December 29, 2007

CO SOS tests voting systems — certifies only Premier (Diebold)

Posted in Diebold, Elections, ES&S, voting machine certification, voting machine testing, voting machines tagged , , , , , , , at 1:00 pm by bluebanshee

Colorado SOS Michael Coffman completed court mandated testing and recertification of voting systems used in the state and issued some dramatic rulings which were immediately subject to a firestorm of controversy.

Premier (formally known as Diebold) All voting equipment submitted for recertification passed.

Sequoia The optical scan devices, Insight and 400-C, used to count paper ballots both passed, but the electronic voting machines, the Edge II and the Edge II Plus, both failed due to a variety of security risk factors, including that the system is not password protected, has exposed controls potentially giving voters unauthorized access, and lacks an audit trail to detect security violations.

Hart The optical scan devices, eScan and BallotNow, both failed because test results showed that they could not accurately count ballots. The electronic voting machine, eSlate, passed.

ES&S The optical scan devices (M 100 and the M650) both failed because of an inability to determine if the devices work correctly and an inability to complete the testing threshold of 10,000 ballots due to vendor programming errors. The electronic voting machine (iVotronic) failed because it is easily disabled by voters activating the device interface, and the system lacks an audit trail to detect security violations.

http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/pressrel/coffman_completes_elec_voting_equip_tests_12-17-07.html Read the rest of this entry »

Dear presidential candidates: say no to paperless primaries

Posted in election audits, Elections, paper ballots, politics, voting, voting machines tagged , , , at 11:43 am by bluebanshee

Sean Flaherty of Iowans for Voting Integrity has penned an eloquent letter to the current crop of presidential hopefuls urging them to insist on paper ballots in the upcoming primaries. He calls particular attention to the well-documented problems with the paperless DRE called the iVotronic that will be used in the early-voting state of South Carolina (but this machine is also used in many other states including populous Pennsylvania, Texas, and Indiana).

Reproduced below is Sean’s well-footnoted plea to the presidential candidates to request paper for the presidential primaries.

I write to call your attention to the insecurity of South Carolina’s upcoming Presidential primary, and to respectfully urge that you request the election officials of South Carolina to use paper ballots, and conduct manual audits of electronic vote tallies in the January 19 Republican primary.

South Carolina uses a paperless touch screen system statewide, the iVotronic [1] Paperless electronic voting is reckless in any right, but the iVotronic has managed to become notorious on its own terms. Key facts: Read the rest of this entry »

December 4, 2007

Tell Congress: Voters Deserve Accessible, Verifiable Elections in 2008 and Beyond!

Posted in Elections, Hr 811, paper ballots, politics, Rush Holt, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , , , at 4:51 am by bluebanshee

Verified Voting has anew action alert for the Senate version of Rush Holt’s H.R. 811. S. 2295, introduced by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), contains the desirable paper ballot and audit provisions of the original “committee mark” version of H.R. 811 plus the welcome addition of a phase-out of DRE voting machines. Go to the Verified Voting website and use the tools you find there to to contact your Senators and urge them to sign on as co-sponsors for S. 2295.

http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizations/vevo/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=21882

Less than a year from now, an important national election will be held — but will our voting systems be prepared? Some states have already taken action to require voter-verified paper ballots and mandatory audits to check ballot tallies for accuracy. But what about the rest of the country? Read the rest of this entry »

November 24, 2007

IRV Fiasco in Frisco

Posted in Elections, IRV, paper ballots, politics, San Francisco IRV election, voting machines tagged , , , , at 8:53 am by bluebanshee

This month’s IRV election in San Francisco had a  lo…onnngg count with the final results not being announced within 24 hours of the close of polls as is customary in U.S. elections but delayed for weeks.

There is lots of fingerpointing about the delayed election results, with some blaming CA SOS Bowen and others saying that it is the fault of the AutoMark ballot marking device that is used by disabled voters. Both of these analyses contain just enough of a shred of truth that they are wholeheartedly embraced by segments of the public. But neither explanation considers the complete situation while at the same time overlooking salient facts. The situation is much more complex.

The story begins with Debra Bowen’s election as California Secretary of State in November 06 and her determination to study the election system in her state and document its strengths and weaknesses. To that end, SOS Bowen decided to conduct a Top to Bottom (T2B) Review of the equipment and software used in her state. She contracted with University of California at Berkeley to do the study. There were four key areas studied: Software Code review, Documentation review Red Team penetration study and Accessibility review. Further information about the results of the T2B Review can be found at: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vsr.htm

Read the rest of this entry »

October 26, 2007

140,000+ ballots tossed in UK due to ‘avoidable errors’

Posted in Elections, paper ballots, voting tagged , , at 2:46 pm by bluebanshee

The scale of the disenfranchisement in recent elections in Scotland is breathtaking … 146,000 voters had their ballots discarded because of errors in marking the paper. To put this into perspective, this is the equivalent of the entire population of a mid-sized American city.  The number of voters in Scotland whose ballots were simply tossed is roughly equal to the residents of Pasadena, CA, Hollywood, FL, Kansas City, KS or Eugene, OR.    It’s a truly  amazing perspective that  the dry figures alone don’t begin to express.      [Source:  http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108676.html%5D

And there is no real apology from the architect of the disaster, just some remarks about lessons learned. [Note: the complete story can be found at http://tinyurl.com/2gcxsf]

“I really am sorry if people were denied their vote because of decisions that people made and because of any failure of administration …

“I acknowledge the Scotland Office’s role in the overall process and can say now that we have lessons to be learned from the systemic failures that occurred.”

said Scottish Secretary Des Browne, representing the British Labor Party government of Gordon Brown. But members of the two leading opposition parties saw it somewhat differently.

David Mundell, the shadow Scottish Secretary, said: “This is an election that saw more than 146,000 rejected ballots as a result of a catalogue of avoidable errors, failures of oversight and a fragmented approach to the management of the elections.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen added: “Organising the Scottish Parliament elections was one of the few significant tasks that the generously resourced Scotland Office has had to do over the last few years and yet the majority of the failures highlighted in this report were its remit.”

One would think that a do-over would be called for — having a new election so that more than 146,000 would have the opportunity to make their voices heard. But, sadly, no, that is not the outcome. There was an official investigation and an official report on what went wrong but the results of the flawed election stand. Just as in the U.S., when there is blatant error and proven disenfranchisement, the results of the election are allowed to stand. At least the Scots got an official government inquiry with recommendations for changes — this is more than Ohio voters in 2004 got — or Florida voters in Palm Beach with the infamous “butterfly” ballot in 2000. And then there were the 18,000 “undervotes” in the Jennings-Buchanan race in 2006 in Florida.

It seems that bad ballot design leading to voter confusion is something that is found on both sides of the Atlantic. The difference is that in the UK there is an official government inquiry and a list of changes to be adopted that would prevent future problems. This is far better than the “blame the voter” approach and lack of official investigation on this side of the pond.

But it still would have been better to have had a re-vote.

For those inclined to read the original report, the results of the UK government inquiry can be found here: Official Report on Scottish Election

October 24, 2007

Parallel universes — the public vs. “public officials”

Posted in Election Center, Elections, Florida voting, Hr 811, Maryland voting, paper ballots, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , , , , at 4:17 am by bluebanshee

Voters in Maryland want to fund a switch to paper ballots by more than two to one, according to a poll by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies. This is an interesting result since Maryland was the first state to switch to paperless DRE’s and therefore voters in that state have the most experience with having their votes counted on non-auditable non-recountable less-than-transparent computers (although the Director of Elections in MD  seems to be unaware that a machine that runs the Windows operating system like the Diebold voting machines used in her state are really computers). Now with a 95 percent confidence level and a 3.5 percent margin of error the views of Marylanders are known: dump the Diebold boat anchors and buy optical scan machines. Then the voters will be able to fill out their own ballot using pen an paper and verify their selections before putting it in the ballot box. You can find the survey results in the attached Word doc.Maryland Poll Report

Maryland will be following the lead of Florida (notorious for hanging, pregnant and dangling chads in 2000) , with recently moved to replace their DRE’s with optical scan systems under the leadership of Republican Governor Charlie Crist. This is a bi-partisan movement toward paper since Democrat O’Malley is the resident of the statehouse in Maryland. Read the rest of this entry »

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