Saturday, February 18, 2006

Diebold Recertified In California

Via BradBlog and Seeing The Forest, we find the following press release. Yes, it's from the campaign office for a candidate for office. This one is serious. Here on S9 Station, our peak-load outrage generators are spinning up even as I write this...
February 17, 2006 (916) 651-4028/(916) 855-9176



SACRAMENTO – “How the Secretary can re-certify the Diebold machines when they don’t comply with California law, they violate the standards set by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that the Secretary said he intended to follow, and he still doesn’t have the report back from the ITAs that he said he was waiting for is beyond me.”

That’s how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee, reacted to today’s decision by the Secretary of State to re-certify Diebold’s electronic voting machines for the 2006 elections.

“Last December, the Secretary announced with great fanfare that he was sending the Diebold machines back for review by the Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) because the memory cards those machines rely on hadn’t been reviewed,” continued Bowen. “Now, contrary to what he said two months ago, he’s approving the Diebold machines without waiting for the report from the ITAs. Instead, he’s basing his decision on a supposedly ‘independent state audit’ that no one has seen before today. There’s a March 1 public hearing for four other voting machine vendors before their machines can be certified for use in California, so what was the rush to certify Diebold and side-step a public hearing on this issue?”

Seventeen California counties rely on the Diebold optical scan machines and a number of other counties have bought or are planning to buy the Diebold TSx touch-screen machines to use in the 2006 elections in order to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The Secretary’s decision is only good for the 2006 elections and comes with a number of conditions.

“In August, the Secretary said any machine approved in California would have to comply with all federal standards and regulations, yet the EAC bans machines that contain interpreted code and these Diebold machines rely on that type of code to operate, so he’s gone back on that commitment,” continued Bowen. “In December, he said he’d wait for a report from the ITAs before acting on the Diebold re-certification request, yet now he’s re-certified the Diebold machines without hearing from the ITAs. He says he’s acting based on the recommendations of an ‘independent state audit’ that came out on Tuesday, but the California State Auditor hasn’t issued any reports on this issue and hasn’t been asked to do a report. Asking a board appointed by the Secretary to make recommendations doesn’t constitute an ‘independent state audit’ in my book.

“The other thing that no one has mentioned is the fact that the Diebold machines don’t comply with the state’s paper trail law because they don’t provide blind or visually impaired voters with a ‘read-back’ of what the paper trail recorded, they only read back what the machine recorded electronically,” noted Bowen. “That’s not what the law requires, yet the Secretary has decided to go ahead and approve these machines for use anyway. If the Secretary wants to say he’s changing his mind and lowering the safeguards California voters are entitled to have to ensure their votes are accurately counted, that’s certainly his decision to make, but saying these Diebold machines comply with state law and with all federal regulations and requirements simply isn’t accurate.”

Under Elections Code Sections 19250 and 19251, all direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems have to come with an accessible voter verified paper audit trail (AVVPAT). The AVVPAT must be “provided or conveyed to voters via both a visual and a nonvisual method, such as through an audio component.” The Diebold TSx doesn’t contain that feature, therefore making the AVVPAT that all DREs are required to have as of January 1, 2006, useless for blind or visually-impaired voters.


Once again, this news appeared late on a Friday.

Did we not tell you to watch these people like a hawk? They cannot be trusted.

I don't give a damn whether they are Republicans or Democrats— they can't be trusted. [Our Secretary of State, Bruce McPherson, is a Republican.] I recognize that Republicans are naturally contemptuous of the idea that fair elections produce good governments, whereas Democrats generally only embrace this position when they grow unnaturally demoralized, jaded and cynical after decades of Sisyphian struggle against the conservative noise machine. It's a distinction without a difference. You can't trust them.

How long have I been howling about the problems with digital voting systems?

How long have I specifically been complaining that Democrats are facing an existential threat in the form of these voting systems?

It would be funny if it weren't so sad. Democrats could turn the combination of the voting machine issue and the K Street Project scandals into the moral equivalent of the House Bank and Post Office debacle that allowed the Republicans to nationalize the 1994 Congressional elections. Instead, because they're Dumb As A Bag Of Hammers, they're letting the Mob run a blow-out operation on American democracy.

Mad props to Debra Bowen for standing up. [This press release came from her campaign.] She's running for Secretary of State against Bruce McPherson, and she— at least— seems to get it. More Democrats like her, please. Flow the Senator some love.

UPDATE 1.0: In the comments at BradBlog, Bev Harris (who is the whirling dervish behind BlackBoxVoting.Org) tells you what to do.
It's time to get busy boys and girls. [...] Forget injunctions. Forget calling the governor. Call the California Senate Rules Committee, who are all ears but need to log call volume to demonstrate political support. Ask them to subpoena the bastards. This will happen, so get your dialling fingers ready by Tuesday please.
Urge support for subpoenas of election industry and certification insiders who didn't testify on the 16th.

Contact list:

Senator Don Perata (Chair)
(916) 651-4009

Senator Jim Battin (Vice-Chair)
(916) 651-4037

Senator Roy Ashburn
(916) 651-4018

Senator Debra Bowen
(916) 651-4028 (Yes, call her too so she can log the support calls, it's important since it allows her to back her position from the grassroots.)

Senator Gilbert Cedillo
(916) 651-4022

Black Box Voting Inc. seldom puts out calls for grassroots pressure, as we feel this powerful tool can be diluted with over-use. But now is the time.

How to deliver your message

Be quick, be polite, be professional. Here's your message: ask for "Rules Committee support for subpoenas of election industry and certification insiders who won't otherwise inform the Elections Committee as to what's going on".

This is about volume of calls logged.

Click through the link and read her whole comment for more details.

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