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Election integrity sold down the river in Colorado

By       Message Charles Corry     Permalink

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Colorado computer voting machines are not certified
On September 22, 2006 a Colorado district judge found that then Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis "...never created minimum security standards for the [electronic voting] machines -- as required by state law" and that "the state did an 'abysmal' job of documenting testing during the certification process," and that minimum security standards for voting machines were never developed. The judge also said the state did an "abysmal" job of documenting testing during the certification process.
As a result of these findings the court ruled that:
"The Secretary is ordered to retest previously certified systems or any new systems, using the revised security standards to be promulgated by the Secretary, prior to the next primary, general or statewide ballot issue election following the November 7, 2006 general election, whichever comes first."
That appears quite unequivocal to me and the ruling was never appealed or questioned to my knowledge although is does leave the fox in charge of the hen house.
As a result, the same incompetent bureaucrat, who has been constantly involved in disasters since joining the Colorado Dept. of State, was left in charge of the recertification process. As you might guess, recertification has not yet been done, although it was scheduled to be completed by July 1, 2007. And no one predicts the process will be complete before the November 2007 election.
In an editorial in the Sunday, August 26, 2007, Denver Post, Sec. of State Coffman, who replaced Gigi Dennis in January 2007, is quoted as stating that his office has not received the necessary "...documentation, hardware or other information..." that has been requested, and it is unknown when this material will arrive so that the certification process, such as it is, can even begin. Elsewhere, voting system companies have refused or failed to provide such documentation and that is now apparent in Colorado as well.
In the August 27, 2007, edition of the Denver Business Journal Secretary Coffman has stated that because of repeated vendor delays testing probably won't be finished until December. He further stipulated that if a vendor fails to turn over requested information by 5 PM November 16, 2007, (more than two weeks after the coming election) that vendor's equipment won't be certified for use in the 2008 primary and general elections. So even before the November 2007 election we appear to be in trouble with electronic voting for the 2008 presidential race!
Despite the unequivocal court ruling cited above, Secretary Coffman, in an an act of utter contempt for citizens and with utter disregard for the rule of law, is putting forward the arrogant and specious claim that recertification of our voting machines need not be completed before the November 2007 election because there are no statewide issues on the ballot. However, there are many issues involving local taxation on the ballots, but that appears to be of little moment to this ignorant donkey and his incompetent staff.
Adding to the problems is the fact that on August 3, 2007, the California Secretary of State decertified all election systems used in Colorado. Like California, every state that has used Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, and Hart Intercivic voting machines, among other vendors, has encountered numerous election disasters of one kind or another as documented by the EJF and, particularly, VotersUnite.
Another concern, among a multitude, about the integrity of Diebold Election Systems is the fact it no longer exists. As of August 16, 2007, after failing to sell the election division, Diebold spun it off as Premier Election Solutions. Obviously this company is in the middle of a reorganization on top of the chaos of the decertification of its equipment in California and numerous problems elsewhere. Perhaps "collapse" might be a better description of Diebold Election Systems condition than "reorganization." Yet in El Paso County, Colorado, the plan is to use these voting machines to count our votes in a "backroom."
Even more vexing is the fact that the Colorado company, Ciber, that did the federal certification for many, if not all of these computer voting systems was itself decertified by the federal Election Assistance Commission. It is little wonder that voter confidence in elections is near record low levels.
I have addressed my concerns to the El Paso County (Colorado) commissioners and the county clerk in the attached letter. However, as of this date, I have not received any response. Apparently election integrity is of little or no concern here. However, you might want to express your, and our, concerns to your local election officials and commissioners. The EJF can't win these battles alone and the problems described are hardly limited to El Paso County and Colorado.

Mail ballot elections add to the problems
One might reasonably think that if the computer voting machines demonstrably don't work, and can't even be certified, why don't we just count the ballots by hand? That time-tested method is fairly easy to do in precinct elections where typically only a few hundred to possibly a thousand ballots need to be counted.
But, in their infinite arrogance and stupidity, most counties in Colorado have decided to use mail ballot elections this fall. Even Larimer County Clerk Scott Doyle of "vote center" infamy decided to use a mail ballot election this year after the 2006 disasters in virtually every Colorado county that tried that ill-fated invention of Doyle's.
You can have an honest election, or you can have a mail in/absentee ballot election, but you can't have both at the same time. And using uncertified electronic voting machines simply compounds the danger. The experience of Denver with mail ballots should serve as an object lesson for all, but is simply ignored.
When I first began working with IEEE on voting equipment standards in 2001 I noted that there were no defined principles for voting. In computerspeak, code was written and hardware developed without first defining the algorithm. Not a good practice! For example, there was no defining principle that required that an elector be corporeal to vote, and for mail ballot elections there still isn't. I've attached the principles I've developed for review. For those who think counting ballots with computers is easy, please review the attached algorithm. I make no claim these principles are complete and the problem completely defined, a prerequisite to writing a computer program for voting. Now be aware that you will be trusting an election in November to be counted with machines that can't even be certified to much less rigorous principles.
One of the major expenses of computer ballot counting in a mail ballot election is simply printing the ballots. They are virtually always printed by the same vendor whose machines are used to count them, cause for suspicion in itself. But the cost is the major issue. These "precision" printed ballots cost on the order of $1 each, up front. Compare that with using a hand-marked, hand counted paper ballot that could be printed for about $0.10 each.
Incidentally, there are no standards or checks on ballot stock as viewers of the Dan Rather report on Sequoia are painfully aware. And despite the exorbitant cost, machine-counted mailed paper ballots suffer from innumerable problems including sticking together, bleed through from marking devices, won't feed through the optical scanners, ink transfer when folded, etc.
Now one of the stated rationales for conducting a mail ballot election is to save money. If they really wanted to save money, county clerks wouldn't use vendor-printed ballots and their uncertified machines at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. 200,000 ballots could be printed for $20,000 rather than $200,000 and easily hand counted in precincts as our forebears did for centuries.

Conclusions
Isn't it time that county clerks and commissioners listened to the people and the experts, and insisted on integrity, honesty, and transparency in our elections? The meltdown of electronic voting machines should force them to seek alternate means of counting votes but, as usual, the Colorado Secretary of State is making nonsensical excuses for junk equipment, incompetent staff, and corrupt vendors.
Why should citizens be forced to trust their elections and taxation to machines that are so incredibly defective that they can't be certified to even the present inadequate standards and principles?
As there was never anything wrong with the method of hand counting hand-marked paper ballots by election judges at local precincts, isn't it time we considered returning to that time-tested method where citizens controlled the elections rather than corporate greed and incompetence? There are few other viable alternatives than hand counting that could be implemented before November 6, 2007.
Ignoring a clear court order and proceeding with the use of Diebold (or Premier Election Solutions, or whatever they call themselves next), ES&S, Sequoia, et alia, computer voting machines, which cannot be certified to even minimal standards, can only further erode public trust in democracy and the rule of law.
In summary, in Colorado in November election officials are:
  • Encouraging election fraud by the use of mail ballots.
  • Counting our votes in a backroom using computers they don't understand; whose performance and accuracy can't be certified; and that have consistently failed in past elections.
  • Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on private vendors and election officials to run our elections who have repeatedly been discredited and convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors.
If there is anything left of our democracy it is difficult to recognize.
Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.

_____________________________________________________________________________
Issues of interest to the Equal Justice Foundation http://www.ejfi.org/ are:
Civilization http://www.ejfi.org/Civilization/Civilization.htm
Courts and Civil Liberties http://www.ejfi.org/Courts/Courts.htm
Domestic Violence http://www.ejfi.org/DV/dv.htm
Domestic Violence Against Men in Colorado http://www.dvmen.org/
Emerson case http://www.ejfi.org/emerson.htm
Families and Marriage http://www.ejfi.org/family/family.htm
Prohibitions and the War On Drugs http://www.ejfi.org/Prohibition/Prohibition.htm
Vote Fraud and Election Issues

 

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Dr. Charles Corry is President of the Equal Justice Foundation.

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