By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, Atlanta Progressive News (September 28, 2006)
APN) ATLANTA – Top Diebold corporation officials ordered workers to install secret files to Georgia’s electronic voting machines shortly before the 2002 Elections, at least two whistleblowers are now asserting, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
Former Diebold official Chris Hood told his story concerning the secret “patch” to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., for Kennedy’s second article on electronic voting in this week’s Rolling Stone Magazine.
Hood’s claims corroborate a second whistleblower who spoke with Black Box Voting and Wired News in 2003.
“With the primaries looming, [Chief of Diebold’s Election Division] Urosevich was personally distributing a ‘patch,’ a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program,” Rolling Stone Magazine reported.
"We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn't do," Hood told Rolling Stone. "The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done."
"It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state," Hood told Rolling Stone.
"We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level,” Hood told Rolling Stone.
The “patch” was applied to about 5,000 polling places in Fulton and DeKalb Counties in 2002, Rolling Stone reported.
Hood did not immediately return a text message from Atlanta Progressive News and his voicemail was not operational.
The second whistleblower, Rob Behler, was contracted to work with Diebold in the lead up to the 2002 Elections.
Two patches were applied in June and July 2002 respectively while Behler worked in the Diebold warehouse; another patch was applied in August 2002 after Behler left the warehouse, Wired News reported.
“Behler said Diebold programmers posted patches to a file-transfer-protocol site for him and his colleagues to apply to the machines,” Wired News reported.
Diebold officials first denied any patches were applied in an interview with Salon in 2003, according to Wired News.
"We have analyzed that situation and have no indication of that happening at all," Joseph Richardson, Diebold spokesperson, is reported to have told Salon at the time.
This story later changed.
Activists Speak Out
Elections integrity activists are outraged by the relevations, although they say the apparent secretive nature of “the patch” has only confirmed the things they already suspected and feared.
“The fact that they were doing any patch of any kind is very disturbing,” Garland Favorito of VoterGA, an organization that is suing the State of Georgia over the meaningless nature of elections here, told Atlanta Progressive News.
“It raises the distinct possibility the machines might have counted [in a] different [manner] on Election Night than when certified,” Favorito said.
“It corroborates two of our key points of the suit. One, machines can count differently on Election Night than when certified. So, the only way is to verify on Election Night. Two, it’s another example of how people have been removed from the counting of the votes,” Favorito said.
“I’m not surprised people are playing tricks. As far as the patch, I say ‘time out’ for that,” Donzella James, who is contesting her purported loss in the Democratic Primary in Georgia’s 13th Congressional District to US Rep. David Scott (D-GA), told Atlanta Progressive News.
“I’m definitely going to look into it. I’m glad there’s a credible person–Kennedy–who has brought this information forward,” James said.
An outspoken advocate for a voter verified paper trail since her days in the Georgia State Senate, James said she is getting ready to run again in 2008 whatever the outcome of her lawsuit.
“It immediately shows Diebold has not been telling the truth, has been covering up facts, in state after state, year after year. This is someone who knows. He has insider knowledge,” Brad Friedman of BradBlog told Atlanta Progressive News.
“These are things people suspected. He confirmed it. Diebold never gave a damn about security, accuracy, or transparency,” Friedman said.
What is worse, the use of last-minute patches on electronic voting machines are routine, Friedman said.
“It has happened all over the country. Because they find out about security issues at the last minute and apply them without going through the proper procedures,” Friedman said.
At a recent press conference called by Donzella James, poll watchers say one county official locked herself in a room with the machine for three unexplained minutes during the recent Primary.
Cathy Cox’s Role
Where was Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox during all this?
Apparently, Diebold leadership asked employees to not let her office know about the patch or patches.
And Diebold first alleged this application of patches wasn’t going on.
However, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox appears to have found out anyway.
And Diebold appears to have at some point acknowledged the patches existed.
At least one patch was approved by Kennesaw State University, who got a state contract to do so, according to Wired News.
And Diebold admitted to the Elections Assistance Commission about the “0808" patch, Garland Favorito said.
Cox wrote a letter after the 2002 Elections, asking Diebold to address a total of 29 problems with the functioning of their E-voting machines, technology, and procedures, Rolling Stone reported.
This list of 29 items was also brought up in a press conference by US Rep. Cynthia McKinney, her first major press conference on electronic voting.
Cox referred to the item of the mysterious patch as “The application/implication of the 0808 patch.”
“The state was seeking confirmation that the patch did not require that the system ‘be recertified at national and state level’ as well as ‘verifiable analysis of overall impact of patch to the voting system,’” Rolling Stone Magazine reports.
But shouldn’t they be seeking her confirmation and not the other way around?
Diebold’s reply to Cox’s letter, if one exists, has not been made publicly available, according to Rolling Stone.
“She [Cox] should be the one confirming it, not the vendor. She’s the one responsible for running elections in Georgia,” Favorito told Atlanta Progressive News.
“She appears to be trying to privatize the election system to the point where she’s trying to ask the vendor to determine if they’re in compliance, rather that using their own resources,” within the Office of the Secretary of State, Favorito said.
“They claim [as an excuse] to have changed the operating system and not the tabulating software. We believe the law says the systems have to be re-certified with a patch of any kind. The State did not certify those patches. The State took Diebold’s word,” Favorito said.
“However, State Law does not seem to support Diebold’s testimony,” Favorito said.
Atlanta Progressive News will be looking more into how Diebold was, or was not, able to satisfy Cox’s 2002 concerns.
“Atlanta Progressive News is the only media outlet in Georgia that’s covering this story,” Garland Favorito of VoterGA said.
About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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