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Brad Friedman

Brad Friedman

Posted: October 31, 2008 02:50 PM

Vote-Flipping Diebold Machine Removed, Quarantined in CO


Karen Long, Adams County Clerk Takes Action After Voter Sees Vote Flip Repeatedly to Republican Candidate in State With Long History of E-Voting Failures

Watchdog Group Issues Press Release Calling for No 'Recalibration', Immediate Removal, Impounding of Such Machines...

A county clerk in Colorado has finally done the right thing for the voters by removing a touch-screen voting machine from service, and quarantining it, after it was discovered to be flipping votes from one candidate to another. The failed machine in this case was a Diebold Accu-Vote, a frequent flipper.

As reported by the Colorado Independent (Hat-tip VoterAction.org)...

An electronic voting machine in Adams County repeatedly failed to accept a vote for a Democratic state Senate candidate - instead registering the vote for her Republican opponent - at an early voting site last week and has been removed from service, the Aurora Sentinel reports Wednesday. Adams County Clerk and Recorder Karen Long told the newspaper the error doesn't reflect wider problems in the county's voting systems, but the candidate said the incident could lead to a lawsuit.

"I always just trusted the machines, and it opened my eyes," said state Rep. Mary Hodge. "The way it works now, I'm told ... is that those votes throw it to Mr. Hadfield that we'll probably have a lawsuit and a court decision. We'll have to wait and see."

Hodge, the Democratic nominee, faces Republican Robert John Hadfield in the race to represent state Senate District 25.
...
"I have quarantined the machine," Long told the newspaper. "It's removed and it's sealed up and it's in a bag." She said she is awaiting instructions from the secretary of state's office.

Long is to be lauded for being the first election official in the country so far during the general election (that we're aware of) to have taken the correct action in such a vote-flipping case. And now that Hodge's eyes are "opened" we hope that both she and her Republican opponent, Hadfield will stand up for their voters by signing the StandingForVoters.org "no concessions" pledge immediately!

Late last night VelvetRevolution.us (a non-partisan, non-profit election watchdog co-founded by The BRAD BLOG) issued a press release calling on election officials to not recalibrate systems mid-election, but rather remove and impound them, and offer voters paper ballots as needed instead. The complete press release is posted at the end of this article.

Colorado has a troubling history with electronic voting, even as the Secretary of State found all of the state's machines to be faulty and easily hackable in late 2007, but has capitulated to pressure from election officials to allow them to be used by voters again this year anyway...

Problems Not New to Colorado...

In another story on the removal of Adams County's Diebold machine, it was noted that the system was quarantined "as per the Secretary of State's instructions". We're not sure if those were instructions given only to Long, or if SoS Mike Coffman had issued a directive somewhere on this. We'll try to find out. In any case, we hope other CO officials (as well as officials in other states where this occurs) will follow Long's lead and take the same action she did.

SoS Coffman -- who is overseeing his own election this year in his bid for the U.S. House -- previously decertified all but the Diebold voting systems in his state after an exhaustive court-ordered certification test (and after it was found that his Congressional campaign shared the same PR outfit with Diebold). Following his decertification last December, which discovered all of the machines used by his state were easily hacked and prone to serious errors, he recertified all of them after receiving pressure from CO county election clerks.

One of those officials, the state's Election Director Holly Lowder, resigned in disgrace just last month after it was discovered she shared her residence with one of the state's top election vendors.

Following Similar Failures in Other States, Watchdog Calls for Impounding...

Previously, after votes were noticed to have flipped during early voting this year on Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) systems in WV, in TN, in TX and other states, election officials have often first (and completely inappropriately) blamed the voters, and then instructed poll workers to "recalibrate" the machines.

Calibrating an electronic voting machine mid-election, however, as we've pointed out repeatedly, is irresponsible and dangerous, and -- as demonstrated by this West Virginia County clerk on video tape -- ineffective, as it often fails to correct the problem at all.

Whether a vote is seen flipping or not on a DRE, it must be noted, there is no way to verify that any vote ever cast on such a system in any election for any candidate or initiative on the ballot has ever been recorded accurately. That's a fact whether or not such a system offers a so-called "paper trail" print-out, as even the DREs with such print-outs can be easily and quickly hacked in a way that would be next to impossible to discover as shown in this video demonstration from the state-sponsored computer scientists at the UCSB Computer Security Group.

While we have asked repeatedly for any such evidence to show that any such vote has ever been recorded as per a voter's intent during an election, no election official, or voting machine company representative has ever been able to offer any. That's because none exists.

DRE machines require 100% faith-based voting, with faith applied solely in the private company who created and programmed the machine, and the election officials who force voters to use them in our public elections.

Moreover, Diebold was forced to admit in August that their GEMS central tabulator system, used with both DRE and paper-based optical-systems in 34 states this year, routinely drops thousands of votes without notifying system administrators.

The BRAD BLOG's complete special coverage page on DRE Failures 2008 (General Election Version), including what you can do about it, if it happens to you, is right here...

VR's press release, issued today, calling for the immediate removal from service and impounding of such machines, is both posted here, and follows in full below...

Voting Machines Flipping Votes At Many Early Voting Sites: Where Are The Election Protection Attorneys?

Non-Profit Election Watchdog Demands Failed Machines
Be Removed from Service, Impounded

Velvet Revolution ("VR"), a non-profit dedicated to fair, honest, accurate and transparent elections, today called for elections officials in all states to immediately impound any voting machine that has flipped votes from one candidate to another. It has been widely reported in the media over the past week of early voting that Direct Recording Election (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines made by ES&S, Diebold, Sequoia and Hart InterCivic have been flipping votes, predominantly from Democratic candidates to Republican candidates, but in some reported cases, just the opposite. (See: http://www.bradblog.com/?page_id=6577).

These vote flips were first reported in West Virginia and the elections official there quickly ordered the recalibration of some machines, but video has shown that recalibration does not correct the problem and the flips continue. (See: http://www.velvetrevolution.us/electionstrikeforce/2008/10/video_the_vote_captures_video.html)

Vote flipping has also now reported to have occurred in Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Nevada, Colorado, Georgia and elsewhere.

"Machines that flip votes should never be recalibrated," said Brad Friedman, co-founder of Velvet Revolution. "Accessing these election-ready machines in this way, when they are most vulnerable to malicious software and manipulation, is wholly inappropriate. It is outrageous that election officials have ordered such action. Instead, failing machines must be immediately removed from service, impounded for later inspection, and voters should be given paper ballots to assure their vote may be counted accurately."

VR also demands that the legal teams associated with the candidates step up and take immediate legal action to quarantine these faulty voting machines. The Obama campaign has made much of the fact that it has thousands of lawyers on the ground to ensure that this election is fair and everyone's vote is counted. "Unfortunately, these lawyers, the lawyers for McCain and the lawyers for the DNC and RNC are AWOL and asleep at the wheel," continued Friedman. "We insist that they keep their promise to the voters by demanding that these machines be taken out of service immediately. We should not have to wait until after the election for a candidate to sue because voters were not allowed to properly register their votes."

SOURCE Velvet Revolution

http://www.bradblog.com/?page_id=6577

Cross-posted at The BRAD BLOG...

Brad Friedman is an investigative journalist/blogger and the creator/publisher of The BRAD BLOG, which has been focusing for some years on the many issues involved in election integrity. He can currently be seen in a number of documentaries on the topic, now in release around the country, including David Earnhardt's Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections, and the just-released Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story, by documentarian Patty Sharaf.

Follow Brad Friedman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheBradBlog