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July 3, 2008

Last night, Bo Lipari hosted Voice of the Voters covering the story I broke about New York’s failed certification process of “modern” voting systems.  He used his platform to deceive listeners, deliberately providing disinformation that would otherwise bolster his untenable support of software driven voting systems.

New York has been court-ordered to employ software-driven disabled-accessible voting devices in the September 2008 election.  The New York State Board of Elections (SBOE) has accepted systems that fail to perform in local tests.  

Lipari made two serious misstatements, misrepresentations, or outright lies, one at the top of the hour when he introduced the program.  Attorney Andi Novick immediately called the station requesting his first misstatement be corrected.  Although Lipari had a full minute at the end of the show, after John Gideon’s Daily Voting News report, instead of correcting himself, he unexpectedly threw the final minute back at John, who stumbled briefly to fill the remaining time. 

Questions had been posed in advance to Lipari, in anticipation of this show. Dennis Karius of www.ARISE.org received confirmation of receipt of his question: 

Please ask Bo Lipari why he objects to a county offering 100% hand counted paper ballots this year….  

Since the language of such a resolution must be written by the NY SBOE (on which Bo Lipari serves as a member of the Citizens Advisory board), why can’t an OFFICIAL TALLY of 100% hand counted paper ballots take precedence over Bo’s concerns of “uncertified scanners”?  I don’t trust scanners … tested or untested. 

Yet Lipari chose not to respond to any questions, nor did he use that time to correct his false statements, despite having a full hour of notice to do so.  In response, Novick wrote Voice of the Voters asking for air time to refute these statements and to discuss litigation she is preparing to pursue in light of all these issues. Voice of the Voters has an obligation to its listeners to correct Lipari’s misstatements: 

1. The US Supreme Court has never ruled on lever voting machines.  Bo’s statement that SCOTUS ruled they were not HAVA compliant is completely false.

No court, let alone “the highest court in the land,” has issued such a ruling.  In fact, what happened in the case USA vs. NY SBOE, was that the state voluntarily entered a consent decree to replace its lever voting machines with computerized voting systems. 

2. Douglass Kellner of the SBOE did not promise to provide “computerized voting systems that are transparent.”  When Bo quoted Kellner from the 6/19 SBOE meeting (audio here or transcript here), he added that last statement which is his own delusion. Kellner recognizes, as do all computer scientists and informed activists and public officials: computers remove transparency.

This is what Kellner said: 

“[I]f we’re going to be using electronic systems that operate in a manner that aren’t fully transparent to the public then the flip side of this is there will be this very costly certification process….

“And therefore, because it’s not a transparent process, we have to substitute for the transparency, the certification process.” 

Kellner comprehends that computers count the vote in secret, which is anathema to democratic elections.  He also understands that, as with levers, a sound certification must be in place to adequately substitute for the lack of transparency. Bo presented his own statement as if it were Kellner’s, which misleads and misinforms the public.  Computers count the vote in secret; with computerized voting systems we lose transparency of the vote count.   

When Andi Novick wrote Mary Ann Gould who heads Voice of the Voters, she stated: 

Bo’s insisting that the highest court in the land ruled that levers are not HAVA compliant … is a common misrepresentation that’s been made to county election commissioners who don’t want to switch to computerized voting systems – to keep them quiet.  They’ve been told the federal court ruled that levers aren’t compliant. 

Bo referred to the court’s ruling that “we’re stuck with” several times during the hour…   Bo made it sound like not only did the court rule but an appeal wasn’t even possible. He misrepresented that the so called ruling came from the highest court in the land, from which therefore there is no appeal.  All of that is shameful. 

The litigation I’m planning on bringing asks the court to declare that voting on concealed software is unconstitutional- which would be great to have such a ruling in this country.  And it asks the court to declare that, now that NY is installing BMDs, levers are HAVA compliant. 

This is exactly the sort of deception tactics we are fighting in NY; this is exactly the sort of deception that computerized voting vendors employ, as detailed in these three well researched collections of deceptive practices:  

Kellner’s hope is to have a sound certification process.  But, as revealed in documents generated from various public offices, NY’s certification process is less than useless, with counties receiving state-accepted equipment that does not function.  Nassau County Commissioner Bill Biamonte, as Bo’s guest on Voice of the Voters, updated the info I provided two days ago – and it’s much worse now that further shipments have arrived: 

Of the 240 state-accepted voting devices received to date in Nassau County, only 24 function.  This represents a 90% loss or failure rate. 

Computerized counting of the vote cannot be reliably certified, because of the undetectably mutable nature of software.  Renowned scientist Avi Rubin made this point very clear, last year:

The current certification process may have been appropriate when a 900 lb lever voting machine was deployed. The machine could be tested every which way, and if it met the criteria, it could be certified because it was not likely to change. But software is different. The software lifecycle is dynamic…[Y]ou cannot certify an electronic voting machine the way you certify a lever machine…. [W]e absolutely expect that vulnerabilities will be discovered all the time.

Software is designed to be upgraded, and patch management systems are the norm. A certification system that requires freezing a version in stone is doomed to failure because of the inherent nature of software. 

Since software driven systems cannot be reliably certified, and since an accurate assessment deems they are not transparent, officials are left with only one responsible option:  restore NY’s prior voting system, which has served it well for over 100 years. 

Save the levers, NY.  Reject expensive high tech gadgets that do not work, that count the vote in secret and that render voting “a useless formality.” In re Stewart, 24 A.D. 201, 48 N.Y.S. 957, 960 (1st Dept. 1897)

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