Monday, March 27, 2006

CAMBER appalled by Boulder County’s Evaluation

TO: Boulder County Proposal Evaluation Committee

Dear committee member:

We have reviewed your RFP Evaluation report and we are appalled.
1. The committee has failed in its duty to report these facts about the HART InterCivic proposal:

o It does not comply with the RFP requirements
o It violates Colorado law
2. The committee wrongly recommends changing the RFP terms after the bids have been submitted. This stinks to high heaven. The county will be accused of rigging the bid.

The RFP is for a lease not a sale, and there is no mention that lease costs would be credited against a future purchase.

Disclosure of these two deal sweeteners would likely have attracted additional bid responders and cost the county less. Adopting them would substantially rig any future purchase in HART's favor.

3. Details in the report are wrong (hopefully innocently). It is absolutely not true, for example, that the HART system is “the most universally accessible certified system available at this time”. AutoMark is more accessible, is certified nationally and by most states (not Colorado), and is available at this time.

AutoMark was suspiciously denied Colorado certification. HART’s equipment suffers from the identical problem used by the Secretary of State to deny AutoMark certification.

Something fishy is going on in the Secretary of State's office.

We worked long and hard to share with you the benefit of our work on this decision. We do not find that you have responded to our written concerns. March 13, March 20, and March 22, 2006. These letters are available at CAMBER/lease_RFP

We ask that you revise the conclusions in your report.
1. Expose the difficult and unanswered problems that we have brought to your attention.

2. Keep the terms and conditions of the RFP as it was presented to vendors, or issue a new RFP so that all vendors can compete.

3. Correct erroneous and misleading statements in the report.

4. Ask the Secretary of State to expedite reconsideration of the AutoMark and Vote-PAD.
The people of Boulder County do not want to have their elections contaminated by invisible digital ballots. Each incorrect digital ballot disenfranchises two voters – the voter whose votes are wrongly counted and the voter whose votes are zeroed out by the incorrect digital ballot.

Al Kolwicz
CAMBER – Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Don't ignore HART InterCivic problems

Apparently, a RFP evaluation committee member today made a verbal assertion that the recent elections problems in Texas have been found "not" to be the vendor's fault.

I have researched this, and been unable to find any written documentation or news references to support this assertion.

Instead, I have found:

NO statement or news on the Hart Intercivic website "News" section regarding any recent elections in Texas as of today (there is a gap of no news between 2/7/2006 and 3/22/2006) ...

nor on the company homepage, nor on the company press release page, though, interestingly, this statement, referenced in a newspaper article, can be found in the Google cache, but no longer appears on the Hart website:

Has the company retracted this statement (dated 3/14/2006)? Is there a new statement from the company to replace this? According to this Google cache document, Hart president Britt Kauffman said that the problems were "procedural" and not related to "programming, software or computer errors", does the company still stand by this statement, and if so, why does this statement no longer appear on the company's website?

There are seven (7) recent stories on the Dallas Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper website, NONE of which suggest that the vendor has been absolved of any responsibility.

The most recent story (from today, Wednesday 3/22/2006) in the list indicates that NEW problems may have been found with Hart Intercivic equipment in a different county, from the local newspaper by way of the Dallas For Worth Start Telegram:

"The problem in the recount appears to be with new, federally mandated electronic voting machines, provided by vendor Hart InterCivic. During a hand recount, the machines are designed to print out paper ballots for each voter's choices, but McKerley said the machines that were used to register early votes printed out only 75 percent to 80 percent of the votes believed to have been cast."
(Incidentally, I would very much like to see the "paper ballot" printout capability, I was under the impression that the Hart equipment only printed out an "audit receipt". If the device printed a full paper ballot instead of storing votes in memory, it may be redeemable still).

The original story from yesterday, 3/21/06, is still posted.

There is one story indicating that in Tarrant County, TX, the challengers did not file recount requests, however, that story also says very clearly:

"Hart InterCivic, the company that made the equipment and wrote the software, took responsibility for the error the day after the election, and company officials said they would work with local elections officials to minimize future problems. Company officials have said that a procedural error led to inflated counts when merging totals from early voting, absentee mail voting and election-day voting into one report on election night."
The story also quotes a local candidate who chose not to file a recount as saying she chose not to spend the money in part because:

"we don't have any way of knowing whether the current numbers are accurate."
Given our previous experiences with verbal assertions made by the County Clerk, her supporters, and the vendor that turned out to be incorrect (need I remind anyone of the discrepancy between the "8 hours" we were quoted before the system was purchased, and the "24 hours" we were quoted afterwards?), I urge the committee to only accept those statements that can be documented in writing. Please feel free to include any of the references I have provided in your final report. Although the original confidentiality agreement you were asked to sign did not make it clear, is should be self-evidently obvious that you are free to discuss anything that has been made publicly available in a news report with anyone you choose.

If there is a new statement from the vendor, or other documented (not verbal) information available, I'm sure many of us would like to see it.

Has this committee actually tested this functionality itself or simply relied on assertions by the vendor or other parties?

If the committee is unable to resolve these legitimate questions as to the reliability and accuracy of this equipment, I cannot understand how it could possibly recommend that it be used in elections here. These public reports and our county's first-hand experience do not inspire confidence in voters, regardless of political affiliation.

According to Brad Friedman of the BradBlog website, the Dallas Fort Worth Star Telegram has contacted him to begin investigating the whistleblower's claims.

I hope that this committee will not simply rubber-stamp the County Clerk's continued failure to do thorough due diligence on our elections systems and instead represent the repeatedly stated consensus of Boulder County voters: support trustworthy elections based on paper ballots and reject any proposed use of DRE computer vote-storing equipment here. For a thorough read of Boulder County voter's positions on this issue, ask the Clerk and Commissioners to share with you the 200+ comments she received in response to the DRE Purchase RFP.

Make sure you get it in writing on paper!

Joe Pezzillo
Boulder, Colorado

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Additional data for the Proposal Evaluation Committee

Members of the Proposal Evaluation committee:

We have added some important new content to our site and hope that you will review it before making a decision. This is one of the most important decisions that Boulder County will make this year. We believe that it is worth the effort to get it right.

Some states choose "paper only"

Digital ballot equipment is not working

Boulder County Clerk pushes for unpopular digital ballots

AutoMark Federally certified, preferred by disabled voters.

We know that you are under pressure to select the only proposal offered. We ask you report that the proposal does not meet the requirements, and to recommend that the Clerk not accept the proposal.

As a committee, you have several options.

You can report that the proposal fulfills all of the requirements, which we have shown it does not.

You can report that the proposal does not fulfill all of the requirements.

You can report that you have had inadequate time and expertise to determine with confidence that the proposal does or does not fulfill the requirements.

If you do say that the proposal does fulfill the requirements (1 above), you would telling the citizens that the committee has carefully evaluated all of the systems, functional, legal and other requirements specified in the RFP document. It does not seem that there was time or talent to accomplish this.

If you do not say the proposal fulfills the requirements (2 or 3 above), the Boulder County Clerk can proceed without your endorsement, and might do so. Please do not lend your good names to this risky venture. The public and your friends will hold you personally accountable for what happens. To the extent that you permit the report to infer that you represent an entire organization, you will be risking the good name of your organization.

You have been notified that there are many HART equipment problems underway today. Our website includes several, but not all. If you recall, the HART person who presented the demonstration told you that every HART voting terminal is identical. This means that the problems being experienced throughout the country would be present in any equipment that Boulder County would rent.

We recommend that you do not bend to intimidating pressure from the Secretary of State’s office. The SOS has made grievous certification errors and would like the counties to go along with bad SOS decisions to avoid embarrassment.

Our elections are too important for this. Please reject the pressure.

We have done what we can to warn each committee member of the needless risk they would be taking if they were to assert that they evaluated the proposal against each requirement and found that it fulfills every requirement.

We would hope that you list the few areas where you know that the proposal does not meet the requirements and recommend that the proposal be rejected.

Short of outright rejection, we recommend that you take a “no position” because you have had inadequate time and talent to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the proposal.

We know that this is a difficult situation for you. We hope that you will do the right thing. Please do not deceive voters into believing that the proposal is something it is not.

Thank you for your public service.

Monday, March 20, 2006

CAMBER says, "Reject the HART/InterCivic proposal"

"Reject the HART/InterCivic proposal," CAMBER today asked Boulder County's Voting Equipment Proposal Evaluation Committee.

For several years, Boulder County voters have spoken out loud and clear. They want one ballot per voter and that ballot must be a full ballot text paper ballot.

The County received only one response to its RFP for Voting Equipment. The response is from HART/InterCivic.

HART proposes digital ballots. The people want paper ballots.

HART's solution does not permit disabled voters to verify the votes printed on the Audit Trail printer. The RFP requires independent verification of the printed ballot -- since they would be used for recounts.

The County refuses to evaluate other solutions, such as the AutoMark and the Vote-PAD. Other states are happily meeting their HAVA deadlines using these full ballot text paper ballot devices.

Check these facts:

New Mexico prudently chooses "paper only"

DRE digital ballot equipment is just not working

Boulder County Clerk pushes for unpopular digital ballots

There is something fishy happening at the Secretary of State's office. The SOS office wants a totally digital state -- e-mail and FAX for absentee voting, and DRE digital ballots in voting centers for in person voting.

They know that this approach closes the door to independent oversight. There would be no way to hold officials accountable for errors and fraud. Nobody will know.

The SOS office has misused their authority and blocked certification of paper ballot solutions.

It's too bad that we don't have an Attorney General that will stop their misuse of power.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Boulder County stalls. Withholds information.


The Clerk’s committee is planning to review a demonstration of the HART proposal 9:00 a.m., Wednesday March 15th. It is our understanding that the public will be permitted to observe. See AGENDA

There are BIG questions about whether the demo is going to be a scripted, slick marketing presentation, conducted by HART, or an evaluation, conducted by Boulder County election workers and voters.

Boulder County voters should be informed that they are invited to attend and observe this demonstration.


CAMBER submitted a letter to the committee yesterday, and has had no acknowledgement so far.

NOTE: We are asking questions about (a) the beneficiaries of the RFP, (b) the committee members, and (c) the demonstration.

It is possible that the County has no idea of how many people it is trying to serve with the proposed equipment. How otherwise to know how many units would be needed?

It is possible that some committee members may not be eligible Boulder County voters. Since Boulder County’s top talent was excluded from the committee, does it make sense that outsiders would be making this evaluation?

It is possible that the committee will not really evaluate the equipment, instead watching a scripted presentation where nothing can go wrong. Shouldn’t the committee evaluate what the equipment really does, in the environment that it would be used?.


CAMBER submitted a March 9th Colorado Open Records Request.

We have not yet received a response, and the committee’s time is almost gone. We heard of a March 22 deadline..

Two of the committee meetings have already happened and the demo is set for tomorrow.

Because we don’t have committee member contact information, we must rely on second hand accounts for our data, and we had to send our March 13th letter to the committee via Josh Liss.

Monday, March 13, 2006

CAMBER questions Proposal Evaluation Committee.

Boulder County received only one proposal in response to its Voting Equipment Lease RFP. The county has not released any information about the proposal other than it is from HART/InterCivic.

The clerk has appointed a hand picked Proposal Evaluation Committee. On March 9, CAMBER submitted an Open Records Request to learn about the committee.

March 13, CAMBER submitted a letter to the committee members to learn about the beneficiaries, the committee, and the March 15 demonstration.

Click to read a brief history of the recent effort by the Boulder County Clerk to circumvent public objections to Direct Record Electronic voting equipment.

More than 200 people responded to the clerk's invitation to comment. (This is a large file.) Only one or two of the respondents were supportive of the Salas plan. The remainder object to digital ballots and want paper ballots.

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

Friday, March 10, 2006

Clerk apologizes - meeting was not to have been closed.

3/9/2006 4:24 PM

Josh Liss, Boulder County Elections Coordinator, called me today to apologize for their mistake in closing the meeting on Monday.

Next meeting is Friday, March 10, in Charlotte Houston Room. Notice is to be posted on County Commissioners website.

The meeting will be open to the public.

Also, Josh asked about the trustworthiness of a situation in which a DRE
machine tally and a printed record tally produce identical results.

Told him we'd be willing to address that and I had my doubts.

Geof Cahoon
Boulder CO 80304

Compton is asked to leave post early

According to the Denver Post, - Article Launched: 3/09/2006 01:00 AM

Partisan farewell

Colorado elections director William "Billy" Compton has been asked to leave his post early after he took a job as political director for the Democratic Party. Compton was scheduled to leave March 17, but left Wednesday instead.

Republican Secretary of State Gigi Dennis said through a spokesman that she wanted to avoid any appearance of a conflict.

"Mr. Compton is on paid administrative leave. His last official day was today," Dennis' spokeswoman Dana Williams said. "The reason for that is because of the nature of his new position with a partisan organization."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Colorado political party hires Colorado's Elections Director

Colorado’s Director of Elections, Bill Compton is leaving to become Political Director for the Colorado Democratic Party

Is it proper for a high ranking Colorado election official to move to a high ranking position with a Colorado political party? It does not matter which party -- it does raise serious questions.

Can Colorado's 2006 elections be trusted? Compton is not the only employee to leave, and Secretary of State Gigi Dennis is new to the office. Who will be running the 2006 elections, certifying equipment and elections, and resolving election disputes?

Knowledge and contacts learned while serving as top election official could be used to tip election results. The Secretary of State must take specific actions to protect the people of Colorado from this threat.

• Not all election information has been released to the public. For example, detailed databases have not been released to the public, and they can give an edge to a campaign.

• Confidential knowledge of voting equipment is not public and can be used to secretly manipulate elections.

• Weaknesses in Colorado’s election system are known to Compton and can be exploited without much risk of detection.

Compton leaves behind an election system that is not secure, not accurate, not verifiable, not transparent, and not private. The system is open to error, fraud and abuse.

There is no reason to believe that Compton would abuse his knowledge, but the state has an obligation to take steps to protect the people.

The Secretary of State should get a written agreement from Compton attesting that he retains no access to or copies of files/records that are unavailable to the general public. This is typical for private sector key employees. It is vital that Compton be explicitly instructed and bound to protect this valuable information.

• Is Compton prohibited from keeping copies of files/documents for his own use?
• Is Compton prohibited from sharing insider information?
• Is there a clear identification of confidential information?
• Are high level employees bound by non-disclosure agreements?
• Who is responsible for protecting insider information?

All political campaigns (candidate as well as issue) should immediately take steps to protect themselves. Contact the Secretary of State and confirm that Colorado’s valuable election information will be protected from the revolving door of election officials.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

David Dill is beginning to "get it".

David Dill’s March 7th article Making Democracy Transparent shows that Dill is beginning to “get it” but has not yet “got it”.

We have preached long and hard that trustworthy elections are required to be transparent, use anonymous ballots, and be verifiably secure and accurate. Dill appears to be catching on -- albeit slowly.

Dill wants us to believe that elections conducted using digital ballots can comply with these requirements, without offering any proof that they can do so. We have seen no evidence that this is true, and continue to distrust claims that they can.

Stopgap solutions, such as US HR 550, don't meet these requirements. These stopgap measures are harmful; they are used to deflect pressure for addressing the fundamental system problems and enable officials to purchase inadequate electronic voting equipment.

We welcome Dill's work in the field, and hope he will soon join us in our quest for election systems that are transparent, use anonymous ballots, and are verifiably secure and accurate.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Say "no" to email and fax voting

Colorado legislators act to weaken secure elections. Through Senate Bill SB-062, Colorado legislators and election officials intend to permit voting by email and by fax.

If "limited" email voting were available to anybody, I believe that the “equal protection” clause of the law would permit others to gain access to the voting method. Can anybody guarantee that this would not happen?.

In any event, there are many elected officials who have experienced an election win or loss due to a very small number of votes. The point being -- EVERY SINGLE VOTE IS IMPORTANT, AND WE CANNOT SACRIFICE ANY. These officials should understand this. Elections are getting closer and closer. Every ineligible vote counted is a way to disenfranchise an eligible voter – by cancelling the eligible voter’s choices.

Also, for those who would vote for this bill I ask, “how can it be verified that the person voting by email is the specific person who is authorized to vote the ballot? The bill does not address this major defect. Consequently, email voting credentials will instantly have significant value.

Email voting credentials will be sold by voters who don’t care about the election contests. They will be bought by those who are able to collect these credentials and sell them (in a block) to the highest bidder. It will be like selling your user-ID and password to your internet account. Nobody will know if it is you, or your friend, or some miscreant who is logged into your account. Think of the power an individual will have when he says to a candidate, “I can offer you voting credentials for 15,000 votes if you will give me …”

I can see the buyer’s sales pitches now -- Your voting credentials are your ticket to this gigantic “let’s not vote” party. Come one, come all. Leave your credentials at the door.

Or better yet – donate your voting credentials to “worthy cause”. Worthy cause has a deep pockets donor who will make a $20.00 donation for every set of valid credentials that we give to him.

FAX voting has its own set of concerns. As with absentee voting, voters can be intimidated and there is nobody to see it; return envelopes can be signed by the eligible voter and turned over with the un-voted ballot FOR A PRICE; and signatures can be transferred from other documents or simply forged without concern for detection – since the person forging the document is never seen. To my knowledge, there is no evidence that signature verification accurately authenticates that the person who signed a ballot is the eligible voter.

Does anybody believe that those outside of our country would not take advantage of this gigantic opportunity to influence American elections?

SB062 is a step toward election chaos. Those voting FOR the bill will show their lack of understanding of why verifiable security is mandatory, and should be kept far away from future election system matters.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Voters need to replace Colorado election officials

Trustworthy elections are an essential component of representative government.

Current election officials are failing to provide trustworthy elections.

Colorado Voter urges voters to elect new election officials who will adopt a balloting system that provides for transparent elections, anonymous ballots and verifiably secure and accurate results.

- Current officials refuse to provide a secret ballot.

- Current officials refuse to permit public oversight of elections.

- Current officials refuse to require verifiable election system systems and procedures.

- Current officials refuse to require secure voter authentication and balloting.

- Current officials refuse to require proof of accuracy for each election process.

Those currently serving as Colorado's election officials must be replaced. We need executives who are committed to providing transparent elections, anonymous ballots and verifiably secure and accurate results.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Email voting is coming to Colorado and state election director who fostered it is quitting

Just one day after testifying to the Colorado House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee about how carefully email voting would be managed under SB06-062, state elections director Billy Compton resigned as noted in today's Denver Post story County voting officials boxed in - Voids in 2 state posts add to anxiety over August primaries. Proponents of voting integrity lost that vote after Billy testified twice, and the committee approved email voting 6-5 along party lines.

Despite acknowledging that there are grave problems with security using email voting, Mr. Compton testified his office would be able to safely use email voting. He also testified how one sailor on one ship had not been able to fax his ballot so he had brought forward the plan for email voting. However, it was clear that Mr. Compton had not sought input from military sources as to the need for or how email voting might be implemented or from technical or security experts. The committee also broadened the bill so that email voting can essentially be used by anyone overseas. Presumably they meant to limit it to citizens but Senator McElhany's bill to require proof of citizenship to register to vote was defeated so China, Mexico, and wherever, feel free, Colorado welcomes your votes.

For six years now, that I'm aware of, every time there has been a bad idea for voting, or the Colorado Sec. of State has been approached for information, or to enforce election law or constitutional protections such as a secret ballot, Billy Compton has been the culprit.

Compton and Drew Durham backed Accenture for the non-existent voter registration database that he couldn't get going after four years and, as the article notes, hasn't even gone out on bid yet for a new contractor.

Boulder County bought the Hart Intercivic voting system that Compton's office has now certified for disabled voters. The Hart system couldn't handle ballots fast enough for a polling place election and eliminated a secret ballot. So now Boulder is looking for a whole new voting system but Compton's office simply turned a blind eye to the problems.

So Billy Compton definitely won't be missed but the disasters of his heritage will live on.

Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.