Democratic Party ignores members' concerns

Last night I decided to "be the media" since the media is not publicizing the details of King County Election's proposed "Reckless Plan" for the 2008 presidential election.

As many of you know, last night was the AM 1090 event at Town Hall. Although I did not attend the actual event, I knew the people attending the event were "my people" and I felt they needed to know the details of the Reckless Plan.

I tried to talk to as many people as I could. Everyone I spoke to(at least 100), indicated  they were a Democrat.

I have to tell you, when these Democrats heard the details, they were outraged! They do not want Diebold in our elections.  They are angry and confused as to why the Democratic leadership is advocating for Diebold

I explained to them that KCE was planning to change the manner in which it conducts elections just in time for the 2008 election. They were not pleased that KCE was undertaking such a massive overhaul during the presidential election.

I then enumerated the details of the plan, focusing on the parts of the plan dealing with Diebold, i.e. the plan to purchase brand new Diebold tabulators which have never been used in a live election; that our presidential election would be the "test" election for this brand new equpment and software, thus making us the guinea pigs; that all the neighborhood polling locations will be closed; that the polling places will be replaced with 17 regional voting centers for the entire county; that the regional voting centers will rely exclusively on Diebold touch screens; that Diebold is not currently certified for use by provisional ballot voters; that once certified (assuming it is), our 2008 presidential election will be the test election for this new software; that all provisional ballot voters will be required to vote on these machines.

These Democrats were also appalled that the mandatory requirements set forth in the Democratic Executive's new technology proposal did not include "security" as a mandatory criteria.  Instead, it was only a "non-mandatory" criteria with a low weighting of only 8% of the total score.  

No wonder Democrats are disillusioned with their political party.  The Democratic Party leadership doesn't care how they feel or even acknowledge their concerns.

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The problem is the attitude of elections departments in general toward companies like Diebold.

Did you know that Diebold boasts of its open source software for ATMs on its website?  Do you suppose that Diebold would dare claim ownership of any bank's financial data as a trade secret?  Banks TELL Diebold what the specifications of their ATMs and accompanying software will be, and Diebold says "Yes sir! Right away, sir!!"

In contrast, elections boards passively submit to whatever crap that Diebold and other companies happen to offer for sale instead of setting out their own specifications.

The attitude towards audits is equally appalling.

Minnesota has a strong audit law in place now, and this is a direct quote from one of its elections officers.

December 14, 2006

"I was surprised at how quickly the audit went. I was not surprised by the quality performance of the equipment and our election judges. If this is what is needed to provide some assurance to those who do not have as much confidence in the system then I have no problem continuing to do the audits," he stated.

Jeebus H fecking Keerist!  This elections official surely means well and I'm sure his employess do the best they can, but TRUSTING a system as your default option?   ARRRRRGHGHGH!!!!!  I don't even trust so simple an object as a laboratory scale, let alone the more complex chromatography hardware and software.  The scales get checked every morning with standard weights, despite the fact that they very rarely fail this test.  I do random hand calculations with every sample set that I turn in to insure that my (mostly very reliable) software hasn't come down with a case of bit rot.

I expect as a matter of course that my clients will want to audit my lab practices.  I certainly don't regard this as an insult to my professionalism.  Quite the contrary--if a client did not demand such an audit, I'd think that they were too damned incompetent to evaluate any data that I send them in the first place.

Boeing and Weyerhaeuser CEOs are certainly not insulted by shareholders' demands that their books be audited by an accounting firm independent of their companies.  They never say "We've done fine for the last 10-20 years; why do we need any more audits?"

I just can't for the life of me understand where elections departments are coming from on this issue.  Bottom line:  administrative convenience is certainly worth trying to achieve, but it must NEVER be at the expense of accuracy and transparency.

by eridani on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 02:58:44 PM PST

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I sincerely hope it is not adopted.  I think it would be a huge mistake -- for election security and smooth functioning for a hugely important election -- and also strategically for the Democratic party and candidates.

But entire Democratic leadership can't be accused of not caring or listening.  The KC Executive office is supporting this.  The Council, on the other hand, has held hearings and is deliberating, no?  Democrats on the council initiated the hearings.  And it was Democrats on the Council who are responsible for the fact that King County rejected the San Juan Island County model of ballots with unique barcodes that can be traced to the individual voters.  

In addition, at least two Democratic organizations have passed resolutions against this business plan -- thus demonstrating that some Democratic leadership is indeed listening to these concerns and acting on them.  One LD has passed a resolution in favor of this plan?  Or did that fall through?

by noemie maxwell on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 04:36:34 PM PST

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I just cannot understand why anyone making decisions regarding King County's election system would want to use untested, currently uncertified Diebold voting equipment in the 2008 election.  I predict that if this plan is approved, the negative reaction these deciders are going to receive will knock their socks off.

I just cannot understand.

by Annie L on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 04:40:27 PM PST

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In my report on the Council meeting, I forgot to mention some of the attendees. Of note was CEO of VoteHere, Jim Adler.  In addtion, there there were quite a few unfamiliar faces, mostly men in suits. Also around four people from the Secretary of State's office attended, including Pam Floyde. She was pushing for the new equipment, even though the SOS is supposed to remain neutral on these things.  

The next big event will be the Expert and Peer review report which I am hoping will be made public this week.  This report is a review of the security issues and risks associated with the Reckless Plan. The only thing I have heard about the Review so far is that the expert feels that KCE personnel are unaware of the real security risks associated with the equipment and software they use and that they need to undergo training. It was suggested by at least one person that perhaps any recommendations for new equipment should be done AFTER they recieve such training.  Hmmm.  Sounds like an excellent recommendation.

by raincity calling on Tue Jul 17, 2007 at 11:50:39 AM PST

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In a letter King County Chair Dwight Pelz wrote to the King County Council, he says,

"Some Diebold systems are dangerous and should not be purchased, but a Diebold system such as the one King County operates has proven to be reliable."

So I guess Dwight Pelz is now a computer expert that knows which computer systems are dangerous and which ones are not.   The computers that the King County Democrats are pushing to supposedly tip elections in favor of the Democratic party are "good" computers.

The computers that Republicans want to buy to steal elections are "dangerous" computers.

It's a well-known fact that Democrats have been telling lots of people that VBM will give Democrats an advantage.   Apparently, they're afraid that the Governor's race will be really close again.   This whole rushed VBM implementation smells of rabid partsanship.  It's like raising the basket on the opponents basketball court so you can win.   As an Independent Democrat, I do not favor such partisan behavior.

by RichardBorkowski on Tue Jul 17, 2007 at 05:57:29 PM PST

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