Newsday Story on Voting Machines!

This important story is getting more attention. Newsday has a story, Paperless Voting Machines Under Fire.

“Even my ATM has the courtesy of asking if I want a receipt,” said Kim Alexander, president of the Sacramento-based non-profit California Voter Foundation. “My pay-at-the-pump Visa transaction is more secure than my voting ballot if my county goes to paperless voting.”

Terrifying Update – In the story they quote a spokesperson from Sequoia Voting Systems, one of the companies manufacturing the machines:

Even if the records are never handed to voters and are instead kept with the county registrar, they represent another layer of complexity for administrators.

“You’ll have printer jams, you’ll run out of paper, you’ll have voters say, ‘That’s not how I voted,’ and you’ll have to have procedures for letting them re-vote and to determine which of the receipts you printed was the valid one, and which of those constitute the official recount in case of a contested vote,” Sequoia spokeswoman Kathryn Ferguson said.

You got that? The Sequoia spokesperson complains that there shouldn’t be a paper trail because voters will say “That’s not how I voted”!!! This company is making it clear that they trying to stop voters from being able to verify that the machine correctly records their vote!

Have YOU called your member of Congress about this yet? Have YOU written to your newspaper about this yet?

Consumer Confidence Worst In 9 Years

I have my browser set to My Yahoo as my home page. I have it set up to show me news, political news and business news, and I get headlines from different news sources. Under the heading “Top News Stories From Reuters”, there is this headline: Consumer Sentiment Hits 9-Year Low-Report. Under the heading “Financial News from CBS MarketWatch.com”, there is this headline: U.S. stocks climb on consumer strength. The second story contains this information:

Wall Street is reacting favorably to the latest Consumer sentiment data, which fell less than expected in February.

OK, it’s the worst reading in nine years, but stocks are up because it wasn’t as bad as expected.

Meanwhile, the current PE ratio of the S&P 500 is 22.6. As I wrote before, “This is where the stock market usually falls FROM, not TO.” The stock market crashed FROM a PE ratio of 21 in 1929. To put it a different way, stocks are extremely high right now, even though they have fallen from the incredible heights they reached during the bubble. Here are two charts that show you what I mean: Still overvalued and Another perspective. What these charts clearly show is that we are only part way through the bubble, and the market still has a long way to fall before it gets back to where it should be. Here are two more charts, showing historical PE ratios so you can see where we are in terms of valuation instead of price: one, two. The charts on page 2 of this PDF file also clearly show where the stock market is relative to historical average. This is not a pretty picture!

Want to know my thinking on this? The clowns are running the show. Run for your life, get away from the stock market. Get rid of your debt, SAVE MONEY.

Paul Krugman writes about the economy today.

(I should warn you now that both the headlines and content of stories linked to at My Yahoo change sometimes; it happened to me after I wrote the “War Is Peace” entry below.)

War IS Peace!

Bush’s M.O. is to promise the public what polls show the public wants, and then go ahead with whatever his agenda is, usually the opposite of what Bush promised. It is a pattern of “say one thing and do another”, using the words to cover up the actions. So far this deceitful method of has proven remarkably effective.

Here is an example that makes this trickery so clear, and is so blatant, that it hopefully will force the public to see what Bush is doing. The headline on the story is “Bush: Iraq War Will Build Mideast Peace”

The polls show that people want peace. How do you manipulate that public desire for peace into public approval of your war? You tell the public that war IS peace!

UPDATE – That is headline of the article that was at that link when I posted this story! Here is a New York Times story covering the same event, with a similar headline.

Clearing Up the Santa Clara County Vote Story

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Board “took a step Tuesday toward creating a touch-screen voting system that will issue a paper printout..” This appears to be the opposite of the San Jose News story. The press release (below) is confusing.

Here’s how it seems to add up. It looks like they voted to NOT REQUIRE paper trails at this time. But IF the Secretary of State decides to require paper trails, then the machines will have that added.

Big Voting Machines Stories

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Over at Black Box Voting, a story about a former employee of a voting machines company, suing the company for firing him for whistleblowing.

Spillane’s lawsuit charges wrongful and retaliatory termination; he contends he was removed so that he could not blow the whistle to certification labs and pass critical information to the US General Accounting Office.

He says he has evidence which shows voting systems are certified despite known flaws, demonstrating a weakness in both the NASED and the ITA system for certifying machines.

Here’s a bit about the ownership of this company:

VoteHere’s board of directors includes former CIA director Robert Gates. VoteHere’s Chairman is Admiral Bill Owens, who was senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney, and also includes Ralph Munro, a key Washington State politician.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara County, Ca voted to purchase voting machines WITHOUT A PAPER TRAIL!

Santa Clara County supervisors rejected pleas from computer scientists Tuesday that they require new electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail after each touch-screen vote is cast, leaving that decision to the California secretary of state. But supervisors did vote to set up a limited pilot project for November’s election that will give some voters a physical receipt to verify their otherwise ethereal ballot.

They take it with them? What good does THAT do? It doesn’t help a recount, but it does help people sell their votes!

After Tuesday’s 3-2 vote, supervisors will begin negotiating with Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland to buy at least 5,000 electronic voting machines. The company will get the $20 million contract only if it agrees to provide paper printouts when — and if — the California secretary of state calls for printed verification of electronic votes.

So it’s up to the California Secretary of State. (Let the Secretary of State know how you feel. Here is contact information. Scroll down to Elections Division.)

This month, in response to stepped-up pressure from a nationwide network of computer scientists, voting rights advocates and security and fraud experts, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley launched a task force on electronic voting. Members are expected to call for security guidelines and the need for verification of votes.

So what happens if the machine has a glitch and loses its voting data? Do they throw out the election or just the votes?

Here is the county’s official press release:

Board of Supervisors Selects Electronic Voting System — Calls for Pilot “Paper Record” Study

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved the staff recommendation of Sequoia Voting Systems to provide its Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system, and directed staff to proceed with negotiations.

Under the Board’s proposed plan, the County will petition the Secretary of State to approve pilot projects for a paper record a voter could inspect in the November 2003 and March 2004 elections. This strategy would enable the County of Santa Clara to move forward to comply with the Federal Court Order which requires nine counties, including Santa Clara County, to convert to electronic voting by the March 2004 Presidential Election. It also would set the stage to prepare for a voter inspected paper records, pending the final recommendations of a newly appointed State Task Force on Electronic Voting.

All three firms that competed for the $20 million County contract are certified by the California Secretary of State’s Office to provide DRE voting systems. In recent weeks, computer scientists and computer technology professors have voiced concerns about DRE voting systems that do not produce paper records for voter inspection. The Board held a workshop on February 11, 2003 to review issues pertaining to accessibility by the disabled, costs and security.

“The action taken by the Board of Supervisors keeps us on track to meet the Federal Court Order and if the Secretary of State approves the pilot for a voter verifiable paper ballot, it would enable us to develop a system that assures our voters that Santa Clara County elections continue to be fair and accurate,” said Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, Chairperson.

The proposal to move forward with DRE voting system, using paper records on a limited basis for the November 2003 and March 2004 was offered by Supervisor Pete McHugh who cited concerns that the work of the newly formed State Ad Hoc Touch Screen Task Force might take longer than anticipated; and waiting for those results could place the County in jeopardy of violating the Federal Court Order.

“All of the recent reports in the media may have created doubts in the minds of voters about the ability of the County to conduct an accurate election using the electronic voting machines,” said Supervisor Pete McHugh, District 3. “If the Secretary of State approves the pilot studies, it would enable the County to test the accuracy of the machines, assess the impact of the paper record requirement on those who are visually impaired and should minimize any doubts and concerns these security issues have created among County voters.”

The Board also approved the creation of an ad hoc election systems oversight review committee, proposed by Supervisor Jim Beall, District 4. The Committee would be comprised of voters, computer security experts and citizen observers.

Background

Following an extensive competitive process that included a six-month pilot program and extensive community input, the County of Santa Clara Registrar of Voters recommended Sequoia Voting Systems as the preferred vendor to implement its new Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting System. The County’s Finance and Government Operations Committee reviewed the selection on January 31, and forwarded it to the full Board for consideration on February 4, 2003. The Board decided that additional time was required to study the issues pertaining to access for the disabled, costs and security and set a special workshop for February 11, 2003.

At that workshop, the Board heard presentations by staff on the six-month pilot project and the vendor evaluation process. It also heard brief presentations from the three firms who responded to the RFP – Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia. The Board also heard concerns from members of the computer science community.

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So contact California’s Secretary of State! Write a letter!