Thursday, February 8, 2007

Say it ain't so

Black Box Voting is not supporting Rep. Rush Holt's bill he has said will fix the major problems with electronic voting. BBV is a national nonpartisan electronic voting watchdog group that broke most of the major news of fraud, including the timelines and networks among vote machine ownership.

Here are BBV's reasons:

1. DECEPTIVE LANGUAGE. Calls a paper TRAIL a paper BALLOT.

2. BILLION DOLLAR UNFUNDED MANDATE: Requires text conversion technology in every polling place. At $7000 per machine for 185,000 polling places, you do the math. See this article for documentation on the billion-dollar boondoggle:

The bill is not talking about scanner wands, folks. Or if it is, they'd better specify that, and soon! Except that apparently, it's too late to make changes.

Note that only two vendors currently manufacture the needed technology, and one (Populex) has as head of its advisory board Frank Carlucci, the former chairman of the Carlyle Group, former CIA director, who was Donald Rumsfeld's roommate in college. Every polling place in America. Is this really what you want? Isn't it time to read the fine print on this?

3. MAKES THE SCANDAL RIDDEN EAC A PERMANENT FIXTURE AND INCREASES ITS POWER. Alan Dechert, from the Open Voting Consortium says it best: "Holt contemplates the invasion of these United States by the Federal government. If passed, it would BREAK the voting system in the states while establishing a dictatorship to handle things: the Election Assistance Commission ("EAC" or just "the Commission") with its four commissioners appointed by the president of the United States." Bradblog on latest EAC scandal:


5. NO RECOGNITION OF CITIZEN RIGHT TO OVERSIGHT. Audit provisions do not allow either citizens or candidates access to any records for meaningful audits.

6. CONFLICTING REQUIREMENTS -- ie, must have text converters by 2008 and must study how to best do the conversions by 2010.

7. LANGUAGE ON DISCLOSED SOURCE CODE CONTAINS AN ERROR in that it doesn't deal with COTS - meaning, any electronics component with a chip on it would be required to disclose source code. There are literally hundreds of commercial off the shelf components in the system -- printers, video drivers, motherboard components -- that contain firmware, and these are manufactured all over the world. The bill would require Hitachi, Seagate, Fuji, Western Digital to open up their code for their commercial products if used in voting machines. Effectively eliminates the use of electronics while at the same time mandating electronics.

8. MUSH LANGUAGE. (Example: "The manufacturer shall provide the appropriate election official with the information necessary for the official to provide the information...")

9. UNREADABLE: People complain about their legislators not reading the bills -- well the way this is written, it guarantees they won't read it. No Appendix, so sections of the bill require the reader to actually go find a different bill and look up sections in it in order to make sense of the current bill. (example: "Section 301(a)(1) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15481(a)(1)) is amended (A) in subparagraph (A)(i), by striking "counted" and inserting "counted, in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (3)");

10. AUDIT PROTOCOLS NO ONE AGREES WITH, even fans of audit solutions

11. LOOPHOLE ALLOWING INTERNET CONNECTIONS for central tabulators and ballot definition software

12. LOOPHOLE ALLOWING MANUAL AUDITS TO BE BYPASSED states with computer-only recount protocols

13. LOOPHOLE ALLOWING MACHINE COUNT TO SUPERCEDE VOTER VERIFIED PAPER when fuzzily described circumstances arise. Los Angeles Registrar Conny McCormack already has tried to co-opt this (Feinstein senate hearing yesterday) into meaning when there is a printer jam damaging the paper, the machine count will trump.

14. SUPPORTS DREs (Touch-screens and other on-screen voting techniques that are NOT recommended by NIST)


Paul said...

This bill turned out much worse than expected. Unfortunately a couple larger organizations signed on to the hype before the bill came out and were committed, and now need to look for a way out instead of making execuses: PFAW, Common Cause and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The bill would put us two tiny steps forward and 8 leaps behind. In critical battleground states with machine recount statutes, the paper trails that Holt calls ballots will NEVER be counted at any time. The Holt bill is deceptive, in that certain parts that look good at first are nasty upon serious consideration.

Utility infielder said...

Do you think Holt or his staff knew these land mines were in the bill?

Bev Harris refers to this as too late to amend, but I still see at her site the bill from the last Congress. Can it carry over to the new Congress and not allow amendment?

Paul said...

Funny how HR 550 got worse when it turned into HR 811 in this session, but HR 550 was still no good in its original form: paper "trails" that hardly matter and fail when it really counts to do the job. Reform, pretending to do the job, that really keeps these monster secret vote counting machines that Congress refuses to admit was THEIR huge mistake and/or which THEY now want to use in their OWN re-elections. Kind of like proposing that one of your friends be allowed to go off in a room by herself to secretly count the votes for homecoming king and queen and telling everyone "it's all good" because some other person will get to audit 3% of the ballots. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I sat on a national nonprofit board of directors that counted votes for its leadership exactly that way. It *was* a joke, except not so much so for the constituency they were scamming. I got out after one term on advice of my lawyer! Hmmm.