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Let's Hear it for Freedom of Information Requests!

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Black Box Voting : Latest Consumer Reports from Black Box Voting:
1-9-07: Vendor issues raised in Ohio, New Hampshire
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This is an update on Freedom of Information records we have recently
obtained from New Hampshire and Ohio.

Black Box Voting is involved in a sweeping nationwide set of Freedom
of Information requests designed to shed more light on the business
relationships between voting machine vendors and the elections
officials using the equipment.

The records are beginning to pour in. Here are two sets of records we
thought you might be interested in:

NEW HAMPSHIRE

The chair of the finance committee of Londonderry, John Silvestro, is
the president of LHS Associates, the company that sells and programs
the Diebold voting machines in New England. Records obtained by Black
Box Voting show that the town finance committee chaired by Silvestro
just recommended doubling their investment in the machines and
services provided by the company Silvestro runs. In addition,
Silvestro doesn't appear to be giving his own town very good prices on
the new equipment.

Records from Londonderry:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/157/46448.html

OHIO

Records obtained by Black Box Voting reveal that Triad Governmental
Services, the company that was embroiled in controversy in 2004 after
reportedly replacing computer systems and providing "cheat sheets"
during the recount, is still intimately involved with inside access to
Ohio Elections. E-mails between Triad and Ohio county elections
officials show that Triad has the passwords to programs containing
elections information -- in fact, if county officials misplace their
password, according to the emails, they are told to go to Triad to ask
for their password.

Here are some of the records coming in from Ohio:

2006 E-mails between vendors and county elections officials --
Ashtabula County (partial):
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/163/46444.html
Fayette County:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/163/46441.html

Triad is currently involved with programming for both Diebold and
Election Systems & Software elections. The e-mails obtained by Black
Box Voting contain the Triad distribution list for their
communications, so you can see which counties work with Triad.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing the Ohio e-mails reveal so far is
the level of dependency elections officials have on their vendors. One
e-mail orders them to send their memory cards to Omaha for
programming, many e-mails demonstrate the very high level of inside
access that elections officials are giving to vendors.

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO ELECTIONS INFORMATION

When vendors control key parts of the election system, what they are
doing is removing public information from governmental custody.
Private vendors are NOT subject to Freedom of Information laws in most
locations. In fact, citizens cannot exercise "oversight" over public
officials if those officials aren't privy to their own elections
information.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:

Ohio and New Hampshire are both now blessed with secretaries of state
who are likely to be responsive to The People. New legislation, both
at the state and federal level, may arise. Make sure that ANY new
legislation deals with the issue of your civil right to access to
information.

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO ELECTIONS INFORMATION On the federal level,
urge Rush Holt to amend HAVA to require elections-related information
at the local, state and federal levels be made available to any person
under the civil rights principles embodied in the Freedom of
Information Act in a way that addresses the special circumstances in
elections.

a. All information necessary to validate elections must be produced by
the voting system and its accompanying elections procedures;

b. When information to validate the election is requested, it must be
provided before recount and contest periods have expired;

c. The information must be provided in a usable and cost-effective
manner;

d. There will be no restrictions imposed by proprietary claims, NOR
SHALL ACCESS TO INFORMATION BE RESTRICTED DUE TO PLACEMENT OUTSIDE OF
GOVERNMENTAL CUSTODY.

Specific wording to amend the Holt Bill to require voter-marked paper
ballots, to require Freedom of Access to Elections Information as
described above, and to de-politicize the EAC, can be found here:
http://www.wethepatriots.org - and if you agree with this document, we
have made it easy for you to sign a petition to amend the Holt Bill
here: http://www.wethepatriots.org/HAVA/requestbyvoters.php

WHO IS WeThePatriots.org?
The "We the Patriots" site is a collaboration of several election
reform leaders. The letter contained on the site was developed through
the collaboration of Nancy Tobi (Democracy for New Hampshire), Bev
Harris (Black Box Voting), Vickie Karp (Vote Rescue, Coalition for
Visible Ballots, and Black Box Voting and co-editor of the book
Hacked! High Tech Election Theft in America), Voting rights lawyer
Paul Lehto, OpEd News voting rights editor Joan Brunwasser, and media
event organizer and co-editor of
{http://www.hackedelections.com,Hacked!}, Abbe DeLozier. The site is
set up to enable you to exercise your political voice on issues of
importance.

Whatever the mechanism involved in voting, whether it be hand counted
paper ballots, optical scan machines, open source, or black & white
marbles, I hope we can get absolute unity n the concept that Freedom
of Access to Elections Information MUST become part of the law.

Currently, this is not the case. Some states charge exhorbitant fees
for records; almost nowhere can you get the records before the
election deadlines for recounts and contests have passed. Many
elections officials ask the VENDOR if they can give citizens the
records for the elections owned by the citizenry. Some states provide
almost no legal right to elections-related records, and in the 2006
election, some candidates could not even get copies of their own
results until the election was about to be certified.

Working for Freedom of Access to Elections Records will eliminate a
surprising number of problems -- from secret software code to absence
of paper ballots.

Access to all elections records is one of our fundamental civil
rights, so I am requesting your help to fight hard for it this year!

Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting

* * * * *

...

 

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http://www.blackboxvoting.org
Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.

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