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Bev Harris of Blackbox Voting -End Secrecy


If we want a trustworthy system, we need to be unafraid to entertain the idea
 that if you make any facet of elections secret (other than who a person votes
 for), it will attract criminals.
Such a temptation may take place inside a
 voter registration database or voting machine vendor's operation. In the case
 of a rogue programmer, management need not even know (if the programmer is
 positioned correctly). It may exist inside an elections office, or with a
 pollworker, or through a political operative.

 You won't stop it by passing a rule against it. We need to be lobbying to end
 secrecy and re-enable citizen oversight. Lobbying for anything else may give us
 "fine" elections but we'll never really know whether our vote was counted as we
 cast it.

 Save your lobbying for something that eliminates secrecy. And if only a computer
 scientist can understand it or only an elections official can monitor it, it's
 still secrets. H.B. 550 doesn't do much of anything to get at the core problem.
 http://www.blackboxvoting.org.

______________________________________________________________________

 There is a major push right now to pass H.B. 550, a bill put forth by Rep. Rush
 Holt to mandate a paper trail (along with a flimsy audit that no accountant
 would agree is adequate).

 Election reform groups are split on whether they support H.B. 550. Black Box
 Voting normally does not weigh in on legislation, this time we will. Citizens
 need to be informed of the dangers as well as the benefits when being urged to
 support legislation.

 Like an antibiotic that's too weak, we belive that H.B. 550 will create a more
 resistant strain of election infection.

 Like a placebo, people may think the election system is getting well when in
 fact, the medicine is only a sugar pill that makes everyone think it's better.
 For a minute.

 Paul Lehto, an attorney who is a leader in the election reform movement and the
 plaintiff in a groundbreaking lawsuit related to electronic voting, has a
 unique clarity in public policy issues. Lehto says:

 "[the] paper record requirement, combined with a worse than anemic audit
 feature, is so darn dangerous in terms of its ability to create false
 confidence...

 "Putting into the Holt bill a provision specifying the method of EAC audit (2%
 or more precinct sampling) simply telegraphs to cheaters how to cheat and not
 get caught..."

 Any major political movement has the inside game and the outside game

 The inside game involves writing letters, lobbying, cozying up to legislators,
 and in the case of a privatization issue like voting machines, meeting with
 vendors and working with regulatory groups.

 The outside game involves investigative work, communications on subjects even
 when they are considered impolite, exposÚs, agitation, occasional civil
 disobedience, and an overwhelming push to give citizens power over those who
 govern them.

 The inside game resists the outside game

 Those who play the inside game tend to believe that the outside game is
 undisciplined, a bunch of mavericks, endangers the goal. The inside game is
 polite, conciliatory, respects authority and likes to tell others what to do.

 "Support H.B. 550 it's good push this button send this email now."

 Those who question and probe are painted as irresponsible.

 There is no doubt that Black Box Voting usually plays the outside game. We know
 we'll be attacked from within the movement -- from the establishment-oriented
 inside game - for taking the position that H.B. 550 is will do more damage than
 good.

 But here it is: Black Box Voting believes that H.B. 550 is unwise. It will not
 be effective to improve citizen oversight or election integrity. It is
 dangerous, because the weakness of the antibiotic will create a more resistant
 strain of election manipulation.


 The likelihood is that, if H.B. 550 is passed, it will simply "prove" that
 electronic voting works "fine."

 It was a "fine" election...

 As another blogger noted, notice the frequency with which elected officials are
 now using that word. I suppose it's an improvement over a couple years ago,
 when they called us "terrorists", but I still scratch my head when I hear the
 new talking point: "We had a fine election." Not "we had an accurate election."
 Not "we had a fair election." We had a fine election. What do they mean by
 that?

 Well, rest assured that electronic voting will look just "fine" under the Holt
 bill because, as Paul Lehto notes, the way the audits are set up they won't
 catch anything to make the election look "not fine." To solve the inadequate
 auditing provisions in the Holt bill will require drafting a whole new bill.

 So if H.B. 550 is passed, everyone will pat themselves on the back and go home
 and not a damn thing will actually change, except that more taxpayer money will
 be expended for retrofitted machines.

 The inside game people want the current kinds of technology to work

 And -- note the players involved -- many of them will have no role in this if
 they don't make the current kinds of technology work. Note the recent Wyle Labs
 transcript, where Systest Labs refers to the meeting in Nov. 2005 -- you know,
 the one where all the industry perps showed up but the public, and even the
 chair of the California Senate Elections Committee were excluded. Systest
 reports that the academics seem to be heading toward creating an IV&V effort,
 another layer of testing and certifying.

 More taxpayer money, more scientists, more paychecks, more layers of complexity,
 more people to point the finger at when elections turn out to be secret
 unsubstantiated messes.

 The inside game has tolerance for a much longer timeline

 You don't need to hurry if you don't think any crimes will be committed.

 The inside game is addressing what they percieve to be the problem by adding a
 "vvpat" and quibbling over just how to do a 2 percent audit, or layering test
 labs into the process, or ponderously altering standards in response to
 critical security failures, while grandfathering old systems in for years.

 No major reform movement will survive without the outside game

 The civil rights movement would not have gotten very far without the outside
 game. Rosa Parks was outside game. The Selma-to-Montgomery March was outside
 game. The civil rights workers -- some of whom were killed -- were outside
 game.

 The anti-Viet Nam movement would have failed without the outside game. Viet Nam
 Vets Against the War were outside game. Burning draft cards was outside game.

 The outside game knows it needs the inside game, because when the message is
 sufficiently focused and the goals are sufficiently clear and the people
 themselves are beginning to drive the train, it gets pitched to the inside game
 and changes are made to legislation.

 But it isn't just legislation that is pushed down the tracks by the outside
 game. Media tends to gravitate towards coverage of the outside game. The
 message of the outside game sticks in the public's consciousness better then
 legislative bill numbers. After the outside game succeeds in pushing the
 message into the mainstream, embedding it in the public psyche, change becomes
 more durable.

 The inside game doesn't necessarily think the outside game is necessary. Because
 the outside game pushes the envelope, opening up new frontiers, it pushes
 concepts into the mainstream that are -- by definition -- not really accepted
 yet. When you depend on the establishment to do your bidding, you have to
 distance yourself from the outside game. The smartest of the inside game folks
 recognize how the ecosystem works, though, and often provide discreet support
 and/or intelligence to the outside game.

 Less savvy inside gamers allow themselves to be persuaded that the outside game
 is dangerous, puts the agenda at risk, endangers the country. This is helped
 along by disruptors (posing as part of the movement) who are actually working
 for the opposition. In the civil rights movement, and in the anti-Viet Nam War
 movement, there were paid infiltrators who posed as activists, but those
 individuals persuaded many real activists over to a more controlled, less
 "dangerous" point of view. They also helped pit them against the outside game.

 It's all part of the play book.

 You don't catch criminals by passing a rule against it.

 The outside game defines the problem a bit differently. Let me give you an
 analogy to show just how ridiculous the current inside game is to those of us
 who start with the premise that there just might -- possibly -- be a criminal
 enterprise at work in certain election situations.

 Let's say it's small, localized, and simply mercenary. For $40,000 a guy with
 inside access will make sure a developer-friendly commissioner gets in. To get
 the guy in, he arranges to exploit a known hole in voting machine security.

 Now, the Rush Holt bill will have you wait a couple years before it even gets to
 the rules committee, where the lobbyists step in and gut the bill. So that
 won't do a thing to protect 2006, because it wont be in effect by then, and it
 probably won't protect 2008 because even if it makes it to the rules committee,
 it will be quietly tweaked behind closed doors.

 So the guy pockets his $40,000 and the commissioner gets into office. It will
 almost certainly never be discovered, because there are no audit provisions
 anywhere for electronic voting machines likely to catch this stuff, but let's
 say it does get caught.

 If you're playing the inside game, you take this example of the $40,000 cheat
 and spend nine months discussing it into new standards, then a couple years to
 grandfather the old voting systems, and finally, around 2009, you address what
 the guy did for $40,000 back in 2006.

 By this time, another guy is selling elections using a different back door. He
 builds a better hack, having learned from the NIST discussion what they ARE
 looking at. All he has to do is go where they are not looking.

 If you're worried about national politics, listen up:

 In a time-critical situation, the inside game runs out the clock.

 Let's not call this dirty tricks or Rovian spin or pretend it is just the way
 hardball politics work. If we can't substantiate the data in our elections
 systems (both voter registration and votes) these weaknesses will attract
 people who want to manipulate elections. Subverting election-related data is a
 criminal act. If it involves more than one person, it is a criminal enterprise.

 If criminal enterprises want to manipulate a national election by attacking the
 data, that criminal entity will be thrilled to see activists derailed into
 sincere actions that actually just run out the clock.

 Efforts to steer everyone to the inside game a bit insidious. Think for
 yourself.

 The idea that you can solve election fraud by making standards, putting machines
 into testing labs, and doing poorly defined, weak, and statutorily limited
 audits came about because the inside game thought it was impolite to define the
 problem accurately.

 It's not about a paper trail -- It's about banning SECRECY

 If we want a trustworthy system, we need to be unafraid to entertain the idea
 that if you make any facet of elections secret (other than who a person votes
 for), it will attract criminals.
Such a temptation may take place inside a
 voter registration database or voting machine vendor's operation. In the case
 of a rogue programmer, management need not even know (if the programmer is
 positioned correctly). It may exist inside an elections office, or with a
 pollworker, or through a political operative.

 You won't stop it by passing a rule against it. We need to be lobbying to end
 secrecy and re-enable citizen oversight. Lobbying for anything else may give us
 "fine" elections but we'll never really know whether our vote was counted as we
 cast it.

 Save your lobbying for something that eliminates secrecy. And if only a computer
 scientist can understand it or only an elections official can monitor it, it's
 still secrets. H.B. 550 doesn't do much of anything to get at the core problem.

 Wishing you the very best,

 Bev Harris
 Founder
 Black Box Voting
 http://www.blackboxvoting.org

 * * * * *

 Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) elections watchdog group.
 If you want Black Box Voting to exist, here is where you can vote with your
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 or your checkbook:

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