Microsoft 811 - Safety For Voting Machine Vendors
Here's the new Holt Bill language:
an accredited laboratory that inspects voting machines shall hold the technology in escrow (read hold in secret).
MICROSOFT 811! THIS BILL GETS VOTED ON THIS
Microsoft 811 - Safety For Voting Machine VendorsTuesday, 4 September
2007, 11:43 am
Opinion: Michael Collins
(c) 2004-06 Rand Careaga/salamander.eps
Making the World Safe
For Voting Machine Vendors
Scoop Independent News
At a New Jersey town meeting this July, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) said of
his bill, House Resolution 811, "It's not my bill anymore."
Why shouldn't the world be safe for vendors? Microsoft in particular?
After all, they pay the bills. Just let them have whatever they want
and let the rest of us be thankful we've got jobs. This is the
prevailing philosophy in Washington, DC, your capitol and the supposed
heart of modern democracy.
House Resolution 811 ("The Holt Bill") is coming up for a vote this
week, word has it. The questions are stark. What will our Congress be
voting for? Whose interests are represented in the final mark up of
Voting in the United States is hardly inspirational. In fact, it's
become down right depressing for both those who follow it closely or
those who keep their distance due to the dreadful outcomes in terms of
Let's look at the close up. But first an acknowledgment. It's hard
arguing with those who say they wouldn't let us vote if it made a
difference because it hasn't. It's been eight months since the new
Congress was seated and where are we? We're still hip deep in Iraq and
the Senate has done nothing to prevent the president from starting his
next project, a military attack on Iran. We have no solutions to
universal health insurance. and the rebuilding of New Orleans has been
paid for but not begun. What a record! No wonder so many people don't
bother to vote.
For those of us who do vote, what is on the line with H.R. 811, the Holt Bill?
The Vendor Protection Act: Microsoft Uber Alles
A cardinal principal of almost all factions of the election integrity
movement has been open computer source code for voting machines. Open
source code is defined as, "... source code of software that is available
to the general public with relaxed or non-existent intellectual
property restrictions." The basis for computerized voting machine
software and methods could be examined by any citizen. As a result, it
would be much easier to examine those nail biting elections we have so
often or simply check on the integrity of any election, no matter how
close. For the technically informed, this is one of the key elements
required for transparent and fair elections where computerized voting
(e-voting) is in place.
Advocates argue that open source computer code in voting machines will
give greater access to understand how the machines operate. Quite
simply, open source code will make it easier to assure that the votes
cast are those counted. Not only will it be easier to check on any
private vendor's voting machine operations, with open source, this
inspection will take place on an even playing field.
That was the original idea behind H.R. 811. The 2003 version of Holt's
bill was very clear. It stated:
No voting system shall at any time contain or use undisclosed software.
The bill, as introduced in 2006 was just as clear:
... source code, object code, executable representation, and ballot
programming files [shall be made] available for inspection promptly
upon request to any person.
The current version of Holt's bill up for vote this week backs off of
the public right to inspect voting machine software, open source code,
in a big way and lets vendors keep secret the software and methods
that determine your elections. Let me put it another way, you don't
get to see how the voting machines work that elect the officials who
govern you - ever!
Washington to Citizens: Drop Dead
Citizens of the United States of America still believe that the
government is a servant, hence the designation public servants for
politicians and government officials. The idea wasn't for them to
serve themselves or private interests, like voting machine vendors.
They're supposed to serve us!
Here's the new Holt Bill language:
an accredited laboratory that inspects voting machines shall hold the
technology in escrow (read hold in secret). The laboratory (a private
company, likely) can disclose technology and information to another
person, if and only if that person or entity is a government agency
responsible for voting, a party to litigation over an election or an
academic studying elections. H.R. 811
Nancy Tobi of Democracy for New Hampshire wondered how this all
happened. The word from Capitol Hill was "take up your concerns with
Microsoft and others in the proprietary software industry."
What happened to disclosure of software and methods upon request of any person?
The Washington Two Step
Here we go again. We elect people to make our laws more open and
transparent in order to know what is being done by those whose job it
is to serve us. What do they do? They take the most fundamental right
that we have, voting - electing our representatives - and they make it
secret. Sure, a government agency can look at the software that counts
the votes, the agency run by the politicians elected by the machines
that need inspection. That will do a lot of good won't it? Oh, and if
you have the six or seven figures required to bring a law suit, you
might be able to look at source code. Finally, as if to show that
they're not as anti-intellectual as they seem, the bill says academics
can look at the source code and other software and methods. That will
do a lot of good, years from now ... . maybe.
It's Official - Voting is Now a Rigged Game Run by the Government
Why not just change the name from elections to voting lotto? Except in
this lotto game, the contestants are the very same people who make up
the rules, pick the winners, and hand out the cash. It's all so
elegant and logical:
Politicians administer elections that determine whether or not they
keep their jobs. They expect us to believe that they'll catch each
other when there's any cheating going on and that they'll report it to
us right away. But we're not allowed to see how the game works, how
the equipment operates, or who does what behind the scenes.
Can any of you imagine how Mr. Trump would respond to any casino
machine vendor who said, "Look buddy, it's our software, our machine,
and our game - mind your own business." The words are (correct me if
I'm wrong), "You're fired!"
Long term researcher and activist Ellen Theisen of Voters Unite has
supported the Holt Bill in its various forms since 2003. This is no
longer the case. Theisen outlined her objections to the current Holt
Bill clearly on June 11, 2007. http://www.votersunite.org/info/hr811Report.asp
I recommend a review of this brief but
comprehensive editorial. She pulled her support because the current
bill leaves some ballots uncounted; endorses secret vote counting and
secret voting software; allows some wireless communication to slip
through the cracks; and perpetuates the Election Assistance (sic)
Commission, appointed solely by the president.
But I've saved the most ironic and outrageous aspect of all of this
for last. If you're still reading, check out these articles by voting
issues author Michael Richardson. He did a comprehensive series of
articles on the laboratories that will have the honor of holding tight
the computer software, source code that determines the outcome of our
Here they are, the laboratories who will store voting source code
software; the vote taking and vote counting software that elects our
Banned Lab Certifies Nearly 70% of US voting machine 15 Jan 2007
State Elections Directors approved test labs rejected by National
Institute of Standards and Testing 19 Jan 2007
CIBER Voting Machine Test Lab Failures is 'Old News' Known by Top
Election Officials for Years 02 Feb 2007
U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chair, Donetta Davidson, Knew
About Problems of Voting Machine Test Labs But Kept Quiet 20 Feb 2007
This is not quite as outrageous as giving the president the ability to
start a war with Iran, but its damn close. Great legislating Congress!
We knew you had it in you.
Disclosure: I'm an advocate for an immediate return to hand counted
paper ballots. However, since my view has not prevailed, I'm more than
willing to discuss and critique improvements in any system in use.
Permission to reprint in part or in whole with a link to this article
in "Scoop" and attribution of authorship.
contribute to this article
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion