What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 27, 2006

Why the hell is pcAnywhere installed on the PCs used for our central vote tallying process?!?

A report from Richard King (www.PA-VerifiedVoting.org , www.verifiedvoting.org ) on the Logic and Accuracy Testing of Allegheny County's voting machines. (Found here).

Logic and Accuracy Testing Yesterday... YIKES: 4 problems plus

After delays of several weeks, finally the county announced that we could come view the logic and accuracy testing today (10.23.2006). Court cases were settled on October 9th, so L&A could have and may have begun almost two weeks ago and I'm wondering when did this process begin and why were we only being called in at the tail end of the L&A testing?

When we arrived for the logic and accuracy test at Allegheny County's voting machine warehouse (late @ 10:00 AM) there was a policeman standing guard next to a yellow plastic ribbon barrier ("CAUTION")... ten yards or so beyond the ribbon stood the touchscreen voting machines that were all facing away from the barrier... so we could not observe the L&A testing in any meaningful way.

So I pulled out my video camera to document the situation: Mark Wolosik says "No cell phones, no cameras, no recording devices allowed." So, I put the camera away. Asked him if he was aware that this situation was illegal and he said no, he did not and referred me to the county solicitor for relief.

Eventually, Collin Lynch and I referenced to the PA Code 25 P.S. 3011, which states, " No member of the county election board, not custodian nor other employee of the county election board shall, in any way, prevent free access to and examination of all voting machines, which are to be used at the election, by any of the duly appointed representatives aforesaid; the county election board and their employees shall afford to each such representative every facility for the examination of all registering counters, protective counters, and public counters of each and every voting machine."

Mark Wolosik, Dir. of the Division of Election, claimed this didn't refer to electronic machines and was not inclined to comply with our request to enter and observe the machines up close. Audrey got councilman Dave Fawcett to send an email to county manager Jim Flynn who was on site and we were allowed access after some discussion... and given a personal tour of the L&A process (with Q&A) by Todd Mullen, ES&S regional representative for PA. About 6 other ES&S personnel were on site helping with the L&A.

L&A aint what it used to be... its now automated.
Its initiated by one touch of the screen and the L&A runs itself (we presume) rather than having laborious data entry by touchscreen input as in what folks have expected in L&A testing ... a close simulation of real voting. Only 20 machines underwent manual touchsceen vote entry in the entire fleet of approximately 4800 machines. (1350 of which are still the used non-ADA machines). This may help reduce the man hours in preparation for an election, but its not the thorough exam that manual L&A testing is. It was the manual L&A that made the touchscreens cost more than the op scan... perhaps that or lack of time played into the decision to run the L&A test this way. However, doesn't this create issues regarding the validity of the L&A test... what about assessment of the screen calibrations? Aren't screen calibrations a major issue with touchscreens? Aren't the touch screens the most vulnerable component?

Only a small portion (approximately 200-300) of the iVotronic terminals at the warehouse are being used for the L&A testing...
these terminals are being used as platforms for the PEB simulation of an election. Actually, it would be more accurate to say we observed a simulation of an election rather than L&A testing of every iVotronic terminal. Explanation: all terminals were given L&A testing during acceptance testing. (How long ago was that?) Their goal was to have all the PEB under go L&A testing, not the terminals themselves which hold the vote.

We observed, as we did for the Primary, "PC ANYWHERE" installed on the computers that were used in the central vote tallying process. When asked what it was used for Mr. Todd Mullen said that it shouldn't be there and it would be taken off immediately. Didn't they promise to do so at a BOE meeting months ago? There were like 4 icons on that desk top... why would PC Anywhere be one of them... surely it wasn't there by random oversight.

When asked, "Have you ever opened up the hardware to do an assessment of what is inside the machines" Mark W. said I don't know and Todd Mullen explained that ES&S writes this into the contract at the state level... counties are not to open the hardware without ES&S being present. So the answer is that our county has never confirmed that the contents of these machines is free of wireless components... they just haven't ever open up a machine to see whats there.

Afterward Collin and I were wondering... what to prioritize for the BOE meeting ... maybe ask the county to get a real plan for verified voting....


Richard King, Ph.D.
(412) 400-3773

Links for Pennsylvania HB2000/SB977:
Voter Verified Paper Records with Routine Audits
www.PA-VerifiedVoting.org (locate&email your legislators)
www.VotePA.us (Listserve for voting reform activists)
www.democracyforberks.com/countmyvote (List of co-sponsors)

In case you don't know, pcAnywhere is software that allows you to connect remotely to another computer and pretty much do whatever the hell you want to on that computer. Go into files...change/manipulate them...whatever...


Democrats-Lie said...

Heh, and to think they could of used Real VNC or Tight VNC to do that....plus it's free. PCAnywhere is an unstable, insecure piece of crap, and it is very $$$. I thought at least Symantec would stop making that sorry chunk of useless code. God, I hate Symantec, their newer versions of anti-virus software is the worst (and gets worse with each new version ... ex: The "Tamper Protection" feature; it will whine about Windows Updates - haha), so I cannot help but wonder how bad the version of PCAnwhere is installed on those machines you mentioned.

And yes, it bothers me that PCAnywhere is installed on those machines. Voter Fraud is one thing I do not stand for. Democrat, Republican, whatever party is does it, is just plain wrong.

I was in a discussion with a coworker the other day about voting machines being hacked as shown here:


After we both read the article contained in the above link, we both asked ourselves:

"What sort of mechanism would provide the ability for the least chances of fraud?"

Our conclusion: We still cannot come up with a solid answer which satisfied the requirements we both agreed upon.

That article is damn scary.

See? There is one thing we agree on. ;)

Z said...

The whole experience is disturbing, particularly that part about how the access rules don't include electronic voting machines...and of course, the PCAnywhere. Sad part is you can bet if the Dems pull this off, we're all going deja vu back to Florida.

Grinchy said...

Hi, I'm now a Majority Inspector and I'm looking for justice in voting as well. Can we take an honest look at voting? I've got a strong libertarian streak, but also a strong rule-of-law streak. I agree that the voting machines are not meeting the rules on the books.

Can we also look at the voting registration lists? I found hundreds of questionable records in my scans of the lists.