05/06/2010

holding elections with the oldest voting computers probably in the world

We will likely have federal elections june the 13th for a reason that is quite hard to explain - even Belgians don't understand too much about it :)

The interesting thing is that a great number of great cities and smaller voting districts will organize it by computer.

What is interesting to know is that

* the hardware is from the nineties

* the software is old legacy code that has to be rewritten each time - in case we will know how the voting districts will be organised because there is still some discussion about that ....

* the parliamentary or democratic control on the way these electronic elections work is not really professional (if you click on the button evoting you will read more about evoting in Belgium).There are only a few supervisors dispatched from the parliament for the whole of the disctricts where electronic elections are held.

* the machines are installed in public places overnight, it is not clear if all those places are protected during that time

* the maintenance and the incident handling is done by a private firm and the technical supervision before, during and after the installation and is minimal, the supervisors in the voting places have not really a technical formation about how to supervise such an installation

* the last time there were a few incidents but the parliamentary reports about the electoral process are written by consensus and hardly debated in the parliament or the press. It is not a cover up but you have to read between the lines and know what it exactly means or what should have been done or not.

The situation is so dramatic that the Minister of Interior for the Flemish region, Mr Bourgeois, has declared that he is very worried because several cities have already said that they have found some problems while testing the old infrastructure.

This doesn't mean that the new model of evoting which should be tested should be installed as such. There is too little democratic control and oversight in the Belgian evoting process to be sure that nothing can go wrong. Off course it is only by limiting the number of elections that the interest of our citizens for the electoral process will increase. Having to vote 6 times in 8 years is really too much and is not good for anybody - and surely not the democracy and policy. Living with the fear and probability that you will have another electoral process or atmosphere in a year or so just makes any courageous policy or compromise impossible.

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06/18/2009

evoting software in Belgium is published - please research

The source codes for the evoting in Belgium is public now. If you find interesting things please let us know.

Digivote  De broncodes van de geautomatiseerde stemming (zip)

Jites  De broncodes van de geautomatiseerde stemming (zip)

this has already been found in the code as a comment

./VOTE/HLC/SRC/GENLIB.C: // :TODO: avn 20050225 - way to easy for hackers to get at very sensitive data
./VOTE/HLC/SRC/LOGGING.C: // :TODO: avn 20050225 - way to easy for hackers to get at very sensitive data

It is not clear if the issue has been fixed......

auditing this software and the evoting process is process that is not really transparent and independent around here. For example it is the firm that writes the code that selects from a list of three the firm that will do the audit. Should I repeat this or would you like to reread it aloud to be sure that this is true ? Yes, I repeat the firm that writes the code selects itself the firm that will do the socalled independent audit from a list of three firms. Yes, this is called independent audit around here....

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06/09/2009

how to block a belgian evoting machine ?

according to the articles in the press, really simple

you just put your voting card upside wrongly in the cardreader

and everything freezes

and let the fun begin

oh but I didn't see that paper showing how to put my card in

how stupid of me

or from the developers ?

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06/08/2009

should the Brussels regional elections be recounted ?

Yesterday there were elections in Belgium. In some cities these elections were electronic, in others they were on paper. The electronic elections had about 400 incidents (on 25.000 machines).

In Belgium you could vote for the regional parliaments and for the European parliament. In Belgium citizens of the EU could vote only for the European parliament. In Brussels the vote was electronic.

Now it seems that in at least 3 cases citizens of the EU who could vote for the European parliament but not for the regional Brussels parliament had the screen to vote for the Brussels Parliament after they had voted for the European parliament. They said they used that vote, even if they normally couldn't.

This means that more people can have voted for the Brussels parliament than those that legally could have. SO these votes were illegal. It is not clear yet if there has been a control and how these votes have been cleaned out. This should have been done by taking the number of Belgian voters and the number of votes for the Brussels parliament. These should have been equal. It is not clear yet if this is the case and if it isn't if the difference could have made a difference.

With paper votes it is simple. You give the voting bulletins according to the status of the voter who presents himself. No voting bulletins for EU citizens for the regional parliaments. With electronic voting there is always something that can go wrong somewhere and there is nobody to check it. It should be checked. Because in any election any mistake should be checked and corrected. There is nothing worse for democracy than doubts about the legitimacy of the results.

As there are so few controls and supervisors (and activists) one should control this now. Because if this was possible with 3 voters how many others did also vote without having the right to that we don't know about ? Especially in Brussels and the provinces around it where the number of EU citizens is quite high.

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05/14/2009

evoting in Belgium : back to the future with past code

The 7th of June the whole of the Belgian adult population should cast its vote. Part of it will be electronically and part of it on paper. The paper vote is a process that is known and tested. The electronic vote is a process that is hidden and not tested.

* the code is very old - as many of the machines

* the auditors of the preparation process are civil servants from the federal parliament who will make a report that will be neglected afterwards but that already gave some interesting reading about the last elections. They have all to agree on the conclusions so will not find dissent opinions in the text and you will have to read between the lines. They have not much support nor a budget to do this professionally even if they try to do their utterbest. The process stinks but that is not their fault.

* the auditor of this old code and the way it is adapted for the new election is CHOSEN by the FIRM that has won the market. Yes, you read it right, the firm that has to be audited choses the auditor itself from a shortlist. If you find this incredible you are not the only one but hey this is belgium, ceci n'est pas une pipe (so this is not an audit)

* during the election day itself the few parliamentarian auditors run around like crazy but as Belgium is too big they are in fact running around in circles, except if somewhere problems are noted that are so grave that their presence is needed. There are no public watchers and the thousands of chinese volunteers that are working in the voting booths have received very rudimentary information and procedures. In fact it are IBM elections because that firm is technically responsable for these elections. I am not saying that they are manipulating these elections, I am just saying that there are too few people knowing what to do and how to control when something is going wrong or being repared to be an open process.

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03/28/2009

the simple way to circumvent evoting

There is a big story developing in evoting in the US and the difference is again in the details.

In a small county in a rural state the responsable organizers of the elections between 2004 and 2006 receive some new evoting software and hardware.

While they are doing the tests, they see that it is very simple to confuse the user to think that he has voted when he sees a screen popup vote and that if they could convince the voter that it is over and that he has to leave to voting booth (because there are people waiting) he resets the machine but in fact he changes the votes if necessary because it is only a CONFIRMATION ASKED screen.

To make it all work, they have to be all in it together. THe supervisors, the organisers, the counters and the election workers, but hey it is a small county and there is some money to be made.

So they go to their candidates and ask them money for this guaranteed victory. TO be sure they pay some people to vote accordingly in the preliminary voting period (in which many controls are absent).

I am not sure how it was discovered (and the sums are quite small) but they will all end up in jail.

But what is most interesting is that this social engineering attack (or user interface mistake) was a zero day that was discovered by others who didn't report but used it to their advantage (for some time).

So two questions remain

* shouldn't we when testing evoting procedures and installations more work/attack through scenario's and scheme's instead of a list of things to check ?

* how many more zero days are there out there in the evoting process ?

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11/03/2008

how will the evoting process succeed in the US ?

OSCE begins monitoring the evoting process in the US that will be the biggest ever e-lection in the developed world (without population register or national ID either - imagine)

These documents are a good preparation

Discussion Paper in Preparation of Guidelines for the Observation of Electronic Voting English (653 KB)

2008 General Election in the United States: Interim Report English (125 KB) View as HTML: English

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10/31/2008

US voting abuse : new film about voting errors - chaos next week ?

This is why Obama needs to win by a landslide so the difference isn't decided on technical and legal discussions like in 2000 and 2004.

 

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10/22/2008

presentation about the new evoting system in Belgium

http://www.esat.kuleuven.be/~decockd/slides/electronic.vo...

but as we always say - the problems are in the details not in the presentations, presentations aren't detailed enough to take into consideration the possible problems.

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US voting problems be the first to know

The last two elections were a hell of problems, lawyers and voting technologies that seem to be problematic coupled with democratic questions about the number of people that were allowed to vote or that practically couldn't vote because the infrastructure was not present to accomodate them all.

http://www.866ourvote.org/real-stories/ 

and another series that are in this letter from this representative 

http://judiciary.house.gov/News/PDFs/Conyers-Nadler-Sanch...

how volunteers audit polling stations and voting technology and procedures

http://www.counttheballots.org/audits.htm

 

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10/20/2008

US starts voting : Early Evoting troubles begin

You must think that I am crazy but in several states the US has started voting. This can be done by mail or in voting offices.

In fact there is no US election, there are elections for the US president in each US state organised by the State the way the State wants to organize it. There are a few reglementations and norms, but they still leave a lot of leverage and freedom to the states themselves. It is for this reason that voting starts and ends at different dates/hours in states and that the voting technology or ways in which you can vote differs also from state to state and sometimes even withing states. And this accounts for each part of the voting process.

We have seen the troubles in 2000 in Florida by which the Democrats had the feeling that the election had been stolen by lawyers and the threat of institutional chaos by Bush. We have seen the troubles in Ohio in 2004 by which some democrats think that the election had also be stolen. So you can expect the Democrats and the activists to be on their guard and to report and treat each incident with all the attention it may need. You can be sure that there are hundreds of lawyers (freelance or paid) that are on standby and have instructions or plans to follow up on each problem.

For the Europeans you should smile and think that those stupid Americans aren't capable of organizing their own presidential election in a decent way. First you have no president but a commissar. Secondly the election for your European parliament is a democratic joke if you take into the account the totally different ways in which they are organised and controlled across the EU.

So back to the US. The Democrats have learned that an advantage in the polls is a smokescreen and that even with that advantage you can still lose 2 elections on election night (or the weeks of legal battle afterwards). The Republicans know that they have won 2 elections the hard way and that it is never too late to win another.

And as the polls are going in every direction and as the primaries have shown that a certain part of the electorate at the very last moment may possible not be able to give their vote to Obama in the voting booth, every problem with voter registration, voting technology, votekeeping and votecounting technology may have an enormous impact.

http://www.wvgazette.com/News/200810170676?page=1&bui...

It would be a pitty if that would be the case because the next president needs a landslide to have enough power to make a new deal in this new century which already seems to start as dangerous as the last one.

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07/15/2008

US election and evoting news of the week

Ohio is an important state to watch because the elections in 2004 were rumored to be so faulty that it was only 'in the protection of the state' that the Democrats not refused to accept the results even if the elections the day self were marked by incidents. It can be that while everybody is watching Ohio in the next elections and hundreds of volunteers, observers and lawyers go through the state and its election boxes, problems that can make a difference arise somewhere else, because this is also what Ohio in 2004 was all about. Everybody was watching Florida where everything went wrong in 2000. (*)

National

New York

Florida (where everything went wrong in 2000)

 

Texas (where there is now an incident to follow up)

ELSEWHERE

 

* everything goes wrong in an election if the outcome is n't legitimized and it are lawyers and technical experts that have to make electoral decisions after which one of the two candidates in this legal-technical-institutional chaos has to 'blink' in the interest of the economy, the state or whatever higher purpose. One could say that someone has been appointed President in such a situation.

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07/11/2008

Evoting in België de geweigerde amendementen van groen

Vandaag staat in het parlement het dossier van het electronisch stemmen op de agenda. Aan de agendering zijn heel wat discussies voorafgegaan, en werden verschillende experten geconsulteerd.

Dit resulteerde in de voorstelling van twee resoluties in commissie: een resolutie van de CD&V waarin experimenten met een ‘verbeterd’ stemsysteem worden voorgesteld, en een resolutie van de PS waarin de electronische stemming wordt afgeschaft.  Beide resoluties vertrekken niet alleen vanuit de meerderheid, ze vertrekken ook van dezelfde vaststelling: het electronisch stemsysteem zoals het totnogtoe in ons land werd toegepast, is onvoldoende transparant en onvoldoende controleerbaar. Vanuit democratisch en technisch oogpunt is het hergebruik van de oude code van het electronisch stemsysteem voor de verkiezingen van 2009, zoals wordt voorgesteld door de CD&V en de VLD/MR, dan ook niet zonder problemen.

Groen! is absoluut voorstander van verdere automatisering, en voor een vlotte en snelle stembusgang. Het huidige debat heeft echter niet te maken met de vraag of men voor of tegen een automatisering van het stemmen en/of het tellen is, maar alles met de mate waarin dit op een open en professionele manier wordt georganiseerd, gecontroleerd en gelegitimeerd. Op dit vlak kunnen we echter enkel vaststellen dat er vandaag nog heel wat vragen resten.

Niet alleen beantwoordt de stemcomputer nog onvoldoende aan het democratisch principe van gelijkheid, waarbij o.a. slechtzienden en blinden worden benadeeld; het houdt ook geen rekening met de nog steeds bestaande digitale kloof bij 20% van onze bevolking. Maar liefst 1,9 miljoen Belgen had in 2006 zelfs nog nooit een computer gebruikt, waaronder vooral laaggeschoolden, werklozen en ouderen (zie: http://statbel.fgov.be/press/pr090_nl.pdf).

Op gebied van controle stelt zich de vraag naar de fraudegevoeligheid  en correctheid van het systeem. In de Verenigde Staten werden proefopstellingen uitgevoerd waarbij het stemsysteem werd gehackt met een programma dat zichzelf uitwiste zodat het geen enkel spoor naliet. Kiescomputers hebben er daarom ook een papieren controleprint. In Nederland, een land dat zelfs stemsystemen ontwikkelde en aan andere landen doorverkocht, waren er zoveel problemen opgedoken na de tests uitgevoerd door de Algemene Inlichtingen en VeiligheidsDienst (AIVD), dat men terug heeft gekozen voor het stemmen op papier. In Ierland werden de aangekochte (!) stemcomputers zelfs nooit in gebruik genomen. Op dit moment is België het laatste land in Europa dat nog gebruik maakt van het electronisch stemsysteem.

Het systeem kost ook enorm veel; maar liefst drie maal zoveel dan het stemmen met potlood en papier.

  Gezien de kostprijs van het systeem, maar ook de vele vragen die onopgelost blijven op gebied van beveiliging, controle en toegankelijkheid, is Groen! vragende partij voor duidelijke en kritische controlemechanismen, alsook voor  het gebruik van een papieren bewijsstuk dat in geval van discussie de enige is die een juridische waarde heeft. Samen met Ecolo hebben wij in commissie dan ook drie amendementen op het resolutievoorstel van de CD&V ingediend:  1.      De resultaten van het voorgestelde experiment met het verbeterde ‘ticketsysteem’ moeten aan het Parlement worden voorgelegd.2.      In de resolutie van de CD&V wordt aangegeven dat in de toekomst de Regering geheel autonoom kan beslissen over het toepassen van het voorgestelde ticketsysteem of een ander geautomatiseerd systeem. Voor ons is het niet aanvaardbaar dat de Regering, zeker gezien de gevoeligheid van de discussie, los van het parlement eenzijdig een nieuw systeem   kan goedkeuren en introduceren. Wij vragen dan ook de intrekking van de verwijzing naar ‘enig ander systeem’ in de resolutie.3.      De papieren stem kost 1,5 euro, een electronische stem 4,5 (berekend in Nederland); en dit zonder inbegrip van printer, extra beveiligingsmaatregelen tegen het hacken…  Op dit moment kon de minister van Binnenlandse Zaken ons niet duidelijk vertellen hoeveel het nieuwe systeem ons zal kosten. Wij hebben daarom per amendement voorgesteld om 4 maanden voor de verkiezingen aan het Parlement de kostprijs van het aangepaste systeem mee te delen.  Deze drie redelijke voorstellen van de groenen werden in commissie geweigerd. Deze weigering is voor ons onbegrijpelijk: ze belemmert in grote mate de controlefunctie van het parlement en bevolking. De meerderheid heeft hier, voor de zoveelste keer deze legislatuur, opnieuw een kans gemist.  Electronisch stemmen is ongetwijfeld een stap vooruit, maar als democraten is het onze taak er over te waken dat deze stemsystemen niet alleen toegankelijk en kosten-efficiënt zijn, maar vooral ook een waterdicht resultaat opleveren. Gezien het fundamentele belang van deze discussie, is het noodzakelijk zoveel mogelijk transparantie en openheid in het debat aan de dag te leggen. Groen! betreurt dan ook de weigering van de commissie om in te gaan op onze amendementen. De resolutie van de CD&V, Open-Vld en MR zoals ze vandaag voorligt, zonder amendementen, is voor ons dan ook te kort door de bocht.

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07/10/2008

Voorstellen voor de verbetering van huidige evoting analyse en praktijk in België

Naar aanleiding van de nakende stemming over het eventueel hergebruik van de oude code in de verkiezingen volgend jaar, willen we volgende ideeën onder de aandacht brengen om het proces niet alleen meer open, maar ook meer betrouwbaar en duidelijker te maken.

Dit heeft niets te maken met nederlandstalig of franstalig, met wie wat betaalt of organiseert en of je voor of tegen een zekere vorm van automatisering van het stemmen en/of het tellen bent, het heeft alles te maken met de mate waarin je dat op een open en professionele manier organiseert, controleert en legitimeert.

Dit zijn de drie belangrijkste aandachtspunten indien men toch naar een zekere vorm van automatisering wilt gaan van het tellen en of het stemmen

* Het parlement bevestigt dat enkel en alleen de papieren stem of het papieren bewijs van de electronische stem een juridische waarde heeft bij de telling en dat bij een discrepantie tussen de electronische stemmen en de papieren bewijzen, de papieren stemmen de enige zijn die in overweging mogen worden genomen. Indien een discrepantie zo groot is dat ze een verschil zou kunnen hebben gemaakt op plaatselijk of op een gecumulueerd hoger niveau in de toewijzing van het aantal direct verkozenen of toegewezenen, mogen op dat niveau enkel de papieren stemmen worden gebruikt om de stemuitslag te bepalen, zelfs als dit leidt tot nieuwe hertellingen. De regering zal een markt voor een studie uitschrijven voor het vastleggen van de wetenschapelijk vastgelegde foutenmarges en de noodzakelijke ad random testtellingen om hiervoor door iedereen vertrouwde en langdurige standaarden te kunnen vastleggen. Deze studie moet gedurende een maand open zijn voor publieke input en commentaar.
ter info er is een US professor die gespecialiseerd is in de statistische foutenmarges die nodig zijn voor hertellingen van electronische stemmen
deze zijn natuurlijk ook bruikbaar bij normale papieren stemmingen
* Het parlement wenst dat haar experten die toezicht moeten uitoefenen tijdens de voorbereiding en het verloop van de verkiezingen over de nodige tijd, opleiding en een budget kunnen beschikken om zelf de nodige expertise en informaticamiddelen aan te schaffen die ze zouden kunnen nodig hebben om hun controlefunctie op een professionelere manier te kunnen uitvoeren. De kamer van volksvertegenwoordigers wenst hierover eventueel overleg te plegen met de andere parlementen om een aantal aspecten van dit kenniscentrum gezamelijk te kunnen beheren en financieren. Het parlement wenst tevens dat haar experten volledig autonoom tijdens het hele controleproces en zonder voorafgaande waarschuwing de firma's of experten mogen selecteren die de nodige testen tijdens de voorbereiding en het verloop van de verkiezingen zullen uitvoeren onder hun controle. De experten dienen tevens een handleiding op te stellen met de normen, standaarden en procedures die ze hierbij willen aanwenden en deze openbaar te maken.
* Het parlement wenst dat de interuniversitaire studie wordt opnieuw gepubliceerd als een wiki en dat gedurende 6 maanden er tijd is voor input en opmerkingen vanuit het publiek. Een samenvatting hiervan moet door een niet betrokken partij worden opgesteld en aan het parlement worden voorgesteld na 8 maanden. In het kader hiervan is het belangrijk dat de onderzoekers ook alle voorbereidende en begeleidende stukken vrijgeven en publiceren die het mogelijk maken om deze studies beter te begrijpen.

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07/09/2008

will we be voting electronically next year ? probably

Yes, according to the parliamentary commission we will use the same old code and the same insufficient audits and controls for the elections next year, if the governement doesn't fall in two weeks time and we have an institutional crisis on our hands.

But every commune will have the choice between the electronic and the papervote, although they shouldn't pay a cent more if they chose the electronic one.

So we the discussion about the next election is coming down to a decision on the communal level. There is no big organisation in Belgium that has affliates and other organisations throughout the country. So it will all depend on the local political interests and coalitions.

The biggest problem today is that the audit and the oversight between production and the validation of the results is so insufficient that there is no normal big firm that could be audited that way. The auditor is chosen by the firm that delivers the software for example and the oversight is done by specialists from the parliament that have to do that next to their normal job and without external assistance and without public procedures and standards. There is also no organised public oversight and audit by the people for the people and about the people.

We trust, but don't ask us what......

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07/07/2008

Voorstel om terug te keren naar papieren stemmen

 http://www.dekamer.be/FLWB/pdf/52/1281/52K1281001.pdf

1. in verband met de volgende verkiezingen

a. bij de volgende stembusgang van juni 2009, in alle kieskantons de papieren stembiljetten te gebruiken met manuele stemopneming;

b. te voorzien in een opwaardering van het presentiegeld dat wordt toegekend aan de bijzitters in de stem- en de stemopnemingsbureaus12;

2. in verband met de keuze voor een stemsysteem na 2009:

a. een echte vergelijkende studie van de gebruikte stemsystemen te verrichten: stemming op papier, elektronische stemming alsook stemming op papier gecombineerd met stemopneming middels optische lezing

b. alvorens enige beslissing te nemen, een raming te maken van de kosten die worden veroorzaakt door een veralgemening van het verbeterd elektronisch stemsysteem met behulp van een papieren drager, zoals het universitair consortium voorstelt;

c. er ongeacht de gekozen oplossing voor te zorgen dat de gemeenten geen bijkomende fi nanciële lasten moeten dragen.

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Online film about voting and citizen control in the US 2004 (PBS)

To make Election Day, award-winning director Katy Chevigny fielded 14 film crews to capture the action vérité-style in a diverse range of locations, including Chicago; the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota; Dearborn, Mich.; Cincinnati and Shaker Heights, Ohio; Orlando and Quincy, Fla.; St. Louis; New York; the little town of Sapulpa, Okla.; and the even tinier Stockholm, Wis. Election Day is as fast-paced and suspenseful as a thriller, with vote counts and political activism substituting for shootouts and car chases. The heroes of the day are ordinary Americans determined to vote, to turn out others to vote, and to see that the voting is legally and fairly done.

The good news in Election Day is that more and more Americans are bringing their passion for democracy to the polls, drawing unprecedented numbers of voters eager to make the most of their right to cast a ballot and have it counted. Taking place in the long shadow of 2000's bitterly contested presidential vote, the 2004 election also brought more scrutiny of polling-place practices from citizens as well as international observers. One beacon of democracy and validation of the electoral system captured by the film came when little Quincy, Fla., a town in the state's panhandle with a 70 percent black population, finally elected its first black sheriff since the 1800s.

The bad news in Election Day is that close scrutiny of American elections finds a surprisingly antiquated system, which often works as much to frustrate voter participation as to encourage it and which harbors wide disparities in access between rich and poor neighborhoods. The presence of international observers suddenly seems not so out-of-place when one observer finds confusion and two-hour waits in St. Louis's poor, predominately black precincts while wealthier white neighborhoods have smoothly operating polling places  More

watch the film online during JULY for free

For Europeans who still think that the US election is about character scandals, stupidity news flashes and that voters don't care over there because they are 'too stupid' this is a must see.  American elections are won street by street, voting booth by voting booth and issue by issue, ...... you won't think anymore that American elections are taken more serious by the world than by Americans themselves.

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07/04/2008

London mayoral elections got a bad audit

Votes for London Mayor and the 25 member London Assembly were counted electronically, and overall the election was well-managed by the independent body set up to run elections in London, London Elects.

However, transparency around the recording of valid votes was a major issue, leading many of our team of 27 official observers to conclude that they were unable to observe votes being counted. And while hundreds of screens set up by vote scanners showed almost meaningless data to observers, London Elects admit that the system was likely to be recording blank ballots as valid votes.

The report also details how London Elects are unable to publish an audit, commissioned from KPMG, of some of the software used to count the London vote, because of disputes over commercial confidentiality. The situation highlights the problems that arise when the very public function of running elections is mixed with issues of commercial confidentiality and proprietary software. In the context of a public election, it is unacceptable that these issues should preclude the publication of the KPMG audit.

London Elects will pay Indra – the company who supplied both Bedford and Breckland during last year’s chaotic trials of e-counting technology in local elections – upwards of £4.5 million for delivering the London e-count. Today’s report recommends a full cost benefit analysis of any future e-count, set against a properly costed manual count.

ORG’s report into e-counting of votes cast in the London Elections is out today They are also the source for this posting.

The Belgian parlementarians busy with evoting should read this report carefully because it is full of things that should interest them so they won't make the same mistakes

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07/02/2008

things to think about with evoting and you won't read elsewhere in Belgium

Don't trust those companies but control them permanently because otherwise you can have this

* In 2004 Stephen Heller alerted officials in California that Diebold, Inc.—the infamously partisan, right-wing manufacturer of hackable electronic-voting machines—had been using illegal software in the state’s voting machines. Furthermore, he aired allegations that Diebold had planned to lie about using the software just prior to one of our nation’s most contentious Presidential elections. Heller’s reward for alerting authorities to Diebold’s crime-in-progress? Three felony counts and the prospect of almost four years in the slammer.

* The other big evotingmachine firm Hart Intercivic has also a case running against a whistleblower.

You could also trust the counting machines that does the counting of the votes

* After New Jersey's February presidential primary election, 60 Sequoia Advantage DRE (also called touch-screen) voting machines were found to have voter turnout totals that did not match the totals on the machines' memory tapes.  And in Ohio's March presidential primary, the Diebold (AKA Premier) GEMS central tabulator in Butler County failed to record the votes from one of the memory cards fed into it, despite reporting that data from all memory cards had been successfully uploaded. This Ohio discrepancy has only recently come to light as Butler County elections chose to disclose the problem.

* Palm Beach County elections officials said Friday they are investigating why they failed to quickly count more than 700 votes in a special election that marked the county's first experience with optical scanners.
A 707-vote disparity between an unofficial vote tally Tuesday and a final count two days later in a West Palm Beach City Commission race has spawned another wave of criticism and questions about Supervisor of Elections Arthur Anderson's ability to run an error-free election. Unofficial results reported a few hours after the election showed 4,085 votes cast. The next day, a computerized audit signaled a problem — three vote-counting machines apparently had collected votes that weren't counted.

And what to do if a machine fails or gives incorrect answers ?

* However, when a voter's vote appears to jump from one candidate or issue to another, when the machine fails to respond, or when vote on the paper tape shows the vote to be incorrect, the voter will know there's a problem. "If the voting machine you use behaves in an illegal manner, it should be treated as part of a crime scene. The theft of your vote is a crime by the voting machine and its vendors against YOU. Treat it as such," says Paddy Shaffer, Director of the OEJC.  The OEJC encourages voters and pollworkers who are aware of these types of problems with voting machines to report the problems to law enforcement. "These machines should not be returned to local election officials but rather quarantined by independent investigative authorities," says Shaffer.

Standards are for suckers (who believe they will be followed)

* Last February, SysTest labs wrote its certification test report for a new voting system manufactured by Diebold/Premier. The report listed the 79 problems the lab found during testing. Even so, SysTest recommended the system be certified by the EAC.

Well, those who organize have their own opinion about these machines

* the Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections (SBOE), Doug Kellner, who has said, “The voting industry sells crap, and that is the problem”. Ananda goes on to relate problems discovered with voting machines once they get to the counties, after SBOE testing. One county has complained that their Sequoia Ballot Marking Device (BMD)[voting machines for voters with disabilities that mark a ballot but do not tabulate the results] printers jam. It seems that Sequoia knows all about this defect but has neglected to mention it to the counties

How a programmer can make an election the way he is paid to do

* The House Committee on Elections invited Curtis, a computer programmer from Florida, to testify Wednesday on the accuracy, risks, benefits and security of electronic voting technology. The committee also heard from other expert witnesses, election officials and the Texas secretary of state. Curtis said a Florida representative approached him in 2000 to design "vote-flipping" software to help the congressman win an election. Requesting a fraudulent program for a machine is not illegal in Florida, but using one is. "You cannot trust electronic machines, no matter how many honest people you have. It only takes one person with access to the machine," said Curtis, an advocate for hand-counted paper ballots. "Programmers can be bought."

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07/01/2008

Belgian cities may now decide about the use of electronic voting

If we read the proposition that will be put before a vote by the majority tomorrow, than we can conclude the following.

First and allmost important, the use of the electronic voting system won't be compulsary in Belgium. It is up to the communes (which are the organizers of the elections here) to decide to use the electronic of the traditional system of voting.

Secondly we see in the decision that they didn't count anywhere in their decision that there are some serious questions that can be asked about the electronic voting system in Belgium that is proposed by the Universities.

* the use of RFID on the votes is something that is totally unbelievable because of the insecurities of the technology

* the total absence of a total absence of norms, standards and objective and attacking testing methods - even if the resolution mentions that it is possible that the evotingtechnology isn't maybe so safe as they thought it would be

* there is no repudiation of the proposition in the study that the counting of the papervote (proof) would be minimized, if not absent and would have no legal impact whatsoever. Maybe the cities should take here a decision about the methods and number of tests they could do to be sure that the technological results are correct before any tabulation is done.

* there is nothing foreseen to make sure that the whole election doesn't depend totally on technology and electricity. It should be possible and foreseen that if the technology or electricity doesn't work, papervotes would be available in sufficient numbers to continue the election.

* the auditing and supervision by the parliament of the development and preparation of the voting and the day itself isn't reinforced at all. The result is that there will be less supervision, less independent control and if there are incidents there the elections will be less legitimate and the problems afterwards will be much bigger.

For the time being we will vote with code and technology that is already 15 years old. If it would be an OS we would send it to Africa. (cynical bad taste joke).

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