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GuvWurld Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-12-09 06:09 AM
Original message
Funding Frozen For Proposed Humboldt Voting Machine Switch
Originally blogged at We Do Not Consent:

Funding Frozen For Proposed Humboldt Voting Machine Switch
By Dave Berman

According to the agenda, this Tuesday the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal from Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich, who seeks approval for the purchase of Hart InterCivic eScan optical scanners to replace the similar Diebold/Premier equipment used to "count" votes here since 1995. Linked from the agenda is a 22 page .pdf called Voting Modernization Project Plan Phase II. From page two:
Because of the current fiscal crisis in the State of California, the voting Modernization Bond funds designated to cover this project were frozen by the State Treasurer on December 19, 2008. We will return to your Board for change order and funding plan approval once the funding plan is developed and approved by the Secretary of State. The delay in obtaining these funds should not impact the approval of the concept of this plan.
As previously reported at WDNC, the Registrar has created a sense of urgency around this proposal (reinforced by quotes in a Eureka Times-Standard Sunday cover story that is oddly absent from the paper's website). But how can she expect the Supes to hurry up and approve a proposal for a purchase requiring funds that are not currently available and which would be based on a contract that has not been made public? Further calling this urgency into question, from page 6 of the same agenda attachment:
Because there is currently no county-wide election scheduled until November 2009, full implementation of the system will be possible before the next election.
One other quick point about this implementation plan. On page 9 it calls for "sleepovers," a period of two days prior to the election when precinct inspectors will have the eScans in their private possession. This is despite myriad warnings, even in the California Secretary of State's own Top To Bottom Review of Hart voting systems. From that report:
Conclusion (p.16):
Although the Red Team did not have time to finish exploits for all of the vulnerabilities we discovered, nor to provide a complete evaluation of the Hart voting system (System 6.2.1 {now proposed for Humboldt}), we were able to discover attacks for the Hart system that could compromise the accuracy, secrecy, and availability of the voting systems and their auditing mechanisms. That is, the Red Team has developed exploits that absent procedural mitigation strategies can alter vote totals, violate the privacy of individual voters, make systems unavailable, and delete audit trails.
No procedural mitigation defeats unfettered access to machines that can be undetectably manipulated. In addition, deletion of audit trails occurred in this past November's election, as revealed by the Election Transparency Project (ETP). Volunteer Parke Bostrom commented on this in a quote previously posted here at WDNC and also found in this December 8 article at
Th is means the audit log is not truly a "log" in the classical computer program sense, but is rather a "re-imagining" of what GEMS would like the audit log to be, based on whatever information GEMS happens to remember at the end of the vote counting process.
Bostrom is referring to the Diebold central tabulation program responsible for the 197 secretly deleted ballots, though the point is the same with Hart's equipment. Beyond undetectable manipulation, the system can cover its tracks, destroying assurances of built-in memory redundancies and making a mockery of logic and accuracy testing.

The We Do Not Consent blog on Friday posted an announcement from the Humboldt County Republican Party that it has adopted a resolution in support of a public discussion process prior to a vote by the Supervisors on Crnich's proposal. In Sunday's (so far) print-only T-S article, Eureka City Councilman Larry Glass adds, "I think that's an issue that I'd like to see get some more public dialogue, and I'm going to try to make a point of contacting the supervisors and expressing that." Another member of the Council assured me he will attend Tuesday's Supes meeting to make this point in person.

The Voter Confidence Committee, which I co-founded nearly four years ago, distributed an e-mail newsletter on Sunday evening encouraging supporters to attend Tuesday's meeting, or at least to call Supervisors with some or all of the following messages:
--We want and are entitled to have a choice and a say in how we count our votes;

--This plan calls for $600,000+ of public money to be spent, and any expense this size deserves careful public scrutiny;

--Prior to voting on the proposed plan, the responsible thing is for the Supervisors to invite the public to participate in the decision making process;

--In any case, there is no reason to rush this decision as the funds for this purchase have been frozen by the State Treasurer;

--The proposed replacement equipment are still secret corporate vote counting machines (a "false alternative");

--State-sponsored reviews of the proposed replacement machines have revealed many problems; we do not want to repeat the past mistake of investing in flawed technology despite knowing of the risks and warnings;

--The manufacturer of the replacement machines has withdrawn from the federal certification process, meaning no software or security updates of any kind will be possible, and no newer versions will be available.
There has been other recent media coverage of this developing story. In the third hour of Friday's Peter B. Collins show, I spoke with PBC and Brad Friedman about the day old announcement of a second discrepancy found by the ETP, showing 57 ballots were scanned twice into the official certified results.

After a commercial break (edited out of linked recording), we got into discussing Tuesday's upcoming Supes meeting and were then joined by a surprise phone call from Crnich. She has appeared on PBC's show many times before, and this is not the first time she has called in immediate response to my presence on the show. There was an unusually long and uninterrupted segment where Friedman challenges Crnich in ways that just have to be heard, including telling her flat out in the end that she should slow down and allow more public input. Overall, I come on the show at about 16:30 into the recording; Crnich joins around the 24 minute mark.

Finally, borrowed from the VCC newsletter, a summary of recent related links:

North Coast Journal, 12/4/08, Election Results: Wrong

Eureka Times-Standard, 12/5/08, Software glitch yields inaccurate election results (archive)

Eureka Times-Standard, 12/7/08, Local elections office commended (archive)

Eureka Times-Standard (editorial), 12/7/08, A glitch that should never have been (archive)

Wired, 12/8/08, Serious Error in Diebold Voting Software Caused Lost Ballots in California County

Wired, 12/8/08, Unique Transparency Program Uncovers Problems with Voting Software

Eureka Times-Standard (Letter to the editor), 12/10/08, Who Dares Defend Diebold? (archive)

We Do Not Consent blog, 12/17/08, Humboldt's False Alternative to Diebold

North Coast Journal (Letter to the editor), 12/18, Has Humboldt Hit a Tipping Point? /

Eureka Times-Standard, 12/22/08, Registrar of Voters considers dumping equipment (archive)

Eureka Times-Standard, 12/29/08, Federal election commission eyes Humboldt (archive)

We Do Not Consent blog, 12/6/09, Exclusive: Humboldt's Secret Hart Attack

We Do Not Consent blog, 12/9/09, Humboldt Republicans Call For Public Discussion of Proposed Voting Machine Switch

Eureka Times-Standard, 1/10/09, New error found in county election results (archive)

Eureka Times-Standard (Editorial), 1/11/09, Thank you, Humboldt County Transparency Project (archive)

* * *

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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-12-09 10:50 AM
Response to Original message
1. hadn't Crnich planned all along to switch to Hart?
oh and great job by the way, getting some public into the decision making process.

Exactly when did Crnich make the decision to purchase Hart, and where is the correspondence
between her office and Hart?

Slowing down is good, no point in spending more money on just another lemon.

Looking forward to what you guys do next.

Atta go!
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GuvWurld Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-12-09 03:21 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. unknown
at this point, because the election advisory committee is so informal and there are no minutes kept, questions of dates remain uncertain

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GuvWurld Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-12-09 03:23 PM
Response to Original message
3. Sunday's cover story now online (archive)

Elections staff looks to dump equipment

Thadeus Greenson / The Times-Standard

Posted: 01/11/2009 10:04:11 AM PST

A divorce seems imminent for the Humboldt County Elections Office and the vendor that supplies the bulk of its election hardware and software. But, the county's next sweetheart is the topic of some debate.

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is set to decide Tuesday whether to approve a proposal from County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich to dump the bulk of its current Premier Elections Solutions election equipment in favor of those crafted by Hart InterCivic. The proposal calls for the county to purchase new optical scan machines and vote tabulating software from Hart for a total of more than $600,000, all of which would come from state and federal programs and none of which would come out of county coffers.

While almost everyone supports dropping the Premier equipment that contains a programming flaw that caused the disappearance of almost 200 votes from the county's final November election results, some say Crnich's proposal is simply trading one flawed technology for another.

Further, some argue that the public hasn't had adequate time to weigh in on Crnich's proposal, which, if approved, will likely dictate how county elections are conducted for years to come.

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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-12-09 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Hart Intercivic problems in the news per Voters Unite
they only have up through 2006, but its enough to make your hair stand on end.

And here's from 2007-2008 from their database, you might be able to set up your own file.

Date Problem Type State

11/22/2008 Malfeasance KY Hart InterCivic Harp Enterprises president, Roger Baird, told the Kentucky Board of Elections that nearly 100 counties that use Harp Enterprises to maintain and program their eSlate voting machines violated state law by NOT testing the machines before the election. He pointed out that Kenton County's misprogramming would have been detected by the pre-election tests required by state law. Story Archive

11/5/2008 Machine malfunction CO Hart InterCivic Boulder County. Ballots are scanned by a Kodak scanner and the images are read by the tabulation system. The system was misreading some ballots because of a vertical streak on the image. The county speculates that this streak was caused by dust on the ballots, possibly coming from the creases after the mail-in ballots were folded. Story Archive Story2 Archive2
Note: This problem also occurred in Yakima County, WA in 2004. Story

11/4/2008 Machine malfunction KY Hart InterCivic Kenton County. The Kenton County Board of Elections has halted voting on the eSlate electronic voting machines (supplied and maintained by Harp Election Services) because they are not properly recording straight-ticket voting. Voters complained that straight-ticket voting in the State Senate race between Republican incumbent Jack Westwood and Democrat Kathy Groob was not being counted. Story Archive
Update: A judge ordered the county to shut down 108 eSlate machines. The malfunctions could affect the tightly contested state Senate race. Story Archive Story2

Update 11/9/08: Poll workers had continued to allow voters to use the machines so the county had to separate out the straight party votes. In an unusual display of accountability, Harp Election Services accepted responsibility for misprogramming the machines, and Kenton County Clerk Rodney Eldridge accepted responsibility for not checking the operation of the straight-party selections on the machine before the election. Story Archive

11/4/2008 Poor design TX Hart InterCivic Reported to VotersUnite: Even though I know better than to vote a straight-party option, I selected straight-party Democratic on the eSlate electronic voting machine in Precinct 60. All the Democratic candidates were selected. Then I deselected the straight-party option, but all the Democratic candidates remained selected.
I then attempted to remove the Democratic selections by hitting the LIBERTARIAN PARTY straight ticket selection. That worked. Now I was voting only for Libertarians. I could find NO WAY to NOT vote for one of the straight ticket choices (Dem, Rep, Libertarian) once I had first selected any straight ticket. Even if all three straight ticket options were unchecked.

I asked the pollworker to give me a clean slate, and erase everything. He looked around (I know he has worked elections before), shrugged and said, no, I would have to go through and just uncheck all the selections.

10/30/2008 Wrong ballot TX Hart InterCivic Galveston County. More than 100 voters in Santa Fe may have been given the code for the wrong ballot during the first two days of early voting. The mistake could call into question the validity of the outcome of the local school districts $65 million bond proposals. Story Archive

10/29/2008 Machine malfunction TX Hart InterCivic Galveston County. Vote-flipping on the eSlate electronic voting machine. Straight-party Democratic vote switched to Republican presidential candidate. Story Archive

10/26/2008 Machine malfunction TX Hart InterCivic Brazoria County. Vote-flipping on the eSlate electronic voting machines. Straight-party vote flipped the vote for president. In other cases, a straight-party vote didn't select the president. Story Archive
One voter selected straight-party Democratic, then selected Obama for President separately, and McCain was selected instead. Story2 Archive2

10/22/2008 Machine malfunction TN Hart InterCivic Knox County. The eSlate electronic voting machine displays only the first three letters of the selected candidate's name on the review screen. So, people voting for Obama found that the review screen said they voted for "Electors for BAR". This is particularly egregious since another candidate for president is Bob Barr, so voters aren't sure who they are voting for. Story Archive

10/21/2008 Deceptive practices TX Hart InterCivic Travis County (Austin). A "poll cat" gave misinformation to voters, telling them that if they vote a straight-party ticket, they must also then select their Presidential candidate. Actually, doing this will deselect the Presidential candidate. Story Archive

10/20/2008 Machine malfunction TX Hart InterCivic Harris County (Houston). Vote-flipping on the eSlate. Some voters voted straight-ticket Democrat then discovered that the electronic voting machines indicated they had voted for John McCain in the presidential contest. Story Archive Story2 Archive2

7/10/2008 Poor design TX Hart Intercivic The Democratic party is charging that the eSlate electronic voting machines dont count some votes when voters cast a straight-party ballot. A spokesman for the party said voters have selected the straight party option, and then selects the candidate again in an emphasis vote, which really deselects the candidate on the ballot. According to a release by the Texas Democratic Party, they believe the problem has changed the outcome of at least one Texas election. Story Archive Story2

5/19/2008 Machine malfunction TX Hart InterCivic Cass County. Flawed ballot programming from Hart InterCivic allowed voters who were not in District 1 to vote for the District 1 city council seat. Although only 41 residents of District 1 were signed in to vote, the number of combined votes received by the District 1 candidates was 198. The only way to remedy the situation is to have one of the candidates file suit to have the election overturned. Story Archive

2/27/2008 Machine malfunction TX Hart InterCivic Travis County (Austin). eSlates were not "connected to the system" and had to be rebooted after one voter noticed an error message telling her "Reconnect to system to record vote." Story Archive

2/17/2008 Machine malfunction CO Hart InterCivic Testing discovered that the eScan optical scanner continues to have the problem that led to its initial decertification in the State. It fails to detect and count marks on the ballot consistently, leading to inaccurate results. Story Archive Colorado Voting Systems Testing Board Report

2/5/2008 Wrong ballot IL Hart InterCivic Peoria County. "A handful" of voters in Peoria, Illinois received the wrong electronic ballots, with only federal candidates, not local ones. These were intended for people who moved within 30 days of the election. However, people who had not moved got the ballots, apparently due to election judge error. "What happened in the situation this morning was that the judge just pushed the wrong button and issued the wrong access code and, even though they're trained, did not look to see that it was a federal only ballot."
Also, 15-minute power outages resulted in some voters using emergency paper ballots to vote and re-booting of electronic voting machines. Story Archive

2/2/2008 Wrong ballot IL Hart InterCivic Kane County. The wrong electronic ballot was loaded into the eSlate voting machine for at least one voter. He accidentally cast his ballot before he realized he had not been able to vote on local races. Story Archive

11/14/2007 Wrong ballot TX Hart InterCivic Harris County (Houston). Incomplete ballots appeared on the eSlate electronic voting machines in three early voting precincts, thus denying voters their votes on a tax proposal. Though election day voters were given the correct ballots, the article says "it was too late to have those votes recorded on the main computer." So, the county technician hacked into the computer and changed the totals to include the votes from election day. John R. Behrman, a computer expert and longtime election observer representing the Democratic Party, astutely pointed out, "Basically it turns out, without regard to any ballots that have been cast, you can enter arbitrary numbers in there and report them out in such a way that, unless you go back to these giant (computer) logs and interpret the logs, you wouldn't know it has been done." Story Archive

11/7/2007 Machine malfunction OH Hart InterCivic Hamilton County. Some of the memory chips (probably "memory cards") from the eScan optical scanners were "giving false readings." Story Archive

11/7/2007 Machine malfunction PA Hart InterCivic Bedford County. eScan optical scanners weren't recognizing the ballots. It took most of the day to resolve the programming problem. Story Archive
11/6/2007 Machine malfunction PA Hart InterCivic Bedford County. None of the eScan optical scanning machines were working at any of the polling places. "Election commissioner Peg Koenig planned to visit all 40 precincts in the county to reprogram machines." Story Archive

6/19/2007 Machine malfunction PA Hart InterCivic Bedford County. "Peg Koenig, director of elections in Bedford County, said there was a memory card problem in voting machines on Election Day. Koenig said the Northern Bedford County School District had a massive write-in campaign that was much larger than expected. She said the memory cards in the e-scan voting machines became so full that the machines spit the ballots out." Commissioner Mike Shaffer lost the Republican primary by eight votes to Michael Herline. The entire Republican primary election results will be recounted. The article suggests that the ballots will be recounted by machine. Story Archive

5/16/2007 Machine malfunction PA Hart InterCivic Blair County. eSlate e-voting machines. "Palmer Brown went to vote early Tuesday at the Catfish District of Blair Township, the Reservoir Church, the voting machines were not working. The only thing that came up when he tried to cast his ballot was 'old election data.' " Story Archive

5/15/2007 Machine malfunction TX Hart InterCivic Denton County. "The county's voting machines were programmed to print the totals by precinct because of the amendment, but it didn't give totals for Flower Mound's two council races, two alcohol propositions and 10 charter amendments." Story Archive

more at
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