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More Voting Machines Problems, SEQUOIA'S MACHINES, IN RIVERSIDE CO., CA.

"What seemed particularly unnerving to me was that Mr. Foss tried to avoid giving me answers to my questions, would not make eye contact, and seemed very angry with me for asking questions. Brian Foss tried to get me to sign the document for a little bit.... I asked him for a copy of the document that everyone had signed. He told me that the only way I could get a copy of the document is if I signed it. After I refused to sign the document, he hissed at me," stated Jeremiah. When Jeremiah asked him not to hiss, Mr. Foss seethed, "I'll hiss at anyone I want."

Jeremiah has made all his experiences and findings public: Click here. This action, along with his steadfast refusal to sign the test verification document have triggered the ire of Mischelle Townsend, who seems to be on a mission not only to continue her cozy relationship with Sequoia, but also to discredit Jeremiah. She has gone so far as to use the word "dishonest" to describe him. In the minds of many people, Jeremiah Akin is a patriot. He's a fellow who has taken a stand for an honest election. Why would anyone disagree with that?

An attempt was made to contact Mischelle Townsend, but she was not available for comment.
Article & Essay: More Voting Machines Problems

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"What seemed particularly unnerving to me was that Mr. Foss tried to avoid giving me answers to my questions, would not make eye contact, and seemed very angry with me for asking questions. Brian Foss tried to get me to sign the document for a little bit.... I asked him for a copy of the document that everyone had signed. He told me that the only way I could get a copy of the document is if I signed it. After I refused to sign the document, he hissed at me," stated Jeremiah. When Jeremiah asked him not to hiss, Mr. Foss seethed, "I'll hiss at anyone I want."

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Are we on the verge of another stolen election? Is anything being done about it?

By Elaine Kitchel

Something stinks in Riverside County, California, and it's not the local dump. The nasty odor assailing the residents' nostrils is the smell of rotten politics. But it's Riverside, so why should you care? Well there's just one reason. What's happening in Riverside County is a snapshot of what's happening all over the country, probably in your state. And this is a story best told by a young man named Jeremiah Akin.

Jeremiah is a decent young man. He's a skilled computer programmer with a life and a home like most of us. Soft-spoken and thoughtful, he loves his country and decided to serve it by offering his services as an informed observer on the Riverside County Logic and Accuracy Observation Group.

Jeremiah never thought he'd be the nemesis of anyone, especially the Riverside County Registrar of Voters. But without really trying, he became just that.

Jeremiah was asked by the Riverside County chair of the Peace and Freedom Party to attend a "logic and accuracy" test of the new Sequoia electronic voting machines purchased by Riverside County, California. This test is supposed to be performed on each and every electronic voting machine as a prerequisite to certification. At least that's how it ought to be, but something far different happened in Riverside County.

One member from the Libertarian Party, one from the Republican Party, two from the Riverside County Grand Jury, one member of the League of Women Voters, along with Jeremiah, made up the Riverside County Logic and Accuracy Observation Group. "Their task was to review sample ballots, attend a presentation by Mischelle Townsend on electronic voting and polling sites. They were then to watch a test of a sample vote and verify its accuracy by signing a document," said Jeremiah.

During this procedure, Mischelle Townsend, the County Registrar, and a woman with no real-world computer programming experience, made a point of telling the testing observation group that people who questioned the accuracy of voting machines were "ignorant" and needlessly caused others to lose faith in the voting process. She also emphasized that some other manufacturer's voting machines used Microsoft Windows as part of their programming, thus leaving them more vulnerable to tampering.

"When I asked Ms. Townsend if the Sequoia machines could leave a paper trail that would verify the votes, she stated that they did," said Jeremiah. However, it turned out that instead of printing out copies or receipts of each vote, which could be verified by the voter, then dropped into a bin for later use if needed, the Sequoia merely prints out the information stored in it at the end of the day. When Jeremiah pointed out to Ms. Townsend that this was not a true paper trail, she insisted that printers cannot be trusted and paper receipts were a senseless "duplication of effort."

Right before lunch, the members of the testing observation group were taken to a little room where they were shown the Direct Recording Equipment card. Jeremiah observed, "This is a little gray object that looks roughly like a thick credit card." This is the piece of hardware on which the votes are stored. They were told that once the card was plugged into a voting kiosk, it could not be removed and plugged into another kiosk." If this occurred, the kiosk would shut down. Each kiosk was to be paired with its own partner card. "We watched as cards were loaded into several kiosks. We were not allowed to verify the information on the cards before insertion. We were told it would take a while, so while the results were running, we examined an optical scanning voting system which worked very well in our presence, yet was scorned by Ms. Townsend," reported Jeremiah.

The process so far was a bit dry and boring, but the drama was just about to start. When the group returned to the kiosks to see how the electronic tests were going, they were told it would take two to three hours and they should go to lunch and come back at the appropriate time. As each member of the group was preparing to leave the room, they were asked to sign a paper. No mention was made of what the document was, and some probably assumed it was an attendance form and signed it. But Jeremiah did not look at or sign it at that time.

Jeremiah returned at the time specified for the remainder of the test. He said, "I was taken to the room where the kiosks were. None of the machines were running then, and I was told the tests had been completed and the cards removed." When he questioned this action, a Sequoia employee appeared, popped a card into a machine, and printed out a paper ticket. "I had no way of knowing if it was the same card I had seen put into the kiosk before, nor did I know what had been on the card in the first place, so I could not verify the results," said Jeremiah.

He began to ask some technical questions of Mr. Foss, the person assisting him. "The answers I was getting from Mr. Foss led me to the realization that the Sequoia program used Microsoft Windows for its tallying procedure. I questioned Mr. Foss about this, explaining that this left the machines with the same weaknesses Ms. Townsend had so criticized in other brands. Mr. Foss would not look at me nor give me answers," stated Jeremiah.

"I then asked Mr. Foss why the Observation Group had only been able to see part of the pre-election test mode and none of the election test mode or post-election test mode." Not seeing the voting machines in these modes meant that the test did not cover what would typically happen on Election Day during voting, or what would happen later during vote tallying.

It was at this point that Jeremiah was asked to sign a document. "I realized that it was a statement saying that I had witnessed and verified the test. With dismay I saw that the other five people had already signed the document, even though none of them had stayed to see the end of the test or the results." There was no place on the document for a person to sign saying they had not seen the test completed satisfactorily.

"What seemed particularly unnerving to me was that Mr. Foss tried to avoid giving me answers to my questions, would not make eye contact, and seemed very angry with me for asking questions. Brian Foss tried to get me to sign the document for a little bit.... I asked him for a copy of the document that everyone had signed. He told me that the only way I could get a copy of the document is if I signed it. After I refused to sign the document, he hissed at me," stated Jeremiah. When Jeremiah asked him not to hiss, Mr. Foss seethed, "I'll hiss at anyone I want."

The whole experience troubled Jeremiah. He saw firsthand the failings in the system and he wondered what to do about them. He decided to do some research and he found that the Sequoia system does indeed use a Windows program, WinEds, to do the tallying procedure. This means that, like the Diebold System, which uses the Windows Access Program, in WinEds any unscrupulous election staffer, voting machine system employee, or a hacker can modify the system or any data they wish and nobody will be the wiser. And "since the software used in the Logic and Accuracy test was run with special test settings, rather than the setting that would be used in an actual election, there is absolutely no guarantee that during a real election the voting system will behave in the same way it did during the Logic and Accuracy test," Jeremiah said.

According to Jeremiah, "It is also known that in at least one version of Sequoia's WinEDS software, the special test mode specifically avoids testing all the parts of the voting software that run during an election. Sequoia has been silent on this issue, not telling anyone that they have made software that has a test mode that does not exactly mirror what happens in an actual election. Sequoia has also offered no evidence that this problem has been fixed in later versions of their software."

Mischelle Townsend, in her presentation to the Riverside Observation Group, stated that the Sequoia system was secure because people outside the company would not know how to hack into it. This philosophy is known as "Security through Obscurity." Jeremiah likens "Security through Obscurity" to visiting a casino and having your cards dealt to you under the table. Yes, no one else can see your cards, but you have no idea if the dealer is handling your cards honestly. This philosophy makes no provision for what may happen if the code falls into the hands of someone who knows how to manipulate it. At least one version of WinEDS, a program used in the Sequoia system, has been discovered on the Internet. Even though the software was supposed to be kept secret and secure by Riverside County, it somehow ended up on a publicly accessible site on the Internet in an unencrypted form. Secure voting in Riverside? Think again.

Jeremiah has made all his experiences and findings public: Click here.
 http://www.exit.com/RiversideVoteTest/RiversideCountyTestObservationBoard.pdf

This action, along with his steadfast refusal to sign the test verification document have triggered the ire of Mischelle Townsend, who seems to be on a mission not only to continue her cozy relationship with Sequoia, but also to discredit Jeremiah. She has gone so far as to use the word "dishonest" to describe him. In the minds of many people, Jeremiah Akin is a patriot. He's a fellow who has taken a stand for an honest election. Why would anyone disagree with that?

An attempt was made to contact Mischelle Townsend, but she was not available for comment.

Why is this particular California county so important to the vote of the entire country? Because it is an example of what is going on all over the country. Only Oregon, where all the votes are absentee, is truly exempt from the security and software problems that will plague the upcoming election. At VotersUnite.com there is a list called "Mess-ups D'jour." This is a list of some of the hundreds of failures of electronic voting machines in states all over the U.S. There is only one solution to avoid these failures in the upcoming election.

Ellen Theisen of VotersUnite.org reports, "If electronic equipment is used to record and count the votes for federal offices, there will be a questionable election. Lawsuits will abound in every key state, the delays will raise tension beyond the breaking point, millions of citizens will object to the final outcome, and the new President and Congress will not have the support of the country."

"There is a solution: All votes for federal offices must be cast on paper and counted by hand. This will avert a national crisis in November. Nothing else will," writes Ms. Theisen.

According to VotersUnite.org and other organizations concerned with the validity of the upcoming election, "This proposal is the only solution to our pending national crisis, and we must immediately unite around this goal." They suggest each concerned citizen take the following immediate actions:

1) Contact Congress and urge the introduction and enactment of the Federal Paper Ballot Act of 2004: Insist on Hand Counted Paper Ballots for Federal Offices

2) Contact your county leaders in support of hand counted paper ballots for federal offices: Emergency Measures to Protect the 2004 Vote Count

You are just one person with just one vote. Do you want your vote and the votes of your family and friends counted? There is no guarantee they will be if you take no action. The Congress will only respond if you and I raise enough hell to get their attention, and soon. The links are right here. Take just a moment of your time, right now, to ensure our democracy remains intact. Stand up with Jeremiah. Be a patriot.

Elaine Kitchel lives in the beautiful Ohio valley. She has dedicated all her writing efforts toward the preservation of the democracy that existed before the failed government that sent nineteen-year-old Jonathan Cheatham and nearly a thousand other well-loved Americans to their deaths in Iraq.

Posted Sunday, August 22, 2004

 http://www.interventionmag.com/cms/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=850