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California Secretary of State Bowen Comments on Field Poll About Voter Confidence in Elections PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By California Secretary of State Debra Bowen   
August 31, 2007

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen (pictured at right) commented on a Field Poll released today measuring 402 likely voters’ confidence in California elections and voting methods. The Field Poll, (download) available at , shows less than half (44%) of the likely voters surveyed have a “great deal of confidence that their votes are being accurately counted.” Another 52% of the likely voters surveyed have only “some confidence” or “only a little confidence” that their votes are being accurately counted.

 

“I am surprised that so few people are firmly confident in the accuracy of our elections,” said Secretary Bowen, the state’s chief elections officer. “My goal is to ensure all Californians believe their votes are counted accurately and the people who are in elected office are the ones who received the most votes.”

The Field Poll also reported a correlation between voter confidence in accuracy and voter confidence in specific voting systems. Voters who have less confidence that their votes are being counted as they were cast have less trust in touchscreen systems than they do in paper-based optical scan systems.

Read more...
Arizona Proposition 200 Decision, Another Strike Against the NVRA and Voter Participation PDF  | Print |  Email
Arizona
By Project Vote Press Release   
August 31, 2007
The federal district court in Arizona has just granted partial summary judgment to Arizona in Gonzalez v Arizona. The disappointing decision upholds the part of Proposition 200, a 2004 anti-voter and immigrant rights initiative which requires voter registration applicants to provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The only acceptable proof of citizenship include: a copy of a state driver’s license issued after October 1, 1996, birth certificate, passport, Indian identification, or original naturalization papers. The decision found that the initiative does not violate the National Voters Registration Act (NVRA) and does not create a poll tax.

The district court decision was not surprising because it relied on a 9th Circuit Court of Appeal decision denying a preliminary injunction sought by the plaintiffs. However, both courts ignored the language, legislative history and intent of the NVRA.

The language of the NVRA specifically sets forth what can be required on a voter registration application. It even addresses the citizenship issue by requiring applicants to check a box affirming citizenship. Granted, the NVRA does not specifically say that proof of citizenship is prohibited, but it also does not say individuals cannot be required to provide fingerprints and retina scans before registering. Is that next?
Read more...
California: Voters' Group Declares Victory In Electronic Voting Case PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By VoterAction   
August 29, 2007
Plaintiffs Applaud California Secretary of State's Recent Action on Voting Systems

Case Challenging The Use of Diebold Electronic Voting Machines Is Withdrawn

 

A group of California voters who filed suit challenging former Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's 2006 certification of Diebold electronic voting machines for use in California announced today that they were withdrawing their court case following Secretary of State Debra Bowen's recent decision to decertify the Diebold system and to only allow limited use of that system under strict manual recount conditions. The voter plaintiffs said that Secretary Bowen's action constituted a vindication of the concerns raised in their lawsuit concerning vulnerabilities and inadequacies of the Diebold machines, and that Secretary Bowen's actions answered nearly all of the concerns outlined in their original complaint filed last year.

 

"We thank Secretary Bowen for her leadership and her courage," said Dolores Huerta, one of the voter plaintiffs in the case. "Her decision is a victory for democracy in California. It marks a major step forward in protecting the integrity of our electoral process."

 

In March 2006, a group of 24 California voters, including Huerta, social justice activist and co- founder of the United Farm Workers of America, filed a lawsuit in state court against then-Secretary of State Bruce McPherson and various county registrars to halt the use or purchase of the Diebold TSx electronic voting system. The lawsuit alleged that the Diebold TSx voting machines did not meet requirements of California law with regard to security from tampering and vote manipulation, accessibility to voters with certain disabilities, and auditability, and that the machines were unsuitable and unsafe for use in California elections.

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Kentucky: Attorney General's Electronic Voting Machine Investigation Yields Early Results PDF  | Print |  Email
Kentucky
By Kentucky Attorney General Press Release   
August 29, 2007

Follow-up: Voting Scanners Getting Overhaul

 

Attorney General Greg Stumbo today announced that his office’s recently launched investigation into electronic voting machine irregularities has yielded a surprising result – Jefferson County voters have been using an uncertified voting system, apparently for at least the last three elections.

The troubling admission was made by the voting system’s manufacturer, Diebold Election Systems, (now “Premier Election Solutions”), in a letter to the Jefferson County Clerk.

 

“Investigative demands from my office required Diebold to prove that it complied with all certification procedures,” Stumbo said. “Much to everyone’s surprise, the records proved that the voting device was not certified at all. Obviously, we will ensure that this breakdown in the system is identified and eliminated. It’s our job to ensure lawful and reliable elections.”

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More Uncertified Voting Systems in California? PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Joseph Hall, Univeristy of California, Berkeley   
August 23, 2007
This article was posted at Joe Hall's Not Quite a Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

In 2003, the California Secretary of State found that DESI (Diebold Election Systems, Inc.) had marketed and sold voting systems in California that were running software uncertified by the state. In a déjà vu moment, ES&S (Election Systems and Software) was recently found to have sold uncertified hardware (and possibly software) to a number of jurisdictions in California.

 

 

People frequently point back to the 2003 DESI situation in passing when talking about the current ES&S developments. For example, Kim Zetter of Wired, an amazing journalist whom I respect immensely, said in a Threat Level post ("ES&S to be Rebuked, Fined and Possibly Banned in CA?"):

ES&S is not the first voting machine company to have sold uncertified equipment in CA. In 2003, the state discovered that Diebold Election Systems had installed uncertified software in machines in 17 counties.

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New Mexico: Independent Researchers Find High Voter Confidence in New Paper Ballot System PDF  | Print |  Email
New Mexico
By New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson   
August 23, 2007

Governor Richardson Calls Transition to Paper Ballot a Success

 

Download the Full Report 

 

Independent researchers from the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, the University of New Mexico and the University of Utah issued a report today on the administration of the 2006 General Election and the state’s transition to a paper ballot voting system. Over eight in 10 voters rated their voting experience excellent or good and the report concluded that “New Mexico is on the cutting edge of election administration and has executive and local leadership forging aggressively ahead with the intent of building a better, strong, efficacious and more voter confident voting system.”

“This independent report confirms that our state’s transition to a paper ballot system has been successful,” said Governor Bill Richardson. “Voters and poll workers favored the new voting process and gave it high marks for reliability, privacy and ease of use. Our experience clearly demonstrates that states can transition to paper ballot in less than a year and conduct accurate and transparent elections.

According to researchers, New Mexico is the first state to move from a predominantly electronic voting system to a single durable paper ballot system statewide, using optical scanners. Governor Richardson, working closely with New Mexico election reform groups and key state legislators passed legislation in 2005 requiring all state elections to be conducted with a voter verifiable paper trail, but could allow for continued use of Direct Recording Electronic voting systems (DREs). Recognizing state and national concerns over continued use of DREs, during the 2006 legislative session Governor Richardson pushed for a single state-wide voting system using durable paper ballots, which represent the official record of the vote. The paper ballot system allows for recounts of New Mexico elections, which the DRE systems did not, and it also allows elections to be audited for accuracy and provide an environment that promotes greater voter confidence, which the previous electronic systems could not accommodate.

Read more...
E-Voting Ballots Not Secret; Vendors Don’t See Problem PDF  | Print |  Email
Ohio
By Prof. Ed Felten, Princeton University   
August 20, 2007

This article appeared on Ed Felten's Blog Freedom to Tinker and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

Two Ohio researchers have discovered that some of the state’s e-voting machines put a timestamp on each ballot, which severely erodes the secrecy of ballots. The researchers, James Moyer and Jim Cropcho, used the state’s open records law to get access to ballot records, according to Declan McCullagh’s story at news.com. The pair say they have reconstructed the individual ballots for a county tax referendum in Delaware County, Ohio.

 

Timestamped ballots are a problem because polling-place procedures often record the time or sequence of voter’s arrivals. For example, at my polling place in New Jersey, each voter is given a sequence number which is recorded next to the voter’s name in the poll book records and is recorded in notebooks by Republican and Democratic poll watchers. If I’m the 74th voter using the machine today, and the recorded ballots on that machine are timestamped or kept in order, then anyone with access to the records can figure out how I voted. That, of course, violates the secret ballot and opens the door to coercion and vote-buying.

 

Most e-voting systems that have been examined get this wrong. In the recent California top-to-bottom review, researchers found that the Diebold system stores the ballots in the order they were cast and with timestamps (report pp. 49-50), and the Hart (report pp. 59) and Sequoia (report p. 64) systems “randomize” stored ballots in an easily reversible fashion. Add in the newly discovered ES&S system, and the vendors are 0-for-4 in protecting ballot secrecy.

Read more...
California: The Top to Bottom Review PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Barbara Simons   
August 13, 2007
This article will appear in the September issue of The Voter, monthly newsletter of the League of Women Voters of the Los Altos-Mountain View Area. Reprinted here with permission.
…In many ways, I think voters and counties are the victims of a federal certification process that hasn’t done an adequate job of ensuring that the systems made available to them are secure, accurate, reliable and accessible. Congress enacted the Help America Vote Act, which pushed many counties into buying electronic systems that – as we’ve seen for some time and we saw again in the independent UC review – were not properly reviewed or tested to ensure that they protected the integrity of the vote. That’s what my decisions are about – protecting the integrity of the vote.

- Secretary of State Debra Bowen, quoted in the California Progress Report, August 4, 2007.*

Just before midnight on Friday August 3, Secretary of State Debra Bowen made the dramatic announcement that she was decertifying all of electronic voting systems tested in her Top to Bottom (TTB) review, as well as the ES&S InkaVote system that was submitted too late for testing. She conditionally recertified all except the InkaVote, but some of the conditions are quite arduous.


Read more...
Iowa: Ames Straw Poll Holdup Shows Why Paper Ballots Are Best PDF  | Print |  Email
Iowa
By Iowans for Voting Integrity   
August 13, 2007
Reported problems with one of the paper ballot scanners used in the Ames Republican Presidential straw poll reveal that touchscreen voting machines, on the defensive nationally and on their way out in Story County itself, are no match for voter-marked paper ballots.

“They had a problem with the voting equipment, and they had individual, durable paper ballots to ready to count by hand,” said Sean Flaherty, co-chair of Iowans for Voting Integrity. The Ames straw poll used only paper ballots counted by optical scan equipment. “Problems with election equipment always happen. Paper ballot systems offer the best backup.”

Iowa counties use either touchscreen direct-recording electronic machines, or DREs, or paper ballots that are marked by the voter and optically scanned. Story County, which provided the equipment for the poll, has both systems, but is phasing out the touchscreens and replacing them with a ballot-marking device that helps a voter with sight or other disabilities mark the same type of paper ballot used by other voters. The county provided only the ballot scanners for the straw poll.
Read more...
California: Secretary Bowen's Clever Insight PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University   
August 08, 2007

This article appeared on Avi Rubin's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

On Monday, our NSF ACCURATE center held its second annual EVT conference. It was a smashing success with packed attendance and great papers. Today, we held our Principal Investigator (PI) meeting consisting of the PIs, graduate students and some of our advisors. To all of our amazement, Debra Bowen, the Secretary of State of California, who is on our advisory board, showed up for both days. This is particularly incredible given that last Friday she created a firestorm by decertifying most of the electronic voting machines in her state after the top to bottom review that she ordered showed tremendous flaws in the machines.


Secretary Bowen was an active participant in both our workshop and our PI meeting. Today on a panel of our advisors, she said something that really struck a chord with me. It was a simple comment, but it showed great insight into the computer software process as well as the election system certification process. Bowen's observation was that the certification process is not well suited to software. Most election officials defer to staffers or to academics such as us about technical issues, but Secretary Bowen sounded as much like a computer scientists as a state official this afternoon. She rattled off technical terms that she was completely comfortable with and made arguments based on a level of understanding of technology that I have never seen from a non-computer scientist. It is no wonder that she was able to put together the team led by David Wagner and Matt Bishop to study the machines and to appreciate their findings.

Read more...
California Decerties Electronic Voting System - Including the System Used in Maryland PDF  | Print |  Email
Maryland
By SAVE Our Votes Media Release   
August 08, 2007
Citing Insurmountable Security Vulnerabilities, Secretary of State Disallows Use of Most Touch-screen Machines in February Primary Elections

In a late-night press conference convened just before the midnight deadline for voting system changes before next spring’s primary election, Secretary of State Debra Bowen last night announced widespread decertification of most types of electronic voting equipment used in California.

The withdrawal of certification for the equipment was the result of a complete top-to-bottom review of all election systems used in California. In her campaign for Secretary of State last fall, Ms Bowen, a former state senator, had promised a thorough study of the state’s voting systems, which she set in motion immediately upon taking office last January. The review consisted of four separate studies encompassing all aspects of the system: security, accessibility, system software, and a review of official documents related to the equipment.

“Secretary of State Bowen took the only responsible course of action in light of the seriousness of the study’s findings,” said Robert Ferraro, a Co-Director of SAVE Our Votes, a grass-roots citizens’ group working for Secure, Accessible, Verifiable Elections in Maryland. “This underscores the urgency of replacing our flawed touch-screen voting system with optically scanned paper ballots, as required by Senate Bill 392. Governor O'Malley must make it a top priority to fund Maryland’s transition to a more secure, reliable voting system."
Read more...
California Voting Machine Review Has Implications for Iowa PDF  | Print |  Email
Iowa
By Iowans for Voting Integrity   
August 08, 2007
State Orders Strong Security Measures for Voting System Used in 71 Iowa Counties
 
A review by the Secretary of State of California has determined that the computer voting systems used in 71 Iowa counties are comparable to “an oceanliner built without watertight doors.”  

The voting systems from Diebold Election Systems are widely used throughout the U.S. The review found fundamental weaknesses that could allow malicious software to go undetected, pass pre-election testing, and corrupt election results throughout a county. A complete re-engineering may be required. Tighter controls on the chain of custody of voting equipment are unlikely enough to secure these systems, the report said.  

“Some are saying that the risks noted in the report aren't realistic,” said Sean Flaherty, co-chair of Iowans for Voting Integrity.  “This is not true: there are so many weaknesses that the team that reviewed the computer code couldn't think of practical chain of custody procedures strong enough to run secure elections on these systems.”
Read more...
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen Moves to Strengthen Voter Confidence in Election Security PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By California Secretary of State Debra Bowen   
August 04, 2007

Moves Follow Top-to-Bottom Review of Voting Systems

 

Certification documents detailing Secretary Bowen’s decisions are available for download here.

After two months of unprecedented analysis of California’s voting systems and related security procedures, Secretary of State Debra Bowen today announced some of those systems can continue operating in 2008 in California while others are too flawed to be widely used.

Each of the systems that went through the top-to-bottom review has been legally decertified, and then each of them has been recertified with the addition of a number of conditions. The primary reason for taking this step is for clarity, ensuring that everything associated with a particular system is in one single recertification document that is easy for the public, elections officials, and others to follow and understand.

The Diebold, Hart InterCivic and Sequoia direct recording electronic (DRE) systems were all decertified. The Diebold and Sequoia DRE systems were recertified solely for the purposes of conducting early voting and to allow counties to have one DRE machine in each polling place on Election Day for the purpose of complying with disability access requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Furthermore, these DRE systems will be required to comply with increased security and post-election auditing procedures. The Hart InterCivic DRE system was also recertified but will only be required to comply with increased security and post-election auditing procedures. The Diebold, Hart InterCivic and Sequoia optical scan systems were all decertified and recertified, and will be required to adopt increased security and post-election auditing procedures.

Read more...
More California E-Voting Reports Released; More Bad News PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Ed Felten, Princeton University   
August 03, 2007

This article appeared on Ed Felten's blog Freedom ro Tinker and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

Yesterday the California Secretary of State released the reports of three source code study teams that analyzed the source code of e-voting systems from Diebold, Hart InterCivic, and Sequoia.

All three reports found many serious vulnerabilities. It seems likely that computer viruses could be constructed that could infect any of the three systems, spread between voting machines, and steal votes on the infected machines. All three systems use central tabulators (machines at election headquarters that accumulate ballots and report election results) that can be penetrated without great effort.

 

It’s hard to convey the magnitude of the problems in a short blog post. You really have read through the reports — the shortest one is 78 pages — to appreciate the sheer volume and diversity of severe vulnerabilities.

Read more...
Avi Rubin: Debunking the "Laboratory" Defense PDF  | Print |  Email
California
By Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University   
July 31, 2007

This article appeared on Avi Rubin's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

Yesterday, there was a hearing in California about the e-voting machines that were studied in the top to bottom review. I watched some of the proceedings that were broadcast on the web, and I read some of the press coverage, such as this article in the San Jose Mercury News. I'm struck (although not surprised) by the way the vendors attack the study results. As the top to bottom review concluded that the systems were highly vulnerable to all kinds of attacks, the vendors stand to lose business and revenue if the machines are decertified, so you would expect them to attack the study with everything they have.

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