2008/01/07 – New Hampshire election credibility

Sancho: Oh my.
Wynne: Oh. Oh no!
Pynchon: What is it? What is it?
Wynne: Seven “yes,” one “no”!  (Ballots: Six “no,” one “yes”)
Pynchon: Oh my god!

This video calls into question the accountability of New Hampshire elections. Most New Hampshire vote counts are not observable. Votes have been counted on the Diebold Accuvote ballot scanner technology, which can easily create an incorrect result because it allows alteration of vote results.

Though a new version may address the particular vulnerability that was demonstrated, New Hampshire regulations require approval by the Ballot Law Commission before new versions can be installed, and that commission had not met to approve it prior to the 2008 presidential primary. New England vendor for the system (LHS Associates’ John Silvestro, of Londonderry New Hampshire) attempted to mislead the House Election Committee, making a false statement that the problem had been addressed while knowing that it had not.

Computer expert Harri Hursti demonstrated in Florida how to hack the same system that New Hampshire was using. Present at that demonstration were Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, Black Box Voting leaders Bev Harris and Kathleen Wynne, Susan Pynchon of Florida Fair Elections Coalition, and Susan Bernecker, a candidate who had filmed voting machines flipping her vote years earlier.

Following the Florida demonstration, New Hampshire chose to purchase the voting machine make and model that Hursti had proven to be tamperable. Concerned New Hampshire citizens took action, and due to their advocacy, a public hearing with the New Hampshire House Elections Committee was held in which Hursti testified as to vulnerabilities in the system. House Election Law Committee member Claudia Chase expressed concern that someone working for the private contractor, LHS Associates, could put different programming on the voting machines. Assistant Attorney General Winn Arnold asked whether information on how to hack the system was available on the Internet, to which Hursti responded that at least eight studies provide the information, but even without any instructions a high school student could figure it out. However, New Hampshire did not take action to correct the situation and also did not use the mitigations Hursti recommended at the hearing.

“Silvestro the Cat” — Testimony before New Hampshire Legislature’s Elections Committee Sept. 19, 2007

Silvestro:  (Stands up to interrupt Harri Hursti’s testimony) I don’t know if you want me to do this now or do you want me to wait and make a statement afterwards.

Committee member: Why don’t you let him make a statement right now.

(Harri Hursti indicating surprise at the interruption in his testimony.)

Another committee member: Could you identify yourself sir?

Silvestro: Okay. My name is John Silvestro. I’m a resident of Londonderry New Hampshire. I’m also the president of LHS Associates. We supplied the original optical scan voting machines to New Hampshire back in 1985. And we have been the supplier of optical scanners and support services to the communities since then.

(Video of Diebold optical scan machine used in New Hampshire. Caption: Memory cards at high risk.)

Silvestro: You know, we program the cards, we put them in tamper-evident envelopes. You know, the realities of what’s out there, yes, there are things that need to be addressed. And they’re being addressed.

(Caption: NH uses the system hacked in Florida, in a BlackBoxVoting.org project shown in entirety in the HBO documentary “Hacking Democracy.”)

Silvestro: As I mentioned earlier, putting a minus number and a plus number in a predetermined election, you know, is not something that should be done.

(Watch the Florida hack … same system…)

Ion Sancho, Leon County Supervisor of elections: Again, this is Harri’s card. The one that he has programmed to count these ballots. This card will go into this slot.

(Shows voting machine printing a “zero report”)

Ion Sancho: The tape shows that there is one question on this ballot, and that is the question: Yes or No. We’ve identified in the database this as race 10. If you look the Diebold memory card race 10 categories, in the Yes and No categories, there are zero votes. That means this machine is saying “no votes have been run through this card.” This card is clean. And it is now ready, if ballots are fed through the voting machine, to record those numbers, on the memory card.

At the election, this is sealed and locked. There are places for the election workers to sign to verify to the public and to the press and to anyone else concerned, that there were no votes recorded on this card prior to the beginning of the election.

This is Harri’s card telling us that there are zero votes on the memory. Okay, let me get the ballots. Once again, these are the ballots. Two, only two, are marked with the “Yes” and six — one, two, three, four, five, six — these are all “No’s” — and we’re going to insert these ballots, these are all the no’s, at a precinct.

Kathleen Wynne, BlackBoxVoting.org: So what you just did, is you recorded a “no” vote.

Ion Sancho: Yes. In an optical scan like this —

Susan Pynchon, Florida Fair Elections Coalition: — Does it show, is there a number on the screen? So we can count them up?

Ion Sancho: The total count is one ballot. Okay? Ballot number two, let’s insert a yes ballot. Count, two ballots. We’re going to put in a no ballot.

Wynne: So now what happens when you put that ballot —

Ion Sancho: This normally sits on a base. And when you insert the ballot into the voting machine, it drops into the base. We’re not using the base on this voting machine because it’s unnecessary. I’m putting in, that was the third ballot, notice the LCD records three ballots. We’re going to put in another no. Fourth ballot. Another no, the fifth ballot. The last yes — and there’s no particular order I’m doing this, I’m just putting them in to use them up. Seven. And the last no ballot, eight.

This machine has read these eight ballots, and the voting machine has stored the results in this card. Now I’m placing the ender card in this device and telling it to turn off its counting function and do its reporting function, will now cause the voting machine to print out a tape reading the number of votes that it has just read.

(Real votes: 6 no. 2 yes.)

(Video shows results tape: 7 yes. 1 no.)

Sancho: Oh my.
Wynne: Oh. Oh no!
Pynchon: What is it? What is it?
Wynne: Seven yes, one no!
Pynchon: Oh my god!

(Harri Hursti testimony)

Hursti: If you are believing on poll tape that doesn’t mean a thing because I can control the whole thing over whatever logic and accuracy that you perform just before the election. Because I have control. I can compare the date, the time. And so in order to be producing fraudulent tape, I will be producing fraudulent tape only on Tuesday evening. And I don’t worry about what ballots go through.

Silvestro: And the packets are now checked, and versions of the firmware.

(Caption: Not in New Hampshire. This is not true. And he knows it. New versions: Not used in New Hampshire. Never fixed. Still at risk.)

Silvestro: You go in and actually check each candidate’s totals and if there’s a number in there it no longer prints a zero report. And it halts. So those things have been addressed as I said they would be addressed.

(Hursti puts hand on brow)
(Caption: Really?)

Silvestro: You know, it needs to come before the Ballot Law Commission to be instituted and approved in New Hampshire.

(That’s right. The new version was not, as Silvestro claimed, in New Hampshire because it had never been approved by the Ballot Law Commission.)

(Caption: The Ballot Law Commission has avoided having a meeting since March 2006. New Hampshire officials tell us they have taken no steps to control for LHS inside access.)

Committee member: I am not so concerned about the hacking of the cards, though I am also concerned about that. But I’m also concerned that what program is actually being put on the cards because who’s to say that an employee, who is reprogramming that card, is not susceptible to being bribed? We do not know what we get when those machines arrive back to us.

Committee member: I just have one basic question, how is an enterprising person — can I go on the Internet and learn how to do this?

Hursti: At the current moment, in addition to my report, are at least eight university studies, containing enough information a high school student could learn enough, that they can figure it out, how to do it, in the ball park of two days. That said, given access to these machines they would figure it out in two weeks anyway, without any instructions.

(Caption: Black Box Voting: We think it does not take even two days. We 50-year old women decided to buy the same Diebold voting machine used in New Hampshire.)

(video)

We just walked in, got the first technician available. We chose a computer repair place out of the phone book. and said “Could you take a look at this for us?”

Technician: Let me finish this guy first. Okay.

Wynne: You are now, what?

Technician: Taking it apart. Five screws. (opens it up; we had not even told him what the machine does.)  That is o-o-o-o-ld technology. Old technology. Whatever goes in, it counts. It counts something.

(Caption: The local computer repair guy located the memory card issue in less than 10 minutes.)

Technician: Pull a card out. Put another card in. Give it back: reprogrammed. (Points to memory card) Everything is stored on this. So no matter what happens, the information is there. If you’ve got a reader for it, you can reprogram it. Rewrite it, redo it, you can do anything.

Chain of custody for New Hampshire voting machine data is ultimately controlled by a sole private entity: John Silvestro’s LHS Associates.  One link in the chain can break democracy. The single most important duty of the government is to “secure and protect the rights of the people.”

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