Saturday, December 31, 2005

Those Who Can, Do 

The nice folks at Black Box Voting need a hand, and maybe you can help:
Please immediately make contact with those you know to see if you can facilitate a quick YES-NO examination of an official Diebold touch-screen voting system anywhere in the United States or Canada. We know what we're looking for. We know where it is. We simply need to confirm that it is ALSO in one of the systems delivered to public officials.

One of our researchers says he has identified an "interpreter", which appears to be specifically prohibited by 2002 FEC standards, inside a Diebold touch-screen system.

What is needed now is to confirm this finding with a "pedigreed" Diebold touch-screen system – ie., one to which we are given legitimate access with one of our publicly known experts. We will have to show that what our protected source has found is also present in a system delivered by Diebold for use in actual elections. This cannot be a stolen system, a specially souped-up system i.e. one that Diebold chooses), or a system used without authorization of its custodians.

Note that in July, Diebold sent “threat” letters to its customers, warning them not to allow examination of their systems. However, in December Black Box Voting was shown to be correct when we alleged that there was executable code and an interpreter in the optical scan machines/memory cards. Diebold lied, in writing, to secretaries of state and purchasing officials about this. Now, the entire Diebold product line has been called into question, and we believe our findings will soon spill over into other vendors' products as well . . . .

If you may be able to help with this project, please call Bev at (206) 335-7747 or Kathleen at 206-354-5723 or the main office at (425) 793-1030. Telephone or send an overnight letter (sent by Fed X but not U.S. Post Office, to 330 SW 43rd St Suite K PMB 547 Renton WA 98055) The contents of our e-mail was penetrated by an outsider in late November in connection with confidential plans for upcoming testing, so we do not recommend that you contact us by e-mail for this particular endeavor.
Time is obviously of the essence, since localities that dump their Diebold machines will need to have new plans in place before the 2006 elections. Following the recent hack of a Diebold optical-scan counter by Harri Hursti and the Black Box Voting team, at least one community is considering a new system that we are delighted to endorse:
King County [WA] Executive Ron Sims' proposal for all-mail voting could reduce the possibility of fraud by election workers, a leading critic of electronic voting says.

Bev Harris, founder and executive director of Renton-based Black Box Voting, said voting by mail would eliminate more than 500 tamper-prone voting machines. It also would allow the county to buy more secure high-speed counting equipment, she said.

Sims last week proposed to simplify elections in 2006 or 2007 by ending poll voting at all but a handful of regional centers. He cited voters' trend toward mail voting, with 70 percent of county voters casting absentee ballots in November's general election . . . .

Harris likes the new digital technology because the counting machines would record an electronic image of every ballot cast — images she said citizens could review to verify the vote counts reported by the county.

Harris said all-mail balloting would eliminate the county's "most serious vulnerability" to a rigged election: the 500-plus polling-place inspectors who take voting machines home for up to a week before each election. Inspectors are responsible for delivering voting machines, ballots and other supplies to polling places on Election Day . . . .

Diebold and King County officials say the Florida test ignored a number of safeguards that are designed to prevent and detect vote tampering.

There is no evidence that memory cards have been maliciously reprogrammed in a real election. Cards can't be removed from voting machines without breaking a numbered plastic seal.

But Leon County [FL] Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho said the mock election was disturbing because neither the Diebold voting machine nor the Diebold central tabulator showed any evidence of tampering.

"Quite frankly, this is a hole I could drive a Mack truck through," Sancho said. "I could rig elections, leave no fingerprints, and how would the voters ever know?"

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