Archive for September, 2007

Connecticut Regulations Leave Door Open to Fraud and the Further Privatization of State Elections to LHS and Diebold

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Talk Nation Radio for September 27, 2007

See transcript below for this 29:43 minute long program by Dori Smith

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Voting Rights Activists in CT Must Struggle to Reverse Privatization and Secure the Vote

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Connecticut voting rights activists with True Vote CT were initially hopeful that the Secretary of State, Susan Bysiewicz would update security protocols and regulations designed to protect the vote. Professor Michael J. Fischer of Yale University is president of the organization. He explains why the new rules are unacceptable and suggests changes. He has submitted a letter requesting changes to the Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Mara.

There may not be time for changes prior to the 2007 and 2008 elections but voting rights activists are planning to try to get revisions.

You can learn more about Connecticut election issues at and

We also hear from Daniel Seligson a poll worker from Washington D.C. who is also editor of, a project of the Pew Research Center. He discusses what his state does when memory cards fail and addresses the wider problem of failing memory cards.

Grant Gross of IDG News Service explains that Diebold Inc., has been trying unsuccessfully to sell their voting machine division.

Listen to the program live every Wed. at WHUS

Pacifica audioport file here


Talk Nation Radio for September 27, 2007
Transcript: Voting Rights Activists in CT Must Struggle to Reverse Privatization and Secure the Vote

Welcome to talk nation radio, a half hour discussion on politics, human rights, and the environment. I’m Dori Smith. We begin part four of our special on voting machine security with some recent news about the company that manufactured Connecticut’s new machines, Diebold Inc., which sought a name change for the election division to Premier Election Solutions because of the extraordinary number of reports about faulty systems. The company’s bias toward the Republican Party has also been a problem.

Now Diebold Inc. has slashed expectations for earnings from it’s elections division over controversy surrounding machine security according to a story by Grant Gross of IDG News Service. He also writes that Diebold has been trying unsuccessfully to sell it’s e-voting subsidiary.

Grant Gross: Diebold and other e-voting machine vendors didn’t anticipate the controversies with the machines, the security problems, people with security issues, and Diebold is trying to get rid of a division that has been mired in security controversies for the last several years. They and other e-voting machine manufacturers had a rush to fill this void after the 2000 election and provide these voting machines that supposedly fixed the problem of hanging chads and things like that. But they have been encountering all kinds of their own kind of security issues so Diebold’s motivation seems to be that these machines are going to continue to be under fire from security experts and others. And it doesn’t seem to be a profitable business for them.

Dori Smith: Grant Gross is Washington correspondent for IDG News Service, They are following voting technology issues.

Meanwhile, Brad Friedman of has been tracking insider trade sell offs at Diebold. Ten officers sold 665,512 shares in early August just days after California’s certification restrictions were announced. Friedman is questioning the timing of the sales and noting that Diebold was under “formal” investigation by the SEC in 2006. In 2005, the company defended itself against a securities Fraud Class Action lawsuit alleging board members engaged in insider trading, stock price manipulations, and fraud, as well as concealment of known flaws in the company’s voting machines. You can find more about that story at

There are machine problems being identified in Florida even as voters prepare to go to the polls for early voting beginning October 1st. Faulty memory cards issued to Valusia County by Diebold appear to have been misaligned at the manufacturing level according to a September 22nd piece in the Daytona Beach News Journal Online by Mary Moewe.

She writes that a Diebold spokesperson attributed the problem to faulty welding or gluing of the units. Valusia County reported 25 memory card failures after the 2004 election according to Moewe, and Diebold replaced more than 300 cards last year. Just last week tests revealed that another five memory cards needed to be replaced.

The story caught our attention for two reasons. First, the memory cards issued to Connecticut by LHS Associates of Methuen Massachusetts could have come from the same source. Connecticut’s memory cards for the Diebold Accuvote Optical Scanners originated with a company named Epson and the model has actually been discontinued according to a report to the State from the University of Connecticut voting research team. The team also noted that no reader/writer for this type of medium is readily available in the market. If Diebold continues to decline we assume and if memory cards keep failing, there could be a supply problem.

We turned to Brenda Sandler in Diebold’s certification department to find out if Connecticut is using the same memory cards. She said, “I am not sure what’s been certified in Connecticut but I thought all memory cards were the same.” We hope to learn more from Diebold shortly. (Many Epson computerized voting machine technology parts appear to be made in China.)

The other problem for State and local officials will be keeping track of memory card failures in general. The President of LHS, Connecticut’s vendor, told us his staff reports machine failures during 2006 and he said there is a record of these reports. But there may be no way to independently verify the LHS record since memory card failures were not tracked by State officials or poll workers at the 25 towns using the machines during the 2006 election.

Voting rights activists are hoping to see a more accurate record of memory card errors and any other voting machine problems for the election coming up on November 6th. (see security protocols and new voting machine draft regulations in legal process below soon plus links to voting machine stories that may interest you.)

We have been recently been doing outreach about Connecticut stories to find out what we can about the national implications. Daniel Seligson is a poll worker from Washington D.C. and editor of a project of the Pew Research center. He pointed out that when a memory card fails the voter is unaware of the problem, and might vote on a machine that is not recording the vote at the time he casts it. Such votes are counted later, he explained. This is also what Connecticut poll workers will do.

Daniel Seligson: The problem of machines arriving with problems with memory cards or with problems with the software that runs them is certainly not isolated. It’s been an issue since this rush to replace new equipment after the passage of the Help America Vote Act in 2002. And what we have seen in Connecticut and Florida and Indiana, in North Carolina and other places, is that the machines arrive with problems. I think one of the ways in which Connecticut might be fortified against this problem or at least have a way of managing it is that last year the state past one of the most comprehensive post election audit laws in the country. So even if there is a problem with the memory card malfunctioning and even if it does cause a serious problem on election day it should be detected when a hand count is compared with an electronic count from that memory card.

Having been a poll worker you know the argument is made that the voter doesn’t really notice what’s happening if it is manually fed. Well if the memory card is down and is pulled out of the machine and the ballots are being fed into the side, of course, that ballot is not going to be read at the time the voter is standing there. In my precinct where I’m a poll worker we count it when no one is around. We stick it in when there is not a lot of people so we can kind of catch up on the day and if there is a problem with the ballot we don’t really know what to do with it. We have to set it aside and then hope that they can, at the central office, figure out the voter’s intent, who they intended on casting the ballot for and whether it was cast correctly or not.

Dori Smith: Daniel Seligson unless poll workers are trained to know what is happening when a memory card fails in some way they may not document the problem because they are not realizing that it even exists. That’s where the representatives of vendor LHS Associates have stepped in, taken over, and violated the security protocols. Just comment on the wider problem of memory card swapping.

Daniel Seligson: Certainly you have identified an important issue which is the pulling out of memory cards and moving them around. I know that Alexander Shvartsman and his team at UConn Voting Research Team) certainly identified some vulnerabilities with the security of these optical scan voting machines and he highlighted concerns about the handling of memory cards and locking them and putting on tamper proof seals or tamper evident seals indicating that they haven’t been touched during an Election Day.

So the fact that the cards are being pulled out and pushed back in, I’m not exactly sure what exactly the rules of engagement are in Connecticut but that doesn’t sound like something that the UConn scientists would recommend and it’s certainly nothing that the state should be looking the other way about. There have been incidents in other states where just before Election Day ES&S, for example, in Indiana, switched the software on a machine to do quote unquote “an upgrade” and by altering the software that runs the machine before Election Day you are violating State Law in that case because the machine has been certified with the software that was in it. When you change the software the machine should need to be re-certified.

The machines in Connecticut are certified with the memory cards that are in them. If there is a problem, they are pulled out and moved to another machine then I’m not sure if that’s something that’s allowable in the state. So yeah I think that is an important issue and that’s a concern.

Dori Smith: And there are many political issues here for anyone setting up protocols or dealing with companies. They don’t want to look bad. But also there has been a discussion going on about whether or not talking about voting machine problems discourages people, makes them cynical, so that they don’t come to the polls. What is your experience with that in Washington D.C. or in your work at

Daniel Seligson: We haven’t seen a drop off in voter turn out in areas where voters are particularly concerned about the security and the liability of the machines. I don’t really know what the reasons are for that. I’m not a political scientist. But in Georgia and Maryland and Florida, areas where they were using paperless electronic voting machines and there have been serious concerns raised, we haven’t seen any kind of drop off in turn out. We maybe have seen an increase in voter cynicism and we may have seen an increase in some dissatisfaction with the voting process but that hasn’t really kept people from voting. They might be showing up angrier but they are voting.

Dori Smith: Finally Daniel Seligson, there have been Voting rights activists with True Vote Connecticut who have been urging Connecticut’s Secretary of State, Susan Bysiewicz to extend the lifetime of the Voting Technology Standards Board (VTSB). That agency reviewed voting machine technology during the bid process on the machines and could have fostered more detailed work on security protocols. The group has also identified a need for another independent state agency with oversight and perhaps even enforcement capability. What is happening in other states in regard to the setting up of this kind of agencies?

Daniel Seligson: Every state is really run differently as far as elections administration. In Florida, for example, the supervisor of elections has a lot more authority in some states than the top county or jurisdictional election official would have in others. When problems are identified with the machines it’s usually at the local level. That’s the kind of situation where you have to go back to the state and then the state certification would take over and go back to the locality and the localities make sure the machines are working OK.

I think generally there is no agency aside from the Secretary of State’s division of elections in most of the country that would have any authority over this kind of problem. The federal government conducts testing and certification and some states have their own testing and certification on top of that, in fact most states do, but after that there isn’t a lot on the ground so there could be a gap if there is something wrong with the machines.

These laws and certification protocols were set up in a time when machines were a lot lower tech, lever machines, really nothing to them. You know they are made of metal, they have been using them for a hundred and ten years or something. Certification is fairly simple. And if you are using a piece of paper and a pencil there is really no certification to be done at all. But now that machines have become more complicated certification testing and ongoing security protocol has become sufficiently more complicated as well. I think Connecticut is a stand out for having this extra layer of having this center at UConn have a continuing role in evaluating the security and reliability of machines.

Dori Smith: Have there been serious problems identified in Washington D.C. where you are working?

Daniel Seligson: As a poll worker in Washington, D.C. I have had instances where the machine’s journal was not printing. That’s not a vote by vote print out but it tells you that each voter cast a ballot. It also has an event log of whether the optical scan machine was opened or not. And at one point that wasn’t working so we had to take the machine off line. We have also had instances where the machine was jamming or something like that. There is protocol in place for poll workers to deal with machines that are malfunctioning at least where I was trained as a poll worker. Generally you take the machine off line, you call someone for tech support, you manually re-feed the ballots and then those ballots are taken out and counted later either hand counted back at the office or counted in the same way that optical scan ballots are essentially counted at a jurisdictions office.

So there is some protocol for certain kinds of malfunctions. Now I’m not sure what a memory card malfunction in this particular type of machine looks like. I wasn’t trained on this particular type of machine, what the poll worker sees. I would imagine that what happens is they try to feed the ballot in and it just doesn’t take it. There certainly is some protocol for dealing with that but you have this gap where the voters who were using the machine in the time that the scanner wasn’t scanning won’t have the ability to have their ballots verified by the machine for errors. And that’s part of what Connecticut did when they got rid of lever machines was to agree that the Federal Government provide voting machines that assist voters in identifying potentially ballot spoiling errors. If the machine’s scanner isn’t working correctly then there is no ability to detect those errors.

Dori Smith: Daniel Seligson is a poll worker from Washington D.C. who also edits a project of the Pew Research Center.

Voting rights activists all over the country have been scrambling to keep up with changes to voting machine security regulations and where the Presidential primaries have been moved up there has been even more pressure on both activists and state officials. We’ve been turning to Professor Michael J. Fischer for information on the computerized voting systems being used for the first time throughout Connecticut November 6th. The Yale computer scientist is also President of True Vote Connecticut online at

Professor Fisher joins us next to discuss his letter to Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Mara alerting her to problems with the new voting machine security protocols that were just released. True Vote has been welcomed into the Secretary of State’s office to express their concerns and make suggestions however Professor Fischer and others are frustrated about the results. I asked him to explain what he told the Secretary of State’s office on the subject of language in the protocols about memory card swapping which he thinks must be changed.

Michael J. Fischer: The proposed draft regulations that I have just reviewed go a small distance toward correcting some of the problems in the old regulations. But they still do not treat the memory card as an equal partner with the scanner. In fact, the correct operation of the scanner depends completely on the memory card that is placed in the scanner of course as well as what is going into the scanner itself. We have recommended, for over a year, and this also has recommended by Alex Shvartsman’s group at UConn that the memory cards be sealed into the scanners at the start of the election and that they not be removed during the election under any circumstances; so that the memory card and the scanner becomes a unit, it goes through the pre-election testing as a unit, it is used as a unit, and if anything fails it is taken off line as a unit.

Dori Smith: You and other computer scientists have been urging the Secretary of State’s office to look at the memory cards more carefully and implement better security protocols for more than a year now?

Michael J. Fisher: Over a year ago Alex Shvartsman at UConn recommended, and True Vote CT concurred with the recommendation, that the memory cards be sealed into the scanners before the elections and that the sealed memory card and scanner be tested as a unit in the pre-election logic and accuracy testing and that they continue to be treated as a unit throughout the election. That the memory card never be removed from the scanner once the election has started.

In particular, if the machine failed during the election that the failed memory card and scanner should be left intact and retired from service and then the third scanner and memory card be used in its place. The current protocols however do not go anywhere near that far. They say that if the scanner fails that the protocol is to call LHS and ask them what to do and that the LHS technician will instruct the registrar on what they should do to possibly retire the machine and recover from this failure. We object to that on two counts, first of all the machines should not be repaired during an election. The whole idea of safe guards and testing is to make sure that the machine is as correct as possible on Election Day. If the machine in fact has failed one knows that there is something wrong with it and just because one can reboot it and it maybe appears to be working, until the cause of the failure has been determined and the errors repaired there is no reason to trust that machine anymore. Moreover there is no reason to trust the totals that have appeared on it to date so when a machine is retired because it has failed the ballots should be removed from that machine and either counted by hand or counted on another working machine. But the totals from the failed machine should not be trusted.

So the current protocols and the draft regulations do not go this far. Now the second problem is that the draft regulations, which if approved by the state will require the force of law, makes the manufacturer responsible for a portion of the conduct of our elections.

Until now those people responsible for the elections were the towns, the registrar of voters and the town clerks and the Secretary of the State and other state agencies such as the State Election Enforcement Commission.

Now with these new regulations we are putting a private company into the official position of having responsibility for the safe conduct of Connecticut’s elections. I consider this a kind of privatization of our democracy and it is an extremely dangerous trend and I will oppose this portion of the draft regulations as strongly as I can because I think it is damaging to our democracy to be privatizing an essential function of the state.

Dori Smith: Just make the distinction for listeners. The Security protocols just drafted by the Secretary of the State’s office versus new regulations that may or may not be implemented by the 2007 or even 2008 election right because of legislative processes?

Michael J. Fischer: The regulations to which I have been referring are the regulations for the state legal system. Let me explain a little bit. The basic laws of the state are the statutes but the statutes tend to talk about general principles of governance and the details of implementing the statutes. So many state agencies are asked to create regulations. And the statute prescribes how the regulations are to be created and who is to create them and there is a procedure for the approval of regulations.

So in the case of the conduct of elections, these details steps about how elections are to be conducted, who has custody of the machines, who sets up the machines, and so forth. These are spelled out in regulations. The Secretary of the State has the responsibility for creating these regulations but the regulations must go through a state approval process before they become effective.

The regulations governing the use of optical scanners, which in the regulations are called ‘mark sense machines’ were last revived I believe in 1994 when the state first acquired a few scanners to count absentee ballots. So those regulations have been unchanged until the present.

I’m told by the Deputy Secretary of State that the process for revising regulations takes about 18 months from beginning to end and that they began the process of revising these regulations several months ago. So we are nearing the end of the approval process for these regulations.

What I reviewed as the current draft that has been moving through this approval process I understand that the next step is to have it pass by the Attorney General to check for the possible legal implications of these regulations. Then there is the State Legislative Committee that has to approve the regulations before they become a statute.

The Deputy Secretary of the State has expressed a desire to have the regulations in place by the November 2007 elections but there is no guarantee that they will in fact be approved by that time. Assuming that they have been on their course they very likely will be in place by November 2008.

Dori Smith: How much work needs to be done to bring these regulations to bring them up to par in terms of voting machine security and what kinds of information do you think is essential for the state to look at in order to upgrade them?

Michael J. Fischer: The regulations as they stand now are very, in most respects, just a minor upgrading of what was known in 1994. Since that time there has been a tremendous amount of study of the optical scanners, these so called ‘mark sense machines’ and discovery and understanding of many of the security vulnerabilities that simply were not known in 1994. Some of that work was done here in Connecticut at the UConn Voter Center but it’s been work done all over the country with many reports of these vulnerabilities of the scanners.

A very nice summary is given by the recent California Berkley Report that had bee followed by the California Secretary of the State who was very concerned about the vulnerabilities in these electronic voting machines including the Diebold Optical Scanners that we use here in Connecticut. (See link below)

That study which had a number of security experts among its authors did a very thorough analysis and referenced these reports that are known and came up with a long list of the known vulnerabilities and suggestions about what to do about them.

So for starters the Connecticut Secretary of the State should read that report, understand what it is saying, and incorporate those suggestions into Connecticut regulations. Unfortunately there seems to be nobody on her staff who has the expertise to understand such a report. Of course, the people at UConn can understand it but their business is security research. It’s not the providing of state regulations and they are not lawyers. We have a situation where there is no office that has both the legal knowledge and the technical expertise to even understand the problems much less put them into the form of effective regulations to protect our elections.

Dori Smith: Given that the Connecticut Secretary of the State’s office invited True Vote Connecticut into the process and you have tried to explain the need for better security protocols and better regulations, what would you say is needed now? And just explain what has gone wrong in the understanding you may have of what needs to happen? I mean we have seen pressure from LHS Associates, there is of course political pressure, not wanting to look bad, issues like that. Why don’t you comment on what’s gone wrong and what would be necessary again to fix this just in terms of the Secretary of State’s office and what they need to do now.

Michael J. Fischer: The problem that the Secretary of the State’s office faces is that they have to deal with a complicated technological issue in a new technology that has been acquired. They don’t have the technical expertise to understand the issues or to understand how they impact the regulations and the certification procedures that their office is responsible for. It would be like the Department of Transportation trying to supervise the construction of bridges if it had no structural engineers on their staff only lawyers. And one wonders what kind of bridges our state would have if there was no expertise on highway construction and maintenance in the office that would be responsible for that.

I’m not critical of the Secretary of the State for not having had this in the past because this kind of expertise was not needed until this electronic technology was acquired. But the state did acquire it and now that expertise is vital and the office has not been restructured to add a team to provide this expertise. And I say a team because I don’t feel that any one individual is capable of providing the broad perspective and the present knowledge that is needed to come up with a state election system.

The Legislature made a step in that direction a couple of years ago when it created the Voting Technology Standards Board. The idea being that this board would study voting technology and make recommendations for its safe use. The board met a few times and in fact produced some very valuable recommendations but the initial board was created with a sunset clause of January 2006 so the board was disbanded at that time. The Legislature considered a bill that would continue the board, either extend its tenure or make it permanent but the Secretary of the State very strongly opposed the continuation of this board and instead used the contract with the University of Connecticut as a substitute, the reasoning being that we will have access to the expertise we need through UConn.

Now that’s a nice principle but the problem is that UConn is not a part of the Secretary of the State’s office. Their primary responsibility is education and research. It is not the drafting of state regulations and the conduct of state elections. So it is not their primary mission to do these jobs and while they can provide very helpful input into the Secretary of State’s office and groups like True Vote Connecticut can and have to the best of our ability; there is nobody at that office who is capable of receiving the information and understanding it to enough depth to then translate it into regulations and protocols about state elections.

Instead, what the Secretary of the State’s office does in response to any technical challenges is to turn to LHS Associates and follow their advice. So LHS Associates has in effect become the privatized substitute for the State Voting Technology Standard’s Board that existed for a short time.

Dori Smith: Professor Fischer thank you so much for joining us.

Michael J. Fischer: Thank you for having me on the show. I would also encourage concerned voters to contact their town Registrar of Voters and their Town Clerk and express any reservations they have about the way the elections are run. They should understand that these people are not in a good position to do anything about it but they of course can express their frustration to the state representatives and our Secretary of the State.

I would also encourage people to contact their state legislators and let them know that there is a serious problem that they want corrected. There are many things the state can do but it will require citizen pressure to cause real change to happen.

Dori Smith: Professor Michael J. Fischer is in the Computer Science Department at Yale University. He is also President of True Vote Connecticut, and you can also try for information about Connecticut elections.

For Talk Nation Radio I’m Dori Smith. Talk Nation Radio is produced at the studios of WHUS at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. for transcripts and discussions.
PDF file of the voting systems used in California
Wired Magazine overview of California voting machine problems.
Links to UC Berkeley News overview search voting machines.

How Diebold woos state officials

Dan Rather Reports, the trouble with touchscreens link re voting machine security measures of Diebold lax

Connecticut Voting Rights Activists Concerned about New Voting Machine Security Protocols for 2007-2008

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Talk Nation Radio for September 20, 2007

Listen to an Mp3 of this show.

Computer Scientist Michael J. Fischer and Bob Fitrakis of Free Press on voting machine security protocols. Ongoing Problems for Connecticut and Ohio

Welcome to Talk Nation Radio, a half hour discussion on politics, human rights, and the environment. I’m Dori Smith. We look at the state’s new protocols for voting machine security in part three of our four part special on Connecticut’s new Diebold AccuVote Optical Scan Voting Machines. While voting rights activists with True Vote Connecticut are encouraged that a process is underway to improve security protocols they have been expressing disappointment at the way the protocols were written just under the wire for state primaries September 11th. Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Mara said her office intends to revise the protocols for the November 6th vote coming up in just 45 days. She said our program was a catalyst for a review of the activities of LHS Associates staff members at the polls and voting machine security. LHS is the vendor for the Diebold machines. The President of the company, John Silvestro, has admitted his staff made memory card replacements during the 2nd district recount. He said they wouldn’t do so again. But do the new protocols hold LHS to that? Would they ensure air tight security measures when Connecticut voting machines are handled in 2007 and 2008 elections? In a word, “no” says Professor Michael J. Fischer of True Vote Connecticut and Yale University’s Computer Science Department.

Michael J. Fischer: The actual election day protocols I had not even seen until last week and having reviewed them I’m disappointed in them at many different levels.

Dori Smith: Professor Fischer Deputy Secretary of State Mara and Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz have both said they want to secure the memory cards, that they are important. And they cite the input of the University of Connecticut’s Voting Research Team that is under state contract to advise them. Computer science professor Alexander Shvartsman at Uconn’s Voting Technology Research Center, told their office that the memory cards were the chief security vulnerability That was just prior to the 2006 electoral session and we of course observed during a year long investigation–LHS did not maintain the SOS Security Protocols. During the 2nd district recount they removed a memory card from a machine and without state authority they put in a card that had been in their possession. What portions of these protocols do you think would bring better adherence in light of these previous violations and security vulnerabilities to the memory cards?

Michael J. Fischer: Well this protocol does not really address the problems with the memory cards. Of course this is not the entire moderator’s handbook and I do not know what other regulations have been issued. But as far as this document with state election day protocols that was used in the recent municipal primaries it does not address the issues of sealing the memory cards into the scanners and prohibiting their being removed from the machines. In fact, it talks about ‘use the back up memory card provided’ in item number 3. It says what to do if you turn on the machine and the LCD screen says, ‘OK to format’.

Dori Smith: Well that number 3 and other protocols I’m looking at here tells registrars who to report problems to during elections. Discuss why that chain of reporting is significant.

Michael J. Fischer: The election day protocols is really a list of 25 election day problems and what do you do if things occur. And the general flow of information on these is to notify the Registrar of Voters (ROV) and then the ROV or the LHS technicians who will be on site to call the LHS Help Desk to log the case and then LHS is going to tell the ROV or the technician what to do to try and fix the problem. So it puts LHS right in the center of this both in what should be done to handle these machines and it also puts them in charge of logging the problem and making the record available so that after the election it’s possible to do an evaluation of how well the machines performed.

It’s not in LHS’s interest to have their machines viewed as failure prone and I don’t think that they should be in the pipeline between the moderator and the registrar on the one hand and the SOS on the other. So I think the whole flow of information that has been set up is wrong.

When there are problems of course they may begin with the voters but the voter will report the problems to the moderator the moderator to the ROV and at that point it should go directly to the SOS office and the LHS Help Desk should only be there as a reference source not as somebody who is going to tell you how to solve the problem.

Dori Smith: Just going down the list we see LHS here and LHS there, number 7 is a crucial example though where LHS is actually given authority to provide an action plan if the memory card fails. Explain what that one says Professor.

Professor Michael J. Fischer: Protocol number 7 says what happens if on Election Day after the voting has started and it is determined that the memory card is corrupt and the procedures to be followed are to notify the ROV of the problem, the ROV or the LHS Technician calls the LHS Help Desk to log in a case, LHS provides the ROV or the Technician with the action plan to try to fix the problem. The ROV (Registrar of Voters) calls the SOS (Secretary of the State) and reports the problem to document the case and then there are the specific instructions for what to do: Shut the machine down and use the back up memory card in the back up OS machine (Diebold AccuVote OP Scan Machine). The ballots from the first machine can be recounted in the back up machine. If the back up memory card fails shut the OS machine off, all ballots will have to be inserted into a ballot box for a manual hand count. (6) Six, ROV or the Technician calls the LHS Help Desk and reports the outcome. LHS Help Desk sends the completed call sheet to the SOS with the Election Day problem final resolution.

Now I have several problems with this protocol. The first problem, and this is shared by many of the other protocols as well is that LHS is at the center of the election. While we are told on the one hand that we have not outsourced our elections to LHS, in fact, here LHS is designated as the party to provide the action plan. In other words, LHS will tell the ROV what to do in carrying out a Connecticut election. And apparently telling them what to do may include telling them to do certain things with the memory cards and these protocols do not specify what may or may not be done with the memory cards that seems to be left up to LHS contrary to what we have been assured by the Secretary of the State.

I will point out that at the beginning of this list of protocols there are three bullets: (1) If an OS machine is opened at any time then it needs to be retired for the duration of the Election Day. (2) No new memory cards will be burned on election day. But it doesn’t say that the cards won’t be swapped in and out of the machine. (3) If at any point there is a switched or back up OS machine as indicated the ballots counted in the first OS machine are to be kept separate from the ballots for analysis.

Now that procedure I just read you for protocol number 7–shut down the machine and use the back up memory card in the back up OS machine. The ballots from the first machine can be recounted in the back up machine. And then if the memory card fails shut the OS machine off, all ballots will have to be inserted into the ballot box for a manual hand count. This is very unclear to me what one is supposed to do with those ballots. Do they get fed by poll workers into the back up machine? And then maybe if the back up machine seems not to be working right then they get put into the third slot in the ballot box for the hand count? I could easily imagine this resulting in the ballots being counted twice, once by the back up machine and then again by hand and therefore getting double tallies.

This procedure also seems to explicitly tell the poll workers to insert ballots into the machine. I do not believe poll workers should be inserting ballots into the machine, ever. If I am sitting there observing the election and I see poll workers putting ballots into the machine, that’s going to appear to me to be ballot box stuffing and a tried and true way of corrupting elections and one that I don’t think Connecticut voters want any part of. So any protocol that requires the poll workers to put ballots into the scanners is already very problematical from any point of view of creating trustworthy elections. (*)

Dori Smith: Now I know there is another example of a directive from the SOS to LHS in these protocols to registrars, poll workers, moderators, anyone who happens to be on site with authority at a Connecticut election. This is a protocol that offers registrars another action plan when the machine won’t take ballots. And there you had a problem that goes to the heart of computer security. Their plan involves turning the machine off and then back on again right?

Professor Michael J. Fischer: Many of the protocols seem to be designed for on site repair of problems with machines that have actually failed. So in some cases such as protocol number 1, the OS machine will not take ballots, the protocol calls for the machine to be power cycled. It means turn the machine off, fiddle with it, turn it back on, hope it works. And unfortunately this is not a very secure thing to do. A machine that has failed obviously has either defective hardware or software and if it fails during the election one has to assume that the counts that it has recorded to date may be incorrect. So a protocol should not say well if the machine has crashed let’s reboot it and see if it seems to be working again and if it does seem to be working then we will decide everything is hunky dory and we will just report the totals at the end of the day as if nothing bad has happened. That’s not acceptable at all.

If a machine fails it should be taken out of service and not put back into service until the cause of the failure has been identified, the problem repaired, and then the machine put through a thorough testing procedure to determine whether it is able to operate correctly according to the factory specifications.

So this idea that the failed machines should be attempted to be fixed right on the spot is a large defect in several of these protocols.

Dori Smith: Professor Michael J. Fischer is in the Computer Science Department at Yale University. He advocates on behalf of voters as a member of True Vote Connecticut,

We asked Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Mara to comment on the idea of privatizing Connecticut’s election to LHS Associates. LHS President John Silvestro told us he would support privatization, adding that we shouldn’t trust political figures to run our elections. This ironically despite the fact that John Silvestro himself has served on the Londonderry New Hampshire Town Council coming to office when voters selected him on machines his company sold their town.

According to Deputy Secretary Mara whatever he says there is an expiration date on the contract which includes LHS staff in the first two uses of the new Diebold voting systems. She also told us that when those two service requirements are complete LHS will be gone.

The Deputy Secretary has assured us that the Secretary of State’s office will continue to work on the state’s new voting machine protocols. Listeners who would like to respond to her office can log on to the state’s web page to find a copy of the protocols used in the primary election September 11th. The web page is

Members of True Vote Connecticut are continuing to reevaluate the protocols and Professor Fischer and others have already submitted their initial questions and suggestions. We have done the same and will report on any new developments as they occur.

Ohio voters have endured everything from political abuse of the system to long lines, machine glitches and even fraud. Bob Fitrakis is one of a small but vocal group that played a key role in documenting the complicated story of a major challenge to the system once dominated by former Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Bob Fitrakis is edit of the web news outlet Free He is also an investigative journalist and attorney. He joins us to discuss the larger national problems voting rights activists have found when they tried to push for better voting machine security protocols. An article by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman begins by stating that Ohio Republicans have blocked a proposal to test electronic voting machines prior to the 2008 Presidential elections. Bob Fitrakis welcome to Talk Nation Radio.

Bob Fitrakis: Glad to be here.

Dori Smith: Let’s look at your September 11th piece in the Free Press, Why doesn’t the GOP Want Ohio’s Voting Machines Tested? Once again the title suggests that a very intense political process is going on. Where do things stand now that there is a new Secretary of State (SOS) and you are attempting to get better security protocols in place. What’s going on?

Bob Fitrakis: The process in Ohio has been somewhat puzzling but it is a pattern I think that has been on the national level as well as the state level here. The Republican Party tends to be much more aggressive and partisan when they win elections. Many people often with limited credentials or people like J. Kenneth Blackwell simply become co-chair of the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign and pushed every lever to make sure their candidate wins.

What’s happened in Ohio is that there has been a very cautious reform effort that has attempted to be bi-partisan. The problem of course is that all of the major newspapers and editorial pages in Ohio tend to be Republican leaning or endorse Republicans primarily. As a result of that any attempt to get real independent reform is often blocked by the cautious nature of moving forward and I think this is what is happening in Ohio with the machine testing. The new Secretary of State who won as a reform candidate because of the massive irregularities in the 2004 election and the partisan nature of J. Kenneth Blackwell, who was both Secretary of State and Co-Chair of the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign. As a result of that she has reached out to attempt to bring in the machine vendors and of course independent academics. But what’s happening in Ohio right now is that the capital newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch, which is a closely held corporation by a very prominent Republican family, the Wolfe family, is essentially arguing that the independent academics from Penn State and other places are in fact biased and the vendor testing labs, Sys Labs in this instance, are the only ones qualified and independent to do the testing.

Dori Smith: Once again this places voters and their advocates directly opposite from the private entities, the vendors and others that are providing the tools for the elections, as well as state officials at the SOS office, this time we are talking about Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. There is a lot of money at stake and many people have argued that the money provides a certain level of conflict of interest for any of those vendors. What kinds of discussions have you had about the issue of the money, the private control over the vote, and what voters need to do now to get better authority over their own elections.

Bob Fitrakis: I mean this is an ongoing problem that we have seen in a lot of key industries right. The tobacco industries where the scientists working for the tobacco companies assured us that smoking wasn’t really that harmful and in the 50’s that it was actually good for us. The scientists that worked for the nuclear power industry who assured us that radioactivity was wonderful. Or chemicals were wonderful from the chemical industry. So we have seen this pattern with global warming as well from the oil company scientists or advocates and we have really got to get to the point where people in Ohio and everywhere in the nation understand this issue. What’s at stake here is transparency. We don’t really know how these votes are being recorded and increasingly they are also turning over the state polling lists. These of course on a state level were in fact mandated by the Help America Vote Act to these private companies.

So unless we can make public, democratize, and really instill a sense of people owning their elections at a grass roots level; essentially this will be left up to these for profit private corporations and their for profit vendors who have more of a stake in making money than ensuring a universal vote count.

Dori Smith: Let’s just look at this one $1.8 million dollar un-bid contract for voting machine testing that you have been discussing with Brunner. This money was set aside, there was no public discussion evidently? The money was just set aside for this test and it was awarded to this company? Is that right?

Bob Fitrakis: Yeah the money was in the budget from a variety of federal grants and from existing grants from the state. A test like this is estimated to cost about $500,000 dollars. You go out essentially and you get computer experts in the academic community, computer scientists are not known as being a particularly biased, progressive, intellectual group. If they have a bias they are biased toward informed factual opinion. This would cost like $500,000 dollars. But it ends up costing 1.8 million because then you have got to have a local state contractor for political reasons and then you have got to bring in somebody that the vendors, the people that sell the voting machines, trust. And that would have been SysTest in this instance. So instead of $500,000 dollars suddenly now it’s $1.8 million. The problem is these are hard to bid in the sense that there’s very few companies that even do this. Earlier this year there was only one company even certified by the Election Assistance Commission, the EAC. So it’s one of those areas where there is virtually a monopoly.

I looked at the contract and only two companies actually bid. On the other hand at virtually every major research university in America you have computer scientists with the skills to in fact do this type of testing.

Dori Smith: As you look at this from the point of view of someone who has seen recent successes in these various states; do we face the risk that the elections will remain open to fraud unless these protocols are set up on a statewide basis and also federally so that companies like, either in Connecticut we have LHS Associates, or in Ohio a different list of companies perhaps but so that no company has the right to come in and violate a state protocol on machine security, not only get away with it but also participate in the implementation of remedies in the form of these protocols?

Bob Fitrakis: That’s really the crux of the issue is what are the security protocols and this is precisely what the Republicans at the controlling board are attacking. They appear to have no problem with the vendor testing for functionality like does the machine start up, is it reliable? What they seem to have problems with are these questions of security protocols which really are quite massive and I really believe there has got to be a national standard because Ohio, as Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004 proved that one insecure state can in fact shift a presidential election.

It’s everything. We had last year in the 06 election 34,000 unexplained under votes in a judges race for Domestic Relations Court because the machines were calibrated wrong. And while the magistrate who looked at it wouldn’t order a new election he did say look these 34,000 unexplained under votes, overwhelmingly in the inner city, which would have allowed the only African American judge to return to the bench in Domestic Relations Court were caused because somebody came in, we don’t even know who, some technician came in and changed the configuration of the machines–added new hardware and particularly new software involving data management and the ballot definition.

So who has access to these machines? I mean these are essentially computers. They have hard drives, they have flash drives, they have programmable executable cards that go into them, they can be infected by viruses. Here in Ohio we don’t do a background check either for criminality or for competency of the vendors technicians that come in, often day labor, hired for only one day who come in and act like techno Gods and can take these machines off line, can change out their internal parts and walk out because they have a ‘badge’ on. Absolutely unacceptable. It really sets things up for fraud, for election tampering. The chain of custody in both Toledo since the 04 election and in Montgomery County which is the very large city of Dayton we have had people take the memory cards home which can be rewritten with new data. So these security protocols are at the crux of having fair and really more importantly, which they don’t deal with, transparent elections in the US.

Dori Smith: This term ‘sleep overs’ this is where technology, voting machines or as you say memory cards in this case go home with poll workers and they hold on to them overnight. Just comment on this because this has come up in other states too and I’m given to understand that it’s being reviewed in some cases but there may be many states in the Union where this is actually going on.

Bob Fitrakis: Yeah and in fact the county of Hocking in Columbus had ‘sleep overs’ and of course these were reported as well in Southern California. The problem is, these are not like your taking a ballot box, which is going to be opened up and everyone is going to look inside and see it’s not stuffed and both parties are going to go over and make sure no ballots are marked. You are not allowed to open up these computers. We had a tremendous problem in 2004 at a church in Ghahanna where Ward 1B where they put out that machine a reported month ahead of time and come election day 638 people cast their votes and 4,258 votes were reported for President Bush. We called this the famed ’fish and loaves’ precinct.

A computer expert was consulted, in this case he was actually a Republican computer expert, but one we felt would give us an honest idea and he assessed the machine and he said, you know it looks like somebody hacked it. All you have to do is add a connection to the bank in back of it and you can get these election results. So if you are putting these machines out unguarded which happens here as well as the sleep over with the election workers, and remember, these election workers in many states are partisan, the person who gets to be in charge of the poll is whose party won in that precinct in the last election. So very dangerous unbelievable practice in terms of security measures.

Dori Smith: Bob Fitrakis what do you see as the biggest problem for activists who are trying to push for better security protocols and oversight over vendors?

Bob Fitrakis: The problem is that in many areas of Connecticut or Ohio is there will be an agreement on protocol and there will be administrative rules and SOS directives or even state statutes but virtually none of these state statutes carry any real penalties. And the generic penalty for election tampering, in many cases the tampering we have seen and also the massive destruction of ballots from the 04 election, have taken place in counties where the prosecutor is a partisan who has been elected and is incredibly reluctant to prosecute anyone. The problem we’ve had in Ohio, and I don’t know if it’s the same problem in Connecticut, to a large extent we can’t get anyone, even when there is a law, to enforce the law which is why I believe there has to be national legislation.

The fact is that these voting machines are inherently unsafe. Every single study beginning of course with the General Accountability Office, GAO, one of the most respected nonpartisan offices that responded to an inquiry from Representative Conyers in fact following the 2004 election and said yeah, these things are obviously prone to massive voter shifts. Even an unsatisfactory look at the election process by the Carter Baker Commission by many election activists who were not all that happy with it, they come right out an say why would you allow the vendors to pick their favorite tester and give them this much power?

This is the equivalent of if you allowed the casinos, particularly when the mob ran Vegas, to be tested by in house testing labs paid for by the mob. We don’t allow the gas stations, all the independents and otherwise, the corporations, to essentially test their own gas pumps. Everyplace we go, I mean these things should be treated very similar to casino games of chance and gambling machines. The reality is that even then, even if you could somehow write protocols, none of these things are safe because they are a black box. You can in fact program these things ahead of time to come out 51-49. You an infect these machines with viruses through the cards that are inserted in them. And there seems to be a tremendous lack of policing of the industry which often appears to be intentional due to the power of this industry.

Dori Smith: Bob Fitrakis of Free Press in Ohio. You can read his articles online at He is an author of several books on recent US elections including, ‘How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election and is Rigging 2008’. The book is available at Amazon, Barns and Noble and other booksellers. You can hear the rest of this interview next week. For Talk Nation Radio I’m Dori Smith. Talk Nation Radio is produced in the studios of WHUS at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut. Talk Nation for transcripts and discussions.

Link to the promo for this show is:
Title: Voting Rights Activists Express Disappointment at Connecticut Security Protocols

Voting Rights Activists Express Disappointment at Connecticut Security Protocols

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Talk Nation Radio for September 19, 2007

Joining us to discuss the problem is Professor Michael Fischer of Yale University and True Vote Connecticut. Then investigative journalist, attorney, and author Bob Fitrakis joins us to discuss the effort to secure Ohio elections with new security protocols.

Bob Fitrakis explains that in various states it has been difficult to get strong security protocols, and strong enforcement of existing laws. Fitrakis is author of, ‘How the GOP stole America’s 2004 election and is rigging 2008‘.

(voting rights activists should see links below. Transcript in progress.)

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TRT: 29:15
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The vendor for the state’s new Diebold Accuvote Optical Scan machines is LHS Associates of MA. In 2006 they failed to adhere to security protocols issued by Connecticut’s Secretary of State. Her instructions were that they not touch machines. They said they would remove memory cards anyway, and they did.

But new security protocols do not make it clear that LHS would receive serious consequences for doing it again. In fact, when it comes to serious machine problems on election day the new protocols instruct registrars to contact LHS or refer to LHS on site more often than to the Secretary of State’s office. There is no automatic audit for failing machines or bad memory cards. How might fraud be established?

LHS will in many cases form action plans for the officials on site at the polls come election day.

Voters are being asked to accept verbal promises from state voting officials and voting machine vendors who will be at the polls through at least two first uses of the new Diebold AccuVote OPSCAN machines.

LHS President John Silvestro said his staff would not be violating the protocols this time, but how good are the new machine protocols set up in part as a response to our news reports? –Not good enough. In fact, they could serve to mitigate further wrong doing in the event an LHS staff person violates the letter of state protocols again because LHS is given so much authority at the polls for 2007 and 2008 votes.

Click here to listen live Wed. at 5 PM.

Is Connecticut Outsourcing Elections to LHS Associates? 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 State’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.

Diebold Dealer John Silvestro of LHS supports Privatization of Connecticut Elections Posted on Thursday 6 September 2007

LHS Violations of Security Protocols in CT Prompt More Protocols but not Consequences Posted on Wednesday 29 August 2007

Voting Rights in Ohio
July 06, 2005 Report by Evan Davis on Hocking County Rally and B.O.E. Meeting

Voting Rights in Ohio 2004 Election

Brad Blog Daily Voting News for September 20, 2007

Radio Report on New Voting Technology by Dori Smith | November 16, 2006 6:11 PM
Posted to CT Elections 2006

A Talk Nation Investigation into AccuVote Optical Scan Machines used in the Second District recount reveals a lack of clear protocols on the handling of ballots and machines. There were paper trails, but also a trail of confusion over who should have access to the machines. Despite warnings in October from state voting machine evaluators the Secretary of State failed to provide adequate information.

Francis A. Boyle on US Press re Iran and Potential US Attack on Iran

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Talk Nation Radio for September 12, 2007

Law Professor Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois on the Media, Iran, and Potential for US Attack on Iran.

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Francis A. Boyle says Americans must show up in vast numbers in Washington D.C. for Sept. 14-21 Rally against the war and consider a general strike and other tactics to try to block the Bush Adm. And stop any preemptive strike against Iran. He also urges impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney to prevent wider war.

Talk Nation Radio for September 12, 2007

Produced by Dori Smith at WHUS at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT.
Law Professor Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois on the Media, Iran, and Potential for US Attack on Iran

We asked Independent Researcher Farideh Farhi if the US Military Buildup in the Persian Gulf and new US Military base in Iraq 4 miles from Iranian border undermines the IAEA’s work on Iran. Could it spark violence or even war? Iran is being cautious but the Bush administration seems less than careful in terms of rhetoric and so does the media.

Intro: Welcome to Talk Nation Radio, a half hour discussion on politics, human rights and the environment. I’m Dori Smith. We look at the role being played by the US Press in what could be the run up to another shock and awe like strike, this time against Iran.

International and humanitarian law expert Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois has indicated that such a nightmarish scenario is possible while the Bush administration is still in office. He joins us to discuss the way some media outlets have been helping the Administration make a case for an attack on Iran. During our interview in August he pointed to a recent US Military buildup in the Persian Gulf where the US now has three US Navy Task Forces. That is the same force level America brought to bear against Iraq in 2003.

CNN, FOX, MSNBC, PBS, and NPR, have all featured interviews with a variety of guest who describe an attack on Iran as a quote ‘bad idea’ but add that it may be the ‘only choice America has.’ Israeli leaders have making the same kinds of comments in the Press. In fact, the Governing Board of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) is meeting in Vienna to discuss the proposal of Director General ElBaradei.

Independent researcher Farideh Farhi joins us first to explain what is happening. She has been monitoring the IAEA’s progress on Iran during years of work on the nuclear issue. Her 2005 piece published in Middle East Report was titled, ‘Iran’s Nuclear File, the Uncertain End Game.’

Farideh Farhi: Mr. ElBaradei is asking the Governing Board to give him time to negotiate this process with Iran in the hope of resolving the crisis. He is asking the United States and Western European countries to effectively postpone the sanctions process in the United Nations until this process is finished and the world can see whether Iran can respond to those outstanding issues. This is something that the United States is unhappy with. Historically during the past five years I have noticed that whenever there are intense negotiations at the IAEA you have various newspaper stories, leaks, plants, that essentially talk about or hint at the possibility of military action against Iran.

Dori Smith: Reuters just published a piece September 10th announcing that the Pentagon will go ahead with plans to construct a new military base in Iraq just four miles from the Iranian border. Wouldn’t this increase the chance that a military exchange could occur even if the policy makers don’t necessarily want one?

Farideh Farhi: The possibility of real attacks is there, both American foreign policy and Israeli foreign policy has been based on this notion of military muscularity and projection of military power. However, there is also this reality that the Iranians have made very clear: They are preparing for that possibility. They see that as a kind of asymmetrical warfare. They are ready to defend the country and of course to create tremendous amounts of problems in other areas for American Military projection both inside Iran as well as in other parts of the region where the Iranians obviously for defensive reasons of their own have been preparing for that possibility. It is because of that that I would think that the American policy makers and Israeli policy makers would be a lot more cautious than their talks, or the way they talk about military options. I would think that they would be a lot more cautious about the actual implementation of the military option in relationship to Iran because precisely as you suggest it would create tremendous difficulties not only for the United States but also all the allies of the United States in the region.

It has been argued that the Americans and Iranians are playing a game of chicken. You know threatening each other in ways that would ultimately lead the other side to back down. The problem in this dynamic is that a mistake can lead to serious consequences. My understanding from Iranian politics, however, is that the Iranians are very careful, or are trying to be very careful, not to be drawn into a direct conflict with the United States precisely because they are aware of the awesome military power that the United States has. However, you know the Iranian leadership, or elements within the Iranian leadership, have not been known for their wisdom either.

It is a very tense and dangerous situation. From what I can understand the interlocutors in this situation, particularly the American ones, are not doing anything to reduce the tensions. In fact, for the domestic purposes, or for purposes of the policies they are pursuing in Iraq in order to justify the American Military presence in Iraq, they have every reason to accentuate the Iranian threat in the region. That creates the potential for mistakes and danger.

Dori Smith: Independent research Farideh Farhi. You can find her report online at Middle East

(Part Two)

Intro: Professor Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois Law School is a practitioner and advocate of International Law and Human Rights Law. His most recent book is ‘Protesting Power, War, Resistance and Law’. It is a tool for all who protest and need legal information and political insights. His previous works include ‘Destroying World Order and Defending Civil Resistance Under International Law’. The world renowned legal expert has been calling on members of Congress to bring articles of impeachment against President Bush and Vice President Cheney in part to prevent wider war in the Middle East. Professor Boyle welcome again to Talk Nation Radio.

Francis A. Boyle: Dori, thank you again for having me on and my best to your listening audience.

Dori Smith: IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei has accused the White House of beating the drums for war against Iran. Certainly the Press recently has been doing the same thing it seems, just comment on the implications.

Francis A. Boyle: Well it doesn’t look good. The strategy here is the same they used twice before against Iraq starting in the summer of 1990 in the run up to the Bush Sr. war against Iraq. Many of these Neocons use to work for Bush Sr. including Dick Cheney, now the Vice President, who was at that time Secretary of Defense.

So they figured it worked then to sell that war they would try it again, same strategy, same approach, using many of the same arguments as in 2002. So it does appear if you look at the current pattern that it’s almost identical to the last two times up to and including the speeches to the American Legion, the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars, President Bush is now going to be speaking to the General Assembly like he did the last time on Iraq.

So the pattern is ominous. We have to tie into that the fact that there are now three US Aircraft Carrier Task Forces in the Persian Gulf. You always really have to look at not so much what they are saying as what they are doing. And here you have massive formations of US Military forces in the Gulf and in addition there is an enormous naval exercise going on right now in the Bay of Bengal that will end up in a few days and then those ships also would be in a position to strike Iran.

It has now been reported there are B-1 Bombers in Iraq. And they have moved some more F-16s in there. So the danger here is that we now have a congruence between what they are doing and what they are saying and Iran right now is just surrounded by enormous quantities of military equipment that can be used against it.

Dori Smith: Just to go over recent news reports on Iran for your comment: On August 30th William J. Broad published a story in the New York Times under the headline: “Iran Expanding Its Nuclear Program, Agency Reports,” the agency in question of course, the IAEA, had said the opposite, something that was actually included farther down in the story. Iran has enriched far less uranium than previously planned.

The President has been hostile to the IAEA and listeners may remember that Bush was hostile toward the IAEA when the agency did not cooperate with pre-Iraq rhetoric back in 2002 and 2003.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer has given various guests the opportunity to announce their support for a US strike against Iran and on September 6th the former US Military Colonel Sam Gardner told his viewers that a US air assault against Iran would likely involve B2 bombers and cruise missiles fired from airships and aircraft. And on Juan Cole’s ‘informed comment’ blog Barnett Ruben pointed out that rightwing lobby groups and the Anti-Defamation League have been pressuring the administration for an even tougher military policy on Iran —it all seems so familiar but how significant is it and what does it imply?

Francis A. Boyle: Again the pattern is very much the same and in fact last week there was a major breakthrough in relations between the IAEA and Iran. You can read this on the web site of the IAEA itself–I doubt too many of these people have bothered let alone the mainstream news media–and you will see that Iran has gone along with all of the IAEA’s requests and agreed to a work program that would resolve all outstanding issues about its nuclear program by the end of the year. So this is a fantastic opportunity for the Bush administration if it were seriously interested in dealing with this problem to sit down and negotiate in good faith with Iran. But that’s not what they want. What they want is a pretext for a military attack and Mr. ElBaradei has, by striking a deal with Iran that cannot be denied by anyone because the documentation is right there on the IAEA website, has really pulled the rug out from under them and also from under another round of sanctions at the Security Council.

Now as for Mr. Broad in the New York Times we know full well that he wrote many of those pieces of disinformation with Judy Miller on nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Times should have pushed Broad out too because he’s just propagandizing for war as is almost the entirety of the New York Times.

So to get the truth here I think you are going to have to listen to Pacifica Network, alternative news media sources and go to the Internet because the mainstream news media today is for the most part mongering for war against Iran just as it did back in 2002 against Iraq, just as it did back in 1990 against Iraq and I should point out also as it did against Yugoslavia in 1990.

Dori Smith: This militancy toward Iran could actually strengthen the Republican’s case for reelection in the upcoming State and Municipal Elections and the Presidential Elections if I guess the case can be made that a pull-out from Iraq would leave the door open to a nuclear Iran. As we discussed last time the US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad has a vision of wider or even world war in the Middle East he has been sharing. Zalmay Khalilzad in Hartford last week where he told the World Affairs Forum the US should remain in Iraq for an extended period of time and warned of a nuclear Iran. If you could just respond to the general idea that the media has been pushing Democrats into a box here, if they argue for a military pull out from Iraq it might seem like they are ignoring the potential for wider war, a nuclear armed Iran. While it’s a tortured argument to try and make a case for a preemptive strike against Iran members of the press do appear to be working to make it.

Francis A. Boyle: While everyone is focusing on Iraq the Bush administration is focusing on Iran. And I believe they know that if they attacked Iran as they see it that’s just going to wipe away their problems in Iraq and everything else. We are really seeing a play here in several acts: The first act was to attack Afghanistan using the terrible tragedy of September 11th as a pretext for a war that was already planned and indeed on or about September 11th once again there were massive quantities of US Military forces in the Gulf in the Arabian Sea in Egypt and in Turkey ready to strike.

The second act in this play to control and dominate two thirds of the world’s oil resources was to attack Iraq in 2002. The third act in this play is to attack Iran and the President has stated, and I will take him at his word that he will do it before his term in office is over. That gives us basically a year. I also think then that the Republican Party will use an attack on Iran to try to win the 2008 election to regain control of the House and the Senate and to hold on to control of the Presidency. They will certainly put the Democrats on the defensive as they have repeatedly done before.

What is going on now in my opinion in Iraq is pretty much a holding operation by the Bush administration until they attack Iran and then the entire strategic situation will turn around. You will have massive warfare in this region of the world and indeed it does appear that if they attack Iran they are also going to attack Syria. Israel will attack. You had the Israeli war plane bombing Syria, penetrating their air force. They will also in combination with Israel attack Gaza and today you have reports of Israeli military forces moving into Gaza. They will also probably move into Southern Lebanon to take out Hezbollah and indeed last summer as you know the Bush administration gave Israel the green light to try to take out Gaza, to try to take out Hezbollah, and they failed.

The Neocons, this was Elliott Abrams also apparently pressured Israel to attack Syria at that time but Israel was not willing to do it then. So if you add all of this up it reads and sounds as if we are in a pre war situation and again much like the Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman explaining the outbreak of the First World War.

That brings us to the statement by Ambassador Khalilizad at the United Nations. Indeed, he studied International Relations at the University of Chicago at the same time I was there. He studied with [Albert] Wohlstetter the mentor to [Paul] Wolfowitz, and many of these other Neocons. Basically if you read between the lines of what Khalilizad said at the UN he said if the Arab and Muslim world does not do what we tell them to do we the United States are prepared to initiate a third world war. It would be a war for control of the oil and gas in the Persian Gulf and in Central Asia where about two thirds of all the world’s oil and gas is today.

So again, when you have the US Ambassador talking about world war three, where you have all of these statements, it’s extremely dangerous. We have President Putin sending strategic nuclear bombers on feints toward Norway, toward Britain, towards Guam—I would think that this is a sign that the Russians are telling us to stand down from attacking Iran. That they know what our plans are and they are indicating that they will not be pleased if we attack Iran. It is extremely dangerous.

In addition you have this incident concerning the nuclear cruise missiles from the Minot Air Base down to Barksdale. I don’t think that was a mistake. Obviously someone gave the command to do this, to transport nuclear Cruise Missiles down to Barksdale that is being used as a staging point for bombing operations in the Middle East.

As we have said before given the mentality of these Neocons, as I’ve pointed out before who really go back to Carl Schmitt, the most notorious Nazi law professor of his day, they are fully prepared to use nuclear weapons against Iran. They are now making preparations for that. All of the US Aircraft Carriers there in the Persian Gulf now and in the Bay of Bengal are nuclear capable and Israel is nuclear capable. It does seem to me that we could be in a pre-war situation now as we speak.

Dori Smith: Professor Boyle Sarah Baxter writing for the Times Online discussed what she said was a Pentagon plan for massive air strikes against 1,200 targets in Iran–she said the aim would be to annihilate Iran’s military capability in three days. That piece September 2nd. Baxter also writing that Israel has made its own preparations for air strikes on Iran and would be ready to attack Iran if the Americans back down.

Francis A. Boyle: Israel is going to do exactly what we tell it to do. It could be as Vice President Cheney suggested that we would give a green light to Israel to do it and then stand back and see what happens. But they are not going to move unless we give them permission to move. It means they have to go over Iraqi airspace which we control, or coming out of Turkey and I don’t think the Turks would be very pleased with that. But it’s extremely dangerous, especially now that the United States Government officially adheres to this Doctrine of Preventive Warfare, the National Security Strategy of September 2002—written by my former classmate at the University of Chicago, Wolfowitz, the Neocon, calling for preventive war and first applied against Iraq.

Then later in December of 2002 an even more ominous policy document which you can find at the web pages of the White House applying the preventive warfare doctrine to weapons of mass destruction and indicating that the United States is fully prepared to use weapons of mass destruction as part of this warfare doctrine.

You can find citations for all of this in my book Destroying World Order. So the policy, the rhetoric and most unfortunately the military presence over there in placed and basically just waiting for the order by President Bush. I think we do have some time to head this off because if my and your analysis is correct that it is a lot like what they did in 2002 they are still going to want more disinformation, more ratcheting up of the public record, but again it is still extremely dangerous. Any spark could set this off. A Tonkin Gulf incident or something like that could be manufactured. The Iranians could make a mistake or they could easily be provoked as the British last summer sent those sailors into waters that they had claimed and at that time the United States Government indicated that if they tried to do that to us we would use military force. So it’s very easy under these circumstances to provoke hostilities.

Dori Smith: In her piece Sarah Baxter also mentioned Alireza Jafarzadeh of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. He criticized the IAEA’s latest report on Iran’s enrichment program. But I couldn’t help but think of the role played by the Iraqi National Congress and Ahmed Chalabi when he was claiming that there was a lot of support for an invasion. Is this a similar situation with this man on Iran? Just comment finally on the difference between a US invasion of Iraq and what we might see during an invasion of Iran.

Francis A. Boyle: Yes, just like what happened with Iraq in 2002 and in 1990 as well you have surrogates of the United States Government whether with the Department of Defense or the CIA or think tanks affiliated with them or the Israelis, generating out propaganda and trying to make it appear as if there is some opposition here that is calling for the United States Government to liberate Iran, falling back on this bogus so-called doctrine of humanitarian intervention which I also analyze and expose in my book, Destroying World Order. And that’s another one of the prongs of the argument they are trying to use here to build consent, manufacture consent, as Noam Chomsky put it, for a war against Iran as they did on Iraq as they did on Iraq and that’s this argument about humanitarian intervention in addition to claims about weapons of mass destruction and again Iran does not have nuclear weapons at this time.

So it’s all part and parcel of this same propaganda strategy they pursued before. As you correctly point out, however, a war against Iran is going to be a very different proposition from Iraq. Iraq had been carved up, destroyed, bombed and sanctioned starting from 1990 up 2003 so there was very minimal resistance at the time against the US/UK invasion.
That’s not the case with Iran. You’ve got 60 million people there. They do have substantial quantities of military force. We saw the Hizbollah Chinese silkworm missile take out that Israeli destroyer off the coast of Lebanon last summer. Well imagine Iran doing that to an aircraft carrier in the Gulf?

They have a culture there. This is Persia. It goes back over 5,000 years, a culture and a religion, and these are very proud people and if you follow the course of the Iraq/Iran war they sustained enormous casualties. The assumption was that when Saddam Hussein launched that war with the support and encouragement of Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski that Ayatollah Kumani’s government would collapse. That’s not what happened. They fought ferociously and after several years pushed back into Iraq and were about to storm Baghdad when the Reagan Administration intervened by sending a flotilla over to the Persian Gulf and making it clear we were not going to allow them to take over Baghdad. That is why then the Bush administration and the Neocons know full well that if they are going to go to war against Iran it will not be Iraq and they will have to use nuclear weapons.

Dori Smith: Just go over once again the reasons the Neocons would want to do this and then how anti war activists can prevail.

Francis A. Boyle: We have to understand what is at stake here is two thirds of the world’s supply of oil and gas in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf and that is really what the power elite that run this country are after. And then when you add in the Neocons, these are fanatical Zionists affiliated with the Likud Party and they simply are completely irrational when it comes to Arabs and Muslims. So you have both the strategic and the bigotry and racism as well.

I regret to like to say it’s sort of like what happened in World War II where the government deliberately whipped up anti-Japanese hysteria and racism as they sought to better prosecute the war to Japan up to and including accepting the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And that’s the danger also of the racism and anti-Muslim bigotry here in the current climate. That it can be used to get to a point where the American people would be prepared to accept the use of nuclear weapons against Iran. I suspect we are going to be seeing more of this as time goes on.

We still have some time to head this off. Ramsey Clark has his peace march in Washington D.C. on September 15th and as many people have to go to that as possible. We need people in the streets demonstrating opposition.

Second, we have to get Congressman John Conyers to put in those bills of impeachment right away against Bush and Cheney. Back in March 2003 when we were debating putting in bills of impeachment at that time against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft, before Congressman Conyers and 40 to 50 of his top advisors most of whom were lawyers, Marcus Raskin made the perspicuous point that if we do not stop Bush on Iraq what is to stop him from going after Iran? That is the position that we are in now. So those bills of impeachment must be filed immediately and everyone must get Congressman Conyers to put them in. They are there. They are just sitting there. I think you need to also work with people in his district and nationwide. If anyone could do that job for us it is Congressman Conyers.

Third, a massive campaign of civil resistance. That’s what we need. Peaceful nonviolent protests all over the country and especially in Washington D.C. to try to stop this war.
Finally, in the run up to the war against Iraq my client and friend the late great Phil Berrigan issued a call for a general strike. Unfortunately he was stricken with cancer before he could really do too much about that. But I think we need to get that organized as well. That is to select a day for a general strike and shut the entire country down and explain to the power elite that really runs this country: We are not going to tolerate what could potentially evolve into WWIII. We all have to do what our conscience tells us to do.

Dori Smith: Professor Francis A. Boyle thank you so much for talking with us.

Francis A. Boyle: Thanks once again and let’s all go out there and do our part. I think we can stop it and turn it around but it is going to take all of us to do something.
Professor Francis A. Boyle teaches international and humanitarian law at the University of Illinois. His most recent book is Protesting Power, War, Resistance, and Law, he has a lengthy CV but at least one of his notable cases is his work as counsel for Bosnia and Herzegovina in Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

For Talk Nation Radio I’m Dori Smith. Talk Nation Radio is produced in the studios of WHUS at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut. to listen live Wed. at 5 PM. Talk and for transcripts and discussions.

Protests in Washington D.C. September 15, 2007 Mass March, Gathering at Noon at the White House. see also

Philip Berrigan, 1923-2002

December 2002 quote of Philip Berrigan: ‘When I first started to envision a general strike after doing quite a bit of reading on it, the Russian model in 1905, the Solidarity in Poland and Gandhi’s work in India. I’d read about all of them in a very remarkable book on nonviolent resistance called A Force More Powerful. When I first read about that, I thought that we could, over a span of years — of course it would take a tremendous amount of work and a great deal of money — that we could go for the economy, which was the soft underbelly of the system and the empire, go for the economy and bring things to a point where we could begin to dictate to the plutocrats in Washington.’

Bio: Francis A. Boyle continues to advise and defend civil resisters like Camilio Mejia and other war resisters such as Ehren Watada, a First Lieutenant 1st LT of the US Army who in June 2006 publicly refused to deploy to Iraq. His most recent book Protesting Power: War, Resistance, and Law was written as a tool for all who protest and need legal information and political insights. The book has been described as a clarion call to citizen action against Bush administration policies in the US and other countries.

For more information about this book, See: to listen live Wed. at 5 PM
Music by Fritz Heede

Diebold Dealer John Silvestro of LHS supports Privatization of Connecticut Elections

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Dear Reader. If you have been following this story it will interest you to know that the Secretary of State’s office issued new protocols to LHS and state and town election workers such as moderators and registrars. Those new protocols were used during the primary race just held across the state where candidates will be running in the upcoming state and municipal elections.

Unfortunately our first look at these protocols yesterday indicates that the problems we identified have not been adequately addressed. Connecticut’s new Diebold Accuvote Optical Scan voting terminals continue to be flawed in terms of the technology and sadly the security protocols in place do not close the door on fraud. The new protocols are being reviewed and hopefully updates will be made to make certain that any machine technology which fails during any kind of use during an election will be audited.

Right now that is not the case. LHS Associates continues to have access and authority indicating the near privatization of Connecticut’s election to them.

The only solution on an immediate basis is that all those concerned about Connecticut elections flock to the polls in the upcoming November 6th election and carry out research to make certain that the technology is adequately monitored for security.

We plan two more half hour specials to update voters but time is of the essence. Please follow this web site for further information in the coming days. Thanks, and please VOTE and Monitor the polls too! Dori

Talk Nation Radio for September 5, 2007

Diebold Dealer and LHS President John Silvestro on Privatization in CT

Michael J. Fischer of Yale University Computer Science Department is also the President of True Vote Connecticut. He offers Remedies for Poor Security, Questionable Technology from Diebold to Connecticut

Professor Fischer describes the status of Connecticut machines and looks at the twin roles played by the Secretary of State and LHS Associates. Connecticut’s State and Municipal Elections take place November 6, 2007. There are less than two months for poll workers, registrars, and moderators of elections, to learn new security protocols. We pose questions about the role of a private company in the making of State election protocols in addition to supplying machines, providing training, doing the coding of memory cards and printing of ballots and then working at the polls during elections.

TRT: 29:34

Produced by Dori Smith at WHUS at the University of Connecticut station in Storrs, CT

Download at Pacifica’s Audioport Or go to

Listen to this week’s program here.

In last week’s program LHS President John Silvestro admitted his staff violated Connecticut security protocols during the 2006 election. Memory cards were swapped by LHS staff members who saw protocols from the State indicating they were not to touch machines. Still, Silvestro touts the benefits of privatizing Connecticut’s election to his company that sells Diebold products. He said: ‘–I feel very confident in the fact that the process itself is better left in the private venue than it is in the public venue when I see the influence that each political party can put on people and make things happen in this country, whether right or wrong. I mean if you think about it. I would ask you the same way. Would you like politically connected people to both parties to be in charge of running the process of creating voting machines, counting ballots, and you know, would you like that? I don’t know.’

Silvestro attended an August meeting to correct security problems his staff caused when they swapped memory cards in violation of the Secretary of State’s protocols. The problem would be solved, he offers, by automatically auditing any machine that fails during a vote. Will his ideas work? And even if they are good solutions, what should we make of his role in providing Connecticut elections?

Throughout our year long investigation LHS staff members have tended to say things that reveal either confusion about State protocols or an unwillingness to accept direction from the Secretary of State, Susan Bysiewicz. In this comment from 2006 LHS Director of Sales and Marketing, Ken Hajjar, admits he saw the written protocol from Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz indicating he was not to handle voting machines or obviously memory cards.

Ken Hajjar: ‘I was given one sheet of paper which was the Secretary of State’s rules and I was just told don’t touch anything just answer questions. So I don’t have that with me and I’m not even sure what I did with it. I might have just thrown it away once I got through.

Dori Smith:
What would LHS be on hand to do if the machine were to fail? Tell me the protocol.

Ken Hajjar: 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, there’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 stops.

In light of Talk Nation Radio reports the Secretary of State’s election division held meetings with John Silvestro and UConn Voting Research Team member Professor Alexander Shvartsman to update security protocols. We are awaiting the outcome. Meanwhile, offers recommendations.

Music is by Fritz Heede

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