Friday, February 24, 2006

Group Claims 2004 Election Was Flawed

AP: An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday.

Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, said the findings call into question the outcome of the presidential race. But county officials and the maker of the electronic voting machines strongly disputed that and took issue with the findings.

Voting problems would have had to have been widespread across the state to make a difference. President Bush won Florida -- and its 27 electoral votes -- by 381,000 votes in 2004. Overall, he defeated John Kerry by 286 to 252 electoral votes, with 270 needed for victory.

BlackBoxVoting.org, which describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizens group, said it found 70,000 instances in Palm Beach County of cards getting stuck in the paperless ATM-like machines and that the computers logged about 100,000 errors, including memory failures. (...)

Palm Beach County election officials said the BlackBoxVoting.com findings are flawed, and they blamed most of the errors on voters not following proper procedures.

"Their results are noteworthy for consideration, but in a majority of instances they can be explained," said Arthur Anderson, the county's elections supervisor. "All of these circumstances are valid reasons for concern, but they do not on face value substantiate that the machines are not reliable."

Sequoia spokeswoman Michelle Shafer disputed the findings, saying the company's machines worked properly. Sequoia's machines are used in five Florida counties and in 21 states.

"There was a fine election in November 2004," Shafer said
...(more)
While the AP story is noteworthy in itself, the attempts to downplay Bev Harris' findings are disturbing. When will the press realize there isn't always 2 truthful sides to every issue? Giving partisan liars a chance to have a say without questioning them is not journalism, it's partisan hackery.

Let's take a look at what problems Bev Harris actually uncovered and you decide whether the AP reported it fairly or not.

Palm Beach 2004 Votes Time-Stamped Middle of the Night, Date-stamped 2 Weeks Early

The internal logs of at least 40 Sequoia touch-screen voting machines reveal that votes were time and date-stamped as cast two weeks before the election, sometimes in the middle of the night.

Black Box Voting successfully sued former Palm Beach County (FL) Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore to get the audit records for the 2004 presidential election.

After investing over $7,000 and waiting nine months for the records, Black Box Voting has discovered that the voting machine logs contain approximately 100,000 errors. Out of 4,313 voting machines, the logs show 1,475 voting system calibrations while the polls were open, providing documentation to substantiate reports of vote-flipping by citizens who were told this was due to "calibration problems."

Another disturbing find was several dozen voting machines with votes for the Nov. 2, 2004 election cast on dates like Oct. 16, 15, 19, 13, 25, 28 2004 and one tape dated in 2010. These machines did not contain any votes date-stamped on Nov. 2, 2004.

You can find the complete set of
raw voting machine event logs for Palm Beach County here: Note that some items were not provided and are ommitted from the logs.

The logs rule out the possibility that these were Logic & Accuracy (L&A) test results, and verified that these results did appear in the final totals. In addition to the date discrepancies, most had incorrect polling times, with votes appearing throughout the wee hours of the night. These machines were L&A tested, and the L&A test activities appeared in the logs with the correct date and time
...(more)

I suppose it's nice to see this get some nationwide attention, but after reading Bev's take, I don't think the AP gave the issue a fair shake at all. It sounds like 2 completely different stories altogether.

There have now been so many documented instances of built in flaws and vulnerabilities, and instances of ethical problems associated with electronic voting machine companies, that it should be front page news every day until the problems are properly dealt with. Instead, these stories get mediocre local media attention if any at all, and the voting machine industry takes full advantage of it. For example, check this from Bev's BBV.org. Do you think a fair and honest press would let something like this go under their radar?
As California goes, so goes the nation. While a $4 billion company and the California secretary of state flaunt the law, an honest citizen is charged with a felony and may face jail time. His crime? Releasing documents describing Diebold's criminal acts.

We will release a full story on the courageous Steve Heller shortly. You could not ask for a more pure and honest whistleblower. This is a man who saw something that he knew was wrong, and made sure it got to authorities. Soon after his documents got to the California secretary of state and to the California attorney general, then-sec. state Kevin Shelley decertified Diebold and recommended criminal prosecution of Diebold.

THE ONLY PERSON PROSECUTED, HOWEVER...

The only one who was prosecuted is a quiet honest citizen who made sure the documents reached authorities. It is now two years later. The Los Angeles County District Attorney has waited until the attention was off the election to quietly prosecute Steve Heller.

While
Steve Heller is charged with felonies for (a) looking at a computer screen [no kidding, that's the charge] and (b) making a copy, and (c) having said copy delivered to the authorities, the new Calif. secretary of state is engaging in a frightening pattern of ignoring the law.

This situation, as well as the situation that follows, has implications for all of America. If these behaviors -- and retaliatory consequences -- are allowed to stand, our nation will, sooner or later, be torn apart at the seams
...(more)

Or how about California's Secretary of State Bruce McPherson recent attempt to illegally recertify Diebold voting machines?

CA State Senator Says Diebold Re-Certification in Violation of State Law!

California State Senator Debra Bowen, chairwoman of the State Elections, Reapproprionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee has just released a statement of condemnation for Sec. of State Bruce McPherson's recent re-certification of Diebold voting machines in the state...(more)

Thank goodness BBV.org and Bradblog stay on top of this. What other national news is really more important than voting machine companies with partisan ties and proven history of bribing elections officials and producing systems that have known vulnerabilities that can manipulate our elections? Little local news stories and blogs just aint cutting it. This should be front page WaPo, NYT and lead story CNN & MSNBC material.

(related posts)
PA News Takes a Look At Voting Machines
Election Hackers ♥ Diebold
More Evidence of a Stolen Election
Evidence of Ohio 2004 Vote Miscount
Again, Al Gore Won in 2000
Ohio Rep. Bob Ney, Abramoff, and Election Fraud
Counting on Diebold
NYT: The Business of Voting
Video: Voting Machines Hacked?
Powerful Government Accountability Office report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings
Did you know? 20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA

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