Thursday, June 08, 2006
Conflict of Interest: Corporate Control of Elections
The Elections Center leads industry attack on computer scientists
Promotes insecure DRE machines at public’s expense
Summary by Sandra Spangler
- It has come to light that Diebold, through Jack Abramoff’s firm Greenberg Traurig, paid $275,000 to Robert Ney, Republican Chair of the House Administration Committee who has not allowed Rep. Rush Holt’s HAVA reform bill HR 550 that would require manual audits and voter verified paper records to be voted out of committee. Ney stepped down from the chairmanship and is the subject of a widening investigation that is bringing him closer to indictment.
- A powerful tightly knit closed private network operates secretly to influence Secretaries of State and Election officials in every state to enforce discipline that keeps officials accountable to vendors, not to the public. Election Directors who tell the truth like Ion Sancho, Election Director in Leon County FL and Bruce Funk, County Clerk of Emery County Utah have been demonized and threatened with loss of their jobs and pensions.
- This private network is coordinated by The Election Center that initiated a PR campaign in cooperation with an industry trade group, the Election Techology Council (ETC) within the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) funded by $100,000 contributions from each vendor member to malign the reputations of computer professionals who point out flaws and security risks of electronic voting.
- Attacks on the credibility of computer scientists continue as Diebold tries to defend itself against revelations of massive security holes that Harri Hursti in a Black Box Voting report shows were engineered into the Diebold TSx by design. Michael Shamos, PhD, a Pennsylvania computer scientist who examines and certifies machines in that state who generally has supported paperless touch screen voting, acknowledges the severity of the the national security risk. Avi Rubin, PhD a computer scientist from from Johns Hopkins who worked as an elections worker in Maryland in 2004 knows that insufficient control of chain of custody of voting machines and their smart card ballot boxes leaves these machines open to tampering. Rubin says he almost had a heart attack when he learned of the newest revelations that showed the security holes engineered into the Diebold TSx.
- The Elections Center is run by R. Doug Lewis, a political operative who reports no special expertise in voting systems security, management or risk in a skimpy biography.
- Lewis, through the Elections Center coordinates professional organizations of Elections Directors and Secretaries of State that have power over the federal and state certification of voting machines. Vendors are ex-officio members of these organizations and ply their wares through face time purchased through the corporate affiliate program.
- According to the American Prospect article Don’t Count On it “The Election Center’s members include approximately 1,000 dues-paying state and local election-administration officials, as well some voting-machine vendors. The center provides a host of services for its members, informing them of new developments in election law, sponsoring professional development conferences, and offering training workshops for new election officials. In advance of the last election, the [Elections] center also performed a quasi-oversight role over the machine-testing process.”
- The National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) was commissioned by the Federal Election Commission over a decade ago with the authority to select which private labs would test new voting-machine technologies.
- The vendors pay so-called Independent Testing Authorities to test their hardware/firmware and software. Two labs, Wyle and Ciber did not report any of these security flaws discovered by Harri Hursti and validated by the Callifornia Voting System Board. Lab directors, Shawn Southworth and Jim Dearman have served on the NASED Voting Systems Board.
- The NASED with the involvement of the Elections Center federally certifies voting systems. Most states, including Arizona, have a closed non-transparent system that rubber stamps federal certification with no performance or security tests. Only California, and perhaps Pennsylvania, have rigorous procedures to independently examine voting systems. Ironically, the Arizona SoS tested the AutoMark in an actual primary election, but did not publicly demonstrate or test the Diebold TSx
- HAVA authors mandated that the Elections Assistance Center (EAC) pass a new set of recommendations for state guidelines by 2006. The EAC passed on the responsibility for standards to the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). According to Rebecca Mercuri, PhD from Harvard University, the IEEE voting standards working group has been “hijacked” by industry representatives who place profit above security. A long-time ES&S employee, Herb Deutch chairs this working group.
- The Elections Assistance Commission chartered the National Institute of Standards (NIST) to form a committee, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) to establish standards by which voting machines would be tested. The charter requires by law that there be no conflict of interest in the decision makers.
- According to a Report from VoteTrust USA TGDC committee members Dr. Brit Williams and Paul Craft who have ties to the Election Center and vendors, intervened when vendors objected and wielded their power to compel the TGDC to delete new standards requiring voter verified paper audit trails in order to allow existing voting systems to comply with standards.
- A “revolving door” between former regulators and industry reinforces vendor influence over state certification of voting machines. A report by TrueVote Maryland calls attention to a “Whitewash in the Making.” “Maryland State Elections Director Linda Lamone, current NASED President hired a firm closely linked to vendors, the Craft Freeman & McGregor Group Inc., to “independently test” Diebold voting machines after massive security holes were reported. GOP Maryland Governor, Bob Ehrlich has repudiated the DRE machines. Paul Craft, formerly head of the Florida Bureau of Voting Systems Certification who has no credentials to evaluate voting machine security formed a partnership with former state voting machine certifiers Steve Freeman and Kate McGregor. Craft has been linked to purges of voter rolls in Florida.
- As industry has acquired power and influence by establishing a professional network coordinated by the Elections Center, the American election system has become increasingly privatized, undemocratic and unaccountable to public oversight.
- Blackboxvoting.org has posted a list of organizations that organize and maneuver U.S. Elections. BBV points out that these organizations share a:
o Privatization ethic
o Pay to play (swap contributions for face time)
o The Elections Center plays a major role in training (propagandizing).
o These organizations (NASS) (NASED) etc. consider themselves to be private entities, not public, and may claim that they are not subject to public records laws. They sometimes claim that their meetings are not subject to public meetings laws. In other words, these organizations provide a way to conduct The People's business in private.
Posted by Protect Democracy ::
6/08/2006 10:45:00 PM ::