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Votescam 12-2003

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  • robalini@aol.com
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com November 13, 2003 FROM THE DESK OF DAVID
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 17, 2003
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,
      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com

      November 13, 2003
      FROM THE DESK OF DAVID POGUE
      Maybe Hanging Chads Weren't So Bad After All
      New York Times

      If there's one thing you learn as you grow older, it's that life is
      painted in shades of gray. I find it harder and harder to view any
      issue in black and white; if you really think about it, you can
      almost always see the other guy's point of view.

      Take electronic voting, for example. In 2000, it sure looked like the
      old voting systems--punch cards, hanging chads, all that--were
      desperately in need of upgrading. It seemed pretty obvious that
      electronic voting systems would have avoided the whole Florida ballot
      controversy. I, for one, spent two months walking around
      muttering, "Gimme a break. They can drive the Nasdaq to 5,000, but
      we're still voting with punch cards?!"

      Then came last Sunday's New York Times, which presented a terrifying
      report on Diebold, a leading maker of paperless touch-screen voting
      machines. Eight million of us will be tapping on Diebold computers in
      the next Presidential election.

      So what's wrong with that?

      Wrong Thing 1: Wally O'Dell, the company's chief executive, is a
      Republican fundraiser. He writes letters to wealthy Bush contributors
      vowing to "deliver" his state's electoral votes to the Bush campaign.
      He hosts campaign meetings at his house. He's also a member of
      Bush's "Rangers and Pioneers" club (each member of whom must
      contribute at least $100,000 to the 2004 re-election campaign).

      No matter what your politics, you can't deny that there's a strong
      whiff of conflict of interest here.

      Still, Mr. O'Dell wouldn't and couldn't go so far as to program his
      voting machines to deliver the next election to Mr. Bush, right? Even
      Oliver Stone would laugh at that conspiracy theory. But then:

      Wrong Thing 2: The code in these machines is so insecure, somebody
      managed to copy a version of it from Diebold and post it online. Two
      studies--one by professors at Johns Hopkins and Rice University, one
      by engineering firm SAIC--found the current code to be sloppily
      written, with weak cryptography and "no evidence of rigorous software
      engineering discipline."

      Wrong Thing 3: This one boggles the brain: The Diebold systems don't
      print. There's no paper trail, no "voting receipts." Data is
      transferred to the election precinct on a memory card in a format
      that only Diebold can read. If an election is ever in dispute, nobody
      can compare the digital results against a backup system. As an
      individual, you'd have no way of confirming that your vote was
      properly recorded.

      (My favorite part of the Times article was the story told by New
      Jersey Representative Rush D. Holt, who's trying to make electronic
      voting more transparent: "Someone said to me the other day, 'We've
      had these electronic voting machines for several years now, and we've
      never had a problem.' And I said, 'How do you know?'")

      Without a paper trail, there's all kinds of opportunity for mischief.

      Wrong Thing 4: Diebold points out that the software is inspected and
      tested by election officials before it's certified. There's only one
      problem: Diebold engineers can slip in and make changes to the
      software even AFTER it's been certified.

      Worse, they do exactly that. A Wired article quoted a Diebold
      engineer as saying that his team made no fewer than three rounds of
      software changes to the machines in Georgia's 2002 election for
      governor--after the machines had been certified but before the
      election began. (That election "ended in a major upset that defied
      all polls and put a Republican in the governor's seat for the first
      time in more than 130 years.")

      But Ren Bucholz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
      (action.eff.org) told me that this kind of thing--casual, uninspected
      software updates to voting machines that have already been certified--
      goes on all the time.

      The bottom line: Diebold's voting machines appear to present an
      undetectable, easy, and tempting target for manipulating elections.

      See what I mean? Even electronic voting turns out to be a gray area.

      No, wait -- come to think of it, maybe it's a black-and-white issue
      after all.

      *****

      Calif. will require voting-machine receipts
      Associated Press

      Nov. 21, 2003 | SAN JOSE -- In a major victory for voting rights
      advocates, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley announced Friday that all
      electronic voting machines in California must provide paper receipts
      by 2006.

      Shelley also introduced stricter requirements for testing and
      auditing of the software used to record and tabulate votes in the
      nation's most populous state.

      The move may prompt changes in the type of voting equipment used
      throughout the country as states rush to modernize terminals.

      California's reforms address concerns of computer scientists and
      voting rights advocates who have been warning that paperless voting
      systems are vulnerable to hackers, software bugs and mechanical
      breakdowns.

      Earlier this month, a state agency began an investigation of
      uncertified software allegedly used in California's Oct. 7
      gubernatorial recall election.

      Shelley made the move not because "voting systems are inherently
      insecure -- they are not," he wrote in the document detailing the
      changes. "But rather because people understandably feel more
      confident when they can verify that their votes are being recorded as
      intended."

      Shelley ordered all counties that purchase new touch-screen terminals
      to provide a ``voter verified paper audit trail,'' starting in July
      2005.

      In addition, voting equipment companies must retrofit touch-screen
      systems already being used in at least four California counties to
      include printers and paper receipts by July 2006.

      The requirement makes California the first state in the nation to
      force equipment vendors to retrofit machines already installed in
      voting precincts.

      *****

      http://www.house.gov/kucinich/issues/voting.htm

      Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich
      10th District of Ohio

      Voting Rights

      Congressman Kucinich is seeking to ensure that voting is a right
      secured for all Americans. During the 2000 elections, there were
      numerous and serious problems at the voting booth in Florida and
      across the nation. Congress' response was the passage of the Help
      America Vote Act in 2001. This legislation was designed to improve
      voting machines and voting processes. However, implementation of the
      Help America Vote Act, along with its funding and assistance to
      states, is far behind schedule. Additionally, recent analysis of
      voting machine software shows that these programs suffer serious
      internal flaws that threaten the security of votes case on such
      machines.

      Privatized Voting, Private Interests

      Under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the Election Assistance
      Commission is charged with establishing voluntary standards for
      voting machine software and creating an independent testing process
      for the software. However, this process is far behind schedule. Under
      HAVA, the Election Assistance Commission members should have been
      nominated by the President in February 2003. Unfortunately, these
      nominees have only recently been sent to the Senate for confirmation.

      Without this federal review and testing of software, deeply flawed
      software has been marketed by companies and bought by states. An
      Analysis of an Electronic Voting System was recently authored by
      Tadayoshi Kohno, Adam Stubblefield, Aviel Rubin, and Dan Wallach.
      This voting software, produced by Diebold, has already been purchased
      by two states. According to this study, some of the most serious of
      numerous flaws permit a person to:

      -vote multiple times,
      -view ballots already cast on a machine,
      -modify party affiliation on ballots,
      -cause votes to be miscounted,
      -create, delete and modify votes on voting machine, and
      -tamper with audit logs and election results.

      States Purchase Insecure Software

      As a result of this study, Maryland put on hold its purchase of
      Diebold voting machines. Later, an independent review confirmed the
      previous findings. It counted 328 security weaknesses, and concluded
      that: "The system, as implemented in policy, procedure and
      technology, is at high risk of compromise" (pg. 17).

      Partisan Conflicts of Interest

      The state of Ohio selected Diebold as one of four possible vendors
      for computerized voting machines. But in August 2003, the company's
      partisan conflicts of interest prompted public suspicion that the
      voting machine manufacturer was partisan. In August 2003, after
      returning from President Bush's Crawford, TX ranch, Diebold's chief
      executive wrote a fundraising letter where he stated he
      was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the
      president next year."

      Diebold Internal Memos Reveal Knowledge of Software Flaws

      These findings of software flaws have been confirmed by internal
      memos from Diebold employees. Diebold has harassed internet service
      providers with legal action for posting links to these memos.
      Congressman Kucinich believes that these memos show why transparency
      and public oversight are essential in the development of voting
      machines.

      From conversations between employees at Diebold, including upper
      management, it is evident that they knew of insecure programs and
      made insecure changes to programs. Among these activities, employees:

      -Permitted easy access to vote audit logs. Without requiring so much
      as a password, anyone could access the tabulation of votes and change
      the contents. (Memo from Nel Finber to Ken Clark, and Ken Clark
      response)

      -Sold uncertified software (GEMS 1.14) that was used in elections,
      while knowing that numerous problems existed with the software. (Memo
      from Ken Clark)

      -Changed voting software by sending uncertified patches and upgrades
      to customers, along with possible bugs (memo Ken Clark, re: GEMS
      versions, 6/5/2000)

      -Contracted to "provide products and services which do not exist and
      then attempting to build these items on an unreasonable timetable
      with no written plan, little to no time for testing, and minimal
      resources. It also seems to be an accepted practice to exaggerate our
      progress and functionality to our customers and ourselves then make
      excuses at delivery time when these products and services do not meet
      expectations." (According to an employee upon resignation)

      Stopping False Copyright Claims

      Diebold has been using coercive legal claims to intimidate internet
      service providers and even universities to shut down websites with
      links to its memos and remove the memo content. Under copyright laws,
      however, universities are exempt, and posting links to the memos is
      not considered a violation of the law. By abusing the Digital
      Millennium Copyright Act, Diebold has intimidated numerous internet
      service providers to comply with its requests. The damage is two-
      fold: 1) limiting the public's information about the security of its
      voting machines, and 2) expanding corporate control over our most
      free medium of expression, the Internet.

      Congressman Kucinich is working to address these problems by
      providing some of Diebold's internal memos on this site to increase
      public access, drafting legislation to address software security
      problems, and working to investigate Diebold's legal abuses.

      New Legislation

      Congressman Kucinich is working with his Congressional colleagues to
      draft legislation that would create an open-source design process for
      voting machine software. This process would ensure public oversight
      and transparency, as well as establish the most secure voting
      software for citizens to cast their votes.

      *****

      HoustonChronicle.com
      http://www.HoustonChronicle.com
      Nov. 22, 2003, 3:32PM

      Democrats approve Internet voting in Michigan
      Associated Press

      WASHINGTON -- The Michigan Democratic Party's plan to allow Internet
      voting in its presidential caucus won approval today from national
      Democrats. Opponents said online balloting is not secure and
      discriminates against poor and minority voters who are less likely to
      own a computer.

      For the first time, the Michigan party will allow those participating
      in the Feb. 7 caucus to have the option of selecting their favorite
      presidential candidate over the Internet, in addition to voting by
      mail or in person.

      Democrats in Arizona used the Internet in the state's presidential
      primary in 2000, where voter turnout was more than double the
      previous record and about 40 percent of the 86,000 ballots were cast
      online.

      Twenty Michigan voters objected to the state party's plan, saying it
      would disadvantage poor and minority voters and be subject to fraud.

      "The costs and risks of transacting ballots on the Internet really
      outweigh the benefits," said Kim Alexander, president of the
      California Voter Foundation, which made the case against the plan to
      the Democratic National Committee.

      The DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee rejected the argument on a 23-2
      vote.

      Michigan is expected to play an important role in determining the
      party's presidential nominee. The state will have more delegates up
      for grabs than any of the nine states that come before it in the
      nominating calendar.

      Internet voting could benefit former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who
      has built significant support among Web users. A poll taken in
      Michigan last month shows Dean with a slight lead among likely caucus-
      goers, but his support jumps significantly among those who plan to
      vote by Internet.

      Seven of Dean's rivals encouraged party leaders to reject Michigan's
      plan, citing the disparity in computer ownership among whites and
      minorities. The only candidate other than Dean who did not object was
      Wesley Clark. He supports Internet voting as a way to increase
      turnout and improve democracy.

      Leaders of the Michigan party say increasing turnout was their only
      goal, not to benefit any candidate.

      "The Internet will not just bring the Democratic Party better
      together, it expands our base with our young adults," said Tina
      Abbott, vice chairman of the state party.

      Registered Michigan Democrats who want to vote by mail or Internet
      must request an absentee ballot from the state party ahead of time.
      They will be sent a ballot that can be returned by mail or it will
      include a code that can be used to access a Web site for voting.

      A hearing officer appointed by the DNC ruled in September that no
      voter will be deprived of participation because of the options to
      vote by mail or in person. But she required the state party to take
      additional steps to make voting easier for those who want to
      participate in the caucuses.

      Those steps include increasing the number of caucus sites, setting up
      a toll-free hot line to help Internet voters and identifying publicly
      available computers with Internet access in minority and low-income
      areas.
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