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07-04-12  Judge threatens gag order on lawsuit to restore ballot privacy -

Don't be confused, and don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't talk about this.

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We have a right to BOTH. Some election officials have been conflating these two issues, claiming that if we examine ballots we can see how people voted. Now, this raises a stunning question: If this is so, that means that election officials and vendors can also figure out how you voted.

We all need to grab a cleaver and chop these two rights into the two distinct rights that they are. The right to inspect; the right to privacy.


RIGHT TO INSPECT - The public, in exercising its right to self govern, and under principles of Freedom of Information, has a right to examine the original evidence (the ballots) to authenticate reported results in elections.

But Washington State has denied 21 separate requests from citizens to inspect the ballots; the state of New Hampshire secretly excluded ballots from its Right to Know law in 2003; and Colorado election officials fought all the way to the state supreme court trying to hide ballots from the public (they lost; the court affirmed citizen right to inspect ballots).

Ballots are anonymous. Or at least, that's the way it's supposed to be.

RIGHT TO SECRET BALLOT - The public also has a right to a secret, anonymous ballot.

However, now we are learning that election officials and vendors believe they have the right to know how you voted. They have authorized unique marks to be placed on some or all ballots, and they have exploited their own intrusion into your privacy to deny you the right to examine ballots.


Two lawsuits are taking place right now seeking to remove prying eyes of vendors and election officials from your vote.

Litigation led by The Citizen Center and sponsored by Black Box Voting's "Colorado Project" seeks to stop election officials from placing unique bar codes on voter ballots. Of course, the public has been mostly unaware that this is going on, so a threatened gag order from the judge on this case is a little creepy. Public education to let everyone know that political privacy is being comprised is crucial, and a gag order has no place in this fight.

In a second case, Tim White, part of a San Juan County, Washington group fighting to restore ballot privacy in White v Reed, is fighting to directly challenge the unique identifiers on ballots.

And in a third effort, not yet in court, citizens in New Hampshire have been investigating the secretive, and apparently unconstitutional, 2003 action by the state to exclude ballots from Right to Know.

One voting machine vendor, Hart Intercivic, has been especially brazen about printing unique bar codes on each ballot, a dead cinch for stripping out data on how you voted with absentee voting. Hart dominates most Colorado counties (where absentee voting is approaching 50% of all votes), and Washington State, which is now 100% vote by mail.

Though vendors and election officials claim they don't look, in the same breath they claim we can't examine ballots because they aren't private. But they can't have it both ways. There is no special class of election elites and vendors possessing the right to see how we voted!


The public has BOTH the right to examine ballots AND to have privacy of the ballot.

Here's a link to the article on the gag order threat:

Oh, un-gag me.

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06-15-12   35% purge rates, Now 11,000 missing voter histories

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The mysterious disappearance of voting histories for 488 registered voters in Shelby County, discovered by Black Box Voting, attracted much attention and has been referred to the US Dept. of Justice for investigation by US Rep. Steve Cohen.

Two important new developments:

1) An internal analysis conducted by the Tennessee Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee's voter protection team has found that more than 11,000 voters statewide, who are still active on the voter file, have had parts of their voting history disappear.

2) In new investigative research by BLACK BOX VOTING, examining what actually happens to voters wrongfully classified as "inactive", it was found that 35 percent of these were actually purged (cancelled from the voter rolls).

Failure to credit voters with voting causes an acceleration in the purge process, and can place these voters under greater burdens to retain voting status. The BBV analysis of what actually happens to those who are incorrectly accelerated for purge indicates that of 1,638 active, voting voters incorrectly shifted to "inactive" status in 2006, about 65 percent managed to re-activate themselves by 2009, but 35 percent, even though they did not qualify for purge, were cancelled by 2009 with the code "no vote in 2 federal elections."

Records show that this set of 1,638 voters deemed inactive in 2006 HAD voted in the 2004 general election; also, they had not moved, died, been convicted of a felony, been duplicates, had incorrect social security numbers, or changed name or any other information. Thus, these voters did not qualify for transfer to "Inactive" status in 2006, which led directly to purge processes in 2007 and 2009.


In summary: Black Box Voting investigation on 488 disappearing voter histories corroborated ... and more:

"Data analysts came to this conclusion by comparing two separate, statewide voter file updates provided by the office of the Coordinator of Elections. The files ]] released in December 2011 and May 2012 respectively ]] contain updated voting records for every registered voter in the state of Tennessee. Excluding purged voters, all of the voting history included in the December 2011 voter file should be included in the May 2012 voter file. However, a side by side comparison of the voter files found the following discrepancies between the December and May updates:

- 7,036 voters lost their 2010 Voting History;
- 5,993 voters lost their 2008 Voting History;
- 1,771 voters lost both their 2010 and 2008 Voting History;
- 43 Voters lost their entire voting history.

..."the data shows the problem is widespread, affecting 11,258 voters in 69 different counties in just the last five months."


In 2012, approximately 150,000 Shelby County voters were transferred to "Inactive" status, despite full knowledge by Shelby County Administrator Richard Holden that Shelby County's voter lists are inaccurate.

Holden initially denied the now-confirmed problem of 488 missing histories, claiming on television that "Bev Harris just wants to sell a book". More disturbing, when Rep. Steve Cohen discovered 40,000 missing histories in a file provided by Shelby County Elections, Holden claimed he had checked the file himself and implied that Randy Wade (a popular Memphis public servant and former candidate for sheriff, who works for Cohen), had somehow altered the records, which had been provided to Wade by Holden on a read-only disc.

The truth is, it's time for Holden's removal. You can't have an elections official who can't be trusted, and you can't have vital, federally required election records keep showing up flat wrong. Earlier this year (as shown in Election Commission minutes), Holden admitted that he knew of approximately 2300 voters not credited with voting in 2010, but could not identify hundreds of them. But that didn't stop him from purging 36,000 voters. In his zeal to inactivate and remove, neither accuracy nor collateral damage seem to matter.

But back to bad data on voter lists: The rules for purging voters who do not vote require a mailing, FOLLOWED BY failure to vote in two consecutive federal elections, followed by a second mailing.

In order to evaluate how many voters who were incorrectly transferred to "Inactive" status are actually cancelled, you have to wait until approximately three years after the Inactive status took effect; those voters for whom records show no voting history are collected up, typically after two November federal elections (which take place every two years, on even-numbered years). They are then, typically in the next (odd-numbered) year, sent a NON-FORWARDABLE mailer. If that mailer comes back to the elections office, or if they do not respond to it, they are purged.

So I examined the issue of actual harm by going back to a 2005 database, provided by Regina Newman, an attorney and one of the plaintiffs in the 2010 Shelby County election lawsuit.

This database contained the voting histories for the 2004 federal general election. It also contained the "status" -- Active or Inactive.

I then obtained a voter history list provided to a former Shelby County elections commissioner, Shep Wilbun, from discovery documents in a 2006 election lawsuit. This file omitted federal general elections altogether, but did contain voter address and status.

I separated out a total of 1,638 voters who were in both the 2005 and 2006 voter lists; had voted in the 2004 General election, and had been deemed "Active" in 2005, but were transferred to "Inactive" in 2006, but had no other complicating factors (no felonies, still alive, didn't move, not a duplicate, etc.)

These 1,638 voters did not qualify for "Inactive" status.


I then obtained the 2009 voter database containing records for all active, inactive and cancelled voters, dated September 2009. From the list of 1,638 voters, I found 568 who were cancelled, and removed from the voter list, with the "status reason: "Cancel - Inactive Status for 2 Fed Gen".

Thus, of the 1,638 voters wrongfully deemed "Inactive", 35 percent were actually cancelled for not having a voting history in two federal general elections. I could not confirm this lack of voting on any of the dozen or so voter history databases I have dated 2006-2009, for one simple reason: Shelby County has an odd habit of omitting the crucial "federal general election" histories for ALL voters altogether when it prints the voter history files. The last two federal general elections keep getting left off the reports. Consistently. Making it impossible to either corroborate the "no vote" status or to compare successive files to see if the histories are disappearing.

Keep in mind that the state uploads from Shelby County frequently, so an eroding history inside Shelby County will end up eroded on the state database as well.

Now, as for the remaining 1,070 "inactive" (not!) voters: They had to jump through extra hoops to remain on the list.

- 552 re-activated their registration with a confirmation mailing.
- 279 re-registered.
- 201 were reactivated by casting a vote.
- 48 were kept inactive with a note that a mailer had been returned.

It does wrong to voters to capriciously subject a set of them to extra steps. But we have twin compounding problems:

1) If voter histories later erode away for some voters, they go into end-stage purge mode. All it takes to remove them is a non-forwardable mailer.

2) I have been contacted by a credible source within the U.S. Post Office, who reports that this nonforwardable mailer is being spotted with truncated, that is, non-deliverable addressing. I have traced the source of these mailings to a private Austin, Texas-based company called Business Ink Corporation. This firm has a branch in Memphis, and according to research provided by Susan Pynchon of Florida Fair Elections Coalition, is reported to handle mailing business for 500 counties.

I don't have standing under Tennessee's restrictive public records laws to do public records examinations, but based on successive instances of (1) incorrect transfers to "Inactive" status; (2) evaporating voter histories and (3) reported truncated addresses in the non-forwardable mailers, I recommend the following step to detect bogus addressing:

- Visit the election office and request an inspection of all returned notices. Look up the street addresses shown on the actual return item itself. Here are examples of truncated addresses: (Should be): 1456 South Forest Glen; (Truncated): 1456 South; (Should be): 123 Marionnetta; (Truncated): 123 Marion

If true that nonforwardable election mailers are being sent with undeliverable, truncated addresses in Memphis, this may be happening elsewhere, so this election protection action should be expanded to other states.


While not as dramatic as the extreme racial and political skew shown in my "488 missing histories" story, voters with wrongful shift to inactive status did not follow a normal distribution.

The overall racial distribution for voters who show up both in 2005 and 2006 databases is:
Black: 38%
White: 40%
No Racial Identifier: 22%

The racial distribution for voters incorrectly transferred to Inactive status was
Black: 43%
White: 31%
Total skew: 14% (5% over + 9% under normal distribution)


- Obtain and keep successive files to help detect voter history erosion

- Absolutely require that EVERY voter history database include the fields for the past two federal general elections.

- Check all returned address cards for all cancelled voters to make sure they were correctly addressed.

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Four hundred and eighty-eight voters, all but four lifelong Democrats, and nearly all Black, had their voting history erased by Shelby County election workers, setting them up for purge from the voter list. These selective alterations appear to target the race of US Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN-09).

To alter voting histories for a selected set of voters, putting them at risk for strategically selected and improper removal from the voting list, is to demean them, to treat them as if they have less worth as human beings than they do. And to demean them is to wrong them. What Shelby County's election staff has done, in altering the records, is morally wrong.

The full list of voters whose voting records have been altered is here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/82058.html -- If you know someone on this list, please let them know about this.


Shelby County voters owe a debt of gratitude to Darrick "D" Harris (no relation). This information has come to light because, when I spoke with Harris by telephone recently, he expressed concern to me about his discovery that his voting history had somehow evaporated.

An active Democratic voter and political consultant, Harris had copies of voter databases containing his own voter history. He knows he votes regularly, but as of Oct. 2011, the voter list reports that he has never voted -- not once!


When voters fail to vote for two federal general elections, a purge process is initiated.

Your voter history should never vary. If it says you voted in the Nov. 2008 presidential election in 2010, in 2011 it should not report that you DIDN'T vote in 2008. The only way the database can alter your voting history is if someone changes the information in the database.

D. Harris did not just have his 2008 voting history erased. Every vote he had ever cast, going back to 2000, had been erased. I took the official Shelby County voter list, filedate 2010 (obtained by court order in a lawsuit) and compared it with the voter history list from 2011.

488 voters had their histories erased.


Of these, according to the 2011 database, 430 are Black. It is against the law to alter voter records. It is a civil rights violation to select Black voter records for alteration.


Last year, I reported that in Shelby County, they have been diluting the racial identifier so that thousands of Black voters are now reported as "other." Twenty-four of the voters with histories erased had also had their racial identifiers removed. In fact, 454 out of 488 on the erased list are Black, and only four are White, leaving all the others marked "other." Most likely, out of 488 erasures, 484 are Black.


Only fiver voters in the erased list show that they have ever voted Republican, but you'll notice that I listed that as just four in my opening paragraph. That's because Shelby County has also been altering party choice in its voter records. It is possible that Ruth Ann Phelps, one of the five so-called Republicans, never voted Republican at all.

Ruth Ann Phelps is reported as selecting a Republican ballot in the May 2010 primary, but her records show she is a lifelong Democrat. I found hundreds of lifelong Democrats whose voter history preference was altered in the May and August 2010 elections.

Phelps is an interesting case. She used to be one of the key employees at Shelby County Elections. She at one time had a password to the GEMS election management system, but the audit log for the GEMS database shows that Ruth Ann Phelps password was revoked in June 2010. Phelps at one time worked at the main elections operation center, where she had access to voter list maintenance systems, but in 2010 she was transferred to a downtown office. By 2011, her voter history had been erased. Right around this time, she retired.


Not only are almost all the altered records Democrat, not only are they almost all Black, but every single one of them is in Congressional District 09.


I have heard that Cohen's seat is not considered at risk, though with redistricting and a well financed opponent, and paperless touchscreen voting machines, and selective removal of voters from his voting base, who knows?

I have also heard that the most astute political strategists focus on changing not just the weather (short term election results), but the climate (long term voting environment).

At any rate, it doesn't matter what Cohen's chances are. The rights that were violated are those of Shelby County VOTERS, who have a right to vote for the candidate of their choice, and who are entitled to accurate records.

And I have a question: How widespread is this problem? Are there other counties where voter histories are strategically eroding? I have spoken with both Democratic and Republican election integrity enthusiasts, and one of my frustrations is that the Democrats count on their VAN system and the Republicans count on their VOTER VAULT system to keep them up to date on voter list data. Neither of these systems is the real, working data. It should be possible to detect alterations like this in other counties, but since purges are performed using the actual county database, skip the VAN and VOTER VAULT: Examine the actual lists. As we see in Shelby County, there is no reason to believe that the raw data matches VAN or VOTER VAULT. The raw data is getting altered from time to time.

To detect this kind of alteration, a database created and saved in 2010 should be compared for changes with more recent iterations, but the actual county database should be used for the exam, rather than relying on proprietary party databases.


Altering the records is illegal, and a civil rights violation, regardless of whether voters can halt the purge process by responding to a letter. Taking the position that this is a minor matter, because voters wrongfully targeted for purge can always reinstate themselves by responding to a purge letter is like saying false arrest doesn't matter, because you can always prove you are innocent.

And there is such a thing as justice.

"Oppressors do all they can to prevent use of the category of justice; they do all they can to cast the situation in terms of good behavior and bad behaviorsometimes our frameworks of conviction lead us to discount the significance of what we see and hear. We regard the one before us as a candidate for charity, should we be so inclined, or we insist that his condition is his own fault."

"I heard the Afrikaners say to the black and coloreds, "We are good people, if you just behave, we will give you most of what you are asking for."

-- Justice: Rights and Wrongs, by Nicholas Wolterstorff. (Second passage in reference to pre-apartheid South Africa.)

What happened to the strategically selected voters in Shelby County, whose records were altered to put them at special risk for purge, is a moral wrong.

And it is illegal.

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For 10 years, I've been watching a trend to manipulate elections through premature "call" of the race by a media outlet. See below for predictions on what may follow a media call for either candidate in Massachusetts.

The media "call" can be manipulated because the public doesn't know that projected winners come from a system that is not even a governmental source! In fact, the media "calls" elections based on data from just one media outlet -- usually a quiet little division of the Associated Press that occupies a little corner somewhere and answers very few questions. Volunteers call in result reports to the corporation. The reports are often inaccurate (see below for examples). The names of these volunteers are not part of the public record. We will never get the list of names for those who will call in the 351 numbers which will result in "calling the election" for Tuesday's Massachusetts election.


If Tuesday's Massachusetts special senate election is "called" for Democrat Martha Coakley, expect to see a rush to install her, copying a Republican tactic in 2006 whereby San Diego's Brian Bilbray was seated by the US House of Representatives before tens of thousands of votes were even counted. Yes, the Senate can override the actual election results, or pre-empt the real results, and pre-emptively install a candidate based on a media prediction, or a bunch of unofficial tallies, or whatever they want. It can be done. It has been done. And if the media calls the race for Coakley, expect to see it done again.

If the race is "called" for Republican Scott Brown, expect to see a rush from Republican lawyers to claim that Brown has the right to vote immediately, instead of Paul Kirk who is current interim successor to Ted Kennedy. If that fails, look for an attempt to force abstention on the Massachusetts vote while stall tactics play out.

Sixty votes are needed. If Coakley is called and installed, they've got the 60. If Brown is called and stalled, they've got 59. Either way, the media "call" on Massachusetts is going to be under exceptional political pressure.

No matter where you stand on the controversial healthcare bill, be aware that what you see reported on Election Night is not only not "official" or "final", but is not even real, and may not even be the numbers written down by poll workers or printed out by the voting machine.


In the recent controversial NY-23 race, volunteers in multiple wards called in zeroes instead of votes for Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman. There WERE votes, but they called in zero and later said oops. This was not a plausible oops, because the zeroes were not called in randomly for various races, nor did the zeroes spread themselves among different candidates. Doug Hoffman had false zeroes reported while votes were called in for the others. Incorrect figures provided to the media resulted in a margin which appeared thousands of votes larger than it actually was, goading Hoffman to concede prematurely.

In the Florida 2000 presidential election, impossible numbers were provided to the media producing exactly the margin needed to "call" the race for George W. Bush. Minus 16,000 votes were reported for Al Gore, and (not knowing the margin was false), Gore conceded privately to Bush and nearly conceded to the nation.

In New York City's 2008 presidential primary, more than 50 wards falsely reported "zero" votes for Obama (but not for Hillary), creating a superficially low result on Election Night.

In Maine's 2009 election, the media reported called-in results for Lewiston and Augusta, two of Maine's largest cities, for seven ballot questions each with two possible choices (7x2=14 results per city), a total of 28 vote results for the two cities. Not a single one of the 28 results was correct, and eight were off by large margins.

In New England, even preliminary governmental results from each municipality are not compiled for a day or so. Results are typically sent by courier or brought by the police to the secretary of state. The results you see on the news are therefore not government results at all, but results generated by unnamed volunteers (or sometimes paid part timers) working for a corporation.

The media "call game" is a political game that can be played dirty, and in Massachusetts, the media "call" could ultimately control national healthcare policy.

Usually, these premature calls can be unraveled if they are incorrect because elections aren't certified for several days and winning candidates aren't installed into office for a month or more. But in Massachusetts, because of the special situation with an imminent vote on a controversial bill combined with a temporary senator, the media call can create an undemocratic mess.


When the media calls an election based on non-governmental verbal information from unnamed volunteers, it displaces legitimate election procedures. Media volunteers can -- and HAVE -- issued false numbers in order to get the media to call an election for a candidate. The US Congress can -- and HAS -- installed new voting members of congress before the votes are counted or the contest is determined.

If a media outlet calls the Massachusetts race based on verbal reports from names that are never disclosed, we need to call this what it is: Journalistic malpractice, and a danger to democracy.

If what you see Tuesday night ain't right, be prepared to speak up. Or shout loudly. It's our duty.

"It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." - Samuel Adams (1722-1803)

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11-03-08  Black Box Voting was asked by YouTube to prepare an easy to follow public education program for Protecting the Count on ELECTION NIGHT and the days that follow. We collaborated with Videothevote.org and Election Defense Alliance. YouTube has created a Channel called Video Your Vote. The Black Box Voting Protect the Count series contains important information and several video clips never before made public.

Please distribute immediately and as widely as you can. EASY INSTRUCTIONS: View the videos that best fit your location.

1. Protect the Count - most locations in America(4 min)
Takes 90 minutes on Election Night. You can even go out after polls have closed. Please also view video # 3, because it shows what to look for to identify tampered poll tapes and the kinds of small errors on tapes that can appear with memory card tampering. Upload any video you take to http://www.videothevote.org - Post link or comments for what you found in the state and jurisdiction at http://www.blackboxvoting.org

2. Protect the Count - Absentee / Central Count (8 min)
(Applies to 13 states with CENTRALLY COUNTED ballots and/or HEAVY ABSENTEE VOTING)
These are the most challenging Protect the Count locations.

3. Protect the Count - New England / New Hampshire(5 min)
If you live anywhere in New England and can drive to any voting machine location in New Hampshire to observe and video poll closing, please do so. If you live anywhere in America that has polling place results tapes, please look at this video to see what tampered tapes look like.
Contact Protect the Count - New Hampshire organizers at protectthevote@gmail.com
You can view the list for which New Hampshire locations use voting machines here:

4. Protect the Count - New York (9 min)
New Yorkers are probably in the best shape for Election 2008, but not for long. This shows the details of how the counting of the lever machines proceeds after polls close, and gives you the details of the fight New Yorkers will have on your hands in 2009.

I'm counting on you to be as proactive as possible to fight for your voting rights. The actions in the Protect the Count series are self-serve, simple to do, and designed for just grabbing a neighbor or a buddy and taking action. Don't worry about blanketing every area or organizing the whole state. Just pick a place and DO it. I guarantee it will be a fascinating and important experience, and could provide THE crucial evidence in the very undesirable event that the election turns out not to be fair.

Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting

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USA - Diebold/Premier says it's too late to fix a new voting machine 2-minute warning and "time-out" feature, which can kick voters off the machine, forcing them to accept a provisional ballot. At least 15 voters were booted off the machine in Johnson County, Kansas recently, and Diebold/Premier says this is due to a software upgrade which sets a timer on voter inactivity. According to the company, the machines receiving the upgrade are used in 34 states and 1,700 jurisdictions.*

*This seems inflated, though. Unless the optical scan machines are also outfitted with a 2-minute warning, which doesn't make sense, it would seem that this should only apply to the DRE states and locations.


A study on DRE allocation from Ohio indicates that it takes an average of four to nine minutes per voter to cast an average-length ballot, and ballots in many locations will be longer than average this fall. Each additional ballot question can add 30 seconds to the time a voter must monopolize the DRE.

Diebold's 2-minute timeout kicks in when the voter does not make a selection quickly enough. (Welcome to 21st Century literacy tests.)

According to a Sept. 10 Kansas City Star Article, Johnson County upgraded touchscreen voting machines with a new software release from Diebold subsidiary Premier Election Solutions Inc. Buried in the release notes was a mention of a new "time out" feature that makes the voting machine eject a voter card if there has been no activity for 150 seconds. The machine emits a warning sound at 120 seconds.

You can read the full article here:

You can add your insights and ask questions here:

The Black Box Voting TOOL KIT 2008
( http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit2008.pdf )
recommends that citizens, like you, obtain the voting machine allocation plans for your jurisdiction. This is going to become critical for locations that use touch-screens, or DREs. Unlike optical scan voting machines, DREs require voters to monopolize a machine the whole time they are voting.

The Ohio study linked below provides concrete guidelines for how many machines are needed:

(3,023 KB)


They activate more checkout lanes, don't they? Retail outlets have developed methods to study how customer lines are affected by both number of items and volume of customers. The same kinds of analysis techniques were used to study DRE voting machine allocations with number of ballot questions (items in the cart, so to speak) and number of voters. Retail outlets learned the hard way that the wrong calculations on active checkout lanes can produce "exploding lines" and angry customers.

As the study points out, lines literally do explode when a certain threshold is met.

DRE voting machines take a time certain for each vote cast, and that time increases dramatically with each ballot question added. By all accounts, the November election will bring in record numbers of voters.


If 2-minute time-outs and record voter participation aren't challenging enough, try this on for size: The above study -- and all the others we've seen -- FAIL TO CONTEMPLATE THE EFFECT OF CLEANING THE VOTER LISTS.

In 2004, a list of 100 voters in a state like Indiana had only about 75 real, qualified, live and kicking voters on it. All over America, states have been cleaning the dead wood off their lists, with millions of purges in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Though the word "purge" has taken on an aura of disenfranchisement, and indeed purges have been used to disenfranchise eligible voters, what happened after 2004 was in large part cleansing the list of voters who had moved away or died. 2004 lists were chock-full of names that couldn't show up if they tried. Not so in 2008!

In 2004, 100 voters might really mean 75 people but in 2008, 100 voters means 100 people.

Add this increased density -- same number of registered voters = more people who actually exist -- into the mix of 2-minute time clocks and exploding DRE lines. The projections for how many DRE voting machines are needed to prevent long lines were based on 2004 voter list density, not 2008 voter list density.

This means the estimates for voting machine allocation are still too low.


The Help America Vote Act, HAVA, successfully strong-armed the nation into getting DRE voting machines. HAVA didn't cover the full cost, and costs keep coming, strapping local jurisdictions into killing off neighborhood polling places and dipping into the general fund to cover losses.

HAVA didn't fund buying more voting machines, so now that we have more voters headed to the booth, we can't buy more voting machines.

Now you know why elections officials are out there like contest hawkers at the carnival pitching absentee and early voting: There aren't enough machines for the voting population, they can't buy any more, and the only way to avoid the train wreck is to push people into absentee and early votes. Those have other problems, which we'll address in another article.

Welcome to SPEED VOTING. Aargh.


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Section 4 of our concise TOOL KIT 2008 deals with the need to test out database quirks and matching problems in the massive new centralized voter list databases. Typos, variations in whether middle initial, Jr., and suffixes like "II" can affect whether the database can find you!

Officials in Wisconsin did just that, and here's what happened:

WISCONSIN - System fails to match voter registration info for more than half of Wisconsin's chief elections officials.

In fact, in a checkup five days before this week's election, four out of six members of the state Government Accountability Board's members failed when their names were run through new voter identification checks as a test, the board said.

You can read more about that here:

According to a release by the Brennan Center for Justice, Wisconsin has now dropped the match requirements.

You can read more about that here:


We should expect to see similar problems in more states. At particular risk are states that require an exact match between the voter list and other government lists. Florida is one such state.

* * * * *

To obtain a copy of Tool Kit 2008, download for free here: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit2008.pdf
or e-mail and we'll mail you a hard copy.

Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057

* * * * *
to remove, hit "reply" and write "remove" in the subject line.
to change address, hit "reply" and write "change address" in the subject line.

08/24/08 Widest possible distribution needed. Please do spread this in blogs, etc:

This post will no doubt produce howls of objection for the vendors that read it. Black Box Voting is encouraging all individuals with a technical background to search and apply for temporary tech ELECTION SUPPORT jobs for the November 2008 election.

Hiring is underway for temporary technicians to help with voting machines this fall. Vendor dependence is undermining the structure of US elections, as described here in the new report by VotersUnite.org:


We want to see You, the People, enter into the vendor mix directly.


In a presidential election year, voting machine vendors will hire and train thousands of technicians staffed around the country. For example, anywhere that Election Systems & Software has a machine, they are under contract to provide an on-site support tech. Hart Intercivic, Premier (Diebold), and Sequoia also use Election Day support technicians.

Temporary election tech support jobs have been spotted on hotjobs.com, rollouts.com, and local tech temp firms like (in 2006) DecisionOne. The tech services firm may be a subcontractor for the big four voting machine companies. Sometimes you'll find the positions advertised by your local county.

Sites like Rollouts.com have you register in their E-tech database. They search for techs based on skill set and area. There isn't much in the way of a skill set needed for the election projects.


Anyone with tech skills interested in safeguarding the November election is encouraged to register at technical recruiting sites and apply for any election-related projects.

CONSIDER ASKING FOR TIME OFF ON YOUR FULL TIME JOB TO DO THIS.  This November, there may be no better way to watch the behind-the-scenes process than to be a stagehand, so to speak.

It is not the vendor, and not the government, that has the right to elections information, it is the PUBLIC. Citizens have inalienable rights to sovereignty over the government they created and pay for. These rights cannot be honored without mechanisms to see all information related to elections, and ultimately, to have control processes that honor citizen sovereignty.

That said, it ain't gonna happen this November. Therefore it is entirely appropriate, patriotic, and important, for citizens to apply for temporary positions as voting machine technicians to provide inside public oversight for the process.

There will be nondisclosure agreements, which are not appropriate at all for public elections, but it's a reality now that vendors are trespassing on citizen right to know. There may be issues that arise which the public clearly has a right to know. When that happens, a decision must be made.


We have already been in communications with other patriotic volunteers who have successfully obtained these positions in the past, and are doing this for November.

THERE ARE ALWAYS WAYS TO DEAL WITH IMPORTANT ISSUES IF THEY ENDANGER THE PUBLIC GOOD. You, the People, are needed on the inside of the elections industry this November.

This is a public service bulletin from Black Box Voting.

Black Box Voting Tool Kit 2008 - free download here: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit2008.pdf

Empower more election watchdog actions:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057


07-22-08  Permission to reprint, excerpt, and distribute granted. Complete, Concise Tool Kit booklet: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.pdf

Top 5 things you can do

1. Get involvedpg 5-8
2. Hook up with experienced groupspg 9
Freedom of Information Tipspg 10-11
3. Protect & defend deceptive practicespg 12-24
4. Protect & defend voter listspg 25-37
Protect & defend vote countspg 38-71

(much more here: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.pdf )
(comment section here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/76548.html )


In the end, this isn't about getting your favorite presidential candidate elected. This is about more permanent solutions: getting durable, ongoing citizen-based controls to oversee all elections. Elections ultimately control your daily life: your property rights, roads, the public safety, the justice system, and ultimately, the economy, your freedom, and your health...


All states have open records laws. You have the right to see any document (with a limited number of exceptions). Part of every public official's job is providing public records. They know it, they're used to it, there's nothing confrontational about asking to see a record, people do it all the time. Here is a wonderful compendium of summarized public records laws for each state:


Here is a useful site to generate professional-looking records requests:


It helps to see examples. You can find hundreds of actual public records requests, including the documents provided in response to them and the occasional back-and-forth between requestor and public officials, by going to http://www.blackboxvoting.org. Use the search box at the top of the home page. Enter "records request" and it will find pages with examples for you.



WATCH FOR: Last minute changes, polling place consolidation, confusing ballot design, shorting voting machines, malfunctioning machines, electronic poll book problems, supplies missing, not enough election workers, provisional ballot roadblocks, deceptive phone calls / fliers, deceptive ballot configurations, race left off some ballots, deceptive translations, snoop-friendly ballots, improper absentee ballot / envelope design, incorrect mail ballot insertions / delivery problems, cheat peeks

Part of election protection is knowing what to watch for. These things happen. The first time you see it, you can't quite believe it. That disbelief prevents citizens from taking crucial, immediate action. Elections are time sensitive. Keep your eyes wide open, vow to respond quickly and effectively.


A Santa Clara County, California man was told by his online polling place finder that his address was in Gibbon, Iowa. If he had checked just as he was running out the door to vote, he would have experienced a delay.

During the 2008 primary, Black Box Voting tested the Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Web site "polling place-finder" using the addresses on our own donor list. Dozens of valid addresses showed a polling place not found message.

Local newspapers often print polling place locations, and you can call your local elections division. Don't wait till the last minute, and before heading out the door, double-check the location of your polling place and help others find theirs.


Areas with substantial non-English speaking populations are required to provide voter information in appropriate languages. In one California location, the Spanish language voter information provided the wrong date for an election. In a New Mexico election, the Spanish description of a ballot item was so misleading that new ballots had to be mailed, leading to confusion over which ballot to use. In a Connecticut election, instructions which in English said "Vote for any two" said, in Spanish: "Vote for any OF the two", a translation which will literally cut votes in half for Spanish language voters.

It's important for language minority advocacy groups to review the non-English ballots, voter pamphlets and other election materials as far in advance of the election as possible. If you find a deceptive translation, find out who is responsible for checking translations to make sure they are accurate and what firm did the translation. Demand correction and report to all stakeholders and advocacy groups, including the appropriate ethnic advocacy groups.


Early and absentee voting provide opportunities for "Cheat peeks" illegal peeks at results before Election Day.

In Pima County, Arizona audit logs show that early results were run in a controversial election. Candidates spend heavily on pre-election polling. Political polls sample a few hundred registered voters, who hopefully provide truthful answers to questions designed to elicit how they really will vote. Imagine now that one candidate (but not the other) gets access to something much more valuable: not hundreds, but tens of thousands of voters; not answers that are probably truthful, but the actual vote data.

No one insider or outsider should scan a single ballot before the end of Election Day. Some state laws specify that the ballots can be run through the tabulator if no one looks at the results (Hah!) and in Oregon, apparently, "insiders" can look if they don't tell. (Hah!)

GET AUDIT LOGS: Tabulator audit logs will show the cheat peeks, although insiders can alter the audit logs. You can request copies of the audit logs daily. If the logs themselves have not been tampered with, you will find an evidence trail showing when results reports were run.


HELP WITH: Register people to vote, confirm registration, save evidence, get photo ID;
WATCH FOR: Slowdowns or crashes in statewide voter registration databases, racial profiling, failure to enter new or updated registrations into the database timely, names left off list (no explanation), category switching, incorrect online feedback, problems with hyphenated names & typos, impossible numbers;
ADVANCED TOOLS: Statistics, voter list tracking

Register people to vote. Help people confirm that they are registered as an "active voter" (see distinctions between active, inactive, pending and cancelled). Get voters on "inactive" status reactivated. Save communications from the elections office as evidence. Help people get photo ID. Urge everyone to bring it to the polling place, whether or not the state requires it.

BUT IT'S NOT GOING TO BE ENOUGH TO REGISTER VOTERS AND HELP THEM VOTE. We already know that systematic voter disenfranchisement has been part of the game plan in the past. This year let's get off the defense and play some offense, and don't expect the old playbook to be repeated tit for tat.

You may have heard about voter list purging. Figures vary, but estimates of the number of voters wrongfully purged from 2000 Florida voter rolls range from 50,000 to over 90,000. Wrongfully purged voters were disproportionately Black. These eligible voters were not allowed to vote at all.

In 2008 for the first time, all 50 states will be using new statewide computerized voter registration databases. Most of what we're going to see in 2008 will not be called "purging." This year, we're going to find voter disenfranchisement in the statewide voter lists, especially in the "PENDING" area (new voter registrations not entered into the system, and registrations stuck in "pending" status); "CHANGE CATEGORIES," as voters are switched from one voter registration status to another, registrations are updated, and in TYPOS AND DATABASE QUIRKS that make database searches fail...

This year instead of 50-90,000 voters purged, we are looking at the potential to see FIVE TO 10 MILLION voter registrations stalled, changed, hit with typos or miscategorized.

These are exceptionally unwieldy problems and it is difficult to come up with meaningful citizen oversight actions, but with over 100 million voters on these new computerized lists, we need to try.

Black Box Voting received eye witness reports from three large counties in 2004 indicating that thousands of registrations were not entered before the election (even though election officials claimed they were). Insiders told us this was due to staffing shortages and/or the refusal of county officials to pay for overtime or temporary help. Here are excerpts from an e-mail received by Black Box Voting from one of the temporary employees hired to do this:

"This year I answered the call to help the elections division enter all of the new registrations. It is my understanding that there was an entire warehouse of them somewhere and they were planning to hire a hundred people to enter them. Here is what happened:

The training began. The person in charge of that was on pain medication and my training turned out to be, well, totally wrong. I was taught to enter a specific code for certain kinds of registrations but sure enough, within a day we were having an "emergency" meeting about that particular code. She apologized for teaching the code incorrectly and we all moved on. We received no training materials, after the apology for teaching the code wrong we were given a very shoddy word document explaining a few things. There is no written manual.

The registration updates were about 3 months behind. We basically lied about when they were entered. If the form was submitted on say, the 1st of November, we were supposed to put that date in - even though I was doing it on the 4th of February ...


This above report illustrates something very important: NOT ALL VOTER REGISTRATION CARDS WERE ENTERED INTO THE SYSTEM AT ALL, UNTIL MONTHS LATER! Voters who were not entered in the database may be stripped of even their provisional ballot. We have seen boxes and boxes of "to be entered" cards after deadlines for getting them entered into the database. It is inconceivable that all these were sorted through to determine whether their provisional ballot should count.

- Will updates and input to the voter registration database be done by in-house staff, overtime, or temporary employees?
- What formula was used to project voter registration update & input needs?
- Has the budget been approved for this?
- What tracking and reporting system is available for internal controls and public oversight?

You can make an appointment and ask for a tour. Ask them to walk you through (literally) the process for entering and updating voter registrations.Ask about internal controls. Ask what tracking reports will be. Don't believe everything you hear.

The best way to get the real story is to develop a relationship with a clerk or temporary employee tasked with entering the information. Ask how it's really going.


PROCEDURAL IMPROVEMENTS: Transparency Project, Input to Output;
IDENTIFY PROBLEM LOCATIONS: History of indictments, missing internal control forms, public records obstruction, weak management, observation obstruction; past election problems; ELECTION PHASES: Pre-election; Early voting & absentee periods; Election Day; Election Night; Canvassing period; Post-election:
ADVANCED TOOLS: Voting machine examinations, Web snapshot tools, poll tape/central tabulation comparison, citizen ballot inspection audit, voting machine audit items

All computerized voting machines, as currently implemented, count votes in secret, and all election computers are under the control of administrators and programmers. All computers do what they are told to do by their administrators and programmers.

This is the core problem with voting machines.
Using these new systems, the citizenry has inadvertently ceded ultimate control over to government insiders and the vendors they select.

(a) Give the public full access to Freedom of Information on every aspect of the election.
(b) Count all votes in public (while maintaining individual political privacy)
(c) Allow the public to see for themselves that the votes being counted are the original votes, not counterfeit or substitute votes. "Chain of custody" must always be public.

- Your right to sovereignty over your government will not be honored.
- 99 percent of the votes will be counted in secret on computers controlled by government insiders and vendors.
- Your right to Freedom of Information will not be honored.
- You will be unable to ascertain that chain of custody is intact.
- It's too late to resolve these problems for 2008.
- It's not too late for partial solutions.
- It's not too late to collect important circumstantial evidence to assess the accuracy of the election.

Not a good situation. Despite passionate and always underfunded efforts by citizens for several years to get these issues addressed, we're up against it again in 2008. It's too late for new legislation or major changes. Let's work with what we have:

More on Procedural improvements, see pg 41-42 in Tool Kit 2008:
- Precinct-based public hand counts
- Transparency Projects
- Input to Output

- History of indictments
- Missing internal control forms
- Public records obstruction
- Weak management or poor quality controls
- Observation obstruction
- Past election problems

In the weeks leading up to the election, help gather information to predict problem locations. Let's treat these problem locations to extra scrutiny.

You can get an idea for past vote-counting problems by doing a news search, looking for incident reports filed by citizens, and by reading the text of any election contest lawsuits in the location you want to monitor. You can find incident reports by vendor and also by state and county (and/or municipality) at blackboxvoting.org and VotersUnite.org. If you Google "election incident reports" you can locate databases of reported incidents from 2004 and 2006.


Indictments, guilty pleas, convictions: Because computerized vote-counting is controlled by insiders, any locations with a history of corruption in key local government positions are particularly at risk for computerized vote-counting fraud. Key positions include county supervisors and commissioners (who often appoint elections officials); sheriffs, judges, county auditors and county clerks.

"Facts. Facts. Facts. Brick by brick we will build American democracy better than the Founders ever imagined possible."
Nancy Tobi, Election Defense Alliance

PUBLIC RECORDS: You can request to inspect or get copies of election-related records, including: voter complaints, poll worker incident reports, telephone Election Day support logs, and "rover" or technician logs. You can find many examples of these requests and responses in the state and county/municipality section of blackboxvoting.org.

BOOKKEEPING & RECONCILIATIONS: Vote counting is a form of bookkeeping. Properly run elections are accompanied by report forms showing how many voters signed in, how many ballots were provided, how many were cast, spoiled, and uncast. You will be surprised how often the numbers don't add up! Sometimes poll workers explain the discrepancies, but sometimes the numbers are off by hundreds with no explanation.

INTERNAL CONTROL FORMS: Some locations will report that they have had no problems, when in fact they don't provide any forms to poll workers to log the problems. If you ask to look at a blank copy of each form for poll workers, and also forms for tracking voting machines, seals, peripheral equipment, telephone reports, and technician visits you'll get a good idea as to whether adequate control systems are even being used. Filled-out copies will show how well they manage quality. This will help predict which locations are most likely to experience problems or fraud in November.

- Voting machines could not "close" properly
- Cartridge would not read
- Tabulators failed to read some memory cards so technicians had to "extract the data"
- Some cartridges or memory cards were temporarily misplaced
- "We're not sure why votes were incorrect"
- "The vendor is looking into it for us"
- Voting machines had to be replaced during the election due to malfunctions
- Broken or mismatched seals
- Calibration problem
- Counter didn't increment
- Machine would not produce a "zero report" before votes cast
- Electronic poll book said voter had already voted absentee, voter says no

OBSTRUCTIVE VS. COOPERATIVE: You can get a good idea how responsive each location is to public oversight by submitting a very simple one-item public records request and observing response. Are they prompt, complete, reasonably priced? Or do they inflate response timelines, price gouge, and obstruct?

Find out if the public (not just "politically appointed observers") is allowed to view the vote counting after the polls close. Find out if videotaping is allowed.

In most cases you'll find that local and state officials are more than willing to work on implementing solutions. If you spot significant problems or run into obstructive public officials, you may want to enlist the help of the voting rights committees for your political party, report to election protection groups, and build public awareness through the media. Focus on prevention. Try to spot problems ahead of time so improvements can be achieved before November elections.


Contact citizen empowerment and volunteer helpers at Black Box Voting, Election Defense Alliance, or a local election protection group. You can ask questions by e-mail: crew@blackboxvoting.org - You may also get support and direction from your preferred political party, and you can help connect your favorite candidates and party with election integrity organizations.


Get involved. Your election protection actions this year will be part of returning control over election processes to the people who own the government.

"You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to withdraw from it." Rabbi Tarfon

More: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.pdf

If you would like to receive a printed copy of TOOL KIT 2008 send a request by e-mail with your name and mailing address. Printed pocket Tool Kit 2008 booklets will be mailed in August.

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit elections watchdog group working to improve public controls in our elections. More:  http://www.BlackBoxVoting.org
TO DONATE: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html

to mail:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057


06-03-08 Distribute: Three fledgling new tools are available for election protection:
Direct link to this story, discussion area, post findings here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/74942.html

If you are technically inclined -- that is, you like to work with numbers or computers -- we think you'll find these new Election Protection tools to be very interesting.These are practice tools. Play with them now, and with small elections during the summer, to get ready for the main event.

If you are not technically inclined and you know someone who is, pass this along to them. And if "none of the above" applies, take a look at the five different skill areas we'll be focusing on with Tool Kit 2008. You'll match one of them for sure!

SUMMARY (Details follow, scroll down)

1) Results watchers: See below for instructions on AUTOMATIC UPDATING techniques, called "Web site mirroring" or "offline browsing" -- Will automatically capture every change on Web sites you want to monitor. How-to tips from extraordinary volunteer John Howard, see below.

2) Tech Patriots: See below for program code files for a WEB SNAPSHOT tool - Tool to automatically capture and extract incoming results data from CNN and government results sites. If you have been tracking results, you may have noticed that clicking county by county for updates is inefficient -- the "Web Snapshot" tool developed by Donovan Levinson is designed to automate data collection and speed analysis. The (hit or miss) county precinct data can provide live-time detail data. Program code, see below.

3) Stats people: See below for County by county spreadsheets identifying voting systems, voter registration numbers, past voting histories, and more. Drawn from Secretary of State Websites and Election Assistance Commission data tables.


On June 3, South Dakota and Montana had presidential primaries. Many more states had primary elections for local, state, and federal office. Nowhere near enough citizens with analytical skills are monitoring June 3, and November will have over 5,000 jurisdictions rolling in at once -- these tools will allow the few citizens who are already doing this to get more done, and will show many new techies what to do.

If you are tech-savvy, please try out the tools, volunteer a bit of your time, and if you can improve on the tools or invent additional ones, have at it.


Anomaly-spotting SPEED is a huge part of the election protection challenge. Wrong results only have to make it through Election Night, post-election activities, and certification of election and then it's all over. Use the June 3 election, including the updates that will roll in during the next 10 days, and follow each new election -- regardless of what state it's in -- to practice and refine your ability to spot problems quickly.

You can post what you find in real time at Black Box Voting so other citizens can get to work on other aspects, like communicating to the press, to candidates, requesting public records, or legal actions.

When votes are counted in secret on computers that government insiders control, citizens can't know whether results are legitimate, but we CAN identify results that are illegitimate! So let's get busy on that.

- Impossible times and dates
- Impossible numbers
- Results that go down midstream
- Two plus two equals five
- Results come in too early, before polls close
- Results start and then stop, with a trend reversal after the lag
- Delayed results
- More votes than voters
- Late precincts that produce a trend change
- Omitted information
- Obstruction of information
- Insufficient randomness (example, same number of votes for several candidates)
- Zero votes when there should be some
- Some votes where there should be zero


In the new Black Box Voting 2008 Tool Kit, we will ask you to match your skill sets to one or more of five categories to help protect Election 2008. Are you a ...

1. Networker (connect with people, organize, gather citizens to action)
2. Empowerer (provide financial support, donate laptops, video cameras, travel miles)
3. Hunter-Gatherer (collect assigned, strategic information using the Internet and public records)
4. Analyzer (Crunch numbers, harvest election-related data, create tools to improve efficiency)
5. Communicator (connect important information with blogs, mainstream media, public officials, and enforcement authorities)


Now is the time to start flagging anomalies so that citizens who are Communicators can practice getting the word out. New results will be rolling in all week. Play with the tools (which are in early stages of development), post your findings, and if you feel inspired, invent new tools for the next round.


"Up until just before 5 pm our time [Pacific] Jefferson County [KY] was at 89% reporting and Barack had 113,000+ votes. At 5:03 our time or 8:03 KY time the number of precincts reporting dropped to 86% and Barack's number of votes dropped to 64,489 - his % of votes is approximately the same."

"It only took until the 5th ward in Allegheny County [PA] to find a false result. Two reform ballots were cast when only one reform voter is registered. This mystery reformer ballot cast happens with a fair amount of regularity." "A better question is why there were any at all, since this is a closed primary."

Barnstead, New Hampshire, January presidential primary: Registered Democratic voters plus same-day Dem registrations plus unaffiliated voters requesting Democratic ballot: 674. Number of Democratic ballots cast: 917.

Allentown 1st Ward 1st District [PA] which is duplicated (odd) however truly unusual is the reporting time of 10:03 AM. Isn't 10:03AM a bit early for reporting results?

Vigo County [IN], 2008 primary, results were up on CNN nearly one-half hour before the polls closed.

Entering technical zone...Here are details and links for the Tools:

From John Howard:

WEB SITE MIRRORING (also called offline browsing) -- There are numerous products out there. One is called HTtrack and, with Windows, you use the windows version called WinHTTrack. It's a free open-source product and can be found at http://www.httrack.com/page/2/en/index.html

It can be configured to copy an entire web-site (definitely NOT a good idea), it can also be configured to copy a set of specific links contained in an HTML file, which is why I create the state by state "Compendium" link pages in advance - that way I can get the results pages from multiple jurisdictions, without having to spend a lot of time entering and re-entering the links I want captured. (my fall-2006 file captured just over 1200 selected precincts and counties in 11 states plus a couple of news sites, in each of about 20 readings throughout the evening)

Pre-requisites for gathering election night results:

- A reliable fast internet connection (NOT dial up)
- LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of disk space
- Someone to babysit the process and start it every so often. (I like starting every 15 minutes)

There are options - I exclude any graphics, limit the capture to 5 simultaneous connections, do not cache the files, and set a maximum external link depth of 1. This prevents the program from finding additional links and trying to copy them too.

Usually a couple of dry runs are needed to make sure that you're getting the files you want without too much extra 'stuff'. During a night of result gathering, I also update my source file with new links as they become available. If available, using a second computer to gather and update your source file is worthwhile.

Do a bit of experimenting with the program first to familiarize yourself with it.


Here are some of the "Compendium" link files created by John Howard for the 2008 primaries:
Indiana: http://www.bbvforums.org/docs/tools/IndianaCountiesV4.htm
Oregon: http://www.bbvdocs.org/OR/state/Oregon-74022.htm
South Dakota: http://www.bbvforums.org/docs/tools/SouthDakotaCounties.html


A tool prepared by extraordinary citizen Donovan Levinson. In the course of just a few days, Levinson developed four versions, each with additional features. Interwoven into the developing versions are tips and instructions, so I'm going to provide versions 1.0, 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2, and 2.2.1 in order with instructions and tips that came with each.

Here they are, in order, with notes as posted at the time:


1.0: first release of the WebSnapshot tool. Version 1.0: http://www.bbvforums.org/docs/tools/WebSnapshot-1.0.jar
(18 KB)
2.0: Added CNN support http://www.bbvforums.org/docs/tools/WebSnapshot-2.0.jar
(27 KB)
2.1: Added CNN exit poll support http://www.bbvforums.org/docs/tools/WebSnapshot-2.1.zip
(49 KB)
2.2: Added data collection for South Dakota counties http://www.bbvforums.org/docs/tools/WebSnapshot-2.2.zip
(52 KB)
2.2.1: Add a time out when downloading URLs
since the CERS URLs sometimes hang
http://www.bbvforums.org/docs/tools/WebSnapshot-2.2.1.zip(53 KB)

Usage: java -jar WebSnapshot.jar <urls> [<refresh> <count>]
Where <urls> is the path to a file containing URLs, one on each line. The <refresh> and <count> arguments are optional. The <count> is the number of snapshots to create, and the <refresh> is the number of seconds to wait between each snapshot. Here's an example URLs file:
MV "BARACK OBAMA" "HILLARY CLINTON" http://www.lakecountyin.org/cms-host/voters/microvote/2008PrimaryElectionResults /LakePrecSumm561.htm
The last line in the file is a special notation for downloading all the precinct summaries for an entire county. The notation for this is:
MV "CANDIDATE 1" "CANDIDATE 2" "..." <url>
Where <url> is the path to the last precinct in the county. The example above downloads all 561 precinct summaries and produces a csv file with results per precinct.
Example usage:
java -jar WebSnapshot.jar urls.txt 60 5
This would create a snapshot folder based on current date/time and then capture each of the URLs contained in urls.txt. It would then wait for 60 seconds and repeat the process, taking a total of 5 snapshots.

You will need Java 5.0+ installed. You need to run the tool from the command line (Start -> Run... "cmd" on Windows XP). Next I plan to add support for generating spreadsheets (with results per county) from CNN pages.

WEB SNAPSHOT 2.0 w/ CNN support
Here is the updated WebSnapshot.jar and an example input file, adds a special notation for capturing CNN results per county in a csv file. Take a look at the example input file to see how this is done.

Installation instructions
1) Create a Directory C:\WebSnapshot
2) Download WebSnapshot.jar and urls.txt to this directory
3) Open up a command prompt (Start -> Run... 'cmd')
4) Switch to directory (cd C:\WebSnapshot)
5) Run the java application from the command line (java -jar WebSnapshot.jar urls.txt)

Capture periodic snapshots by using the optional command line arguments (read the first post).
Press Ctrl+C to terminate the application early.
Java is completely free. Here is the instructions for downloading and installing Java 5.0.
1) http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/index_jdk5.jsp
2) Select Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 5.0 Update 15
3) Choose your platform (e.g. Windows)
4) Download the Windows Offline Installation
5) Run the Installer (jre-1_5_0_15-windows-i586-p.exe)

Here's a guide to download and rename in Internet Explorer. This expands Step 2 in the installation instructions

a) Right click on WebSnapshot.jar link and select 'Save Target As...'
b) Select 'All Files' under Save as type
c) Enter 'WebSnapshot.jar' under File name.
d) Select the dropdown 'Save in' and choose 'Local Disk'
e) Double-click the WebSnapshot folder and click 'Save'

WEB SNAPSHOT 2.1: Added support for CNN exit polls. Extract the attached zip file to your C:\WebSnapshot directory.
See the included urls.txt input file for an example. Next, I plan to add a snapshot summary feature to create spreadsheets of vote counts by snapshot time. This will help create graphs of the incoming voting data, and allow for a visual inspection of the results.

(From John Howard): Here is the South Dakota Compendium of results sites. Basically there is only one - the SoS, with the exception of Pennington County which is also included here. I've included the addresses of the counties that have web sites, although they are not clickable links. Having visited each one today, I doubt that we'll see results posted on any of them. Please note that these are all results by Precinct for each county, with one file each for Dem and one for Rep voters. The SoS web site is SLOW to produce these results so I wouldn't advise running too many concurrent connections. Since all the SoS results will be of a consistent format, perhaps this can feed into Donovan Levinson's SNAPSHOT tool.

SOUTH DAKOTA UPDATE: WebSnapshot 2.2 including South Dakota http://www.bbvforums.org/docs/tools/WebSnapshot-2.2.zip

Finished adding support for South Dakota precinct results URLs (CERS). Also included is snapshot history report generation. These files end in "-history.csv" and contain all the vote counts by snapshot time. There is an issue where sometimes more than 256 columns are generated (#columns = #precincts * #choices + 1). Excel will only display the first 256 columns. I will add a workaround for this by saving across multiple files in a future release.
Extract the attached zip to your C:\WebSnapshot directory. See included urls.txt input file for an example.

2.2.1: Optimized to deal with URL hangs

(Donovan): I hope to get some useful feedback from users during this last day of primaries. I have made one minor change, and that is to add a time out when downloading URLs, since the CERS URLs sometimes hang for a very long time. The timeout is set to 5 minutes. I will expose this variable and others in a properties file soon.

Also, I have attached two South Dakota input files for tracking the election results:




Montana voting systems:

Montana registered voters 2004-2006:

South Dakota registered voters 2004-2006:

South Dakota voting systems:

Additional spreadsheet tools will be added here throughout the day today, including updated voter reg figures, turnout figures for 2004-2006, mail-in and provisional stats from 2006, and additional states (California, New Jersey, New Mexico, more)

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit elections watchdog group working to improve public controls in our elections. More:  http://www.BlackBoxVoting.org
TO DONATE: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html
to mail:
Black Box Voting
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05-22-08   Distribute. Reprint. Digg. Spread. Blog.

The upcoming Black Box Voting 2008 Tool Kit ( - http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.html - ) contains innovative strategies to put real muscle into election protection. This e-mail contains a preview in the area of deterrents. We know we can't make elections perfect, but we CAN work on doing ENOUGH! So here's a place to start.

I think we're all sick to death of the "Oops Excuse." You know what I mean: Robo calls that pretend not to know they just told people something misleading, oops. Ballot accounting forms that don't add up, oops. Voting machine keys that don't get put in the bag, causing polls to open late, oops. Not enough machines allocated to certain precincts, oops, misleading translation on the ballot, oops, voting cartridges delivered late, oops, memory cards that cause machines to be serviced mid-election, oops, reported the wrong vote number, oops...

* * * NO MORE OOPS * * *

I want to talk about why it's so important to reduce the opportunity to Just Say Oops, and how we can deter the Oops, but first, here are examples of Oops Excuses just ready and waiting. These happened on Tuesday this week in Oregon:
This is being discussed HERE: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/74040.html


- Results reported before they exist.
- Results reported before the polls close.

A rather wonderful voting rights citizen volunteer named John Howard went to the results reports posted by Multnomah County at this Web site Wednesday night and was surprised to see that results posted on Wed. May 21 at 4:28 pm time and date-stamped on 3:53 pm May 22, which happens to be Thursday!

Look at these pictures to see what I mean:

Check out the time the results were uploaded. Then look at the time and date stamp on the results: The report was "run" nearly 20 hours LATER than it was posted!


Now, don't run out and headline that I'm calling this fraud, because I am not. What I AM calling it is incorrect and improper and unacceptable and in the case of the Yamhill and Polk county results I'm about to tell you about, probably illegal.

Elections, like bookkeeping and your bank statement, are all about numbers. The books have to balance. And in elections, times and dates are all-important. After all, if the report could be produced a DAY ahead of time, why not a MONTH ahead? If the computer clocks (oops) aren't reading out the right day, that opens doors to mail-in ballot-counting fraud that may be simply too scrumptious to resist.

What happened in Multnomah County suggests that the reports from the system are able to be set to whatever time the operator desires and/or that someone deliberately reset the clock on the system to a time in the future. Think about it this way: If your company bids on a tendered construction project in Multnomah County, and bids are advertised to close at a specific time, are you allowed to "bend the clock"? No, and if you try that you'll likely be charged with attempting to rig the bid. If you are successful in coercing a County employee into falsely dating and time stamping your documents, that employee would likely be fired for dishonesty and charged with falsifying documents. This is a presidential election we're talking about - at the very least, it's as important as a procurement bid.


Polk County and Yamhill County, Oregon posted results on the Internet BEFORE the polls closed, at 7:31 and 7:41 pm, respectively. The polls didn't close until 8 pm.


Oopsies enable unfair election practices and can be enablers and cover-ups for fraud.  It's like this: Do you close the gate so the child doesn't get near the street, or -- oops! -- leave it open -- oops! left it open again -- no big deal, all I did was leave a gate open, it's not like he got killed or anything.

Our collective refusal to accept the Oops Excuse is a method to keep more gates closed to prevent certain types of fraud -- ie, the plausible deniability kind -- from escaping.

We should also look at these Election Oops excuses through a real world lens.  For example:

If you write 29 checks but your bank statement says there were 27, does that feel "safe enough" to you?

What if you get a bank statement dated a month in the future with a reported balance? (With ballots, of course, the public really can't check to see whether the reported results are true or false.)

Many election officials are county AUDITORS and CLERKS. These professionals are collecting license fees, and overseeing bookkeeping and financial transactions that (even in small counties) amount to millions of dollars. Somehow I think if they showed up with $28,000 missing from the public bank balance, the media wouldn't accept "Oops" as readily as it accepts missing and mismatched and impossible election numbers.

ARE WE BEING TOO TOUGH ON ELECTION OFFICIALS? Let's look at the accountability expected of others:

- The teenager working at the mall has to balance the till at the end of the day.
- Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlor employees have to correctly account for the tickets.
- McDonald's employees have to match cash to receipts.

In fact, anyone who's worked in a bar or a supermarket or any kind of retail setting knows that you can't just say "oops" when the cash in your till doesn't match the receipts. You don't get to change the time stamps on things and you aren't allowed to open and close at the wrong times.

If we can require accountability from teenagers and minimum wage workers, perhaps it's time we start requiring our election officials to report only votes that actually exist at the time and date the computer assigns to the report, MAKE SURE THE NUMBERS BALANCE, and pay attention to the clock to make sure we don't post results until the polls close.

No More Oops.

Watch for the 2008 Tool Kit for ways to invoke consequences -- and ultimately DETER -- the next crop of Oops Excuses.

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit elections watchdog group working to improve public controls in our elections. More:  http://www.BlackBoxVoting.org

Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting

Please help us print the Tool Kits...we are planning to distribute 10,000 of these Pocket Election Protection Guides FREE, in addition to making them available for download on the Internet. I got a great price, but the print run will still cost a bundle, as will shipping and mailing them to the college students, retired folks, computer guys, accountants, writers, and information collectors we have in mind. Would you like us to send you one? Let us know, and while you're doing that, remember that we are supported entirely through small citizen donations. If not now, when?

TO DONATE: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html
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Black Box Voting
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05-20-08 In this article you will find tools to help you analyze the numbers as they come in from Kentucky and Oregon's May 20 primary elections. New info: 2008 Tool Kit: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.html. You can find more Oregon & Kentucky tools, and discuss here: http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/74040.html

Kentucky is a big problem, Oregon is just plain strange. I'll start with Oregon's all mail-in voting system before I tell you the news about Kentucky. In Oregon, 100 percent of votes are absentee, or mail-in, although citizens do have the option to take their mailed ballot to an elections office to drop it off.


*Source: http://www.eac.gov/files/Eds2006/eds2006/Copy%20of%20eacdata(3).xls (Excel spreadsheet, huge mamajama, allow time to download. And see end of this article for tips on how to use.)

1. EVER WONDER ABOUT SIGNATURE VERIFICATION? Here's a little pop quiz: Out of 1.4 million Oregon votes in 2006, and knowing how people's signatures change over the years, how many signatures would you expect to mismatch?

ANSWER: Out of 1.4 million, the state of Oregon claims that 29 counties had ZERO mismatched signatures, and in the 10 remaining counties that reported mismatches, the grand total was (drum roll please)..... 34 ballots.

Yes, out of 1.4 million, just 34 signatures did not match. With those figures, it seems equally plausible that the dog's pawprint that made it through a couple election cycles in Washington State as would have fared just as well in Oregon. Heck, a scribble drawing or a blob of spaghetti might work fine too, we just don't know.

But what we do know is that according to data submitted by the state of Oregon to the EAC, Clackamas County had 146,968 ballots cast and not a single signature was too squiggly, scrawly or tilted to mismatch, and that Oregon has one of the lowest signature mismatch rates in America.

We're not wanting to disenfranchise people, but accepting every signature that floats in the door may not be a good thing. It puts extra pressure on the validity of the voter registration database and the postal delivery system, that's for sure.

2. FALSE: Oregon's claim that forced mail-in voting gives them higher turnout figures is simply not true. Oregon is squarely in the middle of the pack when it comes to voter turnout, when compared to the other 50 states in the same election.

3. MIRACLE POST OFFICE: Oregon also has a remarkably, some would say impossibly effective postal service. Here's what I know: Black Box Voting does periodic mailings, and we consider a mailing of 8,000 pieces to be spectacularly large, for us. Thirty-one of Oregon's counties mail more ballots in every election than we ever do, yet they never seem to have ballots arrive late or flop around battered and bruised, to be returned months later.

That's not our experience. Some of our mailers arrive late, some probably not at all, and a few look like they've taken a bruising trip to Mongolia before they belatedly return to us.

Yet out of 2.5 million ballots mailed out in the 2006 general election, Oregon reports ZERO ballots returned undeliverable, and only 54 reportedly came in after the deadline. Oddly, 44 of those were in one county. (Not Mulnomah, the biggest county, where Portland sits. It was Washington County).

4. VOTING MACHINES: Contrary to many citizens' beliefs, Oregon uses computerized voting machines statewide, almost all ES&S scanners, and if you'd like more information on the hackability of those, check out the EVEREST Report, choose the 334-page Academic Report and look up Election Systems & Software. Every component of the ES&S machines were found to be tamperable.


Kentucky never has accounted for its 2006 election math, as can be seen by examining the data reports published by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in the above link.*

(*See end of this article for hints on how to use the two EAC Inspector Gadget obstructo-matic secret decoder rings needed to make sense of this file)

That file contains the raw data submitted by each secretary of state, with details right down to the number of absentee ballots in the wrong envelope and the reasons voters were taken off lists. What it DOESN'T contain, however, is the number of votes counted in Kentucky in the 2006 General Election. When you search the minimal information presented in news reports back then, you see a glimmer of a hint that Kentucky had a statewide voting computer meltdown in 2006.

Kentucky submitted thousands of data points for the EAC 2006 survey for every one of its 120 counties but omitted -- you guessed it -- the votes. Results have been posted on Web sites, but I find myself wondering, given the all-too-real 2006 meltdown of the voting tally system in 96 counties, whether people in the Kentucky Secretary of State's office may have been reluctant to sign a federally required report committing to those very problematic results.


Bullitt County, Kentucky citizen Kathy Greenwell could have told you that was going to happen. Her husband ran for sheriff in November 2006, and while she obtained copies to match up the voting machine results tapes with the announced results she discovered they didn't match. None of them.

Here's the article by Black Box Voting on that situation:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/47065.html - "Elections give you: The Judge, the Prosecutor & the Sheriff"


Voters cast their votes into paperless touchscreens at the polling place. At the end of Election Day, each voting machine spits out a results tape. Then, the cartridges from each voting machine are fed into a cartridge reader. It reads all the cartridges and transfers the data into a tallying program that adds them all up. And that's when Kathy Greenwell got her dander up in 2006, because the information coming out of the tally system didn't match the results on the poll tapes for any race.

As the evening progressed, the mismatches began to hop around like frogs on electronic lily pads. In addition to wildly fluctuating results, a bunch of questionable individuals started wandering in and out of the back room, many of whom were related to the Tinnell family, which had three members of the family on the ballot (Donnie Tinnell: Sheriff; Sherman Tinnell: Mayor; Melanie Roberts: Judge Executive). All the Tinnell people won, but none of the results ever did match up.

Kathy Greenwell keeps demanding answers, but never has gotten any. At one point Bullitt County Clerk Kevin Mooney gave her a new results tape which, he claimed, made things match up. Unfortunately, this new tape only balanced the mismatch out for Kathy's husband Dave Greenwell's sheriff's race. All the other races are still out of whack.

Bullitt County -- and the other 96 counties in Kentucky serviced by a voting machine services firm called HARP ENTERPRISES -- claimed that the incorrect vote totals were due to a "fusion problem" when the computer tried to add up the totals from the old Shoup/Danaher 1242 voting machines combined with the new Hart eSlate machines.


1. Pennsylvania also has locations that use both these machines, and their fusion program works. Or at least so we are told -- Philadelphia County got the bright idea to charge the public to look at results there, restricting viewing to those who purchase a password, and we don't know if anyone did the same thing Kathy Greenwell did, matching up each tape to the published results you have to purchase.

Nevertheless, we have no evidence that Pennsylvania's system, same machines as Kentucky, is unable to match its own results up.

2. Kentucky then "solved" the problem by deciding to stop printing the reports so no one can check to see if they match.

Yes, that's what I said. Kentucky decided to use ONLY the poll tape results, hand entering them into a computer in the back room, and never put the cartridges into the reader, never generate that second report. With only one-half of the check and balance, you can neither check nor balance the poll tapes against the cartridge reader.

For "transparency", at least in Bullitt County, observers wait in a lobby with a small video picture of people sitting in a different room typing "you-can't-see-what" onto "screens-you-can't-see", with people occasionally wandering in and out of the videotaped area into completely unviewable areas, carrying items that look like poll tapes. On at least one occasion when Black Box Voting was there, they turned off the camera for a bit while they did "we-don't-know-what."


They also had the Wrangler active that night. For those of you newbies to the activity known as "election monitoring" (also accurately termed "smacking into a brick wall") -- well, here's what a "Wrangler" is in Election lingo:

Government insiders, who are in there counting votes in secret on the computers they control, have a designated wrangler, or in trouble spots a couple of them. Their job is to distract observers if something interesting is going on. Blip-lights flicker -- out comes the lady with the candy tray. I once watched the "blue screen of death" appear on a crashing King County, Washington vote tabulator and while trying to write down the time and particulars, was accosted by the Republican Party observer who out of the blue left the computer room to engage me in a stubbornly aggressive conversation about nothing. In Bullitt County, Kentucky it was the candy tray lady, a trick reported by activists in other states as well.

3. And now we get to the best part. Scratch that. The worst part. The machines used in 96 of Kentucky's 120 counties, the Shoup/Danaher 1242s, can be tampered with rather easily by anyone with access during or shortly after the testing phase, but this could be caught -- unless you skip the step of loading in the cartridges to produce the tally report.

And that's just what Kentucky decided to do. In Kentucky, it was decided to stop reading the cartridges and use only the poll tape results. And this is precisely the check and balance cited to show that these old 1242 machines are "safe."


1) Wear a helmet. You'll be running into the brick wall.

2) Ask the officials to read the cartridges into the cartridge reader and print out a report to prove to you that the cartridge results match the voting machine results. The cartridges contain what is supposed to be the actual vote data.

3) Ask to inspect or get copies of the "poll tape" results. Ask for copies of the cartridge reader results.

4) Record the order in which Kentucky counties deliver their results tonight. Late results -- especially when accompanied by a trend reversal -- are associated with fraud.

5) Get screen shots of any tallies that go DOWN as results are coming in.

6) Hunt for "impossible numbers." Here are examples of impossible numbers found by Black Box Voting, the media, and citizen observers:

a) Barnstead, New Hampshire, 2008 primary. Fifty percent more votes than voters in the Democratic Party presidential race.

b) Election location in Harlem, New York: Obama got zero votes. Greenville, New Hampshire: Ron Paul got zero votes, and when citizens came forward swearing they'd voted for him, the Town Clerk found the missing votes. Sutton, New Hampshire: Ron Paul got zero votes. When citizens came forward swearing they'd voted for him, the Town Clerk found the missing votes. Note the pattern, hunt out the zeroes, onesies and twosies because they happen in every election.


You can get lost inside that EAC data set for weeks, but in moments when you come up for air you'll be able to raise red flags that may help prevent problems this fall.

Black Box Voting is not a fan of the EAC, but the data surveys are actually quite terrific. They show that some locations are refusing to comply (like the entire state of New Hampshire, which refuses to provide even basic numbers like voter registration or number of votes). They provide at least the skeletal framework that has potential for quality control and fraud research.

And the data can be used, in conjunction with other data you find, to identify potential hotspots for trouble this fall.

Remember sixth grade math and story problems? The EAC data tables are a like a set of Lego's for constructing all kinds of interesting story problems. Which counties are most likely to binge and purge voter registration lists? You can get a good idea of that using these data tables. Which counties appear to have been stuffing the ballot box in the past? Yep, that can be divined as well. Hint: Lake County, the Indiana location that couldn't seem to find its votes for so many hours in this year's primary, is one.


And you'll need them, because they for some reason did not bother to put the labels on the columns to define what data each column contains. For that, you need to download this file:
http://www.eac.gov/files/Eds2006/eds2006/Survey_Data_Code_Names.xls (Excel file)

Then you get to do the fun and tedious activity of looking up the secret code in the decoder table to insert it on the top of each column.

But that's just the first decoder ring. Secret Agent Natalie, from Black Box Voting, wondered why none of the data could be summed up or divided for percentage analysis, and found that the EAC, in its infinite wisdom, converted the numeric data to text. What that means is that instead of reading the number "5" your computer reads it as text, like "f-i-v-e" and since it doesn't know how to perform math functions on alphabet letters, you can't perform simple tasks like ranking smallest to biggest, or dividing one number into another to get a percentage.

Black Box Voting has applied both decoder rings to all the data, and is providing the complete decoded, correctly labeled, numerically converted EAC data table as part of our 2008 Tool Kit

* * * * *

More information:

For more on Kentucky:
Print story: The Hunt for Joe Bolton http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/54541.html
Black Box Voting YouTube video - Kentucky, The Hunt for Joe Bolton: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpzahSVY_GM
Moonshine Elections: Family-run Government http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/54610.html
Moonshine America: Collapse of the "Trust Me" Model http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/70968.html
Black Box Voting YouTube video - Kentucky's Kathy Greenwell confronts New Hampshire Sec. State Bill Gardner, face to face

Black Box Voting 2008 Tool Kit:

Oregon tools, thanks to John Howard:


Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting

Please help us protect 2008, muster up the "Dream Teams" for field work, print the Tool Kits...
We are supported ENTIRELY through small citizen donations.

TO DONATE: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html
to mail:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057

05-04-08  In April 2008 when Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita announced the release of "record high" voter registration rolls, with 4.3 million voters set to vote in the Tuesday May 6 primary, he didn't mention that a whopping 1,134,427 voter registrations have been cancelled.

Now, the voter rolls are supposed to be tidied up prior to each election. Indiana's last general election was in Nov. 2006, and they have had a slew of special and general elections since then. So how have 1.1 million voters -- 26 percent of the current statewide list -- escaped the voter registration cleanup squad? Who are these million voters and where do they come from?

One quarter-million of them come from just two northwestern Indiana counties: Lake and Porter. Lake County reports purging 137,164 voters and neighboring Porter County cancelled out 124,958 voters.

Lake County, the home of Gary, Indiana, has spawned the Jackson Five and a great old musical (The Music Man) and has been referred to as "the second most liberal county in America." Lake County also has one of the heaviest concentrations of African-American voters that you'll find anywhere in the USA.

Nearby Porter County, the home of Valparaiso, is 95% white and went solidly for Bush in the 2004 election. It's also got a lot of college students.

For whatever reason, these two counties had ... what ... massive data entry problems? Exceptionally messy records? Lots of dead people who climbed back into their graves? I truly hope we aren't going to see a lot of disappointed voters on Tuesday, when they perhaps learn that they were among the lucky million people who got purged.


Lake 137,164 48% (Gary)
Porter 124,958 115% (Valparaiso)
Marion 68,120 10% (Indianapolis)
Monroe 66,009 85% (Bloomington)
Tippecanoe 53,456 58%
Madison 42,952 47% (Anderson)
Hamilton 42,325 26%

Here's a picture map with the numbers and percentages for the whole state:

The percentage represents the ratio of the number of purges to the current voter list. Example: If a location currently has 100,000 voters on its rolls, and purged 53,000 along the way, we assign a ratio of 53% to the purge vs. current list.

It would be nice to have the original quantities, it would make for a cleaner number, but this is not available on the Secretary of State's Web site, so I haven't got a tidier statistic for you, wish I did. I also wish the time period for these purges was clearly indicated, but it is not indicated -- nor can it be derived -- from available information at Indiana's official election Web site.


It's always interesting to look for impossible numbers on election night, like the "more votes than voters" situation that sometimes crops up. It speeds things up to have a place to plug the information in. Here is a spreadsheet -- quick and not too fancy, I'm sure you can improve on it. It has every Indiana county, along with their official registered voter statistics for the 2008 primary, and some historical data from 1992 to the present, along with links for the source documents from the secretary of state:

(Excel file, 71 KB)

Here are links that may be very good to provide additional statistical information which you can plug in:


And here is a link to the source document containing the cancelled registration information used for this article:


Here's a quick spreadsheet with the Indiana voting machines by county -- you can get that on the Sec. State's Web site too, but it's not in a database format. You can cut and paste these into your analysis sheets if you'd like to get comparisons of results by county.


Another press release on the Indiana Secretary of State's Web site deals with the $360,000 penalty he's hitting Microvote with for failing to follow the law. Oh yes, and the Microvote Infinity voting machine, which will be very widely used in the Tuesday May 6 primary, has been DECERTIFIED!

That's not going to stop anyone in Indiana from using it, however. The decision was that anyone who already bought these things gets to use them -- despite the fact that these machines have been embroiled in lawsuits in at least three places, one in Pennsylvania for machines that just didn't work, and two in Tennessee where candidates have asked to redo elections due to bizarre anomalies -- like vote totals that wandered away in the wee hours of the night.

Microvote's insurance company declined to cover the firm, according to yet another lawsuit, because the insurance company alleged that Microvote was selling defective products. The judge ruled against the insurance company, saying the product wasn't defective, it just didn't work.

I haven't plugged this in yet, but those of you who are comfortable with spreadsheets can quickly add the voting machines by county to your voter registration spreadsheet, using that voting machine spreadsheet I linked above, to see how many votes all together will be subjected to Microvote.

Ah, but we aren't done with Indiana voting machines yet. Indiana is also fond of the ES&S paperless iVotronic touch-screens, the ones that lost 18,000 votes in Sarasota County Florida and were the subject of a blistering report by Dan Rather. In Rather's report, he showed shocking footage of the touch-screens being manufactured in a sweat shop in the Philippines. Their quality control test was to shake the machine and if it didn't rattle, it passed the test.


1. Do some public records requests to either the state or the counties, and ask for their VRG-5 form, which is the NVRA tracking form on which the number of voters purged must be reported.

For tips on how to do the records requests, here's our tool kit, scroll down to the section on public records:

Post the documents and ask for any advice you need here, and report your front-lines information for both Indiana and North Carolina here:

I'm pushing hard right now to get TOOL KIT 2008 done -- it's a stripped-down model with emergency measures for the fall election. Unless you tell me not to, I'll let you know as soon as it's ready for download.

2. Another useful form you can request: The CEB-9 form, which is the Indiana County Election Report that must be turned in after the election. Here's one, take a look at the information it contains:


3. If you are a number-cruncher, grab the spreadsheets here and wail on 'em during Election night. You can get additional historical information from this site:
(Choose the drop-down menu "general by state" and select Indiana, then choose the year you want. Confusion factor -- this site color-codes Republican as blue and Democrat as Red. Has lots of good stuff).

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: People usually catch things like "more votes than voters" weeks after the election. The dang Indiana information doesn't break voter registrations out by party which makes crunching the primary numbers a little harder. But you may still get the jump on some red flags if you track this stuff as it's coming in on spreadsheets that tell you what the stats are going in.


You'll notice that those projections often change -- sometimes dramatically -- just an hour or so later. That's because we have learned that they are paying elections officials (through their associations or otherwise) to call and fax them the results off the voting machine poll tape.

In fact, the National Election Pool (used to be Voter News Service) is getting this stuff BEFORE the election officials and way before the secretary of state.

The first number they quote is the adjusted exit poll number, and it comes from asking people about who they voted for. The point here is, when what you thought was "exit polls" suddenly changes, that is the impact of those called-in poll tape results. Yep. That's the voting machines talking, and when they say something different than the people answering the exit pollers' questions, we should be looking at the programming on the machine, not the exit pollers, for answers.

I expect to see early projections altered significantly as soon as those poll tape numbers are called in to NEP.

So to recap, good things to do Tuesday:
1. Public records
2. Number crunching
3. Pray

Good luck to us, all,

Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting

Please help us protect 2008, muster up the "Dream Teams" for field work, print the Tool Kits...
We are supported ENTIRELY through small citizen donations.

TO DONATE: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html
to mail:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057

04-02-08  3 new videos & an UPDATE ON OUR BALLOT RIGGING EXPERIMENT (below the video info)

Police dogs assigned, ballots in the dark, and the State of New Hampshire denies having any information about the K-9 Unit assignment. Officials changed their mind when this video hit YouTube, now say they are "looking for the records." Sarasota citizen Jeannie Dean provides graphic evidence about the state of your democracy right now. And if you still believe citizen sovereignty is intact, Google "Thomas Jefferson" and see if you still believe this is what the founders meant to create.

A dizzying trip following the New Hampshire ballot pickup van as "Butch & Hoppy" collected ballots for the 2008 recount of the presidential primary -- you decide: Evasive manuevers or can't find a map?

Bullitt County, Kentucky citizen Kathy Greenwell confronts the New Hampshire Secretary of State face to face; New Hampshire hires an investigator - he interrogates the citizens instead of investigating multiple violations of election law; and "Hoppy" speaks his mind.

* * * * *


In September 2007, head of memory-card-programming subcontractor LHS Associates, John Silvestro, stated that he doesn't mind having an audit bill. This was during Harri Hursti's testimony in front of New Hampshire legislators about the risks of using the Diebold optical scanner. Does this mean that Silvestro is a straight-up guy, or does this mean he knows how to make hand counts match rigged machine counts? I can't answer that, but I can tell you this: What we have now learned in New Hampshire shows how to game a recount, cheat an audit, rig a mail-in election, tamper in a transport vehicle.

This is of national importance. We have several states that still have DREs and no paper trail, and that fight needs to continue. But the trend is toward optical scan vote-counting computers with tiny hand-counted samples, erroneously called "audits" -- and never yoked to chain of custody. We are also seeing trends toward forced mail-in voting (Washington state) and we had some unfortunate central counting going on in the primary (Ohio).

Black Box Voting has proved this now: The right chemical and a paper towel enables an insider to alter ballots to flip votes on paper ballots, to rig mail-in votes, spot checks ("audits"), and recounts. It will not be detected.

In a controversial new article, we reveal partial results to our experiment -- we're awaiting a shipment of additional chemicals to test the rest. You can see and discuss the article here:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/73352.html - but you may not want to, because in just a few days it has triggered a vigorous debate and nearly 200 comments. It's turned into a mammoth thread. So I'll reprint the article in full in this e-mail:

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BALLOT WASHING: An original investigation by Black Box Voting

Last week, I described a way to alter ballots using the techniques used to remove ink from old, archival paper documents and old books. Archivists and custodians of rare books and documents are generally familiar with these techniques, because they are needed to restore documents.

These techniques have been adapted by modern-day criminals to "wash" the writing off of checks, and this is why it's dangerous to send checks by putting them in your mailbox with the little red flag up. Criminals have learned that they can remove the ink -- the amount written and the payee -- without disturbing the information printed on your check by the bank.


Archivists know this technique as a document repair method, criminals know it as "check washing." If you have the right chemicals, can you remove votes from ballots, allowing election-riggers to "re-vote" the ballots before they are counted, recounted, or audited?

Yes. We have been able to remove votes marked in ink from ballots without leaving a trace. Using this technique, insiders can alter votes on ballots.


Yes. We now know that an aide to Maine Speaker of the House John Martin, together with a legislative aide, pleaded guilty in 1994 to rigging ballots in a recount structured almost identically to the New Hampshire presidential primary recount. Ballots had been packed up in cardboard boxes "sealed" with tape (a practice that the media called "an invitation to ballot-rigging") and transported to a central location for a recount.

The state attorney general and the Maine secretary of state were criticized for stonewalling the investigation after the insiders were caught red-handed, and the speaker of the house was not prosecuted, though he was alleged to have had inside information. The ballot-riggers got a few months in jail, a $2000 fine, and a sentence for community service. At least one of the perps did not pay all of his fine nor complete his community service requirement. Next time you're told to "trust" election insiders, laugh at that, ignore the advice, and keep asking sensible follow up questions!

In response to this "ballot-gate" scandal, the state of Maine invested $60,000 in more secure ballot boxes and changed policy to store them in an evidence vault used to secure evidence in pending criminal cases.

New Hampshire has known of this incident for at least 14 years, but failed to act to secure its own ballots, choosing to use non-standard cardboard boxes and tape.


Ballot washing allows votes on the SAME ballot to be changed.

We have been experimenting with this. We learned that Premier/Diebold sells Eberhard-Faber black felt tip pens and calls them "AccuVote marking pens." We purchased some of these. We got hold of real Diebold ballots from defunct elections in Florida and Arizona, although we'd still like to get a specimen of a New Hampshire AccuVote ballot.


Here's what we've found so far:


Both blue and black ball point pen can be removed easily with denatured alcohol. The amazing thing about removing ink with denatured alcohol is that even if you spill solvent all over the ballot it leaves NO EVIDENCE that the paper was ever wet. Of course, slopping solvent on the paper is not necessary because all you need is a plastic applicator bottle and bits of paper towel for easy, quick removal of the vote. The ink lifts off the page with the only evidence being slight indentations -- and those only exist if the voter pressed hard with his pen.

CONCLUSION: Ball point pen should never be used to mark ballots. In reality, this means mail-in votes are in special jeopardy, because it will be nearly impossible to stop people from picking up whatever pen is handy. Even in the polling place, some people may choose to use their own pens, thinking any black pen will suffice -- and for most modern optical scan voting machines, those marks will be read just fine. The problem is, the marks can be lifted right off the ballot leaving no trace, and insiders can re-mark the ballots.

We understand that banks are now using a special coating when printing some checks, which reveals the presence of solvents if they are applied. We should learn more about that to see if such a coating does indeed exist and whether it could be used for absentee ballot paper stock.


We were able to lift BIC "Mark-It" fine point black "permanent marker" with denatured alcohol, but not completely. There was still some evidence that the mark had been made, though it was much lighter and "bled" to leave visible evidence. And it took two applications of solvent to get the marks half-way lifted.

We were not able to lift Sharpie fine point permanent marker using denatured alcohol or acetone. However, it is unlikely that this pen will be chosen to mark ballots by any election administrator, since it sometimes bleeds through the paper which would be undesirable for two-sided ballots.

This brings us to the Eberhard-Faber black felt tip pen sold by elections vendors for the purpose of marking optical scan ballots.
Accuvote marking pen

Eberhard Faber(R) Porous Point Pens

Amazingly, this pen fails the "spit test" -- when we got the pens we ordered, before doing any official tests we marked a cardboard mailing container, moistened a fingertip with saliva, and part of the mark came off! It did leave a smear and was by no means removed altogether, and spit is a poor choice of solvent because unlike denatured alcohol, it leaves a watermark.

When we applied denatured alcohol, however, the Eberhard-Faber pens performed better than any of the other brands. The denatured alcohol had no effect whatsoever on the mark. Marks made by the Eberhard-Faber pens appeared to be indelible, impervious to the standard check-washing solvents.


If you can lift part of the mark with plain ol' spit, but denatured alcohol leaves it entirely intact, it seems logical that the chemicals in Eberhard-Faber ballot marking pens may respond to a different approach. Indeed, that proved to be the case.

In a more pleasant experiment (denatured alcohol, acetone and the like are toxic, flammable and nasty to work with) -- it turns out that Old Spice "Whitewater" after shave lotion partially lifted the Eberhard-Faber ink, and a second application lifted it further. But it wouldn't be efficient to do repeat applications and the ballots would come out with a telltale scent. Old Spice after shave lotion provided clues, but not answers. Based on the Old Spice after shave result, we've ordered some new substances. We believe they WILL lift Eberhard-Faber ink from ballots, based on a few more quick tests.


Ordinary solvents can be used to lift the ink off of any ballot marked with ball point pen, and this will include many of the absentee ballots, some of the polling place ballots, and many of the hand counted ballots. But how practical is it to tote tins of flammable solvents with toxic fumes around in a ballot transport van in the winter?

You've probably seen what these cans look like. Paint thinner, turpentine, what have you -- these chemicals are sold in square cans with a screw-on cap on the flat top surface. Glug-glug-glug-- not the kind of thing you want to splash around with in the passenger seat. 


We learned, as anyone else would who needs to remove stray ink marks from archived documents or old books, that it doesn't matter whether you are in a vehicle or not -- the most convenient way to remove marks with solvents is to keep the solvent in small plastic applicator bottles. These small plastic bottles have a nozzle that shuts off air flow when not in use -- necessary both to eliminate fumes and to reduce evaporation, because these chemicals evaporate quickly when the air hits them.

As an extra precaution, if carrying solvent applicator bottles in a vehicle, you'd want to keep them in a ziplock bag.

While we await the shipment of the correct chemicals (findable on Google, actually) for the final, videotaped ballot washing experiment, enjoy the videos, linked above.

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http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or mail to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057

Black Box Voting is supported entirely by individual citizen donations.

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10-03-07  Because you need to laugh first: Hilarious (but improper) video of Texas lawmakers racing around the room to double, triple, quadruple-vote, against the rules: Click here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG6X-xtVask&eurl=


The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) doled out billions in funds to buy voting machines that we never asked for and are now trying to get rid of, but the wasteful spending didn't stop there. The "education" funding is oinking loudly as well.

Alabama's HAVA financial reports, for example, show hundreds of thousands in public education disbursements to people listed only by first name, like "Brenda K."

Nancy Worley, secretary of state during these expenditures, was questioned and occasionally rebuked by other Alabama officials for her spending habits. Not on these forms, because this was paid for by Alabama taxpayers instead of HAVA funds: Worley's purchase of an Eddie Bauer special edition SUV with $8000 worth of "extras."

Worley's 2003 financial report shows Alabama charging HAVA for dues to the National Association of Secretaries of State, along with two golf resort meetings for HAVA planning. "The Personal Touch" shows up on Google as a plus-size dresses vendor, so I asked about this. The director of finance told me it is a catering service for their HAVA planning meetings.
http://www.bbvdocs.org/AL/AL2003-101.pdf (71 KB)

The 2006 report contains cumulative listings from 2003-2006, including massive spending to names like "Brenda K" and "J Gary."
http://www.bbvdocs.org/AL/AL2006-101.pdf (434 KB)

Black Box Voting called the director of finance to inquire about the $80,000 flat amount for "Crimson" and all the disbursements to incomplete names, especially the hundreds of thousands to "Brenda K."

According to Jeannie Price, Finance Director for the Ala. Sec. State, the first name-only disbursements are because their accounting system truncates the name on reports. I asked her to look up "Brenda K" -- she told me it's Brenda Bagley, a media buyer. The $80,000 to "Crimson" was for public education ads for a football radio show.

The media buys seem excessive, and apparently other Alabama officials agree; it seems that Nancy Worley had a large number of ads -- featuring herself -- delivering "voter education" right before her election, which she then charged off to HAVA. Her opponent objected to this thinly veiled self promotion campaign.

Another issue: When you pay a media buyer to place ads, the payment includes the cost of the ads. The buyer takes a cut. However, the disbursement record shows Alabama paying for ad placements directly AND paying the media buyer.

And yet another issue: Simply going out and blowing three-quarters of a million on radio and TV advertising is a heck of an expensive way to "educate voters." You can send direct mail to every voter in Alabama for this amount of money, The Alabama media buys seem to be geared more towards broadcast media advertising than those of other states. (Hello Alabama, ever heard of a Public Service Announcement?)

All Alabama HAVA financial reporting forms:

When a federal agency receives accounting reports containing hundreds of thousands in disbursements to first names only, that should trigger an audit. There is no way to determine who these people are - relatives? Buddies? Someone who's last name you change your mind on if somebody makes an inquiry? When you file a report listing taxpayer disbursements to a bunch of first names, it means someone needs to go look at the check to see the real name that cashed it.

The Finance Director told me it would be a lot of work to create a report with the actual names, because she'd have to hand enter each one. I'm sure that Black Box Voting is not the only organization that would like to check out those names; I did not ask her to take that extra step, but I find the current reporting format unsatisfactory.

Sec. State Nancy Worley was not reelected, in part because of questions about her handling of finances.

A look at these forms should prompt you to have a look at your own state's financial reports, which you can find here:


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New on Black Box Voting: California Registrar of Voters urging people to switch to absentee - why you should NOT: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/73/55275.html

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That pesky King County Diebold GEMS audit log -- like the 18 and a half minute gap in Nixon's Watergate tape, this 2004 primary audit log has three hours deleted:

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Nope, "Hacking Democracy" did not win the Emmy, though it was nominated. A film called "Sex Slaves" won.

To obtain your own copy of "Hacking Democracy" donate $45 or more here: http://www.blackboxvoting.org or mail to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057

Black Box Voting is supported entirely by individual citizen donations. We are gearing up now for election 2008

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9-19-07 Announcement - Those in New York, New Jersey: Bev Harris will be in NY, CT, NJ from Sept 22-27 for work on the "Godfather Elections" investigative series, so if you have questions or closeup info on election problems, now is the time to email Bev: bev@blackboxvoting.org -- AND -- On Thurs. Sept. 27 Harris will be speaking, it's a public event, please come if you can! 7:30 pm Temple New Tamid, 936 Broad St, Bloomfield NJ 07003

The film "Hacking Democracy" featuring the work of Black Box Voting has been nominated for an Emmy; the awards are in NYC Sept. 21. Wish us all luck. A donation of $45 and we send you a gift DVD;  http://www.blackboxvoting.org.donate.html


Click here for printer-friendly version (allow a couple minutes to download):
or visit the web page: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/54610.html where you can also log in and discuss.

SHORT VERSION - An original Black Box Voting investigative report
By Bev Harris

This report is dedicated to Dave Greenwell of Bullitt County, Kentucky, who ran for sheriff in 2006 with a pledge to clean up nepotism in Bullitt County government. He lost. Last time I met him, his thank-you-for-trying message consisted of three broken ribs. A powerful family now dominates Bullitt County, but if what we have learned will help to achieve reforms (see end of article), Dave's loss can result in a win for Kentucky and many other states.


West Virginia, Mingo County: The Hatfields
Kentucky, Pike County: The McCoys

By my count, at least 14 people were murdered during the Hatfield-McCoy feud, not including the hangings of the criminally convicted. Despite their anger management problems, the Hatfields have managed to hold several public offices in West Virginia, and at least one direct descendant of both a Hatfield and McCoy hold office right now.

Let's go back in time, for illustrative purposes. Suppose you are a McCoy. Suppose you want to run for office. Would you like the Hatfields to count your vote in secret?  Would it bother you to see various Hatfields wandering in and out of the back room while McCoy votes are being counted?

"Trust Me" elections are a bad idea whether or not the people who control the counting happen to be related to each other.

*Moonshine Election Territories: 4 or more of the following characteristics
1. Rural location
2. Family members hold multiple positions in the local government
3. Problems are noted in financial audits
4. Felony convictions of local officials
5. Questionable election situations
6. Obstructs or ignores Freedom of Information (public records) requests
7. Uses computerized voting systems serviced by small subcontractors

16 states, 210 electoral votes - Black Box Voting has identified of these kinds of election jurisdictions in Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and parts of southern Illinois, Ohio and Indiana, as well as some of western Pennsylvania, eastern Missouri, and scattered locations in Texas.


Two local public officials in each county have especially close proximity to elections and ballot chain of custody: the county elections director and the county sheriff.

In the 2006 election that installed Donnie Tinnell as the new sheriff, outgoing Bullitt County Sheriff Paul Parsley was in there helping with the Election Night e-vote tallying, and Parsley's granddaughter, whom nobody can recall being on the payroll or appointed to any official position, was seen handling the poll tapes - results from each individual voting machine - which by the way didn't match up to the official results, but nobody did anything about that. Paul Parsley had already announced that the new sheriff in town was going to be Donnie Tinnell - in fact, he announced that Tinnell would be chosen by the voters some months before the election.

Another person getting up close and personal to the e-vote counting was Linda Tinnell, the sister-in-law of Donnie Tinnell. No one could actually view the counting of the e-votes of course, other than noting that someone was doing something to computers. So here we have Donnie Tinnell running for sheriff, and we also had Donnie's cousin, Sherman Tinnell, running for mayor. Here a Tinnell, there a Tinnell, helping with the votes a Tinnell, and all the Tinnell people won, including relatives like Donnie's niece, a schoolteacher named Melanie Roberts who happened to land the most powerful position in the county.

The mantle was duly passed from Sheriff Parsley to new Sheriff Donnie Tinnell, who now also sits on the Bullitt County Board of Elections.


Not exactly.

Some states have anti-nepotism laws, but most places rely on murky toothless "ethics" recommendations. Others provide exclusions as big as the Hatfield family -- for example, in Texas first cousins don't count as nepotism.

The Missouri Constitution requires public officials to forfeit their office if they employ anyone up through a fourth degree relationship by blood or marriage (more in full report). But in Kentucky, county elections boards can include family members and convicted felons as well. I guess you can bring in the James Gang to run your local elections board, if you're in Kentucky. It's legal.

No state has nepotism laws that contemplate the unique risks of computerized voting systems. Nepotism laws generally only deal with hiring your family in your own department. If you are a Sheriff running for reelection, and your son is the elections division IT computer guy, that's not prohibited unless you can contort an ethics rule to fit and find someone willing to enforce it.

Nepotism laws don't affect dynasties. One family member can succeed another, and indeed this is often used to keep control within one family in situations where there are term limits. In 1966 Governor George Wallace dealt with his own term limit by helping his wife Lurleen succeed him, frankly admitting that he planned to make the decisions. Family dynasties can help protect corrupt locations from having the next guy find their dirty laundry, keep the kickbacks in the family, pass secret recipes for fraud from generation to generation.

Nepotism laws generally don't put any restrictions on family members who volunteer to help around the office -- or help with vote-counting, as the case may be.


Clearly I'm a Yankee, or a left-coasty, or something, because when I went looking for who has the same last name in the moonshine territories the nicknames on the ballots stopped me before I could even get to the last names.

Three candidates who go by the names Bugs, Hossfly and Chigger ran for magistrate in the 2007 Kentucky primary election. That election also provided candidate comfort food: challengers named Buttermilk, Puddin, Apple, Peanuts, Hot Dog, Big Mac and Bun, along with Chubby Ray, Heavy Duty, Chunk, Tank and Slim.


Two industries have a real stake in moonshine elections counties: Drug-running and coal mining. The next article in the moonshine series will go into the drug-running side of things. Here, let's take a look at how the coal industry -- and the family stakeholders in coal -- have a powerful interest in elections.

The vast majority of America's 3,142 counties are rural, and in most states, elections are administered by counties. In rural areas, a limited number of industries control the economy, provide the jobs, and consider themselves stakeholders in election outcomes. Many Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wyoming counties are heavily vested in mining.


Sometimes it's all about who'll let you dump the most in the creek.

You may think that coal was just something your grandparents needed, but in fact, coal-fired power plants supply roughly 50 percent of the America's electricity and more than 40 percent of the nation's emissions of the leading greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.

Owners of Big Coal nowadays live in places like Florida (TECO Energy), St. Louis (Peabody Energy), and Virginia (Massey Energy), but many powerful local families still draw their personal power from coal. Wealthy local families have sold, leased, and still manage large coal operations.

Whereas the Kennedy family bought West Virginia votes the old fashioned way, one by one with envelopes full of cash, George W. Bush was assisted into office by mining industry moguls and a disgruntled union boss who convinced people that an environmentally friendly president would cost them their jobs. (citations in the main article)

Bush flipped West Virginia voters from Democrat to Republican with the help of coal barons like William Raney, director of the West Virginia Coal Association, and James H. "Buck" Harless, another patriarch of the coal industry, along with Charles "Dick" Kimbler, a former miner's union official who helped break the Democrats hold on Appalachian counties.

"We were looking for friends," Harless told a Wall Street Journal reporter, "and we found one in George W. Bush."

After taking the 2000 presidential election, Bush set up his transition advisory team for energy policies. He named three Peabody Energy executives to assist him. When he installed Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell's wife, Elaine Chau, to her cabinet post, both Bush and McConnell* gained a friendly foe for those pesky mining industry investigations.

* McConnell co-sponsored the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the first bill to muscle voting machines into American politics by force.

Resource exploitation produces such a sobering string of deaths every year that the Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA) keeps a running "Fatalgram" tally on its web site. In charge of investigating these fatal accidents is Mitch McConnell's wife, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chau.

On Oct. 11 2000, about 250 million gallons of black coal sludge gushed into a Martin County Kentucky mine and then flowed into two creeks. Black gunk swallowed backyards, gardens and driveways, annihilating life in the waterways. The spill was 23 times as large as the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill, but it got less media coverage. Erik Reece, a lecturer at the University of Kentucky who teaches environmental journalism, chronicles the kinds of concerns that arise when death and disaster intersect with married Washington D.C. powerhitters:

Just like New Orleans, investigators found out they failed to follow safeguards and knew it was at high risk, but when MSHA investigators recommended a criminal investigation, Bush-appointed McConnell spouse Elaine Chau did not comply; one of the main investigators found himself locked out of his office.

It's only toxic sludge and global warming at stake. But -- whether it be through financing elections, intimidation tactics, or working with powerful families inside county governments to rig elections -- mining industry "persuasion" shoots its bullets both upward and downward.
Take local citizens' property rights and personal safety, for example. In his book Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness, Reece describes the personal toll exacted from a resident of moonshine government territory:

On the third of July, I drove across 10,000 acres of boulder-strewn wasteland that used to be Kayford Mountain, W.Va. -- one of the most hideous mountaintop-removal sites I've seen. But right in the middle of the destruction, rising like a last gasp, is a small knoll of untouched forest. Larry Gibson's family has lived on Kayford Mountain for 200 years. ... Forty seams of coal lie beneath his 50 acres. Gibson could be a millionaire many times over, but because he refuses to sell, he has been shot at and run off his own road. One of his dogs was shot and another hanged. . . In 2000, Gibson walked out onto his porch one day to find two men dressed in camouflage, approaching with gas cans. They backed away and drove off, but not before they set fire to an empty cabin that belongs to one of Gibson's cousins. This much at least can be said for the West Virginia coal industry: it has perfected the art of intimidation.


In the last article, "The Hunt for Joe Bolton,", we showed you pictures of the Salyer family influence in Magoffin County. Salyer Coal Company. Salyer for Judge. Salyer Elementary School. Paul Hudson Salyer, a second cousin of former Kentucky Governor Paul Patton, served three terms in Magoffin county's most powerful position, that of Judge Executive, and the 2005 Magoffin County audit mentions that the County Clerk and his wife were running the office.Elections in Magoffin County were therefore being administered by a husband and wife.
(printer-friendly copy of article click here, allow a couple minutes to load: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/moonshine1.pdf

Bullitt County is not dominated by the coal industry, but it seems to have issues with both drug trafficking and conflict of interest. Bullitt County just built the new Nina Mooney Courthouse Annex, elections headquarters. Nina Mooney was Queen of Elections for a few decades and now her son, Kevin Mooney, runs elections.

During Nina's reign, the Mooney family kept the voting machines in a warehouse they owned, rent paid by Bullitt County taxpayers. Bullitt County no longer houses its voting machines in the Mooney family's warehouse, but 2007 Bullitt County financial documents show thousands of dollars in taxpayer money going to "Mooney's Auto Supply." In Feb. 2007 alone, while Kevin Mooney owned it and while he worked for the county, over $2600 was disbursed by Bullitt County to Mooney Auto Supplies. A new owner took over in May 2007, but documents show that Bullitt County was equipping its road services division from Mooney's auto supply shop while he was running the elections division for the county.

Bullitt County's voting machine technician is a woman named Tina Drury. She ran away from me when I asked her who pays her. We found her all by herself in a room full of voting machines and upon seeing us videotaping, she literally ran out of the room and bolted down the stairs, and refused to answer who pays her. We have been unable to learn much about Tina Drury's qualifications, except that her grandfather was the voting machine technician before her.


Here is a short online video I ran across pertaining to Loving County Texas, where a leading public official is explaining all the family relationships in Loving County government.


Several citizens in Knox County, Tennessee have been grousing online that the county commission features the son of an ex-commissioner, the father of a current commissioner, and the wife of another ex-commissioner. They say a former commissioner is now the Knox County Clerk (read: runs elections now). Before you say "that's just an online forum," well you're right, but I'm finding time after time that the locals know best, and for this reason, there is no substitute for field work if you want to know what's really going on.


And then there's Clay County, Kentucky. You won't get far researching Clay County before you bump into a half-dozen Sizemores, who exist in abundance on both sides of the law. I just can't top this article, written by Bryan Burrough. It illustrates the pitfalls of family-run government so eloquently you simply must read these excerpts -- and bear in mind that ol' Crawdad Sizemore won his latest election in May this year:

In Clay County, Ky., It Takes Some Doing To Avoid a Sizemore
The Wall Street Journal(24)

. . . Meet the powerful Sizemore clan, whose grip on this isolated mountain county is surpassed only by the violence that clings to its name. Bombings, murders, alleged jury tampering, bootlegging -- the saga of the Sizemores weaves together all the strange and troublesome themes of politics in Appalachia's hamlets.

There is Sheriff Harold Sizemore, whose father and predecessor as sheriff was killed in a backwoods hollow by a sniper's bullets in 1969. There is County Judge Carl "Crawdad" Sizemore. There is Constable "Black Jack" Sizemore, whose father was shot in the back by a county sheriff in 1922. And the tax assessor is James Sizemore, called a "double Sizemore" because his parents were both Sizemores.

. . . Indeed, with control over the two largest sources of jobs -- the schools and the county payroll -- the Sizemores hold sway over much of Clay County's populace. Few folks hereabouts, including the Sizemores' political opponents, will criticize them

. . . To understand Clay County's contradictions, one must first understand the Sizemores -- which isn't easy since many Sizemores can't untangle their own family tree.

"There are about four or five sets of us, but as long as you're a Sizemore, you're a Sizemore, no matter what," says Black Jack Sizemore, the constable. "Above all, we stick together."

. . . They first came into prominence hereabouts because of what is now known as the great Sizemore feud of 1931. . . And before the killing stopped, family members recall, nine Sizemores were dead, including a deputy sheriff ambushed by his two first cousins in an argument over election results.



When you introduce computers into the voting process this forces the citizens - who own the government - to trust government insiders to tell the truth about election results. That's intolerable. But family-run government manages to turn even our rudimentary dog-and-pony-show checks and balances into a farce.

Citizens can see paper ballots counted in public at the polling place, but we can't see what goes on inside a computer. Government insiders control those computers, and in too many counties, these insiders are related to each other. Intolerable. Farce.

That is not democracy.


The so-called "audits" in state and federal legislation are actually spot-checks, not audits. Unfortunately, it is difficult to do an actual audit of any kind in the short time between Election Night and the mandatory election certification deadlines. Real audits take months, and they don't just check whether numbers add up -- they examine whether procedures were followed and look at chain of custody, called "segregation of duties."

Random spot checks like those done in Minnesota, Arizona, and North Carolina are better than nothing but they won't really stop insider fraud. Government insiders control chain of custody for the very election items that are spot-checked. There are no outside sources for documents, like banks or merchants, just the one source: the government insiders who hold all the keys. Spot checks use records handed over by county insiders, the same people who control access to ballot warehouses and custody of all the logs.


Citizen control is the inalienable birthright that the "Trust Me" model tramples. The Declaration of Independence states that The People have the right to "alter or abolish" our government. A milder form of this is to alter our governors. There are really only two ways to do this: through elections or using the method of 1776.

Try this: Ask the king of elections in the land where you live if he can secure his laptop from himself. The answer is always the same: "You have to trust us."

Next time you hear the words "You Have To Trust," please bust out laughing.


It's unfair to ask citizens to become clairvoyants, trying to guess whether they should or should not "trust" a bunch of insiders, especially when they happen to be related to each other. It is the duty of the government to "protect and secure" the rights of The People. Forcing us to trust insiders does not secure and protect our rights.

We need to look at these things as structural issues, and put structures in place to protect the rights of The People.


At least, get the farce out of the way. It may take longer to correct the intolerable.

Cleaning up nepotism is one area where reforms may be achieved quickly. By itself, this won't give you elections you can trust, but it will reclaim meaningful territory.

Short term:
1) Demand local policies for the following matters pertaining to elections:

a) Require all election workers and poll workers to sign an affidavit: "I am not related to anyone on the ballot"

b) Do not permit family members of election staff or candidates to volunteer in any capacity that provides access to election records or computers.

These are decisions that can be implemented locally regardless of whether the state requires such measures.

2) Short term: Identify the family relationships in your local elections jurisdiction. Anyone can do this, with a little legwork. Long term: Push for Personal Relationships Disclosure Requirements. Disclosing family ties should be simple. We know who our family is. If it takes too long to fill out the form listing family members employed by local and state government, you've got too many relatives on the payroll.

3) Work to secure state legislation or a constitutional amendment similar to the Missouri Constitution anti-nepotism clause. (It is ironic that a current candidate for Kentucky governor thinks it's more important to change the constitution to allow gambling than to eliminate Kentucky's nepotism problem).

Exterminating nepotism will help deal with farcical elections. The next article in the Moonshine series will address the intolerable: felonious conduct by public officials.

The Complete Moonshine Elections Series:
1 -- The Hunt for Joe Bolton: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/moonshine1.pdf
2 -- Family-Run Government: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/moonshine2.pdf
Still to come
3 -- Felonious conduct by public officials
4 -- The Bullitt County Experience
5 -- Moonshine Solutions


Extraordinary work by Bullitt County citizen Kathy Greenwell triggered this investigative report.

It's not often you read in the newspaper that a candidate for sheriff -- in this case, Kathy's husband, Dave Greenwell -- is running a campaign with an explicit promise to clean up nepotism in county hiring practices. That flagged the issue for us, and a closer look reveals that this problem is significant, jeopardizes computerized elections, and is not limited to Bullitt County.

When Dave announced his intent to run for Bullitt County sheriff, he was fired. He is now a police officer in nearby Pioneer Village.

Election rights attorney Paul Lehto has done a masterful job of framing the issues of counting votes in secret, and provided several of the frames used in this article.

Black Box Voting administrative assistant Natalie D'Arielli has contributed astute insights and suggested some of the practical solutions. She trekked around Kentucky with me capturing video and asking questions.

And thanks also to the mighty Nancy Tobi, from whom I purloined the "gone wild" concept for the "Nepotism Gone Wild" subhead. Her "Citizens Gone Wild" concept in New Hampshire is an empowering way to take action.

Citizens who wish to become more involved: Black Box Voting has prepared an easy to follow "Citizens Tool Kit" for you, available for free online: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.html

The work Black Box Voting is doing is supported solely by citizen donations. We are gearing up for 2008, and your tax-deductible donation is always very much needed and appreciated! To support our work:
Click http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html

Or, mail to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

* * * * *


Join the debate: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/47822.html

Permission granted to excerpt or reprint, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

HERE'S A POLITICAL DEBATE YOU WON'T SEE ON TV, because it's important and as weighty as Providence Rock. Don't worry, it will be lively and easy to understand. Feel free to scroll down to "DEBATE STARTS HERE" if the introductory information is already familiar.

IN A NUTSHELL: Pending legislation proposes to change how federal elections are run by requiring a spot check on computer-counted votes with hand counted samples. The broad strokes sound good, but do the details deliver? "At least, do no harm." Is there anything in this that might harm America?

Some say these new spot checks will prevent fraud, others say they will prove whether the voting machines work, and others want them to "provide confidence in the system."

Opponents argue that this proposal will throw the presidential election into litigation, may destabilize the nation, and will provide only false confidence because of the way it's designed.

This is the third debate in a series of "Debate with a Chair" articles. Here are links to the first two debates:

The debates have been getting a lot of attention. Among the comments so far: 

EMPTY CHAIR: Debate with an "empty chair" is one-sided. The "chair" in this debate is only empty because the defenders have been too few and most of those have dropped out in fatigue or frustration ...or they simply decided that going back to doing their expert work is a more valuable use of their time. 

BEV HARRIS: The debates are still raging privately, and "defenders" have sure not dropped out of those.  What's missing is PUBLIC debate -- We are talking about rewriting the way elections are conducted in America, and this must not take place in discussions behind closed doors. The pros and cons of any major changes should be discussed in public before we change the way we do elections.

One side of this debate is represented with an empty chair because although leaders are still arguing privately (Fourth of July back-channel debates were flying across keyboards and cyberspace), the public needs access to this process. Our invitation remains: anyone may weigh in publicly at any time in this public debate.


Proposed legislation will add a new procedure for elections counted on computers. For federal races only, random checks of paper ballots will be implemented done on a sliding scale (the bigger the margin of the win, the fewer precincts are selected for spot checks).

A few states already do spot checks, but they are smaller (one-half to one percent), and are often procedurally flawed (ie. they do the spot check before they announce the results, or in some cases, they are told the number they are supposed to come up with before they start the counting.)


EMPTY CHAIR: Would anyone reading this really rather have NO audits than some audits? 

BEV HARRIS: Well, let's define what an audit is first. There are a lot of election-related issues, like who is on the registered voter list, and whether polling places are set up fairly; you can audit anything. You can audit a building to see if it meets code, or you can audit a class, meaning sit in and watch. The term "audit" is overly vague, a buzz word, something that sounds good but may or may not provide the kinds of checks and balances that are needed.

EMPTY CHAIR: If we don't get the audits, we can't prove fraud and get the necessary changes for the next round.

PAT VESELY: But what is being talked about in elections is not an audit for those purposes. Try telling the IRS, "You can look at three percent of my receipts and I'll tell you which kinds of records you can choose." This could be called a random sample, or a spot check, but it is not an audit.


BEV HARRIS: The discussion of "audits" in elections is being talked about as though it is some kind of accepted set of procedures, based on tradition or science, when in fact people are literally making it up as they go and don't even agree on the purpose. For example, some people say it is to detect fraud, some say it is to build confidence, and some seem to think it is to detect random error. Those are completely different goals.

The first, let's call it a "fraudit", would be for the purpose of fraud detection. It would be designed to address the possibility that someone, like the person in the elections office who has custody of the computers, has performed a manipulation to favor one of the candidates.

The second, which I call a "schmaudit," is just for confidence building. In other words, it's for marketing and public relations, but does not address whether the right candidate is installed into office.

EMPTY CHAIR - I'd prefer something guaranteed to catch fraud before the results are announced to the press. But that's not on the table. 

BEV HARRIS: So would I. But the current set of spot checks IS being marketed to the public right now as something that will catch fraud. Current proposed legislation, according to Common Cause, promises to "fix it by 2008" whatever that means, because the IT is undefined. What is going to be "fixed by 2008" -- Fraud? Confidence? Random error? 

EMPTY CHAIR - Right now it looks like it will be difficult to get any election reform passed with a November 2008 deadline for audits and for replacing paperless DREs, so we may end up with no anti-fraud shield in November 2008. Let's have an anti-fraud shield in 2008. 

BEV HARRIS: So you are looking for a "fraudit." You want legislation for this for 2008. Then you are saying it will be difficult to do this for 2008. I'm hearing this too. Whatever we're proposing, it needs to be clear whether we'll get it for 2008 or whether we're being suckered into a bait and switch to install other changes which are dangerous, without even getting anything for 2008.

EMPTY CHAIR: Well, with a national routine audit law in place, at least there will be
1 - a mindset change for election officials and
2 - a basis for a fight.

Election officials have been afraid that hand audits would cause chaos in my state. After they went smoothly and were completed in less than two days, they said "Gee, that wasn't so bad." However, it is imperative that observers monitor every step of the audit and collect the count discrepancy data, because you can't assume the officials will get it right regardless of how the law is written.

BEV HARRIS: That's good, but your state used a different set of protocols than is being proposed in HR 811. 

EMPTY CHAIR: To regain full citizen control over election processes, we must take whatever control is possible to get and then use that control to get more control.


BEV HARRIS: Before choosing fraudits, schmaudits, what have you, we need to take a hard look at our underlying assumptions. Are we trying to redefine how our constitutional republic operates in order to make sure we use computers?

At what point does the extra complexity, cost, and increased potential for confusion and litigation justify taking a closer look at self-authenticating systems, like hand counting at the polling place?

Forty-five percent of New Hampshire jurisdictions hand count in public at the polling place, and they get results on election night -- even with ballots containing many questions-- in polling places with up to 3,000 voters at a time. They deliver the absentee ballots to the appropriate polling place, where they are counted right along with the other ballots. Those systems do a 100 percent audit contemporaneously with the first count. If we're talking about spot check audits of computers, we need to compare the costs and benefits with 100 percent simultaneous audits with hand counts.

EMPTY CHAIR: I consider the consequences of letting another presidential election go un-audited far too dire to put off.

MARK E. SMITH: I don't want to turn elections into expensive security systems and professional security specialists. I'm a senior citizen and I read an article about security for seniors once. It said that the best security wasn't alarms or weapons, it was having nosy neighbors with dogs. I think the same thing holds for elections -- we, the people -- should be able to be "nosy neighbors," with public hand counting. I want those goldarned nosy neighbors to be able to keep their eyes on everything going on. I can depend on them. I can rely on them. I don't have to like them, but they're the best insurance I can get. 

EMPTY CHAIR: I personally see a much much greater threat to our nation's stability from allowing the continued use of unaudited DRE paperless and paper roll voting machine counts in 2008 like you would have us do. In my opinion that would expose the US and the world to unnecessary risks. Lives are at stake, and even perhaps the future well being of humanity.

HOWARD STANISLEVIC: What some of us seem to have forgotten during the drafting of this bill is that experts have told us in no uncertain terms that it's beyond the state of the art to produce error-free software -- not to mention the potential for fraud and abuse of that software which is almost infinitely scalable. So electoral outcomes need to be confirmed independently of software. I don't know how we got so far off the track of achieving this relatively straightforward goal with H.R.811, but here's how to do it (and there ought to be a law about it):

1. Publicly disclose and audit all Ballot Definition Programming before each election. Follow up with rigorous Logic & Accuracy (L&A) tests. [THIS IS OFF THE TABLE NOW.]

2. Aggregate precinct totals transparently and independently after posting and witnessing them at the precincts on election night. [NOT IN THE HR 811 BILL]

3. Audit within-precinct tallies (using paper and hand-to-eye counts) with a statistically accurate, fair and efficient method. (I don't care if it's ballot sampling, precinct sampling or machine sampling as long as it's statistically accurate and audits all types of electronically counted ballots and of course, the dreaded "paper records.") [ALLOWED BUT NOT MANDATED BY HR 811]

4. Follow up on any discrepancies found until correct outcomes can be confirmed with very high certainty (prior to certification of course). Ninety-nine percent has been shown to be feasible for all recent federal elections without excessive administrative burden. [HR 811 RECOMMENDS THAT THE STATES FIGURE THIS OUT]

5. Have plenty of paper ballots on hand in case of DRE failures (or ban the DREs altogether until someone can get them right)! [REMOVED FROM HR 811] (more from Stanislevic: http://e-voter.blogspot.com/2007/06/hr811-fact-and-friction-part-iv.html

EMPTY CHAIR: Me, I feel two stolen presidential elections is more than enough to go with some federal legislation that allows us a much better chance of detecting fraud than we've ever had before. 

NANCY TOBI: I am continually amazed at the mental, financial, and logical gymnastics the techno-election community subjects us to as they try to contort their agenda into our democracy. Why are we contorting our entire country's history to fit into this ludicrous framework of using computers to count votes in secret? A simple look at the arguments in Stanislevic's piece shines a light on how his base assumption - that computers belong in elections - is completely blown away by his own arguments. To recap, he says:

"What some of us seem to have forgotten during the drafting of this bill is that experts have told us in no uncertain terms that it's beyond the state of the art to produce error-free software -- not to mention the potential for fraud and abuse of that software which is almost infinitely scalable." 

PAUL LEHTO: Hand counted paper ballots is an incredibly strong issue that is simply just censored.

Essentially, by allowing an observable first count the public can watch and therefore control, it is the only voting system that meets minimum standards necessary to preserve democracy. Yet you Mr. Empty Chair, scoff and laugh at what you assume is a lack of congressional support for it, even though I think you know quite well that there is strong PUBLIC support for it, shown as follows: Public support for observable first counts is at 81% to 100% levels depending on the demographic and jurisdiction in question, according to Zogby polls in August and November 2006. Yet the only voting system, hand counts, that allows for observable first counts is not considered, it is only ridiculed as too much work.

I would imagine that those millions who worked their lives and even sacrificed their lives for representative democracy and the right to vote would be shocked and chagrined not only that secret vote counting would be ratified in HR 811, but that some primary leaders in a "transparency" movement would not deem it unworthy of their time to engage in a public debate in order to better inform the public about the options available. 

EMPTY CHAIR: There are many requirements for a democracy, and probably none of them are absolute. Some of those requirements are that the final outcome of the election evidently reflect the intent of the required number or percentage of voters. Every word of that is important. The vote counts have to be accurate, the outcome of the election has to reflect that, and the result needs to be publicly verifiable.

It doesn't matter whether the initial vote count comes from a hand count, computer count, or voodoo. If it can be verified to be accurate, and the results of the election reflect that, it's good enough. 

PAUL LEHTO: The government cannot audit itself, investigate itself or elect itself.

The sole method of control of the government that Americans have is elections. And in the last several years, the counting of America's votes has been rendered secret, invisible and outside the power of any citizen to observe, via the processes and contracts of computerized voting. Secrecy is always the total lack of accountability, because everyone needs information to make someone accountable. This would be comical were freedom not so serious.
More from Lehto on this: http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_paul_leh_070704_defending_the_freedo.htm

BEV HARRIS: By the way, I'm getting a lot of e-mail taking us to task for our terminology, clarifying that we are a constitutional republic, not a democracy.

In a democracy, and in a representative democracy, the majority rules. In a constitutional republic, rights trump even a majority. You cannot vote away someone else's right, and you cannot use your power as a representative to agree to terminate rights.

more on whether we are a democracy or a constitutional republic: http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/AmericanIdeal/aspects/demrep.html

"The Constitution is designed to put into practice the principle of the Declaration of Independence: that the people form their governments and grant to them only 'just powers,' limited powers, in order primarily to secure (to make and keep secure) their God-given, unalienable rights. We don't have mob rule (rule by majority without regard to constitutional rights) and we don't have snob-rule (rule by an expert elite).


EMPTY CHAIR: Well if and when it becomes the law of the land that everyone in the country shall vote on Hand Counted Paper Ballots (HCPBs) the technology debate becomes relevant. 

NANCY TOBI: How about we answer the question of whether technology actually belongs in elections at all, first and foremost, before working on all kinds of complicated legislation that offers work-arounds? 

EMPTY CHAIR: But today's ground truth is that DREs will be around to 2010, when they will be abolished (only if HR 811 passes). And op-scans will be around a lot longer,
whether or not HR 811 passes.

So sometime in the future, you may be remembered as one of the saints who fervently held out for 100% Hand Counted Paper Ballots, counted, video-taped, and posted at the precinct ... But if HR 811 does NOT pass -- partly because of your opposition -- how will you be thought of by the folks needlessly forced to suffer through the decades of electronic vote theft? 

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Audits are not vote counts. The use of e-voting machinery makes public vote counting impossible.


EMPTY CHAIR: These proposed audits give us more control over elections than ever before in American history - the first publicly observable independent manual audits, the largest number of manual hand counts since the 1980's. 

BEV HARRIS: I hardly think that computer-counted votes, with untested spot checks, gives us more control that hand counted ballots, in public, at the polling place, which we have had in American history. 

EMPTY CHAIR: I don't disagree with the spirit of anything you say. I just disagree with the practicality of opposing the only option on the table when I believe strongly it's a really good bill. 

BEV HARRIS: I take issue with your contention that pending legislation, HR 811, is "a really good bill." Can we at least break out the difference between what is a problem and what is a danger?

Problems can be solved. Problems are different than unpatriotic heresy. Much of the discussion of audit protocols is in the "problems" category. But in this case the audits are conjoined with unpatriotic heresy.

So the question become, just like with the paper trail, not "do you want audits" but "do you want audits if it involves changing our form of government and locking in prohibitions on public examination of the voting system."

If you want audits, you must put control over elections under four White House appointees. If you want audits, you must capitulate to Microsoft and various voting industry vendors and give up the public right to examine the software that controls the vote counting.

So this is just to keep us grounded - many of the problems we point out [below] with spot checks could probably be improved or solved but if even the spot checks come coupled with unconstitutional theft of our rights, what's the point?


BEV HARRIS: So let's talk about these audit elements that are a "clear and present danger" to our nation. HR 811 already locks in presidential appointees taking control over elections. It handcuffs secret proprietary trade secrets to these audits as well. But what about dangers specific to the way the audits are set up?

- These audits have the EAC, the four presidential appointees, getting in between voters and certification of elections. The bill calls the EAC "The Commission," like something out of a John Grisham novel. It's in there at least 32 times. These proposed audits have the states going to "The Commission" for approval of their audit methods. The states have to submit their report to "The Commission" before the states can certify their elections! This is a big change in our Constitutional checks and balances.

Beyond that, the so-called "audits" carry with them the risk of false confidence (no intelligent selection, no attention to red flags, no surprise factor, and no forensic investigations when audits do not match.

And in addition to that, we have a tradition of noncompliance with regulations and no consequences for violating public access and right to information. 

EMPTY CHAIR: Well the auditing requirements will be ignored or very poorly implemented in many places. We all know how cavalierly election procedures and even legal requirements are taken. We'll need to have people watching and recording these processes in as many places as we can -- and lodging complaints, with evidence.

We need to make sure there is lots of press coverage of these lapses, so that, in the future, audits will be taken more seriously. 

KATHLEEN WYNNE: My greatest concern with the election reform community even entertaining the idea of "testing" yet another group of procedures to be used in our elections to "see whether it works," before it is enacted, simply opens the door to a different layer of complexity being built into the elections process requiring a certain expertise to be trusted and relied upon during that process (which can and will be exploited).

More importantly, this would more than likely inhibit the average citizen's involvement in the process, simply because average citizens would not have the final word. 

NANCY TOBI: You understand what others seem to consistently miss: changes in the system MATTER. And the wrong changes can BREAK the system.

Thank you for injecting some common sense. I was beginning to think I entered Bizarro world. I will say, though, the Bizarro World perspectives seem to far outnumbered by the common sense postings to the list, so there is hope. In a democracy even Bizarros have their place, as long as common sense prevails in the end.

DAVID GRISCOM: Factoid (100% neutral and irrelevant to the present discussion): The 25 May 2007 issue of Science magazine contains a controversial article entitled "Evidence for a Late Supernova Injection of 60Fe into the Protoplanetary Disk." And the lead author is: Martin Bizzarro.

If true, this would have profoundly affected the formation of the Earth, and it will have been confirmed that we indeed live in a Bizzarro world.  

NANCY TOBI: This explains a lot. Thanks David! 

KAT L'ESTRANGE: To the Chair -- What will your response be in 2008 when there's a total meltdown? What will Holt's response be? Those of you who support Holt should take this opportunity to hone your skills perhaps for the fallout you'll most certainly face in 2008. Will you respond to angry voters then the same way you're responding to those of us who oppose Holt now? Or is that when you'll pile on the sweetness and ask them to take the next step with you? 

CHAIR: [Note from BBV admin: I am going to attribute this statement.] (DAVID DILL) - If HR 811 passes with a 2008 deadline, I feel confident making some predictions. There may well be a "meltdown" (i.e., lots of bad publicity), which I think will be a good thing because it will simply expose long-standing problems that are currently being ignored. 

NANCY TOBI: I also find it more than a little disturbing that they are so sanguine about the possibility of having the Holt mandates causing a meltdown of the election systems, as though they think "we all need to learn a lesson" at the expense of the functioning of our nation, and as thought they have somehow forgotten what happened when the "audits" (a la fake recounts) in Florida 2000 threw the election to the courts and installed a clearly criminal administration in the United States of America. 

CHAIR (DAVID DILL): When audits are performed, a lot of problems will be found. There will especially be a lot of problems with existing paper trail machines, in selected localities. In places where the VVPRs [paper trails] aren't printed because of machine malfunctions, it will be inescapable. There will also be inexplicable mismatches between the VVPR counts and electronic counts. From the perspective of the press, it may well look like a "meltdown"

We should be prepared to capitalize on this. When the bill passes, we should point out at every opportunity that the best way to meet the requirements is to use optical scan or hand counts.

After 2008, it will be a LOT easier to make the case that VVPATs are not a good idea. Nationwide mandatory random manual audits are the key to this. 

BEV HARRIS: This is the worst kind of so-called "science." You have already formed conclusions a year and a half before the data gets here, and you are already tilling the fields for a prescribed set of actions before the empirical evidence arrives to back them up. This approach is lobbying, not science and it is not "computer security expertise" either. 

EMPTY CONGRESSIONAL CHAIR: I assume no one expects us to apologize for consulting with Ivy League PhD computer security experts on a matter of computer security. 

BEV HARRIS: Excuse me, elections are matter of human rights, not "computer security." 

NANCY TOBI: You might assume that we citizens take umbrage at your consulting with computer professionals who have no expertise in constitutional law or American history or democracy.


BEV HARRIS: Let's talk about legal meltdown. I will tell you that I do not accept the premise that votes should be counted in secret, which is the only reason we need these make-it-up-as-you-go "audits" anyway. The forced implementation of counting votes in secret was something The People were never asked about.

The process being proposed, doing spot checks and random samples, I think, is most likely to result in throwing elections into the courts. As Nancy Tobi pointed out, the computer scientists who came up with this concept have no background in constitutional law, have not litigated election contests. 

PAUL LEHTO: According to the proposed protocols ONE slow county will delay an
ENTIRE state's audit? 

BEV HARRIS: Actually, one slow PRECINCT can delay an entire state's audit. New York has what, 10,000 or so precincts? So this means the national election grinds to a halt if one blue-haired lady lost her memory cards. 

PAUL LEHTO: How long can that delay the start of the audit in order to run out the December 13 presidential time clock we all remember from Bush v. Gore (decided December 12, 2000?). 

EMPTY CHAIR: They do 1 percent audits right now in California, and it works. 

BEV HARRIS: Those are meaningless, if they have not first committed the data -- all precinct results and detailed mail-in results need to be published BEFORE you choose so-called random audit batches. Because you could just hold some back and fudge them once you knew which precincts were selected, because you would know how much you have to fix. 

PAUL LEHTO: Right. If the precincts are announced and/or the audit starts before they commit to initial numbers, they can still fiddle with the totals even before UNOFFICIAL results are announced if they get wind the audits are detecting any problems....

EMPTY CHAIR: "Within 24 hours after the State announces the final UNOFFICIAL vote count (as defined by the State) in each precinct in the State, the Election Auditor shall determine and then announced the precincts in the State in which it will administer the audits." 

PAUL LEHTO: Can anyone point me toward a white paper showing timelines have been studied? For example, ON WHAT DATE do the "final UNOFFICIAL" results get declared in a given state? 

BEV HARRIS: Precisely. Everyone who has ever done a GANTT chart knows that when one task is dependent on another, and you have a fixed deadline, you don't want a dependency-laden task early in the cycle that has a single failure point. If you have no leeway with your deadlines, and there is no leeway with a presidential election, you risk triggering a Constitutional crisis. 

EMPTY CHAIR: Certainly Bev, you cannot be claiming that an "orderly transition" is more important than ensuring that the correct president whom voters elected, is sworn into office? 

NANCY TOBI: Laws may be tested or not. Good laws at least are thought through carefully. 

EMPTY CHAIR: True. And HR811 has been "thought through" for many years now. 

BEV HARRIS: If that's so, my question is: Where are the pilot studies on these audits? When were they done? 

EMPTY CHAIR: There have been audits but so far there has never been a correctly conducted, timely election audit in any state. 

BEV HARRIS- You're surely not planning to enact a law nationwide based on something that's never been tested. What is the pilot testing schedule for the audits?
- What criteria are you using to select pilot testing locations?
- How many locations will you pilot test before rolling out the auditing in its mission critical phase? 

EMPTY CHAIR: This is the most politically naive statement I've yet seen. No laws are 'tested' before enacted. It's ridiculous to state that is even possible. 

EMPTY CHAIR: Auditing is an old science because it is routine in business, banking and other fields.

In addition many components of the election audit procedures have been tested (and timed) already in states.

If I get my PEW grant funded, and the pilot is funded, then we'll have a pilot project not only for audits, but for doing everything needed to make election results publicly verifiable, including making election records public in a timely fashion. We'll need to determine locations which have state election laws and officials which would allow us to do real meaningful audits. 

PAUL LEHTO: So in California, it was approximately two weeks before they stopped counting ballots, both for the special election June 6, 2006 (opscan, primarily) and the November 2006 general election (touchscreens, primarily). So based on that, the audits will start TWO WEEKS or more after Election Night, under the quoted language below. Where is the white paper on how long it will take each jurisdiction to do the audit? 

- Task dependency: All results must be published before you can select the audit precincts
- Task Dependency: Precincts must be selected before you can begin the audit
- Task Dependency: Audits must be completed before you can certify the election

Unresolved issue: No one has decided or even proposed what to do when there are discrepancies in the audit, and those of us who have been doing field work know that discrepancies are frequent.

Task deadline: There are unmovable statutory deadlines for when elections must be certified

Risk for not meeting deadline: If deadlines are not met, triggers a Constitutional crisis. Why are we embarking on this without pilot testing? This is reckless. 

PAUL LEHTO: I also have concerns with the legal implications, especially given the precedents in Bush v. Gore and equal protection.

From 811, we learn that precincts are to be selected entirely randomly (OK, that's good) but then there's an exception that requires one precinct per county to be selected at minimum. That makes it nonrandom.

Under HR 550's former 2% audits, this rule, preserved in 811, results in a state like Iowa in one precinct being selected in each of the counties in Iowa, since 2% of the precincts is less than the number of counties in Iowa. But this meant for Iowa that one precinct would be audited in the cities where all the population is, while comparatively speaking the most rural counties are being heavily audited.

Randomness might satisfy equal protection since all would have an equal auditing chance, but these kinds of nonrandom poison pills are hard to understand. Can anyone explain how this "one precinct per county" can possibly be consistent with requirements of randomness? It appears to mean that initial audits will never be a proper scientific basis for extrapolating out to any larger population.


BEV HARRIS: All of the audit protocols currently being discussed make the following assumptions:

1. That crooks will always use the same methodology
2. That if a road map is published which will catch a certain methodology, crooks will just repeat the method that the road map tells them will get caught
3. That the crooks will be unable to achieve replacement of audit records, even though they have inside access. 

EMPTY CHAIR: I believe that the 3-to-10% HCPB audits now mandated by the Holt bill would give us a fighting chance to catch wholesale hacking at least of the op-scans in 2008 and all the electronic crap from 2010 onward (notwithstanding the lawyers for the bad guys that Paul promises will defeat us). 

PAUL LEHTO: Add DRE paper trail falsification to the long and growing list of ways the proposed audits can be readily defeated. (More on this in the upcoming DRE Debate). 

EMPTY CHAIR: Basing a system on getting a correct, and presumably uncontestable, count on election night is an incredibly bad idea. Counting all the votes accurately in a few hours in the middle of the night is never going to yield an accurate result. That's why almost every state publishes unofficial totals right after the election, and allows a period of days to weeks for election officials to do a "canvass" that is more accurate, and why candidates have a period of time after the election to challenge it.

MARK E. SMITH: If you don't get it right the first time, an audit will do nothing more than provide jobs for auditors, causes for activists, fees for litigators, and more scandals that we can't do anything about. 

EMPTY CHAIR - More importantly, getting it right on election night is hostile to auditing, which I believe to be vital to transparency. It is not possible to have a transparent election system unless the results can be checked, and challenged, post facto. 

NANCY TOBI: I don't like the Holt prescribed audits for a number of reasons:

a) I believe we should focus on getting it right on election night, where 100% publicly observed hand counts in well managed situations are doable

b) the Holt-mandated audits will not catch fraud, as numerous others have already pointed out ad nauseum

c) the Holt-mandated audits and their reporting requirements do not appear to be reasonably implemented under constitutionally mandated timelines.

Those who wrote the Constitution thought we ought to be able to get our votes counted properly without scurrying around to every jurisdiction to conduct meaningless "audits" and then report on them to the Executive branch before certifying our electors in time to seat a new government. 

EMPTY CHAIR: The audit process will increase public scrutiny over elections and public verifiability of election outcomes - by the first independent publicly observable election audits (although it does not make it to your pie in the sky in one leap, it moves us in that direction), and moves us towards your pie in the sky in many many ways that are on the table currently. 

BEV HARRIS: Once you get into the government checking itself with spot checks, I think you really start to lose the credibility of the election. 

EMPTY CONGRESSIONAL CHAIR: your choices are Holt audits or Feinstein audits - take your pick.

NANCY TOBI: No, Ms. Chair. The George Bush approach of "You're either with us against us" so happily embraced in the pro-811 propaganda does not actually apply in real life. We have many other options. We can blow up both of these awful bills and work to get passed something real and workable. We don't need our servants telling us, the masters, what our choices are. That is not the way America works. We, the People, are the deciders on our choices and we have plenty of better options than these two. 

EMPTY CHAIR: Ok, that's another hour of wasted breath. 

To be continued ...

NEXT DEBATE WITH A CHAIR: The DRE (touchscreen) debate - Do DRE voting machines have ANY place in US elections?

And yes, this debate series will end with a discussion of OTHER SOLUTIONS.

You can join this debate by registering and posting your comments HERE:

BLACK BOX VOTING is supported solely by citizen donations. If you believe this work is important, you may support us by donating online or sending a check. Donations of $45 or more will receive a gift copy of the HBO documentary,  "Hacking Democracy":
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06-30-07 * To support this important work:  http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html

Join the debate: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/47714.html
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The "empty chair" is the faceless voice of quotes from high profile leaders in the election reform movement who have refused to publicly debate the sweeping changes in democracy that they are seeking. We have invited them to weigh in with their faces any time.

(You can skip directly to the debate if you're familiar with the intro ... scroll down to DEBARE BEGINS)

There are two bills currently being pushed through the US Congress that will change the way elections are run in America. The voting rights community is split as to whether the proposed legislation will make things better, or kill our republic altogether. Below is a peek behind the scenes at the arguments among leaders about whether flawed election reform is better than none at all.

A mutation of what has been known as "The Holt Bill" called HR 811 62 pages long is the first bill, with the second bill S1487 (submitted by Diane Feinstein) the companion bill that must be reconciled with whatever the Holt Bill turns out to be in order to enact reform.

IN A NUTSHELL: The current mutation of the Holt Bill provides for a paper trail (toilet paper roll-style records affixed to DRE voting machines) in 2008, requires more durable ballots in 2010, and requires a complex set of audits. It also cements and further empowers a concentration of power over elections under the White House, gives explicit federal sanction to trade secrets in vote counting, mandates an expensive "text conversion" device that does not yet exist which is not fully funded, and removes "safe harbor" for states in a way that opens them up to unlimited, expensive, and destabilizing litigation.

The current version of the Feinstein Bill does nothing at all for 2008, concentrates power over elections under White House appointees, authorizes discriminatory practices for "distinct communities" (read: minority voting districts), and legislates trade secrecy, along with explicit provisions to enforce trade secrecy in voting systems.

Before the Holt and Feinstein bills can become law, they must be "reconciled" into a single Act which will change just about everything about how elections are run in America. Several organizations, including People for the American Way, Common Cause, MoveOn, Verified Voting, and VoteTrustUSA are pushing hard to pass the Holt Bill (which leads directly to the Feinstein Bill) right away!


We think so. The topic of this debate is whether we should accept the "flaws" (federally sanctioned secret software, concentration of electoral power under the White House, unfunded mandates, destabilizing and untested changes in procedures for certifying elections, alterations in legal terrain) for the benefits of having paper trails and an untested type of audit.

This is your country. Weigh in with what you think! Is it worth it? Is this even Constitutional? Here is what some of the election reform leaders are saying, with proponents of the new legislation represented by empty chairs due to their unwillingness to debate:

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EMPTY CHAIR: If we don't pass this bill, we are still stuck with tamper-ready voting machines (paperless DREs) in large parts of the country (surely enough to sway national elections).
BEV HARRIS: All voting machines currently used are tamper-ready. HR 811 does nothing whatsoever about that.
EMPTY CHAIR: If Holt does not pass, the 2008 presidential election will be held with some states and counties still voting on paperless DREs. 

BEV HARRIS: But this is misleading, because the question is not "do we want a paper trail by 2008" it's "do we want a paper trail by 2008 if we have to give up some of our rights for it."

We don't want anyone to have to vote on a paperless DRE. Or any DRE. But suppose you suggest this to my husband, "Because of your skin color, you will not be able to vote any more, but on balance this is all right because we are getting a paper trail into a handful of states for 2008. Or 2010. We're not sure which."

Is that appropriate? Is that even legal? If that's not legal or appropriate, how is it appropriate to ask that all Americans give up their rights in order to (maybe) get a paper trail into a handful of states by 2008?

Isn't the argument here really: Does this bill require us to abandon fundamental rights in order to get the paper trails?

Because if so, it's inappropriate to ask that of us at all. 

EMPTY CHAIR: You and others are arguing against HR 811, but you're not arguing for anything that can actually be achieved. I am unable to comprehend this unless your agenda is completely different from mine. I want to move towards a solution to our problems. Maybe you want to complain, or maybe you want to use the controversy to achieve something else. But I don't see that you genuinely want to solve the problem, otherwise you would be proposing a real solution. 

ANOTHER EMPTY CHAIR: That's right. We are talking about trying to make something perfect vs. trying to be realistic. 

PAUL LEHTO: You are applying a pragmatist approach, but we are applying a democracy approach, or a rights approach. If they [congress] reject the principles of the Declaration of Independence, that would give us a real dramatic contrast between what we expect of our government and what the government dictates to us is "realistic." If our rights are somehow not "realistic" then democracy itself is not "realistic."

ANDI NOVICK - In the course of this recent debate, and assuming for the purposes of this e-mail that there are potentially some positive aspects to Holt, the question of whether one should temporarily accept the destruction of our rights to be a free people in exchange for what we might be getting from Holt -- that is the question.

We should look to what FREDERICK DOUGLASS said:
"Find out just what the people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." 

EMPTY CHAIR: I am not willing to give up having any control over our elections in 2008, to insist on a one-leap way to get to our "pie in the sky". 

BEV HARRIS: The Feinstein Bill won't go into effect until 2010, and at some point the Holt Bill has to be reconciled with the Feinstein Bill. According to an e-mail from a Holt staffer, they are already looking at pushing their 2008 to 2010. I don't think we have any control over whether that 2008 promise will hold at all. 

ALAN DECHERT - Keep in mind that HAVA [Help America Vote Act] was passed in 2002. Many of its features were never realized (e.g., R&D money never appropriated). New guidelines are still not in operation. All the systems in use are under pre-HAVA certification process. There is no basis to think the federal government will accomplish things in a few months that it has been fumbling for years. I've been listening to this for six years. "Yes, but we have an election next year and we have to focus on that."

We need to have a plan that's off the treadmill. We need a longer-term vision.

MICHAEL WALDMAN from the Brennan Center said at the Take Back America Conference that having no [Holt] bill would be worse than a flawed bill [being passed]. 

PAUL LEHTO: Okay, there was obviously no Holt bill in time for the November 2006 federal elections. Just exactly how bad do they think the "no Holt bill" federal elections were in 2006? As I recall, the Democrats captured the majority in both Houses.

The Brennan Center is largely if not totally in denial that there was election fraud for 2006, and [Waldman is] speaking to Democrats. Given the Democratic gains in 2006 how in the world can "no bill" be such a frightening thing such that it is worse than a flawed bill?

Granted, somebody who believes that election fraud is real and happened in 2006 and 2004 can make an argument that "no bill" is worse than a flawed bill, no matter how difficult that argument may be. But one is not free to completely contradict one's self and have that be accepted by everyone at face value.

If Michael Waldman said this, he is asserting a threat that they refuse to expressly acknowledge even exists, as a way to stampede support for the Holt bill. Meanwhile, back in the Senate, Feinstein's bill has some things that are so laughably improper that it is hard to imagine that they are anything but scarecrows designed to make HR 811 look good by comparison and create the appearance of compromise when they come out of the bill. 

EMPTY CHAIR - For those who think it's easy to get 'the right' legislation passed, consider: Millions of people - millions of people - have marched all over the world to end the Iraq war. It has helped not one whit. The Democrats, who control the House but are checkmated in the Senate, have wanted to pass some sort of time limit on the war after which we can bring the troops home. They failed. Why?

I can assure you it is not because the Democrats are spineless. I think that's a naive, politically ignorant position to take. The point it, they simply didn't have the votes, pure and simple. They had to make a hard choice. They bargained for as much as they could to let that deadline provision go. They made the most of the options in front of them.

But if the "Democratically controlled" Senate and House couldn't get this thing so fundamental to our country's best interests passed, one they overwhelmingly wanted and supported, and an issue in which millions of people have already voted with on their feet, how incredibly more naive and politically ignorant is it to think that a) DREs could be banned even if say, some 20 activists spoke with a single voice, or b) that we could ever get hand counted paper ballots when you can't even get 1000 people to march in protest of a stolen election? 

PAUL LEHTO: We have no right to be free of war. It is at best a political question. We do have rights, and powerful ones, in the area of elections. 

EMPTY CHAIR: I mean, seriously. That's some incredible naivete and political ignorance. 

PAUL LEHTO: Rights trump, rights can invalidate legislation, rights mean compromises are wrongful acts toward the holder of the rights. If you are lobbying for democracy, what makes you think any of it is negotiable, such that you or anyone else would compromise it without a fight? In all seriousness, do you believe that these questions of voting systems are quite outside the realm of rights?

Montesquieu (probably the most influential writer on the Founders outside America) wrote in the Spirit of Laws that the manner of exercising suffrages was just as fundamental in terms of rights as the right of suffrage itself. If this is within the realm of rights, Holt has no right to compromise these rights. In fact he has a duty to secure these rights completely. (See para. 2 of the Declaration of Independence).

These are not a rhetorical questions. If it is democracy's needs we are pushing for, it is improper for anyone to compromise them, or to purport to act on behalf of others to compromise/violate their rights. Rights are required to be granted by the government, not taken away.

ANDI NOVICK: As Frederick Douglass said, 
"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." 

EMPTY CHAIR: What rights are you referring to? If you can't refer to the rights you ask others not to give up, perhaps you should give it up? We are talking about trying to make something perfect vs. trying to be realistic. 

PAUL LEHTO: Freedom, quite literally, depends on the ability of citizens to control their own elections, holding them beyond the power of the government to manipulate. 

NANCY TOBI: But the proposed legislation codifies secret vote counting and then consolidates and cements power under the executive branch; then it assigns power to design the secret vote counting systems to the EAC, under four White House appointees. 

EMPTY CHAIR: The other empty chair is right, Paul that you've never yet proposed anything that is achievable and that acknowledges that a solution must begin with moving from where we are now to where we want to go, one step at a time. 

BEV HARRIS: But where are the next steps, and why do the steps begin with taking away our rights? And by "rights," I mean our rights to prevent government insiders from keeping themselves in office, against our will. Because these bills allow government insiders to count votes in secret and prohibit us from either watching our votes get counted or even obtaining any information after the fact about how they were counted. These bills not only do not secure our rights, they strip them away. 

EMPTY CHAIR: I suggest that one way to push election integrity forward while not precluding further improvements is to use the ratchet technique. When an opportunity presents itself for advancing on our agenda, take it. But then explain to all concerned that this is just the first step and that more improvements are necessary. This will prevent those who want no improvement to say, accept these crumbs or nothing at all. 

PAUL LEHTO: But this is the worst kind of talking point. Claiming incremental progress as the only realistic thing, yet the bill locks in secret vote counting for the first time in history, and new rounds of contracts in addition to the ones in existence are protected from impairment under the Contracts Clause of the US Constitution and trade secrets (with endless lifetimes) under the Takings doctrines of the US Constitution. Within the scope of contracts entered into, more progress becomes impossible. 

EMPTY CHAIR: [If the Holt Bill is not passed] There will be no national mandatory random manual audits. Vendors will still be selecting and paying the entities that are supposed to evaluate their voting systems. 

BEV HARRIS: Lets break this apart. "Vendors will still be selecting and paying the entities that are supposed to evaluate their voting systems." This has nothing whatever to do with "fixing it by 2008" because it's irrelevant to 2008.

The truth is, experts who were not paid by the vendors have still withheld the truth from the American public about these systems. And experts are another form of consolidation of power. It is inappropriate to tell the American people that we must trust a group of experts many of whom have already proven themselves to be untrustworthy, but that's besides the point from a structural point of view in order to "secure" our elections. 

PAUL LEHTO: The real "secure-ity" is whether our inalienable rights are secured by our government, the very purpose for which governments are instituted. 

BEV HARRIS: And this jumps us ahead to the debate on audits, but the statement that if the Holt Bill is not passed, there will be no national mandatory random manual audits, needs a closer look. With this bill, assuming the Holt Bill doesn't get swallowed by the Feinstein Bill which has even less meaningful audits let's say we get the Holt Bill as currently written.

This gets precinct results released, a step in the right direction.

But then we get hit with a series of problems, and the upshot is, not only will these audits be unlikely to catch fraud, they will publish a road map for exactly how to commit fraud without getting caught, they will complicate timelines, in some cases the equipment makes it impossible to follow the Holt requirements.

In a truly appalling lack of understanding of basic project management, or event management, which is what running elections really is, there is no mention of ever pilot testing these audits! So what we have is the equivalent of staging a mission-critical event in 10,000 locations at once with a complex new set of procedures that has never been tested.

The likeliest result will be that the election ends up in the courts. This kind of recklessness can cause a meltdown. The harm could be very serious. People think the 2000 election melted down, or that the 2004 election melted down. No. A meltdown in a presidential election carries with it the very real possibility of a stock market crash. Riots. Destabilization. Lockdown. Which of course would be followed by more rushed and bad legislation, further curtailing our liberties.

And all this for audits that are not even designed to catch fraud, because the official position seems to be that it doesn't exist. Instead, the audits are designed to create "confidence." We really need a full debate on audits. 

PAUL LEHTO: Well "confidence" is what is needed to perpetrate a fraud. It isn't a fraud unless it misleads you. In order to mislead someone, you have to gain their confidence. Creating a structure based on mutual distrust is a better way to look at this. 

EMPTY CHAIR: They want perfect legislation (meaning, perfectly acceptable to them) or no legislation. And because Holt's bill is #1 (federal legislation) does not provide solely for #2 (HCPB), and allows DREs to be used, they think this is reason enough to oppose the legislation.

MARK E. SMITH: What happened to this country? Why are otherwise intelligent people saying that we have only a choice between the greater evil and the lesser evil, and that if we don't accept the lesser evil, we'll have nothing at all? Are they totally ignorant of goodness? When you get rid of evil, what is left is not nothing ... I know many of the people writing here. Many of us care about democracywe know that our ancestors fought and died for it and that it is our heritage and our inalienable right.

But who are the people who care only about pragmatism, the art of the deal, compromising away half a million innocent lives in Iraq because Congress believes that the war has momentum, caving in to unelected legislators as if they were kings and queens and kneeling at their feet?

EMPTY CHAIR: I offer this challenge and plead for response from everyone with an informed opinion. Can you name any other feasible way to work for fair elections in 2008? HR811 is feasible because it has over 216 sponsors and already has been committed to the Committee of the Whole House. Please state specifically what makes any alternative feasible. 

NANCY TOBI: I have succeeded in communicating the flaws of these bills, but what I have failed to do is to communicate this: The Holt Bill and its companion, the Feinstein Bill, are not just flawed. They are dangerous.

1) The proposed legislation codifies secret vote counting
2) The proposed legislation cements control of secret vote counting to the executive branch
3) The proposed legislation provides sets the scene for unlimited litigation on election challenges.
4) The proposed legislation has many big ticket items that are unfunded.
5) The proposed legislation will not provide relief for 2008.

What we WANT: A stripped down bill. 

EMPTY CHAIR: Here is the menu of choices:
* HR 811
* bupkus
You don't believe me? 

ALAN DECHERT: No, I don't. There are state and local measures that have been positive, and there are more in the works. There is also the potential for better federal legislation later. HR 811 is an abomination. The re-work made it even worse. Kill it, and work on better legislation at state and local level. 

MARY ANN GOULD: I ask for discussion of components of a "stripped down" bill of those most critical actions (based on foundation of overarching Principles ) to help improve 2008 election.

ALAN BRAU: Yes! To insist that we lack the time or the muscle to make change happen by November 2008 is absurd and defeatist. We the people are the rulers of this government, not the usurpers and con-artists who are trying to tell us otherwise.

If we can agree on legislation, I have no doubt that we can find someone to sponsor it. If we can find someone to sponsor it, I have no doubt that we can find someone to promote it. If we promote it, we can get it passed. What's the alternative? To give up without trying?

We debate. We reach a consensus. We propose legislation. We find someone to sponsor the bill. We lobby. The bill will pass. 

EMPTY CHAIR: Holt's is the only bill that may pass at all this year, NOTHING ELSE HAS ANY MOMENTUM!!! 

To be continued ...

You can join this debate by registering and posting your comments HERE:

One new debate topic will be posted each day through the Fourth of July.

June 28 - Thursday
1) Debate over whether to have a debate

June 29 - Friday
2) Debate over whether flawed election legislation is better than no election legislation

June 30 - Saturday
3) Debate over voter intent vs. voter verification (DRE controversies, are audits the way to go)

July 1 - Sunday
4) Debate over concentration of power vs. dispersed power (EAC issues, etc)

July 2 - Monday
5) Debate over the public right to know

July 3 - Tuesday
6) Debate over litigation and enforcement issues

7) Debate over the road map back to a real representative democracy


To support the work of Black Box voting:
Or, mail to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

* * * * *

06-28-07 * To support this important work:  http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html


Below you will get a glimpse of the passionate behind the scenes arguments about the direction that electoral changes, and democracy itself, are taking right now.

After reading the introductory debate below, you may participate here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/47652.html
(registration required, it's free)
You may debate verbally on Internet radio between NOON-1 EASTERN TIME, Friday June 29 by calling 877-864-4869. You may listen to that at http://www.toginet.com (noon EDT, 11 CDT, 10 MDT, 9 PDT. It will be rebroadcast Wednesday and Thursday next week.)

THE FABRIC OF YOUR DEMOCARCY IS BEING ALTERED without any public debate. Voting rights advocates are split on whether proposed legislation will restore confidence or nail the coffin shut on our representative democracy.

Our urging for public debate has not been accepted, and due to the importance of the issues involved, Black Box Voting is attempting to develop a more public dialog on these issues, as a public service. We have culled through over one thousand back-channel e-mails, in which well-known election reform and voting rights leaders on both sides have argued their case.

Because those with opposing points of view disagree with the value of a public debate, we have represented their arguments with an empty chair, along with an invitation for them to join this debate at any time.

(Debate any and all topics on TogiNet radio, "Black Box America" show, Friday noon EDT, call 877-864-4869 to join in)
June 28 - Thursday - 1) Debate over whether democracy deserves public debate
June 29 - Friday - 2) Debate over whether flawed election legislation is better than no legislation
June 30 - Saturday 3) Debate over voter intent vs. voter verification (DRE controversies, audits)
July 1 - Sunday - 4) Debate over concentration of power vs. dispersed power (EAC)
July 2 - Monday - 5) Debate over the public right to know
July 3 - Tuesday - 6) Debate over litigation and enforcement issues
FOURTH OF JULY - 7) Debate over the road map back to a real representative democracy

One new issue in the "DEBATE WITH A CHAIR" will be published each day from now through the Fourth of July. You may join in the debate; Click "more" at the end of this introduction to see the whole debate as it evolves.


We are on the cusp of enacting massive changes in our election system for the second time in five years. These legislative changes quietly rewrite how elections are conducted how we will certify the upcoming presidential election, what machinery we'll vote on, our litigation rights, election administration timelines and most important the fundamental checks and balances designed to give citizens sovereignty over their own government: states' rights, the public right to know, and secret vote counting.


(1) The necessity for a free people to be able to remove either honest or corrupt governance in order to remain free. This is the essence of citizen control, as contrasted with government control of elections.
(2) The equality of all citizens
(3) The importance of distrusting any shift towards concentration of power
(4) Respect for the rights of average voters (not just experts) to deeply understand and be capable of evaluating their own voting system. (Experts = concentration of power.)


ONE SET OF ELECTION REFORMERS believes that the only realistic path to improvement is to pass paper trail legislation for 2008, regardless of what rights will be compromised away with that promise. Among the groups and leaders in this category are VoteTrustUSA, Verified Voting, People for the American Way, MoveOn and several computer professionals, including Avi Rubin, David Dill and Barbara Simons.

ANOTHER SET OF VOTING RIGHTS ADVOCATES groups involved in front-lines election watchdog work, election litigation efforts and grass roots citizen empowerment -- believe that the pending legislation represents a "clear and present danger" to representative democracy itself. While these voting rights advocates agree on the need for paper ballots, they believe the other changes piggybacked into current paper trail legislation will destabilize our democracy. Among these groups and leaders: Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting; Nancy Tobi, co-founder of Democracy for New Hampshire; Paul Lehto, co-founder of Psephos; Election Defense Alliance; VotersUnite; Brad Friedman, of Bradblog; Mary Ann Gould, of Citizens for Voting Integrity; Coalition for Visible Ballots, Vote Rescue, author Mark Crispin Miller and computer expert Dr. Rebecca Mercuri. In an unusual alliance, and often for different reasons, most elections officials and the National Association of Secretaries of State also opposes the legislation.

CITIZENS who normally look to us for guidance are confused. Leaders are aligned on opposite sides. Groups that normally are adversaries find themselves in alliance, and groups that should be on the same side discover they are opponents. What does this mean? "Debate with a Chair" series will help you get up to speed quickly so that you can evaluate the issues yourself.


Here are some of the arguments that have been flying through our e-mails:

"Whoever is giving us this is someone not fighting for -- or even framing election reform in terms of DEMOCRACY, says Paul Lehto, the election rights attorney who got the touch-screens kicked out of Snohomish County in Washington, and fought the high profile San Diego "CA50" case.

PAUL LEHTO shot out a challenge to key players in the current configuration of election reform legislation:

"For the good of the republic, will you engage in a public debate, in the city of your choice, on a date within the next two weeks or so, with a jury of say 100 citizens, on the question of whether [proposed legislation] HR 811 meets the necessary standards for free people who are citizens of a representative democracy like ours? If I am not important enough, is there anybody that you would debate on the question of what democracy requires in a voting system?"

Following Lehto's question, a new query regarding televising the debate was added into the mix by citizen CHUCK GARNER.
EMPTY CHAIR: "I have no interest in participating in a debate, televised or otherwise...I've already won. Your demand for a debate is a desperate attempt to gain credibility at my expense, and for an opportunity to confuse the issue."
BEV HARRIS, founder of the national voting rights watchdog organization, Black Box Voting, weighed in:

"One of the core issues in such debates should be how citizens are allowed to retain control of their government when government controls the mechanisms of elections, which mostly take place in secret. I think it would be an excellent public education strategy to host a series of debates nationwide, with proponents of democratic elections vs. proponents of techno-elections."

But advocates of the new legislation were protective of the bill's sponsor, Rush Holt [D-NJ]:
EMPTY CHAIR: "If I were Rush Holt, I'd be damned if I would subject myself to the kind of abuse hurled at him from voting integrity advocates ... to say nothing of all of the attacks coming from election officials," said a board member of one of the national election reform groups.
JONATHAN SIMON of Election Defense Alliance supported the idea of a debate.

"Bev Harris constructively calls for a public debate on the core of the critical issue we are all facing, a debate which might possibly help resolve the confusions of highly informed people such as myself, let alone bring some much needed awareness to the less informed."
PAUL LEHTO repeated his challenge: "I think we both benefit from an informed and aroused citizenry, so at an important level a debate would be a win-win situation for democracy. Do you accept?"

No dice.
EMPTY CHAIR: "My side won this debate before it started, because the anti-HR 811 forces have never presented a feasible alternative," said one of the most academically decorated supporters of the HR 811 legislation.

Overriding Lehto's curiosity about how those votes on the debate were counted, high profile political blogger BRAD FRIEDMAN of BradBlog.com weighed in:
BRAD FRIEDMAN: "That is simply untrue. Many of us offered very specific and very feasible alternatives."

An aggressive proponent of the new legislation who first opposed it but now supports it, stepped into the fray:
EMPTY CHAIR: "I would recommend strongly not to give Paul Lehto any credibility by debating him."
"Then I'm sure you will call for a debate with me publicly," said FRIEDMAN.

But this offer was declined.
EMPTY CHAIR: "Without two or more viable alternatives, there's no point in having a debate -- just take the one policy that is available and do it."

PAUL LEHTO objected to that frame: "The question should be presented more accurately... in terms of fundamental voting rights in our representative democracy," he said, "I'd like to see Holt proponents actually wrestle with these things."
SHEILA PARKS, a veteran activist from Boston who has been arguing for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots (HCPB), women's rights, and rights for people of color, jumped in:

"I strongly urge that both BEV HARRIS and NANCY TOBI are part of this debate, that seems to be forming with all straight white men -- as they duplicate the dominant culture. Not the kind of democracy I am at all interested in and no better than what we have now - no matter how many Holt Bills get legislated or do not get legislated. And Rebecca Mercuri too."
"I'll debate anyone, any time, anywhere," said NANCY TOBI, co-founder of Democracy for New Hampshire, who views the proposed legislation as "a clear and present danger."
EMPTY CHAIR: "An hour of Paul Lehto blowing hot air and quoting 18th century statesmen vs. me saying 'Where's your bill?' is not going to be very illuminating," the empty chair pronounced. "No more 'debating' for me, at least on this topic."

MARY ANN GOULD, chair of the Coalition for Voting Integrity and host of "Voice of the Voters," a radio talk show which focuses on voting rights issues, says she has tried for months to get anyone -- any time -- to defend the proposed legislation. She's had just about everybody who's anybody in the election reform movement on her show, but her requests to discuss issues with proponents of the sweeping changes in the 2007 legislation are always answered with: "No."

Had enough? Perhaps it's time to distill out the key arguments from both sides so you can make up your own mind.


How do changes in U.S. election policy affect...

(1) The necessity for a free people to control their own elections in order to remain free
(2) The equality of all citizens
(3) The importance of distrusting any shift towards concentration of power
(4) Respect for the rights of average voters (not just experts) to deeply understand and be capable of evaluating their own voting system.

This is your country. These are your rights. Your election system will be one of the legacies you leave to your children. So, when would be a good time to navigate this intellectual terrain?

BEV HARRIS: Can we, then, start with clarifying this point of common ground, which underlies selection of voting mechanics.

1. Can we agree that freedom depends on the ability of citizens to control their own elections, holding them beyond the power of the government to manipulate?

2. Do we have consensus that we have the right to dislodge public officials that we don't want, and if so, is this right to vote people out of office fundamental to democracy?

3. And if so, does the current system secure that right?
PAUL LEHTO: I suggest piercing through literally many truckloads of extraneous technical info by simply asking if the computer sitting next to you is secure against your own attempts to manipulate it. If a computer cannot be protected from an insider, it fails the most basic test for self-government because it is not secured from the government's potential tampering.
EMPTY CHAIR: Of course there is no bill for Hand Counted Paper Ballots ("HCPB") in this Congress. It didn't get reintroduced, because there was no support in the last Congress. Of course one can make some people happy by proposing a bill that will never ever pass. That makes everyone feel good, eh? Even the vendors and election officials would be happy, because of course a bill calling for HCPB will never pass Congress.
MARY ANN GOULD: We have been approaching from the "WHAT to do" level, drawn into the "fixing" symptoms started by HAVA. No one wins from this level of focus! Our nation was founded on a Vision -- overarching ideas -- such as people could govern themselves, that all power flows from and to them; that citizens have the right to overthrow and replace governments that do not serve our interests.

Then the Constitution was written to create principles to support the ideas/beliefs of the Declaration. In turn all legislation is supposed to be within the framework of the Constitution based on the values of the Declaration. WITHOUT AN OVERARCHING FRAMEWORK, WE LACK A GUIDE TO DEVELOP AND EVALUATE LEGISLATIVE, regulatory and government processes properly. We then get a mess like HAVA and a further patchwork like the mutated Holt and radical Feinstein bills.

We MUST have that framework of overarching principles to both guide and evaluate changes in how we conduct elections.
BEV HARRIS: Can we, then, start with clarifying this point of common ground, with underlies selection of voting mechanics:

- Do we have consensus that the right to dislodge a crooked government is fundamental to democracy? This refers back to the inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence.

If we agree on that, we can then proceed to discuss which mechanics secure and protect that right, and which ones don't.
EMPTY CHAIR: Let me boil it down:
1. Where is your bill?
2. Where are its cosponsors?
PAUL LEHTO: There can be no discussion? This is all democracy deserves?
JONATHAN SIMON: The antagonists in this debate -- call them the democrats and the cybertechnocrats -- are not converging on common ground. They are miles apart, loaded with distrust and contempt, speaking different languages. Is it any wonder solutions seem so maddeningly beyond reach?

1) The proposed legislation codifies COUNTING VOTES IN SECRET
2) The proposed legislation CEMENTS CONTROL of secret vote counting to the EXECUTIVE BRANCH
3) The proposed legislation provides sets the scene for UNLIMITED LITIGATION on election challenges.
4) The proposed legislation has many big ticket items that are UNFUNDED.
5) The proposed legislation WILL NOT PROVIDE RELIEF for 2008.
WE WANT: A simple stripped down bill

EMPTY CHAIR: Here is the menu of choices:
- HR 811
- bupkus
To be continued...

* * * * * * * * * * *

You can join this debate by registering with this site and posting your comments. In the Black Box Voting forums at http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/47652.html  - if you have never registered, click here to do so http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-profile.cgi?action=register
(must use real name to debate in Black Box Voting forums).

You can also express your agreement or disagreement with the arguments by adding stars to the left of each post.

You may also debate verbally on Internet radio between NOON-1 EASTERN TIME, Friday June 29 by calling 877-864-4869. You may listen to that at http://www.toginet.com (noon EDT, 11 CDT, 10 MDT, 9 PDT. It will be rebroadcast Wednesday and Thursday next week.)

ONE NEW DEBATE TOPIC will be posted each day through the Fourth of July.

June 28 - Thursday
1) Public debate over whether changes in the structure of democracy deserve public debate

June 29 - Friday
2) Public debate over whether flawed election legislation is better than no election legislation

June 30 - Saturday
3) Public debate over voter intent vs. voter verification (DRE controversies, are audits the way to go)

July 1 - Sunday
4) Public debate over concentration of power vs. dispersed power (EAC issues, etc)

July 2 - Monday
5) Public debate over the public right to know

July 3 - Tuesday
6) Public debate over litigation and enforcement issues

7) Public debate over the road map back to a real representative democracy


To support the work of Black Box voting:
Or, mail to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

* * * * *

02-08-07 Tips for action: You can find your local congressperson, along with contact info, by going to http://www.congress.org and entering your zip code. Educate your local news reporter on this. And send to your lists.

Further action suggestions will follow.

There is a reason you are receiving e-mails to urge your congressperson to "hurry" and pass the Holt Bill. They hope it won't be read.

You should know this -- the following groups have come out against the new Holt Bill:

- Black Box Voting has publicly come out against the Bill
- Open Voting Consortium has publicly come out against the Bill
- Brad Friedman (BradBlog) has publicly come out against the Bill
- Jon Bonifaz (VoterAction.org / Demos) has publicly come out against the Bill
- Paul Lehto has publicly come out against the Bill
- Democracy for New Hampshire has publicly come out against the Bill

Decline to support:
- John Gideon (VotersUnite, VoteTrustUSA) has publicly refused to support the bill

and there will be more.


1. DECEPTIVE LANGUAGE. Calls a paper TRAIL a paper BALLOT.

2. BILLION DOLLAR UNFUNDED MANDATE: Requires text conversion technology in every polling place. At $7000 per machine for 185,000 polling places, you do the math. See this article for documentation on the billion-dollar boondoggle:

The bill is not talking about scanner wands, folks. Or if it is, they'd better specify that, and soon! Except that apparently, it's too late to make changes.

Note that only two vendors currently manufacture the needed technology, and one (Populex) has as head of its advisory board Frank Carlucci, the former chairman of the Carlyle Group, former CIA director, who was Donald Rumsfeld's roommate in college. Every polling place in America. Is this really what you want? Isn't it time to read the fine print on this???

3. MAKES THE SCANDAL RIDDEN EAC A PERMANENT FIXTURE AND INCREASES ITS POWER. Alan Dechert, from the Open Voting Consortium says it best: "Holt contemplates the invasion of these United States by the Federal government. If passed, it would BREAK the voting system in the states while establishing a dictatorship to handle things: the Election Assistance Commission ("EAC" or just "the Commission") with its four commissioners appointed by the president of the United States." Bradblog on latest EAC scandal: http://www.bradblog.com/?p=4119


5. NO RECOGNITION OF CITIZEN RIGHT TO OVERSIGHT. Audit provisions do not allow either citizens or candidates access to any records for meaningful audits.

6. CONFLICTING REQUIREMENTS -- ie, must have text converters by 2008 and must study how to best do the conversions by 2010.

7. LANGUAGE ON DISCLOSED SOURCE CODE CONTAINS AN ERROR in that it doesn't deal with COTS - meaning, any electronics component with a chip on it would be required to disclose source code. There are literally hundreds of commercial off the shelf components in the system -- printers, video drivers, motherboard components -- that contain firmware, and these are manufactured all over the world. The bill would require Hitachi, Seagate, Fuji, Western Digital to open up their code for their commercial products if used in voting machines. Effectively eliminates the use of electronics while at the same time mandating electronics.

8. MUSH LANGUAGE. (Example: "The manufacturer shall provide the appropriate election official with the information necessary for the official to provide the information...")

9. UNREADABLE: People complain about their legislators not reading the bills -- well the way this is written, it guarantees they won't read it. No Appendix, so sections of the bill require the reader to actually go find a different bill and look up sections in it in order to make sense of the current bill. (example: "Section 301(a)(1) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15481(a)(1)) is amended (A) in subparagraph (A)(i), by striking "counted" and inserting "counted, in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (3)");

10. AUDIT PROTOCOLS NO ONE AGREES WITH, even fans of audit solutions

11. LOOPHOLE ALLOWING INTERNET CONNECTIONS for central tabulators and ballot definition software

12. LOOPHOLE ALLOWING MANUAL AUDITS TO BE BYPASSED states with computer-only recount protocols

13. LOOPHOLE ALLOWING MACHINE COUNT TO SUPERCEDE VOTER VERIFIED PAPER when fuzzily described circumstances arise. Los Angeles Registrar Conny McCormack already has tried to co-opt this (Feinstein senate hearing yesterday) into meaning when there is a printer jam damaging the paper, the machine count will trump.

14. SUPPORTS DREs (Touch-screens and other on-screen voting techniques that are NOT recommended by NIST)

This is a devastating development. So many people worked so very hard on this bill, but in the end it isn't about who worked hard. It's about getting it right. We can't afford another set of HAVA problems.

And if it's got this many problems now, just wait until the lobbyists carve it up.

We're going to have to roll up our sleeves to get what CITIZENS want. More action-oriented, solution-focused information to follow. Black Box Voting is working right now with many other group leaders to brainstorm the best way to deal with this.

Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting

# # # # #

Government is the servant of the people, and not the master of them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. We insist on remaining informed so that we may retain control over the instruments of government we have created.

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit elections watchdog group supported by citizen donations. The work of Black Box Voting has been featured on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News Network, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time Magazine, and was featured in the recent HBO documentary "Hacking Democracy."

To support Black Box Voting, click to http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or send to:
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057
Contact information and press kit: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/presskit.html

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If you never want another message from Black Box Voting, hit "return" and type REMOVE in the subject line

* * * * *
02-06-07 The new HOLT BILL has been released.

Some of it sounds great -- but then, there's that little matter of the billion-dollar unfunded mandate hidden on page 8. Because the bill is complex, it is hard to be accurate when commenting on it as a whole.

The bill incorporates dozens of issues. Some are good, some are a bit horrifying. NOW is the time to examine it and voice your opinions. This is the first chance citizens have had to look at the new bill in detail -- it is vastly different than the previous one -- and this is the first chance to comment on what you want to keep and what you want to dump.

Scroll through the list of issues in the Holt Bill below. Each contains a link to the page or so of text in the bill and the specific issue, along with a public comment section. We look forward to seeing "We, the People" represented in the debate.

Let's get the details right on the front end, this time, so we don't have to change things later because we happened to overlook them in our excitement about paper trails.

Copy of the bill: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/HOLT_2-5-07.pdf

Master list of comment topics:

Pg.1 Lines 1-5 -- Section 1: Holt Bill description: "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007"
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 2-3 -- Section 2(a) (1) "2A": Ballot verification and audit capacity - General provisions
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 3-5 -- Section 2(a) (1) "2B": Manual audit capacity and audit capacity; Ballot storage
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 5 -- Section 2(a) (1) "2C": Special rule for military and overseas voters
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 5-6 -- Section 2(a) (1) "2D": Disputes when paper ballots compromised
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 6-7 -- Section 2(a) (2) & (3): Conforming Amendments
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 7-8 -- Section 2(b) (1): Ballot verification for persons with disabilities
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 8-10 -- Section 2(b) (2): Accessible verification mechanisms: Study and testing
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 10 -- Section 2(b) (3): Clarification of accessibility standards
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 10-11 -- Section 2(c) (1) "7": Election official instruction
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 11 -- Section 2(c) (1) "8": Notice to voters
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 12 -- Section 2(c) (1) "9": Prohibit undisclosed software
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg 12 -- Section 2(c) (1) "10": Prohibit wireless
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 12 -- Section 2(c) (1) "11": Prohibit some Internet connections
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 13-15 -- Section 2(c) (1) "12": Security standards
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 15-16 -- Section 2(c) (1) "13": Ballot durability / readability
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 16-18 Section 2(c) (1) "14": No turning away voters
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 18-19 -- Section 2(c) (2A) "3A": Test labs - conflict of interest
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 2 -- Section 2(c) (2A) "3B": Public access to test results
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 20-22 -- Section 2(c) (2A) "4": Payments to labs
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 22-23 -- Section 2(c) (2A) "5": Dissemination of add'l info
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 23-24 -- Section 2(c) (2B): Conforming amendments
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 24 -- Section 2(c) (2C): Deadline for standards, escrow acct.
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 24-25 -- Section 2(c) (3): States not currently using paper ballots
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 25-27 -- Section 2(d) (2): Revised formula for allocations of funds
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 27-30 -- Section 2(d) (3-7): State funding details
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 30-31 -- Section 3: HAVA enforcement
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 31-32 -- Section 4: Extension of the EAC
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 32-35 -- Section 5(a) (321): Election audit boards
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 35-37 -- Section 5(a) (322): Number of ballots counted in audit
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 37-40 -- Section 5(a) (323): Audit process
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 40-41 -- Section 5(a) (324): Selection of audit precincts
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 41-43 -- Section 5(a) (325): Publication of audit results
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 43-44 -- Section 5(a) (326): Payments to states for audits
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 45 -- Section 5(a) (327): Exceptions for states w. automatic recounts
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 45 -- Section 5(a) (328): Effective date for audits
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 45-46 -- Section 5(b): Enforcement under HAVA
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 46 -- Section 5(c): Clerical amendment
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 46 -- Section 6: Repeal of EAC exemption
Text of bill and comment section:

Pg. 47 -- Section 7: Effective date
Text of bill and comment section:

Government is the servant of the people, and not the master of them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. We insist on remaining informed so that we may retain control over the instruments of government we have created.

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit elections watchdog group supported by citizen donations. The work of Black Box Voting has been featured on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News Network, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time Magazine, and was featured in the recent HBO documentary "Hacking Democracy."

To support Black Box Voting, click to http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or send to:
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057
Contact information and press kit: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/presskit.html

* * * * *

If you never want another message from Black Box Voting, hit "return" and type REMOVE in the subject line

11-08-06  Permission to excerpt or reprint granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

Rumsfield replacement (Robert Gates) was director of voting company
by Bev Harris

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfield will resign, reportedly to be replaced by former CIA director Robert Gates.

Gates was on the board of directors of VoteHere, a strange little company that was the biggest elections industry lobbyist for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). VoteHere spent more money than ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia combined to help ram HAVA through. And HAVA, of course, was a bill sponsored by by convicted Abramoff pal Bob Ney and K-street lobbyist buddy Steny Hoyer. HAVA put electronic voting on steroids.

You can find copies of the VoteHere lobbying forms here: http://sopr.senate.gov/cgi-win/m_opr_viewer.exe?DoFn=0

I can't get them to save to pdf, perhaps you can. Enter search terms in both "registrant" and "client" fields and put in terms "Rhoads" "Livingston" and "Votehere" (one at a time.). Then look at the gravy train while it was in the process of derailing American democracy.

I first became acquainted with VoteHere when I met a source, Dan Spillane, who is the wonderful guy that identified the Diebold source code modules for me after I found the Diebold files. He is the person who introduced me, and subsequently everyone else, to the odd role of The Election Center and R. Doug Lewis in the elections industry.

Spillane also filled me in on The Livingston Group, VoteHere lobbyists, run by Bob Livingston -- the fellow that Hustler publisher Larry Flynt outed during the Bill Clinton blow job days. Larry Flynt offered a million dollars to anyone who could locate a Republican congressman committing adultery, and out popped peccadilloes by Livingston.

Livingston couldn't live that one down, so he resigned his post as House Speaker-Elect and became a lobbyist -- but that's not all! He also launched a group called "Center for Democracy" which was going to "monitor elections." This group also featured several good old boys from the tobacco industry and some mining companies.

Former VoteHere test engineer Dan Spillane was looking into all this because he had been fired after he questioned the certification process on a touch-screen system in which he had identified 250 flaws. It was way back in November 2002 that Spillane told me, "The voting machine industry is a house of cards. And the certification and testing process is the bottom card in the house of cards."


VoteHere was a company shilling cryptographic solutions and filled with NSA types (another director was Admiral Bill Owens, another crony of Rummy, Perle and Wolfowitz). For some reason this company claims it was unable to prevent itself from being hacked. In this alleged hack, VoteHere claims that someone stole their source code. Said source code was offered to me in October 2003, an obvious attempt at entrapment which I refused.

Nevertheless, VoteHere claimed to the media that its master security experts had supposedly "tracked" the hacker and had identified the hacker as an activist in the election reform community.

For some reason, it was decided that I should be investigated in connection with this "hack" of VoteHere -- nevermind that I can't remember how to change the password on my own laptop. Therefore I was interviewed by the Secret Service several times about this. Curiously, they never seemed to ask any questions about VoteHere, only my role in finding the Diebold files and publishing the Diebold memos.

This nonsense eventually culminated in a gag order and a letter from the U.S. Attorney to appear in front of a federal grand jury with information on all the visitors to the Black Box Voting Web site. (As if they couldn't get that in less dramatic ways in post-Patriot Act America). Attorney Lowell Finley (now with http://www.VoterAction.org ) went to bat for me on this. A reporter named George Howland from the Seattle Weekly also got wind of it. When it hit the press, and with Lowell Finley's help, their harassment of me stopped.

VoteHere never sold any voting machines that I can find, but apparently did set up some deals to embed its cryptography into some voting systems. We found memos in the Diebold trash about VoteHere's crypto-crap, and Maryland Director of Elections Linda Lamone shows up in VoteHere-related letters. Sequoia Voting Systems signed an agreement with VoteHere, but its not clear to me whether they ever did anything about it.

Robert Gates stepped away from VoteHere shortly before he showed up in Chapter 8 of my book, Black Box Voting, in a short bit about the VoteHere company history. You can read that here: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf

I don't know about you, but I'd rather use a paper, pencil, and count by hand at the polling place than have former CIA director Robert Gates fooling around with my vote.

But that's just me.

-- Bev Harris
Founder, Black Box Voting

P.S. Since the HBO special, I have plenty of moral support, but even after the Secret Service interviews and all the rest of the nonsense my husband and I have had to put up with, there are others who have had it rougher.

I'd like you to take a moment to visit this Web site -- not affiliated with Black Box Voting -- to meet one of the heroic citizens in this movement who has faced the most brutal retaliation of all:
Stephen Heller. If you saw the HBO film "Hacking Democracy" you may remember a scene where I am chastising Diebold for lying about correcting problems with its product. I refer to "Release Notes." Those notes came from a source. Stephen Heller is being threatened with up to five years in prison for allegedly leaking me those documents. Kevin Shelley then decertified Diebold, and recommended criminal prosecution of Diebold. Diebold was never prosecuted, but Stephen Heller is being prosecuted RIGHT NOW. I hope you will donate to his defense. If not for citizens like him, where would your vote be now?

To contribute to Stephen Heller's defense fund:
* * * * *
Black Box Voting is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c(3) elections watchdog group supported entirely by citizen donations. We refuse funds from any vendor or vested interest.

To support Black Box Voting: click to http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or send to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055
* * * * *
 If you wish to be removed from any further updates, hit "reply" and type the word "remove" in the subject line. Note that due to heavy scheduling with the election, we are a few days behind in database, so if you have requested "remove" recently, we apologize for this message and will have database cleaned before any further messages.

Citizens Tool Kit: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.html


11-06-06 Permission to excerpt or reprint granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

The best defense is a good offense, so VOTE!

Now is not the time to retreat. Vote, and then find evidence to tell the story of what's really happening in U.S. elections.

Things may look relatively smooth on election day, but the real fun begins after the polls close. That's when we see a lot of strange things. Look for:

- Missing memory cards -- and remember, a memory card is a BALLOT BOX. This happens every election, to weird shrugs by election officials. About 70 ballot boxes went missing in Cuyahoga County during the May primary; a bunch went missing in Detroit last spring, and they've gone missing in places like Dekalb County Georgia, and various other locations. This is nothing to shrug about.

Remember when a single ballot box was missing in Florida in the 2000 election? Everyone was going crazy, but now, you have dozens and dozens of these memory cards, cartridges, and "PEBs" -- all are small digital ballots boxes -- they are going missing. Very troubling. Watch for it. See if you can spot it. Report it!

- Phantom votes -- this is when you have more votes than voters. There were about 100,000 more votes than voters in Tarrant County Texas during the primary, and more votes than voters in Ohio locations in 2004.

What to look for: Do a quick check of the number of registered voters and compare with the number of votes that show up. Bizarre anomalies appear almost every election.

Stage 2 is comparing the number of sign-ins in the pollbook with the number of votes that show up.

- Sometimes you see disappearing votes. The number of votes goes DOWN while the number of precincts counted goes UP. This happened in Mohave County Arizona in the 2004 primary, and in Memphis in the Aug. 2006 primary. Alert watchers of county Web results often spot this and capture it in screen saves.

What to do: Assign someone to capture screen shots each time the totals are updated and check for disappearing votes.

- Obstructed vote counting -- we often see obstructions to being able to see the vote counting, even beyond the obstruction of counting inside a black box. In San Diego in 2005, a member of the Black Box Voting board of directors, Jim March, was arrested for trying to view the vote counting. I myself was surrounded by six members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department when I had the audacity to ask if I could view the vote counting there, which was taking place in a room no one could see. We expect to get many reports from citizens who are not allowed to view vote counting.

If you are obstructed from viewing the central tally process, report it.

- In the 10 days following the election, you can expect to see many unusual things pop up in the public records that are obtained by candidates.

Of particular interest are the "event logs" that you get from Microsoft Windows, which runs most of the tallying software. This can show extra programs being run.

Also of great interest are the voting machine event logs, which can show crazy voting dates -- like in Palm Beach County in 2004, where more than 4 dozen voting machines had votes time and date-stamped weeks before the election, sometimes in the middle of the night, and Volusia County Florida in the same election, where a machine had votes date-stamped more than 10,000 years in the future. In San Diego in the June 2006 primary, the voting system event log shows that it dialed out to Diebold at 9:31 pm during the middle of its counting.

- We also anticipate many peculiarities with provisional votes, extra optional paper ballot votes, absentee votes and various obstructions to voting around the country.

- Another thing we look for is strange statistical patterns, like voting machines from one manufacturer giving results different from all the others, or one type of machine giving discrepant results, as happened in New Mexico in 2004. We saw three candidates in a row get 18,181 votes in Comal County Texas and one district in Minnesota had all the minor party candidates get the same vote percentage -- despite very big differences in how well known the candidates were.

On election day itself, we'll see vote-flipping, where people vote for one candidate and another one's name pops up. And we'll see many other unusual things.

I expect surprising new problems, like the new electronic poll books having problems finding themselves, and voting machines that don't match themselves (for example, having different results on their paper tape than they do on their screens).

Document. Think photos, videos, and most of all, cleverly constructed requests for documents. You have the right to obtain a copy of just about any document you can think of, as long as it exists. Go hunting. See what you find.

When you find important information, propagate it. Don't just call it into one place, but e-mail it, send it to bloggers, give it to reporters, provide it to public officials.

We want to improve elections, but first we need to make a solid, indisputable case. And to do that, we all need to get into action.

Use your own common sense. Document. Propagate. Then push solutions through for true citizen oversight. Now is your chance to take back your electoral process!

* * * * *
Be very clear about your job as a citizen right now: It is to reverse the swing of the pendulum. It's been swinging away from citizen control -- your job is to take back your government. Start at the local level.

You own your government -- not the other way around. It is time to get out of your chair, step away from the Internet, and get involved in citizen oversight.

We salute the extraordinary citizens who are taking back America.
Bev Harris
Black Box Voting
* * * * *
Black Box Voting is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c(3) elections watchdog group supported entirely by citizen donations. We refuse funds from any vendor or vested interest.

To support Black Box Voting: click to http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or send to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055
* * * * *
Please plan to participate this fall to restore control of elections to the citizenry. Thank you for your stewardship of our republic.

Be part of the solution: Please sign up for the NATIONAL HAND COUNT REGISTRY: http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-profile.cgi?action=register

Citizens Tool Kit: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.html

10-10-06  Permission to excerpt or reprint granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

It's going to be up to us to make the case. We can't solve a problem if we refuse to look. Citizens are fed up with black box elections, and are mustering up evidence of improper behavior that will swing the pendulum back in the direction it belongs.

Examples of the astonishing evidence uncovered by candidates and extraordinary citizens follows.

At first, we proved that the machines "theoretically' could be tampered with. Then, in experiments in Leon County and Emery County, citizen-led investigations machines could ACTUALLY be tampered with.

At first, public records requests from Black Box Voting and others proved that election results were not authenticatable using available audit records. And now, Black Box Voting and citizens are coming up with audit records that show strong indications of improper behavior.

Be aware that we are not going to see a Perry Mason moment. Proof of corruption will be incremental, but it will come.

In 2006, your job will be to embark on the biggest citizen evidence-gathering expedition in history, to take this past the tipping point and achieve real change. Nothing will do but a reversal of the pendulum, back to citizen ownership and oversight of our own government and its electoral processes.

Let's take a look now at some of the evidence citizens -- and Black Box Voting -- are uncovering:

1. Memphis: Candidates in Memphis asked Black Box Voting for help securing public records from the Aug. 3, 2006 election. Black Box Voting recommended getting a copy of the Diebold GEMS database, along with the Windows event log. What we found shocked us: The sheer number of legal and security violations in the event log were horrifying, and it also showed that Shelby County -- or someone -- was accessing the file during the middle of a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting this.

- A remote access program called PC Anywhere was found resident in the system
- Evidence of insertion of an encrypted Lexar Jump Drive was present
- Evidence of attempts to alter or write HTML files (used to report results) was present
- Apparently without a firewall, the GEMS system was opened up to the County Network
- A prohibited program, Microsoft Access, which makes editing the election chimpanzee-easy, was installed on the system AND USED shortly after the election.

To read more about Memphis, click here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/44242.html

2. Alaska: In early 2006, the Alaska Democratic Party asked Black Box Voting for help. The election numbers simply didn't add up. BBV's Jim March urged them to fight for the right to obtain the Diebold GEMS database, which Diebold had until then been asserting proprietary rights over. After months of hard-fought battling, they prevailed. That database was released publicly at Black Box Voting here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/44183.html

You can open it yourself in Microsoft Access, and when you do, choose the table called "audit." In this table you will see evidence that someone was changing things as recently as July 2006 -- after the matter was in court, before the file was released. The changes are substantial, and involve redefining ballot and candidate items, along with a reference to a second memory card.

If you don't have MS Access, here is a pdf copy of that controversial log: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/44278.html

3. In Georgia, Cynthia McKinney contacted Black Box Voting. Very odd things were happening in the 2006 primary and the runoff election that followed -- Democrats were being served up Republican primary ballots on the Diebold touch-screens, McKinney's name was left off some ballots, but reportedly appeared on other ballots nowhere near her district. The electronic poll books -- something Georgia voters never asked for and a whole new source of glitches -- were malfunctioning regularly.

Black Box Voting advised McKinney to seek the troubleshooter and pollworker logs. What we found on these shocked us -- in an election reported as "smooth" by the press, was evidence of dozens and dozens of voting machine malfunctions, electronic pollbook glitches, and most disturbing of all (given the dire consequences available based on the Hursti and Princeton studies), the seals for dozens of voting machines were missing, broken, and mismatched -- yet the machines were used anyway.

To view a list of the problems in Dekalb County, Georgia, click here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/44150.html

4. In Ohio, Richard Hayes Phillips examined ballots from the 2004 presidential election. They'd been kept locked up for 22 months, and he was under immense pressure to look at as many as he could before they were destroyed. What he found shocked him: Patterns of tampering, as evidenced by statistically impossible overvotes, strategically placed and favoring George W. Bush.  He listed his findings here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/44285.html

This is the tip of the iceberg. The missing ingredient is, and has been, the active oversight of the citizenry. In 2006, please join the movement as an active participant in overseeing and authenticating your election. We'll help. Start here:

Citizen Tool Kit: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.pdf

Bev Harris
Black Box Voting

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c(3) elections watchdog group supported entirely by citizen donations. We refuse funds from any vendor or vested interest.

To support Black Box Voting: click to http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or send to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

* * * * *

9-26-06  Permission to excerpt or reprint granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

America is not going to have election problems solved in November. It's going to be up to citizens to make the case. Black Box Voting is urging citizens to make November 2006 the biggest grass roots evidence gathering action in history. EVIDENCE = videotape, audio, photos and public records. Stories are not evidence.


Our "One-on-One" section on the Web is popular, but the most active individual work we've been doing is with an underground army of citizens who consult with us privately via e-mail and phone. These extraordinary citizens are on the front lines, working to put elections oversight back into the hands of the citizenry where it belongs. The next several lead stories at Black Box Voting will feature their achievements so far. We encourage you to borrow ideas and add your own imagination to your own local elections oversight.

LET'S TAKE A FRONT LINES LOOK at Tool Kit Module 7 Hold your government accountable in action: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit-accountability.pdf

Neva Tice of Pullman, Michigan, is a citizen who spoke up at an Allegan County Board of Commissioners meeting on Mar. 9, 2006 in an effort to help prevent landfill permits from being issued. Nothing in the record indicates she was successful, but that didn't stop her from taking an active role in Lee Township when she noticed a $148,000 annual contract that appeared to be "perpetual." Lee Township citizens hadn't voted on it. She didn't just complain about it -- she led a successful recall of two public officials!

Tice led a group of citizens who gathered enough signatures to seek a recall of all five members of the Lee Township Board.

WHO CHECKS TO SEE THAT PUBLIC OFFICIALS ARE FOLLOWING THEIR OWN RULES? What can you do if they ignore the rules? Citizens are taking the initiative to make a case with proof by themselves, sometimes as lone individuals. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

While she was at it, Tice suggested that replacement board members might be representative of more diverse constituencies in the community. Maybe that will work as it stands now, two board members were successfully recalled and may be up for replacement.

There are currently 2,049 eligible voters in Lee Township. The minimum number of signatures required to trigger a recall election was 144; Neva Tice and her organizers soon turned in 179 petitions. When the election was held Aug. 8, two board members were recalled, three were not.


Local citizens decided to get involved in overseeing the elections process itself: Pat Foster from nearby Ganges Township filed for a recount, citing irregularities.

Among the issues spotted by vigilant citizens: They allege that unqualified voters actually voted, that election challengers received hostile treatment by the election workers, there was an attempt to close the polls early and that a sample ballot actually showed people how to vote. Why did they have challengers? Because, they say, there are a lot of vacation homes in the rural Lee Township area, and those who live elsewhere can't vote in Lee Township while visiting second homes there.

Some Lee Township citizens contend that the township board is made up of affluent property owners, without much representation for senior citizens and the local Hispanic populations.

Several Michigan citizens showed up for the recount, and following advice in the Black Box Voting Tool Kit, had video cameras rolling and digital cameras clicking away. These Michigan citizens are going to take you right into the recount room for a rare glimpse of the recount process in action.

The evidence collected by these extraordinary citizens provides surprisingly powerful evidence that at least in this case, a recount using hand-counted paper ballots would have been faster, easier, and less expensive.


Citizen oversight is going to take a little getting used to in Lee Township. Several times when citizens read the law to elections officials, they were met with stony silence.

In Lee Township, citizens have the perfect response to public officials who refuse to answer questions: Provide a pregnant pause, videotape, and politely say thank you.

Now watch this 2-minute video clip from Michigan:
Ignoring Michigan Election Law Act 116 of 1954 168.874 Sec. 874 (3)

followed by this one:

3-minute clip: Refusing to answer questions about Michigan Election Law Act 116 of 1954 168.871 Sec. 871 (6)(a-d)

Always a polite "Thank you" when the public official behaved nonresponsively.


Although Michigan law requires election officials to allow candidates and interested parties in a recount to view every ballot, the only ballots citizens were allowed to see were those the Diebold optical scan voting machines rejected. The procedure in Michigan, as in many other jurisdictions, is for elections workers to create new ballots when the machine cannot read them. Few citizens have had a chance to see ballot duplication, which is shown in the next short video clip.

Here are two ballots that were apparently duplicated and enhanced so that they could be read by the machine. It is unclear how elections officials divined voter intent. What stands out to us is the amount of time this procedure takes. It is not necessary if you hand-count the ballots.

The ballot duplication process


The New Hampshire hand recount method involves two steps: A "sort and stack" step where ballots are sorted and stacked applied to this case, that would mean sorting the "yes" votes out from the "no" votes and creating two stacks. The second step is to count and record the number of votes in each stack. (Three videos are available pertaining to New Hampshire hand counting and election oversight tactics: http://www.democracyfornewhampshire.com/node/view/2648 )

Now watch the following video clips from the Michigan recount and ask yourself how this process could possibly be faster than hand counting. They are feeding the ballots through the optical scan machine one by one, a process that appears to take longer than sort and stack would take.

Would it be faster to feed ballots one by one or hand count?

The machine sometimes jams, requiring the election official to dislodge the machine from the ballot box, open the back of the ballot box, and pull out the ballots. Not only does this take extra time, but since no one else is allowed to see what is in the black ballot box, it presents chain of custody issues as well. Could ballots be swapped? And how much extra time does this process take? Wouldn't hand-counting this recount in public be both faster and more observable?

Stuck ballots and nontransparency in ballot handling

MICHIGAN LAW STATES: "The candidates or persons interested in the ballot question, their counsel, watchers, and talliers shall be allowed to observe each ballot as it is called and to take notes as they desire for their own records. The board of canvassers shall identify by an exhibit number a ballot counted or rejected under protest, keep a record of the protest, and proceed as required under section 871a.

These Michigan citizens report that they were not allowed to observe each ballot. In addition, there seems to be some confusion about absentee ballots. Citizens correctly point out that the mail-in ballots will have fold lines, but are rebuffed when they ask to see or count the number of folded ballots.

No you can't see the absentee ballots

These citizens have also been communicating with Michigan college students, who are getting more and more interested in election oversight. A key issue for college students is emerging -- incorrect information is being provided by unknown parties about ID requirements to vote. Students nationwide are now being urged to take a very close look at eligibility and poll location issues.


I met with citizens in AUSTIN, TEXAS this weekend. What a dynamic bunch! As one of them said when we discussed the importance of the "swarm" method -- having thousands of individuals using their own common sense, rather than a top-down model telling election reformers to march in order -- "A thousand imaginations is a powerful thing."

Well, the imaginations in Austin are oustanding. In Texas, the Secretary of State has apparently got a bus going around the state shilling for electronic voting. The bus pulls up to various cities and out comes the dog and phony show. (Okay, the typo is a Freudian slip. I think I'll leave it there.)

Enter the imaginations of Vote Rescue, the Austin citizens group working on election oversight. They're marshalling a Volkswagon bus to follow the bus. Add to this the "Wheel of Glitches" (based on the Wheel of Fortune prop) -- spin it and see where YOUR vote goes!
Citizens near Austin are encouraged to get involved: http://www.voterescue.org

And in DUPAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS, one of Black Box Voting's top two picks for WORST PLACES TO VOTE IN AMERICA, get this:

DuPage County has apparently issued a decree that counting the votes is not a public meeting, as there is no quorum, so they will prohibit any video, audio, or any recording of any kind of any part of the vote counting. We'll have more coming up on DuPage County.

In case you're wondering, the other contender for the top two WORST PLACES TO VOTE IN AMERICA is Riverside County, California.


I'll be in Cleveland on Friday Sept. 29 for the WeCount Conference to speak to local citizens about election reform and how to use the Tool Kit to gather evidence. Other speakers include Mark Crispin Miller, Bob Fitrakis, Steve Freeman, Richard Hayes Phillips, Greg Coleridge, Harvey Wasserman, Ron Baiman, Bob Koehler, Jonathan Simon, Bruce O'Dell, Kathy Dopp, Shaun Tucker, Tony Minor, Victoria Lovegren, and many more.

For more information on the WeCount Conference, go to: http://www.ohiovigilance.org/Conference/Index.html

On Saturday Sept. 30, I'll be in Atlanta at a press conference with Cynthia McKinney to discuss findings from the July 18 and August 8 elections.

On Sunday Oct. 1, I'll be in Columbus Ohio for a workshop to introduce local citizens and also newcomers to the issue to the problems and how to use the Tool Kit. 1:30 to 6 PM
German Village Meeting Haus; 588 South 3rd. St. (off E. willow St.)

On Monday-Thurs., I'll be in New York in preparation for the new HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy, which is scheduled to air Nov. 2.

Plan on having a House Party on Nov. 2 at a home with HBO. Pass out the Citizens Tool Kit Modules for how to watch the voting and how to watch the counting.

I haven't seen it yet, but this film is reportedly a powerful emotional experience. Filmed by the British filmmakers who made Votergate, the new film -- Hacking Democracy -- includes rare footage of machines flipping votes and more. Its visceral, in-the-field scenes shot on location are said to communicate effectively with those who are not already briefed on voting machine issues. This is the ideal time to reach out to NEW people who aren't at all aware of the issues yet. They're going to want to know what they can do: Be sure to come armed with the Tool Kit modules on monitoring the election. Give them something to do and put them right to work.

For more help on this, download the House Party Tool Kit: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit-house-party.pdf

-- Keep up the good work!

Bev Harris
Black Box Voting

# # # # #


"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." - Declaration of Independence  

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c(3) elections watchdog group supported entirely by citizen donations. We refuse funds from any vendor or vested interest.

To support Black Box Voting: click to http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or send to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055


Permission to excerpt or reprint granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

See photos below - a couple of 54-year old women from Black Box Voting bought $12 worth of tools and in four minutes penetrated the memory card seals, removed, replaced the memory card, and sealed it all up again without leaving a trace. This experiment shows that the seals do nothing whatever to protect against access by insiders after testing, and the seals also are worthless in jurisdictions like Washington, Florida, California, and many other locations where voting machines are sent home with poll workers for days before the election.

The Busby-Bilbray contest in San Diego now has proof that the optical scan machines sent home with poll workers subjected the tamper-friendly memory cards to an non-recoverable lapse in chain of custody. The recipe for tampering has been on the Internet for over a year: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVreport.pdf

The photos below blow apart claims by elections officials that voting machine "sleepovers" -- sending voting machines home with poll workers for days or weeks prior to elections -- are secure because of seals over the memory card.

Two Black Box Voting studies in Leon County, Florida proved that election results can be altered in such a way that the supervisor of elections cannot detect the tampering. Not to worry, we were told by elections officials. The memory cards are sealed inside the machines.

But then Black Box Voting purchased an optical scan machine and obtained discarded voting machine seals from King County, Washington. Here's what we found:


The cover can be removed without detection by removing five screws. Inside, all that stands between a pollworker (or an insider at the warehouse or elections office) and the open-for-business memory card is a washer which you can unscrew.


See the memory card: It is the item in the slot that says "this side up." Diebold's first line of defense is a metal door that pivots down over the memory card slot.


See how the door works: The hole in the right side of the door is over-large, so you can move the right-side bolt in and out at will. Therefore, they seal the right-side bolt.

See the hole in the top of the right-side bolt: The plastic seal is threaded through that.

See the plastic seal: This plastic seal was used by King County. It had been broken and discarded, so we used the high-tech method of putting an orange rubber band on it to hold it together for this demo. The seal is pointless anyway, as you'll soon see.

See the screws holding the Diebold AccuVote optical scan machine together: There are five. We tried a Phillips-head screwdriver on the thing.

See the screws come out: What's inside?

See the left-side bolt. Can you remove it? We stuck a small Allen wrench into the bolt.

See that nut on the screw: (Red arrow) We got out a pair of pliers.

Is it possible that Diebold does not know this??? Grasp nut with pliers, twirl Allen wrench and see what happens.

See the bolt come off. But can you get the memory card out?

See the metal door pivot to the right: Remove the memory card.

We then put it all back together without leaving a trace. Cost for materials: $12. Time: 4 minutes to open, remove card, re-insert card and re-seal everything.

San Diego, June 6 2006: Sent these voting machines home with poll workers for sleepovers. They said the seal on the memory card bay made it secure.

STILL GOING HOME FOR SLEEPOVERS in King County, Washington: King County elections officials told citizens on Aug. 29 2006 in a videotaped statement that they are using the door and plastic tab seal as shown in these pictures, and they are sending the voting machines home with poll workers for the September primary election.


Black Box Voting has prepared a Citizen's Tool Kit -- basically a brain dump of the things that worked during our last three years in the field. It is organized into modules, each only a few pages long, bullet points, easy to follow.

Two modules can help you address this issue in your area:
Media Module: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit-media.pdf (tips to get this into the media in your location)
Adopt a public official module: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit-adopt-an-official.pdf (tips to educate, persuade, and hold public officials accountable)

Full 20-Module Tool Kit is FREE: It is a Declaration of Independence for Citizens. You can download it here: (Adobe Acrobate 7 or higher recommended)

- It's time for you to recognize your own power.
- You don't need us.
- You don't have to find someone to follow.
- Pick any module. Pick a single action in it. See it to its completion.
- You've just opened the door to an unexpected evolution.

"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." - Declaration of Independence  

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c(3) elections watchdog group supported entirely by citizen donations. We refuse funds from any vendor or vested interest.

To support Black Box Voting: click to http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or send to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

* * * * *

You are receiving this occasional bulletin because you signed up for it or donated and thus, receive updates. If you wish to be removed from any further updates, hit "reply" and type the word "remove" in the subject line.

Please plan to participate this fall to restore control of elections to the citizenry. Thank you for your stewardship of our republic.

Be part of the solution: Please sign up for the NATIONAL HAND COUNT REGISTRY: http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-profile.cgi?action=register


The November 2006 election will dictate control of congress, and voting machines are melting down right and left. Let's take away all the excuses -- Black Box Voting is compiling a national registry of citizens willing to hand count if needed.

Register for the National Hand Count Registry here:


Local regulations permitting, citizens from New Hampshire to New Mexico are telling us they're willing to go where they're needed to help count the ballots. If it becomes necessary, we will contact you to let you know where you are needed.


You never know when your local jurisdiction's voting machines will choke (as happened in Cleveland -- Cuyahoga County, Ohio -- in the May 2 primary). Don't give them any excuses. In Cuyahoga County, 17,000 absentee votes could not be counted on the scanners. What did they do? They reportedly ENTERED EACH VOTE INTO A TOUCH-SCREEN. Next time, we should have a battalion of citizens ready to count those ballots.

In Riverside County,  California, citizens who opted for a paper ballot because they didn't trust the touch-screens were dismayed to find that their paper ballot was later punched into a touch-screen.

Black Box Voting is making certain that no elections jurisdiction can claim they don't have anyone to hand count.

Join the BBV National Hand Count Registry now, and please persuade a friend to sign up too.

You will find the link to join the Hand Count Registry on the main page of our Web site:

The direct link to register is at the top of this e-mail.

Thank you, citizens.

[Einstein's theory: "We the People" = us]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Black Box Voting is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c(3) elections watchdog group funded entirely by citizen donations. If you would like to support our work, click here:
or mail to:
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

05-11-06 Permission to reprint or excerpt granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

- The Oakland Tribune scooped other newspapers yesterday on the story.
- Pennsylvania's Michael Shamos sequestered all Diebold touch-screens.
- California is invoking emergency procedures.
- The state of Iowa  is trying to figure out a way to scrub Diebold clean.

Harri Hursti has just come out with Hursti Report II, a Black Box Voting project.

Here it is:

A second study with 12 more defects will be released Monday May 15.


Back doors were found in three separate levels. They can be used one
at a time or combined for a deep attack that can permanently compromise the
Diebold touch-screens.

Almost nothing will work to ensure that machines that have already been
delivered have not been contaminated -- the very forensic procedures that
MIGHT identify tampering also wipe clean any evidence.

The procedures being used in Pennsylvania, California, and Iowa will not
necessarily work if the system has already been contaminated. Worse, the
very procedure needed to cleanse the system can just as easily re-contaminate

Next week, Black Box Voting will release recommended solutions in conjunction with a
recommendation to pull all Diebold touch-screen machines off the shelf.

For more information, visit the following links:


and to see what the Diebold lawyers are trying to do to Bruce Funk, click here:

(Scroll past the Georgia cluelessness to a transcript of the retaliatory
meeting held to try to force Funk out of office.)

Diebold lawyers are also retaliating against Stephen Heller, trying to put
him in jail for leaking documents that have been compared in importance to
the actions of famed Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsburg. Click here
for the latest on Heller:


and click here to donate to his defense fund:


(Diebold lawyer's vindictiveness has cost Heller his job and very nearly
his home. His courage in fighting for YOUR right to vote needs your support.

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a nonprofit nonpartisan 501c(3) organization dedicated to
fighting for your right to accurate and fair elections. We are supported entirely
by citizen donations.

(We realize we just hit you up twice -- But really. Stephen Heller is one of our
personal heroes, and we put him first for a reason. Please read the story about
Diebold's attempt to put him in prison for leaking documents showing they were
planning a criminal defense budget for carrying out actions they had already
been told were illegal.)

If you can support our work (Hursti Reports etc) here's how:

click here: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html
or mail to:
Black Box Voting, Inc.
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

* * * * *

-Black Box Voting

04-03-06 Please forward to your local elections officials:

Credible first-hand reports have been received from multiple states
recently that Diebold is making unannounced visits to counties, sometimes
when the elections supervisor is out of town. Diebold has prevailed
on assistants and managed to gain access to the voting equipment.

Elections employees have reported to Black Box Voting that their questions
to Diebold are not being answered to their satisfaction. 


1. Program changes: Watch very carefully whether Diebold puts a
card into your machine and boots it up. Alert your staff to be on the
lookout for this. By inserting one card, either the operating system or
the voting software can be altered. Inserting two cards can change both.

Such changes can hide evidence of the kind of security vulnerabilities
found by Harri Hursti and Security Innovation Inc. in Emery County, Utah.
However, replacing the operating system and programs does not ensure
the integrity of your machines, since the security vulnerabilities found
appear to be able to survive overwriting both the operating system and
the programs.

2. Swapping out equipment or components: We have credible reports that
Diebold has been swapped out motherboards in multiple counties. We have
less firm reports that Diebold has made reference to repartitioning memory
and/or other adjustments. Either swapping the motherboard or repartitioning
could obscure evidence of programming that shouldn't be there, and/or
introduce new vulnerabilities to your system.

3. Swapping or recording serial numbers. The Diebold serial numbers do
not appear to be burned into the machine/motherboard itself, but are simply
affixed with a plate that can be swapped.

You should, immediately, photograph each of your machines' serial numbers.

Diebold denies that they have sold used equipment. However, a recent
response from Deborah Seiler, the former Diebold sales rep who is now
Elections Registrar for Solano County, California, gives a perception that
someone is not being forthcoming.

Solano County used the Diebold TSx for one election and then rejected the
system. Seiler, who took office shortly after Solano rejected the Diebold
equipment, has reportedly responded to a public records request for Solano
County TSx serial numbers by claiing that they were given back to Diebold
and that Solano County no longer has them.

Diebold's odd explanation in Utah, that there were perhaps Chinese or Asian
fonts on touch-screens delivered to Utah, would be consistent with selling
machines from California. There were some 800 to 900 TSx machines,
apparently, rejected by Solano County.

Black Box Voting encourages all recipients of "new" Diebold TSx machines
to log serial numbers immediately, photograph or videotape them, and do so
before Diebold arrives to visit your machines if at all possible.


This is your right and responsibility as a public official. Do not allow anyone
to intimidate you.

It would be a good idea to take the keys to the voting machine storage
facility with you when you are not in the office. Advise your staff not to
allow Diebold to access your machines without your presence.

If Diebold comes to visit your machines, you are advised to tape record,
videotape, and have several witnesses present to observe exactly what they do.

Better yet, tell them you need a WRITTEN WORK ORDER specifying what they
will be doing in detail before you authorize it, and stand over them to observe
during any access to any part of your system. If the work order will involved
putting in cards and booting up the system, before Diebold is allowed to place
any card in the machine, take a photograph of each screen, including the first
screen with the OS and B/L number at the top. Bear in mind that in the past,
some Diebold changes kept the reported number the same.

Diebold is a private company. As soon as you take delivery on your system, you
have the responsibility to be in control of it at all times. You are under no obligation
to allow a vendor access (even if your state has mandated that you take these

The upcoming security report, along with the testimony of Wyle Labs at the
California Senate Elections Committee hearing last week, provide clear indications
as to why preservation of your system AS IT WAS DELIVERED TO YOU should
remain "as is" until there is an opportunity to have the appropriate authorities
replicate the new security report.

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) organization focused on
protecting the fairness and accuracy of elections.

We are supported entirely by citizen donations. If you wish to donate to support
efforts like the security testing in Leon County and Emery County, you can do so
by clicking: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or by mail:

Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055Black Box Voting

03-20-06 Please forward to your lists and blogs, must include link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org.

Now would be an excellent time to express your support
for Bruce Funk with a letter or email, to demonstrate to
county officials that he has the support of the nation.
Bruce C. Funk - Clerk/Auditor
Fax: (435) 381-5183
95 East Main  
Castle Dale, Emery County  
Utah  84513

Emery County Clerk Bruce Funk has been running elections for 23 years.
He was quite content with his optical scan system. The state of Utah thought
otherwise: On Dec. 27, Funk took delivery on 40 Diebold TSx touch-screen
machines, part of a statewide directive.

"I had concerns about Diebold," says Funk, "but I thought, 'If the state is going
to mandate it, then I guess they'll assume responsibility if anything goes wrong.'"

Not so. He soon learned that he will be responsible but the state will decide
what election system will count the votes.


Funk's concerns escalated when he heard a particularly unusual statement
by Diebold sales rep Dana LaTour.

"Some of you are going to hate my guts on Election Day," she said to the
assembly of elections officials. Later, another Diebold representative named
Drew was asked what LaTour meant when she said "Some of you are going
to hate my guts..."

"We're going to have problems on Election Day, and we're just going to have to
work through them," he said.


Shortly after Funk received his "brand new" TSx machines, Diebold helped him
do acceptance testing. Two of the 40 machines promptly failed the test. Diebold
arranged to take them away.

The remaining machines showed several defects -- crooked paper feeds that jam,
memory card bay doors that wouldn't close, parts getting stuck, coming loose, falling off.


Funk thought it might be a good idea to take a closer inventory.

He booted each machine up to check the battery. Some of the machines were
marked with little yellow dots, and he got to wondering about that, too. He studied
the screen messages, and noticed something very odd.

Most machines had about 25 MB of memory available, but some had only 7 MB of
free memory left. One had only 4 MB of available memory. For perspective, the
backup election file generated by the Diebold TSx is about 7.9 MB. Now why would
brand new voting machines have used-up memory?


This prompted Funk to seek an evaluation. He asked Black Box Voting to help
him analyze his voting system.

After several consultations, Black Box Voting determined that the nature of the
problems in Emery County might be systemic and might be national in scope.
Therefore, we arranged for and underwrote the services of Harri Hursti and
also Security Innovation, Inc.

Neither Funk nor Black Box Voting were prepared for the depth and breadth of the
problems discovered. Based on these discoveries we will begin with a series of
articles followed by concise, but more formal reports.


Hursti quickly determined the three most likely causes of the low memory problem:

1. There might be completely different software in the machines with low memory.

2. Some machines might contain different external data

3. Or, some of the machines might have been delivered with natively different
amounts of memory available.

Hursti approached issue #2 first. If the used memory was due to external data or
archived election files stored on the system, he reasoned, removing any such files
would clear the memory. He discovered that some of the machines did contain test
election data, and he deleted the extra data. This produced only a small improvement
in available memory, however.

As for issue #1, different programs on the machines -- or, the existence of something
stored in memory which is hidden, such a find would obviously be disturbing.

Issue #3, the possibility that some machines had different amounts of memory left in
their life cycle, is particularly troubling. The technology choice Diebold made -- memory
storage consisting of flash memory, which is known to degrade over time -- carries
with it a possibility that used machines will be near the end of their memory life cycle.
If such machines were delivered to Emery County as "new," this would be like buying
a "new" car with 100,000 miles already on it.

The only thing that was known about the cause of this problem was that there were
different amounts of memory. The reason remained to be discovered. In the course of
evaluating the reason for the low memory, we learned much more about the TSx.


Hursti also examined the remote communications capabilities of this system. He found
no infra-red (IrDA) ports.

"The whole thing here is that it's network aware even when RAS is not running. You're
not dialing out and it's network aware. And it's actually configured to use an Ethernet board..
.It's all the time network aware...Perhaps all you need is this Ethernet cord and a wireless
cord inserted and off you go."

Of course, the software would need to be installed for this kind of communications.
Unfortunately, we could find no way for elections officials to find out whether inappropriate
software is in the touch-screen.

"I haven't asked any 'pins' (Personal ID Number). It hasn't been hostile to me at all.
It's a very friendly guy,"  Hursti reports.

Hursti made a number of observations about the touch-screen, and connected it to
his laptop for further "conversation."

In the interest of brevity, we will return to this issue in a later article in this series.


It's common for polling places to have too few outlets for a bank of voting machines.
The normal cure is to set up hook the computers up in a daisy-chain configuration, with
one plug to the wall, and the rest of the plugs linking voting machines together.

Diebold's output plug falls out readily, exposing live 110 volt wall outlet power on
bare wires. 

This happened on every TSx we tested, and presents a significant safety hazard for
poll workers, especially the elderly. According to Hursti, the electrocution might only
result in a burned hand, and probably wouldn't be fatal.

This is a design flaw worthy of a general recall for standard consumer and office electronics.


While analyzing the memory storage problem, Hursti discovered a critical security
hole in the foundation of the touch-screen. Then he found another in the "lobby,"
and another on the "first floor." Taken together, these present a potentially catastrophic
security hole.

These are not programming errors, but architectural design decisions.

Black Box Voting is turning the "road map" of the most dangerous security findings
over to the proper authorities. We won't let anybody sit on this for very long because
elections are looming and elections officials need to know what to do now.

A concise and more formal report will be released in a few weeks, and this will
discuss the procedures for preparing a recovery path for these security holes.


1. Source code reviews alone are NOT sufficient. Access to fully functional
systems MUST accompany source code reviews.

2. Honest election officials and citizens again take the lead in learning the truth
about voting machines. We ask for maximum public support for Bruce Funk, who
showed courage and commitment to responsible elections. The important and
effective work of Utah voting integrity advocates Kathy Dopp
(http://www.uscountvotes.org) and Jocelyn Strait should be applauded by fellow
activists. They have played an important role to inspire this study in Utah, which may
in turn assist with efforts in many other states.

* * * * *

Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) organization dedicated to
investigating issues of election accuracy and fairness.

Conducting testing like this carries a particularly staggering expense load for
a small nonprofit. If you wish to support these efforts, and more like them, you
can donate by:

clicking http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html

or mail check to:

Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St. Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

02-20-06   Please take action and forward to your contacts.

This has national implications.  For the first time ever, we have the opportunity to subpoena key voting industry witnesses to get them under oath in front of a senate hearing to investigate what the Sam Hill they were doing when they created and recommended tamper-friendly voting systems.

We're sure by now you're aware that Calif. did  an about face and certified Diebold's entire line of products -- hackable touch screens, hackable optical scanners, and extremely hackable GEMS tabulators -- despite 100% public opposition and numerous attacks proving the sytems' fatal flaws and insecurities.

But this isn't just California. Get these people under oath in California, and you get them questioned for the whole nation.

Everything is at stake. 

We are putting some very important phone numbers and emails here along with simple instructions for what we all need to do.

We have everything to lose if we don't all take a few simple steps immediately.  EVERY STATE is experiencing issues with secret, privatized voting equipment examined by mysterious private contractors who won't answer any questions at all about what they do.

Here is the most efficient, easiest strategy to counteract shoving illegal and insecure systems that we never asked for down our throats. This action is the culmination of years of hard-core work by Black Box Voting and others. JUST DO IT. 

Here are the simple, painless suggestions. See below for why they are so important. 

This comes down to only FIVE emails, FIVE faxes, FIVE calls.

Do you have one good excuse for not being able to make five contacts?  On second thought-- don't think one up. Just do it, please.

Remember; your tax dollars are paying not only for this equipment, but for the voting machine examiners who refused to answer any
questions in last week's Calif. Senate Elections Committee hearing.


1) All we need is three out of five senators.
2) All five are interested and willing to listen
3) This is the FIRST time Black Box Voting has issued a call to action.

We believe grass roots calls to action lose their punch when overused. We have waited until now because, like the Black Box Voting Hursti project, we know THIS effort is highly strategic and can create real change, quickly.


California Senate Rules Committee. Only they have the power to authorize subpoenas.


Key voting industry witnesses, including all federal testing lab personnel, chickened out of Calif. Senate Election Committee's Feb. 16 hearing on how this stuff got certified in the first place. They don't want to answer questions.

Subpoenas will legally compel them to show up so they can be questioned under oath. Black Box Voting believes that perjury will follow. A plan is in the wings for what to do if/when key witnesses perjure themselves.

By the way, documents can also be subpoenad - like the NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS signed by voting system examiners, which reportedly have prevented them from telling what they know. And like the documents requested under Calif. public record law by the Senate Elections Committee which the current secretary of state -- in violation of the law -- has failed to answer or provide.


Urge support for subpoenas of election industry and certification insiders. (Among those who chickened out of testimony on Feb. 16: Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Hart Intercivic; Ciber labs, Wyle labs, and voting system examiners).


Senator Don Perata (Chair) D
(916) 651-4009 
District office (510) 286-1333
Fax (510) 286-3885 Perata

Senator Jim Battin (Vice-Chair) R
(916) 651-4037
Fax: (951) 653-9524 Battin

Senator Roy Ashburn R
(916) 651-4018
Fax: (661) 323-0446 Ashburn

Senator Debra Bowen D - She is on the rules committee and
is also the chairperson of the Senate Elections Committee.
Debra@debrabowen.com -
(Ms. Bowen is mounting this case and will be busy preparing,
emails are welcomed-- See below*)
Fax (310) 318-6733 Bowen

Senator Gilbert Cedillo D
(916) 651-4022
Fax (916) 327-8817 Cedillo

This is about volume of calls logged, emails sent. 
Make the contacts and make sure this goes out to your list.



Be concise, be polite, be professional. Here's your message:

You want Rules Committee support for subpoenas of election industry and certification insiders to answer the Elections Committee's questions about voting machine programming, examination and certification.

A sample letter is provided below in this email.

That's it. Short and simple. Polite, professional, firm. Short clear message.



Diebold head programmers, federal testing labs (Ciber, Wyle) that repeatedly certified flawed systems, voting system examiners who took taxpayer money, spent hours on  so-called "security exams" on systems a 12-year old can hack, repeatedly recommending for certification.


The Calif. Secretary of State's office decided to certify Diebold -- again -- despite the new UC Berkeley report.


"Harri Hursti's attack does work: Mr. Hursti's attack on the AV-OS (Optical scanner)is definitely real. He was indeed able to change the election results by doing nothing more than modifying the contents of a memory card.  He needed no passwords, no cryptographic keys, and no access to any other part of the voting system, including the GEMS election management server."

 -- (Comment from Black Box Voting: Note that Diebold has lied repeatedly to election officials and secretaries of state about this. We have videotape and documents from Diebold documenting this posted at our Web site) --


"Interpreted code is contrary to standards: Interpreted code in general is prohibited by the 2002 FEC Voluntary Voting System Standards, and also by the successor standard, the EAC's Voluntary Voting System Guidelines due to take effect in two years. In order for the Diebold software architecture to be in compliance, it would appear that either the AccuBasic language and
interpreter have to be removed, or the standard will have to be changed."

-- (Comment from Black Box Voting: Note that California can only run software certified by the Federal ITA process, by state law. The "Berkeley team" is saying flat-out that such certification was not done correctly. It follows that the entire Diebold product line should be illegal under state law.)



The Feb. 16 California Senate Elections Committee hearing on certification was hit with no-shows by ALL FOUR major vendors (Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Hart Intercivic). Representatives from Wyle and Ciber testing labs also declined to appear.   The Secretary of State's office is now "legally late" on a series of public records requests made by California Elections Committee Chairperson Debra Bowen. 

Sen. Bowen has to get permission from the California Senate Rules Committee to have subpoenas issued.

Only three of the Rules Committee Senators are needed to invoke port subpoenas.



Senator ____,
California Senate Election Committee

Dear Senator ____,

I urge you to take a courageous stand to issue port subpeonas to
key representatives and officials from Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Hart
Intercivic, as well as Wyle and Ciber Testing Labs and state voting system
examiners who fail to appear for your hearings on this matter.

I also urge you to subpoena documents as needed, including the non-
disclosure agreements signed between examiners and vendors, and
all other documents needed to assess the integrity of the certification

Voters must be able to ensure that voting systems are secure from tampering,
either by outsiders or by insiders. If the citizenry cannot see for itself that
elections are secure, that our votes are being counted as we cast them, it is
only a matter of time before the very fabric of our nation is torn to pieces.

Flawed, hackable systems have been approved that violate FEC guidelines.
Some of these systems are so deeply flawed that they defy common sense.
It is imperative that the elections industry insiders who were party to the design,
examination and recommendation of these systems appear before California's
Senate Election Committee in open hearings under oath to answer questions
and address these serious concerns.





"We are going to need an enormous amount of people power in the next couple of weeks.   Together we can change this whole pathetic mess. Let's stand up for our democracy RIGHT NOW."

"Email is great because it is easy for us to log and report -- and we can actually prove how many emails we've received!"

"Please email me in support of issuing subpoenas rather than calling  you will save my staff a great deal of time logging calls, and you know what kind work we have to do right now.  You can always call and fax later!"

Debra Bowen



Thanks to M.S. English for collaborating with Black Box Voting to craft this message quickly and effectively. Her Web site is recommended for those who want to get up to speed on the history of the voting machine issue:


Recommend the Chapters on "Technology" and "The Companies" as a Primer.

For more information, see the free online chapters of Black Box Voting: Available in .pdf format on the home page at http://www.blackboxvoting.org
(scroll down, look in right hand column)



Here is a copy of the Diebold GEMS program. Thirty million votes will be counted on GEMS in the brutal battle for control of congress in 2006. Be your own "federal testing lab" -- see for yourself:


(Is this not ridiculous? You could teach a pigeon to hack the audit log. Your 12-year-old sister and all her giggly friends can change
administrative passwords and election results.)

Details: The true scariness of the Herbert Thompson GEMS hack: With Visual Basic script, a one-minute access by anyone -- even years ahead of time -- can implant a trojan horse. Thompson's script demonstrated May 2 in Leon County, Florida was able to make "intelligent guesses" to find names and ballot questions and then manipulate them.


Article: Key Witnesses chickening out on hearing:

More extensive article on Calif. certification issues:

Voting system examiners blocked from telling what they know:

Electronic voting machines: Who cooked this turkey?



Now comes gathering evidence in the form of public records. 

Black Box Voting will work with any who volunteer to send customized public records request letters. We will help you learn the ropes, will suggest strategic records to start collecting NOW to protect Election 2006.

This year, it is all about mentoring individuals to regain their power as citizens. It takes no more effort to write a public records letter than to write your congressman -- but when you write for public records, you end up with something tangible: Evidence.

To participate in the 2006 Election Cleanup Crew, email crew@blackboxvoting.org. Please allow a few days to respond, due to
our heavy schedules -- this is a one-on-one, personalized project, and we are so very proud of the many citizens who are stepping up to the plate.

We are quietly developing leaders in "cells" throughout the country, helping citizens learn the skills to oversee their own government.


Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) organization that is teaching citizens how to take back oversight of our own
electoral process.

We do not accept funding from any vendor or anyone associated with any corporation that stands to benefit from electronic voting.
We are funded solely by citizen donations.

Our expenditures right now are dedicated to further work with Hursti and specific one-on-one empowerment and training of local
citizens, mentoring how to take effective action to collect evidence that will help protect Election 2006.

We need to make sure we can survive into the 2008 presidential election cycle. If you believe our work is important and should continue, here's how:

To donate by credit card: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html
To donate by check:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

-Black Box Voting

02-01-06 Permission granted to copy, distribute, reprint, or cite if you include the link http://www.blackboxvoting.org and credit source.
Voting system examiners in several states have reportedly been prohibited from revealing voting system flaws to the public due to nondisclosure agreements they signed with the vendors.

With the future of democracy is at stake, just what agreements were signed by examiners like Steve Freeman (CA), Brit Williams
(GA, MD, VA), Paul Craft (FL), Doug Jones (IA), and David Jefferson (CA)?

Black Box Voting has learned that vendors have been requiring nondisclosures to block release of information of critical importance to the public. Secretaries of state have failed to protect their voting system examiners, reportedly requiring administrative rules that prevent proper analysis and evaluation of voting systems by state examiners.

Black Box Voting has filed public records requests to obtain all nondisclosure agreements signed by Paul Craft, David Drury, David Jefferson, Steve Freeman, Doug Jones, Brit Williams, Merle King, and Michael Shamos.

We have already obtained one of the Diebold nondisclosure requirements. Diebold attempts to block everything that should be revealed -- even if the contractor is served with a subpoena or court order!

1) Whether voting system examiners have been provided with indemnification. Failure to provide indemnification allows the vendor to sue the examiner for damages if the examiner happens to discover or expose something harmful to the vendor.

2) Whether voting system examiners were protected by their secretaries of state. It appears that secretaries of state have left it to the scientists who examine voting software to negotiate their own terms of engagement with vendors. Some scientists, who understandably are not experts in intellectual property law, have signed the agreements provided by vendor attorneys. These agreements can later prove to be unduly restrictive, preventing the examiner from revealing what he knows even to the secretary of state.

3) Whether state voting system examiners were prohibited from examining the testing reports provided by Ciber and Wyle, the federal testing labs. Documents provided to Black Box Voting by Joan Quinn, a citizen in Sacramento, Calif., indicate that California examiner Steve Freeman may not have had access to key portions of the federal testing reports when examining voting systems for the state of California.

4) Whether examiners were prohibited from examining the source code and/or testing the equipment themselves.

5) Whether examiners were prohibited from asking the vendors follow up questions by rules or administrative procedures .

6) Whether examiners were ever prohibited by rules or administrative procedures from communicating with others on voting system panels or certification boards during deliberations over certification recommendations, or during/after voting system examinations.

7) Whether examiners are ever allowed to examine escrowed information -- source code and/or "penetration analysis"?

Black Box Voting has requested copies of the rules, escrow procedures, and any indemnifications, nondisclosures or administrative procedures that apply to the certification, examination and deliberation process in Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, California, and Iowa.


- Citizens are urged to gather evidence independently of Black Box Voting, through Freedom of Information and public records requests, to determine exactly what procedures, nondisclosures, restrictions, rules and guidelines are in place for each state's voting system examiners and certifiers.

- State senators and legislators, especially in the above-named states, are urged to launch formal hearings, with subpoena power
and witnesses under oath, to investigate exactly what restrictions were placed on voting machine examiners by vendors and secretaries of state.


Bruce Sims of San Diego, Calif. caught this problem:

According to 1990 FEC standards section 5.3, "Access Control", voting machine manufacturers are required to provide federal testing labs with a "penetration analysis" (hacking analysis). Did Diebold, Sequoia and ES&S provide this to testing labs?

If so, why didn't the labs identify the massive Diebold holes exploited by a Finnish security expert in the 2005 Black Box Voting "Harri Hursti" projects, and by Dr. Herbert Thompson and Black Box Voting with the Diebold GEMS central tabulator, and by Jeremiah Akin with the Sequoia WinEDS central tabulator?

"All software (including firmware) for all voting systems SHALL incorporate measures to prevent ... unauthorized operations by ANY PERSON. Unauthorized operations include, but are not limited to: MODIFICATION OF COMPILED OR INTERPRETED CODE..."

This is exactly the "unauthorized operation" that Hursti performed in Leon County on May 26 and Dec 13 2005 in the Black Box Voting projects. Thompson's Visual Basic GEMS hack was also an "unauthorized operation" of the code, and the alterations in the Sequoia WinEDS code demonstrated by Jeremiah Akin are also "unauthorized operations."

When public officials and vendors explain to you that these hacks are not relevant because they require inside access, note that this FEC requirement applies to both outsiders and INSIDERS.


"The vendor shall provide a penetration analysis," the standards say. Setting aside for the moment the sheer stupidity of relying only on a profit-seeking vendors assessment of their own product weaknesses, the Diebold memos show that Diebold knew that its customized AccuBasic code could be altered to "do just about anything." Therefore, unless Diebold identified this in the "penetration analysis" it was supposed to provide to the labs, it was out of compliance with FEC guidelines.
From: Guy Lancaster
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999

"The 1.94w firmware does not keep a checksum on the Accu-Basic report program stored on the memory card. It sounds like that area has been corrupted on these but without a checksum, the Accu-Vote doesn't recognize the fact and report the error..."

From: On Behalf Of Steve Knecht
Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 9:54 AM
Subject: AccuVote Tapes Results Report

> could we get an AccuBasic Report Option that just printed out the label and the ballots cast by precinct only for the zero and election night report...

Reply: "We can do just about anything."
So, Diebold knew that the AccuVote results reports could be programmed to "do just about anything" and Diebold also knew that "firmware does not keep a checksum on the Accu-Basic report program stored on the memory card."

Did Diebold include this KNOWN information in its "penetration analysis"?

If so, why are the testing labs (Ciber and Wyle) still in the business of examining elections software?

If not, why is Diebold still in the elections business?

Not only is the memory card exploit findable and documented in the public record (at least since 2003 when the Diebold memos were released), but another "unauthorized operation," the use of a Visual Basic script to hack the GEMS central tabulator, has been widely known for years. The use of the MS Access database to perform unauthorized functions was publicly revealed by Black Box Voting in July 2003, but was documented by Diebold programmers back in Oct. 2001.

Aside from the memory card problems, were the GEMS penetration points documented in the penetration test sent by Diebold to testing labs?


Public records obtained by Joan Quinn reveal that California voting system examiner Steve Freeman did a five-hour "security examination" of GEMS after the exploit holes were documented publicly by Black Box Voting -- yet he recommended certification of the system, even after a critical protective measure for GEMS hacking was stripped out of the Diebold central counting system.

What is in his report on this? Black Box Voting has requested a copy, but due to the bizzaro-world nondisclosures, we believe we may be turned down for "security" reasons (even though it was Black Box Voting that first publicly identified the GEMS defects, on July 8, 2003!).

FEC standards:

"Such penetration analysis will be subject to strict confidentiality and non-disclosure by the test authority. For security reasons, the penetration analysis shall not be routinely distributed to the jurisdictions that program elections. The penetration analysis, however, will be part of the escrow deposit."


Many states have election laws that state something similar to this: "systems be safe from 'fraud or manipulation'."

Let us examine for a moment the responsibility of secretaries of state under their own legal responsibility to ensure that their voting system is "safe from fraud or manipulation."

- If the FEC standards requires that the ITA-examined and vendor-supplied "penetration analysis" be submitted into escrow, does the secretary of state have a duty to examine the penetration analysis?

- If a secretary of state authorizes a state examiner to look at the system, does the secretary of state have a duty to enable said examiner to conduct an unfettered examination, review federal testing lab reports, including vendor's "penetration analysis" and any testing lab comments on it?

- If so, does the secretary of state have an obligation to obtain the report of his own state examiner?


If a nondisclosure is used at all, would not the correct party for the nondisclosure agreement (NDA) be the secretary of state, with the sec. state then invoking his own NDA on the state examiner?

In other words, it seems that a strange breach of duty may have occurred in locations where state examiners were forced into NDAs directly with vendors. Because the Secretary of State has a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers to ensure that voting systems are safe from manipulation, the examiner must be given free rein to disclose any and all findings with the secretary of state.

Thus, any NDA should be between the secretary of state and the vendor, with an employment or consultant's agreement executed between the secretary of state and the examiner. It is the secretary of state's duty to protect his own examiner from retaliation from the vendor.

Instead, it appears, the secretaries of state have stepped aside, have failed to provide examiners with the materials and access to the voting system reasonably required to perform an examination, have apparently failed to provide examiners with access to the
penetration analysis, have failed to protect examiners from legal retaliation by the vendor, and therefore have failed to obtain the necessary information to "ensure that the system is safe from manipulation."

# # # # #

-Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) elections
watchdog group supported entirely by citizen donations. 
To support our work, go to
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or mail to
330 SW 43rd St Suite K PMB 547 Renton WA 98055

-Black Box Voting

01-26-06  PERMISSION TO REPRINT GRANTED, WITH LINK TO http://www.blackboxvoting.org

Convicted of 23 felonies for computer crimes, Jeffrey Dean was sent to prison for four years. Shortly after his release from incarceration, his company was awarded one of the largest ballot printing contracts in history.

In a 2003 deposition, Dean states that he was a scapegoat who was left holding the bag in a series of unapproved payments from Culp, Guterson & Grader, one of the most politically connected law firms in Washington state.

One of this firm's partners at the time was Egil "Bud" Krogh, who headed the White House "plumbers" unit under Richard Nixon. Krogh ordered the burglary of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

Dean claimed that other persons from the firm were involved in a scheme, and upon discovery of illicit payments (averaging $14,000/month) he was made to take the blame. Krogh was a partner at Culp Guterson & Grader during the time period that Dean was receiving illicit payments of approximately $15,000 per month.

Like Jeffrey Dean, Krogh did time in prison -- four months for Watergate-related crimes. He was disbarred, but after a fight
from a Culp Guterson & Grader attorney, his credentials were restored. At the time, the firm was called "Culp Dwyer Guterson & Grader."

'He [Krogh] was hired on the merits of his character, intelligence and skills as a lawyer,'' said William L. Dwyer, the firm's senior partner, who had represented Mr. Krogh in his disbarment fight. Dwyer became a U.S. district judge.


Shortly after Jeffrey Dean was released from prison a company owned by his wife (but run by Jeffrey Dean) was awarded one
of the largest ballot-printing contracts in history, with King County, Washington. In SEC documents, this company (Spectrum Print & Mail Ltd.) lists assets located in the Seattle area, British Columbia, San Francisco and in the Norwalk (CA) location that houses the Los Angeles County Elections Division.


According to depositions taken in 2003, Jeffrey Dean programmed the ballot sorting software used to process incoming and outgoing mail-in ballots; he also developed the Vote Remote software used to track and authenticate mail-in ballots.

Key logs from King County Elections show that Jeffrey Dean was given intimate access to the GEMS server (Diebold central tabulating software); internal memos from Diebold refer to an ongoing consulting arrangement with Dean, and document that he had management involvement in the touch-screens, the 1.96 version of the optical scan, the votercard encoder and the Windows CE operating system used in Diebold voting machines. In addition, during recent litigation Dean called Peter G. Martin as a witness, indicating that he had worked closely with Martin, who programmed the new upcoming High Speed Central Count system.


Black Box Voting has learned that Jeffrey Dean and his wife Deborah have recently been ordered into Chapter 7 bankruptcy by a trustee who become fed up with their "gamesmanship" in recent attempts to obstruct discovery of their assets.


Jeffrey Dean has a 25-year history of financial problems, tax liens and litigation, going back to a company he formed while working for Boeing. Though he refers to this company in recent depositions as "Astec," its real name was Advanced Systems Technology, Inc., a company run by Dean and partner Michael C. Redman. Dean represents that this company did aircraft design, and says that he sold it to Raleigh-Durham Aviation in 1980. Legal documents show that he had a $700,000 tax lien imposed on him in connection with the "failed business" in 1984, and several creditors filed civil suits against him in 1979 and 1980.

By 1982, Dean was a contractor for Culp, Guterson & Grader. Assets began accumulating under his wife's names. When Dean divorced his first wife and married wife #2, Lorimay, she began accumulating real estate under an entity called "JAL Investments Inc." This entity and its real estate was transferred to Dean's third wife, Deborah M. [Pederson] Dean.

These efforts failed when it was revealed that over $180,000 of inappropriately received funds were spent on Deborah Dean's house, and that Deborah had been cashing checks as large as $10,000 at a time from the illicit funds.

Although she was involved in litigation over restitution issues, Deborah Dean was not prosecuted in the thefts from Culp, Guterson
& Grader.

Jeffrey Dean entered an Alford Plea admitting to 23 felony counts, and was ordered to appear at the Shelton Correctional facility to begin his incarceration. Instead, he failed to show up and went to Oregon, where he apparently lived under a different name. Bench warrants were issued and he went to prison.

Meanwhile, wife Deborah began "Spectrum Print & Mail Ltd." According to depositions, this firm was mostly delivering newspapers to contract deals like the Washington ferries.

Shortly after Jeffrey Dean got out of prison, however, Spectrum Print & Mail got into ballot printing and designing software for elections.

This ballot printing plant, using software Dean claims to have developed, handles ballot printing and mail-ballot processing for counties like King County (WA) and Los Angeles County, Fresno County, San Diego County, Alameda County (CA), and for the state of Georgia and many other locations.

The Deans were rewarded for Jeffrey Dean's ballot printing and election software programming work in a $4 million buyout by
Global Election Systems shortly before election 2000. The Deans became the largest stockholders of Global Election Systems, and Jeffrey Dean took a position on the board of directors.

In January 2002, Diebold Inc. purchased Global Election Systems. Oddly, in a 2003 deposition, Jeffrey Dean claims that his contact with Global was always Pat Green -- but Green is a Diebold employee, not a Global Election Systems employee. Yet Diebold claims it hasn't worked with Jeffrey Dean.

The Dean's ballot printing company was acquired by Diebold in the Global Election Systems acquisition.


The Vote Remote software and the absentee ballot processing software developed by Jeffrey Dean was never submitted for
certification, has not been examined by anyone, and due to technicalities in the certification regulations, is not subject to certification. Several counties have recently announced plans to force voters into all mail-in voting, including King County, Jeffrey Dean's first elections client.

Exactly what Jeffrey Dean was doing to the GEMS database program, what "oversight" he was providing to the touch-screen
technology purchased by Diebold, and what expertise he provided for the votercard encoder, the optical scan 1.96 series, and the
upcoming High Speed Central Count are not publicly known at this time.


Diebold claims that it did not work with Jeffrey Dean after acquiring Global Election Systems in 2002. However, the Dean depositions reveal that in May and June 2002, during the time the "rob-georgia" patch was created, Jeffrey Dean was called back to do consulting for Diebold. The Deans have been accused of obstructiveness and evasion by attorneys seeking to recover funds in a pending bankruptcy case. Specifically, when asked to identify monies paid by or due from Diebold Election Systems, they omitted answers.


Depositions, documents, and supporting documentation will be posted on the Black Box Voting Web site this week. These documents include depositions, bankruptcy papers, criminal court records, SEC documents and civil litigation records.

Jeffrey Dean prison records:

by Black Box Voting investigators Bev Harris, Kathleen Wynne, and Jim March, with assistance from Black Box Voting members Pat Vesely and John Howard.

NEW Citizen research & investigations section now available:
(you must register and log in to use this)


Black Box Voting is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c(3) elections group, supported entirely by small citizen donations.

This story required the skills of our research staff, along with expenses for two trips to Canada to review Canadian public records. There appears to be even more to this story, and it is unraveling through our Canadian contacts. ;

If you believe Black Box Voting is doing important work, you may show your support here:
or mailing to:
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055

-Black Box Voting

01-22-05 (Permission to reprint and distribute granted)

BBV just uploaded the biggest stash of documents yet! We have also created resources to help you prepare for and monitor the
2006 Election.

During Election 2004, we did not have the infrastructure to handle the huge influx of tips and leads coming in from citizens. This time, we have more resources and we are preparing already! The following resources will help you get started NOW to watchdog Election 2006:

1. New online members-only research and investigation area. You can upload your documents, ask for help from other citizens to look at them, get personalized coaching on how to investigate the integrity of your local election, and see thousands of pages of documents that have not been released to the public, and thousands more that have.

To visit this new area and see what's there already, go here:

This is your workspace area. Log in (or register if you are a first-timer). When you register, you will be able to see and use the
"Work Area: Citizen Investigations & Research " (members only) The direct link to it is here:

The direct link to register is here:

2. Online coaching and mentoring for election activists: The truth is, the amount of knowledge expected of voting activists is intimidating. We decided to make being an activist much easier: You can just log on and ask for the information YOU need. For example, a recent question we had was "I'm meeting with my secretary of state, how can I prepare and what should I say?"

Here's the guidance he received. His secretary of state decided to delay purchasing voting machines, for now.

Here is the direct link to the 1-on-1 consultation area:

This way, you don't have to learn it all at once. Just ask for what you need, and we'll try to help you. If you have expertise, come
here and help others.

3. We have launched a triple protection program for Election 2006. As you know, Black Box Voting focuses on empowering YOU, the voter, to take action. It isn't always easy to know what to do, and the truth is, writing letters or passing legislation won't help Election 2006 very much -- it's already late for that. So what can you do?

First, Black Box Voting will not organize you, control you, monitor you or take credit for your achievements. We will not tell you what to do, but we will mentor and provide resources and expertise to help you take charge.

There are three things you can do that will make a real difference. In fact, if even a handful of people take these strategies to heart it will make a tremendous difference. The emphasis must be on gathering evidence. Evidence consists of documents, public records, videotapes, and tape recordings. Collecting evidence needs to start NOW, not two days before the election.

Each month, Black Box Voting is providing specific ideas for how to gather evidence with documents and videotape.

This month, we are asking you to do a public records request to get the expenditures of your local elections division. After you receive this document, we are asking you to make a list of every entity that received a payment. This information is important evidence, and provides clues about what to watch out for in your area.

For example, citizens in DuPage County, Illinois have learned that their elections board paid $30,000 to a Republican propaganda

Here is a link to that story:

Here is a link to how to request the records:

This will get you started on collecting documents. There are many kinds of records requests you can ask for. We'll give you more suggestions as time goes on.

Here is an interview with Armen Yousoufian, a citizen who was awarded $300,000 in punitive damages when his local county obstructed his records requests. He fought back, and made public records history.

A second way to get documents sounds a bit more comical. However, do take a look at the kinds of documents that can be obtained by "waste archeology" (retrieving documents destined for premature demise in the trash):

In Pinellas County Florida, a citizen named Leonard Schmiege found shredded, filled out absentee ballots in the trash. Here is an interview with Leonard:

Here are tips for "waste archeology":

And  more:

Another way to get important evidence is to videotape. Telling someone what happened doesn't get much done, no matter how dramatic the infraction was. Don't leave home without your camcorder!

Here are tips for using your camcorder to protect Election 2006:

Here is how you can get started this month:


- Most important, it will help you foresee problems in time to do something to protect your election.

- Also, we find that many elections officials run a tighter ship when they know people are paying attention. Start now, continue all year, and you'll put into action those wise words: "The price of democracy is everlasting vigilance."

- If you uncover problems, your evidence will help the media take you seriously and, if necessary, the prosecutors take action. Your evidence can help candidates get recounts and poor election officials get recalled.

Take action. There are 10,000 elections jurisdictions in the United States, and no group, coalition, or congressman can do what ordinary citizens everywhere can: Oversee your own elections!

We're here to help, mentor, and provide resources should you need it.


Black Box Voting is fighting for your right as a citizen to oversee your own elections.

We are a nonpartisan nonprofit group sustained entirely by small citizen donations. Because federal elections take place only every two years, our fund raising challenges are somewhat daunting -- but we've made it so far, and our work has truly made a great difference!

If you wish to have an organization like us available to help watchdog elections, donations make that happen. To donate, click here:
or mail to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St. Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055Black Box Voting

01-05-06 Permission to reprint granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

Hold on to your lugnuts, ES&S and Sequoia may risk Hursti-style hack

Dec. 13, 2005: Harri Hursti performs devastating hack in Leon County Florida with Diebold optical scan system, proving he could control votes by manipulating a credit-card-sized memory card..

Jan. 3, 2006: Information received pointing to similar vulnerabilities in the ES&S and Sequoia "Optech" optical scan machines.

In an exclusive interview by BBV investigator Jim March with Dr. Douglas Jones, University of Iowa associate professor and a former voting machine examiner for the state of Iowa, it was learned that one of the most widely-used voting machines over the last 15 years may suffer from design flaws broadly similar to Diebold's version 1.94 and 1.96 optical scan system.

The first problem is that memory chip contents can be modified with easy to obtain reprogramming devices, in ways that could enable Hursti-style hacking.

The second problem is that Sequoia and ES&S have been able to force their way into intimate access to the mechanics of democracy. The electronic ballot controls were maintained exclusively by the vendors at the vendor's headquarters rather than by county election staff.

Diebold took over total control of elections in counties that allowed it. ES&S and Sequoia didn't give them a choice because of the system's design. This effectively removed county officials from their proper oversight role.


Two of the four major voting machine companies have been using an identical machine, the Optech, originally produced by Business Records Corp (BRC).

BRC was the largest voting machine company in America when ES&S purchased it in 1997. The SEC objected on anti-trust grounds, and in the resulting decision, allowed ES&S to purchase BRC, splitting the Optech scanners up between ES&S (service contracts for existing machines) and Sequoia Voting Systems (sales of new machines).

Although now being phased out, Optechs have been used for 15 years without a peep from the federal testing labs, and without the public ever being told of their vulnerabilities, nor of the vendor's extraordinary level of control over local elections.


According to Dr. Jones, the Optech machines are precinct optical scanners originally developed in the late 1980s. They reflect the technology of that period. They are broadly similar to the Global/Diebold optical scanners designed around the same time: These voting machines store votes on removable electronic memory devices and print out an "end of day ticker tape" on paper similar to a cash register tape, providing a precinct total of votes for each candidate and issue.

The Optech machines don't use a credit card-sized memory card - rather, they use a memory pack about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

This cigarette pack-sized device plugs into the body of the scanner with a proprietary connection. The memory pack provides three things:

- A chip ("ROM" memory) which is difficult to modify outside of a factory and contains the programming for the machine ("firmware")
- An "EPROM" chip which is easier to modify (more on that to follow) containing the ballot layout and precinct information
- Battery-powered memory chips to hold the vote totals


As Dr. Jones points out, there's one advantage to this pack design. Honest election officials can separate the scanner body from the pack and send the large bulky scanner out to the field (precinct) days or weeks ahead of the election. Tampering with scanners that are missing the pack isn't really possible (other than to simply vandalize it) because the "brains" aren't present to tamper with. It's the "memory pack" that needs to be held in strict security. The memory pack can later be hand-carried to the precinct by a group of poll workers and plugged into the scanner on election morning.


One reason the Hursti hack in Leon County resulted in a failure is that Diebold's memory device holding the votes and critical programs is both read-write (tamperable) and reader/writer devices like the Crop Scanner are available commercially to alter the cards.

The ES&S/Sequoia memory pack has a funky connector. It should be even more secure, right? Not exactly.


1. Unscrew the top of the pack.

The most critical chip holding the ballot/candidate/precinct layouts is sitting right there in an easy-access socket.

2. Find a chip burner. Once the chip is out with a screwdriver, you can find alteration devices (chip burner) for that chip even more easily that you can find the Crop Scanner.

Tip for finding a read/write device: The chips is called an "EPROM" - Electrically Programmable Read Only Memory .

Here are some examples:


3. Put the chip in the chip burner device connected to a PC and read the contents. Edit at will using your PC.

4. Peel the sticker off the back of the EPROM, exposing a glass window. This makes the actual silicon surface visible through the glass. It's a neat looking critter, shiny and with lots of tiny circuits that geeks will love.

5. Put the chip in a tiny mouse-sized tanning booth. No, we're not kidding - exposure to UV light for 25 minutes erases EPROMs. (Warning: We do not recommend putting in an actual mouse unless you can find very small sunglasses for him.)

PICTURE: http://testequip.com//sale/used/pictures/HES2152.jpg

6. Put the sticker back on the chip's glass window and put it into the chip burner connected to the PC, and download your tampered code from your PC back to the chip.

7. Put the chip back into the "pack" and you're done.

We have no reason to think that the security of the chip's contents is any better than in the Diebold environment. While this needs testing, it appears that hacking could cause all votes to be switched between any two candidates simply by altering the chip data.

Dr. Jones suggests the possibility of causing a minor party candidate's votes to go to a major party candidate, in addition to the major party candidate's proper votes. This would have the "benefit" of harming a small parties, possibly denying them ballot access. Each major party has at least one smaller party that tends to take a small chunk out of them - the Democrats always lose a few candidates to the Greens, the GOP loses a few to the Libertarians. Each major party would like to see their smaller more radical cousin go away, and that sort of hacking could do it.


While moderately advanced hackers should be able to alter the contents of these packs fairly easily, county election officials can't. Therefore, by design, the memory cards need to be programmed inside the vendor's corporate headquarters.


Well let's see: ES&S was partially owned by now-Senator Chuck Hagel at the time Hagel won his first major political victory to get into congress. Hagel's victory in the primary was so stunning that it made national news. According to CNN's "All Politics," Hagel hoped he could make lightening strike twice by winning the big prize - and he did. He defeated popular Democratic Governor Ben Nelson who led in the polls since the opening gun in what the Washington Post called "The major Republican upset in the
November [1996] election." (more: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBV_chapter-3.pdf)

Louisiana state elections chief Jerry Fowler was convicted on felony charges of taking bribes from Sequoia officials for system purchase decisions - one of Sequoia's key people, Phil Foster, was indicted but the charges were dropped after a judge concluded that his immunized grand jury testimony couldn't be used against him. (more: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBV_chapter-8.pdf)

So, is turning over the very foundation of Democracy to ES&S and Sequoia a good idea? We think not.


Nobody at the Federal or state testing labs seems to think like a hacker and tries to find ways to defeat these things. For that matter, nobody is paying attention to the basic ethics of the situation. No one ever asked the American citizens whether we choose to remain a Constitutional Republic versus a Corporate Republic.

Black Box Voting would like to do a "test hack" on the Optech with the blessing of public officials in any jurisdiction. Because these machines are not HAVA compliant, they are being phased out. We ask your help in facilitating this opportunity.

"There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government."
-- Thomas Jefferson - END


-Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) elections watchdog group supported entirely by citizen donations. 

To support our work, go to
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or mail to
330 SW 43rd St Suite K PMB 547 Renton WA 98055Black Box Voting

12-31-05 This Is A Very Important Post From Bev At Blackbox Voting .org She Needs Everyone's Help NOW...Please Take The Time To Read It And Pass It On To Everyone You Know. The Voting Machine You Stop Could Be In Your Home Town, Or On It's Way To Your Town. We Need To Take Back Our Voting System From Private Corporations Before The Next Election!

(Permission to forward and reprint granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org)

You might be the one to help us crack this case.

At issue: A YES-NO question: Do Diebold touch-screens have a problem similar to that identified in the Black Box Voting project in Leon County, Florida -- the devastating hack of the Diebold optical scan system. Just a YES-NO question.

Black Box Voting has now obtained certain NEW specific information indicating that the answer with the touch-screens will be "YES." One of our researchers has identified an interpreter, which appears to be specifically prohibited by 2002 FEC standards, inside a Diebold touchscreen system.

What is needed now is to confirm this finding with a "pedigreed" Diebold touch-screen system - ie., one to which we are given legitimate access with one of our publicly known experts. We will have to show that what our protected source has found is also present in a system delivered by Diebold for use in actual elections. This cannot be a stolen system, a specially souped-up system (i.e. one that Diebold chooses), or a system used without authorization of its custodians.

Please immediately make contact with those you know to see if you can facilitate a quick YES-NO examination of an official Diebold touch-screen voting system anywhere in the United States or Canada. We know what we're looking for. We know where it is. We simply need to confirm that it is ALSO in one of the systems delivered to public officials.

Note that in July, Diebold sent "threat" letters to its customers, warning them not to allow examination of their systems. However, in December Black Box Voting was shown to be correct when we alleged that there was executable code and an interpreter in the optical scan machines/memory cards. Diebold lied, under oath and in writing, to secretaries of state and purchasing officials about this. Now, the entire Diebold product line has been called into question, and we believe our findings will soon spill over into other vendors' products as well.

Following our demonstration in Leon County, Florida, California refused to certify Diebold. Pennsylvania has now refused to certify Diebold. Diebold has now been dropped from counties in Florida and Missouri. Diebold has refused to give its source code to North Carolina, most likely due to the NC requirement that allows POLITICAL PARTIES to examine the source code, which would risk revealing the problems exposed by the Black Box Voting projects conducted with Harri Hursti and others.

If you may be able to help with this project, please call Bev at (206) 335-7747 or Kathleen at
206-354-5723 or the main office at (425) 793-1030 or send to bev@blackboxvoting.org.
Telephone or send an overnight letter (sent by Fed X but not U.S. Post Office, to 330 SW 43rd
St Suite K PMB 547 Renton WA 98055) The contents of our e-mail was penetrated by an
outsider in late November in connection with confidential plans for upcoming testing,
so we do not recommend that you contact us by e-mail for this particular endeavor.

The sooner the better. It is important to roll back use of ANY MACHINES WITH PROHIBITED  CODE well in advance of the 2006 elections, in order to allow local jurisdictions to make other plans.


Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) elections watchdog group. This organization is not affiliated in any way with any political party or any vendor. The direct costs for the research in Leon County approached $100,000. This work required very heavy international legal and travel expenditures. Without your important support, these achievements could not have taken place. We're at the tipping point, but we don't think it's a great idea to stop now. Right? Keep the momentum going.

To donate:
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or mail to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St. Suite K
 PMB  547
Renton WA 98055

The formal Volusia County report, which led directly to Black Box Voting producing the Herbert Thompson and Harri Hursti studies, will be released in January 2006. New Volusia County documents are appearing in the Black Box Voting document archives this week and for the next two weeks.

It is Black Box Voting that brought the voting integrity issue into mainstream media. Original research by Black Box Voting and its founder, Bev Harris, has now been covered by ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox TV national news, as well as by the New York Times, Time Magazine, The Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today, Scripps Howard news service, the Washington Post, and many other major news outlets in the U.S. and Europe. This media coverage is putting unstoppable pressure on public officials to face up to the voting machine issue.

Black Box Voting has now uncovered over 137 sources within ES&S, Sequoia and Hart Intercivic. We are beginning to release some of the technical and procedural information we are learning about these vendors. Visit the FORUMS at http://www.blackboxvoting.org, where we are doing small informal releases of information
on various vendors' voting products every few days.

We are becoming increasingly interested in finding out more about the Eagle Op-Tech machines used by ES&S and Sequoia. Your tips, suggestions, donations and contacts are much appreciated as we continue this important work.

In 2006, among other projects, Black Box Voting is publishing a new book, focusing on the infrastructure that made this happen. We will delve into 21st Century bribery techniques, and fill you in on the people and procedures that produced the current boondoggle.


We thank all of you who continued to place your confidence in the work of Black Box Voting in 2005. Have an excellent New Year's Holiday!

Now let's roll up our sleeves for 2006!Black Box Voting

12-20-05  California "Hack" test stalled as Diebold certification derails

BREAKING - Dec. 20, 2005: California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has laid a subtle and elegant trap. Today, California threw Diebold Election Systems' pending certification into a tailspin, using Machiavellian logic designed to cast doubt on the federal testing lab process, the upcoming HAVA deadline and Diebold voting systems simultaneously (while standing neatly aside to watch the house of cards collapse).
This move follows on the heels of a devastating hack demonstration by Harri Hursti sponsored by Black Box Voting, which took place in Leon County, Florida on Dec. 13. This hack manipulated memory cards by exploiting design defects and Diebold's
customized "AccuBasic" program code.
Here's how the California trap works: In a terse letter to Diebold, State elections chief Caren Daniels-Meade writes, "Unresolved significant security concerns exist with respect to the memory card used to program and configure the AccuVote-OS [optical scan] and the AccuVote-TSX [touch-screen] components of this system because this component was not subjected to federal source code review and evaluation by the Independent Testing Authorities (ITA) who examined your system for federal qualification. It is the Secretary of State's position that the source code for the AccuBasic code on these cards, as well as for the AccuBasic interpreter that interprets this code, should have been federally reviewed.

".we are requesting that you submit the source code relating to the AccuBasic code on the memory cards and the AccuBasic interpreter to the ITA for immediate evaluation. We require this additional review before proceeding with further consideration of your application for certification in California."

And herein lies the trap. Federal testing authorities are supposed to rely on standards set by the Federal Election Commission. The FEC standards prohibit "Interpreted code" - thus, the AccuBasic "interpreter" is illegal. (The entire AccuBasic source code tree is written in a home-brewed language that Diebold programmers made up themselves, making it more difficult for certifiers to examine.)

The Hursti memory card attack demonstrated in Leon County Florida manipulated the voting system by passing code through -- drum roll please -- the Diebold interpreter, using a set of programs called AccuBasic which was written in a concocted computer language and (now it is revealed) was never examined at all by federal testing labs.

The ITA dilemma: ITAs have the choice of either recommending code that explicitly violates FEC standards (placing an unsupportable liability burden on them) or admitting that the original certification was defective. If the ITAs retract their recommendation, it will effectively strip Diebold of its federal certification, and may also affect its older products.

The Diebold dilemma: Diebold can refuse to submit its code to the ITAs, but that will lose the state of California, continuing a pattern initiated last week when two Florida counties dumped their Diebold machines. Alternatively, Diebold can
submit its code and watch as the federal authorities sever their product line from the U.S. market.

The position is made more unstable because Diebold is now fending off stockholder suits by an armload of attorneys piling on to solicit clients for a voting machine-related securities fraud lawsuit.

California Secretary of State letters to Diebold Election Systems:
http://www.bbvdocs.org/legal/Dumpty1.pdf              http://www.bbvdocs.org/legal/Dumpty2.pdf

Something terribly wrong has happened here. American citizens have been commenting on the unacceptable performance of the
ITAs since before Black Box Voting was incorporated in 2004.
In November 2002, Dan Spillane (a former senior test engineer for VoteHere) met with Black Box Voting founder Bev Harris.

"It's a house of cards," he said, showing her stacks of bogus ITA reports. "The bottom card is the certification process." Spillane says he flagged more than 250 system integrity errors in the touch-screen system he evaluated, yet the system passed every level of certification. He was terminated by VoteHere, he sued, and the case was settled by VoteHere with details kept confidential.

Here are writings by computer programmer Jim March on this subject: "The Federal testing process was subverted multiple times by Diebold staff. we're going to need to study the Federal certification process, in public." http://www.equalccw.com/lewisdeconstructed.pdf (Date 9/23/2003; Jim March)

Bev Harris's book, Black Box Voting, took the ITAs, NASED and the state examiners to task: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-6.pdf (Date 10/10/2003; Bev Harris). Harris published interviews with state voting machine examiners exposing slipshod state certification that relies on the flawed premise of strong federal certification: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-9.pdf (Date 10/15/2003)

A Riverside (Calif.) computer programmer Jeremiah Akin writes of ITA failure during testing of Sequoia voting software: "Failure of certification process to catch major security flaws in software:. Riverside has run elections on software that was later found to contain major security vulnerabilities that were not spotted in the certification process." http://www.exit.com/RiversideVoteTest/letters/response_to_mudslinging.pdf (Date 2/29/2004; Jeremiah Akin)

Black Box Voting published ITA reports from Ciber Labs for Diebold showing that "penetration tests" (security evaluations) were marked "not applicable" and "not tested." http://www.bbvdocs.org/general/ciber-reports.zip (Date: Oct. 17, 2004; Black Box Voting, Inc.)

Susan Pynchon, an ordinary citizen who now runs the Florida Fair Elections Coalition, wrote this analysis demonstrating a breakdown in Florida's state certification process: http://www.bbvdocs.org/general/FFECreport.pdf (Date July 11, 2005; Susan Pynchon)

Ordinary citizens led this investigation, gathering momentum and evidence nationwide, resulting in the Thompson and Hursti security tests in Florida, culminating in the California Secretary of State ordering Diebold and federal testing labs to go clean up their room (while neatly diverting attention from state-level certification failures).

And now, a word from one of our forefathers:

"There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government."
-- Thomas Jefferson - END


-Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) elections watchdog group
supported entirely by citizen donations.  To support our work, go to
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or mail to
330 SW 43rd St Suite K PMB 547 Renton WA 98055Black Box Voting

12-14-05 BREAKING : Due to contractual non-performance and security design issues, Leon County (Florida) supervisor of elections Ion Sancho told Black Box Voting that he will never again use Diebold in an
election. He has requested funds to replace the Diebold system from the county. He will issue a formal
announcement to this effect shortly. This comes on the heels of the resignation of Diebold CEO Wally
O'Dell, and the announcement that a stockholder's class action suit has been filed against Diebold by
Scott & Scott.

Black Box Voting: http://www.blackboxvoting.org
Leon County Election Supervisor Ion Sancho:

Finnish security expert Harri Hursti proved that Diebold lied to Secretaries of State across the nation when
Diebold claimed votes could not be changed on the memory card.

A test election was run in Leon County Tuesday Dec. 13 with a total of eight ballots - six ballots voted "no" on a ballot
question as to whether Diebold voting machines can be hacked or not. Two ballots, cast by Dr. Herbert
Thompson and by Harri Hursti voted "yes" indicating a belief that the Diebold machines could be hacked.

At the beginning of the test election the memory card programmed by Harri Hursti was inserted into an
Optical Scan Diebold voting machine. A "zero report" was run indicating zero votes on the memory card.
In fact, however, Hursti had pre-loaded the memory card with plus and minus votes.

The eight ballots were run through the optical scan machine. The standard Diebold-supplied "ender card"
was run through as is normal procedure ending the election. A results tape was run from the voting machine.
Correct results should have been:
However, just as Hursti had planned, the results tape read:
The results were then uploaded from the optical scan voting machine into the GEMS central tabulator.
The central tabulator is the "mother ship" that pulls in all votes from voting machines. The results in the
central tabulator read:
This exploit, accomplished without being given any password and with the same level of access given
thousands of poll workers across the USA, showed that the votes themselves were changed in a one-step
process. This hack would not be detected in any normal canvassing procedure, and it required only a single
a credit-card sized memory card.

On Oct. 17, 2005 Diebold Elections Systems Research and Development chief Pat Green specifically told the
Cuyahoga County (Ohio) board of elections that votes cannot be changed using only a memory card.
Video of Pat Green, Cuyahoga County

According to Public Records responses obtained by Black Box Voting in response to our requests shows that
Diebold promulgated this misrepresentation to as many as 800 state and local elections officials.

In other news, a stockholder suit was filed today against Diebold by the law offices of Scott and Scott:

Diebold CEO resigns: http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=175001748
# # # # #
Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) elections watchdog group. This organization is not affiliated in
any way with any political party or any vendor. Without your important support, we do not exist. To donate:
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or mail to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St. Suite K
 PMB  547
Renton WA 98055
The original research of Black Box Voting and its founder, Bev Harris, has been covered by ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC,
CNN, and Fox TV national news, as well as by the New York Times, Time Magazine, and most other major news outlets in the U.S.  


Letter faxed and mailed Dec. 9, 2005
To: California Secretary of State, Bruce McDannold, cc: Bruce McPherson
From: John S. Baker, Atty at Law, Dorsey & Whitney So. Cal. Office

"I represent Black Box Voting, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit 501c(3) corporation.  On June 16, 2005, Black Box Voting sent a request to examine the Diebold Election Systems component: the programmed "electronic ballad box" memory cards used in optical scan and touch screen voting systems ("Component").  This request was made pursuant to California Elections Code Section 19202 ("19202 Request"), which provides:


"In the 19202 Request, Black Box Voting asked that the Component be evaluated for five possible flaws with respect to: the latest optical scan systems (firm wear 1.96.4); the paperless touch screen, as used in Alameda County on November 2, 2004; the new TSx system proposed for certification; and any older optical scan model still in use in California.  A copy of the 19202 Request is attached for your convenience.
"Even though Section 19202 requires the Secretary of State to complete his or her examination without 'undue delay', Black Box Voting did not receive a response to its Request until Saturday, November 19, 2005.  In that e-mail response, you indicated that the Secretary of State would afford Black Box Voting an opportunity to demonstrate the vulnerabilities with the Diebold AccuVote-Os, based on the exploits outlined in the Hursti report.  You also stated that Diebold agreed to make their equipment and their staff available for such tests on November 30, 2005, at the California Secretary of State's office, 1500 11th Street, Sacramento.  In connection with your response, you attached a document that provided the "actual protocol and conditions" ("Protocols") for the proposed test.

"Unfortunately, the Protocols, which were written by Diebold, were seriously flawed, because they contemplated testing equipment that was specifically hand-picked by Diebold, rather than randomly sampling voting machines that were currently in existence and being utilized.  The proposed test system (Optical Scan terminal 1.96.6) was of a type that had not been certified or used in California and was not an item requested for examination in my client's 19202 request.  However, my clients would be willing to evaluate this item, but only in addition to the requested items. The test also contemplated that Diebold would control all of the conditions, despite the fact that it had a vested interest in the outcome of the test and would stand to lose millions of dollars if the test showed flaws in the voting systems created by Diebold.  My clients have other concerns with the initial
test protocols; for example the time limits were listed as "required" but were left blank.  We can discuss these issues once a proper dialog on these issues is established.  A copy of your response and the Protocols are attached as Exhibit 2.

"On November 22, 2005, less than two business days after you sent your response, you sent an e-mail at 5:11 p.m. stating that if Black Box Voting would like to participate in the test it would have to respond by 10:00 a.m. the following morning.  You also said that the time of the test would be moved from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  A true and correct copy of your November 22, 2005 response is attached as Exhibit 3. 

"Less than three hours after receiving your November 22 e-mail, Black Box Voting responded by suggesting that the Protocols be changed by selecting machines from certain County election offices which have not shown a bias for Diebold.  Unfortunately, you have never responded to this correspondence or permitted the inspection, despite Black Box Voting's reasonable request under California Election Code Section 19202.  As such, the Secretary of State has clearly violated Section 19202.

"Accordingly, please contact me upon receipt of this letter as to whether the Secretary of State will allow Black Box Voting's 19202 Inspection and, if so, which Protocols he is agreeable to.  If we do not receive a response to this letter by December 16, 2005, Black Box Voting will be forced to pursue other available legal remedies." 

# # # # # # # # # # # # # # #
# # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

From Black Box Voting:

Procedures to be negotiated include:

1) The secrecy provisions written by Diebold -- Black Box Voting takes the position that all facets of the test should be open to the public and to the media

2) Access and time limits -- Diebold wrote that a time limit would be set but did not specify whether it would be 30 seconds or two weeks. Diebold left a "blank" after the time limit item

Diebold involvement in writing procedures sent to Black Box Voting by Calif. Secretary of state:

The California Secretary of State provided written testing procedures to Black Box Voting in the form of a Word Document.

A review of the "properties" feature on this electronic document reveals that it was written by Steve Pelletier of Diebold Election Systems, then sent to Black Box Voting from the Secretary of State's office as the Secretary of State's proposed testing protocols.

It is the position of Black Box Voting that the vendor should not be involved in nor control the testing of this system.

 * * * END * * *Black Box Voting

12-07-05 Two recent stories indicate that a Diebold stockholder lawsuit is imminent. When a stock drops significantly and cannot rebound for approximately two months, a stockholder lawsuit can result.

Diebold's first "hit" was in late June this year, when the company admitted to miss-stating ATM sales revenues in a stockholder conference call. Diebold's stock dropped again in late September upon the release of a glum sales forecast based on additional problems with its ATM division. http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/050921/diebold_outlook.html?.v=10

An impending stockholder's lawsuit was predicted by Black Box Voting
on July 3, with a full blown story on this topic at BBV on Oct. 8.
July 3: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/6804.html
Oct. 8: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/10448.html

Today, Blogger Brad Friedman expanded scrutiny of potential
stockholder litigation.
- Due diligence failure on Global Election Systems acquisition
- Destruction of the Diebold brand name
- Persistent violations of the public trust
"We expect the U.S. voting marketplace to generate $1.5 to $2.0 billion in hardware revenue during the next four to five years," then-CEO Wally O'Dell was quoted as saying in Diebold's June 25 2001 "425" SEC filing.
Sec Filing: http://www.bbvdocs.org/legal/GESNacquisition6-21-1.pdf

O'Dell has now been shuffled out of his CEO position following a series of gaffes, beginning with a letter he sent to Ohio Republicans promising to "deliver the election to Bush."

Diebold has collected less than one-eighth of the voting system revenue O'Dell projected to stockholders.

The SEC documents refer to embarking on a process of due diligence during the Global Election Systems acquisition. This due diligence is more fittingly described as doo-doo diligence. What else can you say when you buy a company whose product MUST elicit trust, yet the head programmer and, SEC documents reveal, the LARGEST STOCKHOLDER is a 23-count convicted embezzler? Something stinks.

Somehow Diebold let prison records for programmer and main stockholder Jeffrey Dean get by them, and also forgot to look at the prison records of John Elder, who they put in charge of their ballot printing facility. 
Jeffrey Dean prison records: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/14323.html
John Elder prison records: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/14320.html

Their doo-doo diligence managed to miss some of the shoddiest voting software on the market. Here's how Dr. Herbert Thompson, a security expert and adjunct professor of computer science at the Florida Institute of Technology, describes the software: When asked what he would do if one of his students turned in a program like Diebold's, he said he would have to give
them an "F".
Diebold's brand name has become a source of mockery. The New York Times featured a one-half-page photo of a chimpanzee altering a Diebold voting system -- yes, the chimp actually achieved this after a one-hour training session
video of chimp hacking Diebold machine:

Diebold is lampooned in comic strips, bumper stickers and popular media. Hustler magazine published a full-page satire ad lamenting Diebold's role in the loss of democracy.

This is Diebold now. Just four years ago, this company had an untarnished brand name dating back to the 1850s. For some reason, Diebold decided to expend its excellent brand name on a tiny rogue division providing less than five percent of its revenue.

- Poor security
- Secretive practices
- Ethical violations

Diebold's ethical failures include funky and improperly disclosed lobbying, lying to at least three different secretaries of state, and bait and switch tactics with its voting system customers.
Link to Rose & Kindel under-reporting:
Undisclosed lobbying by Juan Andrade:

It is Diebold's ethical violations that we will explore further in this article. Let's look at "the story behind the story" on just one incident, chosen from of a veritable cornucopia of selections.

Documents were provided by Black Box Voting's Bev Harris and Jim March to the California Secretary of State's office and to the state Attorney General's office (on behalf of a courageous source). These documents prove legal misconduct, not just on Diebold's part, but on the part of their law firm, Jones Day. In these legal documents, Jones Day writes of plans to lie to the California secretary of state. Jones Day lies about votercard encoder (see #9):
Jones Day prepping Diebold to lie about San Luis Obispo Election Day database leak :
more about San Luis Obispo:

After delivering the documents to state law enforcement authorities, the Jones Day documents were provided by Black Box Voting to Ian Hoffman of Ang Newspapers.

Hoffman was brave enough to take on the story, though it led to an unsuccessful lawsuit by Diebold's Jones Day law firm against his publication. Hoffman's newspaper prevailed on First Amendment grounds. The information was of critical importance to the public interest.

Harris also received a tip from an inside source from California named James Dunn. It had that authentic feel, so she turned it over to March, who lived near Dunn. March hopped on his motorcycle to take a declaration from Dunn(1). Dunn's testimony, also delivered in person to the secretary of state's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel (VSPP) proved that Diebold's lawyers lied about the votercard encoder, that Diebold had been warned that it would fail in the March 2004 California primary. Of course, it DID fail, and it represented the THIRD time Diebold used uncertified and unauthorized software after being explicitly told not to by the secretary of state. Declaration from Dunn:

The California VSPP grilled Jones Day (Diebold's law firm). "Were you lying, or simply trying to mislead us?" they asked.

Diebold lied. Jones Day lied. Diebold brought in a damage control expert, at a cost of over $100,000 in just a single quarter.

Then-secretary of state Kevin Shelley decertified Diebold's TSx machines, recommending the case to the California attorney general for prosecution.

Diebold directly caused the disenfranchisement of thousands of San Diego voters during a presidential primary, yet this company
continues to ask for our trust.

The likely stockholder lawsuit is a positive sign. Attorneys for the stockholders will cream Diebold, because we'll be able to prove that Diebold failed to perform appropriate due diligence when they acquired Global Election Systems, failed to follow their own lawyer's advice, failed to follow the law, and marketed knowingly shoddy software using false claims.

If we do not consequate this kind of behavior, it will certainly result in civil unrest. Stockholder litigation should be followed by a nationwide recall of defective GEMS central tabulators. Also likely: A recall of the flawed optical scan system, which provides the opportunity for poll workers and other election officials to tamper with elections through credit-card-sized removable media.
(1) Take a moment to read the Dunn Declaration.

We would suggest that the Dunn Declaration be considered a blueprint for how a genuine insider's information should be treated.
Even if not using a formal declaration format, the factual information has more power when sticking with just the facts, rather than interspersing commentary and opinion.
Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) elections watchdog. We are fighting for your right to oversee your own elections, for removal of secrecy, and for fair, honest and trustworthy elections. Black Box Voting is developing evidence and documentation to help you, as a citizen, fight effectively for clean elections.

Black Box Voting is supported entirely by citizen donations. To support our work, go to http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donation.html or mail to 330 sw 43rd St Suite K #547 Renton WA 98055Black Box Voting

11-30-05 What's going on with California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson?

- He asks Black Box Voting to do a test, but tells the press he's asked Finnish security expert Harri Hursti to do it, before he formally invites Hursti or obtains any agreement from Hursti to do the test;

- He gives Black Box Voting a Nov. 30 deadline, then tells the press he has no idea where the Nov. 30 date came from.

- He asks Black Box Voting to confirm they intend to do the test, they confirm. BBV never hears from the sec. state's office again.

- The participants in the test learn by reading in the newspaper that the test has been delayed (18 hours before it is scheduled to begin).

- In a related matter, while on the radio this week McPherson's office could not answer the simplest of questions about what transpired at a Nov. 21 Diebold hearing.

Here's the correspondence trail -- judge for yourself:

Black Box Voting is a national nonpartisan nonprofit elections watchdog group, supported
entirely by citizen donations; Black Box Voting is not associated with any political group or vendor.
http://www.blackboxvoting.orgBlack Box Voting ,Black Box Voting

11-25-05 From We, the People to our public servants: This isn't what we ordered. Send it back.


It's about the size of an elephant, and it took a long time to cook. Preparations began in the 80s when some Texas powerbrokers went on an acquisition spree, converting the elections industry from diverse locally-based mom & pop businesses into a handful of firms peppered with criminal indictments and salted with political connections.


Elections officials had to be bagged up and propagandized. A privatization advocate, the Council of State Governments, was run by Abe Frank, who became a founding director for The Election Center in 1990.

The Election Center, which has been run by former used computer parts salesman R. Doug Lewis since 1994, undertook the task of organizing and training local elections officials.

At the same time, vendors flexed their influence in the pay-to-play National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) -- You pay your fees, you get your face time. Secretaries of state, who often aspire to run for governor, cozied up to the very people who -- literally -- can make that happen.


The FEC makes the rules for voting machine certification, the so-called "1990" and "2002" FEC standards (which have been removed from the FEC site, but can be found here).

The FEC left themselves a loophole. They never codified the FEC standards into regulations, so that the force of law cannot be applied to force voting machine makers to comply. The FEC standards are "voluntary guidelines".


Test how ripe they are before using: Jam a pocket calculator halfway into a banana, see if they'll certify it as a voting machine for the right money.

Three labs were authorized, but vendors chose to use only the Huntsville brand -- Nichols/PSInet/Metamore/Ciber, a series of companies that repeatedly passed the hot potato to a
tester named Shawn Southworth, and handed another portion of the testing to Wyle Labs' Jim Dearman.

These labs were supposed to do source code and functionality reviews, but here's the catch:
They are paid by the vendors.

The testing labs are called "ITAs" for "Independent Testing Authorities" but there is nothing independent about them. According to Shawn Southworth, in a taped interview conducted by Black Box Voting, the labs don't like to write anything negative in the reports because the vendors don't like it, and they're paying for it.

- One Voting Systems Panel from the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED).
This panel approves the voting machines after the ITAs recommend approval. They are supposed to check over the ITA's paperwork, after which they assign a "NASED number" signifying Federal certification.

The NASED panel sometimes issued cert numbers before reading the reports, and has routinely certified systems with "not tested" and "untested" notations on the recommendation forms.

NASED got some operational support via cash donations from the big vendors, and apparently never saw anything odd in the fact that two old ladies and a gun nut from Black Box Voting were running circles around the ITAs, exposing hard-core voting system defects like the GEMS defect and fundamentally flawed memory card architecture that the ITAs forgot to mention.

These defects were subsequently confirmed by reports commissioned by the secretaries of state of Ohio and California, causing ITA labs and their apologists to offer this excuse:



You don't need to be a computer scientist to understand plain English: Both 1990 and 2002 FEC standards prohibit something called "interpreted code." The Diebold memory card architecture relies on interpreted code, executing logic on the memory card by passing memory card code through -- drum roll, please -- the interpreter.

You also don't need to be a computer expert to understand that another item forbidden in the FEC standards, "nonstandard computer language" is being used. Diebold decided to make up its own language, calling it "AccuBasic." Only Diebold uses it, no one else in the world. Apologists for the ITAs explain that the AccuBasic language is similar but different to the C++ computer language. That's like saying German is English because the languages are "similar."

But the FEC standards are deficient in some areas. Here's something that doesn't take a statistician to figure out: The FEC standards set a failure tolerance so low that 10 percent of the voting machines are allowed to fail on the first day of use. Would you buy a TV set if you knew there was a 10 percent chance it would stop working the first day? Hello? This is good use of taxpayer money?

The NASED voting systems panel appears to have gone rogue years ago and their certification oversight ability is being stripped from them and given to the new Election Assistance Commission (EAC) -- which isn't functional yet.

That hasn't stopped the California Secretary of State from inviting many of the most problematic members of the NASED voting systems panel in to an invitation-only meeting on Nov. 28 and 29 to help California set "best practices."

- Add to the mix: Various academics and "experts" who were supposed to be checking this stuff out.

Even the best of them (Dr. Doug Jones of Iowa and Dr. David Jefferson of California) didn't want to get too vocal about known problems, especially early on. Others like Georgia's Brit Williams and Florida's Paul Craft cannot possibly explain their unabashed cheerleading of systems which have now been proven to be defective.

There were a small number of notable exceptions: The outspoken Dr. Rebecca Mercuri who has been telling it like it is since 1989.


The Help America Vote Act was lobbied in by defense contractors and manufacturers looking to make a buck
on the backs of U.S. taxpayers. (Documentation: See Black Box Voting book, chapter 16)

Demand a Hold on HAVA -- Megan Matson of Mainstreet Moms Operation Blue(MOB) has the right idea:
 "Hold on HAVA." The National Alliance of County Officials (NACO) wants to extend the HAVA deadline, at
least until standards are set and adequate funding is available. The Election Assistance Commission, charged
with supervising HAVA, is months behind its own deadlines.


The Election Center and NASED ignored ITA ommissions the size of the national defecit for 10 years. When
this became undeniable, after the work of ordinary citizens to expose the flaws, secretaries of state at first
commissioned independent studies, from the SAIC, RABA, CompuWare, and recently Steve Freeman.

These studies became inconvenient, however, when they confirmed the GEMS defect, the memory card
executables, and numerous other critical defects. So people like Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell simply
hid the reports, while California whispered suggestions into Diebold's ear, encouraging it to quietly resolve the
issues. There was no investigation, and no one has put either the vendor or the ITAs under oath to question
how this came to be.

Vendors like Diebold knew nobody was watching the store, so they acted like a pack of Goths sacking Rome.

To criticize Diebold is to critique the WHOLE SORRY HOUSE OF CARDS who all act like they were members of
 the same happy club -- and in fact, they are. People from one part of this structure typically relocate to other segments.

- Indicted vendors become election officials (Lance Gough, Chicago).
- Convicted felons who were vendors become elections consultants (John Elder, Diebold ballot printing.)
- Regulators become vendors (Ralph Munro, Bill Jones, Sandra Mortham, Lou Dedier).
- State elections officials become convicted felons (Ark. sec. state Bill McKuen, Louisiana elections director Jerry Fowler).
- County elections officials vacation with vendors (Los Angeles' Conny Drake McCormack, Diebold's Deborah Seiler).
- Political powerbrokers become voting machine lobbyists (former DNC chairman Joe Andrew, now Diebold lobbyist.)
- County elections officials hire PR firms and lobbyists who work for the vendors at the same time (Riverside County/
Sequoia/O'Reilly PR; Ohio Association of county election officials share their lobbyist with Diebold)

The interchangability of elections officials, regulators, lobbyists, indicted personnel, and vendors is a gigantic
set of Tinker-Toys.

That's why companies like Diebold have been so protected. If Diebold goes down, people might look too closely,
causing the whole thing to collapse in scandal.

- At Black Box Voting, we've been told that we need to leave these TinkerToy Turkeys a graceful way out.
- We are told that it is rude to tell it like it is.
- We are told that the situation can't be fixed if we are politically incorrect.

That's probably true, if you leave this to legislation. But We, the People, can never again leave it up to others to
fix our broken election system.

At some point, we've got to hold this turkey's feet to the fire. Now all the people who cooked this turkey are
jockeying for position in the free pass line.

Is that what we want? Do We, the People, really need to be that polite to those who took away our ability to oversee our own elections? Have we become a nation of bootlickers, cowed to politeness before the very people whose corrupt practices invaded our most fundamental right?

What our public servants brought to the table was not what we ordered. Send it back.

Now have a happy Thanksgiving!

Black Box Voting

Permission to reprint granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org


Black Box Voting is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c(3) elections watchdog. We are fighting for your right as
a citizen to view and oversee your own voting process. Our focus is on increasing your access to the
elections process, obtaining crucial public records to document what is going on in elections, and exposing
procedural problems that corrupt the integrity of the election.

Black Box Voting is supported entirely by citizen donations. You can support this important work by
clicking here:
or by sending to 330 SW 43rd St. Suite K, PMB 547, Renton WA 98055Black Box Voting


07-27-05   Viewing The Diebold Vote Tallying-Screen Prohibited  Click Here


07-25-05  Diebold To Now Count Absentee Ballots  Click Here



Jim March, a member of the Black Box Voting board of directors, was arrested Tuesday evening for trying to observe the Diebold central tabulator (vote tallying machine) as the votes were being counted in San Diego's mayoral election (July 26). (- online discussion: http:/www.blackboxvoting.org -)

According to Jim Hamilton, an elections integrity advocate from San Diego, he and March visited the office of the registrar of elections earlier in the day. During this visit, March made two requests, which were refused by Mikel Haas, the San Diego Registrar of elections.

1) March asked that the central tabulator, the computer that tallies up the votes from all the precincts, be positioned so that citizens could observe it. According to Hamilton, this would have required simply moving a table a few feet.

2) March also asked for a copy of the ".gbf" files -- the vote tally files collected during the course of tabulation - to be provided for examination after the election 

During the tallying of the election, the Diebold computer was positioned too far away for citizens to read the screen. Citizens could not watch error messages, or even perceive significant anomalies or malfunctions.

Unable to see the screen, March went into the office where the tabulator was housed. Two deputies followed him and escorted him out.

According to Hamilton: "He was not belligerent, not at all. After he went inside the tabulator room he came [was escorted] out and he said clearly 'I'm not resisting.' They handcuffed him, took him out of the building. They put him in a squad car. They're going to take him to the police station, book him and
take him to jail," said Hamilton. "He's getting charged with a felony, 'interfering with an election official.'"

March's actions are the culmination of two years of increasing frustration with the refusal of election officials to respond to security deficiencies in the voting machines. The software that tallies the votes in San Diego is made by Diebold Election Systems, a company that has already paid the state of California $2.8 million for making false claims, due to a lawsuit filed by March and Black Box Voting founder Bev Harris.

On July 4, a report was released by European computer security expert Harri Hursti, revealing that the Diebold voting system contains profound architectural flaws. "It is open for business," says Hursti, who demonstrated the flaws on Leon County, Florida Diebold machines. He penetrated the voting system in less than five minutes, manipulating vote reports in a way that was undetectable.

Despite the critical security alert issued by Hursti, San Diego County sent 713 voting machines home with poll workers, increasing the risk that the "memory cards" housed in the machines could be
hacked, and removing the argument that "inside access" was carefully safeguarded.

The arrest of Jim March underlines a fundamental problem facing Americans today as, increasingly, they lose the ability to monitor, verify, or watch any part of the counting process.

The San Diego registrar of elections knew of the security flaws in the voting system. Diebold has never denied the vulnerability identified in Hursti's report, found at http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVreport.pdf.

Despite knowledge of the increased risks, Haas made the decision to create additional vulnerability by sending the machines home with hundreds of poll workers.

While San Diego officials will no doubt point to a small seal on the compartment housing the memory card (the component exploited in Hursti's study), Black Box Voting has interviewed a former San Diego poll worker, who reported that all that is necessary to dislodge and then reaffix the seal is a small pair of pliers.

- The machines have been demonstrated to be vulnerable to undetected tampering
- The San Diego registrar of voters chose not to take appropriate precautions
- The main tally machine was placed in a location that was impossible for citizens to observe
- Many voting integrity advocates have come to believe that  voting machine reform now rivals the urgency of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.

Jim March acted on those beliefs.

* * * * *

If you share the feelings that Jim March has expressed about voting system secrecy, please forward this message to your lists and to online blogs as appropriate. Permission granted to reprint, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org.


07-25-05                           Black Box Voting Exclusive:


System allows election officials to set acceptance for the ballots high, low, or anywhere they want. This system is not certified. It interacts with the voter registration system, which also contains party affiliation of voters. It may never be tested or certified, since it slips through a loophole in the certification language. Financial documents obtained by BLACK BOX VOTING show completed billings for Vote Remote, indicating that it is already in use.

Here is a link to documents obtained by Black Box Voting:

(Note: If you experience problems loading these documents, go here and do a free update on your Adobe Acrobat reader:

VOTE REMOTE, for the most part, uses old technology like automated envelope stuffing and bar coding. What is new, though, is the use of automated signature comparison.

When you vote by mail, the signature on the envelope is matched with the signature on your voter registration card. Vote Remote automates this process. A thermometer- like acceptance level can be set wherever the election official wants to put it.


A quick Google on "Vote by mail" will reveal that cookie-cutter legislation has made its way into many states, switching many counties to an all vote-by mail system.
Many of these mail-in voting bills have already passed. (Just in time for Diebold.)

* * * *

Ion Sancho and Dr. Doug Jones report what they've learned. Ion Sancho is the Leon County elections official who allowed Harri Hursti to test the security of his Diebold system (Hursti quickly penetrated the system: See Hursti's report: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVreport.pdf)
Sancho reports that the Florida Election Supervisors meetings have not been covering the topic of security.

Dr. Doug Jones is the former Chair of the Iowa State Voting Machine Examiners. He describes election officials refusal to look at security reports.

Here is the 3 minute clip, taken by Kathleen Wynne:
* * * *

$20,450 was paid by Diebold to an obscure entity. This is according to an "open payables" ledger from Diebold


-- Note that the same document shows a similarly coded $144,000 payment to "Lottery Services of Georgia," a firm which has previously been found to be involved in "pass through payments." (Payments for which no apparent work was done).

-- The amount is similar to the amount paid to Juan Andrade. That money turned out to be traveling through ACG Group, LLC in Illinois/Ohio, and $10,000 of it made its way through the Franklin County Elections Director into the pockets of the Franklin County Republican Party.

-- Another document shows that Diebold is working with a Louisiana lobbyist, Darrell Hunt, who discovered was tied into the bribery investigation of Senator Larry Bankston.

Here is more information about the mechanics of bribery:

In a nutshell, bribes are getting more elegant. In the 1980s, they consisted of stuffing a wad of cash into an envelope and handing it to a politician. Nowadays, bribes tend to hide in gray areas of the law, using clever ideas to slip through disclosure nets. Like this:

-- Politician buys fancy condo.
-- Lobbyists fork out premium prices to "rent the condo," a week at a time.
-- Check out a condo rental by the current Diebold guy, Darrell W. Hunt, in Louisiana shortly before a senator was convicted for using that condo as a conduit for bribery.

The $20,450 to "'DMJ Systems' (Diodato, Ruben)" is probably completely legitimate. However, we've not been able to locate the identity of this vendor yet. If anyone has a tip for us, we're all ears.
* * * *
100 pages of Diebold documents were released by Black Box Voting on July 22. On July 25, another 58 pages were released. All of these documents were obtained through the original investigative work of Black Box Voting investigator Kathleen Wynne.

Among them:

Urosevich son, emails about foreign investments:
(Bob Urosevich was the president of Diebold Election Systems)

A very pricey employment litigation matter in Canada

Smoking gun: Juan Andrade check stub
(Andrade has not filed the dicslosure documents on expenditures and payments recieved, as required by law. Fine for failure to file: $100 per day. Anyone want to call the Chicago Trib about this?)

More documents, including sales strategy memos, a general Ledger page and trial balance printouts are now posted here:

Information on Diebold vendors (parts, staffing, more)
* * * *
All investigations, actions, and the Web site Black Box Voting itself are funded solely by citizen donations.
To donate: Send check to 330 SW 43rd St Suite K, PMB 547,
Renton WA 98055 or donate by credit card:
* * * *
Contact info - 425-793-1030, 206-354-5723, or 206-335-7747
bev@blackboxvoting.org  or Kathleen@blackboxvoting.org

July 25, 2005 -- Please forward to your lists and to online blogs as appropriate. Permission granted to reprint, with link.



SECURITY ALERT: Critical Security Issues with Diebold Optical Scan Design

Executive Summary 

BLACK BOX VOTING TO ISSUE SECURITY ALERT for a critical vulnerability tracing back at least a decade, kept quiet by certifiers, who knew or should have known. The upcoming report explains the likely mechanism whereby minus 16,022 votes for Al Gore showed up from a replacement Volusia County memory card, and is also implicated in the 57 poll tape anomalies (and 57 extra memory cards) discovered in Volusia County in Nov. 2004.}

EXCERPTS FROM THE REPORT: Incorporated into the foundation of the Diebold Precinct-Based Optical Scan 1.94w system is the mother of security holes, and no apparent cure will produce infertility, or system safety.

...the removable media (memory card), which should contain only the ballot box, the ballot design and the race definitions, but also contains a living thing an executable program which acts on the vote data. Changing this executable program on the memory card can change the way the optical scan machine functions and the way the votes are reported. The system wont work without this program on the memory card. Whereas we would expect to see vote data in a sealed, passive environment, this system places votes into an open active environment.

With this architecture, every time an election is conducted it is necessary to reinstall part of the functionality into the Optical Scan system via memory card, making it possible to introduce program functions (either authorized or unauthorized), either wholesale or in a targeted manner, with no way to verify that the certified or even standard functionality is maintained from one voting machine to the next.

Click Here For The Full Story

Download Full Report With This Link  http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVreport.pdf

source: http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/6805.html


07-04-05  Think Those Electronic Voting Machines are without flaws, than read this?  Documents obtained by Black Box Voting in a Nov. 2, 2004 Freedom of Information action do not substantiate the Palm Beach County election results. The Sequoia Voting System records show thousands of anomalies, all of the poll tapes lack signatures, and internal voting machine logs show an abundance of malfunctions. Some results were run BEFORE election day. Several important records are missing altogether.

Black Box Voting sued former Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore to obtain the records, and obtained them from her successor, Arthur Anderson.

You be the judge -- Audit records can be found HERE: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/6620.html

Summary of anomalies: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/6627.html



07-27-05   Viewing The Diebold Vote Tallying-Screen Prohibited  Click Here


07-25-05  Diebold To Now Count Absentee Ballots  Click Here



Jim March, a member of the Black Box Voting board of directors, was arrested Tuesday evening for trying to observe the Diebold central tabulator (vote tallying machine) as the votes were being counted in San Diego's mayoral election (July 26). (- online discussion: http:/www.blackboxvoting.org -)

According to Jim Hamilton, an elections integrity advocate from San Diego, he and March visited the office of the registrar of elections earlier in the day. During this visit, March made two requests, which were refused by Mikel Haas, the San Diego Registrar of elections.

1) March asked that the central tabulator, the computer that tallies up the votes from all the precincts, be positioned so that citizens could observe it. According to Hamilton, this would have required simply moving a table a few feet.

2) March also asked for a copy of the ".gbf" files -- the vote tally files collected during the course of tabulation - to be provided for examination after the election 

During the tallying of the election, the Diebold computer was positioned too far away for citizens to read the screen. Citizens could not watch error messages, or even perceive significant anomalies or malfunctions.

Unable to see the screen, March went into the office where the tabulator was housed. Two deputies followed him and escorted him out.

According to Hamilton: "He was not belligerent, not at all. After he went inside the tabulator room he came [was escorted] out and he said clearly 'I'm not resisting.' They handcuffed him, took him out of the building. They put him in a squad car. They're going to take him to the police station, book him and
take him to jail," said Hamilton. "He's getting charged with a felony, 'interfering with an election official.'"

March's actions are the culmination of two years of increasing frustration with the refusal of election officials to respond to security deficiencies in the voting machines. The software that tallies the votes in San Diego is made by Diebold Election Systems, a company that has already paid the state of California $2.8 million for making false claims, due to a lawsuit filed by March and Black Box Voting founder Bev Harris.

On July 4, a report was released by European computer security expert Harri Hursti, revealing that the Diebold voting system contains profound architectural flaws. "It is open for business," says Hursti, who demonstrated the flaws on Leon County, Florida Diebold machines. He penetrated the voting system in less than five minutes, manipulating vote reports in a way that was undetectable.

Despite the critical security alert issued by Hursti, San Diego County sent 713 voting machines home with poll workers, increasing the risk that the "memory cards" housed in the machines could be
hacked, and removing the argument that "inside access" was carefully safeguarded.

The arrest of Jim March underlines a fundamental problem facing Americans today as, increasingly, they lose the ability to monitor, verify, or watch any part of the counting process.

The San Diego registrar of elections knew of the security flaws in the voting system. Diebold has never denied the vulnerability identified in Hursti's report, found at http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVreport.pdf.

Despite knowledge of the increased risks, Haas made the decision to create additional vulnerability by sending the machines home with hundreds of poll workers.

While San Diego officials will no doubt point to a small seal on the compartment housing the memory card (the component exploited in Hursti's study), Black Box Voting has interviewed a former San Diego poll worker, who reported that all that is necessary to dislodge and then reaffix the seal is a small pair of pliers.

- The machines have been demonstrated to be vulnerable to undetected tampering
- The San Diego registrar of voters chose not to take appropriate precautions
- The main tally machine was placed in a location that was impossible for citizens to observe
- Many voting integrity advocates have come to believe that  voting machine reform now rivals the urgency of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.

Jim March acted on those beliefs.

* * * * *

If you share the feelings that Jim March has expressed about voting system secrecy, please forward this message to your lists and to online blogs as appropriate. Permission granted to reprint, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org.


07-25-05                           Black Box Voting Exclusive:


System allows election officials to set acceptance for the ballots high, low, or anywhere they want. This system is not certified. It interacts with the voter registration system, which also contains party affiliation of voters. It may never be tested or certified, since it slips through a loophole in the certification language. Financial documents obtained by BLACK BOX VOTING show completed billings for Vote Remote, indicating that it is already in use.

Here is a link to documents obtained by Black Box Voting:

(Note: If you experience problems loading these documents, go here and do a free update on your Adobe Acrobat reader:

VOTE REMOTE, for the most part, uses old technology like automated envelope stuffing and bar coding. What is new, though, is the use of automated signature comparison.

When you vote by mail, the signature on the envelope is matched with the signature on your voter registration card. Vote Remote automates this process. A thermometer- like acceptance level can be set wherever the election official wants to put it.


A quick Google on "Vote by mail" will reveal that cookie-cutter legislation has made its way into many states, switching many counties to an all vote-by mail system.
Many of these mail-in voting bills have already passed. (Just in time for Diebold.)

* * * *

Ion Sancho and Dr. Doug Jones report what they've learned. Ion Sancho is the Leon County elections official who allowed Harri Hursti to test the security of his Diebold system (Hursti quickly penetrated the system: See Hursti's report: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVreport.pdf)
Sancho reports that the Florida Election Supervisors meetings have not been covering the topic of security.

Dr. Doug Jones is the former Chair of the Iowa State Voting Machine Examiners. He describes election officials refusal to look at security reports.

Here is the 3 minute clip, taken by Kathleen Wynne:
* * * *

$20,450 was paid by Diebold to an obscure entity. This is according to an "open payables" ledger from Diebold


-- Note that the same document shows a similarly coded $144,000 payment to "Lottery Services of Georgia," a firm which has previously been found to be involved in "pass through payments." (Payments for which no apparent work was done).

-- The amount is similar to the amount paid to Juan Andrade. That money turned out to be traveling through ACG Group, LLC in Illinois/Ohio, and $10,000 of it made its way through the Franklin County Elections Director into the pockets of the Franklin County Republican Party.

-- Another document shows that Diebold is working with a Louisiana lobbyist, Darrell Hunt, who discovered was tied into the bribery investigation of Senator Larry Bankston.

Here is more information about the mechanics of bribery:

In a nutshell, bribes are getting more elegant. In the 1980s, they consisted of stuffing a wad of cash into an envelope and handing it to a politician. Nowadays, bribes tend to hide in gray areas of the law, using clever ideas to slip through disclosure nets. Like this:

-- Politician buys fancy condo.
-- Lobbyists fork out premium prices to "rent the condo," a week at a time.
-- Check out a condo rental by the current Diebold guy, Darrell W. Hunt, in Louisiana shortly before a senator was convicted for using that condo as a conduit for bribery.

The $20,450 to "'DMJ Systems' (Diodato, Ruben)" is probably completely legitimate. However, we've not been able to locate the identity of this vendor yet. If anyone has a tip for us, we're all ears.
* * * *
100 pages of Diebold documents were released by Black Box Voting on July 22. On July 25, another 58 pages were released. All of these documents were obtained through the original investigative work of Black Box Voting investigator Kathleen Wynne.

Among them:

Urosevich son, emails about foreign investments:
(Bob Urosevich was the president of Diebold Election Systems)

A very pricey employment litigation matter in Canada

Smoking gun: Juan Andrade check stub
(Andrade has not filed the dicslosure documents on expenditures and payments recieved, as required by law. Fine for failure to file: $100 per day. Anyone want to call the Chicago Trib about this?)

More documents, including sales strategy memos, a general Ledger page and trial balance printouts are now posted here:

Information on Diebold vendors (parts, staffing, more)
* * * *
All investigations, actions, and the Web site Black Box Voting itself are funded solely by citizen donations.
To donate: Send check to 330 SW 43rd St Suite K, PMB 547,
Renton WA 98055 or donate by credit card:
* * * *
Contact info - 425-793-1030, 206-354-5723, or 206-335-7747
bev@blackboxvoting.org  or Kathleen@blackboxvoting.org

July 25, 2005 -- Please forward to your lists and to online blogs as appropriate. Permission granted to reprint, with link.



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