Sunday, February 26, 2006

One Hundred Thousand Alleged Florida Voting Machine Errors in 2004 Presidential Race

La Times Article is Here
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 discovered that the voting machine logs contained approximately 100,000 errors. According to voting machine assignment logs, Palm Beach County used 4,313 machines in the Nov. 2004 election. During election day, 1,475 voting system calibrations were performed while the polls were open, providing documentation to substantiate reports from citizens indicating the wrong candidate was selected when they tried to vote.

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 to us 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.

According to the voting machine assignment log, these machines were not assigned to early voting locations. The number of votes on each machine also corresponds with the numbers typical of polling place machines rather than early voting.

Many of these machines showed unexplained log activity after the L&A test but before Election Day. In addition, many more machines without date anomalies showed this log activity, which revealed someone powering up the machine, opening the program, then powering it down again. In one instance, the date discrepancy appeared when someone accessed the machine two minutes after the L&A test was completed.

Voting machines are computers, and computers have batteries that can cause date and time discrepancies, but it does not appear that these particular discrepancies could have been caused by battery problems.

The evidence indicates that someone accessed the computers after the L&A and before the election, and that this access caused a change in the machine's reporting functions, at least for date and time. Such access would take a high degree of inside access. It is not known whether any other changes were introduced into the voting machines at this time. As learned in the Hursti experiments, it is possible for an insider to access the machines and leave no trace, but sometimes a hasty or clumsy access (such as forgetting to enter a correct date/time value when altering a record) will leave telltale tracks.

For another example of time discrepancies, see the
Volusia County poll tapes

Approximately 4,000 votes were cast on these machines. The vote pattern and activity pattern appears to be identical to typical patterns found on Election Day -- All votes on the discrepant machines were spread over a 12-hour period, the length of time the Florida polls are open.

A member of the Palm Beach County electronic voting technical committee asked for the names of the technicians for Palm Beach who had access to the machines during that time, but the IT person, Jeff Darter, remained silent and never answered the question.

The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Arthur Anderson, said that his staff had looked into the problem and that the votes were normal, it's just that the dates somehow changed.

Other anomalies (Anomaly info)

"Card Stuck" error: Occured at least 70,000 times.

The logs show that these cards were placed in the machine (which normally "swallows" the card like old-fashioned ATM machines, holding the card inside until the voting activites are complete, then ejecting it). The logs show that the card was authenticated, indicating that the machine believed the card was valid and had retrieved the appropriate ballot. Just before the vote was cast, the "card stuck" error appeared.

According to Michelle Shafer, who is now the spokesperson for Sequoia Voting Systems, a card stuck error stuck error appears "any time an activation card makes contact with the activator in the electronic voting unit and comes back out. This happens for the following reasons:

• A voter does not push the card all the way in so it comes back out
• A voter inserts the card again after having already used it to vote once...
• A voter inserts the card backwards
• The card actually gets stuck in the machine (not typical)

Previously, a Sequioa rep attributed the card stuck error to jiggling the card while it is inserted, however that doesn't seem to hold up since it would take a pair of tweezers and considerable manual dexterity to jiggle it.

As to putting the card in backwards or upside down, the message that normally appears is probably the "invalid card insertion" message. Because of the high number of these errors, and because no reports were produced indicating that any voters had reported the card popping out while they were trying to vote, Black Box Voting recommended to Palm Beach that testing should be done to replicate the error, making sure that the explanation holds water and that there is no adverse impact on the vote.

A member of the Committee asked whether a testing day could be set up, but Jeff Darter again sat silent, and despite some prodding, no such testing appears to be on the horizon.

AC Power Off Incidents Any of us who use computers know that it is not a good idea to yank the power from your machine while you are entering mission-critical data, especially without a backup. (The Palm Beach voting machines lack voter verified paper trails.)

Dozens of voting machines were turned off during the middle of the election while the polls were open. Machine # 6359 in precinct 1036 was powered down 128 times during the election.

Other power-related issues included "Main Battery not charging" and "backup battery too low".

"Unknown event" messages

A handful of machines showed "unknown event" messages, apparently of different kinds. This is an interesting error message, since the FEC guidelines frown on undefined exceptions. What is the point of having an error message if you don't reveal anything about what the error is?

Machine number 5875 in Precinct 1077 showed two different "unknown errors," listing them as "unknown error 219" and "unknown error 220."

auto-act election info bad and "auto-act write ver fail" messages also show up in the logs, with the "election info bad" message appearing hundreds of times.

Card encryption bad and Card read fail errors also appeared, with the encryption error message the more frequent of the two.

Polls closed and results report messages would be expected to appear on every voting machine at the end of the voting cycle, but these revealed problems with poll worker training and procedures at the administrative/training level. Some logs reported one report printed, some two, three, four or five, and several not only had no results tape printed but showed no closing of the polls. (Closing the polls tells the voting machine not to accept any more votes).

Simulation not sim task was a message that offered no ready explanation, and another that left us wondering was the "Maint Official AT Report" error. Call a maintenance official? Maintain an official AT report?

SyErr 23: RC/AT Verify
and Sys Err 31: Vote Not Rec 1 imply a system error of some type, at least one of which would affect the vote.

EEPROM failure
Now this is a message you don't want to see on a voting machine. It happened a couple dozen times. It is somewhat akin to seeing a "hard disk failure" message on your computer -- not a good thing at all if you are in the process of entering critical time-sensitive data.

The logs indicate that poll workers used significantly different operating procedures from one place to another. One of the least desirable actions some poll workers were taking was to perform multiple calibrations on the machines during the day, every few hours.

Hundreds of records were simply missing, not provided at all, making it impossible to complete a formal audit.

After meeting with the authorities to determine protocols about releasing the detailed report, Black Box Voting plans to publish a detail report giving full log details on the 40 machines accessed by an insider.

Sequoia machines - locations

Sequoia touch-screens are also used in Pinellas County (FL), Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Clara countis (CA), New Mexico, New Jersey, and formerly in Snohomish County (WA).

A sampling of Palm Beach precincts with votes appearing on wrong date/time

Precinct 3066 machine #8438 counted Oct. 15
Precinct 3068 machine #8490 Counted Oct. 28
Precinct 3086 machine #8316 counted Oct 14
Precinct 2132 machine #7441 counted Oct. 15
Precinct 6006 machine #7914 counted Oct. 14
Precinct 6018 machine #7877 counted Oct. 14
Precinct 4068 machine #8997 counted Oct. 16
Precinct 5142 machine #9724 counted Oct 18
Precinct 2072 machine #6848 counted Oct. 15
Precinct 4140 machine #9289 counted Oct. 17
Precinct 4084 machine #8101 counted Oct. 17

Friday, February 24, 2006

I love a good race

I've been following California's 11th district Congressional race which looks to be at least as interesting as Tom Delay's . Richard Pombo, who authored and introduced legislation to sell off 10% of our national parks and legislation seeking to gut the Endangered Species Act and took money from Jack Abramoff, is currently up for reelection. His attack on public lands, endangered species, and apparent lack of scruples so roused the ire of former Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey that Mr McCloskey, one of the original authors of the ESA, came out of retirement to run against him.
I'm pretty certain that if Mr McCloskey were about 30 years younger he'd be a shoo in.
Check out the credentials:
Former Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County
Former President of the Palo Alto Bar Association
Taught Legal Ethics and Political Science at both at Stanford and Santa Clara Universities
He has written four books: Guide to Professional Conduct for New Practitioners, California State Bar (1961); The U.S. Constitution, BRL (1961); Truth and Untruth, Simon & Shuster (1971); and The Taking of Hill 610, Eaglet Books, (1992).
As a Marine Second Lieutenant, Mr. McCloskey received the Navy Cross and Silver Star for heroism and two Purple Hearts for wounds received in action as a Marine rifle platoon leader in the Korean War. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1974 with the rank of Colonel.

Additionally he was the first to call for the impeachment of Nixon and ran against him.

Honestly, can we clone the guy (-30 years) and run him in Texas ?
One thing is for sure. If the Dems manage to get the Navy Veteran Steve Filson onto the Ballot
Pombo is going to be in serious trouble. And that'll make me happy. Because if Pombo wins the real loser will be the people.

Yay me!

So I got the Sierra Club newsletter and it lists their agenda for the year. And guess what is numero uno on their list? Adequate funding for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Association. I take all of the credit. And if someone else tries to take credit, I'll pirate the credit. Just me and my trusty band of Buckanears! Arrr matey!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Big Brother 2.0 or Who else is reading your email?

Here's a disturbing article about how the Government will spider blogs, web site content, and email looking for keywords and patterns to flag as possible terrorist activity:

The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity. The system - parts of which are operational, parts of which are still under development - is already credited with helping to foil some plots. It is the federal government's latest attempt to use broad data-collection and powerful analysis in the fight against terrorism. But by delving deeply into the digital minutiae of American life, the program is also raising concerns that the government is intruding too deeply into citizens' privacy.

Full article

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

This blog will self destruct in 5 seconds...

I could be talking about the Cheney shooting and have a spiffy title like "Dead Eye D1ck Rides Again!" but frankly that's too easy and relatively unimportant in the overall scheme of things.

The wiretapping inquiry has begun and I for one am very curious as to what is going to happen. Why, because this is the first time since 9/11 that anyone that mattered has challenged the abuse of surveillance that's been going on for years. And until recently the only place one could read about it was in the indie media. The funny thing is that the administration may actually be in the right this time (no pun intended) However there have been enough abuses in the past that W is going to be taken to task for this decision.

If you'll check out this link you'll find out that once again govt has been spying on the Quakers.
They've also been spying on college peace activists and gays. Question: At what point in time have the Quakers ever been a threat? They've protested every war America has ever been in. Our Oatmeal loving Bretheren are the Brotherhood of Peace after. Have the Quakers EVER blown up anything or assassinated anyone? Nope. It was a waste of public time, money, and effort. I mean we could have been surveilling someone really dangerous like Michael Jackson.

If you look at the list of groups spied on and couple that with those groups that have complained about Patriot Act abuses what it really shows is an "If you not with us your against us." mentality in this administration. And that's scary. Because Americans aren't required to support anything ever.

The last thing America needs is for any administration of any political affiliation to have that sort of attitude. Its highly counter productive. Think about it. Every 4 to 8 years the NRA or ACLU would infiltrated depending on which party is in power. Where's the sense in that? The "war on terror" shouldn't be reduced to an excuse to spy on your political opponents supporters.

So should the President be taken to task for wiretapping? Yes. A message needs to be sent to both political parties and all future presidents. We aren't taking that kind of crap. We aren't quite that complacent.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

State of the Union Redressed

This amused me greatly:

Imported from another blog

And so, without further ado, the political-speak to snark translation of the State of the Union, or as I prefer to think of it this year: State of the Union: Seriously?!

BUSH: Dick, Denny, Congresscritters, minions of mine on the Supreme Court, distinguished guests, diplomat-types…

DIPLOMATS: *wake up* Huh? Why are we getting a shout-out?

BUSH: And the rest of America who is just tuning into the fact that I'm on pretty much every channel that's not showing American Idol. And frankly it's a coin toss to decide which option is more painful.

Anyway, tonight we have to rearrange my State of the Union opening because Coretta Scott King died today and if I don't mention it I'm a cold callous bastard. So let's all give a round of applause to Coretta Scott King, who's been reunited with her husband Martin Luther King, Jr., now, okay?

CONGRESS: *standing ovation*

BUSH: Now that that's out of the way, back to my speech. Every time I come up to this rostrum—see, I know it's called a rostrum now. Thanks, Denny, for that word-a-day calendar for Christmas—I'm humbled in an incredibly unhumble way. We've gathered together in this Capitol for times of national tragedy and of great achievement. I can't think of when the achievement was, but I've been assured that we've had some by my handlers, so I'm just going to press on here. But the important thing is that I've been there for these last six years. It's all about me. Yup. None of the 200 plus years of achievement that have occurred in the Capitol matter before me. It's all about me tonight.

CONGRESS: Oh God. It's going to be unbearable tonight, isn't it? *gets out crossword puzzles early*

The whole shebang

Thursday, February 02, 2006

State of the Union Distress

I have great difficulty watching W's state of the union addresses. Generally speaking ten minutes into it I start having to choke down the urge to yell at the TV like I'm watching a football game that I have bet money on. (Not that I bet on football games. ) On the flip side I can read them without that urge. I do snort and growl a lot.

There are a few points I'd like to make in response to it though.

1: We'd be alot better off in Iraq the whole show had been run by someone other than Donald "I didn't learn crap from Viet Nam and I know better than my Generals" Rumsfeld

2: Medical liability reform is a states rights issue. Many states have already made such reforms and this proposal goes against the GOP's stated value's of less govt interference, smaller govt, and less federal laws.

3: Advanced Energy Initiative I support in part. It took long enough. However there is one problem with it. Ethanol. Ethanol is nothing more than a soft farm subsidy. Why is that? Because the amount of energy needed to produce, manufacture, and deliver it are greater than the energy savings it brings. Until the nation has enough clean electricity, combines using biodiesel, and semi trucks that are either hybrid, running on biodiesel or both (the company that invents that engine will be laughing all the way to the bank) ethanol will remain inefficient.

4: No Child Left Behind act I'd feel alot better about that act if it didn't cause schools to cater to the least common denominator rather than actually push all of its students to new levels. Plus theres the fact that the same act allows military recruiters to contact your children without your permission. You can opt out though.

Thats it. Those are my major problems with this address. I could probably go on and on about how poorly the war has been run but then this blog be like so many others. And thats no fun.