Friday, December 30, 2005

Illustrations - why professionals oppose imprecise requirements

Two articles published in today's Rocky Mountain News deserve special attention:

1. Computer deal gags criticism

2. Refund due on late vote software

In mid-2003, Colorado’s Secretary of State held a hearing to allow people to make a brief statement about the database project.

The Secretary of State did not listen, and the public’s concerns were not addressed. See notes from the meeting at: Requirements for Colorado Statewide Voter Database - June 19, 2003 .

When unqualified citizens pretend to be doctors, they risk arrest and incarceration.

Unqualified government employees are pretending to be systems designers. Who will stop them, before they do great harm?

Colorado’s failed statewide voter database project clearly illustrates why unqualified people should not be designing systems.

County Clerk Linda Salas should immediately withdraw her draft RFP and follow the CAMBER recommendations.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Boulder County officials infuriate the public.

Linda Salas, Boulder County's Clerk and Recorder, published a draft Request for Vendor Proposals for a new vote tabulating system - RFP.

The RFP is massive in scope and conflicts with most of the requirements expressed by citizens over the past couple of years.

  • Read CAMBER's Open Records Request intended to reveal information about how the RFP was developed and how public comments will be evaluated and incorporated.

Salas allowed only 2 business days for public comment. Community leaders objected strongly to the Clerk and to the County Commissioners.

In response to the outpouring of public criticism the two day comment period has been extended by an additional 4 business days to January 4th.

CAMBER recommends that the RFP be replaced by a more prudent proposal -- after it has won the people's endorsement.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Choose candidates wisely.

Our December 5th request, for an audience with Gigi Dennis, Colorado Secretary of State, failed. She did receive the request. She did not reply. Click here to read the request.

Our September 1st request and Black Box Voting’s request for Boulder County public records both failed. We believe that these records can be used to prove whether or not Boulder County’s election system is verifiably secure and accurate and whether any ballots are, “marked in any way whereby the ballot can be identified as the ballot of the person casting it.” The State and the County have chosen to protect the vendor, and themselves, rather than the public.

On a much broader scale, the Secretary of State and the Boulder County Clerk continue to refuse to address our long standing concerns about the integrity of the election system.

  • Skilled professionals have voiced deep concerns that Colorado’s voting system is not transparent, not independently verifiable, not secure, and not accurate.
  • The national press is filled with reports of inadequate system requirements and of major failures in electronic voting equipment. They are also filled with reports of the incompetent testing procedures used to certify these systems.
  • Most elected officials and their staffs are not competent to address these issues, and they refuse to accept help from competent professionals. As stated in the December 5th letter,

    “The thinking and procedures of the elections staff has been seriously corrupted. They are not accountable to the people. Their work is not technically competent. They are not being measured against standards for secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent elections.”
It is time to call a halt to the amateurish work-products of Colorado’s Secretary of State and County Clerks. It is time to open the election system design and development process to those among the public who understand security and accuracy, how to design systems that allow for independent verification of each election process, and what is required to make the election system fully transparent while preserving voter privacy.

It seems to me that there is no place in our government for elected officials who refuse to address the concerns of the people.

The Secretary of State and County Clerks are coming up for election.

Choose candidates wisely.

Colorado's election system is out of control

Ginette Dennis December 5, 2005
Colorado Secretary of State
1700 Broadway
Denver, CO 80290

Dear Ms. Dennis:

It is vital that you and I meet privately as soon as possible.

As you might recall, we notified you in our October 9th letter that the voter registration project is untrustworthy and in serious trouble. Your predecessor ignored our many recommendations, beginning June 3, 2003, and our warnings to not enter into the contract (see attached). We offered you our specific suggestions regarding the incompetently conceived system. You should be congratulated for “pulling the plug” on the Accenture contract; knowledgeable people are very upset that it took so long.

Colorado’s entire election system is in urgent need of reform. October 9th we recommended six specific actions for you to take to resurrect Colorado’s failed election system. So far, with the exception of the Accenture contract termination, either nothing or, as with the case of Rule 45, something bad has been permitted to happen. From our perspective:
  1. Non-secret ballots. State has taken no action to protect voters from the use of non-secret ballots.
  2. Non-existent accountability and transparency. State is collaborating with various counties to block independent oversight of the November 2005 election.
  3. Harmful election rules. State, on November 10th, adopted the incompetent and harmful Election Rule 45.
  4. Incoherent election system. State has done nothing to bring competent professional talent and the public into its election system development process.
  5. Inadequate Voting Equipment RFP. State has not recalled the incompetent and harmful RFP for Election Voting Systems - CDOS-RFP-2005-001.
  6. Untrustworthy voter registration system. State has done nothing to bring competent professionals and the public into the registration system development process.
You’re getting your input from the wrong people – elections staff. The thinking and procedures of the elections staff has been seriously corrupted. They are not accountable to the people. Their work is not technically competent. They are not being measured against standards for secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent elections.

Immediate reform is urgently required. When can you and I meet?

Al Kolwicz
Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results
2867 Tincup Circle
Boulder, CO 80305

Friday, December 16, 2005

Colorado faces a serious election problem.

Which is the surest way to win an election? (1) Raise money, recruit volunteers, sell your message, and get out your voters? Or, (2) recruit one person employed by the County to hack the vote?

Colorado faces a serious election problem. Leon County, Florida, has dumped its Diebold voting equipment. According to the reports, insiders can manipulate election results when using Diebold voting equipment. They can do this without leaving any trace of the tampering.

Twenty three of Colorado’s 64 counties use Diebold voting equipment. Boulder County’s HART/InterCivic voting equipment uses a “smart card” similar to the card that was manipulated during the Leon County demonstration. Can it too be hacked?

Many computer professionals question the security and accuracy of Colorado’s voting equipment. Colorado’s Secretary of State has steadfastly refused to permit the public to independently verify whether or not Colorado elections are secure and accurate.

Colorado legislators, led by then Secretary of State Donetta Davidson and State Senator Ken Gordon, enacted massive election reform, SB05-198/206. Colorado Voter said at the time, “These bills limit independent election oversight and legalize unsound and deceptive election procedures.”

The problem is actually much more serious than it appears. Newly appointed Secretary of State, Gigi Dennis recently enacted Election Rule 45 which makes it even easier for counties to acquire and use faulty voting equipment. Computer expert, Paul Walmsley, carefully described the problems with the rule. His constructive analysis was ignored,

Also, the Secretary of State is actively seeking proposals for voting equipment. The request for proposal (RFP) has been seriously criticized by computer professionals, including Colorado Voter, The combination of rule-45 and this RFP will compromise Colorado elections for years to come.

Colorado voters need to speak to their representatives and to the Secretary of State about this mess. The people in charge of elections are way over their heads when they are asked to make decisions involving high tech. When officials bring in outside experts, they select people who are friends rather than the most competent technologists.

Officials may be “good people” but they are doing a great disservice to our community when they refuse to open election systems to the harsh scrutiny of truly independent oversight.

Colorado elections can no longer be trusted until they are truly transparent and it can be independently verified that each election is secure and accurate.

Colorado Counties that use Diebold Voting Equipment

  • Adams
    El Paso
    El Paso
    La Plata
    La Plata