Re: Nancy Tobi's excellent adventure (Analysis of certification timelines)

From: Nancy Tobi <nancy_dot_tobi_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Tue Feb 20 2007 - 14:11:51 CST

You should post these important comments to the thread on BBV.

On 2/20/07, Richard C. Johnson <> wrote:
> Nancy,
> Just for the record, Open Voting Solutions, Inc., expects to provide Open
> Source voice voting software at no cost on its standard machines, accessed
> on off the shelf hardware by means of headsets. Huge expense? No. Years
> away? No. Subject to certification bottleneck? Of course. Availability
> of $500,000 to test this and other Open Source voting systems? No. Go
> figure.
> Red buttons may be an expensive problem, but voice voting is not. You are
> quite right about the certification testing process, but mention should also
> be made of the secret tests for Red Buttons and the fact that the test
> results themselves are also secret. Can't have the public knowing whether
> the Red Buttons work or not, since that would cause loss of confidence in
> the voting system. Any voting system of whatever nature should be subject
> to public tests and evaluation, with completely open test results. Anything
> less open is, of course, a farcical reprise of the voting administrator's
> new clothes, an interminable play in many acts based entirely on faith.
> -- Dick
> Nancy Tobi <> wrote:
> Just posted at - A brilliant analysis by Nancy
> Tobi that uncovers the actual schedules and timelines for the voting machine
> product development cycle, revealing it to be a fraud on the American
> taxpayer.
> I've excerpted the introduction here, but STRONGLY encourage those of you
> who
> are in it for the long haul to read the whole article. It provides powerful
> ammunition that should be passed along to ELECTIONS OFFICIALS, the MEDIA,
> and
> BUDGET COMMITTEES. A PDF version will be uploaded tomorrow.
> Full article:
> A Ponzi Scheme, by definition, is an artifice that is insolvent from its
> inception, thereby defrauding its funders (in this case, the taxpayers).
> Ponzi
> schemes work on the "rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul" principle, as new investment
> (taxpayer) money is needed to fulfill promises made on earlier investments
> (tax
> monies) until the whole scheme collapses.
> Our nation has already suffered an incalculable blow from the use of
> expensive
> computerized voting equipment, which, by all accounts, has been an abysmal
> failure by every reasonable criterion: product quality, reliability,
> accuracy,
> and security.
> Taxpayers are now being required to invest in a certification and voting
> machine
> procurement program built on a cycle of lag, non-implementation and
> obsolescence:
> Products procured before guidelines are established for them;
> Guidelines and testing programs, while trying to catch up to features in
> already-purchased equipment, add new requirements;
> Each new wave of guidelines obsoletes existing equipment;
> Successive waves of new investments (by taxpayers) are required to catch
> up to
> previous assurances
> When you peel back the veneer of the whole Election Assistance Commission
> (EAC)
> Certification program, with its National Institute of Standards and
> Technology
> (NIST) and its National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP)
> testing process, what you learn is that the entire system is, in effect,
> insolvent. Meanwhile, your tax dollars continue to flow into the system (to
> the
> tune of nearly $3 million in the EAC's 2005 budget plus nearly $5 million in
> 2006 and a requested $6 million in its 2007 budget).
> When the inevitable collapses occur, as we are now seeing with DRE (Direct
> Recording Electronic) voting machines, we are told that we need to keep
> investing in them because ... well, because we now have so much invested in
> them. To that end, we are now hearing talk about turning existing DREs into
> "ballot marking devices" that is, voting machines that don't count the
> vote,
> just mark the ballot for you -- basically, turning each DRE into a $5,000
> pencil. And when that doesn't fly, we hear that DREs are needed for adding
> new
> features, like text and language converters.
> The proposed Holt Bill (HR 811) attempts to require a text converter in
> every
> precinct a demand which originates from groups that, it turns out, are the
> same ones that lobbied for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to require the
> multibillion-dollar DRE purchase in the first place.
> What is a "text converter" and what does it mean? Details on the text
> converter
> and its utterly impossible timelines are provided later in this report, but
> for
> one thing, the new billion-dollar unfunded mandate for "text converters"
> helps
> organizations that lobbied for HAVA's massive DRE purchases save face by
> preventing the entire DRE investment from crashing into the ground like the
> Hindenburg blimp.
> Taxpayers and elections officials certainly did not realize in 2002 when
> was used to mandate the purchase of billions of dollars in new voting
> equipment
> that this was just the initial investment in what would become a continuing
> hemorrhage. The proposed Holt Bill furthers the investment in a
> certification
> and procurement system that is permanently in arrears. There is one
> difference
> between the Holt Bill and HAVA: If passed as written, Holt Bill costs will
> come
> out primarily from your local municipal and county coffers.
> 1. EAC approves guidelines (Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, "VVSG"). To
> help
> you track this process, let's follow an example. Suppose the guideline says
> "We've decided the buttons on voting machines must be RED."
> 2. EAC-certified test labs, in conjunction with the National Standards and
> Technology Institute (NIST), write "TEST SCRIPTS" to match the guidelines.
> For
> example, the test script says "Check that the buttons are red."
> 3. The states and federal government signal the industry that there will be
> adequate funds to pay for a new round of voting equipment (the industry will
> not begin product development for a specialized product without assurances
> there will be a market to buy their product). Upon legislation saying "every
> precinct must now feature a voting machine with a red button" industry
> starts
> making red-buttoned voting machines.
> 4. The industry uses the "TEST SCRIPTS" from Step 2 as specifications and
> requirements for building their product. In-house quality control will
> confirm
> "Did you make sure the buttons are red?"
> 5. The industry submits their new product to the test labs. "Here's my
> machine
> with the red button. Please check that it complies."
> 6. The test labs verify that the final product passes testing according to
> the
> original test scripts. "Yes, the button is red. This product complies."
> 7. The products are sold for use in the nation's election systems.
> ("Elections
> officials, here is an invoice for your new voting machines with red
> buttons.")
> This is how it's SUPPOSED to work. Unfortunately, in real life the process
> doesn't sync up. It's implemented out of order, turning US elections into a
> vast and unreliable confidence game, where one bad investment chases
> another.
> In real life, you get machines with YELLOW buttons, which are sold to
> elections
> officials because the standards stating that the buttons must be RED don't
> come
> out until two years after the machines are purchased. Later, in the process
> of
> dealing with the yellow button issue -- "No no, it must be red!" -- the
> guidelines committees also tack on another requirement: "It shall have
> talking
> ballots for people who can't read!"
> Then Congress makes a law that says every voting precinct shall have talking
> ballots. So industry thinks money will be appropriated to pay for the new
> law,
> and begins to sell machines with red buttons and talking ballots. However
> the
> TEST SCRIPTS for the talking ballot feature are not ready until two years
> after
> the talking-ballot machines have been purchased by elections officials. And
> while NIST prepares the talking ballot test scripts, Congress makes a new
> law:
> "Voting machines shall now be prohibited from using components made in China
> on
> the motherboard."
> So while vendors upgrade the talking ballot feature to meet the new
> requirements, they replace Chinese components with variants made in San
> Diego,
> Tokyo, and Minsk. Except that no test scripts have been written for those
> variants...
> * * * * *
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
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> --
> Nancy Tobi, Chair
> Democracy for New Hampshire
> DFNH Fair Elections Committee
> PO Box 717 | Concord, NH 03301
> _______________________________________________
> OVC-discuss mailing list

Nancy Tobi, Chair
Democracy for New Hampshire
DFNH Fair Elections Committee
PO Box 717 | Concord, NH 03301
OVC-discuss mailing list
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Received on Wed Feb 28 23:17:21 2007

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