September 4, 2009
ES&S Acquires Premier Election Solutions. This is just wrong on so many levels.
By Lani Massey Brown
When Voting News reported on on ES&S acquiring Premier Election Solutions, they commented, “Monopoly anyone?” But this acquisition is just wrong on so many levels.
Yes, the monopoly. ES&S's website boasts that ES&S voting systems counted approximately 50% of the votes in the last four major elections. 67 million registered voters vote on ES&S machines. 97K iVotronic touch screens are installed in 20 states and approximately 30K scanner tabulators are installed in 43 states and worldwide. While Premier Election Solutions (Diebold) Global Election Management System (GEMS) is used in more than 1,000 election environments throughout North America.
While the acquisition of Premier indeed adds munitions to ES&S's arsenal. The monopoly is but a part of the troubling equation.
Consider the Government Accountability Office's (GOA) stunted investigation of Sarasota's 2006 District 13 with its 18,000 missing votes. While the investigation fizzled with inconclusive results and investigative paths not taken, the initial findings of the investigation revealed an end-to-end ES&S election process lacking good business practices and void of independent checks and balances. ES&S virtually owns the election process. ES&S manufactures the machines, produces test data, defines the testing process, counts the votes, determines the winner, and declares the election valid. While Florida's Secretary of State and Sarasota's Supervisor of Elections simply follow the ES&S directions. (1)
Consider the absence of election laws and comprehensive processes that recognize bogus election results and mandate clear and immediate corrective action. This void has actually enabled election blunders since 2000.
More importantly, the lapse in business standards in tandem with the absence of such laws make it all the more possible for a lone techie, a company insider to slip some crafty little program code into the election program mix. As long as this techie stays smart and keeps the win within the margin of error he or she can effectively alter and even spot control election results.
Consider the technical challenges experienced by these two companies. Nine states reported voting problems with their Diebold equipment, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, Utah, Virginia. Eight states reported problems with their ES&S voting equipment: Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. And five states reported voting problems with both ES&S and Diebold voting equipment: Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. (2)..................... _________________ 'And he (the devil) said to him: To thee will I give all this power, and the glory of them; for to me they are delivered, and to whom I will, I give them'. Luke IV 5-7.
(WV) - 8/09 - OFFICIALS TROT OUT SPECIOUS PRO-CONCEALED COUNTING ARGUMENTS - By now, almost all voting machine makes and models have been demonstrably compromised, but election officials continue to defend them, news reporters continue to ask the wrong questions, and even public interest groups seem unable to grasp the real reason they get run 'round the hampster wheel every time they present evidence.
By Bev Harris*
* Bev Harris is the Author of the soon to be published book " Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering In The 21st Century "
*** NEW *** FOLLOW UP STORY
Bald-Faced Lies About Black Box Voting Machines
The Truth About the Rob-Georgia File
IMPORTANT NOTE: Publication of this story marks a watershed in American political history. It is offered freely for publication in full or part on any and all internet forums, blogs and noticeboards. All other media are also encouraged to utilise material. Readers are encouraged to forward this to friends and acquaintances in the United States and elsewhere.
Part 1 - Can the votes be changed?
Part 2 - Can the password be bypassed?
Part 3 – Can the audit log be altered?
According to election industry officials, electronic voting systems are absolutely secure, because they are protected by passwords and tamperproof audit logs. But the passwords can easily be bypassed, and in fact the audit logs can be altered. Worse, the votes can be changed without anyone knowing, even the County Election Supervisor who runs the election system.
The computer programs that tell electronic voting machines how to record and tally votes are allowed to be held as "trade secrets." Can citizen's groups examine them? No. The companies that make these machines insist that their mechanisms are a proprietary secret. Can citizen's groups, or even election officials, audit their accuracy? Not at all, with touch screens, and rarely, with optical scans, because most state laws mandate that optical scan paper ballots be run through the machine and then sealed into a box, never to be counted unless there is a court order. Even in recounts, the ballots are just run through the machine again. Nowadays, all we look at is the machine tally.
Therefore, when I found that Diebold Election Systems had been storing 40,000 of its files on an open web site, an obscure site, never revealed to public interest groups, but generally known among election industry insiders, and available to any hacker with a laptop, I looked at the files. Having a so-called security-conscious voting machine manufacturer store sensitive files on an unprotected public web site, allowing anonymous access, was bad enough, but when I saw what was in the files my hair turned gray. Really. It did.
The contents of these files amounted to a virtual handbook for vote-tampering: They contained diagrams of remote communications setups, passwords, encryption keys, source code, user manuals, testing protocols, and simulators, as well as files loaded with votes and voting machine software.
Diebold Elections Systems AccuVote systems use software called "GEMS," and this system is used in 37 states. The voting system works like this:
Voters vote at the precinct, running their ballot through an optical scan, or entering their vote on a touch screen.
After the polls close, poll workers transmit the votes that have been accumulated to the county office. They do this by modem.
At the county office, there is a "host computer" with a program on it called GEMS. GEMS receives the incoming votes and stores them in a vote ledger. But in the files we examined, which were created by Diebold employees and/or county officials, we learned that the Diebold program used another set of books with a copy of what is in vote ledger 1. And at the same time, it made yet a third vote ledger with another copy.
Apparently, the Elections Supervisor never sees these three sets of books. All she sees is the reports she can run: Election summary (totals, county wide) or a detail report (totals for each precinct). She has no way of knowing that her GEMS program is using multiple sets of books, because the GEMS interface draws its data from an Access database, which is hidden. And here is what is quite odd: On the programs we tested, the Election summary (totals, county wide) come from the vote ledger 2 instead of vote ledger 1, and ledger 2 can be altered so it may or may not match ledger 1.
Now, think of it like this: You want the report to add up only the actual votes. But, unbeknownst to the election supervisor, votes can be added and subtracted from vote ledger 2. Official reports come from vote ledger 2, which has been disengaged from vote ledger 1. If one asks for a detailed report for some precincts, though, the report comes from vote ledger 1. Therefore, if you keep the correct votes in vote ledger 1, a spot check of detailed precincts (even if you compare voter-verified paper ballots) will always be correct.
And what is vote ledger 3 for? For now, we are calling it the "Lord Only Knows" vote ledger.
Detailed Examination Of Diebold GEMS Voting Machine Security ( Part 1)
CAN THE VOTES BE CHANGED?
Here's what we're going to do: We'll go in and run a totals report, so you can see what the Election Supervisor sees. Then we'll tamper with the votes. I'll show you that our tampering appears in Table 2, but not Table 1. Then we'll go back and run another totals report, and you'll see that it contains the tampered votes from Table 2. Remember that there are two programs: The GEMS program, which the Election Supervisor sees, and the Microsoft Access database that stores the votes, which she cannot see.
Let's run a report on the Max Cleland/Saxby Chambliss race. (This is an example, and does not contain the real data.) Here is what the Totals Report will look like in GEMS:
The GEMS election file contains more than one "set of books." They are hidden from the person running the GEMS program, but you can see them if you go into Microsoft Access. You might look at it like this: Suppose you have votes on paper ballots, and you pile all the paper ballots in room one. Then, you make a copy of all the ballots and put the stack of copies in room 2.
You then leave the door open to room 2, so that people can come in and out, replacing some of the votes in the stack with their own.
You could have some sort of security device that would tell you if any of the copies of votes in room 2 have been changed, but you opt not to.
Now, suppose you want to count the votes. Should you count them from room 1 (original votes)? Or should you count them from room 2, where they may or may not be the same as room 1? What Diebold chose to do in the files we examined was to count the votes from "room2." Illustration:
If an intruder opens the GEMS program in Microsoft Access, they will find that each candidate has an assigned number:
Now let's put our own votes in Room2. We'll put Chambliss ahead by a nose, by subtracting 100 from Cleland and adding 100 to Chambliss. Always add and delete the same number of votes, so the number of voters won't change.
Notice that we have only tampered with the votes in "Room 2." In Room 1, they remain the same. Room 1, after tampering with Room 2:
CLICK FOR BIG VERSION
Now, the above example is for a simple race using just one precinct. If you run a detail report, you'll see that the precinct report pulls the untampered data, while the totals report pulls the tampered data. This would allow a precinct to pass a spot check.
Detailed Examination Of Diebold GEMS Voting Machine Security ( Part 2)
CAN THE PASSWORD BE BYPASSED?
At least a dozen full installation versions of the GEMS program were available on the Diebold ftp site. The manual, also available on the ftp site, tells that the default password in a new installation is "GEMSUSER." Anyone who downloaded and installed GEMS can bypass the passwords in elections. In this examination, we installed GEMS, clicked "new" and made a test election, then closed it and opened the same file in Microsoft Access.
One finds where they store the passwords by clicking the "Operator" table.
One can overwrite the "admin" password with another, copied from another GEMS installation. It will appear encrypted; no worries, just cut and paste. In this example, we saved the old "admin" password so we could replace it later and delete the evidence that we'd been there. An intruder can grant himself administrative privileges by putting zeros in the other boxes, following the example in "admin."
CLICK FOR BIG VERSION
How many people can gain access? A sociable election hacker can give all his friends access to the database too! In this case, they were added in a test GEMS installation and copied into the Cobb County Microsoft Access file. It encrypted each password as a different character string, however, all the passwords are the same word: "password." Password replacement can also be done directly in Access. To assess how tightly controlled the election files really are, we added 50 of our friends; so far, we haven't found a limit to how many people can be granted access to the election database.
Detailed Examination Of Diebold GEMS Voting Machine Security ( Part 3)
CAN THE AUDIT TRAIL BE ALTERED?
Britain J. Williams, Ph.D., is the official voting machine certifier for the state of Georgia, and he sits on the committee that decides how voting machines will be tested and evaluated. Here's what he had to say about the security of Diebold voting machines, in a letter dated April 23, 2003:
"Computer System Security Features: The computer portion of the election system contains features that facilitate overall security of the election system. Primary among these features is a comprehensive set of audit data. For transactions that occur on the system, a record is made of the nature of the transaction, the time of the transaction, and the person that initiated the transaction. This record is written to the audit log. If an incident occurs on the system, this audit log allows an investigator to reconstruct the sequence of events that occurred surrounding the incident.
In addition, passwords are used to limit access to the system to authorized personnel." Since Dr. Williams listed the audit data as the primary security feature, we decided to find out how hard it is to alter the audit log.
Here is a copy of a GEMS audit report.
CLICK FOR BIG VERSION
Note that a user by the name of "Evildoer" was added. Evildoer performed various functions, including running reports to check his vote-rigging work, but only some of his activities showed up on the audit log.
It was a simple matter to eliminate Evildoer. First, we opened the election database in Access, where we opened the audit table:
CLICK FOR BIG VERSION
Access encourages those who create audit logs to use auto-numbering, so that every logged entry has an uneditable log number. Then, if one deletes audit entries, a gap in the numbering sequence will appear. However, we found that this feature was disabled, allowing us to write in our own log numbers. We were able to add and delete from the audit without leaving a trace. Going back into GEMS, we ran another audit log to see if Evildoer had been purged:
In fact, when using Access to adjust the vote tallies we found that tampering never made it to the audit log at all.
Although we interviewed election officials and also the technicians who set up the Diebold system in Georgia, and they confirmed that the GEMS system does use Microsoft Access, is designed for remote access, and does receive "data corrections" from time to time from support personnel, we have not yet had the opportunity to test the above tampering methods in the County Election Supervisor's office.
From a programming standpoint, there might be reasons to have a special vote ledger that disengages from the real one. For example, election officials might say they need to be able to alter the votes to add provisional ballots or absentee ballots. If so, this calls into question the training of these officials, which appears to be done by The Election Center, under the direction of R. Doug Lewis. If election officials are taught to deal with changes by overwriting votes, regardless of whether they do this in vote ledger 1 or vote ledger 2, this is improper.
If changing election data is required, the corrective entry must be made not by overwriting vote totals, but by making a corrective entry. When adding provisional ballots, for example, the proper procedure is to add a line item "provisional ballots," and this should be added into the original vote table (Table 1). It is never acceptable to make changes by overwriting vote totals. Data corrections should not be prohibited, but must always be done by indicating changes through a clearly marked line item that preserves each transaction.
Proper bookkeeping never allows an extra ledger that can be used to just erase the original information and add your own. And certainly, it is improper to have the official reports come from the second ledger, which may or may not have information erased or added.
But there is more evidence that these extra sets of books are illicit: If election officials were using Table 2 to add votes, for provisional ballots, or absentee voters, that would be in their GEMS program. It makes no sense, if that's what Diebold claims the extra set of books is for, to make vote corrections by sneaking in through the back door and using Access, which according to the manual is not even installed on the election official's computer.
Furthermore, if changing Table 2 was an acceptable way to adjust for provisional ballots and absentee votes, we would see the option in GEMS to print a report of both Table 1 totals and Table 2 so that we can compare them. Certainly, if that were the case, that would be in the manual along with instructions that say to compare Table 1 to Table 2, and, if there is any difference, to make sure it exactly matches the number of absentee ballots, or whatever, were added.
Using Microsoft Access was inappropriate for security reasons. Using multiple sets of books, and/or altering vote totals to include new data, is improper for accounting reasons. And, as a member of slashdot.org commented, "This is not a bug, it's a feature."
Today on TruNews we discuss a shadowy simulation run by Israeli tech firm Cybereason along with senior elements of the U.S. government, to depict a hellish and futurist 9/11 on election day 2020, resulting in the canceling of the election and a declaration of martial law. Edward Szall. Airdate 01/10/20
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Behind the app that delayed Iowa’s voting results is a dark money operation funded by anti-Bernie Sanders billionaires. Its top donor Seth Klarman is a Buttigieg backer who has dumped money into pro-settler Israel lobby groups.
By Max Blumenthal
At the time of publication, 12 hours after voting in the Democratic Party’s Iowa caucuses ended, the results have not been announced. The delay in reporting is the result of a failed app developed by a company appropriately named Shadow Inc.
This firm was staffed by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaign veterans and created by a Democratic dark money nonprofit backed by hedge-fund billionaires including Seth Klarman. A prolific funder of pro-settler Israel lobby organizations, Klarman has also contributed directly to Pete Buttigieg’s campaign.
The delay in the vote reporting denied a victory speech to Senator Bernie Sanders, the presumptive winner of the opening contest in the Democratic presidential primary. Though not one exit poll indicated that Buttigieg would have won, the South Bend, Indiana mayor took to Twitter to confidently proclaim himself the victor.
The bizarre scenario was made possible by a mysterious voting app whose origins had been kept secret by Democratic National Committee officials. For hours, it was unclear who created the failed technology, or how it wound up in the hands of Iowa party officials.
Though a dark money Democratic operation turned out to be the source of the disastrous app, suspicion initially centered on former Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and his Russiagate-related elections integrity initiative.
Leveraging Russia hysteria into lucrative election opportunities
While Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price refused to say who was behind the failed app, he told NPR that he “worked with the national party’s cybersecurity team and Harvard University’s Defending Digital Democracy project…” Price did not offer details on his collaboration with the Harvard group, however.
The New York Times reported that this same outfit had teamed up with Iowa Democrats to run a “drill of worst-case scenarios” and possible foreign threats, but was also vague on details.
Robby Mook, the former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, was the co-founder of Defending Digital Democracy. His initiative arose out of the national freakout over Russian meddling that he and his former boss helped stir when they blamed their loss on Russian interference. Mook’s new outfit pledged to “protect from hackers and propaganda attacks.”
He founded the organization with help from Matt Rhoades, a former campaign manager for Republican Mitt Romney whose public relations company was sued by a Silicon Valley investor after it branded him “an agent of the Russian government” and “a friend of Russian President, Vladimir Putin.” Rhoades’ firm had been contracted by a business rival to destroy the investor’s reputation.
As outrage grew over the delay in Iowa caucus results, Mook publicly denied any role in designing the notorious app.
Hours later, journalist Lee Fang reported that a previously unknown tech outfit called Shadow Inc. had contracted with the Iowa Democratic Party to create the failed technology. The firm was comprised of former staffers for Obama and Clinton as well as the tech industry, and had been paid for “software rights” by the Buttigieg campaign.
Shadow Inc Pete Buttigieg Iowa caucus app
FEC filings show the Iowa Democratic Party and Pete Buttigieg campaign paid Shadow Inc., which developed the flawed app used in the Iowa caucus
An Israel lobby moneyman’s path to Mayor Pete’s wine cave
Shadow Inc. was launched by a major Democratic dark money nonprofit called Acronym, which also gave birth to a $7.7 million Super PAC known as Pacronym.
According to Sludge, Pacronym’s largest donor is Seth Klarman. A billionaire hedge funder, Klarman also happens to be a top donor to Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.
Though he has attracted some attention for his role in the campaign, Klarman’s prolific funding of the pro-settler Israel lobby and Islamophobic initiatives has gone almost entirely unmentioned.
Seth Klarman is the founder of the Boston-based Baupost Group hedge fund and a longtime donor to corporate Republican candidates. After Donald Trump called for forgiving Puerto Rico’s debt, Klarman – the owner of $911 million of the island’s bonds – flipped and began funding Trump’s opponents.
The billionaire’s crusade against Trump ultimately led him to Mayor Pete’s wine cave.
By the end of 2019, Klarman had donated $5,600 to Buttigieg and pumped money into the campaigns of Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris as well.
The billionaire’s support for centrist candidates appears to be not only about his own financial interests, but also his deep and abiding ideological commitment to Israel and its expansionist project.
As I reported for Mondoweiss, Klarman has been a top funder for major Israel lobby outfits, including those that support the expansion of illegal settlements and Islamophobic campaigns.
Klarman was the principal financier of The Israel Project, the recently disbanded Israeli government-linked propaganda organization that lobbied against the Iran nuclear deal and backed the Israeli settlement enterprise.
Klarman has heaped hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and the American Jewish Committee. And he funded The David Project, which was established to suppress Palestine solidarity organizing on college campuses across the US and battled to block the establishment of a Muslim community center in Boston.
Through his support for the Friends of Ir David Inc., Klarman directly involved himself in the Israeli settlement enterprise, assisting the US-based tax-exempt arm of the organization that oversaw a wave of Palestinian expulsions in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
Other pro-Israel groups reaping the benefits of Klarman’s generosity include Birthright Israel, the AIPAC-founded Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a neoconservative think tank that helped devise Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign of economic warfare on Iran.
Klarman is the owner of the Times of Israel, an Israeli media outlet that once published a call for Palestinian genocide. (The op-ed was ultimately removed following public backlash.)
In recent weeks, Buttigieg has sought to distinguish himself from Sanders on the issue of Israel-Palestine. During a testy exchange this January with a self-proclaimed Jewish supporter of Palestinian human rights, the South Bend mayor backtracked on a previous pledge to withhold military aid to Israel if it annexed parts of the West Bank.
Another recipient of Klarman’s funding, Amy Klobuchar, has taken a strongly pro-Israel line, vowing to support Trump’s relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Klarman’s interest in Israel has apparently led him to support regime change in Syria. In 2017, the pro-Israel billionaire’s foundation donated $100,000 to the Syrian American Medical Society, a US-based non-profit that has lobbied aggressively for US intervention in Syria while partnering on the ground with foreign-backed extremists that occupied large swaths of the country.
Seth Klarman foundation funds Syrian American Medical Society SAMS
The Klarman Family Foundation 2017 990 form shows it funds the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)
Back home in the US, Klarman has contributed heavily to funding the CIA Memorial Foundation. He is listed alongside former CIA Director George Tenet as a top individual contributor to the group.
Seth Klarman CIA Memorial Foundation
Billionaire Seth Klarman is listed as a top donor to the CIA Memorial Foundation
Klarman’s support for Buttigieg, The Grayzone previously reported, has been complimented by a surprisingly long roster of former high-ranking CIA officials, regime-change architects, and global financiers.
Battling Bernie with hedge fund money and sexism claims
Like Klarman, Donald Sussman is a hedge funder who has channeled his fortune into Pacronym. He has given $1 million to the Super PAC and was also top donor to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Sussman’s Paloma Partners operates through a series of offshore shell companies, and received tens of millions of dollars in the 2009 federal bailout of the banking industry.
His daughter, Democratic operative Emily Tisch Sussman, declared on MSNBC in September that “if you still support Sanders over Warren, it’s kind of showing your sexism.”
As Democratic elites like the Sussmans braced for a Bernie Sanders triumph in Iowa, a mysterious piece of technology spun out by a group they supported delayed the vote results, preventing Sanders from delivering a victory speech.
And the politician many of them supported, Pete Buttigieg, exploited the moment to declare himself the winner.
In such a strange scenario, the conspiracy theories write themselves.
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