Friday, February 09, 2007

Rush to Voting Security Flawed?

Congressman Rush Holt has reintroduced legislation called Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act in the U.S. House of Representatives which according to Holt's press release posted on his site would require voter-verified paper ballots and random audits in elections across the United States.

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The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act would require a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast, which would become the ballot of record in the event of any recount or audit. It would require routine random audits of paper ballots by hand count in a percentage of voting precincts in each Congressional District. It would also take steps to make elections more publicly transparent by allowing for the inspection of voting system software. It would require documenting a secure chain of custody for voting systems and prohibit conflicts of interest involving vendors. It would keep the election process accessible to voters with disabilities, and authorize federal funding to help states meet the requirements...

http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/nj12_holt/020607.html




The legislation, this Congressional session known as House Resolution 811, however, has met with swift and steadfast opposition from national election integrity activist organizations.

In a Feb. 8, 2007 group message entitled: Beware of the Bandwagon -- A concise list of problems with Holt Bill HR 811, Black Box Voting's Bev Harris posted a listing of organizations that oppose the 2007 legislation as it is currently proposed. Harris posts a listing of co-sponsors of the bill whom she suggests should be contacted, indicating her opinion:

here are those that probably didn't read the bill very carefully and signed on as co-sponsors.

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/46667.html?1170961452

The BBV Forum site continues to critique and dissect every line of the Holt legislation in what can only be termed by supporters a tireless and dedicated effort to gain legislation that fixes, rather than accepts, vulnerabilities in electronic voting identified by an array of experts across the country.

The BBV Forum has also discussed Paper Ballot Act of 2006 HR 6200 IH introduced in the 109th Congress by Dennis Kucinich, a Democratic lawmaker.

The bill states: ...require States to conduct Presidential elections using paper ballots and to count those ballots by hand, and for other purposes.

That legislation would have applied to presidential elections and required hand counting of the paper ballots.

The full bill remains posted on the site.

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/72/46645.html?1171027586

The opinion of many on the BBV Forum group leans to exclusive use of a paper ballot with hand counts.

Meanwhile, in a message posted to the VotePA message board, founder of the Pennsylvania organization, Marybeth Kuznick, presents explanations for support of the Holt legislation.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VotePA/message/2757

Kuznick guested on KDKA's radio programming Morning News with Larry Richert on Friday to discuss the Holt legislation.

Responding to a series of VotePA discussion messages alternating between raising concerns and supporting the Holt legislation, according to Kuznick, in part:

Holt is NOT a bad bill. It is not a perfect bill either. I think it
is basically an ACHIEVABLE bill and that is the key.

It is a bill that contains input from dozens of local, state, and
national groups along with concerns for what happened in the 2006
primaries and general elections. Filtered, yes. A compromise in many
cases, maybe. But something that genuinely has a chance of actually
PASSING.

There are major national organizations supporting this bill
(VoteTrustUSA, Common Cause, PFAW, VerifiedVoting, etc.)
Approximately 25 state election integrity groups endorse it (and
another half dozen or more that endorse it provisionally meaning they
want to see it with amendments.) Know that Brad Friedman, John Bonifaz, John Gideon, etc. are NOT against this bill per se. They want to see amendments.

Well there WILL be amendments. That is the process...

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VotePA/message/2757


Kuznick noted in the posting she was attending DC hearings on the new legislation, and would clarify further.

Meanwhile, Nancy Tobi, (Chair, Democracy for New Hampshire) strongly rejects the Holt legislation as unveiled, noting a feature to employ text conversion process and engenders consolidation of Executive power and federal control over elections
Tobi calls "treasonous."

February 7, 2007 at 19:14:17

New Version of Holt Bill: A Giant Step Backwards

Article by Nancy Tobi, Chair, Democracy for New Hampshire and co-author of "Request by Voters" letter...

You can keep arguing the merits of this audit method or that, this paper trail or that, but the Holt Bill has two poison pills in it that can not be argued away:

1) huge unfunded mandate for text-to-audio conversion technology

2) consolidation of Executive power and control over Federal elections.

We must fight this treasonous bill and call it for what it is: ANTI-DEMOCRATIC.

It is bad enough that the authors of this bill, two years following the NASS resolution to sunset the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and after more than a years' worth of activist pleadings to get rid of this growing little monster, the EAC, cement it as a permanent Executive agency in his new bill.

Bad enough that the authors of this bill are comfortable handing over control of federal elections to the White House. This is treasonous in and of itself.

But on top of this unseemly and anti democratic motion, the new Holt bill insinuates a whole new technoelection industrial toy into every polling place in the nation...

http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_nancy_to_070207_new_version_of_holt_.htm



Additional developments

Feinstein hearings on electronic voting: testimony submitted to offset witness bias
By Andrea T. Novick, Esq.


Dear Mr. Ambrogi and Ms. Price,

I understand the public has 5 days from the Hearings held today (February 7, 2007) to submit comment which will be accepted by the committee. Please advise if I am incorrect about that.

I listened to the Hearing this morning and while I greatly appreciate that someone is finally paying attention to what will one day be seen as the greatest crime in the history of this country, I was deeply dismayed by many of the comments from those you'd called to testify...
http://www.democracyfornewhampshire.com/node/view/3436



Holt Reintroduces Voting Integrity Bill
Bill Would Require Voter-Verified Paper Ballot and Random Audits


Washington, D.C. --- Rep. Rush Holt today reintroduced the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, landmark legislation that would amend the Help America Vote Act to protect the verifiability and accessibility of elections.

“Until we require that voting systems produce a voter-verified paper ballot, the results of our elections will always be uncertain,” said Rep. Holt. “All Americans deserve to be confident that their vote will be counted, and it is my hope that the 110th Congress will act soon to pass legislation that will ensure elections are fair, accessible, and auditable.”

The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act would require a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast, which would become the ballot of record in the event of any recount or audit. It would require routine random audits of paper ballots by hand count in a percentage of voting precincts in each Congressional District. It would also take steps to make elections more publicly transparent by allowing for the inspection of voting system software. It would require documenting a secure chain of custody for voting systems and prohibit conflicts of interest involving vendors. It would keep the election process accessible to voters with disabilities, and authorize federal funding to help states meet the requirements.

Holt first introduced legislation requiring that electronic voting machines produce a voter-verified paper ballot in the 108th Congress. In the 109th Congress, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (H.R. 550) had the support of 222 bipartisan cosponsors, more than a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives. Despite this fact, it was not brought to the House floor for a vote.

Holt called on Congress to pass his legislation soon, in order to assure enough implementation time for the 2008 presidential election...
http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/nj12_holt/020607.html



H.R.811 : To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require a voter-verified permanent paper ballot under title III of such Act, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12]
(introduced 2/5/2007) Cosponsors (182)
Committees: House Administration
Latest Major Action: 2/5/2007 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on House Administration.


http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d110:9:./temp/~bd2ICd::|/bss/d110query.html|

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.811:

Holt legislation dissected section by section at Bev Harris' Black Box Voting...

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/46591/46591.html?1170977768

Several election integrity and security organizations and activists noted in opposition to the 2007 legislation in its current form.

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/46667.html?1170961452

online at BBV Forum in pdf

Holt Bill: pdf version

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/46591/46643.html?1170881278

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/HOLT_2-5-07.pdf

For sampling pursposes only... material is cohesive and well-documented

The bill's audits are insufficient (to detect and correct errors and fraud), give officials far too much discretion, and are anything but transparent. I have very little hope of remedying those defects, but there are some major legal defects that we should try to remedy.

First, sec.2(a)(2)(B)(iii) says:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/46591/46643.html?1170881278



Pg.1 Lines 1-5 -- Section 1: Holt Bill description
"Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007"


from Paul Lehto:

quote:
The "new" Holt bill is a deceptive and fraudulent bill.

Why?

It uses the term "Ballot" to mean nothing much more than the old-fashioned "paper records" under the original "old" HR550 --- in other words in the "new" Holt "ballot" actually means something that will NEVER get counted on the FIRST count. Under the "new" Holt bill, just like under the old one, they will still count the electronic votes FIRST and release those as the results on election night, and the paper "ballots" only count (again just like the old Holt bill) if the audits show discrepancies...

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/46591/46599.html?1170977768


Also see

Paul Lehto Retained By Election Integrity Advocates In San Diego
Breaking!
Guest blogged by Emily Levy of the California Election Protection Network and the CA-50 Action Committee


http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3113

Ben Olasov Posted on Thursday, February 08, 2007 - 05:44 pm:
What's especially concerning about this isn't just the number and severity of the flaws - or the cost, it's the lack of anything resembling a meaningful public debate on the issues. Specifically, why isn't the review process for a bill like this /required/ to engage election integrity advocacy groups like BBV in the first place?? Just basic common sense says you want to know about any design flaws in the bill /before/ it comes up for a vote. This is like starting a large-scale construction project without doing an environmental impact study - only worse. Is anyone pushing for change in the protocol for reviewing bills like this?

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/46649.html#POST33039


More

Discussion Nancy Tobi piece including

TEXT-TO-AUDIO TECHNOELECTION TOY TIMELINE:

August 2005

The EAC Standards Board meets to review the recommendations for the 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), which will become the basis for federal recommendations, testing, and certification of e-voting equipment.

In the link here you will find the resolutions from the EAC Standards Board August 2005 meeting, in which they recommended removing all language referencing text conversion from the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG):...

December 2005

http://www.eac.gov/VVSG%20Volume_II.pdf


http://www.bbvdocs.org/EAC/Standards-Board-Final-Resolution-As-Amended.pdf

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/46649.html?1171062318


http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/46591/46615.html?1170942304

Dopp letter and signers

http://electionarchive.org/ucvInfo/US/Letter2Congress.pdf

VotersUnite.org news and postings and BradBlog news and postings regarding the Holt legislation

John Gideon presents a case for the necessity of amendments

Daily Voting News
By John Gideon, VotersUnite.org
February 07, 2007

As related by John Bonifaz of Demos and the National Voting Rights Institute, in a blog on BradBlog.Com, “[Yesterday], Congressman Rush Holt introduced H.R. 811, a bill trumpeted as requiring “a voter-verified permanent paper ballot.” But before we all jump on this train as the new guarantee that our votes will be properly counted in future elections, we ought to beware of the warning flag. A paper trail from DRE (Direct Recording Electronic, usually touch-screen) machines cannot protect the integrity of our elections.” And “the Holt bill tries to say it is requiring a paper ballot even for DREs, but, in the end, a DRE "paper ballot" is nothing more than a paper trail, which requires voters to verify their votes after they have cast them in the DRE machines...

http://votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=2&Itemid=1032




By John Gideon, VotersUnite.org
February 06, 2007

Today has been a huge news day. Two bills were filed in Congress; one that we support (HR-756) and one that we don’t. HR-811 (the new HR-550) was filed, with 168 co-sponsors, and became the new Holt Bill. Newspapers began writing editorials and voicing their opinions before any of them could have read the bill. Many groups tripped over themselves in a race to endorse the bill; some without ever having read its contents. One group began, two weeks ago, asking their members to begin making calls to support the bill which was then changed more than once in the ensuing period. VotersUnite will not support this legislation because of its allowance for the continued use of DREs and its corruption of “paper ballot”. At this time, we will also not work against those groups who wish to support the bill. Instead we will stand neutral and report the facts, and an occasional opinion, as we have always done.

http://www.votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2247&Itemid=1032




BLOGGED BY John Bonifaz ON 2/6/2007 3:51PM
Why the Holt Election Reform Bill Must be Amended to Guarantee a Real Paper Ballot
Guest Blogger and Constitutional Attorney John Bonifaz on Concerns About Holt's 'Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007' (HR 811)


Today, Congressman Rush Holt introduced H.R. 811 [PDF], a bill trumpeted as requiring “a voter-verified permanent paper ballot.” But before we all jump on this train as the new guarantee that our votes will be properly counted in future elections, we ought to beware of the warning flag. A paper trail from DRE (Direct Recording Electronic, usually touch-screen) machines cannot protect the integrity of our elections.

Here’s the bottom line: The DRE technology is fundamentally flawed for recording and counting our votes. The Holt bill, unless amended, will further codify into law the use of this technology, piling onto the disaster of HAVA (the Help America Vote Act of 2002) a new disaster...
http://www.bradblog.com/?p=4125



Velvet Revolution and Others Call on Congress to Enact Paper Ballot Legislation!
Paper Ballot Campaign Letter Specifies 'Paper Ballots,' Not 'Paper Records' or 'Paper Trails'

Groups Seek Your Endorsement--Email Congress Now!
VoterAction.org, VotersUnite.org, VelvetRevolution.us, National Voting Rights Institute, Demos, TrueMajorityAction and the Dolores Huerta Foundation, along with dozens of other election integrity groups across the nation, today call upon Congress to introduce and enact legislation ensuring a paper ballot for every vote cast in the United States in time for the 2008 election. This legislation could take the form of an amended version of Rep. Rush Holt's bill known as HR-550, which is currently being rewritten for re-introduction in the new Congress.

While many changes to the U.S. election system are needed, we believe that a paper ballot for every vote cast is an absolutely unassailable requirement of any election reform. This is why we have launched the Paper Ballot Campaign...

http://www.velvetrevolution.us/electionstrikeforce/2006/12/velvet_revolution_and_others_l_1.html



Press releases republished

EFF highlights introduction of the legislation

https://secure.eff.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=109
Holt Reintroduces Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act
By Rep. Rush Holt Press Release
February 06, 2007
Bill Would Require Voter-Verified Paper Ballot and Random Audits


Rep. Rush Holt today reintroduced the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 811), landmark legislation that would amend the Help America Vote Act to protect the verifiability and accessibility of elections...

http://votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2243&Itemid=371

Press Center Common Cause
For Immediate Release Contact: Mary Boyle
February 6, 2007 (202)736-5770

Congress must pass voting integrity legislation to restore public confidence
Common Cause applauds Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) for introducing the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, which would require a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast and require routine random audits of paper ballots by hand count...

http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=194883&ct=3524699

http://www.brennancenter.org/

Brennan Center Letter to Rep. Rush Holt
Feb. 1, 2007 Audits

http://www.brennancenter.org/dynamic/subpages/download_file_47860.pdf

Also see

Press Releases
Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Holds First Senate Hearings on Voting Machines February 7, 2007
Read Brennan Center Executive Director MIchael Waldman's testimony before Sen. Diane Feinstein's Committee.

http://brennancenter.org/dynamic/subpages/download_file_47870.pdf

electionline report makes references to other organizations, etc.

February 8, 2007
electionline.org
I. In Focus This Week
Rep. Rush Holt Reintroduces Updated Paper Trail, Audit Bill
New Jersey lawmaker is optimistic for success on Capitol Hill
By Sean Greene
electionline.org

After more than three years of fits and starts in Congress, a new bill authored by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) requiring voter-verified paper ballots and random audits might have its best chance yet of becoming law.

With a new Democratic majority, voting troubles last November in many areas of the country, legislative activity in the states and most recently, a $32 million plan in Florida to scrap electronic voting machines in favor of paper-based optical-scan systems, Holt said the ingredients for success are in place.

“I don’t anticipate any organized effort to stop it,” he stated at a press conference reintroducing the bill. “The political situation is strong.”

The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, H.R.811 amending the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), currently has 179 co-sponsors. He not only expects it to pass, but to be implemented in time for the November 2008 election.

“Until we require that voting systems produce a voter-verified paper ballot, the results of our elections will always be uncertain,” he stated.

At 47 pages, the bill covers a range of issues...

http://www.electionline.org/Newsletters/tabid/87/ctl/Detail/mid/643/xmid/237/xmfid/3/Default.aspx



Tuesday, February 6
Dan Tokaji Equal Vote Blog
The Latest Version of the Holt Bill


Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has introduced another version of his bill (H.R. 811) to require that all voting systems generate a "voter-verified" paper ballot. It would authorize $300 million for fisacal year 2007 to meet the new requirements. I've commented on the problems with this sort of requirement numerous times in the past, including here and here, and little would be gained by again replaying that debate. Suffice it to say that, whatever problems exist with electronic voting, it remains doubtful at best that attaching a printer will provide a workable and effective solution.

As with previous versions of the Holt bill, there are some good things here, most notably a provision clarifying that individuals may bring private lawsuits to enforce the technology and administration requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Also, the bill would extend the authorization of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Other aspects of the bill, however, are cause for concern.

One is a provision that the paper records aren't just to be used to audit the accuracy of machines, but to "be used as the official ballots for purposes of any recount" of a federal election. This is asking for trouble, in my view, in places where the system used to comply with the bill is an electronic system with a paper printout...

http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/blogs/tokaji/2007/02/latest-version-of-holt-bill.html


More

July 18, 2006 John Gideon explains on another issue

I have never received any funds from Donna Curling or ChoicePoint. I have never received any funds for any reason from VoteTrustUSA. I am not a "Director" of VoteTrustUSA because there are NO Directors. There is a 'core group' of which I am a member...

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/17778.html?1153513020#POST26185

1 comment:

Paul said...

This is a reasonably comprehensive overview, thanks for your work on this.

When trying to achieve a secure and reliable voting system, risks appear first from insiders (successful election cheats BECOME election officials or those that make election policy, quite unlike successful bank robbers, for example) and second from the outsiders or the public, we must keep in mind that there is so much at stake with elections (merely control of the world's richest country and sole military superpower) that there is always plenty of incentive for cheating. Thus, like burglars that always try to find the unlocked window, election cheaters (including those already installed as election officials in a few places) will surely find the unlocked window. Therefore, a bill that purports to provide "improvements" but leaves major unlocked windows is just a formula for false confidence.

And false confidence, in turn, is the critical element of a successful fraud. I am a consumer fraud and election fraud attorney -- and I often say that "confidence" is NOT a requirement for a legitimate voting system because we can have parties that distrust each other and watch each other like hawks for cheating, and still get a trustable RESULT, in the END. The ONLY time we should have any confidence whatsoever in our voting system is after we have verified that all the chain of custody and all the systems in fact worked properly, under conditions of complete transparency -- because the many eyes of the community are the only real deterrent and evidence-preserver.

Unfortunately, the things that would deliver us a system in which election results might be trustable by both winners (who trust even the most corrupt systems) and the losers are not addressed by any congressional legislation to any significant degree. These "answers" are:

1. Complete transparency of vote counting and vote casting, except for the moments of casting individual votes (secrecy of the ballot) and that secrecy-exception is because the ONLY ballot you can screw up is YOUR OWN, otherwise secrecy of the ballot would be inappropriate.

2. Swift and certain rewards AND penalties for election officials that don't immediately provide information to citizens for purposes of citizen oversight. (Nobody can audit or guard themselves, not even governemnt bureaucrats, so the public citizens who watchdog are THE KEY ambassadors of We the People, and the true guardians of democracy, while elections officials have conflicts of interest since they get their money, their power, and their pats on the back for a job well done by pretending that the first counts are foolproof and worth of confidence rather than checking and investigation.) These penalties and rewards need to insure that citizens and officials blow the whistle on irregularities and are not encouraged to cover them up, as they are today, being effectively punished by ensuing media feeding frenzies over irregularities that are responded to as disciplinary problems by the person who reported or leaked the problem.

3. CHAIN OF CUSTODY. Legislation also fails to comprehensively assure a complete chain of custody that is also secure against the elections officials themselves - by far the most common convicted election cheaters. Any breakdown in the chain of custody should require a new election. because there must be no connection between a ballot and the voter who cast it due to ballot secrecy laws, elections are fundamentally NOT auditable systems in the true sense of the word audit - which requires going back to sources of information to verify. In elections the source is the voter, and the ballot is not allowed to be connected to the voter. Thus, a rigorous chain of custody is the ONLY thing that can preserve the legitimacy and reliability of the voting system when the secret ballot is used. Note that "audits" and "recounts", while sometimes marginally useful, do not detect against stuffed ballot boxes where the stuffing or alteration takes place before the first count but after the voter casts their ballot. Thus, ;with stuffed or altered ballots, the first count will match the recount and the audit will turn up AOK, but the election is totally fraudulent because of the stuffed or altered ballot box. Thus, chain of custody is extremely important.

Legislation should address these three cardinal principles of Transparency / aggressive freedom of information rights, Swift and Certain rewards and penalties for disclosing problems, and Rigorous Chain of Custody, and all three of these must consider all threats, but especially insider threats.

After all, the whole idea of America is to resist tyranny and abuse of power, and to keep the people in charge so we have a government always of the people, by the people and for the people. The minute we no longer have this, the bad guys will want to maintain illusions of democracy while still keeping control, and they will cut back on and preserve holes in the voting system so they can cheat and stay in power unlawfully.

The Founders would agree with this principle of "public liberty" which includes elections: "Do not trust anyone who approaches that jewel of public liberty..." ---THomas Paine (the architect of America)