The Real Paul Jones

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Category: eVoting

About eVoting, election fraud, and voting security

Owning the Future: Ideas and Their Role in the Digital Age

The initial agenda for the Symposium just arrived. I get to be on two panels with some great folks and to hear some impressive Indian speakers. The Symposium just got a positive kick with the announcement that the Indian Electorial Commission will go to completely to Open Source (in the Financial Express of Kolkata).

Dr Fun throws in the towell

Bye Dr Fun
Peeps, spam, microbes, chickens and more will be missed. Dr Fun’s creator and perpetrator, Dave Farley wrote last night to say that he had completed 10 years of the single panel comic and that he was done. I’ve loved Dr Fun of the 13 years it took Dave to get the 10 years done. I’ve always been delightfully surprised and amazed. There are stories behind the panels of course and having known Dave for over a decade I can understand his frustrations as well as his triumphs. All of Dr Fun will be still available on forever or longer.
Dave is really a creative and weird (in the best sense) guy. I’ve never met him even though we’ve worked together since 1993. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s up to next.

Note: Dr Fun is now on Slashdot.

Diebold leaves NC

Rather than comply with fair elections laws, quesionable voting machine maker Diebold chooses to leave North Carolina. Considering the mess the closed machines made in the last election, I’m not sorry to see them go. Accountable machines should be required and should not be negotiable. Don’t let the screen door hit you as you leave Diebold. Play fair or leave town was the message and we see the path you took.

eVoting – Diebold CEO resigns

For personal reasons says he, but other reports point to ” imminent securities fraud litigation, and legal challenges by states claiming fraudulent certification of Diebold voting machines.” Not to mention the troubles and power plays that Diebold has been involved in here in NC. (Major Source here is SlashDot as an aggregator).

eVoting – EFF to sue NC

Just asking the Elections Board to obey and enforce the good laws of the state of North Carolina.

A bit from the middle of the EFF press release linked above:

North Carolina law requires the Board of Elections to rigorously review all voting system code “prior to certification.” Ignoring this requirement, the Board of Elections on December 1st certified voting systems offered by Diebold Election Systems, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Election Systems and Software without having first obtained – let alone reviewed – the system code.

“This is about the rule of law,” said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “The Board of Elections has simply ignored its mandatory obligations under North Carolina election law. This statute was enacted to require election officials to investigate the quality and security of voting systems before approval, and only approve those that are safe and secure. By certifying without a full review of all relevant code, the Board of Elections has now opened the door for North Carolina counties to purchase untested and potentially insecure voting equipment.”

North Carolina experienced one of the most serious malfunctions of e-voting systems in the 2004 presidential election when over 4,500 ballots were lost in a voting system provided by e-voting vendor UniLect Corp. Electronic voting systems across the country have come under fire during the past several years as unexplained malfunctions combined with efforts by vendors to protect their proprietary systems from meaningful review have left voters with serious questions about the integrity of the voting process.

“North Carolina voters deserve to have their election laws enforced,” said co-counsel Don Beskind of the Raleigh law firm of Twiggs, Beskind, Strickland & Rabenau, P.A. “Election transparency is a requirement, not an option. The General Assembly passed this law unanimously, and it is now time for the Board of Elections to meet their obligations.”

See earlier eVoting articles here.

eVoting: Diebold must reveal code to NC or leave

Or as SlashDot puts it Diebold threatens to pull out of North Carolina. Why? Because state law here requires that all voting systems used in NC must reveal their code. This was enacted in response to the loss of significant votes in several NC counties in the last election.
The Slashdotters have a lot to say about this.
I have a category dedicated to the “Is Your Vote Counted?” discussions in NC and nationally that took place last year at about this time.

EVoting petition from EFF

eVoting EFF logo
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has started an eVoting petition that asks that good safe reliable and open procedures for eVoting be followed.

Dear Election Official:

I believe that election integrity is the foundation of democracy, and that the transparent investigation of election problems is imperative.

I believe that the public has the right to an honest discourse on the performance of its voting technologies, and that knowledge of their performance is a prerequisite for that conversation.

I believe that truly independent security professionals and academic researchers should be not only allowed to examine election technologies, but required to publish their findings.

For these reasons, I urge you to allow independent, non-ITA testing of the voting machines used in your county during the 2004 presidential election.

  1. Visit the EFF eVote site.
  2. Read the good stuff there.
  3. Sign the petition.

13000 votes lost in Gaston County NC

Elections officials in Gaston County, NC resigned after having lost over 13,000 votes or 1 in 5 votes cast in that county, reports the News and Observer.

“Sandra Page, elections director, and Tony Branch, chairman of the elections board, resigned Wednesday following a closed-door meeting of the board.”

Still waiting to hear from Carterett County and others.

Post-Is Your Vote Counted?

A note on the crowd. The Council Chambers were comfortably filled by the crowd of what was described probably accurately as “Chapel Hill Liberals.” Many I recognized were involved in peace activism over the years, in Bill of Rights activism — in ACLU or other, some were “Raging Grannies,” one man read political poetry (corny political poetry but he was loved for the effort).
There was a big table of hand-outs outside the Chambers most all about Verified Voting efforts and organizations.

One handbill handed to all of us read:


Sunday, December 12th
Noon – 2 pm (12/12@12)
NC State Capitol grounds
116 West Jones Street (at the end of Hillsborough Street)

Be part of simultaneous rallies at State Capitols across the country

Joyce McCloy, NC Coallition for Verified Voting
David Allen, Black Box Voting
Chuck Herrin, Republican computer security analyst
Cecil Bothwell, The Progressive Project
and many more including elected officials and musicians

Voices for Verified Voting
a coallition of concerned citizens organizing to educate others about election irregularities, and mobilize effective action to ensure transparent, verifiable elections

for more information:
to set up a table with information, contact:

At Is your vote counted – part 3

Public testimony is going on now. George Entenman at the pulpit following a guy from Wake County. David Allen talks about initiatives at NC legislative initiatives. Props to Joyce McCloy of NC Verified Voting from David. She put this together. She tells us about upcoming NC laws for verified voting. see her site.
Justin testifies that folks need to be poll watchers.
More audience testimony. Things getting cranky as I have to leave without any more power. Basically the “I’m sure there was fraud involved, but I can’t prove it” people are reving up.
Running out of power. Thanks to Chapel Hill Town Hall computer folks for providing wireless so I could live-blog this meeting.

At Is your vote counted – part 2

Justin is debunking the arguments for machine voting. “We trust software to control airplanes, so why not voting” not the same standards for planes. “we don’t connect to the internet, only to phines lines, so hacking is impossible.” (shows hack examples including Kevin Mitnick) “Open Source eliminates all problems wuth trusting the source code” even if we have good software it must be installed and verified. “Our system can print out paper ballots at the end of the day” funniest one. can i let the printer fix my spelling too? “only a few people will bother to loks at a paper ballot, so why bother?” even small checks give a good audit.
Next speaker, Lewis Pitts from Legal Aid appologizes for not being as funny and clear as geeks. But then he switches the subject to democracy and activism. He notices that he is among Chapel Hill liberals. Notes MLK Blvd vote favorably. Much from MLK told here. Stem winding liberal talk completely off the voting topic. Uses the MLK “silence of good people” quote from Letter from the Birmingham Jail. Found the quote: “More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” “Keep hope alive”
While this is a mostly Democratic audience, the problem of flawed voting is trans-party. I hope that that becomes the case.

At Is your vote counted?

Intro by Christian Stalberg who asks if any public officials are in the audience. None are — except that I am there as Mr. Sally Greene.
Greetings now from Congressman David Price. Who is clued as to the problems with voting machines and with other procedures. He mentions the “Help America Vote” act which was to replace broke and funky voting procedures (read machines) with better. Unfortunately places like Carteret County bought new equally bogus and/or flawed machine. They just got shiny e-baubbles not better machines. Lots of talk about Florida and the purging of the voters there. He introduced a bill (like one already on the books in NC) which requires that you be notified if you are to be removed from the voting rolls. This bill is stalled it seems. Protect American Voters.
He has another called “Count Every Vote” act which addresses the pretext on which the Supreme Court denied the recount in Fla. This has to do with recount protections.
Rush Holt’s bill requiring a paper trail is co-sponsored by Price.
John Conyers requests assurance that 2004 be inspected for fraud from GAO. They will do this. The Democratic National Committee will participate in Ohio review.
David Allen of Plan Nine and NB: Plan Nine is publishing Dr. Fun! Testifies as an alphaGeek and shows geek pride. Gives a review of the pathetic security and lack of functionality of the machines and software. He points out that 4500 votes were lost in Carteret because there was no error trapping in the machines.
Justin Moore from Duke CS and National Committee for Voting Integrity. These slides will also be seen by the NC Legislature. Pretty much a summary of the applications/os/hardware layers of computers. Def CS slides — bland sans serif fonts and too much text on each slide. Nonetheless, he describes open source correctly ;-> Shocking info: bugs are in all software! Shows examples in Italian airport monitors. Now into the clouds (that is the clouds of CS and process graphs). Examples from Guilford County (NC) where the software counted backwards. Paper trail saved it. Gaston County: data transfer breakage not noticed by software so that no votes were recorded from some precincts. Craven County: broken touch screens followed by multiple uploads from the same precinct. also no passwds on some machines. but that’s okay with Craven. Cateret County: overflow caused rewrite. disk is full did not stop voting.

Is your vote counted – Wednesday Dec 8th

Christian Stalberg, who founded the local Computer Professional for Social Responsibility chapter, sends this announcement:

Is Your Vote Counted?
Panel Presentation and Community Speak-Out on the Question of Voter
Wednesday, December 8, 2004 7-9pm
Chapel Hill Town Hall, 306 North Columbia St.

Introduction by Joyce McCloy, Founder, NC Coalition for Verified Voting

David Price, US Congressman: 4th District

David Allen, Systems Engineer, publisher and tech consultant “Black Box Voting:
Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century”

Justin Moore, Computer Scientist, member National Committee for Voting Integrity

Lewis Pitts, Legal Aid Attorney, Advocates for Children’s Services

Moderator, Christian Stalberg, founder, RTP Chapter of Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility

(downloadable flier for printing available at )

Is Your Vote Counted?

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility are putting together a panel and public dicussion on voting and vote counting in the US. (see below). This is especially timely since we may be facing a revote for several Council of State offices (at least Agriculture) in part because of the loss of over 4,500 votes in Carteret County. “[T]he county was told by the manufacturer of the voting system that its units could store up to 10,500 votes, but the limit was actually 3,005 votes.”

December 8, 2004
Chapel Hill Town Hall
306 North Columbia St.
Is Your Vote Counted?
Panel presentation and Community Speak Out on the question of voter integrity.


Introduction by Joyce McCloy, Founder, NC Coalition for Verified Voting

eVoting: Bruce Schneier

There are not that many famous computer security experts, but Bruce Schneier certainly is one. And justly so for Applied Crytography and for books since including Beyond Fear. He’s written a great piece from a computer security perspective on eVoting at his blog and on

Diebold in Ohio

Could it be that one reason that the Kerry folks aren’t conceding Ohio (yet) is that there is another story waiting there to be told? Voting machine maker Ohio-based Diebold has been all over the news for the past year drawing the attention of the SEC and of Ohio papers ever since Diebold Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Walden O’Dell “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes for the president” in an August 2003 fund-raising letter.

As computer security folks have noticed — and this concerns me much more –, Diebold’s other side has been to attack those who point out flaws in the voting machine integrity. In doing so, Diebold was found to have strongly overreached their copyright monopoly rights and was fined $125K. So even without the questionable political ethics, Diebold voting machines cast a shadow on the elections this year and possibly in the future. This last is reason for concern for both Republicans and Democrats as security flaws can be exploited by partisons and/or criminals with or without political affiliation.
If this long recount gives us a more open and more secure method of electronic voting, the wait and investigation will be worth it in securing democracy’s future. Verified Voting Foundation and Electronic Frontier Foundation are among the organizations on the case. And the country that invented secret ballots knows how to get eVoting done right.

More eVoting news in Wired.

UPDATE: Slashdot has this story on the subject “ Raises Vote-Audit FOIA Request”

UPDATE: eVoting loses votes in North Carolina!

UPDATE: WISH-TV questions Indiana votes in interview with ES&S — the company formerly headed by surprise Senator Hagel of Nebraska. Among the nuggets in the interview: ” An investigation by the Palm Beach Post revealed ES&S had a secret agreement to kick back a percentage of its profits to the Florida Association of Counties.” and “The investigation also found that the lobbyist representing both ES&S and the Florida Association of Counties was Sandra Mortham, a former Florida secretary of state and former running mate of Gov. Jeb Bush.”

UPDATE: Bush gets 4,258 votes out of only 638 votes cast in Ohio precinct AP reports. Machines from Election Systems & Software Inc. aka ES&S are responsible.

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