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EYES WIDE SHUT: New Yorkers Struggle for the Soul of Democracy

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New York State, the State Board of Elections and New York’s Attorney General are Preparing to Violate Our Constitutional Right to be Protected From Disenfranchisement -- Even as They Know Computerized Voting Systems Cannot Secure our Votes


At a recent meeting of the four commissioners of the State Board of Elections (SBOE) (06/19/2008 archived webcast | 06/19/2008 CC Transcriptions) the discussion focused on the myriad problems New York State is having with the voting vendors who continue to sell the only product they offer – “crap.” As SBOE Co-Chair Douglas Kellner (D) stated:

“[T]he voting industry sells crap. And that's the problem.”

Of course we know that because it’s been well documented. See Voting System Companies Fail to Meet New York State’s Requirements for “Responsible Contractors” More Evidence of Vendor Unfitness, by Andi Novick, Esq., And More by Andi Novick, Esq. And if we know it, certainly our legislators and commissioners and Attorney General must be familiar with the dozens of independent studies in which computer scientists have repeatedly found that no amount of certification testing is going to make software-driven systems secure enough. Even the National Institute of Standards and Technology, acknowledged: "[E]xperience in testing software and systems has shown that testing to high degrees of security and reliability is from a practical perspective not possible." click here

Across the nation the vendors have been selling crap that breaks down, is defective, can be easily rigged, and time and again independent computer scientists reveal how easily the scanner or the DRE can be penetrated and corrupted by unaccountable unseen programmers. See www.bradblog.com for ongoing reporting of the nation’s woes as every state suffers from the crap sold by the voting industry. Yet New York,the only state with the benefit of learning from the nightmare that has befallen the other 49 states who bought the snake oil, is proceeding, eyes wide shut.

“BARGAIN WITH THE DEVIL” -The Crappy Ballot Marking Devices Have Thousands of Defects but at Least They Aren’t Counting Our Votes



New York has now bought software-driven ballot marking devices (BMDs) because the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) said that we have to provide a means for disabled folks to vote without assistance- a worthy goal but the most able-bodied person in the world couldn’t vote unassisted on these pieces of crap. Still, we have bought what the vendors are selling for BMDs and we are experiencing precisely what everyone else who is forced to buy crap gets-- no surprise there. At this same 6/19th meeting the commissioners were having a lot of trouble with the BMDs because the both the pricey new combo BMD/optical scanner purchased by most of the counties and the less expensive single unit BMD without optical scanner, showed up with thousands of defects in testing by the SBOE. At this point the SBOE is only performing testing for the BMD functioning and not for the optical scanner counting function, in order to get the BMDs in every poll site for the 2008 elections.

Last week Nassau County wrote to the federal judge, who’d accepted the State’s shameful surrender of our constitutionally protected right to vote, justifiably complaining that “85% of the 156 BMDs received [so far] ... have substantial operational flaws that render them unusable or that require major repairs”. (see Nassau County's Letter to Judge Sharpe 6/27/08) Nassau blames the SBOE for certifying these machines and forcing them upon the counties. While there’s plenty of blame to go around, the bottom line is the machines are crap; the vendors have a captive consumer and they sell machines that don’t work because the forced consumer feels compelled to have the crap in place for the next election.

And so the state commissioners agreed (at the 6/19 mtg) to relax the rules regarding the BMDs- even as they found literally thousands of defects, because while they may be defective and not work, at least we’re not talking about how vulnerable they are to tampering since these BMDs aren’t being certified to count the votes (yet). But warned Commissioner Kellner, he’s not going to “get caught in this bargain with the devil” when it comes time to certify the scanners to count votes. So what is he going to do when it comes time to certify the counting function on the BMD?

Commissioner Kellner’s efforts are truly heroic, even as he’s wrongly trying to certify equipment that will never be able to safely and accurately count votes. He’s really trying to do the best he can with an impossible situation- the use of computerized voting systems to reliably count our votes. We know he can’t succeed because the evidence overwhelmingly shows that no software-driven voting machine can accurately and safely count votes. It’s not just that the voting vendors sell crap- even if they sold quality computers, software is vulnerable to undetectable tampering. If we had millions of tax payers’ hard earned dollars to burn, someone could conceivably devise more secure software-driven voting machines than these vendors peddle, like Las Vegas does, but it still wouldn’t be secure enough for a democratic election: the software can always be altered without anyone knowing because that’s the nature of the beast (close friend of the devil the SBOE is in the midst of negotiating with).


SOS- (SAVE OUR STATE)– THIS SHIP HAS NOT SAILED

New York State’s Lever Voting System Is Secure, Supported by Most People in the State, and it Works

What is to be the fate of the great state of New York? That at this moment is in the hands of the electorate because our state government has turned against us. Unlike every other state in the nation, we are the only ones who have not yet computerized our electoral process. We are also the only ones with a functioning, secure, reliable and affordable electoral system. Why are we abandoning our levers when they have been described by one scholar studying the issue as “[O]ne of the most astonishing achievements of American technological genius”, see click here Why are we casting off a century of wisdom that has shown how the mechanical processes of the lever machine can be relied on for precisely the reason computerized processes cannot be– lever voting machines are designed to prevent and reveal tampering.

Why are we buying crappy, theft-inviting computerized machines?

We have to buy BMDs because HAVA ordered this and because we should try to make these computers work to create ballots for those who can’t pull the lever themselves. But because software is so vulnerable to concealed tampering it has no place counting votes in an open, public electoral system.

New York’s lever voting system deters theft. The federal government’s computerized voting systems invite theft. We can outsmart the criminal Department of Justice that succeeded in pressuring our State Legislature and our Attorney General to agree to surrender our right to vote on secure voting machines. We can have BMDs for creating ballots, but stop there and not pretend these computers can be “certified” to secure the counting of our votes.

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http://electiontransparencycoalition.org/

Andi Novick Election Transparency Coalition, www.etcnys.org, http://nylevers.wordpress.com/
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