Saturday, July 15, 2006

DNC: “manual count” of all 150,000 ballots in CA-50 needed (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Greg Palast rips the Dems a new one: "Either the Democrats demand that all votes count, or the Democrats will count for nothing." I would be remiss in my duties if I did not remind Mr. Palast that in the state of Washington, we counted all the votes last time. Several times.


For several weeks since the June 6th Special Election in California’s 50th Congressional District there have been reports of election irregularities. The DNC Voting Rights Institute (“VRI”) has been monitoring the developments since Election Day and has raised a number of concerns regarding new and disturbing information.

First and foremost is the fact that any election where there are allegations of machine tampering, break downs in chain of custody, security breaches and other such irregularities must be taken seriously. There are several facts in this race that raise very deep concerns.

On the facts:

We know for a fact that San Diego County election officials have admitted that a number of the voting machines were taken home in violation of the federal security regulations and guidelines and that a number of the machines showed evidence of tampering (broken seals, which should also have immediately disqualified those machines from use according to state laws implemented in just the last several months in response to new severe vulnerabilities discovered Diebold's optical-scan and touch-screen voting systems.)

We know that under state and federal guidelines, any such breach of security seals or the new "secure storage" requirements for these machines and their memory cards should have immediately disqualified those machines from use in the election for the reason that they became effectively decertified for use upon such security and chain of custody violations.

We also know that both the Diebold optical-scan and touch-screen (DRE) machines have been proven to be vulnerable to tampering in test after test by industry experts, including a team of computer scientists and security experts convened by California's Secretary of State in response to recent revelations concerning the hack ability of Diebold voting systems.

We know that serious security issues and efforts by Diebold to obfuscate problems with their hardware and software led California’s former Democratic Secretary of State to decertify Diebold touch-screen systems in 2004, only to have the Republican Secretary who succeeded him reinstitute the machines over the objections of scores of computer scientists and experts and hundreds of election integrity advocates.

The San Diego County election official responsible for administrating post-election manual vote counts has given three different arbitrary cost estimates for conducting the hand count. The quoted fees are as much as six times the costs estimates for similar hand counts in surrounding counties. The estimates portray the expense of a manual vote count to be cost prohibitive.

This is no longer about whether or not Busby or Bilbray won the election on June 6th. This is about the importance of verifying the facts related to election and voting machine irregularities in this race and the need to ensure an accurate count of all votes cast in this election so that the electorate may have confidence in the announced results in future elections.

The VRI will continue to monitor facts as they become available and will call for a swift and verifiable “manual count” of all 150,000 ballots cast in California’s 50th District’s "bellwether" June 6th special election in order to ensure the integrity of November 7th general elections and the overall integrity of our country’s voting systems in this still-untested age of computerized voting.

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