[Fwd: Major Shuffle Coming in Election Groups & Scientists]

From: Kathy Dopp <kathy_at_uscountvotes_dot_org>
Date: Mon Aug 15 2005 - 21:27:35 CDT

FYI: Bev Harris somewhat negative remarks on the new NSF-funded center
that she has dispersed widely across America to election activists. She
tells us what actions the members must take to avoid an appearance of
impropriety in her eyes.

BTW, has the OVC created a new brochure that details the credentials of
its members rather than quoting support of various election activists?

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Major Shuffle Coming in Election Groups & Scientists
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2005 18:12:31 -0700 (PDT)
From: Black Box Voting <crew@blackboxvoting.org>
Reply-To: crew@blackboxvoting.org
To: kathy@uscountvotes.org

An announcement today will result in an unspecified shuffling of the
players in the election reform movement (as usual, ordinary citizens
aren't invited, and only high-tech voting solutions will be considered):

"Johns Hopkins-led center will study and develop voting technologies.
Technology, public policy issues and election booth behavior will
receive scrutiny," says the press release.

Called "ACCURATE," the project will be funded by the National
Science Foundation and directed by Avi Rubin. The other
participants: David Dill, David Jefferson, Cindy Cohn, Dan Wallach,
Doug Jones, David Wagner, Michael Byrne, Diedre Mulligan, Dan
Boneh, Drew Dean, Peter Neumann, Whitney Quesenbery,
Chris Edley, Josh Benaloh, David Chaum.

The thing about an NSF grant is this: You can't wear certain kinds
of hats concurrently while taking NSF money. Therefore, plan to
see the deck chairs being rearranged a bit in the election reform
movement. Running a organization that raises funds and/or does
lobbying, and working for an NSF grant on a related issue at the
same time would be likely to raise eyebrows with funders.

David Dill, along with his wife, and his EFF attorney (Cindy Cohn)
have been the directors of powerful Verified Voting organization
and foundation, a 501c(3) and 501c(4) respectively. These
organizations do voting advocacy and lobbying, and together
form one of the largest, best funded, and most respected
organizations in the U.S. A Verified Voting directorship also
presents a significant conflict of interest, and there is probably
a plan for Verified Voting to take on new management.

David Jefferson heads a technical advisory committee for the
California Secretary of State's office (a new committee, recently
created by Calif. S.o.S. Bruce MacPherson), where his technical
prowess is badly needed. Jefferson has also been a director for
the California Voter Foundation, a group that raises funds and
participates in voting-related public education and lobbying.
Jefferson was also, at one time, involved with a vendor
called "Votegrity," together with another member of the new
NSF-funded group, David Chaum. Jefferson is probably clean on
these relationships, since his involvement with the NSF project is
reportedly only an advisory role, and he has taken care to
observe proper protocols all along, since he must observe
security requirements in connection with his position at Lawrence
Livermore Labs.

Avi Rubin, according to WiredNews.com, recently launched his
own company to perform security evaluations, Independent
Security Evaluators (ISE). Rubin, a former advisory board
member for voting system vendor VoteHere, says his new
"ISE" company will only test voting equipment "pro bono" in
order to remove any potential conflict of interest with his
academic work on voting system security. Rubin is also
reportedly hoping to author a mass market book featuring his
own role in the e-voting movement.

Doug Jones is also considering writing a book --likely to cover the
history of voting integrity problems, a subject on which he
possesses a wealth of fascinating knowledge. A stickier situation
for Dr. Jones will be any continued involvement as a director with
Open Voting Consortium, a vendor (although he has reportedly
stepped back from his OVC involvement recently).

Cindy Cohn is involved with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),
the organization that litigated the groundbreaking punitive damages
against Diebold for abusive use of cease and desist notices. The EFF
frequently produces Amicus briefs related to important election
litigation.

Many of the above activities may present no conflict, depending on
the terms of the NSF grant. Some relationships, however, will have
to be terminated, causing a change in roles played by key election
reform advocates.

The new "ACCURATE" center can provide an outstanding contribution
to election science, as long as there is no vendor influence.

We should cast a quick watchful glance at the ITAA, because in
August 2003, the ITAA set up a lobbying arm for voting machine
vendors like Diebold, ES&S, and Hart Intercivic. While doing this,
the ITAA's Harris Miller proposed a twin strategy of "discrediting
critics" and "creating approval" the latter appearing to involve
setting up an entity similar to the new NSF-funded group."

The original ITAA proposal sought to create a "gold standard" by
combining well-placed academics and government agencies, in order
to restore public confidence in computerized voting systems. The
ITAA plan was to allow vendors to exert quiet influence on research,
certification, and media information while acting in the background.

However, it would seem unlikely that if vendors got their way, they
would want Rubin, Dill, Jones or Cohn. All have landed blows to
shoddy security, secrecy, and paperless touch-screens. Diebold
documents unearthed by Kathleen Wynne do show an apparent
warming trend between vendors and some of the NSF project
participants. A hand-written Diebold document mentioned Avi Rubin,
David Jefferson, and UC-Berkeley scientist Barbara Simons as
potential allies with a Diebold/VoteHere implementation.

We'll also offer a short watchdog "arf!" at this:

None of the scientists selected for the NSF project revealed all they
really knew about Remote Access Service (RAS) vulnerabilities,
central tabulator risks, nor did they flag the elegant exploits offered
in the Diebold memory card (elegant integer overflow hacks
enabling one-step election theft, finally exposed when BBV
engaged the assistance of European security expert Harri Hursti).
This allowed a presidential election to take place despite known
vulnerabilities.

The VBA script hack developed by Dr. Herbert Thompson was
known by the NSA-selected scientists by September 2004. Dr.
Thompson discussed the RAS and VBA script vulnerabilities in
person with Jefferson in August 2004.

When Harris asked Jefferson when something would be done about
the GEMS vulnerabilities, he responded that the problems would be
dealt with "after the election."

Information about the executable program in the Diebold memory
card has been available to the NSA-selected scientists through Wyle
ITA reports obtained in mid-2004 public records requests by EPIC,
and also in the Diebold memos litigated by EFF, and the Hursti hack
could be also demonstrated using files in the CVS.TAR file studied
by Rubin in July 2003 report.

The failure of the scientists to go public with what they knew about
RAS and central tabulator vulnerabilities, and to flag the memory
card hack, must be considered curious, but is perhaps explainable
by understanding the ponderous pace and controversy-avoidance
behavior typical of academia.

Scientists operate in a fundamentally different way than consumer
protection groups, and this may explain the difference in approach.
Academics take a long time to produce studies, are litigation-averse,
select topics that will not jeopardize grant money, avoid voicing
opinions and generally do not exhort American citizens to action.
While a consumer organization like Black Box Voting engages in
whistleblowing, scientists may feel no obligation to reveal
information publicly if they happen to come across it, especially
if it may jeopardize funding, selection for congressional testimony,
or appointments to prestigious projects.

At the same time, scientists like Rubin, Dill, and Jefferson play a
crucial role in providing bulletproof ammunition to help activists,
and eventually elected officials, to act.

Watchdog groups, like Black Box Voting, are more action-oriented.
We investigate vendors aggressively (and get investigated and
subjected to "discredit the critics" actions). We sometimes even get
arrested, as BBV Director Jim March did while trying to view the
counting of the vote in San Diego on July 26. We jump in
dumpsters to dig out the truth about payola, make late-night
visits to interview voting machine employees with whistles to
blow, and provide a nonstop flow of ammunition for scientists
and activists alike.

When we point out that scientists have failed to alert the public
about known security problems, we are told that we have
"misbehaved." What is the misbehavior? Calling it as we see it.

There will probably always be a somewhat uneasy synergy
between the two kinds of groups. Both our approach and the
scientists' approach are needed -- and, just as we are not
immune from criticism, neither should scientists be free of
scrutiny.

The files Rubin used for his breakthrough study came from
BBV founder Harris, and the Black Box Voting Web site's IP
logs show frequent, almost daily silent visits from the same
scientists who were chosen for the new NSF project. They
quietly visit BBV to pick up documents and review our latest
findings, but never admit this publicly.

At Black Box Voting, we know we will be able to perform much
more effective watchdog work when armed with more ammunition
in the form of NSF-funded studies and recommendations. The
scientists also know (but again do not publicly admit) that their work
is more effective because of the work of our more aggressive
consumer protection group.

The new NSF-funded group offers a real shot in the arm for the
election reform movement by offering U.S. scientists a way to
expose what they know in a less fettered way. At the same time,
the group should be observed to catch any actions too friendly
to vendors, and certain ties among the NSF participants with
their current activities will need to be cut.

It's called "checks and balances." It's the American way.

# # # # #

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"THINK OUTSIDE THE BLACK BOX" -- just go to
http://www.blackboxvoting.org any time during Aug. 27-Sep.5 and
you'll be guided into the think tank.

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Received on Wed Aug 31 23:17:25 2005

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