Tuesday, January 14, 2003  [!]

GOP Senators are pissed Suntimes: GOP Senators on Warpath. Happy to be in the majority again, but angry that the Executive Branch tells them nothing.

No senator more solidly supports Bush's national security policy than Warner, the 75-year-old chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee who was re-elected last year to a fifth Senate term from Virginia. A veteran of the Navy (World War II) and Marine Corps (Korean War) and a former secretary of the Navy, he has devoted long public service to American's national defense.

Consequently, Warner had his colleagues' attention when he addressed [Andrew] Card. ''I will not tolerate,'' he boomed, ''a continuation of what's been going on the last two years.'' He cited cavalier treatment that denies information even to the venerable top Senate Republican on Armed Services.

...Card responded to complaints by Warner and [Senator Pat] Roberts [who agreed with everything Warner said] with a ''Thank you. I'll pass that along.''

Of Pooh and Disney and wicked tricksies Garret links to a Fortune story about Pooh vs. Disney (well Pooh royalties, that is). It's a topic I've covered before. Well, a google search on pooh+disney+lawsuit reveals much. But if you want the real dirt, Joe Shea at the American Reporter has it. (The site uses frames: from the pop-up menu on left, select The Pooh Papers.)

This story on 26 December talks of Pooh Lady's Daughter's Estranged Husband considering whether to obstruct things for his estranged wife in the case. Community property and all that. Estranged Husband tells this story to Shea on Christmas Day. Then, the next day, in another conversation, he reconsiders his options. What kind of Christmas was it at the Pooh Lady Family Household to result in such things? Oh, and reporter Shea isn't out of it by any means. He and his wife have both been deposed by Disney in the case. And Shea's wife was "wrongfully terminated" by the Pooh Lady's Daughter after being displeased with a way Shea quoted her. Okay, really now. This is nasty, filthy gossip. (oops, sorry, I'm exchanging Pooh-isms for Gollum-isms. But then again, what are the pooh royalties, but a kind of a Ring which corrupts, and those who had it call those who took it thieves and evil and wicked and trecherous. Heh)

I should find something better, more uplifting after all this.

Oops. Not so.

Voter News Service Votescam is a site selling a book that's an exposé of the Voter News Service and widespread vote fraud. Oh yeah, right, sure, it's a vast conspiracy. Nod your head, call them crazy, all that. I'm tempted to. But there are several chapters posted online about the authors' personal experience in a 1970 congressional election in ówait for itó Florida, and their subsequent investigation into how election tallying works. The site's in frames, so I'll have to un-frame the book chapter page. Jim and Ken Collier post the first 5 chapters of their 19-chapter book. I read the first two last night. Chilling. Sobering.

In light of the "reorg" of the election service right now, now's the right time to delve into what precisely the Voter News Service is. And ask the question, "Where's the oversight?" If the VNS are the folks who are determining the outcome of elections, at least declaring the results, how are they overseen?

Covering the VNS story: I go to news.google.com to see the latest. Now, remember, VNS is/was a combined service put together by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, Associated Press. Many of the stories I'm seeing are print s of the AP story. Exceptions: The Washington Times, Washington Post, New York Times.

Paydirt: On Slashdot, a person named Timothy makes the post, saying, Baseline Magazine [Project management pub] has a pretty good recounting [was that an intentional pun, Timothy?] of how even the national TV networks can have a computer network go wrong...."

Warren Mitofsky, a media consultant who developed an exit-polling analysis system for CBS in 1967 and worked for VNS in the early 90s, says the project was doomed from the beginning.

"You simply can't have six different competing news agencies jointly managing a technology project of this scope," he says. "That's why I left VNS. Everyone is trying to decide what should be done and how. If you don't have a final decision maker who takes the responsibility for a project like this, you end up with what we saw in November."

...As part of the [revamp] effort [following the data meltdown during November 2000 elections], voting databases developed over a span of more than 30 years were to be consolidated into one. That's where the rubber never met the road. [Read More]

More on voting

How secure is computer voting? This article outlining testimony in a Colorado bill re: computer voting spells out some of the pitfalls. Lots of detailed information. I excerpt some of the most salient points:

I would hope it is evident that with computer voting the easiest and cheapest way to win an election is to pay off the programmer.

A "recount" of computer ballots is meaningless.

The code used in the computer to do the vote counting, whether software or firmware, must be public information if there is to be any hope of detecting fraud....

Who can vote for what and whom depends on where the voter resided when they registered. That may not coincide with where they live now. This is a major problem with Internet voting that would allow ballot box stuffing from Iraq, or anywhere else on the planet.

Inadvertent or deliberate "errors" or "bugs" in the computer code are virtually impossible to detect unless they cause gross mistakes.

A computer byword states that all nontrivial programs contain bugs. If there are no bugs in the program it is, by definition, trivial. Voting algorithms with complex candidacies, initiatives, precincts, special districts, etc. are not a trivial programming problem.

Transferring all vote counting to a central computer makes it impossible to determine local balloting errors and enhances the opportunities to manipulate the count.

Programmers commonly leave themselves "back (or trap) doors" while developing computer code to facilitate testing and debugging. Such features facilitate later manipulation of the code, either authorized or unauthorized.

When computers are used to count votes, poll watchers are no longer allowed to watch the votes being counted. All the poll watchers get to see is ballots being fed into a computer and totals being fed out the other end of the computer. Votes counted by computer are a secret vote. Secret vote counting and democracy are not compatable.

Not only are poll watchers prevented from being able to see the votes being counted, they are also barred from being able to see the software, which is what determines how the votes are being counted. No on is allowed to see the computer software in vote counting computers, not even the Secretary of State. The courts have determined that the software is proprietary. [Read More]