Talk Nation Radio for March 28, 2007
US Election Rigging, DRE’s, Iraq, Iran, and a legal victory on Mountaintop Mining
Produced by Dori Smith at WHUS a Pacifica Affiliate at the University of Connecticut Total Running Time: 29:26
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(For more information about this interview see: Another Resignation Leaves Only the Chair of Both the Ohio Republican Party and Cuyahoga’s Election Board After SoS Demands All Resign in State’s Most Democratic County…Bradblog.com)
Welcome to Talk Nation Radio, a half hour discussion on politics, human rights, and the environment. Iâ€™m Dori Smith
We hear from Leslie Cagan of United for Peace on the Iraq War spending bill, the deadline and the likelihood of a U.S. attack on Iran. Environmental writer Erik Reece fills us in on a court battle involving mountaintop mining. And we begin with Brad Friedman of Bradblog.com We spoke with Brad just after the Valerie Plame Wilson testimony before U.S. Congress. He was live blogging during that testimony. Today we will air the second part of that conversation where we spoke about another breaking story on Bradblog.com about Cuyahoga County Ohio where election officials have been asked to resign over election fraud.
Brad Friedman: They were asked to resign by the new Secretary of State in Ohio, Jennifer Brunner, who comes in and replaces the extraordinary partisan J. Kenneth Blackwell. This request for those folks to resign in Cuyahoga County, thatâ€™s essentially Cleveland, the most Democratic part of the state, comes in the wake of the conviction and sentencing of two Cuyahoga County elections officials who were convicted just last week of gaming of rigging if you will the 2004 presidential election recount in Ohio. So again this has been another area where folks like myself have reported on this for years, weâ€™ve been called â€˜conspiracy theoristsâ€™ and what do you know? In fact, they did game the 2004 presidential election recount and in fact, during the sentencing both the judge and the prosecutor said that they felt that this story goes much higher and that their superiors had to know about these matters.
The prosecutor said that the election officials who were charged were not cooperative during the investigation and that they believe there is much more to this story. So the new Secretary of State has jumped in, has asked all of those board of elections officials to resign, and in fact, the head of the board of elections Robert Bennett out there has vowed that he will not resign and it should be noted here that the head of that Cuyahoga county board of elections, Robert Bennett also happens to be the chairman of the Ohio State Republican Party.
So youâ€™ve got in Ohio which is just a snake pit still, youâ€™ve got this mix of partisan politics in our public elections system and frankly there should not be this kind of a mix. It has endangered not just Ohio but certainly the whole country as Ohio was the state whose results ended up giving the Presidency to George W. Bush in 04.
This is another story by the way that the mainstream media, I mean just days after the 2004 election the New York Times came out and regarded all of the questions that folks like me had about what happened in Ohio as â€˜conspiracy theoristsâ€™ and â€˜left wing bloggersâ€™. I would suggest the New York Times also owes an apology to folks like myself because it turns out something very very bad did go wrong in Ohio in 04 and the matter is still, to this day, being covered up and not adequately investigated by the mainstream media.
Dori Smith: Turning to electronic voting machines themselves now, the DREâ€™s, they are under scrutiny again but they have always been under scrutiny by bloggers. Just talk about this new challenge to get rid of DREâ€™s because even though they may produce a paper trail that may not be enough to protect them from various kinds of fraud.
Brad Friedman: The concern is election insiders who have access to these machines who can game the system. Here is a place where I believe the bloggers, the progressive bloggers, had as well dropped the ball in many cases. One of the biggest progressive blogs out there, Daily Kos, actually banned and purged diarists who were writing about the Ohio 2004 election controversy and trying to investigate that matter, the circle of folks who have been looking into this gets even smaller.
But yes there has been a controversy about these DRE, Direct Recording Electronic, or sometimes known as touch screen voting systems, for quite some time. You now have Democrats in control of Congress. Rush Holt in the House has brought forward an election reform bill that has a lot of very good stuff in it. However, he stops short of banning these DRE voting systems.
Now the fact is with or without a so called paper trail these systems are damned dangerous and are antithetical to democracy because it is quite literally impossible, impossible for anyone who votes on a DRE system to verify that their vote was recorded correctly. It canâ€™t be done. You can verify these so-called paper trails all you want but the dirty little secret is that the paper trails are not used for the election results. They use the machine numbers, the internal numbers, and there is no way that a human being can actually verify those numbers prior to them being tabulated and recorded on election night.
So weâ€™ve got to ban these DRE touch screen systems, there is no reason in the world not to, and in fact we ran an item today at Bradblog.com called, â€˜A Challenge to Opponents of A Ban on Electronic Ballots,â€™ asking them, asking anyone, right left center, I donâ€™t care, step forward and give a single reason that DREs should be allowed under the Holt bill or for that matter anywhere in America again.
They are dangerous, they are disenfranchising, when they break down voters simply canâ€™t vote, and that doesnâ€™t happen when you deal with a paper based ballot system. By the way we saw that in 2006 all across the country with thousands of legally registered voters unable simply to cast a vote because when a DRE system breaks down there is nothing to vote on.
They are disenfranchising, antithetical to democracy, never mind that they are hackable, that they are inaccurate, and all of this has been proven time and time again by scientific studies from Princeton University to NYUâ€™s Brandon Center of Justice, to Johnâ€™s Hopkins, UC Berkeley and on and on. Even the governmentâ€™s own Homeland Security Department has issued warnings about these systems. Yet, we continue to use them and this latest bill by Rush Holt, HR 811 allows them to continue to be used and itâ€™s just extraordinary, mind blowing, and really begs the question of what the hell are these people thinking at this point?
Dori Smith: Now the news report cited on your blog, bradblog.com is that two Cuyahoga County election officials were found guilty of rigging the 2004 presidential election recount. And I want to ask you about recounts because during the 2006 election I observed recounts at three locations in the state of Connecticut. A recount of the 2nd district race was going on and that was between former Congressman Rob Simmons the Republican, and Democrat Joe Courtney who ultimately took office.
I interviewed Professor Alex Shvartsman a computer expert from the University of Connecticut; he was under contract with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s office to look into machine security. There were new Diebold optical scan machines in use in 25 locations.
Now this professor had warned of vulnerability with the memory cards in those machines and that was what he targeted in what he told the Secretary of State. Basically this is what he told me: â€˜I realize that LHS says that, you know open up the machines, switch the cards, this is highly unadvisable.â€™
Click here (For the Talk Nation Radio interview posted November 30, 2006 with Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and Deputy Secretary Leslie D. Mara)
Despite Professor Shvartsmanâ€™s warning, and despite written instructions, a protocol that the Secretary of Stateâ€™s office sent to LHS, the company that provided the machines to Connecticut, the LHS salesmen were on site with memory cards ready to put them in machines that had been used in the casting of the vote, put them in machines that were in process of a recount. And they did make changes to the memory cards during the recount (according to Montville poll workers we interviewed on tape.) So the Secretary of Stateâ€™s office expressed surprise about this, but the bigger problem was the way the vote had been essentially privatized to LHS. The folks at the polls really thought of them as state officials.
Brad Friedman: This is what we see all the time with the voting machine companies, their vendors, their employees, are actually the ones coming in and dealing with any technical problems, any recounts, any audits, itâ€™s incredible. Thatâ€™s what you need because these are the only people who actually understand how these systems work. And when you are relying on companies, private companies, to come in and tell you what is going on in your public democracy you are at a very very dangerous place and I would argue thatâ€™s exactly where our Democracy is right now and it simply underscores the need for the public to get involved, for the media to get involved, to be there, whenever any vote is counted or recounted.
More and more as we have now privatized this system to make it harder for mere mortals to be able to determine if the results are accurate or not, you are going to see more and more of these questions. This is one of the reasons it is so important to get electronic balloting out of our system rather than institutionalize it and allow it as the Rush Holt bill does in many ways.
Basically if you canâ€™t see it you canâ€™t count it. Youâ€™ve got paper ballots that are actually marked by human beings and you can actually look at those paper ballots and determine their intent. This cannot be done with paper trails; this cannot be done with internal electronic ballots that you have with DREs. We have currently got five different House races from last November being challenged in the United Stateâ€™s Congress because of problems that happened on the voting machines last November.
In one case most famously right now down in Sarasota Florida youâ€™ve got 18000 votes that completely disappeared in an election where the result was determined by 369 votes. And the voting machine manufacturer in the state trial thatâ€™s occurring down there has admitted that were it not for problems with these voting machines the Democrat Christine Jennings would have beaten the Republican Vern Buchanan. So we are only going to see more and more of these things until elections officials start to get it, get the picture, and Iâ€™m talking about Republicans and Democrats alike, until they start to realize that citizen oversight and transparency underscores this system.
Remember our country and indeed our electoral system is founded on checks and balances. It is not based on trust. We have a very rich history in this country of gaming elections and I think a lot of Americans find that hard to believe but if you take a look at it billions if not trillions of dollars are frequently riding on these elections. There is a great incentive to game the system and thatâ€™s why you need transparency not trust and faith based voting. The best elections officials out there will tell you, â€˜no donâ€™t trust me, donâ€™t trust anyone if you canâ€™t see it and verify it for yourself.â€™
Dori Smith: You can continue this conversation about elections and corruption in Washington with Brad Friedman at Bradblog.com. The President has issued another threat to veto the 122 billion dollar funding bill for Iraq and Afghanistan unless Democrats remove the deadline of March 2008 for a withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. The funding bill passed in both houses of congress with the deadline and now the President is chastising Congress and arguing that the bill will delay needed funding for soldiers in combat. The original funding bill contained a restriction designed to force the White House to come back to Congress before launching an attack on Iran. That restriction was removed and questions remain about why. Various guests on this program including Journalist Dahr Jamail and Attorney Francis A. Boyle have warned that an attack on Iran is being planned by the Bush/Cheney White House. Attorney Boyle has argued that the President should be impeached in order to block a war against Iran.
Leslie Cagan joins us next. She is National Coordinator for United for Peace a core group opposed to the war from the start. Leslie Kagan welcome to Talk Nation Radio.
Leslie Cagan: Hi.
Dori Smith: We have been looking at a very difficult process in Iraq, and yet almost unbelievably the US has also continued to saber rattle and defend preemption doctrine on Iran. (See Tarpley story in that link, Russian sources say attack scheduled for early April, perhaps the 6th) I want to ask you your thoughts about where things stand.
Leslie Cagan: Itâ€™s quite hard to know what exactly is going on in the minds of George Bush or those close to him. Part of me doesnâ€™t even want to try to understand. (laughs) Itâ€™s such a convoluted way of thinking. I think there is reason to be concerned. There are many indications over the last few years, the last two years or so that the Bush administration seems to be seriously considering the option of military action against Iran. I just noticed in the paper this morning a little piece about how these maneuvers and US Military operations in the Persian Gulf are on the largest scale since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. And at least this one article I was reading said they thought it was in part to send a message to Iran. Again thatâ€™s just the latest indication. Clearly there are reasons, enough reasons to be concerned, especially given the track record of this administration and what they have done in Iraq and continue to do in Iraq against the advice of people literally all around the world let alone the majority of the people of this country who want the war in Iraq to end. This administration, the Bush administration, keeps forging ahead. So even though many might say a military strike against Iran would be absolutely ridiculous it doesnâ€™t mean that reason will win the argument and this is very possible, that this administration will decide to take military action.
I guess obviously the next question is why, what is the interest here? What is going on here? And I think this is a complicated set of dynamics that are at play but I do think one if not the central issue underlying much of US policy both toward Iraq and toward Iran has to do with access to and control of resources; oil in particular but other resources as well in that region. Itâ€™s not the only dynamic in play but I think we have to take that one extremely seriously.
Dori Smith: Your organization United for Peace and Justice was supporting Senator Webb in his amendment to prevent US funding from being used to attack Iran. Has Senator Webb made any statements after that was removed from the supplemental bill?
Leslie Cagan: I havenâ€™t seen any yet so I donâ€™t know what his present thinking is. Let me just say one thing also to be very clear that while that kind of language is important, mostly because it puts Iran right on the radar screen, everybody has to see it; that is the language that says that the President and the Executive Branch cannot take military action without prior authorization from the Congress, while thatâ€™s important itâ€™s not the only thing that would prevent such an attack from happening. But of course one danger that we could run into, something that happened four years ago, actually four and a half years ago now, in the fall of 2002, when Congress did give the President the authority to go ahead and attack Iraq. They gave him the military authorization to do so. Now obviously a lot of that was based on lies. I donâ€™t know why so many members of the Congress fell for the lies when many anti-war activists in this country and in fact governments around the world did not fall for the lies but it seems that members of Congress fell for the lies that were being fed by the Bush administration and gave them the authorization that they wanted. So just because an amendment like that had passed and had it been in the legislation, that would have been a good step in the right direction but that would not have settled the matter by any means.
Dori Smith: They have offered the suggestion from the White House in fact and White House officials; they have not taken an attack off of the table as it were and no one seems to be going out of their way to deny the idea that nuclear weapons might be used.
Leslie Cagan: Right. I think one of the really frightening things and there are many frightening things about the Bush administration, but one of the really frightening things is that they not only have put into play this notion of preemptive first strike, that is that they can decide to take military action literally against any nation in the world at any time on any pretext, using whatever weapons they want, not only have they done that in a break from what US policy has been in the past but they also have put out very clearly that they are not taking the option of using nuclear weapons off the table in any situation. And that is an extremely frightening proposition I think that there is not nearly enough consciousness or awareness about what it means that we have all of these nuclear weapons and just how dangerous, how deadly and dangerous using any nuclear weapon at this point would be let along a whole host of them. You know once you use one that opens the door to start using more.
So we completely support nuclear disarmament. We think that the first step to global nuclear disarmament and a truly nuclear free planet has to be made by the US since we have the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. Why would any country in the world believe us that we are interested in nuclear disarmament if we donâ€™t start taking some steps here? In fact, we are obligated to take those steps under the nuclear non proliferation treaty which we are a signer on but we have done nothing in terms of moving toward nuclear disarmament.
Dori Smith: Just comment on the latest Iraq spending bill and what it would mean if the White House vetoes it where we would all go from here?
Leslie Cagan: Thatâ€™s a very interesting question also where do we go from here? Of course they did take action already in the Senate. We were trying to get people to keep those calls and keep that pressure on the Senate right up until the vote was taken. What happens now is that the Senate and the House have both passed their own versions of bills that will give more money to the Bush administration for the ongoing war and occupation in Iraq. Itâ€™s about a $100 billion dollars more for the war, thatâ€™s billion with a B not million more for the war. But thereâ€™s other parts of the language in each version of these bills that are different, one from the other, so what happens now and this is a standard practice in how legislation moves through Congress is there will be a conference committee set up and then some members of the House and some members of the Senate will be appointed by the leadership of the House and Senate to meet together to work out common language so that there is one bill that then will have to go back to the House and to the Senate for another vote. And then assuming it passes both the House and the Senate then it goes to the President for him to sign into law or to veto.
The President has said very clearly that he will not sign any bill that comes to him that has any kind of time line for withdrawing the troops. So this is going to be a very interesting dynamic if in fact the final wording that passes the House and Senate that goes through these steps for approval does have a timeline in it which both the Senate and the House versions do even though we think, the anti war movement is unhappy with that time line we think itâ€™s much too late. We need a shorter time line to start the withdrawal of troops, start and complete the withdrawal of troops. But even with a long time line if the final version has that in it and it goes to the President he has said he is not going to sign that. If he doesnâ€™t sign it then he doesnâ€™t get the money he has asked for so it will be very interesting to see what happens both in the conference committee and as they write the new language when it goes back to the House and the Senate and then finally when it gets to the President.
I should say all of this is going to take several more weeks because next week Congress goes on recess. The Senate will be out for a week and the House will be out for two weeks so we believe, this could change, but we believe the conference committee will not even start its work for another two weeks or two and a half weeks. So this is all going to take a while longer before it gets resolved.
Dori Smith: Do we run a risk though that itâ€™s not in the best interest of policy makers who want the US to stay in Iraq at those new bases that we have there, do we run the risk that they will in some way tolerate more chaos or even as has happened in the past cultivate more instability as a way to argue that they are desperately needed in Iraq? I mean we have been hearing about successes but the news of failures continues to roll out too.
Leslie Cagan: Yeah itâ€™s hard to know how all of this is going to play out. Clearly the situation in Iraq itself has a long way to go before things are stabilized and calm and peace can return to that nation. Itâ€™s not clear who is stoking which fires and there is a lot that is very hard to judge from this distance. What we do believe is that the first step to bringing peace and stability back to Iraq is the withdrawal of US troops and US forces. We call for the complete withdrawal of those troops and forces and not leaving any bases behind or any troops behind. Obviously there are those in Congress, even some who are opposed to the war, who think we have to start withdrawing troops soon, now. Some of them think that we also need to leave some troops there or in Kuwait or close by. We think that is the wrong way to go that all of the troops need to be brought home completely and unconditionally.
Itâ€™s hard to know totally, none of us has a crystal ball, we canâ€™t see into the future, so itâ€™s hard to know exactly how things are going to be playing out on the ground in Iraq. What we do know is that they continue every single day that the US is there they continue to be horrendous and there is death and destruction throughout the country throughout the society, basic needs are not being met, the health care system, educational system, much of the infrastructure, itâ€™s in complete disarray; people are unemployed, itâ€™s a nightmare. And the continued US Military occupation is the core problem at this point and if the US were to leave the doors would open to beginning to move Iraq into a new state into a new moment in its history.
Dori Smith: Leslie Cagan thanks so much for joining us.
Leslie Cagan: Sure. Thank you.
Dori Smith: Leslie Cagan is the National Coordinator for United for Peace. Environmental groups like I Love Mountains and Mountain Justice Summer or Earth First have been struggling for years to try to stop the coal industry from blowing the tops off of mountains in order to get at the coal.
On the 26th a federal judge in Charleston, West Virginia, ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers violated federal law by issuing valley fill permits for mountaintop removal mines without conducting extensive environmental reviews. Erik Reece is author of, â€˜Lost Mountain, a Year in the Vanishing Wildernessâ€™. He is an artist in residence in the English Department of the University of Kentucky. I asked him to tell us why this destructive practice is even used.
Erik Reece: Itâ€™s the quickest and the cheapest way to extract coal in the mountains of Appalachia and unfortunately itâ€™s the most destructive because what the companies do is they blast in very thick seams of sandstone to get to very thin seams of coal. They mix ammonium nitrate and fuel oil together and they just blast the tops of the mountains off, all of the tops along with the forests and everything and they just dump it into the valleys below. So that they have buried thousands of miles of streams using this process and cracked peopleâ€™s wells and house foundations and just in general created mayhem.
Dori Smith: The general public doesnâ€™t seem to know much about whatâ€™s going on. Itâ€™s sort of a failure of media here. Have you been trying to call attention to this story for some time now?
Erik Reece: Well I wrote a book about it and yeah, Iâ€™ve been trying, and people around here, in Kentucky and West Virginia and Virginia and Tennessee have been trying, but weâ€™re kind of a remote area. The mountains are very remote. Itâ€™s been hard to get west coast and east coast media to pay attention. I mean every time there is a mud slide in California it makes the national news and thatâ€™s happening every day around here and it just doesnâ€™t get covered.
Dori Smith: Do you think these mud slides are largely related to these mining practices?
Erik Reece: Yeah I know they are. Once you create these valley fills by dumping all of this debris off the mountainside then you just have big barren funnels where the water and the mud is just pouring off.
Dori Smith: Now in the global warming story we saw how companies like Exxon Mobil hired public relations firms to market the impressions of scientists that global warming wasnâ€™t real or to down play serious and significant findings on global warming. What about mountaintop mining? Has the same thing happened?
Erik Reece: I think itâ€™s happening now. What we are trying to do is connect the two to make people see that coal is bad when you burn it and coal is bad when you extract it and that coal is one of the most poisonous substances on earth and we need to get away from it.
Dori Smith: There are amazing web sites set up where you can learn the facts about this, ilovemountains.org and we will be hearing from that organization next time, but evidently we are talking about 450 mountains destroyed, huge areas of land turned into moonscape, homes destroyed, lives lost. And there have been various legal actions without apparent success at preventing this practice. Just talk about the background of this case.
Erik Reece: Well in 2002 George Bush brought an industry lobbyist named Stephen Griles in as Deputy Secretary of the Interior. And J. Stephen Griles rewrote the Clean Water Act changing one word, the word â€˜wasteâ€™ to â€˜fillâ€™ so that all material from a mine site could be dumped into streams as quote â€˜fillâ€™ material. Last week Griles was implicated and lied to Congress about a connection to Jack Abramoff and he is on his way to prison. So one of the reasons we havenâ€™t gotten any legislation done is simply for the last eight years we have had this classic fox is guarding the henhouse scenario.
I think that is about to change. Whatâ€™s happened with the Army Corps of Engineers is they have been fast tracking mining permits without truly studying the watersheds and the ecosystems that they are damaging. And so thatâ€™s what this is about. The Corps is feeling intense pressure from the Bush administration and from the coal industry because coal prices are high right now and there is all of this volatility about oil. So the Corps has just felt a lot of pressure to do this.
Dori Smith: Erik Reece is writer in residence at the University of Kentucky. His book is â€˜Lost Mountain, a Year in the Vanishing Wildernessâ€™. You an learn more about the practice of mountaintop mining at ilovemountains.org.
For Talk Nation Radio Iâ€™m Dori Smith. Talk Nation Radio is produced in the studios of WHUS at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut. WHUS.org to listen live Wed. at 5 PM. Talknationradio.org and Talknation.org for transcripts and discussions.
Truthout.org has an interesting footnote to the story and in the link about J. Stephen Griles above note how they came out with important information about Griles well in advance of the mainstream media. Ex-Interior Deputy Pleads Guilty in Abramoff Probe The Associated Press, Friday 23 March 2007. Under the plea agreement, federal prosecutors agreed to propose no more than a 10-month prison sentence for Griles – the minimum they could ask for under sentencing guidelines – that would allow him to serve half that time in prison and half either in a halfway house or under house arrest.
Our music is by Fritz Heede. Special thanks to the engineering staff at WHUS and to Pacifica.org and Radio4all.net for allowing us to upload this program to their websites so that others may download the program and thank you to the many radio producers and production staff members that have written to us to tell us that they like our show. We are working on some upgrades to the programâ€™s sound quality and to the Talk Nation web page. Your suggestions are welcome. Write to Dori Smith at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite assurances from the Secretary of State in Connecticut that a protocol was submitted in writing to LHS who provided Diebold Optical Scan Voting Machines to the State of Connecticut, the LHS staff members who were onsite at the set up of the election, the recount of the 2nd District, and a subsequent audit of the machines, insisted that their protocols from LHS were to open a machine with a malfunctioning memory card, open the machine and replace the card.
During our long interview with Ken Hajjar of LHS, only part of which has been aired, we asked about protocols for handling machines that malfunctioned during the election and or the recount. As of this point in the conversation we had already been told several times that LHS employees would be using the protocols given to them by their boss at LHS.
Ken Hajjar: Basically the day that we did the recount I was given one sheet of paper which was the Secretary of Stateâ€™s rules and I was just told, â€œdonâ€™t touch anything just answer questions.â€ So I donâ€™t have that with me and Iâ€™m not even sure what I did with it. I might have just thrown it away once I got through.
You know the Secretary of State has been working with some of our guidance because we have been using the same machine in four other New England states for almost 20 years. So as far as protocols and procedures are concerned a good deal of what the Secretary of State did was based on procedures that are already in place and already proven to be effective in every other New England state.
Dori Smith: What would LHS be on hand to do if the machine were to fail? You know tell me the protocol.
Ken Hajjar: Well in that case, first of all in this case that didnâ€™t happen. None of the machines failed. If a machine were to fail either on election day or in any other circumstance it would be merely a matter of removing the memory card, thereâ€™s a little card that keeps track of the votes, bring a new machine over, put the memory card in the new machine, when you turn it on the new machine picks up right where the old machine stopped.
Dori Smith: Now what if there were a problem with the memory card itself what would you do?
Ken Hajjar: In that case you would have to bring in another memory card which had been programmed the same way as the original one, and every town by the way, had a back up memory card that had been programmed and tested. So if a memory card fails then obviously that is the worst thing that can happen. Then you would have to re-feed all of the ballots.
Dori Smith: What if for some reason that happened and they didnâ€™t have any other memory cards to use. Did you guys bring any with you?
Ken Hajjar: Then we would have to supply them with a new memory card which would be tested by the registrars prior to being inserted in the machine.
Dori Smith: And tell me the protocol for that.
Ken Hajjar: The protocol is pretty straightforward. We have a data base of all of the elections in the state. So if somebody tells me that Durham (Connecticut) had a problem we would program a Durham card, we would bring it to Durham the Registrar would have already set up a â€œtest deckâ€ of ballots that had been previously hand counted, they would run that â€œtest deckâ€ through the machine and check the machine count against the hand count, and if they match up then they assured that the program has been positively coded correctly. Once thatâ€™s the case they insert that card into the machine and then they take all of the ballots and depending on what time of the day it was would depend on how big the stack of cards would be that would have to be re-fed.
Dori Smith: Ken Hajjar is director of sales and marketing at LHS Associates in Methuen, Mass.
Posted on Thursday 16 November 2006
A Talk Nation Investigation Reveals that Poll Workers, Voting Machine Providers, Voting Officials, and Officials at the Secretary of Stateâ€™s Office, had different ideas about how voting machines were to be handled on Election Day 2006 and during the recount of the 2nd Congressional District. See interview with Mike Carlson where he agrees with Ken Hajjarâ€™s version of the protocol.
Reports: Security Assessment of the Diebold Optical Scan Voting Terminal
A. Kiayias L. Michel A. Russell A. A. Shvartsman
UConn VoTeR Center and
Department of Computer Science and Engineering,
University of Connecticut
with the assistance of
M. Korman, A. See, N. Shashidhar, D. Walluck
October 30, 2006
Security Assessment of the Diebold Optical Scan Voting Terminal
We present an independent security evaluation of the AccuVote Optical Scan voting terminal (AV-OS). We identify a number of new vulnerabilities of this system which, if exploited maliciously, can invalidate the results of an election process utilizing the terminal. Furthermore, based on our findings an AV-OS can be compromised with off-the-shelf equipment in a matter of minutes even if the machine has its removable memory card sealed in place. The basic attack can be applied to effect a variety of results, including entirely neutralizing one candidate so that their votes are not counted, swapping the votes of two candidates, or biasing the results by shifting some votes from one candidate to another. Such vote tabulation corruptions can lay dormant until the election day, thus avoiding detection through pre-election tests.
Based on these findings, we describe new safe-use recommendations for the AV-OS terminal. Specifically, we recommend installation of tamper-resistant seals for (i) removable memory cards, (ii) serial port, (iii) telephone jacks, as well as (iv) screws that allow access into the terminalâ€™s interior; failure to seal any single one of these components renders the terminal susceptible to the attack outlined above. An alternative is to seal the entire Optical Scan system (sans ballot box) into a tamper-resistant container at all times other than preparation for election and deployment in an election. An unbroken chain of custody must be enforced at all times. Post-election audits are also strongly advised.
Technical report: uconn-report-os.pdf