Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Will Cuyahoga Voters be the First to Be Led from the Frying Pan into the Fire?

Film Below.
I saw it coming on November 21 at the CCBOE election certification meeting. It was apparent that talks were already going on between the SoS office and the CCBOE, about what to do about a system that has tabulators crashing on election night; a vendor who has to be pushed every step towards baby-steps of year's-lacking normal consumer responsibility... and this was still before the 20+% of the printer tapes were unreadable from the Diebold touchscreen machines, as found on the first day of CCBOE recounts.

But, what now seems Cuyahoga's bind to get a system that actually works before the March 2008 primary, while it definitely seems imperative for the reasons you'll hear Director Jane Platten express in the film below, must not be a reason to rush into yet another millions of dollars purchase of another round of hackable electronic machines made by irresponsible, private vendors, with their secret software!

Notice when Platten states that Diebld-Premier wanted to take our machines onto their premises to "analyze." Can you believe it? Whatever they "find" about the tabulator, and now the printers, which Mr. Riggall, the Diebold spokesman said they'll do in the aftermath of both failures, I'm sure that their report will reflect that it's all the CCBOE's and poll workers' fault.

When board member Rob Frost stated his agreement at the meeting, it seemed set that the conversations were already well on their way - including backing them with the SoS testing - which to date has included NO citizen oversight or input from selection of testers on down.

That means we, the voters, and taxpayers who will be forced to pay for and suffer under any NEW round of secretly, supposedly "certified" electronic voting systems - as we have since HAVA 2002, which got us to today's mess - from any of the same current, privately-held, money-hungry vendors - all of whom have electronic machines that can be hacked, and none of whom have sterling reputations - have again been left completely out of the equation. That is despite many professional efforts of election integrity advocates from even her selected and touted Voting Rights Institute,
"Advisory Panel" - from that Technology subgroup - to be able to see in and weigh in. The SoS office just put us off, until the clock ran out.

Before the public's (redacted) SoS testing reports will appear next week, however, involvement
has included: her selected BOE officials; some apparent conflicts of interests among the testers; some politicians; a lobbyist; the vendors and more. Therefore no matter what the testing reports say, even if they align to my own beliefs, bottom line, Brunner's testing process has been voter-untrustworthy, let alone not worthy of voter "confidence." Many hard questions still need to be asked and actually answered by Brunner's office. Much more about that to come in another post.

We cannot let
Brunner's obvious delay in decertification of touchscreens, or her beginning Ohio's testing until after the California report came out - which happened in September after THEIR top to bottom review, and upon which CA SoS Bowen decertified and stringently conditionally recertified many electronic system from all current major vendors; and has already based one $15 millon lawsuit against ES&S, - now cause any rush for anyone - to jump from one citizen-void frying pan, into another citizen void-fire.

any decisions are made - even for the Cuyahoga's BOE and moreso, for Cuyahoga's taxpayers and voters - there needs to be public input, lots of it, from local citizens. and nationwide election integrity advocates, who are truly experts on the four years of reports which seem presently to make Brunner's testing expensively redundant, at the least; or at most, as some suggest, a possible attempt to whitewash the damning facts brought out in California's report.

What I've come to only suspect is currently talked about for Cuyahoga between the SoS and the board, is hundreds of precinct-based Hart InterCivic Optical Scanners, with a high speed version at the board, and some touchscreens at the polls for handicapped accessibility. But just check out what California had to say about the Hart InterCivic systems they tested. (Any further information would be greatly appreciated from advocates - or boards - already using Hart. (, or post a comment at the end of this post.)
Some of the things I've read, have included their alignment with Accenture, the Bermuda-based company that arose from Anderson Consulting, which hit the dust with Enron in 2001. Their CEO is a former Accenture partner. I've also read from Hart op scan counties, that this former graphics company, has almost forced their op scan users to have Hart print their ballots in order for them to be properly read by their equipment; and that they've charged exorbitant amounts for that printing - like 33 cents a page in quantities of over 100,000! While that's great for their ongoing revenue, it's also an ongoing taxpayer fleecing.
Then there's also the no small matter of still a private, proprietary company controlling OUR elections; of still hackability, especially insider; of such things as getting actual warranties and a contract that demands responsibility or else (which were conveniently left out of Mr. Blackwell's statewide contract. One wonders, for what in return.
- And without "permitted" citizen oversight and approval into a whole process, one always has to suspect for what in return...)

Today's Columbus Dispatch article on the Cuyahoga topic, follows the film.

The CCBOE official statement about the 11/6 election, mentioned in the film above can be downloaded here.

Here was my reply, which as things move quickly, in retrospect could have been much stronger about no current vendors/no electronic voting machines:

Here's today's Columbus Dispatch article that deals with the same essential question. Will Cuyahoga voters be the first in Ohio to be pushed from a frying pan into an almost assured fire?

Cuyahoga County leery of touch screens
Wednesday, December 5, 2007 3:11 AM
By Mark Niquette

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is pushing officials in the state's largest county to decide soon whether they will use their touch-screen voting machines in the March 4 primary, enhance them or replace them with paper ballots.
"The last thing they should do is to have the decision made by default because they don't act," Brunner said yesterday.
What happens in Cuyahoga County matters statewide because determining a winner of the presidential race in Ohio next year could hinge on Cuyahoga's results.
Moreover, 46 other counties, including Fairfield and Licking, use the same touch-screen system from the former Diebold Election Systems, although officials in many other large counties said they're satisfied with the voting machines.
Recent elections in Cuyahoga County have been marred by myriad problems, including an unexplained server crash that delayed results in last month's general election. A reported 20 percent of paper receipts from the machines were unreadable in two recounts this month.
That was from an election with relatively light voter turnout, and the fear is the system won't be able to handle the expected crush of voters for next year's presidential election.
Although Cuyahoga County commissioners say they've lost confidence in the touch screens, questions remain about who would pay for any new system and whether it could be installed in time for smooth elections next year.
Elections officials also are awaiting the results of a top-to-bottom review of all the voting systems used in the state that Brunner requested to address any concerns about their security and reliability.
A final report from that study with recommendations is expected Dec. 14.
Speaking at an election conference Monday in Chicago, Brunner said she thinks it's possible there may be a decision in Cuyahoga County before then. But board Chairman Jeff
Hastings said yesterday the board still must discuss the matter.
Brunner also said if Cuyahoga switches to an optical-scan system, she thinks the only way it would work next year is if the ballots are counted by high-speed scanners at a central location such as the board offices.
But that's already drawing opposition from advocates who say ballots should be scanned in the precincts, reducing errors by notifying voters when they have voted for too many or too few candidates and giving them a second chance.
Dan Tokaji, an Ohio State University associate law professor who was part of a lawsuit challenging punch-card voting because of its error rate, said he thinks legal action is likely if Cuyahoga County switches to a central-count system.
"I think it would be a bad choice," he said.
Brunner thinks the switch would be legal if there is enough voter education, and that problems with the machines in Cuyahoga County largely are attributable to the size of the county.
A spokesman for Diebold Election Systems, now Premier Election Solutions, couldn't be reached yesterday. But company officials previously have said the machines work well in large areas in other states.
Election officials reached yesterday at several other Ohio counties that use the same touch screens said they have not had major problems.
"I'm extremely happy," said Jay Morrow, director of the Licking County Board of Elections.
As the 2008 election nears, the secretary of state is pressing the county to resolve voting-machine issues.

Copyright © 2007, The Columbus Dispatch


chriswilson said...

Why is it so hard for Ohio to look at new technology. Obviously Cuyahoga isn't going to move to hand counted paper ballots--no matter how wise that might be. Why not consider the vastly cheaper system using digital pens and paper. See for details. It's Ohio based and developed.

honest said...


I predict they'll get OS's with a central counter--Hart--or something

these tabulators are a good place to rig, don't you think?

any hope to stop fraud would be precinct tabulators--sheesh, aren't the machines set up for that anyway? POST at the precincts from the results from each OS--what's so hard about that?

Jason said...

Chris Wilson forgets to mention the digital pens is his Ohio based company.

At any rate last time I check it wasn't federally certified voting system and therefore irrelevant to discussion of CCBOE immediate needs.