Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Voting Activist Asks That Norco Voting Machines Be Tested

"Lever machines are unconstitutional. We cannot use them. A paper ballot we cannot use. There's only one choice left."

That's what Northampton County Exec John Stoffa said nearly a year ago, when the county decided upon electronic touchscreen voting machines manufactured by Advanced Voting Solutions. Pennsylvania voters are justifiably concerned by the lack of a paper trail. They also question the state's inadequate testing and subsequent certification. Some of them, including voters' rights activist Dr. Alan Brau, have sued.

Dr. Brau has just announced a press conference for Thursday, February 15, at 11 AM, in front of the Northampton County courthouse, to address his concerns with our voting machines. He charges AVS with "bait and switch" tactics. Here's what he says.

Officials from Northampton County and the Pennsylvania Department of State continue to defend AVS WINvote computerized voting machines, despite evidence that the new voting machines use hardware which is radically different from the original machines which were certified.

According to reports, Advanced Voting Solutions, of Frisco, Texas, has substituted internal components which are completely different from the hardware that was originally certified. Bradley Spencer, a former elections employee who is familiar with the hardware used for AVS WINvote, has posted photographic evidence of the company's “bait and switch” on

This includes testimony from two former AVS employees, who paint a picture of a failing company which is more concerned with sales and profits than certification or accuracy.

Furthermore, there is evidence that the software used in the November election, WINvote version 2.0.3, was uncertified at the time of the election. The last reported state certification was in February of 2006, when software version 2.0.2 was re-approved. No public documentation of certification of version 2.0.3 is available.

I am a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Secretary of State of Pennsylvania, requesting that the AVS WINvote machines be re-examined. The Secretary of State, Pedro Cortes, has ignored Pennsylvania statute by refusing the requests from nearly 100 Pennsylvania voters, who demand their legal rights to have the machines re-examined.

There has been some response at the county level. An advisory committee, appointed by County Supervisor John Stoffa, agrees that concerns raised are serious and valid, but committee members have chosen to work through the Pennsylvania Department of State, which continues to obstruct any re-examination of these machines.

Secretary of State Cortes filed a motion that our multi-county voters' lawsuit be dismissed, suggesting that the Secretary of State may be complicit with the fraud and should not be trusted to perform any inquiry into voting machine problems. The investigation must be transparent, public and immediate.

Mr. Walt Garvin, a county official, has offered to have the Northampton County's voting machines examined. I request that Mr. Garvin, Ms. Deborah DePaul and the board of elections conduct a thorough investigation of these allegations of a “bait and switch”, including opening the cases of all of the voting machines to see if the internal hardware matches the specifications of the AVS machine which were certified in 2002 and 2005.

In addition, I call for documentation from the County Board of Elections that version 2.0.3, the software used in the November election, was, in fact, certified.

If the voting machines are uncertified, then the past two election results for Northampton County, including results for the November 2006 election, are void.
Brau's Take on Yesterday's Election Committee Meeting - Dr. Brau offers his own perspective on yesterday's meeting.

I presented the information that Brad provided about the hardware. The hardware bait and switch seemed to resonate with members of the advisory board, particularly those who had seen Brad's post on BBV. I will make sure to have prints of the machines-on-the-half-shell (side-by-side) for the next meeting to distribute to all of the members.

There is a clear interest in finding a definitive answer to this allegation, if for no other reason than to dispel it.

"Open the cases!"

Unfortunately, the proposed plan is to first request that the Secretary of State authorize and perform the inspection. This is the same Secretary of State whom I am suing to re-examine these very same machines. I am guessing that he will say "no". The written request will sit on the attorney's desk for a few weeks before we receive his "that won't be necessary" response. After that, I predict that AVS will claim that all warranties are void if the clamshell is opened.

AVS is also being contacted about the internal hardware inspection. Their cooperation, or lack thereof, will be telling.

Mr. Conklin, the County Administrator, focused on maintaining the working operations of the elections department, but seemed to have little concern about certification issues.

Ms. DePaul, the Registrar, continued to personalize all general criticism about the department, the AVS machines, or computerized voting in general, which effectively kept her from discussing anything substantive. Much deflection. Job poorly done.

Mr. Bradt, out of his gentle nature, forgave the errors of the department and gave the Registrar an undeserved pat on the back.

With regards to the software- less promising.

I have yet to see a certification for the software update 2.0.3, although I am told that it exists.

More to come.


Anonymous said...

how do we know they didn't change the machines again between the issue time and now

Bernie O'Hare said...

We don't. The allegation, however, is that cheap parts have been substituted for those which were certified. There are pics. There is a bill of materials. There are statements from two ex-employees. These charges must be substantiated or discounted. If they have since put high quality parts back in the machines, good for us. I'm not interestred in playing some blame game. I just want to be sure that we vote with the machines that were certified.

LSTresidentPIA said...

It's going to be cold out there. Is the county council meeting still on for tonight?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, 6:30 PM.