GTFO of our Democracy

Sunday, 2007-08-05; 12:51:00

It hasn't been widely reported, but on Friday night at a late-night 11:45 PM press conference, Debra Bowen, California's Secretary of State, de-certified all of California's electronic voting systems as well as optical scan systems, and conditionally re-certified them subject to very stringent conditions. She had until Friday to decertify them for the upcoming February elections.

In upcoming elections, only one electronic/optical voting machine can be used per polling place, for the purposes of providing accessibility to voters with disabilities. In addition, these voting machines will be subject to a 100% manual recount for every election. There will be one polling staffer whose sole responsibility is to monitor the electronic/optical voting machine and make sure that there is no unauthorized access. All access to the internet by these voting machines will be removed, regardless of the purpose. The firmware and software will be reinstalled prior to any election, and if these machines fail to a point where they need to be rebooted, they must be turned off and immediately replaced by a functioning unit.

You can see the official decertification/recertification statements at the website for the Secretary of State.

All voting machines were conditionally re-certified subject to these conditions, except for ES&S' InkaVote Plus optical scan system; the company didn't provide source code, so Bowen completely decertified these machines for use.

In other words:


Interesting quote from Debra Bowen at the press conference, as transcribed by The Brad Blog:

It is my hope that voting system vendors will, starting tomorrow, start to evaluate the competitive advantage to moving to open source software.

Note to other politicians: this is how you gain my vote. You make promises on the campaign trail to get tough on a problem, and damn, you stick to those promises once you get elected. Note to Bowen: you fucking rock.

[UPDATE: To be perfectly clear, the requirements I listed above are not the only ones -- indeed, there are 40 specific requirements listed in the documents for de/recertification of Diebold's systems; the ones I listed were just some of the more notable ones I saw in scanning the official documents. Here's another frightening excerpt:

Whereas, the Diebold Red Team members also found that the design of the AVPM VVPAT printer enabled attacks on the printed records of voter's ballots using a common household substance [emphasis mine] that could covertly destroy the VVPAT records, particularly notable because the attack (1) affects records printed before the attack is executed, (2) affects records printed after the attack is executed, (3) does not affect the way records are displayed to voters as they are produced – so as to avoid raising voter suspicion before the close of polls, (4) does not affect the printer mechanisms or jam the printer – again, to avoid raising suspicion, (5) the impact of these attacks is to make many of the VVPAT-printed records completely unreadable and most of them barely or only partially readable, destroying records already printed by the VVPAT at the time of the attack and potentially destroying all records produced throughout the rest of the day by that particular VVPAT, and (6) the attack is particularly viable on the TSx because the design of the VVPAT printer and the security casing for printed records allows the attack substance to linger undetected inside the machine until the end of election day; neither subsequent voters nor poll workers would know the attack had taken place until the printed records were removed at the end of Election Day;

Good lord.

The vendor must provide printing specifications for paper ballots to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will certify printers to print ballots for this system based upon their demonstrated ability to do so. The vendor may not require exclusivity in ballot printing and must cooperate fully in certification testing of ballots produced by other ballot printers.

Bowen is leaving no stone unturned.]

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