For Updates - Post-2017 also see It's NOT good....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tidbits from Today's Second BOE Meeting with the New Board

No time right now to fill you in completely, but at some highlights from today's BOE meeting:
  • Platten was phenomenal. So organized and forthcoming about necessary information
  • She and staff have decided on a plan to notify voters whose provisional ballots were rejected, giving them the opportunity to by law, contest those rejections, and bring in proof of ID within 81 days and have the election results amended. This will begin to finally update the unknown "lost" number of voter registrations Vu revealed in the certification meeting last November, creating still unknown numbers improperly forced into provisionals because they're not in the poll books, then have those provisionals rejected - without the voters awareness, thus, ready to start the whole process again in the next election.
  • Cuyahoga's main Diebold GEMS server crashed on May 4 before May's election. They used the back up server as the main one, and Sec. Brunner's office lent them another one for back-up. Brunner's office needs theirs back, and has been in conversation with Diebold with Platten to "urge" them into fixing the server, which they don't seem at all urgent to do.
    They have no idea of an election schedule they are supposed to be serving. (Cuyahoga has another election in Euclid coming up in July.) They sent the server to Texas, and will now send it to Vancouver Canada - ahem.... to "find out what's wrong." Presently they skirt the issue of costs for all this fixing and playing around... We know who they'll say needs to pay for all this "play."
    When I get the video posted of Mike Rich, the Diebold engineer's "explanations," Black Box Voting friends for sure, will have more gasps of amazement.
    The Board it appeared saw right through them too. Not completely pleased. But the ever present, ever quiet Diebold lawyer sat there again.. right behind the two reps Mike and the our "new Jessica Hiner"who showed up for this show.
  • The Board also certified May's election. I'll get those numbers up soon.
  • Also they will hold an executive session on June 6 to review the search committee's recommendations for the CCBOE's new Director and Deputy. They received 50 more applications in the extension period for this search. A new director is coming soon. Which party? Thus who of the opposite party will be the new permanent Chair of the Board.
    The current interim arrangement of Platten and Hastings seems like it could work out excellently on a permanent basis. This could, however still get interesting...

And today the board retired to executive session to discuss three items - which they actually announced as they're supposed to do (what a difference from Vu-Bennett)
instances of double voting - and possible legal consequences. We'll see if those three separate people were just confused, (other languaged, etc.) as have most of the very few past double voting people.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Up to his Old Tricks Already

Michael Vu (back to camera) goes out of his way to make a special stop at the back of the room
as he leaves the November 7,2006 Cuyahoga election day board meeting,
to greet and schmooz Diebold cousin (same last name, in coat)
and his "Diebold partners"-Mark ("our machines are 100% reliable & it's all someone else's fault") Radke, to left, and Jessica ( "I don't know the answer to that, but I know it'll be another $500,000") Hiner, who after pushing our $15M in sales recently got a promotion to Diebold Training Director.

This one's too good to have buried in comments.
On May 20, Duncan from San Diego wrote:
"Todays edition of the North County Times added an even greater helping of disdain on the residents. Buried in a budget review, it was revealed that the County will be purchasing 200 more of the Diebold machines. This when the budget shortfalls will force the county to cut back services. Fifty positions at the Child Protection Office will be left vacant, yet the Registrars Office budget will increase by ten million dollars in order to purchase more Diebolds. One can only hope that Seiler and Hass split the sales commision equitably."
No, Duncan, you left out your man Vu - with maybe a bit of a finder's fee for Townsend who hired him...

This is the end of my reply to San Diego lawyer acivist Ken Simpkins when I sent him some requested links on Vu.

Two other areas I strongly suggest you pursue (as you may get somewhere outside of Cuyahoga politics) are:

1. Call the special prosecutor from the recount rigging case here (some links also in the first post)- Kevin Baxter - 419-627-7719.
He's supposed to be continuing the investigation of that '04 rigging and the many "irregularities" of '06 elections, including not following federal court orders. But given this county, I don't know the deals that have been made....

I know Baxter knows of Vu's that Vu should have been indicted instead of those women. Why he didn't indict him, I don't know - probably Bennett's cover ( but Bennett has lost power.) Thus, don't know how far, or if any such investigation might proceed. Probably the women will get off on some kind of stupid appeal, and Vu (and Bennett, also culpable) - the real felons - will be able to skip away scot-free.
I also have documents that show that what those women did and are sentenced to prison for, they did at least with Vu's full knowledge which he later tried to cover up.

2. And (as mentioned in the post) - Vu's federal offense of having his '03 Cuyahoga arrival voting registration fudged - a federal offense - that allowed him to become Director here before his 30 days Ohio residency - also a state offense.

That would be one way to get rid of him there- Bring him back to Cuyahoga for trial and his own deserved prison sentences - for these and other election laws he's broken.

What you do about Deborah the Diebold Rep, and those who want her there - for easy election fixing and maybe good financial kickbacks from Diebold for lots more $Millions of senseless sales - I don't know.
But first hang on to your county's pocket books, get a handle on those making the appropriations - and start keeping a running total yourself of the thousands then millions of dollars (probably attempted to be hidden) that go to Diebold for such things as copies of training posters, maintenance of maintenance that fell apart, 25 tech people when one would have sufficed, licensing and more maintenance of maintenance fees- AND don't let them buy the Diebold registration system - which even they cannot make work except with ongoing hundreds of extra hours by elections staff, but can be tied in with caging systems - etc.

Good luck on your good work.

It'll be a good thing to keep comparing notes with Cuyahoga. It seems that Vu's not wise enough to change his tactics.

Here are exerpts from May 20 North County Times article Duncan talked about above:

Sheriff's woes, electronic voting, pests included in county budget

By: GIG CONAUGHTON - Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- The Sheriff's Department is still having a hard time finding new deputies. Construction has dried up in the unincorporated areas of the county. A freeze has been lifted for local prosecutors. Electronic voting appears to be here to stay. And destructive insects could have a tougher time getting into San Diego County in the coming year.
But the increase is not modest across the board. Some programs and areas will get little in the way of increases, or will receive less money than last year. Other services are getting boosts much larger than 7.1 percent.
Also likely to get an increase is the county's fund for voting machines.

Electronic voting machines have stirred some controversy with a minority of election watchers. But the San Diego County registrar of voters office is expecting its budget to jump from $15.53 million to $25.26 million, in part because the county intends to buy more electronic voting machines.

The county agreed to buy 10,200 Diebold TSX "touch screen" voting machines for $31 million in 2003, and used those machines in November's elections.

However, Mikel Haas, director of the county's Community Services Group that oversees the registrar's office, said the county plans to buy an additional 2,000 machines for $5.4 million before February's presidential primary because some voters had to wait in line to cast ballots in November.

"When we used them in November, for the most part you could take a look at rush hour and see we needed more units," he said.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Election Deception - HR811- A "Must See & Heed"

I know these women. They are absolutely right - not because I know them, but because for years they have done all the homework, have read all the research with open minds - they have the facts, and they are not going to let themselves get distracted from getting this nation fair elections, that are transparent to citizen oversight, just because our elections belong to US! and as ours, to prevent insider election stealing, an endemic issue as old as human fear and greed, that even the founders of this nation knew to warn against.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Secretary of State Brunner's Office "Retesting" E-Voting Devices

As mentioned in a previous post, ( #5-f) Secretary of State Brunner is in the midst of plans to test the Ohio's e-voting devices over this Summer, and aims to have a report out by September. As also stated there, California Secretary of State Bowen is doing the same thing for that state, saying she is testing the electronic systems "from top to bottom."
The California plans were somewhat outlined in a 5/10 North County Times- San Diego article linked in that post.
It states:
Secretary of State Debra Bowen said Thursday that computer experts hired by her office will take up Sequoia Voting Systems' equipment and software next week, along with those of two other vendors. Sequoia makes the Edge II terminals that Riverside County voters encounter at polls and the software that the county uses to manage elections and tabulate ballots.

Bowen said in March that she would conduct a "top-to-bottom" review of the voting systems used in California's 58 counties, focusing on their security, reliability and compliance with federal and state election laws. The review is designed partly to allay concerns raised by activists who complain that voting software is open to manipulation by politically motivated computer experts, and that manufacturers haven't opened the software to public scrutiny that could help uncover such flaws.

Examinations of voting systems made by three other manufacturers are expected to begin in June and conclude by Aug. 3, giving counties at the end of the review process the legal minimum of six months before the Feb. 5 presidential primary to correct perceived problems with their systems' security or replace them with systems that Bowen approves.

Many counties across the United States have moved to touchscreens and other electronic voting systems in recent years after traditional punch-card ballots helped cause a weeks-long fiasco in the 2000 presidential election in Florida. But as electronic systems have become more common, so have suggestions that the machines can be rigged or the counting process hacked.
Election officials, (who in many cases have been wined, dined and "partnered" and "helped" to use those primitive systems that don't serve voters or election workers, but do serve the vendors and those beholden' to them,) lobbyists, and even politicians who lobbied for these e-systems and/or the few selected, highly insufficient vendors back in '03, as the Help America Vote Act was being pushed through Congress by Tom DeLay and Bob Ney (now both sentenced for other frauds,) under its euphemistic title; and who have followed, pushed or voted for these machines, for any number of reasons, some of which may even include just because they couldn't have known better in the short amount of time this legislation which spread these machines and vendors nationwide, had to be shoved through- even now, need to save face, or have become so boxed in - at times by the billions of taxpayer funds they've already spent on them, and/or "allegiances and partnerships" they've formed with vendors - keep trying to make us think e-voting and these vendors are the ONLY solutions.

Often this sector, rich with our taxpayer funds but little taxpayer influence, try to project their own political motivations on to anyone finally and actually doing governmentally-led valid tests on current electronic devices.

We thus hear that to authoritatively find and publish the expert facts about the systems is "political motivation," which doesn't even make any sense.

According to every independent expert academic, industrial and scientific test that has been done on these systems over the past 4 years, and despite these studies having been virtually blacked out of mainstream news - such future, clearly set out, scientifically and expertly done, independent fact finding, can only prove once again that Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, etc need to be immediately removed from this nation's citizens elections.

Past independent expert findings that still few voters know about, (while they are asked if they "like" the colors on computer screens or pressing computer buttons,) have been so shocking and massive; have reached so far to the hidden cores of these systems which have never been independently studied (vendors claim we can't because of their proprietary ownership) or fixed; and which especially point so clearly, to how current e-voting devices allow those in power to undetectably and completely manipulate our vote results, (and track what and whom we are voting for) that any further tests on the same systems could prove no differently.

The California article shows the same dynamic that has been going on across the country, including Ohio for all these years. It states that:
Riverside County Supervisors Jeff Stone and John Tavaglione have suggested that they consider Bowen's review to be "politically motivated" and biased against the touch-screen computer systems that Riverside and 21 other counties use. Dunmore, Sequoia representatives and supervisors have often said that the Edge II terminals have been tested and certified by federal and California authorities.

The latter, unexplained "certification" argument is also the worn-out, unexplained catch-all paint, that to date, always neglects to mention what election-security activists have have been saying for years, and has just been proven with the decertification of the years-long "certifying" lab, Ciber - that that the federal and often previous state "testing labs", with few meaningful guidelines for security, accuracy and verifiability of our votes, have been both insufficient, or at least, beholden to the manufacturers, who pay for the tests.
And that is what has been providing the lofty "certification" supposed "seal of approval."

Since the planning of HAVA even before 2000, which spread current electronic voting systems made by politically friendly and profit-hungry vendors nationwide, the watchwords have not been sense, reason, facts nor verifiable proofs that these e-voting systems benefit the public, democratic elections or voters. Rather the "sense" of the arguments have only come from "following the money" and manipulation for growth of power.

The California article also states:
A leading Southwest County activist said he has a lot more faith in a group of experts that Bowen is putting together. Her office said Wednesday that it plans to hire 20 to 30 outside experts in election law and computer security to test the machines.

Nine whose names were released Wednesday include five university professors and Harri Hursti, a Finnish security entrepreneur who became something of a hero among voting activists after he discovered vulnerabilities in a touch-screen system made by a Sequoia competitor.

Hursti is one of three computer scientists hired so far to lead "red teams" who try to manipulate the machines' software to change the way it counts votes.
That group whom I understand is being gathered by Lowell Finley, formerly a lawyer known for standing for election integrity, and whom Bowen chose as her Assistant Secretary, sounds like it could be finally, a truly impressive and hopefully, independent expert group.

As stated in that previous post, since both Brunner and Bowen, both of whom ran and won primarily on election integrity platforms are planning the same kinds of tests, I certainly hope they gather and combine resources so every state can benefit from the finest testing that can be done. Hope for all and survival of our planet literally depend on real facts, not pure sales, financial, and political motivations dominating the cornerstone of democracy - our election process.

I therefore, look forward to learning the clear goals and processes of Ohio Secretary of State regarding our e-voting tests.

The Columbus Dispatch on Ohio Testing of E-Voting Devices

As has been so typical of mainstream media, losing reader- and listener-ship , thus worried about maintaining revenue, and because of lessened staff, nationwide governmental fear, or no longer caring to make the effort, doing little research, but just following the status quo power shifters - on May 10 the Columbus Dispatch published an editorial about Brunner's testing.
"Just Making Sure" began by stating " Retesting of Ohio's new voting devices likely will confirm accuracy;" along with the now typical mainstream media, broad-brush smear over national and international experts who have conducted and those who've read the research:
Ohio's new voting machines will be tested again, and the results likely will disappoint conspiracy theorists.
California's group of experts include many whose clear and unmistakable reports and conclusions, that the Dispatch's "conspiracy theorists/election integrity advocates, have taken to governmental leaders for years, trying to dissuade them from originally spending hundreds of millions of our dollars on these low quality, security- holed devices that can so easily sway our elections.

This was my reply to the Dispatch:

I too am "just making sure."(5/10/07.)

What scientific credentials – or information about lack of valid independent “experts” and/or goals for this summer’s Ohio testing of Ohio's voting devices - does your writer have, to know that these “likely will confirm accuracy”?

Every nationwide, expert independent study since 2004, not paid for or influenced by suddenly bloated, tax-paid, pockets of machine-makers and/or the politicians who love or fear them (or each other,) as happened during original "certification"; done by thorough experts including the GAO, and NIST; Johns Hopkins, Princeton, and Berkley Universities; Brennan Center, Hursti, ESI, RABA Technologies, individual states and more, all demonstrate with different approaches, but accumulating mounds of findings, that the electronic voting devices currently used in Ohio are unfit and dangerous for use in any democratic election. They together prove we have operationally and security-impossible, billion-dollar profit-makers for the few, which in many cases cause more far more work and expense than less, and have greatest benefit for insiders to easily, undetectably and completely change voters' “election results.”

The millions who’ve conducted and read the independent research, thus who already know that “liking” computer colors and buttons mean nothing, when the stakes are choosing the next president or council person in a process that has been widely recognized, even by our nation’s founders, as a likely target of power manipulation and abuse to be thoroughly avoided.

The 92% of Americans, who according to an 8/06 Zogby poll, want vote counting observable and open to public scrutiny, neither of which is possible inside our current "black boxes" with never-seen coding doing the "counting," also don’t fit your writer’s label of a "minority," nor of “conspiracy theorists.”

Maybe Ohioans should consider ourselves lucky to have such technical expertise right in your Dispatch offices. But intelligence and hope shows that we’d all be better off if you concentrated more on journalism - telling ALL the facts, than so blatantly and foolishly trying to misguide your readers.

Adele Eisner

It is vitally important that Ohio's e-voting device tests have clearly defined, thorough goals, and top-notch, highly-qualified independent computer, election-integrity, and design engineers experts to make an actually first and urgently needed, valid governmental testing effort in this state worthwhile - to democracy, to voters.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Will the Specious Circles About E-Voting, Avoiding Sense, Reason, Facts, Cost-Effiencies & Democracy Ever Stop?

Recently as increasing millions are waking up to the politically and financially hungry, but empty sales pitches we've had shoved down our throats about the glories of current e-voting systems, I've received a few emails from a few who are just finding and talking about Ohio's 'o3 -'05 "tests" done by J. Kenneth Blackwell - as he too was shoving - all 88 Ohio counties, with iron hand, and full speed ahead; offering manufacturers huge contracts for the entire state, with huge profits, but little to no liability for failures and damages to counties' elections; and offering little to no guidance to counties that had no information on which to choose a vendor, or better yet, to more wisely say NO!

Those emails have prompted me to to go back 2 1/2 years in my history with the CCBOE, when throughout '05, I was taking information to our board, who had made their unwavering decision to buy lots of Diebold in Feb. '04,
  • when the public could have no idea of what they were doing (their agendas had one word entries like "HAVA" when no one knew what HAVA was, or "Vendors" again with no explanation);
  • then attempted to bully, intimidate, gag and otherwise quiet away all activists and information brought to them that said they should not make the purchase;
  • and finally, in the same month that the Center for Election Integrity held their one forum, "Election Reform", with only one panelist, Bob Ney (then inches from indictment and now convicted for fraud, and one of HAVA's main authors that spread the electronic systems made by essentially 2 main vendors into every county across the nation,)
  • on 11/11/05, in a non-announced, non-public gathering, the then-board signed Cuyahoga's purchase order that started the slipping away of 10's of millions of taxpayer dollars - for more work, no public verifiability, secret vote counting, the ability to have insiders undetectably manipulate our vote results, and more.

Since those old Blackwell tests have again worked their way into public light, and now to a much wider audience, it seems wise to revisit here, just a few of the '05 statements I made (in vain then) to our now-previous board.
(I will upload and link all documents mentioned as I have time.)

I begin with a paraphrase of an email I recently sent to some colleagues in SoS Brunner's Voting Rights Institute, her visionary action to each year bring new groups of activists and advocates, election officials, party officials, together to work toward the common purpose of finally reforming Ohio's elections. While the Institute and its constituents is public information, the only reason I paraphrase is that I've not asked permission of the one sender whom I address a couple of times, to use his name. All else is whole.

One poster said:
In my opinion, it is very important that we distinguish between
1) testing one or two machines in a controlled environment as was done 2003, 2004, & 2005 and
2) testing the machines in a realistic situation.

I replied:
I too am eager to know clearly what the stated GOALS are for this state testing.
Until such a thorough plan about what is being tested, and for what, I don't think any testing can or should begin.

Yours are excellent points.

At least in the case of the Diebold machines, which I followed, while parallel CompuWare reports were coming out about ES&S, BOTH kinds of tests are necessary to do any kind of valid review of DREs, because:

1. Even the problems/risks found in the '03-'05 CompuWare studies, paid for by Diebold, with only the 11/03 study included as addendum to Ohio's Master contract indicating they would be satisfied -
Mr. Blackwell, then as the "master' of the state '04 and '05 Master Contract (as he distributed and controlled HAVA funds) and with all county contracts and agreements needing to serve and go through his Master Contract ( a rather "strange" awkward, and almost powerless contractual arrangement for counties )- never insisted that the problems CompuWare found in '03 were fixed.

And many of those were NOT, even by 4/05 -the last of the 4 reports, or since.
Even the problems CompuWare highlighted were minimal, as pointed out by other states relying on Ohio's commissioned CompuWare studies, because CompuWare was both being paid by the vendors to help them make sales, while as a lab with their own liability, CompuWare needed to point out at least, the most glaring issues.
(And as you know, Ciber, which did the federal "certification" has just recently been decertified themselves for their poor practices and what they overlooked, as they too were paid by the vendors.)

2. As you point out, we have also now found through usage, that there are also many additional operational and security obstructions/problems that the Diebold machines also present, such as:
• soaring cost of poll worker training, with still too complicated and impossibility of properly running machines under a normal load -
• printers jamming;
• Voter Access Cards stopping after being handled 50 or more times,
• legs crashing;
• "tamper tape" left to impossibly "protect" our votes on removable memory cards, unable to really protect or easily show when tampering has occurred;
• small memory on GEMS server necessitating hours more work to batch and feed according to machine limitations; and GEMS inability to handle more than one operation at a time, vastly slowing down and adding work to massive tasks
• inflexible reporting - and data bases unable to "talk to one another"
• impossibility of proper L&A tests to be completed on every machine, which is necessary, just because of the sheer amount of months and personnel it would take to do so - so we use, in effect, worthless tests - to say we've done them.
• and on, and on, and on.....

What amazes me over and over again, is how nationwide, by having been led down and boxed into these few, in effect, totally insufficient, horrible computer options for voting, by a few serving a few select vendors, so that now, we keep going round and round in the same insufficient, horrible and growing circles - writing reports about the problems, that have basically been added to, not diminished over time, and the core of which have no answers other than to rid ourselves of those vendors, and start again with excellent computer designers, starting with our real election needs.

We end up buying into that the only way to solve these problems is by buying more layers and equipment from the same vendors who caused the problems in the first place, by providing insufficient, poor equipment and services, lowest cost and effort/highest profit for themselves. We even end up arguing about Holt, and unfunded mandates for the same useless and dangerous reasons.

I include here, a copy of an email I sent to then Cuyahoga board member Ed Coaxum
in October, 2005, trying to dissuade Cuyahoga from buying Diebold when they did.

biggest problem is, is this 2-year old email is still relevant! What is mentioned here, is a core of what the Princeton Report found at the end of 2006! And nothing has essentially changed since the Princeton report, other than more problems have occurred and been found, and millions more have been spent.
This is the statement I orally summarized and submitted to the record in writing at the 10/24/05 CCBOE board meeting the week after their supposed public hearing, where still the public had no access to Blackwell's Master Contract and the entire morning had been one long Diebold sales pitch, while the almost 100 in the audience who came almost unanimously to speak against the machine purchase, had 3 afternoon hours, to fit in about 9, 5-minute speakers (and while the board reserved the right to answer NO questions.) The following statement also reveals how fewe answers the year-long asking public had gotten - until the two days before "the hearing" when they suddenly but progressively put onto their website more than 800 pages of documents, not all immediately relevant - another form of stonewalling.

To: The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections - For The 10/24/05 Meeting
From: Adele Eisner

On October 21, 2005, the Government Accountability Office released its study, "Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems Are Under Way, but Key Activities Need to Be Completed", GAO-05-956. Unlike Diebold's paid Joe Andrew at your last meeting, this report, which was conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards during the first 8 months of this year and which included a widely diverse range of governmental and non-governmental reports and interviews, including the EAC, and NIST, states clearly that security is NOT the last and most minor issue to be considered with deployment of these black box machines determining election outcomes.

Vastly incompletely dealt-with security and reliability issues are THE ABSOLUTE priority issue. This report also affirms that security is THE issue on the minds of the vast number of people who have been standing nationwide against these DRE’s, knowing that methods and protocols have not yet been developed to allow public validation of what goes on behind closed doors and inside computers that are rampant with undetectable opportunities to easily manipulate election results - with unprecedented ease, and in wholesale quantities.

On page 22, the GAO report briefly reiterates its essence:
“Electronic voting systems hold promise for improving the efficiency and accuracy of the election process by automating a manual process, providing flexibility for accommodating voters with special needs, and implementing controls to avoid errors by voters and election workers. However, in a series of recent reports, election officials, computer security experts, citizen advocacy groups, and others have raised significant concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting systems, citing instances of weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate system version control, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management, and vague or incomplete standards, among other issues.”
It continues later: ” In light of the recently demonstrated voting system problems; the differing views on how widespread these problems are; and the complexity of assuring the accuracy, integrity, confidentiality, and availability of voting systems throughout their life cycles, the security and reliability concerns raised in recent reports merit the focused attention of federal, state, and local authorities responsible for election administration.”

The report deals with everything from
  • a publicly transparent procurement process,
  • election administrators rigorously conducting their own protocol, not the vendor’s, for testing of each machine with each ballot style,
  • to demanding background checks of software developers and vendor personnel- none of which is has been demanded in Ohio.
The citizens of Cuyahoga County have overriding our proposed purchase, instead,
  • a highly partisan Secretary of State with future designs for his own advancement;
  • demanding his boards of elections serve at his pleasure;
  • having Diebold help him put online his obfuscating plan, which also allows himself be the ultimate hearing adjudicator for voter complaints;
  • having Diebold help him create training videos with him and his own message included – just in time for his governor’s race;
  • signing a contract that gives him the right to arbitrarily accept Diebold’s mere explanations of patches, certifications, or lack thereof;
  • allows him to arbitrarily tell Diebold to do things that are not written in the contract, thus are not publicly seen;
  • and allows him to stress a kind of confidentiality between the Secretary and Diebold that predicts litigation by citizens.
And we have a contract looming that has Diebold
  • basically designing the initial testing of our machines which is to be completed during the first 30 days of “dog and pony show”, to assure our “acceptance” – ie.
  • designing our proof that their machines and contents are all exactly alike, that they work accurately with all ballot styles, to prove their own security;
  • and a contract that only demands of Diebold personnel who have made our software and will be the only ones inside our machines for at least five years with our “wonderful warranty”, that they
  • not be illegal aliens,
  • that Diebold pays their benefits and insurances,
  • and Diebold says they know what they are doing. The heck with Diebold’s history of hiring and promoting ex-felons, charged with fraudulent computer coding, or others with difficulty finding jobs.
Further a 2004 California Task Force on DRE’s states:
…the Compuware analysis of the four voting systems is not as critically rigorous as that employed by as Hopkins and RABA authors. The Compuware report does not characterize any vulnerability characterized as “high risk,” as being due to poor design, or based on the failure of the system designer to understand security principles adequately. Finally, the report appears to give no serious consideration to recommending that one or more of the systems might not be ready for deployment, rather than proposing ways to minimize the risks it did identify.
And the authors of the highly regarded RABA report referred to, which was commissioned by the state of Maryland after Compuware and SAIC, to evaluate Hopkins and SAIC, and the Diebold AccuVote TS system itself, were critical of Diebold’s security architecture. This company whose principals work with the National Security Agency, concluded that Diebold’s software could not be brought to the level of “best practice security” just by upgrading it, or fixing a specific list of identified problems. They said:
“It is our opinion that the current DIEBOLD software reflects a layered approach to security: as objections are raised additional layers are added. True security can only come via established security models, trust models, and software engineering processes that follow these models; we feel that a pervasive code rewrite would be necessary to instantiate the level of best practice security necessary to eliminate the risks we have outlined in the previous sections. Our analysis lacked the time and resources to determine if DIEBOLD has the expertise to accomplish this task.”

With these “drop in the bucket” examples, please do not again offer your overused, but non-valid replies that "no election is perfect", and/or "this is an evolving process”.
As you well know, no one is asking for perfection, only for reasonable security as set out by non-vested experts and for the public’s ability to reasonably be able to check those who handle the many yet unresolved security issues.

As to "evolution", obviously a computer purchase used to determine one-chance election outcomes affecting this planet’s future, is nothing like an individual or business who says “OK, we'll just buy this computer and upgrade as things get better.”
The 2006 elections, as HAVA well predicts are important, though its late starting EAC has only provided for voluntary and scant security guidelines for electronic voting by that date.

BEFORE ANY election is held on computers – and BEFORE millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on thousands of them, thus, concretizing the death knell to secure elections in this county too - whether the dollars come from the federal, state or county level, it’s up to YOU to serve the this county’s public’s interest in preserving our last vestiges of democracy and fair elections.

And should you decide not to do the right thing by continuing on your “roadmap to electronic voting”, I have a few questions regarding security:
1. John Washburn, the Wisconson computer expert in election systems and security, including LAT testing, traveled here to attend last week’s meeting. In the 5 minutes you allowed him, he handed this Board a full written report about LAT testing and machine pretesting, which I hope you’ve read and considered more seriously than procedures outlined from the company vested in its own machine’s rightness. His report and other experts in this field determine that to truly demonstrate all of 6,000+ machines’ logic and accuracy, lack of bugs, etc. this procedure, with even testing only 200 ballot definitions, would take a few years for 6 people to complete in 10-hour days, at a low estimate of 2 minutes per test. And this must be done and audited, before the public. Please describe your initial machine testing on each machine, that the SoS plan shows you will be doing in 30 days to provide assured acceptance, and your LAT testing procedures.
2. Please describe how and where you will store and seal these machines, once tested before and between elections.
3. Please describe how provisional ballots will be handled at the polls with these machines, what a voter will need to do, what a poll worker will need to do, and how provisionals will be validated.
4. Since signatures can change vastly over years, as mine has, please describe how you have updated your signatures on registration files, which for one thing may be used to verify provisional ballots.
5. Please clearly describe the process of publicly witnessed recounts with these cash register-like paper trails.
6. Please describe how, and how long you will preserve these paper rolls securely.
7. Please describe how you will supervise Diebold personnel, the standards you will use to hire or fire them, and how they will be audited as they have access to the coding of your machines.
8. Where will the public be allowed to view the central tabulator’s election night counting?
9. And last – a moment of silence for the death of fair elections, ironically played as a knee-jerk reaction to the Florida election debacle – which even then had less to do with chads, and far more to do with unethical Secretaries of State and political theft. Same story then as now, but primitive efforts and results compared to what now can come - even to Cuyahoga County - with your help.

The following was my 10/25/05 follow-up email to Ed Coaxum, who at least listened and asked questions about the documents I was mentioning:

Dear Ed,

To facilitate your locating the reports I referred to at yesterday's Board Meeting, I will attach them by email to you. I will also forward the URL of the 10/21/05 GAO Report, "Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems Are Under Way, but Key Activities Need to Be Completed", GAO-05-956.

I truly appreciate your serious and excellent consideration of this very serious matter.

To be sent:
1. California "Final" Report - Re: March, 2004 - which I quoted about CompuWare studies on Diebold, based opn their own direct experience, since CompuWare studies have also served as the main bases of security/reliability for Ohio's purchases.

2. The Maryland RABA Technologies Report, dated January, 2004 also known as the "Trusted Agent Report"

Though the above two reports were done before the implementation of VVPAT, and thus, direct much attention to the necessity of having voter verified paper trails, you will also see that both reports also clearly demonstrate that even properly done, VVPAT alone, is only a necessary minimum, and only a beginning to necessary election security.

The California study speaks articulately, and from that state's own direct experience, about the insufficiency of CompuWare studies (the ones used as main bases for the Ohio's Diebold purchase) to validly demonstrate Diebold's sufficiency for secure and reliable election deployment.
RABA speaks to Diebold's
“lack of mature and systemic understanding of coding and security to achieve even minimum best practices levels.”

At the 10/24 BOE meeting I quoted RABA, via quotes in the California study. That was one of only 2 RABA entries that California included in their report from their Diebold experience, as they saw those points
critical to emphasize.

The RABA quote can be found on page 23 of their full report, but I urge you to begin reading there at least at page 17 where RABA begins it's assessment of Diebold's previous DRE model - the Accuvote TS. The picture is far from "pretty".

The report also makes it clear that this highly regarded company, RABA, had nothing to gain or lose from being honest. Yes, they were being paid by the state of Maryland, but in this case, all that Maryland was paying for was a non-vested, highly expert opinion - not affirmation to make a sale, nor to push any preconceived agenda.

The California quote I used can be found on page 27 of that study:
" The Compuware report does not characterize any vulnerability characterized as “high risk,” as being due to poor design, or based on the failure of the system designer to understand security principles adequately. Finally, the {Compuware} report appears to give no serious consideration to recommending that one or more of the systems might not be ready for deployment, rather than proposing ways to minimize the risks it did identify."

I also urge you, if time precludes a full reading of the California report, to begin on page 21, Section IV. The section is titled Security. And then read to the end. It presents a very clear picture.

The RABA quote I used was:
“It is our opinion that the current DIEBOLD software reflects a layered approach to security: as objections are raised additional layers are added. True security can only come via established security models, trust models, and software engineering processes that follow these models; we feel that a pervasive code rewrite would be necessary to instantiate the level of best practice security necessary to eliminate the risks we have outlined in the previous sections. Our analysis lacked the time and resources to determine if DIEBOLD has the expertise to accomplish this task.”

As stated above, it is on page 23, and here, I urge you to at least begin reading at page 17, the assessment of the Accuvote, through the end (page 25.)

3. To demonstrate the above 2 points, I will also send you three successive CompuWare studies, 8/18/04; 1/26/05; and 4/15/05 as commissioned by our own SoS. Though they are linked to his website, I found them difficult to discover, if one does not go beyond the first layer of pages via guessed links, so I was not sure you were aware of them.

I will not, however, send the first CompuWare assessment, the one dated 11/21/03, as it is linked to the CCBOE website.
However, only portions of the first CompuWare study, the 11/03 assessment, are even addressed in the Master Contract. They can be found in Schedule C, Attachment A, "Diebold Risk Mitigation Plan", starting I believe, on page 49 of the Contract. I don't believe that "Mitigation" is mentioned at all, in the later contract addendum.

In the Master Contract, all that was contractually required of Diebold regarding such "risk mitigation", was that they respond to a portion of the list of risks that CompuWare had identified in 11/03. Diebold thus, copied a portion of the Compuware list, along with CompuWare's mitgation recommendations, and then added a column for Diebold responses. In the majority of those replies,
Diebold just repeated the same two things:

1.that they had instituted a Key Card Tool for changing of authorized PINs - which they stated fixed a number of things - but which fix was identified by Compuware later - in the 8/04 report as
a new and different risk, and which Compuware identified as a risk again in 4/05 - because Diebold had not changed it/ the last CompuWare recommendations had not been implemented. One would only know that however, by looking at each report.

2. Secondly regarding Diebold's contract mitigation statements -
Diebold paraphrased over and over in their Contract risk mitigation section, just what CompuWare recommended far too often for very serious hardware/software security risks that could massively change an entire election outcome. Diebold repeated:
"We agree that administrative policies and procedures are an important part of a well run election and should be used to enhance security whenever possible."

You may note for yourself that CompuWare risk mitigation recommendations - as also pointed out by California, and by RABA - concerning major computer risks for huge-scale, and hard to detect election tampering by insiders is unreasonably and too frequently addressed by CompuWare as.... "administrative policies and procedures must be put in place...."

Many point out that certainly regular election security policies must be adhered to.
But as RABA points out, when considering huge scale election risks, for people to rely so heavily on "administrative policies and procedures" - which all know may not be adhered to evenly among all election workers, and certainly not among all election day workers, one has to be both very foolish and very unwise.

The rest of Diebold's Master Contract mitigation replies consisted again of their own similar explanations of rightness, with NO expert counterpoint even demanded.

In the three later CompuWare assessments I will send, you will also note, for instance, that just as RABA had predicted,
Diebold did not seem to know how to truly fix security concerns.

For in 1/05 they had added another "layer", another off the shelf security measure, Digital Guardian, for some detection of tampering and other preventions, but did not know how to configure this highly sophisticated tool, thus causing, again, more and different wholesale security risks.
By the next and last assessment I found, the one dated 4/05, though Diebold had then changed some things about Digital Guardian, they had again caused
still more problems, while still not preventing Guardian from being uninstalled, or turned off.

This pattern repeats over and over, in many different ways, from one assessment to the next - with non-implemented recommendations and with exchanging one risk for another, sometimes worse, - all risks still too great.

two of the three reports, stresssed that Diebold bring it's programming understanding up to CM2 engineering levels by the end of 2005, then quickly to CM3. Even InfoSENTRY referred to below talked about the need for Diebold to make it's programming more "mature" and up to these basic professional levels.

And even the last Compuware report, 4/05 still has many supposed mitigations still needed - along with high quality checks of them, I might add.

Though you may feel that a thorough look at these 3 last CompuWare studies is warranted, if time does not allow, much can be gleaned from just comparing the progression of risk/threat asssessments sections. Those sections begin approximately at the following pages:
8/18/04 - page 58
1/26/05 - page 17
4/15/05 - page 42

4. Next to the last, I will send 2 more documents from the SoS website:
a. the InfoSENTRY Report, also commissioned by the Ohio SoS, which was interestingly released the same date as the first CompuWare study, 11/21/03. The second half of its 46 pages is comprised of an iteration of what they term "Principle HAVA Security Sections".

InfoSENTRY continually points out the SoS great efforts, and the foolish need for speed. For instance, page 25:
"Ohio’s Secretary of State has undertaken an aggressive program to assess voting system security, including the condition of vendor’s hardware, software, and data transfers. The Security Assessment points up that no system can be truly secure until the plans, policies, and procedures of all of the voting system supply chain links are made stronger. The Security Assessment found no “show stopper” {their bold and underline} to indicate that the introduction of computerized voting systems in Ohio should be slowed or stopped solely because of security concerns. The Security Assessment found that Ohio’s election officials and the vendors who supply them with these systems must take many important mitigating steps in the near future to remedy security problems that do exist. "

They cover their own very risky statement at the end ...
"must take many important mitigating steps" which is what Compuware always did too. And though they may have just been trying to sound flip, an election - at least a fair one - is NOT in any way comparable to a "show".

b. And the SoS's “Detailed Gap Analysis Findings” - prepared by his own office, dated February 26, 2004, and which is basically a reply to RABA. It states

"...our gap analysis found nothing of substance that had not already been identified by Compuware, InfoSENTRY, or SAIC, documented, acted upon, and presented to the vendors as recommended changes. For details of the gap analysis, refer to section “Detailed Gap Analysis Findings” on the next page. As stated in the Ohio study, { InfoSENTRY} “The Security Assessment found no ‘show stopper’ to indicate that the introduction of computerized voting systems in Ohio should be slowed or stopped solely because of security concerns.” The Ohio study found that the DRE systems could be deployed as scheduled, provided the vendors take necessary mitigating steps."

(And I add... if they say the vendors need to take mitigating steps, and the vendors and CompuWare state what’s needed are "election official administrative policies and procedures..." this sounds like a bit of buck-passing back and forth to me, with no one being held accountable.)

5. And last, I will send you the body of the email I received regarding the GAO Report, "Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems Are Under Way, but Key Activities Need to Be Completed", GAO-05-956, released on 10/21. It contains the URL for the full report.

Again, I apologize for the length of this email, and the number of emails to come. This seems, however, necessary to get a more valid picture from the information that has been released since last week.

I very much appreciate your consideration of this matter.

Adele Eisner

Saturday, May 12, 2007

How's the Cuyahoga Counting Coming?

Last week, as an Observer, I briefly visited the CCBOE to watch the handling of provisional ballots. The certified count, I've been told cannot start until after 10 days after the election, thus will begin on May 21.

The process this time appears and feels calm and procedurally very sound. Forms have been simplified and made more user-friendly, procedures have been spelled out, (and I was given a copy, though I haven't had time to go through it carefully,) and unlike November, it can be made clear to any onlooker exactly who is to do what.

As of last Wednesday, there were approximately 407 provisionals, plus 14 absentee provisionals. As of Thursday, 356 of those had been approved, with the remainder still going through another (3rd) round of checking.

The areas of my concern for checking, that are reflected by this part of the provisional process, but are outside of this department's control, remain as:

1. People unnecessarily forced into provisional ballots and possibly having those provisionals ballots rejected ie. being disenfranchised - because of unresolved problems with the Diebold , DIMS registration system, thus appearing as "Not Registered" voters. Problems include:
• original registrations that were lost between hard copy registration cards and scanning into the DIMS electronic system;
• the system "mysteriously" dropping some registrations after they got in
• or it making it unnecessarily unwieldy or difficult for workers to safely pull up a search for a person by name or birth date, while not also risking losing the proper person's records if they accidentally click on the wrong choice.
In countywide elections there are usually too many "Not Registered" provisional rejections for the department to go back to the paper archives in a storage locker, to search out each one. So unless there is one office or person to call for voters who think they should have been given a regular ballot because they should have been registered at the precinct at which they appeared ( for instance, they'd voted there before and/or they're with a spouse who had also voted there before and was in the poll book, but they were not, etc.) these people's votes, unknown to themselves, get rejected.
And unless it is caught, thus fixed, their "Not Registered" provisional and following rejection could happen election after election.

2. Provisional votes needing to be rejected by law, because of "Missing ID" and/or they did not fill in the affirmation statement on the provisional envelope. In most of the cases I saw, as Mike DeFranco, the department manager, went through that pile with me (since I cannot touch the ballots) the poll worker also had not filled out his or her portion of those envelopes either. This indicates that most probably, many of those "Missing ID's can be attributed to poll worker "errors" - in their not fully informing the voters about what to do, and helping the voter to check that they've done it right.
Though these people have 10 days to come to the board to provide more information, so their votes could count, and were supposed to be given a notice to that effect, I sense that very few remember, or bother to make that trip downtown.
I do not feel confident that more poll worker training can adequately solve this problem, that was also evident last November.
Under pressure at the polls, poll workers forget and get confused about provisionals.

As Mike DeFranco stated, he estimates that a minimum of 50% of provisional ballots that his department needs to reject by law, have been caused by poll worker error. His solution: a dedicated provisional station at each polling location, where poll workers are intensely trained on helping voters get to the right precinct table or polling location, to search for possible registrations that have gotten "lost" to the pollbooks/ voters who claim they should be registered in that precinct, and to properly fill in the forms.

3. Voters who must vote provisionally, and then possibly whose vote is then rejected, because they've gone to the Wrong Precinct. In November, among small samples checked, at least 1/2 of those voters were in the right polling location, but at the wrong precinct table!

There are many possible solutions to this problem, including stationing a greeter who interfaces with each voter and by address, directs him/her to the right table/location; putting up easily seen large signs/flags at each table indicating the precinct designations, etc.
This "Wrong Precinct" category of provisional rejections in November was way over 1,000, close to 1600-1800 as I remember, and was the largest category of vote rejection. This is a huge number of people who came to the polls to vote, but ultimately were disenfranchised.

My solution to some of these provisional problems is also, to allow Same Day Registrations. I cannot figure out why such welcome to the process would be contraindicated, as long as the voters come to the polls with proper ID's anyhow.

4. The next important reports, highly problematic in the past, which I'll thus be checking for May, will be the number of people who signed in at the polls (number of voters) compared with the number of ballots cast (number of votes) per precinct.
In the past there have been HUGE discrepancies per precinct, in a many of over 1400 precincts, which could indicate a total "offness" (less or more) of voters to votes - that could improperly change the winners of some races.

In the past, the board has allowed for a discrepancy of 25, and in May '06, of 35, between numbers of votes and voters per precinct, before it's reported to the board/public, and before results certification.
Again with 1434 precincts, this still allows far too great a total discrepancy to be able to know that the right winners have "won", and "that every vote counts."

This "gap" must "allowance" must be greatly lowered in the future.

We'll see if those numbers match more closely this time, and if not, what the possible sources of such discrepancies may be.

One issue with DREs that makes this problem so hard to resolve is that even if the problem is with the DRE itself, no matter how many times one runs the report of how many ballots there were in the precinct, the machine always tells the same number - but never indicates where inside the code votes were added or lost. With paper, one can go back and actually count and review the votes and find the sources of the problem.

At the Polls- Some Better Locations Needed in Less Advantaged Areas

A well organized, comfortable May 8 polling location in Parma, OH

Most polls I visited on May 8 were calm, with satisfied, cooperating workers who knew what they were doing.
as I've visited various Cuyahoga polls during the last three elections, both as an observer and outside as exit poller, I've also found that some polling locations especially in less advantaged areas were completely uninviting, some dimly lit, very hard to find, had no parking, no ground or grass available to insert flags or signs outside, and in some cases because of activity outside the doors, felt unsafe to approach.

From church annexes located in down-the-street, unsigned and torn up storefronts, to a location in unmarked second floor empty apartment suite with torn up carpeting and a dripping faucet, it certainly seems that in areas with traditionally low voter turnout, one basic improvement that can be made is to make the voting locations at least more welcoming.

Though I realize that finding over 500 locations willing to rent to house people walking in and out all day a few times per year; and willing to open at 5 am and stay open until after 8 pm is no small task; and that in some cases voters are very attached to their polling locations, or locations have been chosen for centralized convenience to the most, it also seems that in the very near future, the CCBOE needs to make the effort to do a thorough review of especially inner city locations, making sure that all are easy to find, have easy accessibility, decent lighting, a sense of orderliness and cleanliness, sufficient space for workers and lines, safety, parking, capability to put signage, etc.

Going to the polls in effect, is a celebration of democracy. It should feel good, not a struggle nor scary nor depressing, for every voter who comes.

Election Night Wrap-Up. May 8, 2007

Compare and determine which one gives you more confidence:

Interim Director, Jane Platten with Reporter Brian McIntyre, the night of May 8 2007

11/7/06 Election night back at the Cuyahoga BOE.
About 10-10:30pm Mr. Bennett repeats only 4 polls opening late, falsely inferring that was all the problems; or it's OK to let voters walk away when machines aren't running, "they'll come back" he assured; his expressed great interest in "working with opponents" while stabbing election integrity advocates for wanting polls to have the full complement of hours for voters to vote; and using "special interests" as his new grab bag term for such "bad people", and "glitches" to minimize bad voting day problems.

Film also found in "A Long Look at the Dysfunction of Cuyahoga's 11/7/06 Election Day - Under Bob Bennett"

Putting Faces to Names - CCBOE's May 7, Swearing In & Board Meeting

Secretary of State Brunner swears in the new board, and acting as Interim Chairperson, Jeff Hastings gets the meeting going. To Brunner's right is Interim Director, Jane Platten. To the left are D- Inajo Chappell, R-Hastings, D-Sandy McNair, and R-Rob Frost.

Later I'll post the end of the meeting, where refreshingly the board decided - in a PUBLIC process, not executive session - to briefly extend the search for Director and Deputy, now that at least the board itself is known and stable.

It was a really good start. Some of the concerns mentioned, especially by the two Republican members demonstrate that they have already been schooled in their party's past concerns.
Now, as I stated later in the meeting, I just hope that politics don't quickly or eventually bury the beginning good intentions demonstrated on May 7.

Back to Vu & San Diego, CA's Whole Barrel-ful of Rotten Apples

In IM talk, this post can only begin OMG! How blatantly ridiculous can it become?
From today's San Diego's North County Times:
San Diego County hires ex-sales rep for Diebold as registrar

NORTH COUNTY -- A former sales representative for the company that made the county's electronic voting machines has been hired as the county's registrar of voters, county officials announced Friday.

In 2003, the county bought 10,000 electronic voting machines from Diebold Election Systems. The county's new registrar, Deborah Seiler, said Friday that she worked as sales representative for the company and was directly involved in the successful effort to sell the company's equipment to the county in 2003.

In addition to her stint at Diebold, the 57-year-old woman's resume reflects a broad background in elections, dating to the late 1970s, when she served as assistant chief of elections with the California secretary of state's office. In 1982, she became assistant to the secretary of state for elections and political reform and held that position until 1989. Between 1991 and 1999, Seiler worked as director of customer relations for the electronic voting machine company, Sequoia Pacific Systems. She also served as a commissioner with the California Fair Political Practices Commission between 1993 and 1997.

In San Diego County, many of the questions surrounding recent elections -- and the hiring of Seiler -- involve electronic voting machines made by Diebold.

Diebold sold more than 10,000 of the machines to the county at a total cost of $31 million.

"Our job was simply to point out the merits of the hardware and the software," Seiler said.

At least one election watchdog says he is not happy with the hire.

"There is always going to be that question, 'Is there a conflict of interest?' " said Carlsbad attorney Ken Simpkins, who unsuccessfully sued San Diego County last year to force it to put enough paper ballots at the polls to cover the county's 1.3 million voters.

"When Diebold's contract comes up for renewal or there are disagreements, is she going to represent her former company or the citizens of San Diego County?" Simpkins asked when contacted by the North County Times on Friday.

Seiler has served for the last three years as the assistant registrar of voters in Solano County. She will start as the new local elections chief next month and earn an annual salary of $150,000, she said.

Seiler said that running the county's elections will not be easy, especially because three major elections are scheduled in 2008 -- the presidential primaries in February, primary elections for state and local offices in June and the general presidential election in November.

With the first of those elections about nine months out, Secretary of State Debra Bowen recently called for a "top-to-bottom" review of the state's electronic voting systems to assure voters that their elections systems were "secure, accurate and reliable." The call for a review added to the growing controversy over the voting machines, which opponents say are rife with vulnerability to vote manipulation.

Seiler said Friday that her biggest challenge is "the uncertainty about the voting system because of the secretary of state's review."

"Uncertainty is always a challenge when you are walking into a major election cycle," she said.

Bowen has said that the review of the voting machines could produce three possible findings: that the machines have no problems, that they do have problems that could be fixed, or that the machines can't be fixed and should be decertified.

It's the potential for decertification that has Seiler concerned, especially in light of the fact that the February presidential primaries are only about nine months away, she said.

"There would be a wholesale change to the system that would require re-education of poll workers and voters and would require a restructuring of our procedures," Seiler said.

Recent years have seen a number of people serve as registrar for the county. Mikel Haas held the job between 1995 and 2001, before stepping down. Sally McPherson took over the job, but retired in 2005 and Haas became registrar again.

In April, Haas was promoted to the job of director of the county's Community Services Group, a job in which he oversees six county departments, including the registrar of voters office. Retired Riverside County Registrar of Voters Mischelle Townsend took over as interim chief elections officer while the county searched for a replacement for Haas.

Seiler's hiring was the second decision by the county in the last month or so to raise questions from election watchdogs. In April, county officials announced that they were giving the job of assistant registrar of voters to former Cuyahoga County Ohio elections chief Michael Vu, who served in that position for three and a half years.

During his tenure, the county gained national notoriety when a federal judge in Cleveland ordered 16 Cuyahoga County polling stations to stay open 90 minutes after the 7:30 closing time in November's elections because of voting machine problems and long waiting lines for voters.

In January, a court convicted two elections workers in that county of illegally rigging the 2004 presidential election recount so they could avoid a more complete review of votes. Vu defended the workers, saying they had followed long-standing procedures and done nothing wrong.

Haas said Friday that he was instrumental in hiring Seiler and he believes that the county has found a "gem."

"Her depth and breadth of knowledge of elections in California for over 27 years was the absolute driving point in hiring her," Haas said.

Asked if Seiler's association with Diebold played a role in the decision to hire her, Haas said: "We use that system, so it's kind of a plus."

-- Contact staff writer William Finn Bennett at (760) 740-5426, or
1. Interesting in this article, besides the open "chutzpah"-abuse going on in San Diego, are the same mantra, foolish excuses used nationally by those who "protect" their ability to continue to, with the least amount of questions, hand over millions of taxpayer dollars to Diebold for their insecure junk (...and for what back???) and that allow insider, undetectable changes to election results. These all include some form of:
  • we can't change horses midstream;
  • we're (always) too close to an election to think and change make changes provide accuracy, security and verifiability;
  • we can't check facts, or we may come up with "unknowns," which would be "bad" for a too-close election; or
  • we have a great "solution" for the Diebold "glitches" - which always involves buying MORE Diebold junk and lousy, incomplete services.
2. Interesting also is this article written by a Bennett (of the same spelling,) includes comment by Sally McPherson, another of the former San Diego Registrars. (Haas '95-2001; McPherson,'01-'05; Haas again, '05 - and then I lose count - for Mischelle Townsend's (also with legal complaints still against her) is also in there somewhere - twice.)
But Sally McPherson retired in March, '05, earlier in the same month that Bruce McPherson was appointed Secretary of State for California when Kevin Shelley resigned. Maybe unrelated to anything. Just interesting.

3. Interesting also is that rumor had it back in November, '06 that after the two failed attempts by CCBOE Dem members to immediately oust Vu in July and August '06, that Michael Vu in his borrowed time until after the November election, was trying to get a job at Diebold, after his final axe would come down.

Given the caliber of Cuyahoga's Diebold "Project Manager," Jessica Hiner, who only rarely could answer questions posed to her - unless she was selling something and quoting prices - and who from her "managing" Diebold's "take" from Cuyahoga to well over $15 million, has since gotten a promotion - it seems Vu there might have been the perfect fit.

He, however stayed to follow Bennett's lead in handing over more millions to Diebold,
(and sometimes making large amounts hard to find, under lists of "vouchers", not under contracts) - until Bennett could hold Vu's cover no more - after the conviction of the two board employees for the recount rigging.

Though the Bennett/Vu relationship was always "B:'jump'-and-V:'how high?'", obvious to anyone who watched just one meeting, Bennett liked to point out their "separation" stating that Vu was registered as a Dem, and Bennett was registered, obviously as a Republican.
As if that mattered.
Not only can "politics make strange bedfellows" but self-interest and greed trumps all.

4. Also regarding Vu's Cuyahoga registration,
In the case of Vu, and his arrival to the CCBOE/Bennett, at the end of July '03, as I understand it, Vu arrived from Utah as an Independent.
(Salt Lake is where he had worked with Mischelle Townsend, his "mentor", who this year, having been in San Diego, and a few months ago having returned to her old Registrar position as Interim Registrar there, hired him.)

When Vu arrived in Cuyahoga in '03, Democrat Tom Coyne was board chair, and Roger Synenberg,
Republican (the one and same!) were on the board, (before Soggs and Florkiwiecz respectively,) and were planning to leave the following January.

When Coyne and Synenberg did leave at the beginning of '04, again, as I remember it, Vu then declared himself a Democrat, so he could be "a major party" Director and Bennett could become the board chair of the opposite party. (Vu's changing parties twice, once as Republican to get the job, then again, so Bennett could be chair, certainly would have attracted too much attention.)

But not only was Vu willing to hold and change parties for the job, (- and again, I need to find and again go through through those '03-'04 very sketchy agendae, minutes and documents to check, since I wasn't there until the '04 election and recount that finally caught my attention) not too long after Vu's arrival came a "Realignment."(One word, no explanation on the agenda)

In February, '04 a few board top staffers with satisfactory work records, and with no warnings, got fired. (During that period, the clerk had unknowingly left the tape recorder going during an executive session, where the old board was casually, deciding on employee moves and salaries according to how it would look, not on merit. A request of the tape of the regular meeting revealed their amazing casual-game mode for moving people around.)

In "board-speak" that "realignment" was to achieve a "leaner, 'less-political' team".(A 2/04 PD article) Bruce Trakas, the business manager and Nancy Minco, the human resources manager, were replaced by now Interim Director Platten, who had been an aid for Tim McCormack and a project manager for the Commissioners.

While that appointment has turned out to be a wonderful gift to this county, the general understanding then, however, was that the board both liked Platten's stellar work, and her easy connection to the Commissioners - the keepers of the funds, especially for their planned and decided purchase of lots of Diebold machines. (That Diebold decision was voted on, and refused to be moved from, since Feb.'04 - before the public had any chance to know - while Bennett's pal O'Dell had recently purchased Global Election Systems for Diebold, "insiderly" knowing lots of national sales were coming down the pike, (before HAVA was passed.))

Trakas sued. The case was either dismissed or settled (which I will find when I locate that file.)

However, as I remember from the Trakas documents, one of the claims was that not only did Vu sell out on his party alliance, but that he was hired, and possibly sworn in by the board in '03, when he wasn't yet even legally allowed to vote in Cuyahoga - which would have been against the law. Ohio law requires a BOE director to be a "qualified elector" in Ohio, which requires a 30 day residency.
As I remember, there was also an allegation in that Trakas suit, that Vu therefore, had his Cuyahoga registration fudged - which is a federal offense.

A thorough investigation of that, as well as his possible other offenses in Cuyahoga, including
his prior knowledge of the '04 recount rigging seems certainly in order. His original registration card should be able to be found - again by federal law, as supposedly administered by him while he was here.
(See Do We Still Have Original Registration Cards? - from the 11/27/06 Board meeting at

5. Also interesting, is the fact that California Secretary of State Bowen, like Ohio Secretary of State Brunner, is planning a"top-to-bottom" review of that state's e-voting devices over this summer. Both women campaigned on a platform of election reform, before winning and taking office in January.

Since no state did any thorough review with consideration of the costs and dangers to fair, accurate, verifiable, transparent elections, before purchasing these e-voting systems, this does need to get done certainly before another major election.

With the amount of work that needs to get done, the number of factors that need to be checked, the level of computer and election expertise necessary to conduct a really thorough review , it seems it might benefit the people of both states for them to share some of the work and information while they are doing it, certainly taking into account, each one's state laws.

Just like audits done after the fact, what we don't need are simply more reports of massive machine problems, or lists of policies that cannot, and we know, will not be adhered to by massive numbers of poll workers, in some rose-colored-glasses attempt to put yet another band-aid on the primitive, insecure and often non-operational computer systems that have cost this nation billions; have added more work not less; provide interactive database beginnings for eventually invading even that privacy - easily tracking each person's choices; and worse, in the end, providing no way to verify to voters that the vote results announced were actually the voters' majority choices.

More facts about Deborah, the Diebold Rep's, San Diego appointment as Registrar can be found in an excellent article posted today on BradBlog written by John Gideon.
His facts and additional links there, even show that it was Seiler who sold 1,200 touch-screen voting machines to the fine folks in Solano County, which were later proved uncertified.

Before or after you check out BradBlog, also look at the post directly below for MORE on Vu in what one San Diego activist calls the "toxic waste dump"; and California Secretary of State SoS Debra Bowen's response to my letter dated April 15 about Vu, San Diego, and the message this sends throughout the elections industry.

Alas - MORE about Vu in San Diego & CA Secretary of State Bowen's reply to my letter re: Vu's appointment as Assistant Registrar of Voters

From the 7/28/06 rally in front of the CCBOE

In the 4/11/07 San Diego North County Times article that started this concept-thread, and prompted my 4/15 letter to California Secretary of State, Deborah Bowen, urging her to thoroughly review Vu's appointment before allowing it to stand

Gig Conaughton the article's author stated:
San Diego County officials declined to make Vu available for an interview Wednesday. However, Vu was quoted in previous interviews as saying it was his decision to resign, based upon his belief that the Cuyahoga board wanted new leadership.

Vu's decision? His belief?? Like it was a choice, as in Santa Claus?
Try a few of these Cuyahoga examples below, and see what you believe about Vu's honesty and competence, even after he left Cuyahoga, apparently still thinking that all he had to do was to say it, and everyone would believe him - and the lack of truth of his words about other lacks, would never catch up with him:

1. A handheld, thus shaky video that speaks for itself. On 7/28/06 people gathered in front of the CCBOE to demand Vu's leaving.

2. The above was a result of the Cuyahoga Election Review Panel's (CERP) report, from the panel that the board had chosen following the debacle May,'06 election under Vu, that was published on 7/21/06. Links to that report, pointing out Section 7 the most concentrated section about Vu, under "Management" and referred to as a "scathing review" in the above video; and the Election Science Institute (ESI) report were both noted in the letter sent to CA SoS for her review.

The morning of CERP's release, July 21,2006 the board held a meeting, which ended in a 2-2 split about Vu's ouster, split along party lines (the 4-person framework, 2-D's and 2-R's of Ohio BOEs seem almost to prevent ability to move forward, rather than help.)
You can download a copy of the official transcript of that
7/21/06 meeting here.
After you read it, see if you think there was any doubt that it was NOT Vu's choice to leave. He was demanded out.

Though Bennett wanted him to stay - since the recount rigging trial was still upcoming, and Bennett was still trying to make the whole thing covered AND gone away; AND be able to get more money into Diebold's pockets - Bennett needed a "satisfied Vu", to continue the business as usual for charade cover. Seeing how bad Vu was, even Bennett, however, was asking for Vu's staying only through the November election. (It DID turn out that Vu was able to stay, and was given the political out to "resign," until right after the trial's sentencing.)

Start at the bottom of page 4 of the transcript, then through page 8 then mixed throughout the transcript, you will find demands that Vu leave.
The following exerpt is from page 8, starting end line 5, with Mr. Coaxum speaking.
Later, Mr. Soggs also spoke a number of times, just as directly.
Vu "believed" they wanted new leadership? I'm not sure how much clearer it could get...:

5 (starting my quote...) in
6 view of the performance of the executive

7 management over the past two years and

8 specifically on May 2nd, it is clear to me

9 that these individuals cannot provide

10 innovative responses and sensitive

11 leadership in Cuyahoga County to implement

12 the recommendations of the panel in order

13 to restore the confidence of the electors

14 in Cuyahoga County in a transparent and

15 efficient election process. Mr. Chairman

16 and members of this Board, the hemorrhaging

17 must stop now.

18 Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I move that

19 this Board request the immediate

20 resignation of Michael Vu as director and

21 Gwen Dillingham as deputy director and

22 project manager for e-voting conversion.

23 Should the director and the deputy director

24 decline to resign, then I move that they be

25 terminated forthwith. Mr. Chairman.
3. And here is a short clip toward the end of that 7/21 meeting where board member, Loree Soggs again demanded Vu's resignation, calling him "dangerous."

4. Then we go to the transcript of the next meeting, 8/7, the day before the August 8 special election. This was almost 3 weeks after the previous meeting.

As the public was there waiting to find out about SoS Blackwell's breaking the tie (actually for the public, an unsure decision, since rumor also had it that not only did the Commissioners essentially dislike Vu - look what he was doing to the county's reputation - but neither was even Mr. Blackwell any great fan of his.)

Starting on 48 of this transcript, you will find that, to everyone's surprise (because Bennett kept it that way...then feigned apology for "overlooking") Bennett hadn't even sent the tie vote to Blackwell for breaking, as was demanded by law, and as clarified by the Prosecutor!

Rather he sent two letters to Blackwell telling him why he didn't think he needed to send the tie vote to him, and why he didn't think the Proscutor was right - a typical duplicitous and devious Bennett tactic - this time for delay. (Notice how he also, in his subtle digging way, started to attempt to diminish Assistant Prosecutor Reno Oradini, by starting to call him "Mr. Reno" - like calling him "boy!") Then at each meeting, Bennett began counting down the days until November, always saying it was now really too close to the election to force Vu out, while both he and Vu kept rushing to ridiculously put more and more unnecessary taxpayer millions into Diebold's pockets. (Re: the latter see the following posts about Summer '06 meetings and their pouring millions ridiculously into Diebold's pockets.)

5. Then we can read more articles from the North County Times in San Diego:

a. Here we have a 4/2 article, where Mischelle Townsend magnanimously stepped back into the Registrar role, just in time to hire Vu, (4/11) then again leaving a month later to make way for Deborah Seiler, the Diebold Rep.
Notice that Townsend, like Vu in Cuyahoga, was not even a resident of San Diego when she became the Registrar of Voters again there.

b. Here we have San Diego County Administrator Ekard, a few days later defending Vu. Notice they don't let Vu talk to the press. (Maybe they're on to his untruths and purposefully roundabout "Vu-babble.")
Ekard also off-point for an Assist. Registrar of Voters, calls Vu a "young family man." (So they had a baby. What does that have to do with character and competence for this important job?)
Ekard also refers to telling of the facts about Vu, as "character assassination." However, the person assassinating Vu's character, has been unfortunately, Vu himself in his actions.

c. And there is this little opinion ditty:
Roses and raspberries
By: North County Times Opinion staff -

The 'Premature Consternation' award

A raspberry to those who are already lambasting former Cuyahoga County, Ohio, elections chief Michael Vu, who was recently hired as San Diego County's new assistant registrar of voters.

The county's difficulty in finding a permanent registrar, and that it had to go halfway across the country to find someone to fill the assistant registrar position ---- which pays $130,000 a year ---- is an indication of just how impossible the job of running elections in San Diego County is becoming, at least to qualified applicants.
Qualified applicants? Vu never got it right, and only looked like he got closer with the assistance of a $4,000/week former director who ran Cuyahoga's November's election for him.

On the other hand, check out Cuyahoga's Smoothly Run May 8, 2007 Election, which took place finally without him.

d. This NCTimes article is about San Diego trying to also offer paper ballots at the polls because of activist insistence. Despite workers not offering them and in some cases discouraging their use, still over 8% of people requested and used them, in lieu of untrustworthy machines.

e. This is the 4/27 article about Bowen actually looking into lawyer activist Ken Simpkin's charges of wrongdoing in the November, '06 election.

f. And finally this article is about CA SoS Bowen starting testing of e-voting devices this week to consider the questions of problems, re-certification, etc. in that state.

SoS Brunner is the midst of conducting the same concept in Ohio, though I have not yet heard to date, whom they have hired, nor what the specific goals of the study will be.
Again, I'm not sure why Brunner and Bowen are not working together on this issue, combining resources, and information to cover the vast amount of ground that needs scrutiny. Hopefully they will each clearly lay out what dangers vs. benefits they are looking for before beginning.

Just because of the secret nature of the counting software and the lack of transparency and verifiability of the results, the machines should be not allowed in a democratic election. Vendors like Diebold need to bear financial liability for selling often faulty equipment, that has been obviously unfit for and incapable of conducting a fair, transparent, democratic, efficient and cost-efficient elections.

But What Did SoS Bowen Reply About the Vu Problem in San Diego?

The salient part of the May 2, reply reads:
"Unlike other states, county elections offices in California are not under the direct authority and control of the Secretary of State’s office.

If you would like to contact the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, which has the ultimate authority over the elections officials who serve the county...."

No "direct" control? As the Chief Elections Officer of the state? What about indirect control?

When things inevitably fall apart there, at least election integrity activists can say we properly warned her....
This is a poor reproduction of the reply:
It says in full:
Subj: RE: CORRECTION toletter
Re: Michael Vu's Appointment to Assistant San Diego Registrar Post Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2007 12:51:00 PM
Dear Ms. Eisner:
Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about San Diego County recently appointing Mr. Michael Vu as Assistant Deputy Registrar.

Unlike other states, county elections offices in California are not under the direct authority and control of the Secretary of State’s office.

If you would like to contact the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, which has the ultimate authority over the elections officials who serve the county, you can reach the Board at:
San Diego County Board of Supervisors
County Administration Center
1600 Pacific Highway
San Diego, CA 92101

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I hope this information is helpful to you. If you have any questions, or if I can assist you on another matter related to the Secretary of State's office, please contact my office at (916) 653-7244.

Debra Bowen Secretary of State


It says re: "Correction to Letter", because I needed to correct a typo for correctness and had resent the original with the correciton.

My first email cover said:

via email

The Honorable Debra Bowen
California Secretary of State
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Secretary of State Bowen:

I am writing to make you aware of my grave concerns regarding the hiring of Michael Vu as Assistant Deputy Registrar of Voters in San Diego County. As a long time Cleveland, Ohio resident, election integrity advocate, and citizen watchdog of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (Mr. Vu's previous employer,) I urge you to review the attached letter regarding some of the many documented, serious issues involved with Mr. Vu's tenure here, relating to both his competence and integrity, and which ultimately forced his resignation.

As a courtesy, I also want to let you know that I am sending the attached to a few media outlets.

Thank you,
Adele Eisner
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118

The second body of email-cover letter read:
Yesterday, I sent you a letter expressing my grave concern regarding Michael Vu's Appointment to
Assistant San Diego Registrar Post.
A typographical error may have caused an inaccuracy in the point reflecting the large budget overruns that occurred under Mr. Vu's directorship for Cuyahoga County's 2006 elections.
Though by the time of this sending I have not had the opportunity to go beyond the Cuyahoga Board of Election's provided information, (which was also under his directorship) to attempt to obtain actual totals, in the interest of accuracy and caution that bullet point can more accurately read as below.
I have also provided the corrected letter in full, which is attached.

"Director Vu oversaw a budget overrun for the 2006 elections in excess of 100% of the original 2006 election budget. Though totals have been difficult to determine from the election board's confused records and/or withholding of clear public information, overruns are estimated at more than $7M. This overrun included the necessary contracting with a former Cuyahoga County
elections director to assist director Vu’s management of the November 2006 election, at the approximate cost of $50,000."

Thank you,
Adele Eisner