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Republicans in Texas County Reject Paperless Primary PDF  | Print |  Email
Texas
By Sean Flaherty, Iowans for Voting Integrity   
December 02, 2007

But Voters in South Carolina and 12 Other States Will Vote on Paperless Voting Machines

 

The Republican Party of Wharton County, Texas has decided that the the ES&S iVotronic is not reliable enough to use in its March 2008 primary election. Wharton County Republican Party chairwoman Debra Medina announced that the party's 22 precinct chairs had agreed to use voter-marked paper ballots counted by optical scanners.

The iVotronic will also be used statewide in the South Carolina Presidential primaries on January 19 and January 26. Counties in 10 other states will also use the iVotronic in next years' primaries.

The Wharton County Republicans' decision followed an incident in the November 7 election in which a local businessman tried to vote on one proposed constitutional amendment, and saw his previous vote for another proposed amendment change before his eyes.

The iVotronic is the same voting machine that recorded an implausible number of undervotes in a 2006 Florida Congressional election, and thereby influenced Florida's decision to abandon direct-recording electronic voting. The machine has become notorious for elections with abnormally high undervotes, vote-flipping on both the review screen and the selection screen, lost votes, and added votes.

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Texas: Voting System Allows "Adjustments" PDF  | Print |  Email
Texas
By Warren Stewart, Verified Voting Foundation   
November 20, 2007
A Houston Chronicle article last week described how, following the November 6 election, Harris County election administrator Johnnie German “used high-security codes to tap into the Harris County elections computer system last week and change some of the results manually.” It seems that the Hart Intercivic voting system used in Harris County allows anyone with access and a passcode to modify vote totals from an election without leaving any record of the modification.

But it gets worse. According to Dan Wallach of Rice University's Computer Security Lab (pictured at left), who served on the task force that recently studied the Hart system as part of the California Secretary of State’s electronic voting system review, the "encryption key" code can be extracted from voting equipment at any precinct.

The necessity for modifying the vote totals in Harris County was the result of confusion during early voting caused by split precincts resulted in 293 voters in Emergency Services District No. 9 being given the wrong ballot and therefore being unable to express an opinion on a sales tax referendum for a fire/ambulance district in the Cypress-Fairbanks area of the county since it didn't appear on their screens.

Computer expert John R. Behrman, who observed the vote adjustments, said he was “shocked” when he saw German use a series of passwords and an "encryption key" -- a series of numbers on a nail file-size computer memory storage device -- to reach a computer program that said "Adjustment." Shocking indeed.
"A hundred percent of precincts reporting, and everything had been distributed to the press," he said. "Then and only then did I see how they were going to do this, and frankly I never thought it was possible.

"Basically it turns out, without regard to any ballots that have been cast, you can enter arbitrary numbers in there and report them out in such a way that, unless you go back to these giant (computer) logs and interpret the logs, you wouldn't know it has been done."
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Needed: A Paper Trail For Harris County Ballots PDF  | Print |  Email
Texas
By Stan Merriman   
August 13, 2006
County clerk and mayor shouldn't ignore troubling situation any longer

 

The following editorial appeared in the Houston Chronicle. It is reposted here with permission of the author. 

 

A year and a half-long study of the security vulnerabilities of electronic voting systems has just been published by the Brennan Center For Justice at New York University, deploying the expertise of a panel of computer security experts, including Dr. Dan Wallach of Rice University. This seminal study recommends a regime of tests and a voter-verifiable paper trail (VVPAT). It is referring to the Hart InterCivic, Inc., electronic voting system right hereused in Harris County.

 

A coalition of local vote protection advocates, including the Harris County Democratic Party and People For the American Way's Election Protection Division, have been advocating these protections for our vote since the fall of 2004. Our efforts have been dismissed by the Harris County clerk with the rebuttal that "voting is a faith-based exercise." To date, they we also have been ignored by Houston Mayor Bill White, who has statutory responsibility to assure the efficacy of the voting system used in city elections. At least County Clerk Beverly Kaufman has met with our group, though neglecting to implement solutions. The mayor has not even been willing to meet. with our Committee. He has also failed to send a representative from the city to observe the failed tests on the electronic voting systems used in city elections.

 

So, what is the big deal?

 

Shouldn't we trust our election officials to "do the right thing"? The answer is yes, but only if proper measures are in place to enable them, and provided we the voters are able to verify that our votes are cast and counted as intended.

 

Since a major tool - access to the operational programming of the Hart system - is denied to our local election officials, we the people need reasonable assurance of the efficacy of the Hart voting system.

 

 

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Texas County Clerk to Observe Paper Audit Trail System in Colorado PDF  | Print |  Email
Texas
By Travis County Clerk Press Release   
August 07, 2006
Austin-Travis County Texas Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir (pictured at right) will be in Colorado on Tuesday, August 8, for the Colorado Primary election. DeBeauvoir and two senior staff members from the County Clerk's Elections Division will observe Hart InterCivic's Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system in the metropolitan area south of Denver.

Colorado is among the first states to implement a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail on the Hart eSlate voting system, with more than 40 counties slated to use Hart¹s new VVPAT for the upcoming primary elections. Travis County is discussing the possibility of a voter verifiable paper audit system, which has not been certified and is not currently available anywhere in Texas.

To make this type of application work properly in Travis County, we will need clear, written procedures and extensive training of poll workers, said DeBeauvoir. We want to learn from other urban areas how best to make a voter-verified paper audit trail system successful here.

DeBeauvoir said the trip would provide an opportunity to observe voters and election judges in real-life situations. She also planned to discuss with election officials how best to audit the paper record.
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Voters File For Injunction To Prevent State Of Texas From Using Unreliable Electronic Voting PDF  | Print |  Email
Texas
By Texas Civil Rights Project   
June 17, 2006
Voters, civil rights groups and a statewide candidate filed a petition Wednesday to prevent the State of Texas from using unreliable electronic voting machines in the November elections.

Travis County voter Sonia Santana, the NAACP of Austin, its president, Nelson Linder, also a Travis County voter, and David Van Os, a candidate for attorney general, filed a petition asking the court to enjoin the county from using voting machines that do not produce a paper ballot. The Texas Civil Rights Project represents the plaintiffs.

"Voters deserve the assurance their voices will be heard," said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. "By using machines that provide no permanent record, the state is failing in its constitutional duty to provide the people with an election in which they can trust the results."

More than half the states now require their electronic voting machines to print a paper ballot when the voter casts his or her vote. The voter reads his or her ballot to make sure it recorded the vote he or she intended and then casts both the electronic and paper ballots.
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Texas SoS Advises Election Officials to Create 'Emergency Paper Ballots' for Upcoming Elections PDF  | Print |  Email
Texas
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
April 27, 2006
Director of Elections Sends Letter Authorizing Measure in Light of Latest Failure by Electronic Voting Machine Vendor
Says Company's Performance in Most Recent -- of Many Similar Incidences Around the Country -- is 'Completely Unacceptable and Disturbing'

 

This exclusive article appeared on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

On Monday, Texas Director of Elections Ann McGeehan sent a letter to all state Election Officials authorizing them to create "emergency paper ballots" in light of statewide failures by Election System & Software, Inc. (ES&S) to provide ballots in time for the state's upcoming May 13 Runoff Elections, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

Early voting begins on Monday for those elections and counties across the state do not yet have ballots and, in many cases, programming for their optical-scan and touch-screen voting machines. ES&S has contracts with more than 140 Texas counties.

McGeehan has instructed officials to create and number their own paper ballots, secure boxes to store them in, and hire additional workers to manually hand count ballots as an emergency procedure to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation.

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Texas: Conservative Republican Supreme Court Justice Files Election Contest PDF  | Print |  Email
Texas
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
March 28, 2006

Former Judge Finds March 7th Texas Primary Results Fraught With 'Absolutely Egregious' Electronic Voting Machine Errors!

 

May Lead to First Independent Examination of Electronic Machines Made by Hart InterCivic and ES&S!

 

This article was published on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author. 

 

 As The BRAD BLOG reported last week, a Conservative Republican former Texas Supreme Court Justice had been considering an Election Contest after electronic voting machine problems and inexplicable tallies plagued the first-in-the-nation March 7th primary in the Lone Star State.

Steve Smith (pictured at right) - who ran for election to the state Supreme Court, Place 2, in the Republican primary against an opponent backed by both Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry and the Bush family - will be filing an official Election Contest this afternoon in Travis County District Court, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

Since our previous report, the Smith for Supreme Court campaign has been examining election tallies around the state and report that they continue to find anomolies in virtually every county they look into.

"The more research we do, the more irregularities we find," campaign manager David Rogers told The BRAD BLOG this morning.

The problems are being found on machines made by both Hart InterCivic and Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S) -- the two major Electronic Voting Machine vendors supplying the state of Texas.


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Texas: Former Supreme Court Justice Considering Challenge To Primary Result PDF  | Print |  Email
Texas
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
March 22, 2006

Inexplicable Tallies from Electronic Voting Machines in Tarrant County, Elsewhere in State Require Full Recount and/or Contest, According to Campaign Manager

 

'Serious mistakes were made,' Understates Candidate, Former Texas Justice Steve Smith

 

This article was published on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.


A Conservative Republican former Texas Supreme Court Justice, who ran against a Republican opponent backed by Gov. Rick Perry, is considering a challenge to the tremendously flawed Primary Elections held in the state two weeks ago on new Electronic Voting Machines.

The campaign for Steve Smith (pictured at right) announced last week in a Press Release received only last night by The BRAD BLOG (and posted in full below) has filed a "Public Information Act request with the Tarrant County Elections Administrator seeking to review public documents relating to the Republican Party primary election in Tarrant County" on March 7th.

As discussed in their press release, but elaborated upon to The BRAD BLOG in an interview this afternoon with Smith's campaign manager, David Rogers, the results reported from all across the state seem to make little or no sense.

For example, though his was a statewide race, Smith's home county is Tarrant where in 2004, according to Rogers, Smith "outperformed the statewide results by 13%, but this year, according to the results, he underperformed the statewide results by 23%."

"Something doesn't make sense here," he noted, adding that turnout went up this year by 12,000 votes, but apparently a full "11,000 of them did not go to Smith."

Amongst the many concerns alleged by Smith's campaign are that audit tapes from the voting machines are only available on 103 of the 211 election day voting locations, making it impossible to audit all of the races. "No audit can be correctly performed on more than half of the machines in the state," says Rogers.


Perhaps more troubling still, is this item from Smith's press release:
Winkler County, which went for Smith by margins of 260-92 (74%) and 468-249 (65%) in the 2002 and 2004 elections, went against Smith by an unbelievable 0-273 (100%) margin. Governor Perry received only 83% of the vote in Winkler County, and no other contested candidate topped 80%. The propositions on the ballot topped out at 93%.
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Texas Primary Recount Halted By Secretary of State! PDF  | Print |  Email
Texas
By John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA   
March 21, 2006
Hart Intercivic Touch-Screen Voting Machines in Tom Green County Fail To Print Ballots for All Votes in Mandated Recount!

Just reported by San Angelo (TX) Standard Times.

The Texas Secretary of State has stepped in to stop the recount of ballots being printed from the Hart Intercivic "eSlate" Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, touch-screen) voting machines during a mandated election recount. The stoppage of the recount is due to failure of the voting machines to print all ballots cast during the Texas state primary two weeks ago...

On orders from the Texas Secretary of State’s office, the recount for the Tom Green County Court-at-Law No. 2 race has been suspended midway through its second day.

About 1:30 p.m. today, county Republican Chairman Dennis McKerley stopped the recount after workers found discrepancies of as much as 20 percent between what was counted Monday and what was reported Election Night.

"We’re having some trouble with the electronic equipment," McKerley said.

Apparently, McKerley said, new electronic voting machines provided by vendor Hart InterCivic are not printing ballots for every vote cast on the machines. During recounts, which must be done by hand, the machines are designed to print out separate ballots for every vote.

A Hart InterCivic representative is expected to arrive Wednesday morning, McKerley said, to determine whether or how to retrieve the remaining printouts.

The problem affects early votes cast in what appears to be every precinct, McKerley said. All of commissioner’s Precinct 1 was affected, he said, as were all the randomly selected voting precincts in other parts of the county.

Although sign-in sheets match the counts provided by the machines on Election Night, he said, the number of printouts does not match the sign-in sheets.

More than 3,000 early votes were cast in the race between Assistant County Attorney Julie Hughes, incumbent Judge Penny Roberts and former prosecutor Dan Edwards, meaning the problem likely affects more than 600 votes of the 9,500 cast early and on Election Day.

Just 12 votes separate third-place finisher Edwards from second-place finisher Roberts to see who will face Hughes in the April runoff election. Edwards requested and paid for the recount."
This is another instance where a voter verified paper ballot would have saved the day for voters and voting officials.

If we hear more we will pass it on.
Electionline Assists In Covering Up Election Meltdown In Texas PDF  | Print |  Email
Texas
By John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA   
March 16, 2006

Electionline's newsletter, read by election officials across the country, led off this week with an article by Mindy Moretti with the upbeat title "Texas primary goes well, state officials say; glitches reported locally". The article reads like a PR piece from the voting machine vendors - it might as well be just that. The primaries in Texas last week were an unmitigated disaster as John Gideon's letter to Ms. Moretti points out. Thankfully we have John's Daily Voting News to let election officials and the voters they serve know what really happened last week in Texas. And just what is it that makes it okay if it was just a "glitch"?

 

Ms. Moretti,

 

Thank you for the work you put into writing this article. Unfortunately you probably should have spent a bit more time researching and then telling the whole story.
    

You mention a couple problem areas, using the typical "glitch" when there were some huge problems. You talk about Tarrant Co. but you don't tell the whole story; 100,000 extra votes added to the total. The county has admitted they really don't know what the results were and now, even after promising the candidates that the county would pay for the recount, the candidates will have to pay for any recounts. In Jefferson Co. ES&S failed so badly that they have volunteered to pay to do the recount.

 

You mention that voters liked the machines. You didn't speak about the fact that where voters had a choice between paper or electronic, they overwhelmingly chose to use paper ballots. When precincts completely run out of paper ballots and there are e-voting machines sitting there, that seems to point to voters making a choice.

 

The opinion of the election officials you chose to quote notwithstanding, it was actually pretty bad last week and the problems were not 'glitches'. In many cases they were big problems that are resulting in recounts and possibly worse. Of course, the state who forced the counties to use these new machines won't tell the truth and the counties won't tell the truth. We need to accurately report the facts to let everyone know the truth and not report fluff to cover up what has really happened.

 

Here are some of the news stories that appeared "locally" over the past week from Texas. Perhaps you need to read the articles and try again:

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