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Smooth Undervoting In Sarasota County PDF  | Print |  Email
Florida
By John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA Voting Technology Task Force   
March 15, 2007

It turns out there may be an explanation as to why Florida congressional district 13 (FL CD-13) in Sarasota Florida received so many under-votes relative to other races on the iVotronic terminal. 

 

Page 23 of the FSU security analysis of the iVotronic firmware states: (emphasis mine)

 

6.2.1.1 Investigate Reports that the Display Was Slow to Respond to Touch.

 

Overview. We consider a scenario in which technical impacts from slow touch screen response may unintentionally prevent the voter's selection from registering during the vote selection process, but not during the review cycle.

 

Hypothesis. If a voter is able to interact with the touch screen in a sequence that causes the screen to display a candidate selection that does not match their most recent touch, it may cause the voter to misinterpret their selection for that race. Specifically, consider a situation where a voter touches a vote box twice in rapid succession. If the software delays updating the display in response to the second touch for some reason, after a very short period the voter may accept the first display response as conclusive, and due to the delay (if it exists) the voter might not notice the delayed update in response to the second touch. It is also possible that the second touch would cause the candidate to be deselected after having been selected.

 

Similarly, we consider a situation where a voter touches a vote box and waits patiently for her vote to display for a few moments before assuming her touch was not detected and touching the screen again. If the first touch is recorded and if the display is updated only after the second touch, the voter may accept the first display response as conclusive, while a delay (if it exists) could cause later display of the second recorded touch that the voter may not notice.

 

These scenarios are consistent with reports by some voters that they voted for a candidate, but noticed their vote was not registered when they reviewed their selections on the summary screen.

 

The remainder of the section goes on to dismiss this as a possible cause of the under-votes for 2 reasons; no support for such delay could be found in the inspected source code and such delays would have been present in other races.

 

The reason for the FSU team to dismiss this hypothesis as a cause has now been refuted by ES&S itself. The vendor of the iVotronic acknowledges delays in displaying selection are indeed a known defect of the iVotronics software.

Read more...
Ohio Secretary of State Announces New Advisory Group PDF  | Print |  Email
Ohio
By Ohio Secretary of State Press Release   
March 14, 2007
The newly established Voting Rights Institute will help develop practices and proposals to make Ohio’s elections and voting systems a positive example for the nation, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner says. The institute, which named Saturday its new 38-member advisory council, will work to push the best practices in election administration in Ohio, Secretary Brunner said.

“I know that when I have the best minds like I have in this room and other minds that will be part of the group, this is how to really get it done,” Secretary Brunner said of the advisory council after its inaugural meeting Saturday.
Read more...
The FSU Report on the ES&S iVotronic Used in Sarasota County PDF  | Print |  Email
Florida
By Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University   
March 14, 2007

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

 

On February 23, a team of computer scientists, based out of Florida State University put out an exceptional report analyzing the ES&S iVotronic 8.0.1.2 voting machine firmware. The reason that this particular machine was of interest is that it was used in the 13th Congressional race in Sarasota County last November. As many of you know, this is the machine that was responsible for approximately 18,000 undervotes in that race. The research team was chartered with the task of attempting to determine if anything related to that code could have caused the missing votes due to some bug in the software on the voting machine. Of course, they could only analyze the source code of software that was supposed to be on the machine. They did not have an opportunity to examine whether or not the binaries actually running on those machines corresponded to that source code, nor is such a determination possible today.


When I first heard about this study (and I was even approached about joining it), my first thought was that it is a silly idea to try to figure out what went wrong in Sarasota County by analyzing the source code. So many factors that have nothing to do with the source code could have contributed to the problem, and source code analysis cannot be used to find all problems that may have arisen in the software. There are all kinds of run time conditions such as, for example, race conditions and runtime bounds errors that could cause problems without the ability to be detected by source code analysis.

 

Read more...
Georgia: GAVV Complaint Referred to the Attorney General for Investigation PDF  | Print |  Email
Georgia
By Georgians for Verified Voting   
March 14, 2007
The Georgia State Election Board on March 13, 2007 voted unanimously (with one abstention) to refer a complaint filed on December 13, 2006 by Georgians for Verified Voting (GAVV) to the state Attorney General for investigation. GAVV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizens' action group that advocates for voting systems and processes in Georgia that are transparent, verifiable and secure.


The complaint raises questions about the electronic voting system used in the 2006 primary and general elections: whether key rules and procedures related to system certification were followed by the former Secretary of State Cathy Cox, Election Director Kathy Rogers, Britain Williams, consultant to the state's voting system certifying agent, Kennesaw Center for Elections, and Diebold Election Systems.

Bob Barr, former member of the U.S. Congress (1995-2003) and president of Liberty Strategies, presented the complaint to the Board.

 

In his statement Barr said: "When there are credible questions raised about touch-screen electronic voting, the state must confirm the source, identify the problem, and put into action a plan to correct the problem or to credibly assure the public that the perceived problems were not in fact extant. The state of Georgia has a profound interest in taking all reasonable steps to investigate such concerns...."

 

"We have every confidence that the Attorney General will conduct a thorough and complete investigation into this matter," said Donna Price, director of GAVV, "and we applaud the State Election Board for their decision. Full Complaint

Sarasota: Could a Bug Have Lost Votes? PDF  | Print |  Email
Florida
By Edward W. Felten, Professor, Department of Comouter Science, Princeton University   
February 28, 2007

This article was posted on Ed Felten's blog Freedom To Tinker and is reposted with permission of the author.

 

At this point, we still don’t know what caused the high undervote rate in Sarasota’s Congressional election. [Background: 1, 2.] There are two theories. The State-commissioned study released last week argues that for the theory that a badly designed ballot caused many voters to not see that race and therefore not cast a vote.

 

Today I want to make the case for the other theory: that a malfunction or bug in the voting machines caused votes to be not recorded. The case sits on four pillars: (1) The postulated behavior is consistent with a common type of computer bug. (2) Similar bugs have been found in voting machines before. (3) The state-commissioned study would have been unlikely to find such a bug. (4) Studies of voting data show patterns that point to the bug theory.

 

(1) The postulated behavior is consistent with a common type of computer bug.

 

Programmers know the kind of bug I’m talking about: an error in memory management, or a buffer overrun, or a race condition, which causes subtle corruption in a program’s data structures. Such bugs are maddeningly hard to find, because the problem isn’t evident immediately but the corrupted data causes the program to go wrong in subtle ways later. These bugs often seem to be intermittent or “random”, striking sometimes but lying dormant at other times, and seeming to strike more or less frequently depending on the time of day or other seemingly irrelevant factors. Every experienced programmer tells horror stories about such bugs.

Read more...
Secretary of State’s FL-13 Audit Report Whitewashes Evidence of Voting Machine Problems in Sarasot PDF  | Print |  Email
Florida
By People for the American Way Foundation   
February 27, 2007

Report fails to account for eyewitness testimony pointing to machine malfunction; flawed audit process may be responsible

An audit report released by the Florida Secretary of State’s office regarding Sarasota County’s November election debacle came under fire shortly after its release on Friday.

“This audit’s a whitewash. It is the result of a flawed process overseen by people with a stake in the outcome, and it will not be the last word on this matter,” said People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas. “Something went terribly wrong in Sarasota County last November—and voters have provided credible evidence that widespread voting machine malfunctions were part of the problem. Unfortunately, this report papers over that evidence.”

To see just a few of the scores of Sarasota County voter reports of potential machine problems, click here

 

Neas said his organization will continue pushing for answers for Sarasota County voters, both in the courts and in Congress. He also said that the Sarasota debacle and other 2006 election problems have led PFAW Foundation to make election reform its top legislative priority in 2007.

Read more...
Undervote Rate Plummets in Minority Precincts After New Mexico Changes to All Paper Ballots PDF  | Print |  Email
New Mexico
By VotersUnite.org   
February 26, 2007

Download the Report Here

Download the Data Here 

 

A new report, based on official 2004 and 2006 New Mexico election data, shows a dramatic difference in undervotes in Native American and Hispanic precincts, depending on whether they voted on paper ballots or on Direct Record Electronic (DRE) voting machines.

The report explains: "Undervotes represent ballots on which no vote was registered for a specific contest.  Undervote rates higher than 0.5% in the major contest on a ballot, especially in presidential elections, suggest that votes may not have been counted, either through a mistake of the voter or a mistake in tabulation."

The report shows that in predominantly Native American and predominantly Hispanic precincts, undervote rates were abnormally high (7.61% and 6.33% respectively) in the 2004 presidential race, when the votes were cast on DREs. In 2006, after the state changed to all optically scanned paper ballots, the undervote rates for Governor in those same precincts plummeted by 85% in Native American areas and by 69% in predominantly Hispanic precincts.

Read more...
A Report from the Public Monitor of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections PDF  | Print |  Email
Ohio
By Joseph Hall, Univeristy of California, Berkeley   
February 24, 2007

This article was posted at Joseph Hall's Not Quite A Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

After the 2006 primary disaster in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where tens of thousands of absentee ballots had to be hand-counted due to a printing problem, the County Board of Elections appointed a public monitor to oversee the conduct of elections. That public monitor effort is lead by Candice Hoke, a law professor at Cleveland State University's (CSU) Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Director of CSU's Center for Election Integrity.

Cleveland's local Fox News broke a story today about a report from the public monitor on possible legal noncompliances at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (CCBOE) ("I-Team Investigates Election Security"). The Fox reporting focuses on a few serious issues raised by the report:

  • there was one administrative level of access and only one user account (admin) for the Election Management System (EMS) server used by five different people;
  • while two keys from different political parties are needed to open the ballot vault, these keys are stored side-by-side, on the same key ring, in an unlocked compartment;
  • the surveillance footage from the tabulation room was destroyed four weeks after the election, and;
  • a "cable" was mistakenly left attached to the EMS server before election day.

These things are serious from a physical and computer security perspective, but there's more to this story than simply these issues. I'd like to focus on what the report points out that wasn't highlighted in the Fox News story.

Read more...
Public Monitor Reports Serious, Possibly Illegal, Security Breaches During Ohio Mid-term Elections PDF  | Print |  Email
Ohio
By VoteTrustUSA   
February 23, 2007

Secretary of State to Appoint Independent Investigator

 

Download the Full Report and Appendix

The Public Monitor appointed by Cuyahoga County’s (Cleveland) Board of Elections has issued a report that identifies significant security breaches and “points of possible legal non-compliance” by the Board and its staff in their conduct of the November elections. In response, the Board has asked the Secretary of State to assist in appointing a software engineer to examine the computer records of the voting system.

The Monitor’s report identifies failings of the Board and its staff to enact or comply with election administration and security procedures required by State regulations or State and/or Federal law, regarding supervision of the voter registration database, poll worker management and eligibility, ballot security, and the tabulation and security of election results.

The report identifies several areas of non-compliant procedures associated with the tabulation of results and technical security which could have compromised the security of the election totals. Analysis of the election tabulation system log indicated that reports may have been printed summarizing the absentee ballot totals prior to Election Day. Printing vote totals before the end of Election Day would violate a State directive issued in response to a court order specifying that “at no time, any person has any access to the count or any portion of the count before the polling places close”. The report notes “This concern is especially acute where the proportion of the votes cast by absentee ballot is extremely high, such as was the case in the November, 2006 election in which nearly 25% of votes were cast via absentee ballot.”

Read more...
Kansas Senate Passes Controversial Voter ID Bill PDF  | Print |  Email
Kansas
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
February 22, 2007

Governor Sebelius Voices Criticism 

 

The Kansas State Senate has passed SB 169, a bill that would require voters to present a valid photo ID in order exercize their right to vote. The bill would further require that Kansans prove American citizenship when registering by showing either a birth certificate or U.S. passport. The Wichita Eagle noted that copies of birth certificates cost $12 and passports, $97.

Similar restrictive identification legislation in Arizona, Georgia, Missouri and other states have been successfully challenged in court. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who vetoed a similar bill in 2003, was critical of the bill, A Kansas City Star article reported her comments:

I am alarmed as a public official at the limited number of people who participate in our democracy,” she said. “… I’m very cautious about solving a problem we don’t have and killing the interest of Kansans in voting.”

There is no evidence that voter fraud is a problem in Kansas, Sebelius said, and the bill would only succeed in keeping people away from the polls.
In the Witchita Eagle article Sibelius was quoted, "I guess my big worry is that we have too few people voting as it is, too few people participating," she said. "I really hate to see anything that makes it more difficult for citizens to participate." She added: "I haven't seen any evidence in Kansas of voter fraud, and I don't like to see barriers put up to people who should be participating in a democracy."
Read more...
Verifiable Elections on the Legislative Agenda in Iowa PDF  | Print |  Email
Iowa
By Sean Flaherty, Iowans for Voting Integrity   
February 18, 2007

Newly elected Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro (pictured at right) has made a voter-verified paper record his top priority. He told members of Iowans for Voting Integrity (IVI) at meeting on January 16 that when he was asked questions on the campaign trail last year, the “paper trail” was first and foremost on voters' minds.

Governor Chet Culver was Secretary of State before being elected to his new job in November, and last spring he pushed hard for the 81st General Assembly pass SF 351, which would have required a voter-verified paper record. SF 351 passed the Senate unanimously in 2005, but was attached in the House to a voter ID requirement that scuttled it.

The only question this year seems to be how to get the job done. Iowans for Voting Integrity has worked with legislators to draft a bill that would require paper ballots and assistive devices for voters with disabilities, phase out direct-recording electronic machines altogether, and require random hand audits. Rep. Mary Gaskill (D-Ottumwa), former Auditor of Wapello County, has a bill drafted along these lines, which is now being proof-read and should be introduced this week.

Read more...
Florida: Let’s Clarify the Real Choice in Election Systems PDF  | Print |  Email
Florida
By Karen Burns, Director of Election Reform, League of Women Voters of Florida   
February 06, 2007
The League of Women voters of Florida applauds Governor Crist’s announcement endorsing voter verifiable paper ballot based systems as the foundation of our election systems in Florida. It is a step with the right intention and a step in the right direction.

The public discussion has reached a crucial point where we must be clear about terminology and the real choices we are facing. If we are not asking the right question - we won’t find the right answer.

Indeed some commentators have interpreted Crist’s plan as trading “touch screens” for “hand-marked” systems and they raise concerns about potentially serious problems.

These concerns are based on a false choice: “touch screens” versus “hand-marked” systems. Defining the choice this way unnecessarily pits the disabled and minority language communities against the broader population.
Read more...
Sarasota: Limited Investigations PDF  | Print |  Email
Florida
By Prof. Ed Felten, Princeton University   
February 05, 2007

This article was posted at Freedom to Tinker and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

As I wrote last week, malfunctioning voting machines are one of the two plausible theories that could explain the mysterious undervotes in Sarasota’s congressional race. To get a better idea of whether malfunctions could be the culprit, we would have to investigate — to inspect the machines and their software for any relevant errors in design or operation. A well-functioning electoral system ought to be able to do such investigations in an open and thorough manner.

 

Two attempts have been made to investigate. The first was by representatives of Christine Jennings (the officially losing candidate) and a group of voters, who filed lawsuits challenging the election results and asked, as part of the suits’ discovery process, for access by their experts to the machines and their code. The judge denied their request, in a curious order that seemed to imply that they would first have to prove that there was probably a malfunction before they could be granted access to the evidence needed to tell whether there was a malfunction.

 

The second attempt was by the Department of State (DOS) of the state of Florida, who commissioned a study by outside experts. Oddly, I am listed in the official Statement of Work (SOW) as a principal investigator on the study team, even though I am not a member of the team. Many people have asked how this happened. The short answer is that I discussed with representatives of DOS the possibility of participating, but eventually it became clear that the study they wanted to commission was far from the complete, independent study I had initially thought they wanted.

Read more...
A Pennsylvania Response to Florida Governor Crist's Plan to Dump Touchscreen Voting Machines PDF  | Print |  Email
Pennsylvania
By VoteAllegheny   
February 05, 2007

VoteAllegheny endorses Florida Governor Charlie Crist's announced his intention to rid his state of paperless voting systems. This move is a necessary in response to the demonstrated costs, insecurity and election-day failures of these systems. The most common of these systems in Florida is the ES&S iVotronic. This is the same type of system used in Allegheny County. We in VoteAllegheny endorse this move.

The Governor called on the state to replace all paperless Direct-Recording Electronic systems (DREs)
in the state of Florida with new precinct-count optical scanners and to retrofit the present ADA-model
DREs with voter-verified paper trails for disabled voters. Republican Governor Crist announced the
proposal alongside Florida's Democratic Congressmen Robert Wexler, Lt. Governor Kottkamp,
Secretary of State Kurt Browning, and members of Florida's Election Integrity Community.

 

Congressman Wexler stated: "Through this proposal, every Floridian will be able to go to the polls with
total confidence that their vote will be counted on Election Day."  

Read more...
Florida Voters Coalition 2007 Position Paper on Voting Systems PDF  | Print |  Email
Florida
By Florida Voters Coalition   
February 02, 2007
The Florida Voters Coalition (FVC)1 calls on Florida officials to return elections to their rightful owners – the voters – in 2007. Currently, Florida’s elections are unreasonably controlled by private, corporate interests and conducted by secret, unverifiable means. The Governor, Legislature and Department of State all have roles in reversing this unwholesome trend by returning the conduct of Florida elections to transparent, citizen-run, local affairs in the most fundamental traditions of 230 years of American democracy. Florida voters demand that their officials once again actively advocate for them – not vendors, not political parties – but Florida’s voters.

These are the top five measures that The Florida Voters Coalition calls on the Executive and Legislative branches to work together to accomplish, at the very least, during the 2007 legislative session. We look forward to working with the State of Florida and other institutions, private and public, toward these and other positive reforms.
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