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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Please join me in asking Allegheny County's BOE to allow an expert to examine the software of the iVotronic voting machines before they leave the county (after June 5th).

Also, our County Council will meet next Tuesday June 6th, at 5:00 PM. Maintaining public pressure is essential to convey to our Governor and County Chief Executive that verified voting is essential to the integrity of our elections.


RK (Richard King, Ph.D.)

Primary Concerns for Our Board of Elections in Allegheny County:
1) Uncertified Hardware. Allegheny County's recent primary was run on two different types of iVotronic machines. One machine type is referred to by ES&S as "the ADA model" which has "ADA scroll buttons" and received state certification upon the recommendation of Dr. Michael Shamos. The other model is not the "ADA Model" as specified by Dr. Shamos in his certification report as it lacks the "ADA scroll buttons". These two different machines differ in their physical form, in the screen changes that occur during the set up for each new voter by the poll worker, and in the physical method by which the voter completes the voting process.

2) Uncertified Software. We have four poll tapes produced during our recent primary. One of these poll tapes indicates that the software ("firmware") version used on the Personal Electronic Ballot (PEB) device differs from the version certified by the state. The Secretary of the Commonwealth certified the PEB firmware version 1.07. A follow up review of records including more than 100 precincts, did not find another instance of the uncertified version (1.05) of firmware.

3) Zero Print Tapes as safeguards to e-ballot stuffing
a) From our record review, we know iVotronics can and do print zero tapes on election day regardless of whether or not votes for the ongoing election are already on the machines. I'm told that the iVotronic is the only voting machine that does so. We know zero tapes were printed through the use of a "Secret Administrative Code" as late as 2:30 PM during the day of the primary.

b) The iVotronic machines also print zero tapes that look like regular zero tapes - except that the tapes indicate that the "Number of Terminals Open" can be equal to ZERO; (or 1, 2, or 3 machines). If zero terminals are open, does a zero print indicate that the voting data banks are really being assessed or not?

c) Zero tapes are required by law to be posted in the precinct because they are supposed to be a basis for believing that the machine contains no votes prior to the beginning of the election. The question arises, "What assurances do zero print tapes provide?" Particularly if they can be printed at anytime during an election day by a secret code.

4) Lack of Process for Verification of Voting Software.
The county has provided assurances of the will and resources to verify that the software received from ES&S is identical to the software certified by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Since a poll tape indicates that uncertified software was used, and since an official of our Allegheny County's Division of Elections indicated in court testimony that the county would not be verifying the software as that certified by the state, we are curious about the nature of the software that has run our recent primary. We would like to have an expert review the software to verify that it is same as that certified by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Why should voters believe software accurately casts and counts ballots when the ballots were cast on uncertified hardware and/or uncertified software? ES&S has run uncertified software in other states such as California and Indiana. At present in Allegheny County, some minimal assurance of the integrity of our elections could be provided software verification. However, many computer security experts agree that given the current state of the art of eVoting, only the use of Voter Verified Paper Records with Routine Audits can secure eVoting with respect to reliability and tamper proofing.

5) Discrepancies between poll books and eVotes cast ("Missing Ballots"). According to legislative candidate Ed Gainey (24th district), his legal team reviewed poll records commonly indicating a discrepancy between the number of voters signed into the district register and the number of voters who voted in the precinct. Their team identified more than 40 such discrepancies. What happened to these ballots? Did the iVotronics loose ballots? Did voters simply not complete their voting process by not pushing "Vote" twice?

6) The lack of appropriate checks and balances in the optical scan central count process. The risks of fraud in central count optical scan are well known. My understanding is that in the event of a recount, PA law requires that a ballot box cannot be opened without notifying all the interested parties, a judge of elections and someone appointed by the court in the event of a recount. Given these sage precautions, how is it advisable that the optical scan central count process was not provided with similar safeguards.

7) The absence of Voter-Verified Paper Ballots with Routine Audits to safeguard the reliability and security of eVoting.

Richard King, Ph.D.