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GOP IT Guru for 04 Ohio Election Dies in Plane Crash December 20, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in News, Politics, Repiglicans, Technology, Voting.
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Courtesy Rawstory:

A top level Republican IT consultant who was set to testify in a case alleging GOP election tampering in Ohio died in a plane crash late Friday night. 

Michael Connell — founder of Ohio-based New Media Communications, which created campaign Web sites for George W. Bush and John McCain — died instantly after his single-prop, private aircraft smashed into a vacant home in suburban Lake Township, Ohio. 

“The plane was attempting to land around 6 p.m. Friday at Akron-Canton Airport when it crashed about three miles short of the runway,” reports theAkron Beacon Journal.

Connell’s exploits as a top GOP IT ‘guru’ have been well documented by RAW STORY’s investigative team. 

The interest in Mike Connell stems from his association with a firm called GovTech, which he had spun off from his own New Media Communications under his wife Heather Connell’s name. GovTech was hired by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to set up an official election website at election.sos.state.oh.us to presented the 2004 presidential returns as they came in.

Connell is a long-time GOP operative, whose New Media Communications provided web services for the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Republican National Committee and many Republican candidates. This in itself might have raised questions about his involvement in creating Ohio’s official state election website.

However, the alternative media group ePlubibus Media further discovered in November 2006 that election.sos.state.oh.us was hosted on the servers of a company in Chattanooga, TN called SmarTech, which also provided hosting for a long list of Republican Internet domains.

-Article Continues @ Sourced Site.

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Humboldt County CA’s Transparency Project Uncovers Diebold E-Vote Scam December 10, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, News, Politics, Technology, Voting.
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Courtesy Bradblog:

Hundreds of Lost Ballots, Illegal Voting System, and the Boondoggle Behind Billions of Federal Dollars Spent on Voting Machines That Don’t Work All Illustrated by Simple Citizen Oversight, Free Open-Source Voting System in One California County…

“Some people have called those who have long decried our nation’s move toward voting machines nuts or just sore losers,” reads the editorial from yesterday’s Eureka Times-Standard.

“They were loud, and they were strident in proclaiming that they didn’t trust election technologies as much as they trust the ability of actual human beings to count votes,” the paper continues in response to the citizen’s “Transparency Project” in Humboldt County, CA which, as The BRAD BLOG reported last week, discovered some 200 ballots that the county’s Diebold optical-scan system had deleted from the initially certified count. Humboldt registrar Carolyn Crnich — who deserves much credit for working with local election integrity advocates to allow them to create a more transparent, open-source optical-scan system as a check on the buggy Diebold hardware and software — was forced to to re-certify the November 4th election with new results after the findings.

“The recent discovery, thanks to the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project, of a discrepancy in election results due to flawed software reveals that these activists were right to make noise, and right to complain about a company that has been less than responsible in dealing with the problem.”

Thanks for noticing, Times-Standard. Now will the rest of the country notice? Specifically, will the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, responsible for testing and certifying these machines at the federal level, and the U.S. Dept. of Justice, responsible for enforcing federal laws — which again seem to have been violated by Diebold (whose election division now calls themselves Premier) — notice and take action?

Interviews with and responses from CA officials from Crnich to Sec. of State Debra Bowen’s office indicate a serious problem, yet again, with Diebold’s handling of the software failure which the company has known about for four years, even as they allowed election officials to continue using the same system in several states.

The BRAD BLOG has obtained a copy of Diebold’s original terse, emailed notice of the software failure, sent to Crnich’s predecessor in 2004, but never sent to CA’s new Sec. of State, despite her “Top-to-Bottom Review” of all e-voting systems in the state which she undertook after taking office in 2007. (The Diebold email notice is posted below, in full.)

At the same time, local software programmer Mitch Trachtenberg, who developed the simple, transparent, open-source optical-scan software, using off-the-shelf hardware for the citizen’s project — including the ability to post all scanned ballots onto the web for citizen review — may have inadvertently revealed the scam perpetuated by the nation’s electronic voting machine vendor’s who were allocated some $3.9 billion federal tax dollars for their efforts at creating proprietary systems, which don’t even work as promised…or as required by federal law…

Diebold Knew…

Article Continues @ Sourced Site.

Presidential Campaigns’ Computers Hacked November 6, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, McCain, News, Obama, Technology.
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Courtesy Slashdot:

“As the election ends, news is coming out from both campaigns on what happened behind closed doors. During the summer, the Obama campaign had their systems hacked, but so did McCain — and not by each other, but bya third party.

‘… both the FBI and the Secret Service came to the campaign with an ominous warning: “You have a problem way bigger than what you understand,” an agent told Obama’s team. “You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system.” The following day, Obama campaign chief David Plouffe heard from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, to the same effect: “You have a real problem … and you have to deal with it.” The Feds told Obama’s aides in late August that the McCain campaign’s computer system had been similarly compromised.'”Also from the article:“Officials at the FBI and the White House told the Obama campaign that they believed a foreign entity or organization sought to gather information on the evolution of both camps’ policy positions — information that might be useful in negotiations with a future administration.”

Article Continues @ Sourced Site.

Presidential Election Voting Machines Violate Copyrights, Suit Claims November 5, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in Law, Technology.
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Courtesy Information Week:

A California software company has filed a lawsuit against Diebold and its subsidiary, Premier Election Solutions, claiming that PES’ electronic voting machines violate its copyrights.Artifex Software, of San Rafael, Calif., claims that PES systems infringe on its copyrighted Ghostscript PDF interpretation and printing software. Artifex claims PES is using Ghostscript in its electronic election systems even though Diebold and PES “have not been granted a license to modify, copy, or distribute any of Artifex’s copyrighted works,” Artifex claims in court papers filed late last month in U.S. District Court for Northern California.

PES voting machines are widely used in state and federal elections — including Tuesday’s presidential contest. More than 24,000 PES optical scanning machines were used in the 2006 federal elections in Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Utah, and other states, according to the company’s Web site.The suit does not specify how PES is allegedly using Ghostscript, but presumably it’s to create print outs of electronic voting records. In its lawsuit, Artifex calls Ghostscript “the most widely used PDF interpreter not developed by Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) itself.”

The alleged infringement “has contributed to [Diebold and PES] profits and is adversely affecting the potential market for and value of Artifex’s copyrighted works,” according to the court papers.

Article Continues @ Sourced Site.

Texas Voters Urged to Avoid Straight-Party Option, After Vote-Flip Complaints October 30, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in Democrats, News, Politics, Repiglicans, Technology, Voting.
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Courtesy Wired:

A number of voters in several Texas counties have been complaining that voting machines they used to cast early votes flipped their votes from Democratic choices to Republican ones.

Voters have reported that when they tried to vote a straight-party Democratic ticket, the machine flipped their choices to Republican candidates instead. In some cases, voters reported a problem only with the presidential race; in other cases voters reported the entire ballot being marked Republican by the machine.

The counties where the problems were reported use different kinds of voting machines from three of the top voting machine companies — Election Systems & Software, Diebold Election Systems (now Premier Election Solutions) and Hart InterCivic.

A Hart InterCivic spokesman said that at least one of the scenarios that a voter described isn’t possible on the company’s machines. A spokesman for ES&S said very few voters had complained and as far as he knew poll workers were never able to replicate the situation they described. The same ES&S machines are at the center of stories in West Virginia and Tennessee where voters also reported the machines flipping their votes, though the scenario in those states was slightly different since voters there weren’t trying to vote a straight-party ticket when the problem occurred.

Voting a straight-party ballot or ticket is an option offered in 15 states whereby a voter can choose to vote straight-party Democrat or Republican and the ballot will automatically mark votes for candidates from that party on the ballot.

Because of the reports of problems, many election integrity groups are urging voters to forego the option.

“We’re asking people to avoid the straight-party option entirely and if you want to vote for candidates who are all from the same party, mark them each individually in each race,” said Ellen Thiessen, founder ofVotersUnite.

Complaints so far have come in from at least seven Texas counties — Collin, Dallas, El Paso, Galveston, Harris, Jefferson, and Palo Pinto.

Collin County uses Diebold paperless Accu-Vote touch-screen machines; Dallas uses ES&S paperless iVotronic machines;  El Paso uses Diebold paperless Accu-Vote touch-screen machines; Galveston uses Hart InterCivic paperless eSlate machines, which use a dial-and-click system that doesn’t require voters to touch the screen; Harris uses Hart InterCivic paperless eSlate machines; Jefferson and Palo Pinto Counties use ES&S paperless iVotronic touch-screen machines.

Some of the complaints have come in to a national voter hotline (866-MY-VOTE1). Not all of the voters left their name or number, making it difficult to follow up with them to obtain details about the problem. Only two of the complaints have been previously reported; one in Palo Pinto County and one in El Paso County.

Here are recordings from some of the complaints that have been made to the hotline (Threat Level is publishing recordings only from voters who did not disclose their name or other personal information in their recording):

 

  • Collin County (.wav)
  • Galveston County (.wav)
  • Jefferson County (.wav)
  • Harris County (.wav)
  • Lona Jones — of Mineral Wells, Texas, in Palo Pinto County — told a McClatchey-Tribune reporter thatwhen she pressed the button to vote straight-party Democrat on her ES&S iVotronic machine in the county courthouse, the machine returned a screen showing all Republican candidates chosen. She told Threat Level she thought she’d hit the wrong button, so she returned to the first screen and chose Democrat again, this time making sure she pressed the correct button.

    Article with Video, Continued @ Sourced Site.

    McCain seeks special ‘fair use’ copyright rules for VIPs October 21, 2008

    Posted by trouble97018 in McCain, News, Politics, Repiglicans, Technology, Video.
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    Courtesy CNET:

    John McCain’s presidential campaign has discovered the remix-unfriendly aspects of American copyright law, after several of the candidate’s campaign videos were pulled from YouTube.

    McCain has now discovered the rights holder friendly nature of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which forces remixers to fight an uphill battle to prove that their work is a “fair use.”

    However, instead of calling for an overhaul of the much hated law, McCain is calling for VIP treatment for the remixes made by political campaigns.

    McCain’s proposal: complaints about videos uploaded by a political campaign would be manually reviewed by a human YouTube employee before any possible removal of the remix. The process for complaints against videos uploaded by millions of other Americans would stay the same: instant removal by a computer program, and then possible reinstatement a week or two later after the video sharing site has received and manually processed a formal counter-notice.

    With 11 homes and 13 cars, it’s not terribly surprising that McCain is calling for special treatment for the YouTube videos of politicians. As for the “fair use” claims of the poor starving masses: Let them eat cake.

    On Tuesday, the McCain campaign sent a formal letter to YouTube asking for this two-tier system for “fair use” complaints. Copyright-guru Larry Lessig called it a “fantastic letter“, adding “bravo to the campaign” in a post to his blog. Since then, the technology press has been pretty supportive, although the focus of the coverage seems to mainly be along the lines of “McCain realizes that fair use claims are uphill battle.” This is the wrong message to send, and as much as I respect Professor Lessig, I have to call him out here. He is wrong. McCain should be criticized for his attempt to get special treatment, and Google/YouTube need to treat all users the same way.

    Article Continues @ Sourced Site.