Orange Alert Must Galvanize Galvin, Election Watchdogs Say

Jan 19, 2010, 10:14 ET from Velvet Revolution

Election System Vulnerabilities Require Immediate Additional Safeguards

LEXINGTON, Mass., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Wanting to be certain that today's Senate race in Massachusetts is not hijacked by the computerized optical scanners that count votes inside black boxes away from the public view -- as highly-respected computer scientists have proven is too easily possible -- citizen groups are asking the Massachusetts Secretary of State to take extra precautions. In an open letter to the Secretary of State, they write:

Dear Secretary Galvin:

We, the undersigned election integrity organizations and leaders, call on you today to take an unprecedented yet critical protective step to ensure an honest election on Tuesday. We believe this is crucial because of the vulnerabilities of the Diebold optical scanning equipment used in MA elections, proven over and over again by highly-respected computer scientists to be easily corrupted without leaving any traces, and because of the dubious reputation of LHS, the Methuen-based company that programs the optical scanners. MA runs many of our elections at a local government level by smaller and less technically sophisticated agencies than is common in other states. Arizona, with a similar population base, has 15 Federal election jurisdictions; we have 351. Our smaller jurisdictions have relied to a high degree on outside technical consultants such as LHS Associates, and therefore a higher standard of oversight is warranted.

It is essential that you send an official representative of your office today to LHS programming center in Methuen and, as warranted by the Commonwealth's contract with them, order that they preserve without alteration all databases, tools, software, data, and systems in use while the memory cards are being maintained or programmed for every Massachusetts jurisdiction. You must further compel them to turn over to your representative, on the spot, a backup copy of every item mentioned above.

Robert Fleischer, of Groton, an MIT-trained computer scientist, is available to accompany your representative as a technical expert to be certain that all the appropriate and requested data are given to you. We recommend that the three senatorial campaigns be contacted and that they be invited to observe the process and bear witness to the chain of custody.

On behalf of the voters of Massachusetts, we ask that you issue an additional order to all the MA election officials to secure all memory cards along with the ballots -- voted, spoiled, and unused -- at the conclusion of the election, explicitly and thoroughly documenting the chain of custody. All such material, including the memory cards, should be securely retained for a minimum of 22 months.

After the election, election forensics experts can provide examination of the databases together with the memory cards to determine whether the programming was indeed honest. We, the undersigned election integrity organizations, have already engaged experts who are prepared to undertake this task.

We are also filing a public records request for materials that will enable us to examine these issues. We look forward to your professional handling of this matter.

Sincerely yours,

John Brakey, AUDITAZ

Sally Castleman, Lexington MA, Co-founder, Election Defense Alliance

Marj Creech,

Brad Friedman, publisher The Brad Blog, Co-founder,

MaryAnn Gould, Co-founder, Coalition for Voting Integrity

Bev Harris, Founder, Black Box Voting

Mimi Kennedy, Advisory Board Chair, Progressive Democrats of America

Jim March, Member of Board of Directors, Black Box Voting

Kindra Muntz, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections

Sheila Parks, Belmont, MA, Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots

Susan Pynchon, Florida Fair Elections Coalition,

Protect California Ballots

Voice of the Voters

SOURCE Velvet Revolution