Friday, February 27, 2004

Sacramento News & Review profiles e-voting security activist

By Jeff Kerns, Sacramento News and Review, 2/26/04

The Sacramento alternative weekly features a profile this week of Jim March, an electronic voting security activist who lives in Sacramento. March was a plaintiff in a recent lawsuit against the state and several counties using Diebold voting equipment. The article looks at the lawsuit, the charges brought by March and others, and describes the scene at the Sacramento Superior Court room last week where March's lawyer, Lowell Finley tried unsuccessfully to convince judge Raymond Cadei that extra security precautions were needed in counties using Diebold voting equipment.

Missouri Secretary of State Announces Paper Trail Requirement

By Jo Mannies, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/26/04

Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt became the fifth state election official in the nation to announce his support for a requirement that electronic voting systems produce a voter verified paper record of each digital ballot. "This requirement will enable voters to review their ballot before it is cast to ensure that it was marked as intended," Blunt said in a statement.

Secretary of State Blunt joins Washington, California, Nevada and New Hampshire secretaries of state in endorsing the voter verified paper trail requirement.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Study - 29 percent of the electorate will use electronic voting systems in 2004

Election Data Services News Release, 02/12/04

Election Data Services recently reported that nearly 29 percent of the country is using electronic voting systems this year. Here's a rundown on the increased use of electronic voting systems:

1998 -- just under 9 percent of U.S. voters resided in e-voting jurisdictions

2000 -- 12.5 percent of voters resided in e-voting jurisdictions

2002 -- 19.6 percent of voters resided in e-voting jurisdictions

2004 - 28.9 percent of voters reside in e-voting jurisdictions

While there has been a steady increase in the number of jurisdictions using electronic voting systems, the increase has been slower than many observers anticipated in the wake of the 2000 Florida vote counting problems. Kimball Brace, author of the study, notes that 74.2 percent of U.S. voters will be using the same voting equipment this year as they did in 2000. "We are clearly seeing the impact of two major events on these changes," he says. "First, the fact that Congress and the President delayed the implementation and funding of HAVA and, second, the continued controversy over voter-verified ballots with electronic systems has led to a slowdown of changes throughout the United States."

Friday, February 20, 2004

Wired News - E-Voting Activists: Vote Absentee

By Kim Zetter, Wired News, 02/20/04 Wired and several other news organizations featured stories today about CVF's news release urging voters in California's 14 electronic voting counties to request and vote paper absentee ballots. The Wired story includes a photo from the Oakland, California Grand Lake Theatre's marquee encouraging people to demand absentee ballots.

The Riverside Press Enterprise also ran a story (registration required) by Tim Miller, with responses from some county election officials that CVF's actions were "destructive" and that a surge in absentee ballots returned to polling places would slow down the tabulation of votes.

It's been an interesting week. CVF has heard a lot of supporting words for our absentee ballot suggestion. We've also heard some good questions, like "Won't this undermine voter confidence?" The last thing we'd want to do is undermine voter confidence. We want voters to be confident, and that's why we want ballots backed up on paper.

Another story I really enjoyed reading this week was Lee Nichols' piece in the Austin Chronicle, "How Safe Is Your E-Vote?", featuring interesting comments from election officials and activists. I particularly liked Adina Levin's quote:

"If I choose on my touch screen or Hart selector, and something goes wrong between the thing that I choose and the thing that gets written electronically, even if it gets written in three different places, or 10 different places, or a hundred different places, it's still different from what I selected. And if I don't have an independent way of recording what I [saw on the computer screen] and going back to check, there's no way of knowing. You're never, ever gonna know."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Top elections official accuses counties of protecting voting 'turf'

By Don Thompson, Associated Press, 2/14/04 On February 5, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley issued a directive to all DRE/touchscreen counties to implement several extra security measures, such as parallel monitoring and the posting of printed tallies outside precincts at the close of polls. Ten county elections officials responded to this directive with a letter on February 10 that questions the Secretary of State's authority and accusing Shelley of misleading the public about computerized voting risks.

Kevin Shelley told the AP, "I cannot understand why any public official would oppose these measures. The voters deserve no less."

Several DRE registrars did not sign the Feb. 10 letter, including those from Orange, Solano and Alameda counties. Shelley also directed the four counties using Diebold's TSx machines to make paper ballots available to voters who prefer them -- however, depending on how counties implement this directive, paper ballots may only be available as an alternative in one location, such as the county election office.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

E-Vote Machines Drop More Ballots

By Kim Zetter, Wired News, 02/09/04


Six electronic voting machines used in two North Carolina counties lost 436 absentee ballot votes in the 2002 general election because of a software problem, raising increasing doubts about the accuracy and integrity of voting equipment in a presidential election year.

Election Systems & Software said problems with the firmware of its iVotronic touch-screen machines, used in a trial run, lost ballots in two North Carolina precincts during the state's early voting in 2002. ES&S, the largest U.S. maker of election equipment, is also the focus of attention into lost votes last month in Florida during a special election.

Dems: Web voting a success

By Deb Price, the Detroit News, 02/09/04


"Michigan Democrats judged their experiment in Internet voting a success, but security experts — and even some Michiganians who cast Internet votes — doubt that it can be trusted in general elections."


One caucus participant said he couldn’t vote even once by Internet, let alone often.

Dennis Papazian of Troy, a history professor at University of Michigan-Dearborn, said he couldn’t get the Democratic site to take his vote, even though he’s a self-described savvy computer user.

“For me it was a total flop. It just wasn’t ready for prime time,” said Papazian, though he hopes the bugs get worked out."

Monday, February 9, 2004

California seeks to improve electronic-voting security

By Elise Ackerman, San Jose Mercury News, 02/05/2004

The Mercury News called county registrars using Diebold voting equipment to see if they had read the new Raba Technologies report commissioned by the State of Maryland. The Raba report found, as did the SAIC and Johns Hopkins reports, serious security flaws in Diebold's GEMS software. Unfortunately, most of California's Diebold registrars were not familiar with the report. Here are excerpts from the Merc story:

Only one county registrar of 14 who responded to inquiries said she planned to implement specific steps recommended by the computer scientists to correct serious security flaws. When contacted by the Mercury News, registrars in only three counties said they had read the report.

Connie McCormack, the registrar of Los Angeles County, the state's largest county, said she did not read the report. But McCormack said Diebold had assured her the report referred to an older version of its software, and that a newer version was more secure.

Elaine Ginnold, assistant registrar of Alameda County, said she also had not read the Raba report but she believed ``the new software is going to have the security recommendations.''

Raba report author Michael Wertheimer, a former senior technical director of the National Security Agency, said his team tested the most recent version of the Diebold software. ``I can honestly say the problems we are describing will not be addressed in any immediate update,'' Wertheimer said.

Kim Alexander, president of California Voter Foundation, a Davis-based election watchdog group, said registrars are too dependent on voting-equipment companies to assure voting security and too dismissive of the concerns that have been raised by computer scientists over the past year.

``The vendors who are in the business of profiting off the sale of voting systems do not have a vested interest in being forthcoming about security glitches,'' Alexander said.

Friday, February 6, 2004

Computer miscounts? Not likely in New Hampshire

By Rachel Konrad, AP in the San Francisco Chronicle, 01/28/04


"Maybe people elsewhere trust machines more than they trust humans, but that would be totally out of the question here," said Secretary of State Bill Gardner, one of the longest-serving elections officials in the country. "I'm aghast that other places are considering touch-screen computers."


"People in other states talk about the unbelievable burden of recounts," said Anthony Stevens, New Hampshire's assistant secretary of state. "They don't realize the cost of restoring legitimacy is far greater than the cost of maintaining it."

Getting zapped for vote

By Jim Tanksersley, Rocky Mountain News, 02/05/04

Rigged election called possible

By Elise Ackerman, San Jose Mercury News, 02/01/2004