporter for the city’s local paper, Citybeat. He insisted (http://www.sdcitybeat.com/article.php?id=3674) that no additional security measures were needed.

Asked if Diebold had implemented any changes to close security holes revealed by the Leon County hack, the source replied, “None that I know of.”

Informed that Haas allowed over 700 voting machines with memory cards inside to be sent home overnight with poll-workers, the insider raised alarm. “These memory cards need to be protected every single step of the way, like money. If they have people taking these machine home with memory cards, that’s out the window.”

The Diebold whistleblower also criticized election officials in San Diego and elsewhere for allowing Diebold personnel to be present when votes reach the server. “The election office’s employees—people who are paid with our tax dollars to conduct elections and have proper security elections and background check should do this – and no one else.” Manufacturers should be a mile away on election night, the source added.

The best way for concerned citizens to detect fraud is to “be there on election night” to observe vote tabulations, the insider said. But in some cities, citizens have been barred from watching votes being counted on Diebold tabulators – and in San Diego, Black Box Voting activist Jim March was arrested (http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/8556.html#POST8206) in July 2005 and charged with felony trespassing after entered a secured room to watch votes being counted. The charges were later dismissed.

But no amount of observation can totally protect the public from the dangers inherent in electronic voting, the whistleblower says. “People are going to end up losing their rights in many ways that they will never, never understand. For example, the new electronic databases for voter registration is a great idea, but it passes control away from local boards of elections and puts it in the hands of the states…The final database is manipulated by states instead of counties. Every state must have it. It’s mandated by [the Help America Vote Act]. It’s a sleeper issue.”

The source, who once supported the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), now concedes “it’s terrible…Most of this is a big money grab.”

The Diebold hand believes many election officials are naпve, while others are “downright arrogant. They are serving politicians and in many cases, vendors.”

How Diebold woos state officials

The insider described a systematic process Diebold uses to woo election officials via cash doled out by lobbyists or attorneys and favors to assist budget-strapped public officials. “They promise the election directors the moon and deliver things to them that really aren’t legitimate parts of the contract.” Those promises range from providing personnel to equipping warehouses with electrical systems to recharge batteries in voting machines.

“The corporation pretty much takes over. That’s how they capture so many of these people. Diebold is making them look good and they’re not going to bite the hand that feeds them.”

Diebold creates a “monetary incentive” to stay involved via future servicing contracts after selling election equipment, the whistleblower noted, adding, “The machines are purposely complex and poorly designed.”

Noting that the GEMS software runs on Microsoft Access, Dieb-Throat observed, “There are problems that can’t be fixed. I understand they are going to redesign it around Oracle.”

Diebold spokesman David Bear denied that the company is redesigning software around an Oracle platform. “No, that’s not true to my knowledge,” he said.

Asked whether any TSX machine produced blank paper during a demonstration in Cook County, he replied, “I’m not aware of that.”

Bear initially denied that any Diebold machines in Ohio produced blank paper rolls.

“That’s not true,” he said. “They just ran an election November 8th with over 15,000 of the units and the Secretary of State was overwhelmingly pleased.” After being told of news reports describing blank paper rolls produced in Ohio, however, he replied, “It would not surprise me if a paper roll was installed upside down.”

Diebold consultant convicted for embezzlement

The Diebold insider noted that the initial GEMS system used to tabulate votes for the Diebold Opti-scan systems was designed by Jeffrey Dean, who was convicted (http://bbvdocs.org/dean.pdf) in the early 1990s of computer-aided embezzlement. Dean was hired by Global Election Systems, which Diebold acquired in 2000. Global also had John Elder, a convicted cocaine trafficker, on its payroll. Diebold spokesman David Bear told Citybeat that Dean left shortly after the acquisition and that Elder also left “long ago.” Black Box Voting reported that Diebold gave Elder a “golden parachute” in 2004 and that he was let go only after his criminal past was revealed by BBV and mainstream publications.

But the Diebold whistleblower told RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) that Elder remained working for Diebold “as recently as the summer of this year … [Elder creates] the paper ballots for absentee voting… They were making the ballots for the November election for sure, for all over the country.”

Bear denied that Elder is still on Diebold’s payroll as either an employee or independent contractor.

“He was with the company two companies ago, never was an employee of Diebold, and worked for a company that was acquired by Diebold,” he said.
Asked if Elder works for a company producing ballots for any of California’s Diebold systems, Bear responded, “The counties contract for that. I don’t have the slightest idea… There are probably several different companies that produce ballots for California.”

Bear denied allegations that Diebold has installed uncertified patches.
“Nothing is done in any state except under guidance and authority of election officials in the state.”

He also stated that the California Secretary of State’s staff has recommended recertifying the Diebold TSX system retrofitted with paper rolls.

Bear defends Diebold's record.

“In the last presidential election, over 150,000 touch screens were run. They were recognized by CalTech and MIT for having accurately captured the vote. From the presidential election 2004, they believe over 1 million more votes were captured. They singled out touch-screens; the state with the most improvement was Georgia.” (Full text (http://www.vote.caltech.edu/media/documents/vtp_wp21.pdf) of the Caltech/MIT report)
The Diebold insider says Americans who care about their vote must remain vigilant. “I don’t look for the paperless people, the corporations, to back off at all. They will continue to try to keep the public in the dark.”

December 6th, 2005, 11:58 PM
Diebold Exec Ignores Ban on Political Donations

Monday, December 05, 2005


Despite a ban on political contributions from Diebold
executives, implemented in June of 2004 after the voting
machine corporation's chief executive officer, Walden O'Dell,
came under heavy criticism for hosting a fundraiser
for George W. Bush and signing a letter promising to
deliver Ohio's electoral college vote to him,
one Diebold leader apparently never got the memo about
the ban.

USA Today published an insightful story last year on O'Dell (http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/2004-06-08-diebold-donations_x.htm)
trouble and his ban, that provides background to his voting
machine company's political woes.

A Federal Election Commission file on Isac Tabib
reveals he made a $1,000 this past June to Republican
U.S. Senator Michael DeWine, (http://www.newsmeat.com/fec/bystate_detail.php?st=OH&last=tabib&first=isac) who's up for reelection
in 2006. Why let a little thing like the company's
policy prohibiting such contributions stop Tabib from
writing out a check to DeWine?

By the way, DeWine will have at least one Democratic
Party challenger next year, none other than Iraqi war
vet Paul Hackett. You may have read Hackett's name in
the news lately because he lost a special election for
Ohio's second district seat in the House of
Representatives in August.

Who beat him? Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt, the vicious
Congresswoman who took to the House floor a few weeks
back to defame former Marine Rep. John Murtha after he
called for American troop reductions in Iraq.

Tabib's monetary gift to DeWine shows one thing about
Diebold. When they say something is company policy, it
doesn't mean all that much.

December 8th, 2005, 01:13 PM


[/URL]Documents and comments provided by Company Insiders suggest Diebold could be the next Enron as All-New Legal Troubles Mount for Voting Machine Giant...

Additional Individual, Union Owners of Diebold Stock, Mutual Funds Sought for Addition to Plaintiff Class by Velvet Revolution!

[URL="http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002126.htm"]http://www.bradblog.com/Images/Diebold_OhioCompany_Med.jpg (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002126.htm)

The BRAD BLOG (http://www.bradblog.com/) has received exclusive detailed information about a developing potential class action securities litigation against Diebold, Inc. (stock symbol: DBD (http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=DBD)). The class for the suit will involve shareholders who purchased or owned stock in the Ohio-based company any time from October 22, 2003 though September 21, 2005.

Though we are not at liberty at this time to discuss the specifics of the potential litigation and the causes of action in the complaint being compiled, The BRAD BLOG (http://www.bradblog.com/) has learned that the class action lawsuit, currently being drawn up, will involve securities fraud violations and other troubling matters for the controversial company, its CEO as well as current and former members of its Board of Directors.

Those who owned or purchased Diebold stock, or mutual funds which carried Diebold during the period mentioned, are asked to contact LawSuit@VelvetRevolution.us (LawSuit@VelvetRevolution.us) where contact information submitted may be turned over to attorneys currently working on the case for possible addition to the plaintiff class. Union groups who own or owned shares of Diebold or mutual funds which invest in the company are specifically urged to contact VR (LawSuit@VelvetRevolution.us) about joining the class action...

http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002126.htm (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002126.htm)

December 8th, 2005, 01:33 PM
The only problem with this whole thing is getting the mainstream media to pay attention.

December 12th, 2005, 09:47 PM
Diebold CEO resigns after reports of fraud litigation, internal woes

John Byrne
Dec. 12, 2005


The chief executive officer of electronic voting company Diebold who once famously declared that he would "deliver" Ohio for President Bush has resigned effective immediately, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has learned.

"The board of directors and Wally mutually agreed that his decision to resign at this time for personal reasons was in the best interest of all parties," the company's new chairman said in a statement (http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/051212/clm060.html?.v=31).

O'Dell's resignation comes just days after reports from BradBlog.com (http://bradblog.com/) that the company was facing imminent securities fraud litigation surrounding charges of insider trading. It also comes on the heels of a RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) interview (http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Diebold_insider__alleges_company_plagued_1206.html ) with a Diebold insider, who raised new allegations of technical woes inside the company, as well as concerns that Diebold may have mishandled elections in Georgia and Ohio.

Diebold's chief operating officer Thomas Swidarski will take O'Dell's place.

"This has been a very challenging year for the company," Swidarski said. "We are beginning to make progress to improve some of our performance issues, reduce our cost structure by addressing inefficiencies in our manufacturing supply chain and software development processes, and instill price discipline throughout the company."

In a story last week, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) recounted allegations (http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Diebold_insider__alleges_company_plagued_1206.html ) made by a Diebold insider who said he/she had become disillusioned after witnessing repeated efforts by the firm to evade meeting legal requirements or implementing appropriate security measures, and who alleged that Diebold had put corporate interests ahead of the interests of voters.

“I’ve absolutely had it with the dishonesty,” the insider said (http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Diebold_insider__alleges_company_plagued_1206.html ). Blasting Wally O’Dell, the current president of Diebold, the whistleblower went on to explain behind-the-scenes tactics of the company and its officers.

“There’s a lot of pressure in the corporation to make the numbers: `We don’t tell you how to do it, but do it.’ [O’Dell is] probably the number one culprit putting pressure on people,” the source said.

The whistleblower also questioned whether the company or its subsidiaries had mishandled a 2002 Georgia gubernatorial election and voting in Ohio this year.

Diebold spokesman David Bear rebutted the charges. “Diebold has a sterling reputation in the industry," Bear said. "It’s a 144-year-old company and is considered one of the best companies in the industry."

December 13th, 2005, 09:11 AM
The only problem with this whole thing is getting the mainstream media to pay attention.
Amazingly a google search this morning (the day after) brings up very few mentions of O'Dell's resignation, and only one from a bona fide news source (a search of AP brought up ZERO hits):



December 13th, 2005, 08:07 PM

Eight Current and Former Executives Named as Co-Defendants, Including former CEO O'Dell and New CEO Swidarski

Class Action Suit Alleges Fraud, Insider Trading, Manipulation of Stock Prices, Concealment of Known Flaws in Voting Machines and Company Structural Problems

December 13, 2005

The BRAD BLOG (http://www.bradblog.com/) can now report that a Securities Fraud Class Action suit has been filed against Diebold, Inc. (stock symbol: DBD (http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=DBD&d=t)) naming eight top executive officers in the company as co-defendants. The suit has been filed by plaintiff Janice Konkol, alleging securities fraud against the North Canton, Ohio-based manufacturer of Voting Systems and ATM machines on behalf of investors who owned shares of Diebold stock and lost money due to an alleged fraudulent scheme by the company and its executives to deceive shareholders during the "class period" of October 22, 2003 through September 21, 2005.

The suit was filed today in U.S. Federal District Court in Ohio and alleges the company "artificially inflated" stock prices through misleading public information designed to conceal the true nature of Diebold's financial and legal situation. The defendants are also alleged to have attempted to disguise well-known and ongoing problems with Diebold's Voting Machine equipment and software. Additionally, the suit alleges insider trading by defendants resulting in proceeds of $2.7 million. Remedies are sought under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

The suit, filed by the law firm Scott+Scott, LLC on behalf of Konkol and the plaintiff class, names former Diebold CEO and Chairman, Walden O'Dell as a co-defendant along with seven other current and former officers of the once-venerable company.

News of the pending litigation was first reported as imminent in an exclusive report by The BRAD BLOG (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002126.htm) late last week.

Yesterday, in a surprise announcement, O'Dell unexpectedly resigned (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002149.htm) from the company. A Diebold press release described O'Dell as leaving the company for "personal reasons". He was immediately replaced by the company's president and chief operating officer, Thomas W. Swidarski, who had directly overseen Diebold's Election Systems subsidiary division for some time. Swidarski is also named as a co-defendant in today's class action suit.

After news was released of weaker-than-expected third-quarter earnings on September 21, Diebold stock prices plummeted 15.5% (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001852.htm) in unusually heavy trading that resulted in a one day sell-off costing investors more than $40 million dollars. The complaint describes Diebold and the co-defendants as having "failed to disclose adverse facts known" to the company and that they "participated in a fraudulent scheme and course of business that operated as a fraud."

The suit, to be released in full by The BRAD BLOG (http://www.bradblog.com/) shortly, alleges Diebold and the eight co-defendants failed to alert investors to adverse facts known to the company, choosing instead to participate in a "fraudulent scheme and course of business" that operated as a fraud or deceit on the company's shareholders.

The suit describes the liabilities of the company and co-defendants as follows...

Each defendant is liable for (a) making false statements, or (b) failing to disclose adverse facts known to him about Diebold. Defendants’ fraudulent scheme and course of business that operated as a fraud or deceit on purchasers of Diebold publicly traded securities was a success, as it (a) deceived the investing public regarding Diebold’s prospects and business; (b) artificially inflated the prices of Diebold’s publicly traded securities; (c) allowed insiders to sell over 51,000 shares of Diebold stock, for proceeds of $2.7 million; and (d) caused plaintiff and other members of the Class to purchase Diebold’s publicly traded securities at inflated prices.


Named as co-defendants in the suit along with former CEO O'Dell and new CEO Swidarski are President of International Operations, Michael J. Hillock; Senior Vice President of Customer Solutions, David Bucci; Interim Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Controller, Kevin J. Krakora; Vice President and Chief Information Officer, John M. Crowther; Senior Vice President and CFO, Gregory T. Geswein; and President and COO, Eric C. Evans. (Titles applied to the named co-defendants during the class period. Evans, for example resigned from the company on the same day as the Sep. 21, 2005 announcement.) "Each individual defendant," the suit points out, "owed a duty to the Company and its shareholders not to trade on inside information."

The claim cites a number of allegedly misleading news releases pertaining to the fitness and security of election systems as contracted by Diebold in San Diego County in 2003; their settlement for $2.6 million with the state of California in 2004, wherein Diebold is alleged to have concealed "the dimensions and scope of internal problems at the Company" from investors; and an "astonishingly low and incredibly inaccurate" statement about "restructuring charges" in the Sep. 21 announcement.

Once again, quoting from the lawsuit:
During the Class Period, defendants knew and concealed that:

(a) the Company remained unable to assure the quality and working order of their voting machine products;

(b) the Company lacked a credible state of internal controls and corporate compliance;

(c) the 2004 settlement with the State of California served to conceal from investors the dimensions and scope of internal problems at the Company, impacting product quality, strategic planning, forecasting, guidance, internal controls and corporate compliance; and

(d) the Company’s "prediction" of astonishingly low and incredibly inaccurate restructuring charges for the entire 2005 fiscal year grossly understated the true costs defendants faced to restructure the Company.

The complaint alleges that the company lied to investors about the true costs of its restructuring activities, concealing the fact that Diebold was facing far worse restructuring issues than publicly represented -- indicative of far greater problems than the company was willing to reveal.

For example, the complaint indicates that the problems Diebold faced in California in 2004 were merely the tip of an internal structural iceberg which the company had sought to conceal from investors when they decided to make a settlement in the case. Investors could not know then that the problems revealed by the California litigation in 2004 were a sign of more and deeper internal problems to come. The settlement agreed to by Diebold in that case, the suit alleges, was meant to keep a lid on the larger dimensions of the problems, rather than indicating that the issues at stake had been fully resolved. Press materials released by the company announcing the settlement -- and included in the version of the complaint filed today -- seem to indicate otherwise to investors.


Additional facets of the company's internal structural problems were revealed in a series of previous BRAD BLOG articles (http://www.bradblog.com/Diebold.htm) reporting on an anonymous company insider we dubbed "DIEB-THROAT" who alerted us to the "Cyber Alert Warning" (http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/bulletins/SB04-252.html#diebold) issued by a branch of the Dept. of Homeland Security in August of 2004. That warning concerned the vulnerability to hackers of Diebold's central vote tabulating software prior to last year's Presidential Election. The election watchdog organization BlackBoxVoting.org (http://www.blackboxvoting.org/), who had first discovered the vulnerability, had also recently arranged for a computer security expert to successfully hack into actual Diebold voting machines used in Leon County, Florida without leaving any trace of the manipulation.

It was just several days after our first report on DIEB-THROAT (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001838.htm) that stock prices plunged at the company in September. Diebold attempted to blame their troubles, at the time, on bad weather in the gulf which lead our insider source to aver (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001852.htm): "Using Hurricane Katrina is a poor excuse for bad products - the last time this kind of deception occurred it was called Enron."

Internet news site, The RAW STORY (http://www.rawstory.com/) recently ran their own interview with DIEB-THROAT (http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Diebold_insider__alleges_company_plagued_1206.html ) revealing still more structural problems within the company and its voting division. The report explained that the company was "plagued by technical woes," even as a Diebold spokesperson claimed the 144-year old company "has a sterling reputation in the industry."


Plaintiff Konkol, a just-retired 29-year public school employee from Central Wisconsin first invested in Diebold in 1999. She told The BRAD BLOG (http://www.bradblog.com/) that she purchased the stock thinking, "ATM's that'd be the way to go." She originally invested $500 which eventually grew to $1400 before falling. She is also invested in Diebold via mutual funds held by the Wisconsin Education Union in which she is a member. Konkol, a 56-year old grandmother of three, recently returned from two weeks of volunteering on the Gulf Coast with several members of her Lutheran church. "We got a big group together and we went down to the Gulf to help out in Katrina."

"I believe in churches...I believe we should practice what we're preached to about," she told us. "I don't like it when big companies take advantage of us little people," she said. "I can't say that I'm anti-big business...I just want things to be fair."

It appears that Scott+Scott, the attorneys associated with the case, are just beginning to learn about the full scope of the fraud allegedly perpetrated by Diebold on investors. Amended complaints with additional details are expected to be filed in the weeks and months to come. Other law firms are also expected to file similar suits which will eventually be consolidated by the Federal District Court hearing the case. Indeed The BRAD BLOG (http://www.bradblog.com/) has been contacted since filing our original report (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002126.htm) on this last week, by other firms who are said to be pursuing similar litigation against Diebold.


As one of America's largest Voting Machine Companies (along with ES&S, they account for the tabulation of more than 80% of America's votes every election) Diebold has been the target of Election Reform advocates for their strong partisan support of Republican causes and candidates, a statement made prior to last year's Presidential Election to Republican fundraisers by O'Dell that he was committed to "delivering the state of Ohio" to George W. Bush, along with their reluctance to include verifiable paper ballots with their voting products and to make the source-code for their software open and available for public inspection.

A recent 100+ page GAO report (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001940.htm), shamefully unreported (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001964.htm) by the mainstream media, confirmed many of the Election Reform advocates concerns about the security and vulnerability of Voting Equipment made by Diebold and other such companies. In California, a recent mock election test revealed that some 20% of Diebold touch-screen voting machines failed to operate as expected after being previous decertified for similar failures and vulnerabilities. Despite that, California's Republican Sec. of State Bruce McPherson remarkably is considering re-certifying those same machines in the state which Diebold has described as America's "largest voting market."

Diebold was one of seven major American Voting Machine companies named in Velvet Revolution's "Divestiture for Democracy" (http://www.velvetrevolution.us/Campaigns/DV4D/) campaign launched on Presidents' Day last February. The campaign demanded accountability and openness by the Voting Machine Companies in what Velvet Revolution deemed a "patriotic duty" to "ensure free, fair and transparent elections" by the private companies entrusted with running our sacred public democracy. The BRAD BLOG (http://www.bradblog.com/) is a co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us (http://www.velvetrevolution.us/).

Konkol's complaint as filed today demands "a trial by jury."

The BRAD BLOG (http://www.bradblog.com/) will of course, compile an extensive, accurate and verifiable paper trail in regards to this story as it continues to unfold...

UPDATE Scott+Scott, LLC releases news of the case filing in a press release here... (http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/051213/netu036.html?.v=32)

December 14th, 2005, 06:56 AM
Scott+Scott, LLC Files Securities Fraud Class Action Against Diebold Inc.

Tue Dec 13, 2005

COLCHESTER, Conn., Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Scott+Scott, LLC(http://www.scott-scott.com), at the direction of clients, has filed asecurities fraud class action in the United States District Court for theNorthern District of Ohio against Diebold Inc. ("Diebold" or the "Company")(NYSE: DBD) and individual defendants.

Presently, the class is defined in thecomplaint drafted by Scott+Scott as those who purchased Diebold securitiesbetween October 22, 2003, and September 21, 2005, inclusive (the "ClassPeriod"). However, any purchaser of Diebold securities can contact the firm asthe Class Period may change as information is revealed. Diebold engages in thedevelopment, manufacture, sale, and service of systems, software, and variousproducts used to equip bank facilities such as automatic teller machines.

If you purchased Diebold securities during the Class Period and wish toserve as a lead plaintiff in the action, you must move the court no later than 60 days from today. Any member of the purported class may move the Court toserve as lead plaintiff through counsel of their choice, or may choose to donothing and remain an absent class member. If you wish to discuss this actionor have questions concerning this notice or your rights, please contactScott+Scott for more information.

Scott+Scott will provide class members withcase materials, answer all questions regarding participation and rights andassist with other services the firm provides. There is no cost or fee to you.Contact Scott+Scott partner Neil Rothstein (nrothstein@scott-scott.com,800/332-2259, ext. 22 or cell 619/251-0887). Diebold investors may alsocontact the firm at DieboldSecuritiesLitigation@scott-scott.com (DieboldSecuritiesLitigation@scott-scott.com). The complaint alleges that defendants violated provisions of the UnitedStates securities laws causing artificial inflation of the Company's stockprice.

According to the complaint, during the Class Period, the Company lacked a credible state of internal controls and corporate compliance and remainedunable to assure the quality and working order of its voting machine products.It is further alleged that the Company's false and misleading statementsserved to conceal the dimensions and scope of internal problems at theCompany, impacting product quality, strategic planning, forecasting andguidance and culminating in false representations of astonishingly low andincredibly inaccurate restructuring charges for the 2005 fiscal year, whichgrossly understated the true costs and problems defendants faced torestructure the Company. The complaint also alleges over $2.7 million ofinsider trading proceeds obtained by individual defendants during the ClassPeriod.

Finally, investors learned the truth about the adverse impact of the Company's alleged defective and deficient inventory-related controls andsystems on Diebold's financial performance. As a result of defendants'shocking news and disclosures of September 21, 2005, the price of Dieboldshares plunged 15.5% on unusually high volume, falling from $44.37 per shareon September 20, 2005, to $37.47 per share on September 21, 2005, for a one-day drop of $6.90 per share on volume of 6.1 million shares -- nearly eighttimes the average daily trading volume.

The plaintiff is represented by Scott+Scott, LLC, which has significantexperience in prosecuting investor class actions. The firm dedicates itself toclient communication and satisfaction and currently is litigating majorsecurities, antitrust and employee retirement plan actions throughout theUnited States. The firm represents pension funds, charities, foundations,individuals and other entities worldwide.

Cases currently being litigated and/or investigated by Scott+Scott, LLC include: Refco, Inc.; Guidant Corp.;Abbott Laboratories; Halliburton; TRM Corp.; and Faro Tech., among others. Itssuccess has brought shareholders hundreds of millions of dollars in casesagainst Mattel, Royal Dutch/Shell, Sprint, ImClone and others.SOURCE Scott+Scott, LLC


December 14th, 2005, 08:32 PM
Florida county 'bans Diebold for life' (http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/15595.html)


[/URL] (http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-profile.cgi?action=editpost&postid=15096&page=1954/15595) (http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/15595.html#)

Wed. December 14, 2005: Due to contractual non-performance and security design issues, Leon County (Florida) supervisor of elections Ion Sancho has announced that he will never again use Diebold in an election. He has requested funds to replace the Diebold system from the county. On Tuesday, the most serious “hack” demonstration to date took place in Leon County. The Diebold machines succumbed quickly to alteration of the votes. This comes on the heels of the resignation of Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell, and the announcement that a stockholder's class action suit has been filed against Diebold by Stull, Stull & Brady and another firm, Scott & Scott. Further “hack” testing on additional vulnerabilities is tentatively scheduled before Christmas in the state of California.

Finnish security expert Harri Hursti, together with Black Box Voting, demonstrated that Diebold made misrepresentations to Secretaries of State across the nation when Diebold claimed votes could not be changed on the “memory card” (the credit-card-sized ballot box used by computerized voting machines.

A test election was run in Leon County on Tuesday with a total of eight ballots. Six ballots voted "no" on a ballot question as to whether Diebold voting machines can be hacked or not. Two ballots, cast by Dr. Herbert Thompson and by Harri Hursti voted "yes" indicating a belief that the Diebold machines could be hacked.

At the beginning of the test election the memory card programmed by Harri Hursti was inserted into an Optical Scan Diebold voting machine. A "zero report" was run indicating zero votes on the memory card. In fact, however, Hursti had pre-loaded the memory card with plus and minus votes.

The eight ballots were run through the optical scan machine. The standard Diebold-supplied "ender card" was run through as is normal procedure ending the election. A results tape was run from the voting machine.

Correct results should have been: Yes: 2 ; No: 6

However, just as Hursti had planned, the results tape read: Yes: 7 ; No: 1

The results were then uploaded from the optical scan voting machine into the GEMS central tabulator, a step cited by Diebold as a protection against memory card hacking. The central tabulator is the "mother ship" that pulls in all votes from voting machines. However, the GEMS central tabulator failed to notice that the voting machines had been hacked.

The results in the central tabulator read: Yes: 7 ; No: 1

This videotaped testing session was witnessed by Black Box Voting investigators Bev Harris and Kathleen Wynne, Florida Fair Elections Coalition Director Susan Pynchon, security expert Dr. Herbert Thompson, and Susan Bernecker, a former candidate for New Orleans city council who videotaped Sequoia-brand touch-screen voting machines in her district recording vote after vote for the wrong candidate.

The Hursti Hack requires a moderate level of inside access. It is, however, accomplished without being given any password and with the same level of access given thousands of poll workers across the USA. [U]It is a particularly dangerous exploit, because it changes votes in a one-step process that will not be detected in any normal canvassing procedure, it requires only a single a credit-card sized memory card, any single individual with access to the memory cards can do it, and it requires only a small piece of equipment which can be purchased off the Internet for a few hundred dollars.

One thousand two hundred locations in the U.S. and Canada use Diebold voting machines. In each of these locations, typically three people have a high level of inside access. Temporary employees also often have brief access to loose memory cards as machines are being prepared for elections. Poll workers sometimes have a very high level of inside access. National elections utilize up to two million poll workers, with hundreds or thousands in a single jurisdiction.

Many locations in the U.S. ask poll workers to take voting machines home with them with the memory cards inside. San Diego County (Calif) sent 713 voting machines/memory cards home with poll workers for its July 26 election, and King County (Wash.) sent over 500 voting machines home with poll workers before its Nov. 8 election.

Memory cards are held in a compartment protected by a small plastic seal. However, these simple seals can be defeated, and Hursti has found evidence that the memory card can be reprogrammed without disturbing the seal by using a telephone modem port on the back of the machine.

The Hursti Hack, referred to as “the mother of all security holes” was first exposed in a formal report on July 4. (http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVreport.pdf (http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVreport.pdf)).

Diebold has insisted to county and state election officials that despite Hursti’s demonstration, changing votes on its memory cards is impossible. (Public records from Diebold, including threat letter to Ion Sancho:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/10535.html (http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/10535.html))

On Oct. 17, 2005 Diebold Elections Systems Research and Development chief Pat Green specifically told the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) board of elections during a $21 million purchasing session that votes cannot be changed using only a memory card.

(Video of Pat Green: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/14298.html (http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/14298.html)) Over the objections of Cuyahoga County citizens, and relying on the veracity of Diebold’s statements, the board has chosen to purchase the machines.

According to Public Records obtained by Black Box Voting, Diebold has promulgated misrepresentations about both the Hursti Hack and another kind of hack by Dr. Herbert Thompson to secretaries of state, and to as many as 800 state and local elections officials.

December 16th, 2005, 09:23 AM
This story FINALLY getting picked up by mainstream media ...

County says electronic voting machines can be hacked

USA Today
Dec. 15, 2005


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Tests on an optical-scan voting system used around the country showed it is vulnerable to hacking that can change the outcome of races without leaving evidence of fraud, a county election supervisor said.

The voting system maker, Diebold Inc., sent a letter in response that questioned the test results and said the test was "a very foolish and irresponsible act" that may violated licensing agreements.

Company spokesman David Bear did not return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment Thursday. Diebold's letter was written by its senior lawyer, Michael Lindroos, and sent to the state of Florida, Leon County and the county election supervisor, Ion Sancho.

Optical-scan machines use paper ballots where voters fill in bubbles to mark their candidates. The ballots are then fed into scanners that record the selections.

In one of the tests conducted for Sancho and the non-profit election-monitoring group BlackBoxVoting.org, the researchers were able to get into the system easily, make the loser the winner and leave without a trace, said Herbert Thompson, who conducted the test.

He also said the machine that tabulates the overall count asked for a user name and password, but didn't require it.

In the other test, the researcher who had hacked into the voting machine's memory card was able to hide votes, make losers out of winners and leave no trace of the changes, said BlackBox founder Bev Harris. The memory card records the votes of one machine, then is taken to a central location where results are totaled.

Sancho criticized the Florida Secretary of State's Office, which approves the voting systems used in the state, for not catching the alleged problems.

A spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office said any faults Sancho found were between him and Diebold.

"If Ion Sancho has security concerns with his system, he needs to discuss them with Diebold," spokeswoman Jenny Nash said.

The Miami Herald reported Thursday that Sancho scraped Leon's Diebold machines this week for a voting system from another manufacturer.

Many Florida counties switched to computer-based elections systems after the 2000 presidential election, when the cardboard punchcard ballots then in use were plagued by incomplete and multiple punches.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press

December 19th, 2005, 09:06 AM
The Business of Voting

New York Times
December 18, 2005


Diebold, the controversial electronic voting machine manufacturer, is coming off a tumultuous week. Its chief executive, Walden O'Dell, resigned. It was hit with a pair of class-action lawsuits charging insider trading and misrepresentation, and a county in Florida concluded that Diebold's voting machines could be hacked. The company should use Mr. O'Dell's departure to reassess its flawed approach to its business. The counting of votes is a public trust. Diebold, whose machines count many votes, has never acted as if it understood this.

Mr. O'Dell made national headlines when he wrote a fund-raising letter before the 2004 election expressing his commitment to help deliver the electoral votes of Ohio - where Diebold is based, and where its machines are used - to President Bush. Under pressure, Diebold barred its top officials from contributing to campaigns. But this month, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported that three executives not covered by the ban continued to make contributions to Republican candidates.

Diebold's voting machines have a troubled history. The company was accused of installing improperly certified software, which is illegal, in a 2002 governor's race in Georgia. Across the country, it reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the California attorney general last year of a lawsuit alleging that it made false claims about the security of its machines. Last week, the top elections officer in Leon County, Fla., which includes Tallahassee, concluded after a test that Diebold machines can be hacked to change vote totals.

Diebold has always insisted that its electronic voting machines are so reliable that there is no need for paper records of votes that can be independently verified. Fortunately, the American people feel otherwise. Nearly half the states - including large ones like California, New York, Illinois and Ohio - now require so-called paper trails.

Paper trails are important, but they are no substitute for voting machine manufacturers of unquestioned integrity. As Diebold enters the post-O'Dell era, it should work to make itself worthy of the important role it now plays in American democracy.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

February 23rd, 2006, 12:46 PM
Why do Diebold's Touch-Screen Voting Machines Have Built-In Wireless Infrared Data Transfer Ports?

IrDA Protocol Can 'Totally Compromise System' Without Detection,
Warns Federal Voting Standards Website

Feb. 22, 2006


So far, no state or federal authority -- to our knowledge -- has dealt with this alarming security threat

We hate to pile on... (Or do we?)

But, really, with all the recent discussion (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002453.htm) of California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson's mind-blowing about-face re-certification of Diebold -- against state law, we hasten to add -- this may be a good time to point out one small item that we've been meaning to mention for a while.

As Jody Holder's recent comment (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002453.htm#11) points out, McPherson's silly "conditions" for re-certification of Diebold in California require a few much-less-than-adequate knee-jerk "safe guards" towards protection of the handling of the hackable memory cards in Diebold's voting machines. (Here's McP's full "Certificate of Conditional Certification" (http://www.votetrustusa.org/pdfs/California_Folder/cert_doc.pdf)).

Never mind, as Holder mentions, that the protective seals to be required are easily peeled away without tearing. Or that such voting machines have been stored in poll workers houses for weeks leading up to an election. More to the point, for the moment, there are ways to manipulate the information on those memory cards even without removing them or breaking the seals. This is more of a concern than ever, since it was recently proven, by the now-infamous Harri Hursti hack (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002156.htm) in Leon County, FL, that changing the information on the memory cards can force election results to be flipped...without a trace being left behind.

On that note, here's the little item we've been meaning to point out. It's a photograph from the side of a Diebold AccuVote TSx touch-screen voting machine:

Now we have no idea what that "IrDA" port is meant to be used for with a touch-screen voting machine, but we do know that the IrDA (Infrared Data Association) is an Infrared port used for wireless connection between two devices. We used to have one on the back of our notebook and desktop computers which we used to keep the two systems synched up via wireless data transfers over that Infrared port.

A few election watchdog groups, including some members of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who works with the federal authorities on these matters, have issued warnings about the IrDA port and protocols on voting machines. However, little -- if anything -- seems to have been done to mitigate the rather obvious security threat posed, as far as we can tell.

Here's how a page at Microsoft.com (http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/archive/win-irda.mspx), last updated December 4, 2001, explains cable-free Infrafred data transfer on the Microsoft Windows CE operating system (the operating system which happens to be used in Diebold's AccuVote touch-screen voting machines -- like the one pictured above)...

Imagine the following scenario: Two notebook computers are placed beside each other. A computer icon appears on both desktops with the name of the peer computer below it. Open one of the icons to display a folder with the contents of the peer computer's desktop. Drag-and-drop between your desktop and the open folder to move files between the two computers.

Imagine that the only configuration that this application required to be installed or used was the ability for the user to enable or disable it. Imagine that multiple such applications could be running at the same time without interfering with each other.

Imagine that this application could run on 23 million existing notebook computers at a transfer speed of 115Kbps, and on 14 million existing notebook computers at 4MBps. Imagine that all applications, regardless of the speed of the underlying hardware, would work with all other applications at a common fastest speed.

Imagine that the other notebook computer in this example was a digital still camera, a handheld personal computer, a data capture device or a device that supports electronic commerce.

As a bonus, assume that the two computers do not need to be cabled together.

This application is currently possible under Microsoft® Windows® CE and the Windows family of operating systems. The underlying technology is based on inexpensive, widely available short-range infrared transceivers that adhere to the Infrared Data Association (IrDA) standards. IrDA standards (available from the IrDA at http://www.irda.org (http://www.irda.org/)) also enable non-Windows devices to talk to Windows-based applications.

There ya go.

http://www.bradblog.com/Images/DieboldAccuVote_IrDA_PortMap.jpg (http://www.votersunite.org/takeaction/alert102604.htm)

The issue of the IrDA port on touch-screen voting machines hasn't been much discussed as far as we can tell. VotersUnite.org issued an alert (http://www.votersunite.org/takeaction/alert102604.htm) mentioning it, with a photograph (seen above), back on October 26, 2004. The alert warned:

3) A dangerous port on the Diebold touch screen!!

This from TrueVoteMD: Diebold AccuVote TS electronic voting machines have an infrared (IrDA) port installed. This is a remote communication port through which another remote device could communicate with the touch screen and change either its data or its software or both.

If your county uses Diebold touch screens, let your county officials and election judges know that it is crucial to cover the IR port with opaque tape.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) -- who works with the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to develop and recommend guidelines for electronic voting machines -- issued a similar warning [PDF] (http://vote.nist.gov/ecposstatements/CommentJohnson.pdf) about the Infrared ports on voting machines in a report which warned "The use of short range optical wireless," like infrared, "particularly on Election Day should not be allowed."

As mentioned, since touch-screen machines have been stored at poll workers' houses and other unsecured locations prior to Election Day, and since data can be transferred to the machines and their memory cards via Infrared -- even without removing the cards or breaking their protective seals -- the IrDA ports would seem to be a tremendous concern.

The NIST report discusses such concerns and some of the troubling security issues with IrDA protocols:

How Secure is IrDA

IrDA does not provide encryption at the Physical Layer, and depends on the end systems to implement security if any.
With optical, it is possible for a session to be ‘hijacked’ unless strong authentication measures are implemented between communicating systems. When a session is hijacked, a foreign device masquerades as a trusted system that is authorized to exchange data. Because the system has no way to distinguish the masquerader from the authorized system, it will accept anything from it as if [sic] was authorized.

The undated report -- from the EAC's own standards body, NIST -- then goes on to describe how simple and readily available IrDA software drivers are to obtain for use with UNIX and most Windows Operating Systems, including Windows CE. As well, it points out that such software could add executable code to the machines on, or prior to, Election Day and could then delete itself after ithe code has completed its main purpose [emphasis ours]:

IrDA Software

IrDA software drivers are available form [sic] a number of sources for use with UNIX, Windows and other Operating Systems (OS). Most versions of MS Windows come with support for IrDA already included. This is true of the MS Windows CE operating system as well as Windows XP. Microsoft also provides a free IrDA driver which can be downloaded from it web site. Other suppliers of IrDA systems (e.g., Ericsson) offer their own drivers including source code (Texas Inurnments [sic]).

With the source code available, an interrupt handler (executable code) could easily be added. For example, when the voting terminal receives a special bit configuration (caused by holding down multiple keys concurrently) that is outside the usually accepted range, a special interrupt could be generated invoking a handler that could be programmed to perform any desired function. This would require a small amount of code and could easily be hidden; such code would be difficult to discover.

If such code was installed in the driver, which is considered to be Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) [even if compiled and installed by the voting system manufacturer] it would not be examined by the ITAs [the federal Independent Testing Authorities].

Code in such a handler could be designed to place the voting terminal in a mode where it downloads and install [sic] an executable module, thus allowing unapproved logic to be added to the voting machine while in use on Election Day. Obviously this executable could perform any function the programmer desired including deleting itself when finished. The only recourse is to disallow communications with the voting terminal during use. It might be augured [sic] that such code could be added the day before Election Day.

Obviously, that last paragraph is very troubling. But also note the section about COTS.

The source code for that "Commercial-Off-The-Shelf" software is what Diebold recently argued that they couldn't provide to North Carolina after they changed their law to require all voting machine vendors to submit such code in order to receive state certification. Diebold went to state court (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002039.htm) arguing they shouldn't be forced to supply the source code for COTS software. Eventually, they lost that battle, and notified (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002190.htm) North Carolina they preferred to pull out of the state entirely (if the state wouldn't change the law for them) rather than complying with the state law requiring the submission of all such source code.

And another comment posted to NIST's voting website [PDF] (http://vote.nist.gov/comment_james_johnson.pdf) by James C. Johnson on October 5, 2005, also discusses the concern, revealing that the use of the IrDA protocols could be used at any time, even after final "Logic and Accuracy" tests have been performed, and thus "totally compromising the system":

In Diebold System's AccuVote TS systems these ports are supported using Microsoft's Windows CE with Winsock. This makes the application interface easy to program to, and all required drivers are already installed in the OS.

It is interesting that the VVSG [Voluntary Voting System Guidelines] currently under development, while mentioning this technology does nothing to restrict or prevent its use, not even on Election Day.

It is understandable that communications technology be used for pre election preparation, but is totally irresponsible and inexcusable to allow it to be used during an election. The presence of this technology makes it possible to upload to the voting system anything that is desired after the final "Logic and Accuracy" test have been performed, thus totally compromising the system.

Perhaps some of you have additional thoughts on this matter. Like why such a port would be needed, or even present, on a touch-screen voting machine [I]at all. And why the existence of such a port -- to our knowledge -- has hardly been discussed at all in conjuction with these machines. Especially in light of the now-infamous Leon County, FL "hack test" (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002156.htm) proving that executable code can be added to Diebold's memory cards resulting in a completely flipped election...as we've said...without a trace being left behind.

February 23rd, 2006, 02:16 PM
/me packs my programmable IR remote.

I'm a' goin' Votin'!

February 23rd, 2006, 02:22 PM
I've been watching this story closely for a few years now through the Black Box Voting website and I was so glad to see your postings here.
People just don't get it. I've tried to convince people, but this is not a saga that condenses into talking points and I usually get blank stares. ANYONE who actually reads this stuff and spends enough time examining the details will see that there is a BIG PROBLEM HERE. I literally feel like I am in the twilight zone some times when I follow these stories and then look up to see the rest of the country going about its business.

Is there anybody out there..........NOPE. nobody........

oh dear God, help us in November.

February 23rd, 2006, 02:29 PM
I agree. Why this doesn't make the news and doesn't outrage the electorate is beyond me. Yet everyone knows about the baby on Britney Spears' lap.

February 23rd, 2006, 02:37 PM
I agree. Why this doesn't make the news and doesn't outrage the electorate is beyond me. Yet everyone knows about the baby on Britney Spears' lap.

OMG! Did you SEE THAT!!!

That was TERRIBLE!!!

She should not be a mother!!!!!


February 24th, 2006, 12:54 PM
The answer is absentee ballots sent vie certified mail.

February 25th, 2006, 10:57 PM

Alaska Now Refuses Release of 2004 Election Data Citing Security Concerns!

State's Top Security Officer Refuses Public Record Release of Diebold GEMS Database Files

The Latest Chapter in the Rollercoaster Battle to Audit Puzzling 2004 Poll Numbers Continues...

http://www.bradblog.com/Images/DieboldAlaska.jpg (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002467.htm)

Feb. 24, 2006


A bizarre story concerning Alaska's 2004 Election has taken yet another even more bizarre turn this week, The BRAD BLOG (http://www.bradblog.com/) has learned.

A long-standing public records request for the release of Election 2004 database files created by Diebold's voting system had been long delayed after several odd twists and turns, including the revelation of a contract with the state claiming the information to be a "company secret."

But while it finally appeared as though the state had agreed to release the information (after reserving the right to "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing it), the state's top Security Official has now -- at the last minute -- stepped in to deny the request. The grounds for the denial: the release of the information poses a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.

The state Democratic party has been attempting since December of last year to review the Diebold GEMS tabulator data files from the 2004 election in order to audit some of the strange results discovered in the state, including a reported voter turnout of more than 200% in some areas.

"At this point," Democratic Party spokesperson Kay Brown told (http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/7386582p-7298824c.html) the Anchorage Daily News in January, "it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004."

Some of the questionable results from the 2004 Election were outlined in a January 23rd letter [WORD] (http://www.bradblog.com/Docs/AlaskaRecordsRequestResponse_012306.doc) to the state's Division of Elections from the Alaska Democratic Party chairman, Jake Metcalfe. Amongst the anomolies detailed in Metcalfe's letter: "district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889."

The state Division of Elections, which had previously relented and agreed to release the data after refusing at first to do so, announced its latest about-face in a letter to Metcalfe on Wednesday citing the following concern from Alaska's Chief Security Officer Darrell Davis after he reviewed the public records request:

"release of any security related information creates a serious threat to our ability to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our systems and services..."

The complete letters from Alaska's Division of Elections Director Whitney Brewster and Chief Security Officer Darrell Davis are both available in full here [PDF] (http://www.bradblog.com/Docs/Alaska_Feb22adpresponse.pdf).

The earlier twists in this strange tale occurred first in January and then in early February.

In late January, we reported (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002327.htm) that the state had refused to release the Election Data Files on the grounds that their contract with Diebold disallowed the release of the files. Their contract, apparently, recognizes the voter information to be a "company secret" and thus the proprietary property of the company which could not be released to the voters of Alaska.

A week or so later, in early Februrary we reported (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002385.htm) that the state and Diebold had capitulated. Sort of. After conferring with Diebold, the state relented and agreed to release the files. However, they reserved the right to -- sit down for this -- "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing them!

As the Elections Director Brewster stated in a February 3rd letter [PDF] (http://bbvdocs.org/diebold/alaska-surrenders.pdf) to Metcalfe announcing they would release the data:
"To this end, we are consulting with the Enterprise Technology Systems in the Department of Administration as well as Diebold on this issue...please be advised that the Division will charge for its costs incurred in manipulating the data to provide the records you seek."

And now, the new wrinkle, the state's "security risks" lead them to announce that "after careful consideration," they "will not authorize the release of the GEMS database or audit files" after all.

"Delivery of the database itself, and some of the information contained within this database," says the letter from Davis, "presents numerous security risks to the State of Alaska Government."

We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.

So just to recap: First the voters of Alaska were not allowed to see their own voting data from the 2004 Election because it was the proprietary "company secret" property of Diebold. Then they would be allowed to see it as long as the state and Diebold could "manipulate the data" before releasing it. And now finally it's determined that allowing the voters to see how they actually voted in the 2004 Election would be a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.

No word yet on whether the Alaska Democratic Party will take the matter to court to seek resolution.

The American War on Democracy continues...

(Hat-tip to VoteTrustUSA.org (http://www.votetrustusa.org/) for the heads up and additional information (http://votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=977&Itemid=113)!)

February 26th, 2006, 07:06 AM
I think they should do something like electronic with two bar coded reciets for recounts. One reciet for the person another for the recount both identical barcoded so that they could be scan read fast if need be for recount etc.

March 2nd, 2006, 04:44 PM
Did 308,000 cancelled Ohio voter registrations put Bush back in the White House?
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
February 28, 2006

While life goes on during the Bush2 nightmare, so does the research on what really happened here in 2004 to give George W. Bush a second term.

Pundits throughout the state and nation---many of them alleged Democrats---continue to tell those of us who question Bush's second coming that we should "get over it," that the election is old news.

But things get curiouser and curiouser.

In our 2005 compendium HOW THE GOP STOLE OHIO'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008 (www.freepress.org), we list more than a hundred different ways the Republican Party denied the democratic process in the Buckeye State. For a book of documents to be published September 11 by the New Press entitled WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, we are continuing to dig.

It turns out, we missed more than a few of the dirty tricks Karl Rove, Ken Blackwell and their GOP used to get themselves four more years. In an election won with death by a thousand cuts, some that are still hidden go very deep. Over the next few weeks we will list them as they are verified.

One of them has just surfaced to the staggering tune of 175,000 purged voters in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), the traditional stronghold of the Ohio Democratic Party. An additional 10,000 that registered to vote there for the 2004 election were lost due to "clerical error."

As we reported more than a year ago, some 133,000 voters were purged from the registration rolls in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) and Lucas County (Toledo) between 2000 and 2004. The 105,000 from Cincinnati and 28,000 from Toledo exceeded Bush's official alleged margin of victory---just under 119,000 votes out of some 5.6 million the Republican Secretary of State. J. Kenneth Blackwell, deemed worth counting.

Exit polls flashed worldwide on CNN at 12:20 am Wednesday morning, November 3, showed John Kerry winning Ohio by 4.2% of the popular vote, probably about 250,000 votes. We believe this is an accurate reflection of what really happened here.

But by morning Bush was being handed the presidency, claiming a 2.5% Buckeye victory, as certified by Blackwell. In conjunction with other exit polling, the lead switch from Kerry to Bush is a virtual statistical impossibility. Yet John Kerry conceded with more than 250,000 ballots still uncounted, though Bush at the time was allegedly ahead only by 138,000, a margin that later slipped to less than 119,000 in the official vote count.

At the time, very few people knew about those first 133,000 voters that had been eliminated from the registration rolls in Cincinnati and Toledo. County election boards purged the voting registration lists. Though all Ohio election boards are allegedly bi-partisan, in fact they are all controlled by the Republican Party. Each has four seats, filled by law with two Democrats and two Republicans.

But all tie votes are decided by the Secretary of State, in this case Blackwell, the extreme right-wing Republican now running for Governor. Blackwell served in 2004 not only as the man in charge of the state's vote count, but also a co-chair of the Ohio Bush-Cheney campaign. Many independent observers have deemed this to be a conflict of interest. On election day, Blackwell met personally with Bush, Karl Rove and Matt Damschroder, chair of the Franklin County (Columbus) Board of Elections, formerly the chair of the county's Republican Party.

The Board of Elections in Toledo was chaired by Bernadette Noe, wife of Tom Noe, northwestern Ohio's "Mr. Republican." A close personal confidante of the Bush family, Noe raised more than $100,000 for the GOP presidential campaign in 2004. He is currently under indictment for three felony violations of federal election law, and 53 counts of fraud, theft and other felonies in the "disappearance" of more than $13 million in state funds. Noe was entrusted with investing those funds by Republican Gov. Robert Taft, who recently pled guilty to four misdemeanor charges, making him the only convicted criminal ever to serve as governor of Ohio.

The rationale given by Noe and by the Republican-controlled BOE in Lucas and Hamilton Counties was that the voters should be eliminated from the rolls because they had allegedly not voted in the previous two federal elections.

There is no law that requires such voters be eliminated. And there is no public verification that has been offered to confirm that these people had not, in fact, voted in those elections.

Nonetheless, tens of thousands of voters turned up in mostly Democratic wards in Cincinnati and Toledo, only to find they had been mysteriously removed from the voter rolls. In many cases, sworn testimony and affidavits given at hearings after the election confirmed that many of these citizens had in fact voted in the previous two federal elections and had not moved from where they were registered. In some cases, their stability at those addresses stretched back for decades.

The problem was partially confirmed by a doubling of provisional ballots cast during the 2004 election, as opposed to the number cast in 2000. Provisional ballots have been traditionally used in Ohio as a stopgap for people whose voting procedures are somehow compromised at the polls, but who are nonetheless valid registrants.

Prior to the 2004 election, Blackwell made a range of unilateral pronouncements that threw the provisional balloting process into chaos. Among other things, he demanded voters casting provisional ballots provide their birth dates, a requirement that was often not mentioned by poll workers. Eyewitnesses testify that many provisional ballots were merely tossed in the trash at Ohio polling stations.

To this day, more than 16,000 provisional ballots (along with more than 90,000 machine-spoiled ballots) cast in Ohio remain uncounted. The Secretary of State refuses to explain why. A third attempt by the Green and Libertarian Parties to obtain a meaningful recount of the Ohio presidential vote has again been denied by the courts, though the parties are appealing.

Soon after the 2004 election, Damschroder announced that Franklin County would eliminate another 170,000 citizens from the voter rolls in Columbus. Furthermore, House Bill 3, recently passed by the GOP-dominated legislature, has imposed a series of restrictions that will make it much harder for citizens to restore themselves to the voter rolls, or to register in the first place.

All this, however, pales before a new revelation just released by the Board of Elections in Cuyahoga County, the heavily Democratic county surrounding Cleveland.

Robert J. Bennett, the Republican chair of the Cuyahoga Board of Elections, and the Chair of the Ohio Republican Party, has confirmed that prior to the 2004 election, his BOE eliminated---with no public notice---a staggering 175,414 voters from the Cleveland-area registration rolls. He has not explained why the revelation of this massive registration purge has been kept secret for so long. Virtually no Ohio or national media has bothered to report on this story.

Many of the affected precincts in Cuyahoga County went 90% and more for John Kerry. The county overall went more than 60% for Kerry.

The eliminations have been given credence by repeated sworn testimony and affidavits from long-time Cleveland voters that they came to their usual polling stations only to be told that they were not registered. When they could get them, many were forced to cast provisional ballots which were highly likely to be pitched in the trash, or which remain uncounted.

Ohio election history would indicate that the elimination of 175,000 voters in heavily Democratic Cleveland must almost certainly spell doom for any state-wide Democratic campaign. These 175,000 pre-2004 election eliminations must now be added to the 105,000 from Cincinnati and the 28,000 from Toledo.

Therefore, to put it simply: at least 308,000 voters, most of them likely Democrats, were eliminated from the registration rolls prior to an election allegedly won by less than 119,000 votes, where more than 106,000 votes still remain uncounted, and where the GOP Secretary of State continues to successfully fight off a meaningful recount.

There are more than 80 other Ohio counties where additional pre-November, 2004 mass eliminations by GOP-controlled boards of elections may have occurred. Further "anomalies" in the Ohio 2004 vote count continue to surface.

In addition, it seems evident that the Democratic Party will now enter Ohio's 2006 gubernatorial and US Senate races, and its 2008 presidential contest, with close to a half-million voters having been eliminated from the registration rolls, the vast majority of them from traditional Democratic strongholds, and with serious legislative barriers having been erected against new voter registration drives.

Stay tuned.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available via www.freepress.org. They are co-editors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, coming in September from The New Press. Important research for this piece has been conducted by Dr. Richard Hayes Philips, Dr. Norm Robbins and Dr. Victoria Lovegren.

March 2nd, 2006, 04:52 PM
I agree. Why this doesn't make the news and doesn't outrage the electorate is beyond me. Yet everyone knows about the baby on Britney Spears' lap.

The reason is that all this election crap is old news by now and no one cares at this point. People would rather elect Britney Spears as their children's baby sitter than John Kerry as president.

March 2nd, 2006, 06:05 PM
This isn't just about Kerry. It's about having a legitimate election. Last time I checked we are still going to have elections, right?? The only way to prevent future hacking, by either party, is to expose the methods by which it has already been done. If people continue to have such narrow vision, as displayed in the previous post, about the possibilities going forward, then elections will be doomed to illegitimacy.

The real "crap", Sir, is your statement that no one cares.

March 3rd, 2006, 05:53 PM
The reason is that all this election crap is old news by now and no one cares at this point.It's not crap, it's not old news, but that no one cares is correct - my point exactly. Republicans would have it no other way: deal with the indefensible by changing the topic.
People would rather elect Britney Spears as their children's baby sitter than John Kerry as president.I guess I'm one of the few disturbed by this, and thus, who cares.

March 10th, 2006, 09:06 AM
Vote spike blamed on program snafu

Dallas / Ft. Worth

Mar. 09, 2006


An undetected computer glitch in Tarrant County led to inflated election returns in Tuesday's primaries but did not alter the outcome of any local race, elections and county officials said Wednesday.

The error caused Tarrant County to report as many as 100,000 votes in both primaries that never were cast, dropping the local turnout from a possible record high of about 158,103 voters to about 58,000.

Because the errors added votes equally for each candidate, the glitch did not change the outcome of Tarrant County races but narrowed the margin of victory in some statewide races. In the close Republican primary race for Texas Supreme Court, for example, incumbent Don Willett edged past former Justice Steve Smith by only about 1 percentage point with the corrected vote tallies.

Questions about possible problems were raised by election staff late Tuesday night, as it became apparent to some that the county would far exceed the 76,000 votes cast in the 2002 primary elections.

But elections officials did not look into the discrepancies that night because they were dealing with a new system, new procedures and some new equipment, said Gayle Hamilton, Tarrant County's interim elections administrator.

"We didn't think there was a problem," Hamilton said. "We should have stopped right then.

"But we didn't question it at that time."

The problem stemmed from a programming error by Hart InterCivic, which manufactured the equipment and wrote the software for the local voting system. The system is designed to combine electronic early voting results and totals from paper ballots on Election Day.

The error caused the computer to compound the previous vote totals each time the election totals were updated throughout the night, rather than keep a simple running total, officials said.

"The system did what we told it to do," said John Covell, a vice president with Hart. "We told it incorrectly."

The program was designed specifically for Tarrant County, and no other counties reported similar problems, elections officials said.

By 7 a.m. Wednesday, campaign officials for Robert Higgins, who ran against Republican state Rep. Anna Mowery in state House District 97, showed up at election headquarters wanting to know how more than 20,000 people could have voted in that race.

"We were watching the results and we knew what the universe of numbers should be," Higgins said. "We expected about 8,000 in our race and got about 21,000."

Election officials then began reviewing the results and discovered errors. Hart officials were called in and spent much of Wednesday reviewing election results.

By late Wednesday, officials were still running reports showing precinct-by-precinct totals -- about 5,000 pages in all -- to examine and compare the data with information collected by election judges countywide.

"Then we will feel very comfortable that the information is correct," County Administrator G.K. Maenius said. "We're going to be working on this continuously."

Democratic Party Chairman Art Brender said he had been on the verge of calling elections officials to get precinct-by-precinct data when he was told that there had been a problem with totals on election night.

"I was concerned about the results when I saw them," he said. "I thought there were too many."

Republican Party Chairwoman Stephanie Klick also said she was skeptical of the results when she saw that some GOP races had 114,000 voters turning out to cast ballots.

"That would have been a record turnout," she said.

Brender said the glitch drives home the need for a paper trail for the next election. Officials hope by the May elections that a device will be added to the electronic eSlate machines used in early voting to record paper copies of ballots cast. The Texas secretary of state's office must first give its approval.

For the ongoing review of Tarrant County data, printouts kept by election judges are being matched to the recording tape in the voting machines.

"I'm not concerned about the accuracy of data when it came in and was preserved," Brender said. "I'll be comfortable with electronic voting when there's a verifiable paper trail."

County officials say they don't know how much it will cost to correct the numbers. Hamilton said the county will waive the usual charge for candidates who want a recount.

In 2002, Tarrant County election officials did not report final tallies for more than a day after polls closed because of a different programming error that caused machines to ignore votes for individual candidates when a voter cast a straight-party ballot.

Republican and Democratic party officials are responsible for canvassing the election returns, which makes them official, by March 18. The returns will then be turned over to the state, party officials said.

© Copyright 2004 Knight Ridder.

March 10th, 2006, 10:25 AM
I hope New york keeps its antiquated lever machines. They are easy and accurate and they force election workers to work.

March 10th, 2006, 10:25 AM
I hope New york keeps its antiquated lever machines. They are easy and accurate and they force election workers to work.

March 11th, 2006, 11:30 PM
'Why did J. Kenneth Blackwell seek, then hide, his association with super-rich extremists and e-voting magnates?'
Posted on Friday, March 10 @ 10:11:59 EST

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, The Columbus Free Press

The man who stole the 2004 election for George W. Bush -- Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell -- has posted a picture of himself addressing the white supremacist ultra-right Council for National Policy (CNP). He then pulled the picture and tried to hide his participation in the meeting by removing mention of it from his website, kenblackwell.com.

First discovered by a netroots investigator, Blackwell's photo at the CNP meeting was found on Blackwell's website on Monday, March 6. Then it mysteriously disappeared.

Blackwell has ample reason to hide his ties to the CNP. When the Free Press investigated the CNP and its ties to the Republican Party, Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates told the paper that the CNP included "a former Ku Klux Klan leader and other segregationist policies." Berlet emphasizes that these "shocking" charges are easy to verify.

Berlet describes CNP members as not only traditional conservatives, but also nativists, xenophobes, white racial supremacists, homophobes, sexists, militarists, authoritarians, reactionaries and "in some cases outright neo-fascists."

Some well-known figures affiliated with the CNP include Rev. Jerry Falwell, anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly and the Rev. Pat Robertson. But its the lesser-known CNP mainstays that are more indicative of the organization's politics. They include:

Richard Shoff, a former Ku Klux Klan leader in Indiana.
John McGoff, an ardent supporter of the former apartheid South African regime.
R.J. Rushdoony, the theological leader of America's "Christian Reconstruction" movement, which advocates that Christian fundamentalists take "dominion" over America by abolishing democracy and instituting Old Testament Law. Rushdoony's Reconstructionalists believe that "homosexuals . . . adulterers , blasphemers, astrologers and others will be executed," along with disobedient children.
Reed Larson, head of anti-union National Right to Work Committee.
Don Wildmon, TV censorship activist and accused anti-Semite.
Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver North, Major General John K. Singlaub and other principals from the Iran-Contra Scandal.
Investigative reporter Russ Bellant, author of OLD NAZIS, THE NEW RIGHT AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY; THE RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT IN MICHIGAN POLITICS; and THE COORS CONNECTION, told the Free Press that the "membership of the Council comprises the elite of the radical right in America."

Blackwell is not the only Ohio Republican with ties to white supremacists, according to Bellant. He found ties between Senator George Voinovich and members of fascist groups formerly from Eastern and Southern Europe living in the Cleveland area.

In 1997, the Free Press disclosed that then-Republican Speaker Pro Tempore of the Ohio House, William G. Batchelder, was listed as a member of the little-known and highly secretive cabal, the CNP. Bellant told the Free Press in 1997, "the CNP is attempting to create a concentration of power to rival and eventually eclipse traditional centers of power in the U.S." Batchelder's wife Alice sits on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and was recently considered for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The CNP was founded in 1981. Moral Majority Leader Tim LaHaye assumed the presidency with the backing of Texas billionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt. In 1982, Tom Ellis succeeded LaHaye as CNP president. Ellis was a director of the Pioneer Fund, a foundation that finances efforts to prove that African-Americans are genetically inferior to whites. Recipients of past Pioneer Fund grants include eugenicist William Shockley, Arthur Jensen and Roger Pearson. Pearson is on record advocating that "inferior races" should be "exterminated."

Newsweek reported that the CNP's first executive director, Louisiana State Representative Woody Jenkins, told CNP members, "I believe that one day before the end of this century, the Council will be so influential that no president, regardless of party, or philosophy, will be able to ignore us or our concerns or shut us out of the highest levels of government."

In 1999, GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush appeared before the secretive white supremacists at a gathering in San Antonio. Bush refused to make public his comments before the group. The CNP may have reached its intended goal of eclipsing all other power groups in U.S. politics when Bush took the presidency in 2000.

Jeremy Leaming and Rob Boston, writing for the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, detail the sordid history of the CNP in their article "Who Is The Council For National Policy And What Are They Up To? And Why Don't They Want You To Know?"

Blackwell is Ohio's Secretary of State, and a Republican candidate for governor. He was a highly visible "on the ground" player in the Bush election theft in Florida 2000. On Election Day 2004, he met in Columbus with Bush and Karl Rove to solidify plans for winning the Buckeye State's 20 electoral votes, which turned the election to Bush. Blackwell's extremely controversial handling of the election and the vote count have the prompted widespread belief that it, too, was stolen. The results ran counter to the historically accurate exit polls, and Blackwell has stonewalled three successive court battles against public scrutiny of the results and has resisted a verified, accurate recount.

The idea of an African-American like Blackwell speaking to a racist cabal like the CNP may seem incongruous. But Blackwell has been courting extremist right wing support for a long time. Most importantly he has been embraced and supported by Rev. Rob Parsley of the powerful World Harvest Church. Parsley is a wealthy right-wing extremist with a powerful grassroots network throughout the state, and a major stake in Blackwell's taking to the governorship. No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio. With Blackwell's continued control of the voting apparatus, the CNP and Republican Party could well step into an era of unchallenged national domination.

Not surprisingly, Blackwell and a few CNP members share crucial ties to the election/vote counting industry.

The electronic voting machine industry is dominated by only a few corporations - Diebold, Election Systems & Software (ES&S) and Sequoia. Together, Diebold and ES&S count an estimated 80% of U.S. black box electronic votes.

In the early 1980s, brothers Bob and Todd Urosevich founded ES&S's seminal corporation, Data Mark. The brothers Urosevich obtained financing from relatives of the far-Right-wing CNP-linked Howard Ahmanson in 1984, who purchased a 68% ownership stake, according to the Omaha World Herald. Ahmanson has also been a chief financier of Rushdoony's Christian Reconstruction movement.

Brothers William and Robert Ahmanson, cousins of Howard, infused Data Mark with new capital. The name was changed to American Information Systems (AIS). The Ahmanson brothers have claimed that they have no ties to their more well-known right-wing cousin.

But in 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported that Howard and Roberta Ahmanson were important funders of the Discovery Institute, a fount of extremist right-wing publications, including much that pushes creationism in California schools. The Times said the Institute's " $1-million annual program has produced 25 books, a stream of conferences and more than 100 fellowships for doctoral and postdoctoral research."

According to Group Watch, in the 1980s Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr. was a member of the CNP. Heir to a savings and loan fortune, Ahmanson is little reported on in the mainstream U.S. press. But, English papers like The Independent are more informative. They list Ahmanson alongside Richard Mellon Scaife, one of the most important of all right-wing money men. "Such figures as Richard Mellon Scaife and Howard Ahmanson have given hundreds of millions of dollars over several decades to political projects both high (setting up the Heritage Foundation think-tank, the driving engine of the Reagan presidency) and low (bankrolling investigations into President Clinton's sexual indiscretions and the suicide of the White House insider Vincent Foster)," wrote The Independent last November.

The Sunday Mail described an individual as, ". . . a fundamentalist Christian more in the mould of U.S. multi-millionaire Howard Ahmanson, Jr., who uses his fortune to promote so-called traditional family values.. . . By waving fortunes under their noses, Ahmanson has the ability to cajole candidates into backing his right-wing Christian agenda."

Ahmanson is also a chief contributor to the Chalcedon Institute that supports the Christian reconstruction movement. The movement's philosophy advocates, among other things, "mandating the death penalty for homosexuals and drunkards."

The Ahmanson brothers sold their shares in American Information Systems to the McCarthy Group and the World Herald Company, Inc. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel disclosed in public documents that he was the Chairman of American Information Systems and claimed between a $1 to 5 million investment in the McCarthy Group. In 1997, American Information Systems purchased Business Records Corp. (BRC), formerly Texas-based election company Cronus Industries, to become ES&S. One of the BRC owners was Carolyn Hunt of the right-wing Hunt oil family, which supplied much of the original money for the Council on National Policy.

The presence of Ahmanson relatives and Hunt's sister in e-voting software may be a coincidence. But it certainly raises questions as to why family members of anti-democratic forces are getting heavily involved in non-transparent election software. And why they are forging ties to the man in charge of counting votes in Ohio elections.

In 1996, Hagel became the first elected Republican Nebraska senator in 24 years when he did surprisingly well in an election where the votes were verified by the company he served as chairman, and in which he maintained a financial investment. In both his successful 1996 and 2002 campaigns, Hagel's ES&S counted an estimated 80% of his winning votes. Due to the contracting out of services, confidentiality agreements between the State of Nebraska and the company kept this matter out of the public eye. Hagel's first election victory was described as a "stunning upset" by one Nebraska newspaper.

Hagel's official biography states, "Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Hagel worked in the private sector as the President of McCarthy and Company, an investment banking firm based in Omaha, Nebraska and served as Chairman of the Board of American Information Systems." During the first Bush presidency, Hagel served as Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7 Summit).

Bob Urosevich was the Programmer and CEO at AIS, before being replaced by Hagel. Bob later headed Diebold Election Systems, but resigned prior to the 2004 election. His brother Todd is a top executive at ES&S. Bob created Diebold's original electronic voting machine software.

Thus, the brothers Urosevich, originally funded by the far Right, figure in the counting of approximately 80% of electronic votes cast in the United States.

That J. Kenneth Blackwell would now address an organization so thoroughly entwined with the extreme right wing and the electronic voting machine industry can hardly be seen as an accident. Blackwell's active presence in both Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 make him a critical player in the rise of the Bush regime. As governor of Ohio, he could solidify Republican control of presidential elections for decades to come.

Toward that end, the GOP-controlled Ohio legislature has passed a series of laws making it virtually impossible to monitor electronic voting in the state, or to challenge the outcome of a federal election here. The Free Press has also learned that county election board officials, in Blackwell's employ, have stripped nearly a half-million voters from the registration rolls in the key Democratic urban areas of Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati.

None of this has been seriously challenged by Ohio or national Democrats. And with Blackwell in the governor's mansion, in control of the state's vote counting apparatus, the Democrats will have virtually no chance of ever retaking control of the Ohio legislature, Congressional delegation or, for that matter, the White House.

Small wonder the powerful right wing extremist Council on National Policy would overlook its racist history to embrace an African-American like J. Kenneth Blackwell. Small wonder, also, Blackwell might want to hide what will certainly be a powerful and profitable association for him in his rise to the Ohio governor's mansion Ö and beyond.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available at www.freepress.org.

© 2006 The Columbus Free Press

Source: The Columbus Free Press

May 11th, 2006, 08:58 PM
Permission to reprint or excerpt granted, with link to

- The Oakland Tribune scooped other newspapers yesterday on the story.
- Pennsylvania's Michael Shamos sequestered all Diebold touch-screens.
- California is invoking emergency procedures.
- The state of Iowa is trying to figure out a way to scrub Diebold

Harri Hursti has just come out with Hursti Report II, a Black Box
Voting project.

Here it is:

A second study with 12 more defects will be released Monday May 15.


Back doors were found in three separate levels. They can be used one
at a time or combined for a deep attack that can permanently compromise
Diebold touch-screens.

Almost nothing will work to ensure that machines that have already been
delivered have not been contaminated -- the very forensic procedures
MIGHT identify tampering also wipe clean any evidence.

The procedures being used in Pennsylvania, California, and Iowa will
necessarily work if the system has already been contaminated. Worse,
very procedure needed to cleanse the system can just as easily

Next week, Black Box Voting will release recommended solutions in
conjunction with a
recommendation to pull all Diebold touch-screen machines off the shelf.

For more information, visit the following links:


and to see what the Diebold lawyers are trying to do to Bruce Funk,
click here:

(Scroll past the Georgia cluelessness to a transcript of the
meeting held to try to force Funk out of office.)

Diebold lawyers are also retaliating against Stephen Heller, trying to
him in jail for leaking documents that have been compared in importance
the actions of famed Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsburg. Click here
for the latest on Heller:


and click here to donate to his defense fund:


(Diebold lawyer's vindictiveness has cost Heller his job and very
his home. His courage in fighting for YOUR right to vote needs your

May 11th, 2006, 09:19 PM
Lawsuit Against Arizona Secretary of State to Halt Use, Purchase of Diebold, Sequoia Touchscreens
New from States - Arizona
By Brad Friedman, The BradBlog
May 10, 2006

Motion Demands Preliminary Injunction, Alleges E-Machines Are Not Secure, Not Fully Accessible to Disabled Voters,
Suit is latest in growing line of similar actions being taken around the country

A group of Arizona voters have filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction against Sec. of State Jan Brewer to halt the purchase of electronic touch-screen voting systems in the state made by both Diebold, Inc. and Sequoia Voting Systems.

The voters announced today that the motion was being filed in time to stop the use of the Diebold TSx and Sequoia Edge II systems in the state's upcoming 2006 elections, due to security, verifiability, and disability access problems with these systems.

In addition to the litany of security issues concerning Diebold's TSx, details from the most severe one to date were just revealed publicly last Friday with more chilling details filed in the Oakland Tribune by Ian Hoffman today, the suit also contends the machines, being purchased and implemented in many Arizona counties for the first time this year, are accessible only for a small number of voters with disabilities.

Indeed, on Monday, Diebold issued a press release about new disabled-accessible features that the company is now making available for their line of touch-screen voting machines. The press release can be seen as a tacit agreement, of sorts, that those systems had not been previously accessible to all disabled voters as required by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

In a press release issued this morning by VoterAction.org, a non-partisan legal advocacy group who has previously helped file similar suits in both New Mexico (against Sequoia machines) and California (against Diebold machines). The action in New Mexico eventually led to a new law banning Sequoia's touch-screen systems in the state, and so far, 7 of the 18 counties named in the California suit have announced they will abandon Diebold's touch-screens and use paper ballots instead this year.

One of the disabled plaintiff's in the suit is quoted in today's press release discussing the problem with disabled-accessibility of the Diebold and Sequoia systems:

"Diebold and Sequoia electronic voting systems do not adequately accommodate the needs of voters with a range of mobility, dexterity and multiple disabilities, such as my own. All voters have the right to a meaningful balloting experience, but no one should have to sacrifice security in the process. Electronic systems are neither secure nor verifiable, and our democratic process is too precious to jeopardize in this way."

A telephonic press conference was held this morning. The attorneys, plaintiffs and expert witnesses were all on the call to answer questions from the media. The entirety of the media in attendance was David Wagner from the Arizona Republic and John Gideon representing The BRAD BLOG and VoteTrustUSA. Apparently the integrity of our electoral system is not of great importance to most of the mainstream corporate media.

In response to questions about the security vulnerabilities of the Diebold and Sequoia Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, touch-screen) voting machines, computer science professor Doug Jones, of the University of Iowa, told both of the media representatives in attendance that the federal ITAs (Independent Testing Authorities) have been taken in by an amateurish veneer of security software because they do not understand software security. The ITA consists of three test labs that are supposed to inspect, test, and certify voting systems as being accurate and secure. However, they are paid for by the electronic voting machine vendors themselves, and essentially only look at what the vendors ask them. And little more. Their failure to adequately test these machines for security issues and for compliance with federal Voting System Standards has been devastating around the country.

When asked if Arizona can meet the HAVA mandates for disabled-accessibility in this year's Arizona primary and general election, Lowell Finley of VoterAction reported that the counties affected (13 of 15 counties) can use accessible AutoMark voting machines or other voting devices that allow voters to mark paper ballots. But that the machines in question, from Diebold and Sequoia, do not fit that bill.

In an AP article about today's lawsuit, without any information from the tele-conference, AZ Secretary of State Jan Brewer is quoted as saying, "I cannot understand for the life of me why they would want to prohibit the disabled from voting privately and independently like you and I. Every piece of equipment that we have has a paper trail."

Of course Brewer is seemingly missing the point. And apparently purposely hoping to spin the lawsuit into something that it clearly is not. She also proves that she is very confused because accessibility for voters with disabilities has little to do with a paper trail.

May 11th, 2006, 09:22 PM
$13M No Bid E-Pollbook Deal with Diebold Draws Fire
New from States - Maryland
By TrueVoteMD
May 08, 2006

Electronic Pollbooks Not Necessary for Early Voting, Election Integrity Activists Say

Takoma Park, MD: The implementation of early voting and of the federally mandated statewide voter registration database has been such a headache that the administrators of elections in several Maryland counties have recently resigned, including those in Prince Georges, Anne Arundel and Wicomico Counties.

Wednesday the State Board of Elections quietly tried to sneak a $13 million sweetheart deal with Diebold Election Systems, Inc., through the Board of Public Works to buy electronic pollbooks in time for this fall’s early voting. Since there are other vendors that sell e-pollbooks, the state would normally issue a carefully written RFP and thoroughly investigate each product available, as they do with other purchases of this magnitude. Instead they are trying to rush into a no-bid contract with a company that has been uncooperative lately in answering their questions about possible security vulnerabilities in Maryland’s voting equipment.

The haste with which the SBE is seeking to consummate this deal is in stark contrast to their protestations a few short weeks ago that there was no time to make major changes to our voting system before this fall’s elections. That was when the question was about replacing our paperless touchscreen voting machines with precinct-based optical scanners—a change favored by 57% of Maryland voters, according to a recent survey by Gonzales Research.One of the complaints the SBE voiced about the Voter-Verified Paper Ballot bill was that it might force the state into working with a specific vendor. But it seems that their tune changes when the vendor is Diebold.

May 11th, 2006, 09:25 PM
ES&S Meltdown: Missouri Counties Going Back To Paper and Levers
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog
May 06, 2006

Company Failures Continue to Pile Up Around the Country
5 Counties in Show Me State Say Show Us How the Hell to Vote Starting Monday, ES&S!

As Diebold implodes on the latest news that all of their touch-screen voting machines contain a perhaps-uncorrectable flaw being described as a "major national security threat," the largest of the country's Electronic Voting Machine Companies, ES&S continue to meltdown all across the nation.

On the heels of similar failures in Indiana, Oregon, Texas, West Virginia, Arkansas and elsewhere, Missouri now joins the crowd as the latest state to report failures by ES&S to deliver ballots, machines and software programming in time for elections this year.

Five counties in Missouri have announced they are going to "Plan B" (creating their own paper ballots, or returning to their old lever systems) in preparation for early voting which is to begin Monday in the Show Me state.

Problems are being reported in Boone, Carroll, Marion, Newton and Searcy Counties. Here's a sample of refrains that are starting to sound incredibly familiar:

"I'm just sick," longtime [Carroll County] Election Commission Chairman Levi Phillips said Tuesday. He said Election Systems and Software of Omaha, Neb., had not only failed to send the programmed parts for the touch-screen machines but it also failed to break down paper ballots so results could be reported by precinct. It also didn't put the candidates in the order drawn from a hat in a couple of races, he said.

"We're in hell with that," he said. "That wasn't a step forward. That's a step back."

The Election Commission voted unanimously Tuesday morning to order paper ballots for early voting.

Searcy County plans to drag its old lever voting machines out for early voting and they will be used on Election Day May 23 if the fancy new touch-screen computer voting machines aren't ready.
"Searcy County is very upset and let down with ES&S," Smith said this morning. He said he and four retired school teachers who "burned their own gas" took the new touch screen voting machines all around the county training poll workers and demonstrating for voters and "now they say you've got to do something else." He noted that the lever machine invented in the 1800s was proving more reliable than the state-of-the-art computer machines.

Dear Washington D.C. and the National Mainstream Media: Is anybody there? Does anybody care?

May 11th, 2006, 09:31 PM
Add these sites to your "Favorites List" and stay informed on New York issues related to voted machine "upgradess":



Follow national developments at:






May 17th, 2006, 10:13 AM

Train Wreck in Progress as Today's Primary Elections in PA Run Into Big Trouble...

Paper Ballots Being Passed Out, 'We're Dead' Says One Official ...
(Who could have forseen such problems?!)

Pennsylvania is having their primary elections today and, as expected, the train wreck is underway. As reported by Philadelphia Daily News, hundreds of machines (in this case, those made by Danaher Guardian) have failed...

BREAKING NEWS: 100 voting machines broken

More than 100 voting machines are reported to be broken across the city, the Daily News has learned.

Apparently, the machines were broken when polls opened this morning -- they keep spitting out the paper tape that keeps the tally of the vote. It is the largest breakdown since we started using the new voting machines.

The broken machines were first reported in the weblog for TheNextMayor.com. Expect more on this story in tomorrow's Daily News.

Philly News: http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/news/local/14593675...

May 17th, 2006, 10:15 AM

Train Wreck in Progress as Today's Primary Elections in PA Run Into Big Trouble...

Paper Ballots Being Passed Out, 'We're Dead' Says One Official ...
(Who could have forseen such problems?!)

Pennsylvania is having their primary elections today and, as expected, the train wreck is underway. As reported by Philadelphia Daily News, hundreds of machines (in this case, those made by Danaher Guardian) have failed...

BREAKING NEWS: 100 voting machines broken

More than 100 voting machines are reported to be broken across the city, the Daily News has learned.

Apparently, the machines were broken when polls opened this morning -- they keep spitting out the paper tape that keeps the tally of the vote. It is the largest breakdown since we started using the new voting machines.

The broken machines were first reported in the weblog for TheNextMayor.com. Expect more on this story in tomorrow's Daily News.

Philly News: http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/news/local/14593675...

The best remedy is to make sure you get enough votes to overcome those kinds of outages.

May 19th, 2006, 10:18 AM
Election legislation by margin of error. Interesting concept.

May 19th, 2006, 10:39 AM
mr. Spice, that's a twisted version of democracy. I prefer to have my vote counted properly, thanks.


Posted on Thursday, May 11, 2006 - 12:34 pm:
Due to the nature of this report it is distributed in two different versions. Details of the attack are only in the restricted distribution version considered to be confidential. Fewer than 50 words have been redacted in the version below.


Click "more" for link to full report

Note: Please refrain from speculation or public discussion of inappropriate technical details.

This document describes several security issues with the Diebold electronic voting terminals TSx and TS6. These touch-pad terminals are widely used in US and Canadian elections and are among the most widely used touch pad voting systems in North America. Several vulnerabilities are described in this report.

One of them, however, seems to enable a malicious person to compromise the equipment even years before actually using the exploit, possibly leaving the voting terminal incurably compromised.

These architectural defects are not in the election-processing system itself. However, they compromise the underlying platform and therefore cast a serious question over the integrity of the vote. These exploits can be used to affect the trustworthiness of the system or to selectively disenfranchise groups of voters through denial of service.

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVtsxstudy.pdf (327 KB)
Critical Security Alert: Diebold TSx and TS6 voting systems
by Harri Hursti, for Black Box Voting, Inc.

Three-layer architecture, 3 security problems

Each can stand alone or combine for 3-layer offense in depth

As an oversimplification, the systems in question have three major software layers: boot loader, operating system and application program. As appropriate for current designs, the first two layers should contain all hardware specific implementations and modifications, while the application layer should access the hardware ñ the touch pad, memory card, the network etc. ñ only via services and functions provided by the operating system and therefore be independent of the hardware design. Whether the architecture in question follows these basic guidelines is unknown.

Based on publicly available documentation, source code excerpts and testing performed with the system, there seem to be several backdoors to the system which are unacceptable from a security point of view. These backdoors exist in each of these three layers and they allow the system to be modified in extremely flexible ways without even basic levels of security involved.

In the worst case scenario, the architectural weaknesses incorporated in these voting terminals allow a sophisticated attacker to develop an "offense in depth" approach in which each compromised layer will also become the guardian against clean-up efforts in the other layers. This kind of deep attack is extremely persistent and it is noteworthy that the layers can conceal the contamination very effectively should the attacker wish that. A quite natural strategy in these types of situations is to penetrate, modify and make everything look normal.

Well documented viral attacks exist in similar systems deploying interception and falsification of hash-code calculations used to verify integrity in the higher application levels to avoid detection. The three-level attack is the worst possible attack. However, each layer can also be used to deploy a stand-alone attack. The TSx systems examined appear to offer opportunities for the three-level attack as well as the stand-alone attacks.

It is important to understand that these attacks are permanent in nature, surviving through the election cycles. Therefore, the contamination can happen at any point of the device's life cycle and remain active and undetected from the point of contamination on through multiple election cycles and even software upgrade cycles.

Here is a rough analogy:

- The application can be imagined as written instructions on a paper. If it is possible to replace these instructions, as it indeed seems, then the attacker can do whatever he wishes as long as the instructions are used.

- The operating system is the man reading the instructions. If he can be brainwashed according to the wishes of the attacker, then even correct instructions on the paper solve nothing. The man can decide to selectively do something different than the instructions. New paper instructions come and go, and the attacker can decide which instructions to follow because the operating system itself is under his control.

- The boot loader is the supreme entity that creates the man, the world and everything in it. In addition to creating, the boot loader also defines what is allowed in the world and delegates part of that responsibility to the operating system. If the attacker can replace the boot loader, trying to change the paper instructions or the man reading them does not work. The supreme entity will always have the power to replace the man with his own favorite, or perhaps he just modifies the manís eyes and ears: Every time the man sees yellow, the supreme being makes him think he is seeing brown. The supreme entity can give the man two heads and a secret magic word to trigger switching the heads.

In the world of the Diebold touch-screen voting terminals, all of these attacks look possible.

The instructions (applications and files) can be changed. The man reading the files (Windows CE Operating System and the libraries) can be changed. Or the supreme entity (boot loader) can be changed, giving total control over the operating system and the files even if they are "clean software."

Specific conceptual information is contained in the report, with details and filenames in the high-security version which is being delivered under cryptographic and/or personal signature controls to the EAC, Diebold CEO Tom Swidarski and CERT.

1) Boot loader reflashing
2) Operating system reflashing
3) Selective file replacement

In addition, the casing of the TSx machines lack basic seals and security, and within the casing additional exploitations are found.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Because there is no way of having chain of custody or audit trail for machines, the machines need to be reflashed with a known good version (assessing the risks potentially inherited). Ideally this should be done by the proper governmental authorities rather than being outsourced.

After that, extensive chain of custody management has to be established to make sure that machines do not potentially get recontaminated. Less than five minutes is required for contamination.

The bootloader needs to be re-engineered.

The cases need to be properly and permanently sealed.

Further study is warranted around these issues and others in the May 15, 2006 Supplemental Report for the Emery County TSx study.

While these flaws in design are not in the vote-processing system itself, they potentially seriously compromise election security. It would be helpful to learn how existing oversight processes have failed to identify this threat.

A secondary report will be released on May 15, 2006. This report contains approximately 12 other areas of secondary concern to the problems described in this initial report.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT GRANTED, WITH LINK TO http://www.blackboxvoting.org

Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) organization focusing on investigations related to ensure accurate and fair elections. This organization is supported entirely by citizen donations.
To support this work:
Mailing Address:
Black Box Voting, Inc.
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

July 31st, 2007, 06:39 PM
Makers of voting machines battle critics over UC study

John Wildermuth, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

(07-31) 04:00 PDT Sacramento -- County election officials and makers of voting machines squared off Monday against Secretary of State Debra Bowen and critics of electronic voting in a hearing that could determine how the Feb. 5 presidential primary election is run.

A state-sponsored study released last week that found that virtually all voting machines used in the state are vulnerable to hackers "had more to do with headlines than with definitive science or the pursuit of legitimate public policy," said Steve Weir, county clerk for Contra Costa County and president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials.

Allowing a team of University of California computer experts unlimited access to the voting systems, along with any needed passwords, source code and manuals "is not a real world scenario," said Steven Bennett, a spokesman for Sequoia Voting Systems, whose equipment is used in Alameda, Napa and Santa Clara counties.

But opponents of the growing use of electronic voting systems hailed the test as proof that the systems can be rigged to change election results and demanded that they either be junked or taken out of the hands of the private vendors.

"Every registrar who says they've had no problems with electronic voting machines is lying through their teeth," said Marc Keenberg, co-founder of the California Election Protection Network.

Bowen "should decertify the machines, send the vendors packing and tell them not to come back," said Emily Levy, a longtime voting activist from Santa Cruz.

Monday's hearing, along with the UC report, are part of the "top to bottom review" of electronic voting that Bowen promised when she was running for secretary of state last year. She said she will decide whether any vulnerabilities can be fixed in time for the February election or "whether the problems are so significant that the voting systems should not be used."

Bowen faces a tight deadline. By law, she can't decertify a voting system if the election is less than six months away, which means she has until Friday to study the information and decide what, if anything, must be done to the voting systems.

County election officials are worried that a decision to decertify electronic voting machines or put tough restrictions on their use now, so close to the election, could cause problems in February.

"We're concerned about extreme actions being taken," said Deborah Seiler, registrar of voters in San Diego County. "We urge the secretary to ... refrain from precipitous action until all the relevant information is in."

County election officials already have issues with Bowen, who they claim shut them out of the voting machine study of equipment made by Sequoia, Diebold and Hart InterCivic. The UC "Red Team" attack by hackers purposely ignored any security measures that would be taken by local counties, such as limiting access to the computer centers, putting guards over the voting machinery and training poll workers and other election officials to look for suspicious activity.

Bowen has been a longtime critic of the handful of companies that make the voting machines used in California. During her campaign for secretary of state last year, she criticized Republican incumbent Bruce McPherson for certifying a number of electronic voting systems.

She still has an Internet ad on her campaign site called "The Midnight Adventures of a Diebold Voting Machine," which slams McPherson and shows a pair of burglars hacking into a Diebold machine and laughing about how easy it is.

Opponents of electronic voting praised Bowen for taking a tough look at the voting machines and their vendors. Allowing private companies to provide the equipment that collects and counts votes in a public election is a disaster waiting to happen, they argue.

But vendors said that many of the security breaches found in the UC study were not feasible and would never have happened in an actual election. The study also didn't rank them by their threat to the voting process, they said.

"This was not a security-risk evaluation," said Bennett of Sequoia, "but an unrealistic, worst-case scenario evaluation."

E-mail John Wildermuth at jwildermuth@sfchronicle.com.


This article appeared on page B - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle
© 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.

August 4th, 2007, 05:22 PM
Allowing private companies to provide the equipment that collects and counts votes in a public election is a disaster waiting to happen...
Whaddya mean ... it's already happened, hasn't it?

October 10th, 2007, 01:15 PM
Diebold rebrands election products division

Tonya Garcia PR Week USA Aug 23 2007 10:06 (http://www.prweek.com/us/news/article/733407/Diebold-rebrands-election-products-division/)

ALLEN, TX: Diebold has rebranded its controversial Diebold Election Systems as Premier Election Solutions (PES), after failing to initially sell the subsidiary.

PES, which manufacturers voting and election-related products and services, will operate as a wholly owned, but separate brand of Diebold, a provider of self-service (i.e. ATMs) and security systems and services.

PES’ messaging will focus on new technologies, like touch-screen terminals, and how they improve upon the old-fashioned paper methods that have been used in elections for decades. Particular attention will also be paid to products and services, like optical scan terminals, that allow voters with disabilities to cast their ballots unaided. Outreach will be conducted with customers through such tactics as direct mail.

Last week, the company contacted existing customers via e-mail and telephone to discuss the changes. According to Christopher Riggall, communications manager for PES, the response has been positive.

In addition, Edelman will continue to assist PES with rebranding work and to counter criticism.

There have been questions about the ability to use voter technology to commit fraud and affect election outcomes. State and federal government bodies are now reviewing election technologies, and some Premier purchases scheduled for 2007 have been delayed until next year.

“What other industries would consider crisis communications is, for us, standard and typical,” said Riggall. “We have to be prepared for ongoing scrutiny.”

Revenue expectations for the year have been lowered by $120 million from $185 to $215 million. A new independent board is being created to run the company’s operations and David Byrd will remain company president.

“This market space can be sort of a battleground where party interests try to prevail,” said Riggall. “These are elected officials who are responsible to voters and taxpayers. You have to understand, with government decision-making and the public dollar that ultimately pays for this, the pressures and scrutiny… and the transparency of the environment.”


Some fun w/ anagrams:

Diebold Election Systems

- Diebold Selection System
- Embeds coy deletion lists
- Motile bytes license odds
- Sly test bodes demonic lie

Premier Election Solutions

- Promo onus; elite cretins lie
- Elite cronies lie - tromp on us
- Purloins more election ties
- I emcee in poll trust erosion
- Poll securities rot nominee
- Our men lie in esoteric plots
- Our election is stolen, impure
- Meretricious Sentinel Pool
- Is lies to permit neocon rule
- Puerile neocon elitism rots
- Puerile neocons rim toilets

Make your own. (http://wordsmith.org/anagram/advanced.html)

February 26th, 2008, 11:14 AM
A great little video from The Onion here (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/blog.php?b=104).

Take a look at an extensive log (http://www.votersunite.org/electionproblems.asp) of election problems so far this cycle. Also http://blackboxvoting.org/ and Election 2008 coverage (http://www.bradblog.com/?cat=122) at bradblog (http://www.bradblog.com/).

April 1st, 2008, 04:38 AM
"I don't understand why it would be a bad thing to have a paper record," ...[there] would be "more evidence about where the problem occurred and what happened."

A word to the wise regarding the upcoming Democratic Presidential Primary in Pennsylvania ...


A Risk of Mishaps with Pa. Voting?
Report: 'high risk' of malfunctions for Pa. voting machines

By Jessica Bell
11, February, 2008

Pennsylvania is one of 17 states ranked as being at "high-risk" for voting-machine mishaps by the nonprofit organizations Common Cause and the Verified Voting Foundation.

However, state officials and students varied greatly over whether this recent report is cause for concern.

The report classified states' voting machine reliability based on two conditions: whether voting machines produce paper records and whether these records are randomly audited during the post-election period.

Pennsylvania voting machines are considered "high-risk" because they do not produce a separate paper record of the voter's ballot and, according to the report, recovery from voting machine malfunction or tampering would be nearly impossible.

However, some Pennsylvania elections officials said voting-machine malfunctions are unlikely.

"The voting system in the state has gone through rigorous testing," said Julio Pena, chief of the Pennsylvania Division of Help America Vote Act.

The Help America Vote Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2002 to require states to update their voting equipment in order to prevent mishaps similar to those that occurred in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.

Pena said he is "very confident" in Pennsylvania's current system, adding that the state does not use paper trails to protect voter privacy.

However, Michael Barley, spokesman for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, said he was concerned about voter fraud and machine failure in the upcoming presidential primary, which will be held April 22. He said he agreed with the report's recommendations.

"I don't understand why it would be a bad thing to have a paper record," he said. There would be "more evidence about where the problem occurred and what happened."

Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesman Abe Amoros, on the other hand, echoed Pena, saying that voters should not be concerned about the report.

"We are quite confident that the current systems in place are adequate and have performed well since they were instituted," Amoros wrote in an e-mail.

Still, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania takes steps every year to have representatives at polling stations to alert volunteer attorneys if there is a problem with voting machines, Barley said, adding that he had heard "stories of people being harassed at the polls and of machines failing, but then people still voting on them."

College freshman Emerson Brooking, who plans to vote in the April 22 primary, said he was worried that a broken voting machine could render his ballot meaningless.

"When an audit could determine the electoral votes of a swing state like Pennsylvania, proper representation of voter preference outweighs potential privacy concerns," he said.

© 2008 The Daily Pennsylvanian (http://media.www.dailypennsylvanian.com/media/storage/paper882/news/2008/02/11/News/A.Risk.Of.Mishaps.With.Pa.Voting-3200602.shtml)

April 29th, 2008, 08:06 PM
I just found this on the most thorough and complete place online covering voting machine security issues: The BradBlog (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=5935). :eek:

July 19th, 2008, 10:40 AM
GOP cyber-security expert suggests Diebold tampered with 2002 election

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane
Published: Friday July 18, 2008 (http://rawstory.com//news/2008/Cybersecurity_expert_raises_allegations_of_2004_07 17.html)

A leading cyber-security expert and former adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he has fresh evidence regarding election fraud on Diebold electronic voting machines during the 2002 Georgia gubernatorial and senatorial elections.

Stephen Spoonamore is the founder and until recently the CEO of Cybrinth LLC, an information technology policy and security firm that serves Fortune 100 companies. At a little noticed press conference in Columbus, Ohio Thursday, he discussed his investigation of a computer patch that was applied to Diebold Election Systems voting machines in Georgia right before that state's November 2002 election.

Spoonamore is one of the most prominent cyber-security experts in the country. He has appeared on CNN (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0804/07/ldt.01.html)'s Lou Dobbs and ABC's World News Tonight (http://www.abcnews.go.com/WNT/Technology/story?id=2596705&page=1), and has security clearances from his work with the intelligence community and other government agencies, as well as the Department of Defense, and is one of the world’s leading authorities on hacking and cyber-espionage.

In 1995, Spoonamore received a civilian citation for his work with the Department of Defense. He was again recognized for his contributions in 2004 by the Department of Homeland Security. Spoonamore is also a registered Republican and until recently was advising the McCain campaign.

Spoonamore received the Diebold patch from a whistleblower close to the office of Cathy Cox, Georgia’s then-Secretary of State. In discussions with RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/), the whistleblower -- who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation -- said that he became suspicious of Diebold's actions in Georgia for two reasons. The first red flag went up when the computer patch was installed in person by Diebold CEO Bob Urosevich, who flew in from Texas and applied it in just two counties, DeKalb and Fulton, both Democratic strongholds. The source states that Cox was not privy to these changes until after the election and that she became particularly concerned over the patch being installed in just those two counties.

The whistleblower said another flag went up when it became apparent that the patch installed by Urosevich had failed to fix a problem with the computer clock, which employees from Diebold and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office had been told the patch was designed specifically to address.

Some critics of electronic voting raised questions about the 2002 Georgia race even at the time. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who was five percentage points ahead of Republican challenger Saxby Chambliss in polls taken a week before the vote, lost 53% to 46%. Incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Barnes, who led challenger Sonny Perdue in the polls by eleven points, lost 51% to 46%. However, because the Diebold machines used throughout the state provided no paper trail, it was impossible to ask for a recount in either case.

Concerned by the electoral outcome, the whistleblower approached Spoonamore because of his qualifications and asked him to examine the Diebold patch.

McCain adviser reported patch to Justice Department

The Ohio press conference was organized by Cliff Arnebeck and three other attorneys, who had filed a challenge to the results of that the 2004 presidential election in Ohio in December, 2004. That challenge was withdrawn, but in August 2006 Arnebeck filed a new case, King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell, alleging civil rights violations in the 2004 voting. The case was stayed in 2007. On Thursday, Arnebeck filed a motion to remove the stay and allow fresh investigation.

Individuals close to Arnebeck's office said Spoonamore confirmed that the patch included nothing to repair a clock problem. Instead, he identified two parallel programs, both having the full software code and even the same audio instructions for the deaf. Spoonamore said he could not understand the need for a second copy of the exact same program -- and without access to the machine for which the patch was designed, he could not learn more. Instead, he said he took the evidence to the Cyber-Security Division of the Department of Justice and reported the series of events to authorities. The Justice Department has not yet acted on his report.

Allegations surrounding Ohio in 2004

At the Ohio press conference yesterday, the former McCain adviser said Michael Connell, of the Republican Internet development firm New Media Communications, had designed a system that made possible the real-time "tuning" of election tabulators once Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell had outsourced the hosting of vote counting on the same server which hosted GOP campaign IT systems. He said he didn't believe Connell was behind the alleged fraud, but that he should be considered a key witness.

Spoonamore also confirmed he's working with Connell on overseas election issues and that Connell is now working as John McCain's IT developer (http://www.ohio.com/multimedia/photo_galleries/viewer?galID=15858022&storyID=15866227).

Connell has a long history (http://scoop.epluribusmedia.org/story/2007/3/26/22612/9031) with the Republican Party's IT infrastructure. In 2001, for example, he set up MajorityWhip.gov for then House Majority Whip Tom DeLay. He also helped built georgewbush.com, as well as the Ohio GOP site Spoonamore referenced.

Sources close to Spoonamore said he was very concerned that he would lose his contracts as a result of coming forward and would take a "large financial hit." These sources added that, despite his concerns, Spoonamore felt obligated to reveal what he knows to the public. "He felt he had no choice as an American citizen but to come forward, and he also knows the likely consequences of him doing so," one source said.

An audio file of the press conference is available here (http://www.rawstory.com/OhioPressConference/ohiopressconference7-17.mp3).

July 21st, 2008, 09:17 AM
Stephen Spoonamore

I hear the ladies really like him....

July 26th, 2008, 12:37 AM
BLOGGED BY Brad Friedman ON 7/24/2008 3:59PM (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6214)

Rove Threatened GOP IT Guru If He Does Not 'Take the Fall' for Election Fraud in Ohio, Says Attorney

Letter Sent to Attorney General Mukasey Requesting 'Protection for Mr. Connell and His Family From This Reported Attempt to Intimidate a Witness' After Tip from 'Credible Source'

UPDATE: OH AG Reportedly Asked to Provide Immunity Protection...

Karl Rove has threatened a GOP high-tech guru and his wife, if he does not "'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio," according to a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck.

The email, posted in full below, details threats against Mike Connell of the Republican firm New Media Communications, which describes itself on its website (http://www.technomania.com/public/About/Default.aspx) as "a powerhouse in the field of Republican website development and Internet services" and having "played a strategic role in helping the GOP expand its technological supremacy."

Connell was described in a recent interview (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6206) with the plaintiff's attorneys in Ohio as a "high IQ Forrest Gump" for his appearance "at the scene of every [GOP] crime" from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the RNC email system to the installation of the currently-used Congressional computer network firewall.

Connell and his firm are currently employed by the John McCain campaign, as well as the RNC and other Republican (http://www.technomania.com/public/Clients/PoliticalCamp.aspx) and so-called "faith-based" (http://www.technomania.com/public/Clients/FaithValues.aspx) organizations.

In a phone call this afternoon, Arnebeck could not publicly reveal specific details of the information that triggered his concern about the threats to Connell. The message to the IT man from Rove is said to have been sent via a go-between in Ohio. That information led Arnebeck to contact Mukasey after he found the reports to be credible and troubling.

"If there's a credible threat, which I regard this to be," he told The BRAD BLOG (http://www.BradBlog.com/), "I have a professional duty to report it."

Attempts to reach Connell for comment late this afternoon were not successful.

The disclosure from Arnebeck comes on the heels of a dramatic announcement last week (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6189), made at a Columbus press conference, announcing Arnebeck's motion to lift a stay on the long-standing King Lincoln Bronzwell v. Blackwell (http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/litigation/klbna.php) federal lawsuit, challenging voting rights violations in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.

The motion was made following the discovery of new information, including details from a Republican data security expert, leading Arnebeck towards seeking depositions of Rove, Connell, and other GOP operatives believed to have participated in the gaming of election results in 2004. A letter [PDF] (http://www.bradblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Mukasey.pdf) was sent to Mukasey at the same time last week, asking him to retain email and other documents from Rove...

"Mr. Rove's e-mails from the White House to the Justice Department, the FBI, the Pentagon, Congress and various federal regulatory agencies are obviously relevant to the factual issues that we intend to address in this case," Arnebeck wrote last week to the Attorney General. "We are concerned about reports that Mr. Rove not only destroyed e-mails, but also took steps to destroy the hard drives from which they had been sent."

In his email to Mukasey today, Arnebeck writes: "We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal witness we have identified in our King Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, that if he does not agree to 'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio, his wife Heather will be prosecuted for supposed lobby law violations."

"This appears to be in response to our designation of Rove as the principal perpetrator in the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act/RICO claim with respect to which we issued document hold notices last Thursday to you and to the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform," the Ohio attorney writes, before going on to link to The BRAD BLOG's coverage (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6189) of his press conference last week and requesting "protection for Mr. Connell and his family from this reported attempt to intimidate a witness."

The complete, short email, sent today from Arnebeck to AG Mukasey, follows in full below...

Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 10:51 AM
To: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
Subject: Report of Rove threats against witness Michael Connell

Dear Attorney General Mukasey:

We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal witness we have identified in our King Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, that if he does not agree to "take the fall" for election fraud in Ohio, his wife Heather will be prosecuted for supposed lobby law violations.This appears to be in response to our designation of Rove as the principal perpetrator in the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act/RICO claim with respect to which we issued document hold notices last Thursday to you and to the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform. See: http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6189 and http://www.archive.org/d...tionFraudInOhioCourtCase.

I have informed court chambers and am in the process of informing the Ohio Attorney General's and US Attorney's offices in Columbus for the purpose, among other things, of seeking protection for Mr. Connell and his family from this reported attempt to intimidate a witness.

Concurrently herewith, I am informing Mr. Conyers and Mr. Kucinich in connection with their Congressional oversight responsibilities related to these matters.

Because of the serious engagement in this matter that began in 2000 of the Ohio Statehouse Press Corps, 60 Minutes, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, C-Span and Jim VandeHei, and the public's right to know of gross attempts to subvert the rule of law, I am forwarding this information to them, as well.

Cliff Arnebeck, Attorney
Cell ###-###-####

cc: Robert Fitrakis, Esq.
Henry Eckhart, Esq

UPDATE: John Michael Spinelli of OhioNewsBureau, has more details at ePluribusMedia (http://thejournal.epluribusmedia.net/index.php/state-news/ohio-news/34-ohio-news/127-rove-threat-to-blackmail-gop-it-mastermind-triggers-immunity-request-to-ohio-ag-by-election-lawyers). Threat against Connell's wife likened to attack against Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame; says Ohio's interim Attorney General has now been asked to provide immunity protection services to Connell.

UPDATE 7/25/08: Arnebeck joined Peter B. Collins and me, on-air, live tonight to discuss this story and the related matters. Audio interview now posted here... (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6217)

August 21st, 2008, 11:13 PM
Report: E-Voting companies being charged with counting votes

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday August 21, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Report_Many_elections_outsourced_to_private_0821.h tml)

Although many states have rejected electronic voting machines because of their vulnerability to errors and outright fraud, a third of the nation will still be using them this fall.

What's worse, notes CNN's Lou Dobbs, "a new report says election officials often are outsourcing their responsibilities to the very companies that make the e-voting machines, even trusting those companies to count the votes."

That report (pdf) (http://www.votersunite.org/info/ReclaimElections.pdf) was issued by voting rights group VotersUnite.Org (http://votersunite.org/), whose founder Ellen Theisen told CNN, "Elections should be accountable to the people and run by public officials who are selected by the people. ... When that's handed over to private vendors, these public elections are no longer public."

The problem is particularly serious when voting machine companies also tabulate the votes, because the companies own both the equipment and the propriety software which runs it and election officials have no way of double-checking their tally.

The VotersUnite report concludes, "The depth of the current dependence is shocking, but even more shocking is the fact that our elections are dependent on vendors whose records reveal their unethical and even unlawful behavior, as well as their incompetence."

Oklahoma is one state which owns its own voting system and wasn't tempted by the offer of federal funds in 2002 to switch over to a proprietary system. "There was really nothing on the market we would buy then," Michael Clingman of the Oklahoma State Election Board told CNN, "and there's still nothing we would want to buy today."

"Oklahoma is a real piece of America!" Dobbs commented approvingly. "They're telling these silly son-of-a-guns to go stick it -- and they're honoring a commitment to the public."

Dobbs promised to post a list of every state or county that is outsourcing the vote on his Web site (http://loudobbs.tv.cnn.com/).

This video (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Report_Many_elections_outsourced_to_private_0821.h tml) is from CNN's Lout Dobbs Tonight, broadcast August 20, 2008.

August 22nd, 2008, 06:57 PM
Ohio Voting Machines Contained Programming Error That Dropped Votes

Posted at 5:09 PM ET on Aug 21, 2008
By Mary Pat Flaherty (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/08/21/ohio_voting_machines_contained.html)

A voting system used in 34 states contains a critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards to a central tallying point, the manufacturer acknowledges.

The problem was identified after complaints from Ohio elections officials following the March primary there, but the logic error that is the root of the problem has been part of the software for 10 years, said Chris Riggall, a spokesman for Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold.

The flawed software is on both touch screen and optical scan voting machines made by Premier and the problem with vote counts is most likely to affect larger jurisdictions that feed many memory cards to a central counting database rapidly.

Riggall said he was "confident" that elections officials through the years would have realized votes had been dropped when they crosschecked their tallies to certify final elections results and would have reloaded cards so as not to lose votes. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has said no Ohio votes were lost because the nine Ohio counties that found the problem caught it before primary results were finalized.

As recently as May, Premier said the problem was not of its making but stemmed from anti-virus software that Ohio had installed on its machines. It also briefly said the mistakes could have come from human mistakes. Further testing by Ohio elections officials and then high volume tests by Premier uncovered the programming error.

"We are indeed distressed that our previous analysis of this issue was in error," Premier President Dave Byrd wrote Tuesday in a letter that was hand-delivered to Brunner. Premier and Brunner are in an ongoing court battle over the voting machines and whether Premier violated its contract with the state and warranties. Half of the Ohio's 88 counties use the GEMS system. Brunner has been a vocal critic of electronic voting machines,

Both Brunner and Premier said that remedies to the problem will be in place for the November presidential election. A nationwide customer alert with recommended actions was issued Tuesday by Premier. Approximately 1,750 jurisdictions use the flawed system, Riggall said. Both Maryland and Virginia use it, he said, although Virginia does not relay its votes to a central counting point, which is where the problem surfaces, Riggall said. Maryland does use a central count, he said. The District of Columbia does not use the GEMS system.

The problem is most likely to affect larger jurisdictions that upload multiple memory cards during counts, Riggall said. The GEMS system is supposed to save information from one card at a time to be counted in order as the cards are read by a database that Riggall described as the "mother ship." But a logic error in the program can cause incoming votes to essentially shove aside other votes that are waiting in the electronic line before they are counted. The mistake occurs in milliseconds, Premier's customer notice says.

The mistake is not immediately apparent, Riggall said, and would have to be caught when elections officials went to match how many memory cards they fed into a central database against how many show as being read by that database. Each card carries a unique marker.

Officials in Butler County, Ohio -- north of Cincinnati -- were the first to raise the issue when 150 votes from a card dropped in March. Brunner's office originally said that 11 counties had the same problem but has since revised that to nine. Her office was not able to say how many dropped votes were discovered in those jurisdictions.

"I can't provide odds on whether dropped votes were not recognized" during the decade GEMS has been used, Rigall said, "but based on what we know about how our customers run their elections and reconcile counts we believe any results not uploaded on election night would have been caught when elections were being certified."

In his letter to Ohio's Brunner, Premier's president said, "Voters in jurisdictions Premier serves, both in Ohio and throughout the country, can be assured that election officials employing standard canvass and crosscheck procedures will count their votes completely and accurately."

Unlike other software, the problem acknowledged by Premier cannot be fixed by sending out a coding fix to its customers because of federal rules for certifying election systems, Rigall said. Changes to systems must go through the Election Assistance Commission, he said, and take two years on average for certification and approval -- and that is apart from whatever approvals and reviews would be needed by each elections board throughout the country.

Brunner said she appreciated "the forthrightness" of Byrd in his letter to her and commended Butler County officials "who went above and beyond the call of duty" to pursue the problem.

"As far as I know, we have not seen that problem," with dropped votes, said Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator for Maryland's State Board of Elections. Maryland counties do upload results to a central system -- which is what generates county vote totals on election night -- but state procedures call for counties to reload every memory card the day after the election to doublecheck results, Goldstein said.

The safeguards that Premier calls for its in customer alert, he said, already are in place in Maryland.

September 19th, 2008, 03:36 PM
Report: Crucial swing states not prepared for voting problems

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Friday September 19, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Report_10_swing_states_have_voting_0919.html)

The last several elections have been beset by voting problems, and as the 2008 election approaches, it is becoming clear that many of them have not yet been addressed.

A new report from Common Cause (http://www.commoncause.org/) finds that ten important swing states have significant problems with their voting systems, with Florida, Georgia, and Virginia being the worst and Colorado not far behind. In 2006, 18,000 Coloradans were unable to vote because computer registration machines crashed, and the state's replacement system is still untried.

"This is a new system, and there's just a lot of unknowns as to whether or not voters will be successful," Common Cause's Jenny Flanagan told CNN.

People are also being kicked off voting rolls because of minor discrepancies that computer software is unable to accommodate, or even because of outright glitches. Provisional ballots are provided to voters whose registration is disputed, but Common Cause is concerned that the states have not ordered enough provisional ballots to handle the anticipatable problems on Election Day.

CNN has more details on the study here (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/18/voting.problems/index.html).

The Common Cause report on problems is available here (http://www.commoncause.org/votingin2008report) (PDF).

This video (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Report_10_swing_states_have_voting_0919.html) is from CNN, broadcast September 18, 2008.

October 2nd, 2008, 07:28 AM
Homer Simpson Votes (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/02/homer-simpson-tries-to-vo_n_131119.html)

October 30th, 2008, 11:32 PM
Guy Who Insists E-Voting Machines Work Fine... Demonstrates They Don't
from the say-that-again-please dept
Techdirt.com | 10/29/08 (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081029/0131342676.shtml)

If someone pitched a movie based on e-voting machines that work as bad as the ones being used in the current election, the story would be dumped as being unrealistic. But truth is, indeed, often stranger than fiction. You may recall on Friday that we had a post about problems (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081024/1456192641.shtml) with e-voting machines in West Virginia selecting the wrong candidate when voters touched the screen. Various officials rushed to insist that there was absolutely nothing wrong. One, the local county clerk, Jeff Waybright insisted that the problems were "the result of voter error."

Well, it appears that a group called Video The Vote (http://www.videothevote.org/) went and visited with Mr. Waybright as he showed them how the e-voting machines work, and perhaps the "human error" is on Mr. Waybright's part. The beginning of the video is troubling enough, as he brushes aside concerns while he shows a miscalibrated machine. He demonstrates how he clicks on one candidate and another is highlighted, in a tone of voice that suggests why would anyone possibly be upset or annoyed if that happened? He then oddly thinks the fact that his wildly miscalibrated machine enhances his point because when he clicks on Barack Obama's name, the actual name highlighted isn't McCain (of course, it's not Obama either, but he doesn't seem troubled by this). Waybright seems to think that the only complaint people are making is the fact that some tried to vote for the Democratic ticket and saw the Republican ticket show up -- when the real concern is simply the fact that when you touch one name, someone else's name is highlighted. Democrat or Republican really isn't the issue here.

However, then things get worse. After mocking the idea that anyone clicking on a Democratic ticket vote would get the Republican ticket vote, he shows how to correctly calibrate the machine, showing how easy it is to fix the "problems" of the miscalibrated machine. When he's done, to prove it works, he touches the box to vote for a straight Republican ticket ticket... and, wouldn't you know it, Ralph Nader's name is highlighted as the voter's choice (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q9NSVUu8nk). His response? "Oh, that's out of calibration!" as if it was no big deal, apparently missing the fact that he had just calibrated the machine. He then seems to think none of this is a big deal, because voters will see the misvote before they submit it, apparently unaware of the idea that many people are already quite distrustful of these machines, and seeing them highlight the wrong name over and over again will make them seriously question the legitimacy of the election.

VIDEO [2:16] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q9NSVUu8nk)

October 31st, 2008, 12:07 AM
I think we are going to see violence and rioting next week, regardless of who wins.

October 31st, 2008, 12:57 AM
If BS like that "calibration error" crap occurs to any degree no one should be surprised if folks get riled up and try to throw the broken machines into the garbage. Which will lead to bigger trouble.

Let's hope none of that happens.

October 31st, 2008, 10:55 AM
These machines should be simple.

If you touch the screen and cannot get who you want, it should have an "override" feature to allow you to SCROOL TO THE CANDIDATE YOU WANT and confirm.

Once you are finished, a small 4X6 card (or 5X4, or whatever siz is convenient) should print out with your choices which you then submit in addition to the electronic vote.

Very simple, but sometimes the simplest things are what municipalities resist the most.

December 20th, 2008, 06:39 PM
'Karl Rove's IT guru' Mike Connell dies in plane crash

Published: Saturday Decemb (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Karl_Roves_IT_guru_Mike_Connell_1220.html)er 20, 2008

A top level Republican IT consultant who was set to testify in a case alleging GOP election tampering in Ohio died in a plane crash late Friday night.


Michael Connell -- founder of Ohio-based New Media Communications, which created campaign Web sites for George W. Bush and John McCain -- died instantly after his single-prop, private aircraft smashed into a vacant home in suburban Lake Township, Ohio.

"The plane was attempting to land around 6 p.m. Friday at Akron-Canton Airport when it crashed about three miles short of the runway," reports the Akron Beacon Journal (http://www.ohio.com/news/break_news/36482529.html).

Connell's exploits as a top GOP IT 'guru' have been well documented (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Republican_IT_consultant_subpoenaed_in_case_0929.h tml) by RAW STORY's investigative team.

The interest in Mike Connell stems from his association with a firm called GovTech, which he had spun off from his own New Media Communications under his wife Heather Connell’s name. GovTech was hired by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to set up an official election website at election.sos.state.oh.us to presented the 2004 presidential returns as they came in.

Connell is a long-time GOP operative, whose New Media Communications provided web services for the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Republican National Committee and many Republican candidates. This in itself might have raised questions about his involvement in creating Ohio’s official state election website.

However, the alternative media group ePlubibus Media further discovered in November 2006 that election.sos.state.oh.us was hosted on the servers of a company in Chattanooga, TN called SmarTech, which also provided hosting for a long list of Republican Internet domains.

“Since early this decade, top Internet ‘gurus’ in Ohio have been coordinating web services with their GOP counterparts in Chattanooga, wiring up a major hub that in 2004, first served as a conduit for Ohio's live election night results,” researchers at ePluribus Media wrote (http://scoop.epluribusmedia.org/story/2006/11/7/115314/922).

A few months after this revelation, when a scandal erupted surrounding the firing of US Attorneys for reasons of White House policy, other researchers found that the gwb43 domain used by members of the White House staff to evade freedom of information laws by sending emails outside of official White House channels was hosted on those same SmarTech servers.

Given that the Bush White House used SmarTech servers to send and receive email, the use of one of those servers in tabulating Ohio’s election returns has raised eyebrows. Ohio gave Bush the decisive margin in the Electoral College to secure his reelection in 2004.

IT expert Stephen Spoonamore says the SmartTech server could have functioned as a routing point for malicious activity and remains a weakness in electronic voting tabulation.

"...I have reason to believe that the alternate accounts were used to communicate with US Attorneys involved in political prosecutions, like that of Don Siegelman," said RAW STORY's Investigative News Editor, Larisa Alexandrovna, on her personal blog Saturday morning (http://www.atlargely.com/2008/12/one-of-my-sources-died-in-a-plane-crash-last-night.html). "This is what I have been working on to prove for over a year. In fact, it was through following the Siegelman-Rove trail that I found evidence leading to Connell. That is how I became aware of him. Mike was getting ready to talk. He was frightened.

"He has flown his private plane for years without incident. I know he was going to DC last night, but I don't know why. He apparently ran out of gas, something I find hard to believe. I am not saying that this was a hit nor am I resigned to this being simply an accident either. I am no expert on aviation and cannot provide an opinion on the matter. What I am saying, however, is that given the context, this event needs to be examined carefully."

"Mr. Connell has confided that he was being threatened, something that his attorneys also told the judge in the Ohio election fraud case," concluded Alexandrovna.

An FAA investigation into the causes of Connell's plane crash is underway, but no results are expected for several weeks.

December 22nd, 2008, 01:17 PM
GOP consultant killed in plane crash was warned of sabotage: report

John Byrne, David Edwards and Stephen Webster
Published: Monday December 22, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Killed_GOP_pilot_suspected_plane_had_1222.html)

The Republican consultant accused of involvement in alleged vote-rigging in Ohio in 2004 was warned that his plane might be sabotaged before his death in a crash Friday night, according to a Cleveland CBS affiliate.

45-year-old Republican operative Michael Connell was killed when his single-passenger plane crashed Friday into a home in a suburb of Akron, Ohio (PREVIOUS REPORT (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Karl_Roves_IT_guru_Mike_Connell_1220.html)). The consultant was called to testify in federal court regarding a lawsuit alleging that he took part in tampering with Ohio's voting results in the 2004 election.

Without getting into specific details, 19 Action News reporter Blake Renault reported Sunday evening that 45-year-old Republican operative and experienced pilot had been warned not to fly his plane in the days before the crash.

"Connell...was apparently told by a close friend not to fly his plane because his plane might be sabotaged," Renault said. "And twice in the last two months Connell, who is an experienced pilot, cancelled two flights because of suspicious problems with his plane."

Renault called Connell's death "untimely." [Continue reading and watch video here (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Killed_GOP_pilot_suspected_plane_had_1222.html).]

December 24th, 2008, 05:34 PM
Ohio TV station: Was Connell crash an accident or murder?

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday December 23, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Local_TV_news_Connell_crash_accident_1223.html)

The death of Republican "IT guru" Mike Connell last Friday in a fiery plane crash (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Karl_Roves_IT_guru_Mike_Connell_1220.html) has been the subject of intense speculation online about whether it might have been murder -- but very little of that speculation has made it into the national media. Now one local TV station in Connell's home state of Ohio is acknowledging that there are questions about his death.

"Well, this sounds like a made up story," Scott Taylor of 19 Action News in Cleveland began. "One man rigging state elections to help his boss, President George Bush. After it's done, power players in Washington say 'Get rid of the guy.' Do I believe it? No -- for now."

Taylor noted that "bad weather could have played a part in the crash" but "some in Washington have a different opinion."

"Some say Connell was about to reveal embarrassing details involving senior members of the Bush Administration," Taylor explained, "including their involvement in destroying incriminating emails and rigging elections. Connell died on impact, and was only 3 miles from the Akron-Canton Airport. He was an experienced pilot. Was it an accident, or murder?"

Connell had played a central role in two separate Bush administration scandals. He had created the website for the Ohio secretary of state's office which some have linked to suspected election fraud during the 2004 presidential race. He also set up the domains which White House staff used for their off-the-books emails concerning the firing of US Attorneys, emails which are now said to have been destroyed.

In a press release cited by 19 Action News, the website Velvet Revolution revealed (http://www.velvetrevolution.us/prosecute_rove/) that "a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how Mr. Connell can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that the George Bush and Dick Cheney would 'throw [[him] under the bus.' A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell’s life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife."

19 Action News also reported (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Killed_GOP_pilot_suspected_plane_had_1222.html%22) on Sunday that Connell had previously been warned by a friend that his plane might be sabotaged and had canceled two flights because of suspicious problems.

BradBlog notes (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6768#more-6768) that although the Velvet Revolution press release has appeared (http://markets.on.nytimes.com/research/stocks/news/press_release.asp?docKey=600-200812201124PR_NEWS_USPR_____DC54094-477UNBF8U5NRSARMF39355DDGV&provider=PR%20Newswire&docDate=December%2020%2C%202008&press_symbol=undefined&scp=8&sq=Michael%20Connell&st=cse) on the New York Times website, that paper has not offered any comment of its own on Connell's death, nor have US media in general reported on the growing speculation -- although even the British press has mentioned it (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/3885913/George-Bush-aide-dies-in-plane-crash.html) -- which makes the Action News coverage all the more striking.

"Was it an accident -- or murder?" Taylor wondered, before concluding that the crash "was probably not a conspiracy."

This video (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Local_TV_news_Connell_crash_accident_1223.html) is from 19 Action News, broadcast Dec. 22, 2008.


Transcript from 19 Action News:

What prompted conspiracy theorists in Washington, D.C. to say that an Ohio man with White House connections was actually murdered this weekend?

Here's Scott Taylor to tell us if it's true or not.

Taylor: "Well this sounds like a made up story, one man rigging state elections to help his boss, President George Bush. After it's done, power players in Washington say 'Get rid of the guy.' Do I believe it? No. For now.

45 year-old Michael Connell died Friday night after his plane crashed into this vacant house near Union Township in Stark County, Ohio.

Connell was a political power player in Washington, D.C., and in the White House. He was the vision behind President George Bush's, and John McCain's internet sites.

Initial reports say bad weather could have played a part in the crash.

Hartville resident Mary Lou Lankford: " I guess the plane just flew apart."

Taylor: Some in Washington have a different opinion. The website 'Velvet Revolution' believes someone sabotaged Connell's plane.

It appears he was trying to land the plane here, he hit a large flag pole and then, he struck the house.

Velvet Revolution claims to have been tipped off that Connell's life was in danger. Who was threatening Connell? According to the website, a senior advisor of President George Bush, Karl Rove.

Some say Connell was about to reveal embarrassing details involving senior members of the Bush Administration, including their involvement in destroying incriminating emails, and rigging elections.

Connell died on impact, and was only 3 miles from the Akron-Canton Airport. He was an experienced pilot. Was it an accident, or muder?

Harville resident Ron Lankford: "It's really hard to believe. I really don't know the full story, and I've just heard...and what I've seen in the paper, and on the news."

Taylor: I spoke to Michael's family today in person. They are grieving. A visitation is planned for tonight.

Many in his neighborhood say this was a good man who devoted his time to the worldwide community, and loved his family very much.

19 Action News' investigation concludes that the plane crash that killed GOP operative Mike Connell was probably not a conspiracy.

December 24th, 2008, 07:19 PM
Will Bush, before he leaves office, grant Rove a blanket immunity? Something which would cover not only this potential crime but also the long list of any and all other crimes for which Rove might be investigated and prosecuted?

Isn't it the least that 43 could do for his old friend and number one brain, Turdblossom :confused: :cool:

December 25th, 2008, 12:47 PM
Former president of GOP IT guru's firm dismisses allegations of foul play

John Byrne
Published: Tuesday December 23, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/President_of_GOP_IT_gurus_firm_1223.html)

Employees had awaited Connell at company Christmas party

Curtis Randy Cole, a close friend and former colleague of the GOP political consultant who died when his plane crashed in a suburb here last Friday, dismissed suspicions of foul play in an interview with RAW STORY Sunday evening.

In an interview at his Ira Road home where he based his recent failed run for Ohio State’s 41st District House seat last year, Cole, the former President of Michael Connell’s government contracting company GovTech Solutions (http://www.govtechsolutions.com/), revealed how the bad news arrived to Connell’s friends and family members late Friday night. “I got a call from a GovTech employee late Friday that that his plane had crashed,” Cole said, “I thought ‘bad weather’ or ‘icing of the wings.’”

Connell’s employees and partners at GovTech and New Media Communications, were gathered for their annual Christmas party at offices the Connell companies have shared in nearby Richfield since August, Cole said. Connell is pictured above right.

“They were waiting for Mike. They were getting email alerts tracking his progress,” Cole explained.

Friends and colleagues were expecting Connell’s imminent arrival on a trip from College Park, Maryland because the last alert they received reported his clearance into Akron-Canton airspace. They expected he would be landing imminently and making the half hour drive to New Media offices. "When it got late, someone checked the news and learned his plane had crashed.”

Cole said that during his tenure as President of Govtech from 2005 until August of this year, he often flew with his boss on business trips on the same route he took the night his plane crashed. “I probably flew with Mike roundtrip to Washington on his a plane once a month. We’d arrive and each go off to separate meetings with clients and generally return the next day.”

Cole hasn't taken a job since his House run in order to take care of his wife, Teresa, who is receiving intensive treatment for cancer she was diagnosed with in October.

FAA records show Connell was an experienced “instrument-rated” pilot who had logged thousands of miles each year. Cole described Connell as an adept pilot who would manage the stability of the aircraft by drawing fuel from any one of four separate tanks and who would calculate on the fly whether the plane had the range to fly around a converging storm cell picked up on the plane’s sophisticated radar system.

Authorities investigating the crash, led by the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), have offered no explanation or details about the crash. Repeated calls to the regional office of the NTSB were not answered or returned.

In the days since the crash, a news vacuum has been created by the silence of authorities. Some familiar with his role as a witness in the Lincoln-Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell [pdf] (http://ohioelection2004.com/PDFHost/KingLincoln_Blackwell_061010AmendedComplaint.pdf) case contesting Bush's win of Ohio's electoral votes in 2004 and his RNC work, have cited reported threats made since July against Connell and raised the specter of foul play. Connell had recently testified in a suit alleging tampering with Ohio's 2004 results, which he adamantly denied any knowledge of.

A reporter for a Cleveland television station said Sunday that Connell had been warned his plane might be sabotaged.

"Connell...was apparently told by a close friend not to fly his plane because his plane might be sabotaged," 19 Action News reporter Blake Renault said (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Killed_GOP_pilot_suspected_plane_had_1222.html). "And twice in the last two months, Connell, who is an experienced pilot, canceled two flights because of suspicious problems with his plane."

Randy Cole isn't buying it. When told of the alleged threats Cole said that in all the hours he spent flying with his friend in the close-quartered cockpit of the Piper Saratoga, he says Connell never shared any worries or suggestions of threats or intimidation. For Cole, something went wrong and for him the weather was the most likely culprit.

In the wake of an Akron Beacon Journal report (http://www.ohio.com/news/36521859.html) regarding a deterioration of weather conditions at the time of Connell’s approach to the Akron-Canton airport, RAW STORY sought to secure the same weather reporting streamed 24/7 to pilots, flight traffic controllers and other in need of accurate forecasts and current conditions in real time across the country.

FAA official Liz Corey refused to disclose hourly observations of “Quality Controlled Local Climatological Data” taken from the recording station at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport where Connell’s single engine Piper Saratoga was estimated to arrive at 5:46PM EST (http://rawstory.com/images/other/ftaware.tiff), citing jurisdictional issues. She referred questions to the NTSB.

RAW STORY was able to secure the weather data from the National Climate Data Center (NCDC) in Ashville, North Caroline. (Available here (http://rawstory.com/images/other/climatedata.tiff), with legend for interpreting (http://rawstory.com/images/other/legend.pdf) data here). For the crash event time window between 5:35PM and approximately 6PM EST, visibility was 9-10 miles in broken cloud cover and temperatures hovered just above freezing, contradicting the 1 mile claim in the Akron Beacon Journal.

FAA spokesperson Laura Brown spoke to RAW STORY from her cell phone on her way to FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C., saying that an Incident Report was sitting on her desk. However, follow up calls and emails were not returned as of close of business Monday.

Over five hundred gathered quietly at a memorial at Billow Fairlawn Chapel Monday evening. They will have to be patient for answers. The FAA’s Liz Corey said that NTSB investigations can last several months to a year.

With original reporting from Akron, Ohio.

Correction: The Action 19 reporter's last name is spelled Renault.