Monday, November 28, 2005

(pause) Californians fight back against Diebold!

The plan was to commence next with part II in a series about flaws in Democratic Party strategy, contrasting the left’s dismal political fortunes to the way Republicans concentrated on re-evaluation and careful planning, during their time of defeat and exile. It’s an interesting topic.

But I must interrupt the flow in order to address a special alert to Californians... urging them to take part in the online campaign at to pressure the Schwarznegger Administration against using secret and unaccountabble methods to introduce Diebold voting machines into the nation’s largest state.

The Diebold Company is owned and operated by dedicated partisan operatives who have designed election machinery with one central objective in mind -- in order to maximize their potential use in fraudulent ways and enable rampant cheating. (See the attached notes below.) If an author were to create such a company in fiction, portraying their relentlessly partisan march across America, deliberately and flagrantly altering election outcomes, no reader would find the story credible. And yet, it’s all true. Moreover, the appalling process of manipulation continues, with the grand prize being the state that has so-far evaded their control, California.

(I used to think that such a huge and corrupt conspiracy would be impossible in today’s America. There must surely be people at the Diebold Company who are patriotic Americans, perhaps conservative in politics, but also sincerely devoted to democratic and constitutional government. Have none of them been paying attention? Copying records? Perhaps biding their time before blowing the whistle on this treason? Never before have I seen a greater need for honorable and patriotic whistle blowers who - in one swoop - might save America from manipulative and cheating monsters. And yet, so far, there has been nothing but cowardly silence.

(Of course this cowardice is short-sighted. Because those who do not blow the whistle will eventually go to prison, when the whole thing inevitably comes crashing down. I mean, how do they honestly expect all this to end? Do all of the people involved actually believe the software and the machinery will never be audited? Not ever? Diebold employees should look at their workmates and know this central fact. One of them will someday blow the whistle. Maybe that guy or gal in the next cubicle, or the one beyond. That person will become a national hero, appearing on the cover of People Magazine, making movie deals and selling their life story, while everybody else in the company goes to prison. Glance at the people you pass in the halls. Which one will it be, hm? Probably your best pal.

(Never was there a greater need for some rich patriot to start offering whistle-blower rewards!)

Now comes a bald-faced effort to sneak Diebold machines into California, via a process that guarantess minimal accountability. In this one area, the supposedly "moderate" Republican Party of California seems to be hewing to the national way of doing things, as Gov. Schwarznegger's Secretary of State arranges for Diebold machines to undergo a vetting process that lacks accountability in any but the most cosmetic ways.

Californians, go to that web site and express your opinion. Tell your Californian friends!

Related and Supporting News Items (clipped and reposted here):

Aside from the long list of security problems, inauditable proprietary software, and equipment failures, Diebold, a company entrusted with our secret ballots saw fit to hire felons with records for embezzlement and computer fraud to write their software.,2645,61640,00.html

And if this public relations nightmare weren’t bad enough, Diebold’s CEO Wally O’Dell bragged to the Ohio GOP leadership that he would deliver the Ohio vote for President Bush in the 2004 election.

Recent headlines have been no kinder. A recent mock election testing Diebold equipment was first reported to have had a 10% failure rate but that number was later amended to be in excess of a staggering 20% failure rate.

Then last week, the results of the Ohio election using Diebold equipment has once again caused a fury of speculation about the reliability of this company when Diebold’s voting system tallies differed dramatically from that of the polls.

Statement of Jody Holder, a long time California election reform activist

"What Bruce McPherson, the chief elections officer of our state, is trying to do is to prevent people from using their right to influence the process for approving the voting systems. It's these people's votes these machines are counting! Time and time again, this administration has arbitrarily disregarded all established precedents on how public's voice can be heard.

"For two years, concerned voters of this state have been traveling to Sacramento to voice their concerns about 'faith based' voting on electronic voting machines at public hearings," continued Holder. "Their concerns have been increasingly recognized by the Legislature, resulting in new laws requiring paper verification of their votes, and requiring that the paper record be used in the required manual audit and in any recount (SB 370 [Bowen]). Unfortunately, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson opposed using voter verified paper records for any audit and recount.

"Now, Secretary McPherson has made it virtually impossible for people to provide meaningful testimony, expert witnesses, and public comment on the proposal to certify the Diebold machines for use in California," continued Holder. "In June, over 200 people traveled to Sacramento to voice their concerns at a public hearing before a panel of advisors to the Secretary of State on voting systems. Since then, every scheduled meeting of the VSP has been cancelled, and now the Secretary has simply disbanded the VSP without notice, without hearings about what will replace it, without any type of due process."


Rob Perkins said...

I think it's brutally simple. Any voting system which doesn't permit *two* kinds of vote counting (electronic and manual, or two kinds of electronic (direct tally and barcode scan, for example) as well as manual ought to be inadmissable as a system in federal elections.

Could Congress pass such a law, and make it binding on the States?

Anonymous said...

Hey Folks

Continuing on from the comments in David’s last blog, I’m going to put in my 2 cents about “labels”.
Now in 90’s there was a massive push for PC vocabulary which included no labelling. But sometimes labels are good they let people know where they stand, they let them know where their neighbours stand. (i.e. Packers Fan, Eagles Fan, Sport Fan that doesn’t like violent sports). This leads me to 2 sayings that I will probably misquote, but I hope you get the general meaning.

First: The only thing evil needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing.

Second: The Devils greatest triumph is convincing people he doesn’t exist.

For me this all comes down to labels. When David writes an Anti-Conservative blog, people come back saying all conservatives aren’t like that, same goes for David’s Anti-Liberalism blogs. What is really happening is these left and right moderates are providing a shield for the extremes by giving them excuses and blurring their hard edges. Extreme Liberals would prefer a military cut pack to nothing, but when people call them on it, they say look we have (moderate) liberals in the military. Extreme Conservatives are anti-science, anti-abortion, but when people call them on it, say look we have (moderate) conservatives that are pro-evolution science teachers, conservatives that side with a woman’s right to choose.

What America needs is a Third label “A Moderate”, that way we can call a conservative, a conservative and a liberal, a liberal and everyone would know what that means. A moderate would be the person that believes in religion, but understands that there is more than 1 religion, a moderate would the person that hates racism, but realizes that affirmative action hasn’t worked all that well.

We need labels to let people know what we are for and what we are against, we need labels to bring the Extremes (evil) into the open and make them accountable and visible in their actions and words. We need to bring these Extreme sections of society into the view of the general public, so that they can either accept or reject their platforms. My guess is they will be decisively rejected because most people at heart are moderates, just looking to live in peace with their neighbours and have a comfortable life.

Simon Neville

HarCohen said...

(1) It's nice to know that here in Ohio the actual purchases of voting machines was left to the counties. Although SoS Blackwell did his best to influence the decisions.

(2) The Edmund Burke quote is actually, ‘When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.’ A much more cogent argument than the misquote.

(3) So what is a moderate position on an issue like social security reform?

(4) The Huffington Post article is a matter of 'lies, damn lies, and statistics' or 'one survey does not the truth assure'. The University of Akron called it closer. Exit polls would be much more meaningful than anything recorded beforehand. And the issue sponsors did not claim any type of fraud.

(5) Perhaps we should have our voting machines machines produced in a neutral country like Switzerland.

Rob Perkins said...

1 -- Blackwell had to certify the decisions.

3 -- I'd suggest that the *correct* position on social security reform is, "We've decided to care for the elderly. Let's make sure we can keep doing that when there are more of them than there are workers."

5 -- About 16 years ago I lived in Switzerland for a time, and I can tell you that even though they have a neutral foreign policy, their fingers are fully in everything around them, especially as regards banking.

And the Swiss themselves, "neutral" as they are, are not ignorant of world events, not befreft of opinion regarding world events, and would not necessarily be the neutral manufacturer you're looking for.

Besides, all the stuff manufactured in Switzerland is made by Turks, Bosnians, Croats, and Serbians. They have a feasable guest-worker program...

Anonymous said...

Oh, please.

Because you disagree with we Buckeyes and the decisions we made in our last election, obviously it's the fault of the machines, because true patriots would have agreed with you?

We all know that pollsters never mislead people or ask leading questions. Obviously the newspaper opinion poll was right and the rest of us schmucks who actually voted in Ohio were defrauded. Yep. Works for me. [eyeroll]

How about the fact that we Buckeyes have some common sense about how we want our state to be run and it's not by throwing unlimited funds - let's repeat that: UNLIMITED funds - at a solution. It's not working in our schools, so hey! let's do it at our boards of elections! Let's modify our state constitution to make people in California happy, no matter what the cost!

Presidents of companies, even those making voting machines, are allowed to have politcal leanings. They must be permitted their political hyperbole, especially in letters supporting their political candidates.

I quote you:
And if this public relations nightmare weren’t bad enough, Diebold’s CEO Wally O’Dell bragged to the Ohio GOP leadership that he would deliver the Ohio vote for President Bush in the 2004 election.

Now let's take a look at what Mother Jones really said:
For years, O'Dell has given generously to Republican candidates. Last September, he held a packed $1,000-per-head GOP fundraiser at his 10,800-square-foot mansion. He has been feted as a guest at President Bush's Texas ranch, joining a cadre of "Pioneers and Rangers" who have pledged to raise more than $100,000 for the Bush reelection campaign. Most memorably, O'Dell last fall penned a letter pledging his commitment "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President."

Yep, that sounds pretty sinister to me.

Downright unpatriotic, supporting a candidate that you don't approve of.

Someone must be committing a crime to make it happen. More than half of the voters in Ohio couldn't possibly disagree with you, could they?

Once again, we Buckeyes thank you for your interest in our politics. You really should move out here, David. You're about as interested in our politics as we are.

Buckeye Girl, who happens to have family and friends employed by Diebold.

David Brin said...

First off. ANyone who wants my opinion of the Swiss should read EARTH.

Buckeye Girl, I have, in fact, expressed very few direct opinions about Ohio politics. True, I have referred links here, to rants by other people about what went on there. Any one of those rants may be more or less valid than the next and I am simply not in a position to know.

What I do know is this.

No Republican has ever become president without Ohio. Amid the relentless goal-oriented, decades-long endeavor that I am describing in the current series, there is no argument over the priority that has been given to Ohio by the entire GOP machine. If unscrupulous means were used anywhere (and the case of Florida leaves no doubt of that) then they would be used in Ohio.

The political passion of the leaders and owners of Diebold is... a coincidence? Yeah, like Rupert Murdoch leaves his hands off editorial content.

California also leaves choice of machines to the counties. But it requires a paper audit trail for votes, so that precincts can recount. There can only be one reason, in places where hand recounting is not possible. A deliberate effort to create conditions for fraud. There is simply no other reason why such a situation would be fostered.

In comparison, the old "hanging chad" computer cards were marvels of accountability.

Let me reiterate. If Diebold were honest, they would have opened their source code to hacker hammering until it came out clean. The way Linux has been hammered mostly clean. This is not a matter of dispute. Ask any knowledgable programmer. This is the way to make sure that audit streams are possible, that subsequent hacking is prevented, that failure modes are discovered, and that customer (voter) confidence can be assured.

Instead, the two vote-machine companies that dominate the market - both owned by the same group (coincidence!) of GOP fanatics - have relentlessly insisted upon secrecy, limited access and a complete refusal of external audits.

They have refused even to allow sample machines to be stored after elections, for later analysis, in case of problems.

These patterns of behavior stink in their own right, however many excuses people make about Arianna Huffington's biased reporting. There are NO excuses for this kind of confidence-destroying behavior, when the opposite would be just as easy for honorable companies to do.

Rob Perkins is completely right. These systems much be self-auditable by the voter, then hand-recountable pecinct by precinct. The tabulation software must be mutliple pre-checked by oppo or adversarial testing, and subjected to random external audits, with every variation stored for a continuous record. It should outrage every American that these things are not routine.

And nothing that I said has the slightest thing to do with sour grapes or political "sides". It would be true if the party situation were reversed.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to electronic voting machines and conspiracies, there is still one thing I think is worth mentioning.
"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

The people at Diebold don't have to be evil to make a riggable system, they just have to be careless and overconfident. (On the other hand, you wouldn't need a huge conspiracy to write a back door into the voting software. If nobody was looking very closely, it might only take one person.)

Maybe, next November, I should try to go to the local county office and give Homer Simpson a million votes. ;)

David Brin said...

BTW Buckey Girl, I am not insisting that this conspiracy theory is right, only that it is wholly consistent with the secretive patterns and unbelievable coincidences that have swarmed over us since this century began.

Mind you, none of this alters what would be the RIGHT THING FOR DIEBOLD AND ITS EMPLOYEES TO DO. If everything's clean, then none of those precautions described in the previous post will have hurt anybody, right? So some damned liberals (and a contrarian-libertarian sci fi writer) got all paranoid. "We opened things up and disproved the conspiracy theories and everybody moved on. That, too, would be a happy ending."

All right now. I considered the possibility that I am wrong.

Will you consider the scenario, if you are wrong?

Buckeye Girl, you might want to mention the Prisoners Dilemma to your relatives and friends at Diebold.

What if - perchance - I am right and they are being used as tools, in a situation where many, many people will inevitably wind up in jail?

Would not any rational person - in such a situation - at least take a few measures to cover the old derrier? Make sure crucial records are copied and stored, safe from erasure and shredding? (So you have something to offer the DA, if that day ever comes?)

Maybe keep an eye open for tell-tale signs? Maybe even consider what's more important... like maybe the Constitution of the United States?

If only to keep options open. Because SOMEONE is going to get the People Magazine cover and the movie deals. Someone is going to be the Erin Bronkovich, when this thing blows up.

If it's that guy down the hall, well, he'll sell more interviews the more co-workers he manages to bring down.

Always thinking cheerfully!

Anonymous said...

No Republican has ever become president without Ohio. Amid the relentless goal-oriented, decades-long endeavor that I am describing in the current series, there is no argument over the priority that has been given to Ohio by the entire GOP machine.

Then, boy, they're falling down on the job. All the major urban areas in Ohio went Democratic in the last presidential election and the GOP allows a convicted man to remain in the governnor's mansion.

As for your comments about Ohio politics, I refer you to your comments about the restructuring of the congressional districts in Ohio and California: you wanted Ohio to change - thereby likely to turn blue- but California not to redistrict so it won't go red. I perceived these as political comments; forgive me that I may have misunderstood you.

If you have no confidence in Diebold, may I ask if you check the manufacturer of the ATM before you use it?

A random and admittedly unscientific study of my family/friends in Ohio: all who voted at a poll saw a physical, paper copy of their vote printed and kept on site. The nice lady who showed me how to use the machine assured me that if there were any inconsistencies with the machines, the paper ballots would be hand counted. I recognize that my local poll is not representative of the state and that some counties did not go to the electronic system this year. But I'm confident that there's adequate back-up. YMMV.

Buckeye Girl

David Brin said...

I was quite open about my reasons for wanting Ohio to be the test for voter led redistricting. And that part WAS political.

The fact is that I know dozens of republicans who just LOVED the idea of "divided government" when a GOP controlled Congress relentlessly investigated and locked horns with Bill Clinton, giving us gridlock (but alas, ZERO indictments).

Yet all of these hypocrites are silent about the advantages of "divided government" now that the GOP has a total lock on every lever of power in this nation, from the courts and Congress and the Execuctive Department and CIA all the way to most news media and (coincidence!) the manufacturers of our voting machinery.

I sound partisan because I am reflexively and HONESTLY worried about unaccountable accumulations of power. And right now we see power concentrated to a degree that none of us has witnessed in all of our lives. Not even under FDR was it remotely like this.

So yes, I refrained from calling for redistricting in California, though it galled me. I have to prioritize. We as a republic desperately need one house of Congress to switch parties in 06, to restart investigative committees with subpoena and oversight power. Anyone who does not see this as a desperately important measure must really be lost to the Enlightenment.

I yearn to see California un-gerrymandered... along with the rest of the states.

But getting those committees re-activated is more important. And that will not happen if democratic states redistrict while GOP ones don't.

As for your county having an audit trail, I am glad to hear it. But please note. The corrupt practices needn't be state wide. You would not do it in college towns or sophisticated centers that are already blue. You would pick and choose.

In any event, you evade the issue. These people have a fiduciary and legal and MORAL duty to make us all happy and confident in the honesty of our franchise. Since the "hanging chads" of 2000, the margin that millions are seeing, between trust and reality, has spread from a few dozen questionable chads to tens and hundreds of thousands of votes!

Go ahead and denigrate the sincere concerns of millions of your fellow citizens. It would be just as easy to soothe and reassure and SHOW US THE CODES!

Even if every single anecdote of fraud is simply flat-out wrong. (Unlikely but possible.) Even so, the people who refuse to open the audit system and reassure us cannot be called fellow citizens.

They are adversaries of democracy and they are doing evil.

daveawayfromhome said...

I dont know how many times I've asked this question in the last few months, but, whatever happened to the idea of public servants avoiding even the "appearance" of impropriety to continue holding office. Most people understand that just because it's legal doesnt mean it's moral. Certainly the GOP used to claim to know this during the Clinton years.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, with a simple question:

Why do we need electronic voting?

What's wrong with one representative from each party on the ballot counting them one by one by hand? So it takes hours to get results, so what? We've allowed TV to sully our sports, we've allowed TV to sully our campaigning. Let's tell them to go jump when it comes to Election Night. They can wait, everyone can go to bed, and in the morning we'll get the news with our coffee and some very tired vote-counters will get their rest. And nothing will be hidden without a lot more trouble.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Simon on the need for a third party in the middle. It won't happen, but the thought is nice.

David, I'm somewhat stunned. You're talking about a vast conspiracy as if it were fact, but the evidence you present indicates conclusion-jumping on a scale infinitely greater than that required three years ago to believe Saddam Hussein had WMD in Iraq. Maybe the Diebold software has bugs, but there is nothing to suggest the software is designed to help one party or the other. Perhaps some of the software engineers have criminal records. Again, that doesn't prove they have designed the system to help one side or the other. Diebold doesn't have their proprietary source code audited, but that shouldn't be a surprise; their source code is their trade. Microsoft doesn't open their source code for review, either, unless ordered to do so by a court. We aren’t talking about Linux or some other open source freeware. This software is Diebold’s living and if its secrets somehow escape to other software firms, the company’s long-term viability is endangered.

It appears Diebold's CEO is a Republican and like many business owners, celebrities and other powerful people, he campaigns and/or cheers for his chosen political party. Rupert Murdoch, Dan Rather, George RR Martin and Kurt Schilling all use their professional status to affect the political process through public opinion. This is not illegal. If Diebold’s CEO used his professional status to affect the political process directly, instead of through public opinion, it would be illegal. Being an active member of the first group, you should be aware that one does not automatically make the other. Is the Diebold CEO precluded from expressing his political opinions and desires more than anyone else? Does his personal slant mean he has a company full of people involved in a grand scheme to guaranty Republican dominance? In fact, if a vast conspiracy were in place, wouldn’t it make much more sense for the Diebold CEO to be tight-lipped about his personal politics?

I love your work, David. I respect you as a brilliant storyteller and scientist. However, I can only describe what I’ve seen here as fodder for the tin foil hat brigade. The question as to whether or not California should employ Diebold voting systems is certainly valid, due to what appears to be a serious error rate and a lack of checks and balances, but that doesn’t translate to big brother using a front company to commit voter fraud on a massive scale.

As for your assertion about Florida, I’d have to say that counts as sour grapes and you taking sides. Florida taught me nothing more than that the ballot system in place was questionable and that a certain Presidential candidate couldn’t accept losing without dragging the election into the Supreme Court. Bush was elected within the same imperfect system as his predecessors. The Democrats lost an extremely close election in 2000 and then went too far left during a time when the country was afraid and wanted an aggressive defense policy. That doesn’t make them the victims of voter fraud in Ohio in 2004 or any of the other conspiracy theories being pushed by the likes of Michael Moore and other types. They simply need to move a little more to the middle (and not just at election time) and produce an impressive candidate. Besides, an impressive candidate might not even be required in 2008, because the country is less afraid of terrorism and is generally tiring of the perceived increase in the influence of church over state brought about by Bush. Unless there is another major terrorist attack in the United States, a Democrat will be our next President. If that Democrat is moderate, the election will not be close. After that happens, how will you explain your hypothesis that the Republicans control the ballot boxes?

Rob Perkins said...

Buckeye Girl -- Which county are you in? I used to live in Summit County, which at the time used the punchcard system.

Rob Perkins said...

I tend to agree that allegations of massive voter fraud are somewhat tin-foil-hat-ish...

But at the same time, I really really want the shrill voices calling for openness and accountability to be shrill *now*, and call for openness *now*, so that we have something workable in place by '08.

This is a case where I think that the worst of them are less than harmful, unlike much of the kneejerk shrill fallacy surrounding other issues.

So while I don't really believe Kerry lost Ohio, I do believe that the opposition on this issue is loyal and is serving the greater good by demanding at the very top of their voices that anyone who can count can also count a precinct's votes, not just those with CS degrees and the permission of a services vendor, since that is what Diebold *is*.

Anonymous said...

@ Rob Perkins: consistent with having family and friends at Diebold, I live just a tad south of you in Stark County. But I grew up in Summit and have a love/hate relationship with the ABJ.


I quote:
As for your county having an audit trail, I am glad to hear it. But please note. The corrupt practices needn't be state wide. You would not do it in college towns or sophisticated centers that are already blue. You would pick and choose.

If the goal is to elect/reelect a Republican, then the fraud must necessarily take place in the college towns (aka Kent and Athens) and in the major urban centers. So, if you're looking for fraudulent activity to elect a Republican, it's going to have to be in the places where there will be the highest vote scrutiny: the big cities like Cleveland or Cincinnati.

You said
These people have a fiduciary and legal and MORAL duty to make us all happy and confident in the honesty of our franchise. Since the "hanging chads" of 2000, the margin that millions are seeing, between trust and reality, has spread from a few dozen questionable chads to tens and hundreds of thousands of votes!

I fail to see why any privately held company must release their product to the public by which they make their profits. You are demanding, in essence, that they destroy their business to make you confident in their reliability. Are you also asking Coke to reveal their recipe and going to allow Pepsi access to it? Shall I demand to see the book you're currently working on so that I might steal it and publish it? (I have four kids to put through college: a David Brin-quality book would go a long way towards financing that.)

I return to my earlier question: if you are using an ATM machine, are you checking the manufacturer? Are you trusting Diebold with your bank account - with those nasty embezzlers who wrote the code? You have given them the highest fiduciary responsibility already in their access to virtually every one of your liquid assets.

I think the solution that you have to ask for is for an open-source code, a la Linux, to be produced by (theoretically) disinterested parties and make it a requirement that the voting machines use it. That protects Diebold's product from release to its competitors, and it gives you the hacker test.

1)It will have to be easily modified for the variations in issues, candidates and elections on the national, state and local levels, so that Joe Schmoe down at the election board can do it without any support from a vendor.

2)The supplies for said machines must be purchased somewhere. I worked for a printing company that Diebold ordered its ATM reciepts from, which had separate printing presses dedicated to the odd sized paper that an ATM uses. This isn't a big problem, except to the people who have to find a source for the paper, ink, etc. for the machines.

3)The whole issue of the machine security and maintenance can become enormous. With the paper system, the worst that might happen is that the ballots are mis-printed. What happens if a machine is stolen and the design is then copied? The county board of elections takes a small loss, the company who designed and built the machines may take a huge hit.

4)There will be no support to train election staffers. Granted, I had three very nice ladies - none of them under the age of about, say, 1 million years old - helping me to know how to use the machine, which proves it's a pretty simple system. But I know that Diebold came in and trained all the people who worked the polls in our county. Will you mind if a business starts up to fill this need to train poll staffers, or will you accord them the same suspicion you give Diebold?

Alternatively, you are going to have to ask the government to fund the project. I am not sanguine about the government's ability to produce anything within a reasonable amount of time. And frankly, I'm not interested in seeing yet another expense for which I'm to be taxed.

I am not trying to duck the issue of your confidence in your vote, David. If you want, you can vote absentee - on paper here in Ohio, I imagine it's the same in CA - and have your vote be as purely yours without the interference of technology.

Buckeye Girl

David Brin said...

Mike, you are doing what all the honest conservatives I know are doing. An ostrich act of yelling "prove it!" and "sour grapes!" while the house is burning down around you.

Dig it. While Every single lever of power is monopolized NOT just by one party but by a very narrow group within one party... even SO the number of indictments and resignations and dark revelations is starting to accelerate.

FIND me the place where I said that Gore and Kerry actually won and were cheated out of office. YES I refer you guys to a lot of turgid web sites where exactly that kind of thing is being ranted. AND IT MAY ALL BE TRUE!

Or part of it. If even the SMALLEST part of it is true, we are ruled by treasonous monsters. And for you not to weigh all this and see the relentless pattern is simply mind-boggling.

Spin around and point randomly! Like at the fact that every important political oiperative that has been inserted into the CIA and Defense and Homeland Secuirity has at one time or another worked for the S'a udi royal family. Do I declare definitively that this means something? Actually, no. I simply don't know.

There is a spectrum from ridiculous to sci fi plausible to likely to proved... I know that. We won't know till the histleblowers finally stand up.

But should YOU get a creepy feeling about facts like that one? Damn straight, and you know it. No matter what Bill Clinton did in that windowless hallway, this oughta bother you way more.

Can you honestly say that Bill Clinton cutting government secrecy vs GWB causing it to skyrocket vastly beyond levels we had during the COLD WAR doesn't MEAN SOMETHING?

Were you one of the guys praising "divided government" during the Clinton Era? I'd like to know!

Wouldn't we all be better off with one slim house of Congress free to resume supervision, investigation and doing the peoples' business? Just ONE?

I'd like to know how anyone could be comfortable with the fact that GWB has used ONE veto in all of his time in office, while facing the press fewer times than any other president than William Henry Harrison (who died just after his innaugural).

Or the fact that this Congress has IN TOTAL issued fewer subpoenas on the Bush Administration than it did on the Clintons in any randomly chosen MONTH?

Is it tinfoil hat time (thanks, so very sweet) to consistently demand what I demanded during the Clinton Administration? Openness and accountability?

Go ahead and picture me in tinfoil hats. But dig it.


I turn it around at you. The one example you might cite, the attack on the Taliban, was GWB saying GO! to Clinton's already-existing war plan. When it was HIS turn to do a war, Bush-Cheney-Rummy reversed every military doctrine. Yes every single one that worked in Afghanistan.

Sorry. This doesn't wash. Tonight I will resume deconstructing the underlying strategies and tactics that brought one group to levels of power not seen in this country since Lincoln suspended habeous corpus.

And I blame the $#@$ liberals. Imbecilles.

Anonymous said...

There are ways to audit without opening the source code, but they are far more expensive. Random nth number pulls can be done by hand verses the Diebold system to verify its accuracy and these can be performed in depth prior to implementation, as well as during use.

For those unfamiliar with it, an nth number pull is a common method used to audit publication circulation. The auditors show up and give the system administrator a number, let's say, seventeen, and the administrator produces paper copies of the data for every seventeenth record. Each of those records is then validated by contacting the individual who supposedly created the record and asking if the data accurately reflects their input (as best they remember). If an error ratio is discovered that cannot be explained as a few people failing to correctly remember how they voted, another nth number is given and the investigation deepens. Thus, the audit is performed, the data accuracy is checked, and the source code behind the data system remains secret. Because the system administrators do not know what the nth number will be prior to the audit, it is virtually impossible to hide fraud or error. It is a time-consuming and expensive process. In the publishing business, publishers pay for it themselves, because they want to be able to prove their readership numbers to advertisers. When it comes to elections, I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the money currently spent on advertising, such as federal matching funds, spent on an nth number audit by a reputable auditing firm. Of course, such an audit would work for almost any kind of system, not just Diebold’s.

I strongly believe that open source software for elections is a bad idea, by virtue of its characterization -- it is open source. Anyone can change it and there can be a million versions of it with vacillating standards. A foreign nation could devote tremendous resources to figuring out how to hack it or take advantage of it and with the source being open, they would have a good head start. Furthermore, the lack of financial gain incentive in open source does not lend itself to high quality.

HarCohen said...

How do you know I didn't read "Earth"?

"Vote early and vote often!"

"The people who cast the votes don't decide an election, the people who count the votes do." - Stalin

"In most places in the country, voting is looked upon as a right and a duty, but in Chicago it's a sport." - Dick Gregory

"Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country." - Ambrose Bierce

Just wanted to point out that this kind of debate has gone on a long time.

I have no objection to open voting software, per se. It is a reasonably
simple database problem. You find it in numberless collaborative software products and discussion groups. It's what happens after the voting that worries me. Who collects the counts? Is there the possibility of transposing numbers or adding a zero?

It might be worthwhile to start an antitrust lawsuit of Diebold, et al. I would imagine they are colluding to split the market and undercut the competition before I imagine they are reworking the votes. At worst we might get an unbundling of hardware and software.

I suppose if we can trust electronic filing of our income tax statements, we'll one day vote from home using one of a number of audited software programs. Which seems more dreadful? Maintaining the intermediaries or eliminating them?

HarCohen said...


How do you do nth number pulling and contact the original party when the secrecy of the ballot is sacrament? I suppose you could solicit volunteers.

What about the voter receiving a receipt recording his vote. This receipt could be placed in a ballot box following examination by the voter and you could then do nth number review based on the hardcopy.

Anonymous said...

Surely someone reading this blog can set up a Paypal account for a Whistleblower fund to be awarded to any Diebold employee who proves fraud on the part of his/her company?

Anonymous said...

HarCohen said...

"What about the voter receiving a receipt recording his vote. This receipt could be placed in a ballot box following examination by the voter and you could then do nth number review based on the hardcopy."

I think that's an excellent idea.

David, I was raised by a conservative father and liberal mother, and educated by liberals (then again, who isn’t educated by liberals). I think I’m fairly centrist. Please, understand where I’m coming from; I don’t believe much of it. I think there is an awful lot of propaganda floating around our divided nation right now, propagated by both sides. A great deal of it isn’t logical to me, or I see it as blatant hypocrisy. The media is out of control. Criticism of the media is out of control. The rapid dissemination of information and disinformation brought on by the Internet has turned the knowledge landscape into a minefield of indecision whereby it is very difficult to discern fact from insinuation from outright fabrication. As a result, I do my best not to be led into a way of thinking that I believe an editorial outlet or commentator wants me to go. I try to step back, view the scenery from as many angles as possible and then use Occam's razor. That means it takes an awful lot for me to buy into a conspiracy theory, especially if the caper would require secrecy on the part of a large number of individuals.

As for indictments among our leaders, it’s not new. Iran/Contra, Watergate, Whitewater, we’ve been here before. Our Presidents break, or at least attempt to bend the law. Whether it’s arming a bunch of anti-communist guerilla pseudo-terrorists in South America or supporting a nation at the heart of our problems, such as Saudi Arabia, or taking advantage of a kid with stars in her eyes; the imperfections among our politicians are abundant, sometimes revolting, other times understandable, but never unexpected.

Your spirit and patriotism are commendable, but I can’t believe anything that sounds like it came from the Michael Moore squad. I knew he was a master of editing, skewed facts and biased statistical data long before Fahrenheit 911, but with that motion picture, he helped guide the left down a pathway of sophistry that further enhanced the division in our country.

Would I like to see one of the houses fall to the Democrats in the next election? Yes and no. Power balance is a good thing. Political quagmire is a bad thing. Technically speaking, were I a genuine conservative (as opposed to a Crystalesque neo-con), I should want that quagmire, because it would be the least likely to produce change. However, I think a little change right now might be in order, just not change in the direction we’ve been changing. What I would really like to see more than anything is an executive branch required to divide itself among both parties. For instance, the runner-up in a Presidential election automatically assuming the Vice Presidency, with the cabinet made up of more than one party. Of course, that isn’t any more likely to happen than a strong independent or centrist party, but again, it’s a nice thought.

Sorry to say it, but I just don’t think Bush is getting away with a great deal more than some of our past Presidents and he may be getting away with less. The mass media scrutiny today is a completely different animal than it was in the days of someone like Truman. That does not mean I think all his secrets are known or that he isn’t manipulating a number of important domestic and world stages. It just means that I think all administrations do that; some better than others. As for the man himself, I tend to agree with Thatcher’s reference, “That smirking frat boy?”

Rob Perkins said...

Oh, I don't live in Summit County any longer.

And, a correction: I wrote "I don't believe Kerry lost Ohio" should have read "I don't believe Kerry won Ohio". Sorry

Woozle said...

A couple of bogus points were made about opening the Diebold software to public scrutiny, and open-source in general...

1. "I fail to see why any privately held company must release their product to the public by which they make their profits." This argument would hold if voting software were a commodity item available at, say, Best Buy.

2. "I strongly believe that open source software for elections is a bad idea... Anyone can change it and there can be a million versions of it with vacillating standards." Only if different consituencies use different versions, and I don't see why they would. Open source software usually forks because of programmer-users wanting additional features; for such a specialized application, I can't see this happening in any major way.

However, I agree with the idea of developing our own code. Trying to get Diebold to open its vaults is valid, but just in case they don't, let's have an alternative.

Web Voting Booth

Comments on other comments:

"helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President" isn't outright "I'm rigging the votes for you, Mr. President" because nobody could get away with saying that (not yet; maybe in '08). It is clearly interpretable that way, however, and in past eras anyone saying something like that would have been very very careful not to come across as anything but impartial... and if they didn't, there would be countless people asking why it wasn't.

"check the manufacturer of the ATM before you use it?" If an ATM fails to deliver my cash, I can complain to the bank -- and switch banks if they don't pay up.

Normally I am the first to say "never assume malice where stupidity will suffice", but even *my* buttons have been getting pushed by the events of the past 5 years.

Anonymous said...


You can look it up.

Google search:
+risks +Diebold +ATM -- hits, "about 15,700 for +risks +Diebold +ATM"

I'll quote you two off the top, below, but do the search yourself for your own information. And sleep well tonight. Your money is as safe as your vote.

[IP] more on Diebold ATMs hit by Nachi worm (RISKS-23.04) ... Since they affirm the ATM was "infected", that means it accepted an ...

Diebold Opteva 520 ATM crashes, exposing Windows XP Inside!

Tony Fisk said...

Wow, and I thought it was a warm day in Melbourne! Oh, well, here's some more gasoline...

I've been following FreePress for a while. Partisanship aside, they too, make the point that Ohio ballots need only be tweaked in certain areas. Oh yes, and the Government Accountancy Office have a few uncomplimentary things to say as well.
It all boils down to this: do I trust Diebold? No.

While I agree that a manual ballot has worked perfectly well in the past (and would do in the future), I think electronic voting has a number of benefits (Diebold notwithstanding).

I've been ruminating about open source electronic voting for a while now. Such systems are, indeed, straightforward (my notes can be found here, if anyone's interested. A bit of Kate Citing's welcome, too)

To summarise, I believe that an electronic voting should provide:
- online access (why queue? I also think that greater convenience leads to greater participation and other interesting knock on effects)
- voter verification
- voter anonymity (optional anonymity?)
- data storage in mirrored sites as requested (GOP, Democrat,, just try tweaking all them together)

I've had a bit of feedback from others, mainly saying that the US Army trialed the idea of online voting in Iraq before concluding it was too prone to hacking, DOS etc. (My response is it doesn't stop the banks)

There are a number of other more active initiatives out there (OpenVote (who appear defunct), Open Voting Consortium, Extreme Democracy)

Interestingly (and worryingly), the only current open voting system I've heard about is eVAC. Even that has had it's openness pulled back.

PS: Woozle, if you want a hat trick for your sliced bread offerings, feel free to add open voting (US non-residents only)

Nothing really new on the Al Jazeera Bush Bomb front, other than the people who supposedly leaked the tape are going on trial, and that the story's still simmering.

...However, I note with approval, that Malcolm Fraser (a former Australian Liberal PM) has stood up to the current Liberal government's activities: denouncing their current anti-terrorist bill as having some of the characteristics of a police state (It's also a smokescreen for the Industrial Reform legislation).

(For the record, I consider Howard to be, at best, patronising, and at worst, a xenophobic neocon wannabe. He is also no fool. But, I guess you folks have your own worries...)

Anonymous said...

An excerpt from one more from that search, I can't NOT post this one for you all:

"... Subject: Re: Diebold ATMs hit by Nachi worm (RISKS-23.04)

Computer security experts predicted more problems to come as Windows
migrates to critical systems consumers rely on. Bruce Schneier is quoted:
"Specific purpose machines, like microwave ovens and until now ATM machines, never got viruses. Now that they are using a general purpose operating system, Diebold should expect a lot more of this in the future."

John Pescatore, an analyst at Gartner, agreed. "It's a horrendous security mistake," he said, of specific-purpose machines like ATMs running Windows, written for general purpose computers and for which Microsoft Corp. releases security fixes on a regular basis. "I'm a lot more worried about my money than I was before this."

[Source: Experts Worried After Worm Hits Windows-Based ATMs, Elinor Mills Abreu, Reuters, 8 Dec 2003; PGN-ed]

Anonymous said...

Heck, one more. This stuff is too revealing:

"... the roll-out of Windows-based ATMs is expected to accelerate .... Banks will also begin moving their ATMs from expensive leased-line networks to less-secure TCP/IP based networks, which offer opportunities for expanded features, remote access management and easier software distribution, says Diebold's Grzymkowski.
.... "The benefits to banks far outweigh the inconvenience," argues NCR's Evans. ... "Those are well worth the inconvenience you might get from a PC virus."

Let's hear it for remote access solutions ....

Naum said...

The comparison of audit trail for electronic voting with ATM machines is entirely silly — with an ATM, it is not a "secret ballot", and there is a record generated and affected balances. If the customer logs the transaction (or reconciles online), she will notice if something is askew.

With electronic voting with no audit trail, there is no way to validate the results as accurate. There should be paper receipts that can be recounted to verify electronic voting machine results. The absence of such an audit trail, along with the extreme partisanship of company officers and inherent nature of any complex software to contain bugs, just screams out a mammoth sized problem.

As a programmer myself, I believe it an outrage that this situation is not being remedied ASAP. You can wrap the issue up with a "tin foil hat" moniker, but here is the bottom line — proprietary machine algorithms with dubious security provisions overseen by rabid partisans cast a fog of suspicion and a ring of total uncertainty about the the voting process. While 100% proof of no impropriety may be a utopian goal for any system, action must be taken to position the engine of democracy above reproach.


David Brin said...

Mike, Crystal neocons are about as close to the pure thing as you can get. No wonder you pretzel us with "everybody does it."

But it does not work.

Every tool of CNN, Fox and both Houses of Congress, plus half of the lobby firms on Pennsylvania Avenue and a whole bunch of state atty generals went after the Clintons, and got NOTHING.

Today, NOBODY can get anywhere near the administration's filing cabinet. Two state attys gen have been able to pray a couple of chinks... and with JUST those narrow glints of light they have already indicted an infinite times as many Bush era officials as were indicted from the Clinton era.

Infinite is no exaggeration since there were NO Clintonians indicted, despite absolute and total "I will eat my house" promises that it would happen.

My vbery own Congressman today pleaded guilty to bribery and treasonous misapplication of our scarce defense resources, all based upon the neocon credo of absolute rapacious kleptocratic greed.

Here's a bet. Would you care to bet me that GWBush doesn't PARDON more than twice as many people as any previous president? WIll you make that bet? Yes?

You get all hypothetical on us. But the simple fact is this. RIGHT NOW NO SUPERVISORY OR INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTES ARE FUNCTIONING AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. And you want this? You think this is a yawner? Something well, kind of amiably theoretical?

Political hacks have been appointed to head the CIA and every possible agency of accountability. Had Clinton put cronies who all served a foreign power in such positions, he'd have been impeached. And you know it.

Anonymous said...

After hearing his resignation speech, I think "Duke" Cunningham deserves an ice cube a day when he's burning off his sins.

Even if his tearful regret was a put-on, the fact that he even acknowledged that what he did was wrong in a public arena was a good sign. It suggests that he wasn't an ideologue . . . just a arrogant, greedy, pol with a sense of entitlement inflated by hanging out too long with the Old Boys.

By contrast, can you imagine anyone, anyone in the upper crust^H^H^H^H^Hscum of the Bush administration acknowledging a mistake, much less feeling sorry about it? Shame and doubt are for people in the Reality Based Community.


Anonymous said...

Maybe because I'm a Canadian and therefor somewhat of a socialist, but it strikes me as super odd that through this whole debate of DieBold as a private company, no body seems to mention that they have a resposibility to the public.

Case in point: Coke has a soft drink, it is your choice to drink it or not at whatever price they deem. They have competitors, which is also your choice to drink. And whether you choose to drink or not in no way affects your tax rate, your pension, healthcare, schooling, etc....

DieBold: you don't get to choose to use their product or not. When you step up to vote, its them or nothing. and use of their product directly affects your tax rate, your pension, healthcare, schooling, etc....

Therefor they have a responsibility to be as open as neutral as possible. They are selling a product, they are performing a public service. It is wrong for the CEO of Diebold to be partisan for it casts a shadow of doubt on his company. If he wants to be partisan go manage a tire company or something. But when managing a public service company you must open, transparent as possible holding yourself to the highest standards for you are serving the public good.

I think it was Friedman who said the only responsibility a private company has is to generate profits for its shareholders. That has been the basis for most corporations in the US. But Diebold can't follow that maxim because responsibility to its shareholders must coem second to the public.

Here is a hypothectical example of Diebold in context.

You have a private law enforcement company called Yiebold that has been hired to enforce the law in a country even split between blacks and whites. Now the CEO of Yiebold is open, proud member of the KKK, the law enforcment officers are all skinheads and the arrest rate is 90% black 10% white. Now you and i both know this is going to cause problems, people are going to angry over this, people will want to see records, documents showing proof and reasosn behind each arrest. Yiebold could balk saying it would let out their operational procedures, they would lose the competitive edge. and the public would say tough luck, suck it up. your actions are directly affecting the public good and therefor must be held accountable by the general public.

The same goes for Diebold, their ATM are a private business and therefor should be secret, their voting machine are public business and therefor should be open to the public.

Simon Neville

Anonymous said...

@ Buckeye

You said: I fail to see why any privately held company must release their product to the public by which they make their profits. You are demanding, in essence, that they destroy their business to make you confident in their reliability. Are you also asking Coke to reveal their recipe and going to allow Pepsi access to it?

I have three things to say in response to that.

(1) Coke, with very few exceptions, does not count my vote, which is the only thing I posess in the way of deciding which path my country will stumble down. If the cost of securing my vote is, that making unreliable voting machines is made an unviable business, tough nuts.

(2) As has been asked many times in other venues, if Diebold can make an ATM that is accurate to within one penny, why can't they make a voting machine that is accurate to within one vote, and similarly auditable?

(3) Soylent Green is people. Just because you HAVE a business doesn't make it ethical.

On the topic of absentee votes... one of the important things about having a vote is that it be anonymous. Otherwise your conscience and enlightened self-interest can take a back-seat to, in the worst case, your own health and well-being. Putting a ballot in the mail with your name and address on it sorta defeats the purpose of having an anonymous vote. I wouldn't count that as a magic bullet.

In all honesty, I'm thinking a piece of paper with an X on it stuffed into a ballot box isn't such a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

LOL Palliard, good to see I'm not alone. From across the pacific ocean (I'm in Thailand) we both post the same message 3 minutes apart.

Simon Neville

Anonymous said...

@Palliard: You said:
If the cost of securing my vote is, that making unreliable voting machines is made an unviable business, tough nuts.

Fine, I'm not willing to destroy my business to accommodate you, so I will withdraw from the market my product.

Now what will you do?

Buckeye Girl

David Brin said...

It is absolutely silly to claim that there is a sharp boundary between private businesses and government, when those businesses are providing a socialized service.

One of the most dastardly tricks of the kleptocrats has been to finagle contracts so that the benefit from taxpayer funded R&D, contracts, roads, infrastructure, education, police and military protection, export subsidies, farm subsidies, farm and county bureaus, and a million other cost-reducing services, including a vast array of bankruptcy protections that remove classic penalties for marketplace failure...

...then insist that all PROFITS generated by taxpayer funded research etc go into private pockets.

We Americans used to be sentitive to the problems of company monopolies that dominate a market, set prices at will, use government to drive out competitors, rig contract bidding and bribe their way into no-supervision fat-ass lazy profitability. But I guess we aren't anymore.

Now we measure the success of capitalism NOT by new company startups but by CEO bonuses. Congratulations.

Here is a final word about Diebold from a blog member who could not get his comment posted:

"Dr. Brin to answer Mike and the others defending diebold, it's
precicely because the source code WAS leaked that some people (me,
blackbox voting) really don't trust diebold. The leaked source code
showed that the diebold software keeps 3 sets of books and has a
backdoor built right in. Do you trust a company that keeps two or more
sets of accounting books? Like say..Enron or Worldcom? No?

"As for spot-testing the machines prior to and during an election: As a
very good programmer I would find it Trivial to defeat such
spot-testing AND still flip votes. Furthermore all it would
realistically take is for machines to flip ONE vote per machine for all
precincts to flip most elections. Absolutely Trivial."

Anonymous said...

David wrote, "Here's a bet. Would you care to bet me that GWBush doesn't PARDON more than twice as many people as any previous president? WIll you make that bet? Yes?"

No. I sincerely hope that isn't the case, but I wouldn't make the mistake of betting against the possibility. My hackles were raised when Clinton went on his pardoning binge at the end of his last term. If Bush does worse, I'll be disgusted. I personally don't believe Presidents should be allowed to exercise pardoning powers once the next President has already been elected.

While I don't see enough to make me believe with certainty that a massive election fraud conspiracy is taking place, I agree there should be better oversight and that any voting system should be auditable, or it should not be used. I also agree with what I believe is your take on nepotism in the current administration. I sometimes get the sense that the only qualification for federal appointment is the President owing you thanks for helping him win an election, at least, up until the time one voices too much dissent, then goes the way of Powell.

Anonymous said...

The blog member who couldn’t post wrote, "Dr. Brin to answer Mike and the others defending diebold, it's precicely because the source code WAS leaked that some people (me, blackbox voting) really don't trust diebold. The leaked source code showed that the diebold software keeps 3 sets of books and has a backdoor built right in. Do you trust a company that keeps two or more sets of accounting books? Like say..Enron or Worldcom? No?”

My unwillingness to stipulate that what I’ve seen written here constitutes proof of a Diebold-Republican election fraud conspiracy does not make me a defender of Diebold. It makes me a person who needs more information in order to agree with our esteemed host’s conclusions on the matter.

As for data systems that produce two or more sets of books, I would have to know the requirements. By regulation, the insurance industry requires more than one set of books, because they don’t just do GAP accounting. And I’m going to have a hard time complaining about back doors in code if I don’t know the precise nature of the back door itself. I’ve never written software that didn’t have at least one back door (which is something that can be defined very broadly). It can range from secret hard-coded passwords and user names to hotkey Easter egg access points and screen jumps, if for no other reason than the possibility that my employer could turn over all its programmers in a five year period, including myself, and then come desperately searching for a way to regain control of their system, because nobody remaining at the company knows how to do it and the IT support people changed the passwords before leaving. I do not think of these tactics as nefarious, I think of them as responsible IT management and insurance against potentially destructive future circumstances.

I require programmers who work for me to include back doors. Granted, we aren’t creating software designed to manage elections, so I’m not exactly comparing apples and oranges. However, some of the back doors are there for the purposes of auditing, so I’m simply trying to point out that the term, “back door,” in software, does not automatically designate something as part of a secret plot to cheat the data. Often, a back door is designed to save, salvage, or check data, and sometimes it is just there to cover a programmer’s backside in case something goes wrong, or if they believe they may need a way to quickly prove something someday.

Is there more information about the nature of the back doors found in Diebold’s systems?

Anonymous said...

@ Buckeye

"Fine, I'm not willing to destroy my business to accommodate you, so I will withdraw from the market my product.

"Now what will you do?"

Hire minimum-wage contractors to count ballots by hand? Hell, I bet we could find volunteers to do that for free.

These machines COUNT VOTES. Any high-school drop-out with a fourth-grade grasp of arithmetic can perform this same function. Patronizing your business is NOT NECESSARY.

Voting machines are a CONVENIENCE, not a NECESSITY. I don't know how this idea can be made any simpler or easier to grasp.

Anonymous said...

Since this discussion is still going, I'm going to add 2 more cents.

Last Spring I was still a student, we had a provincial (statewide) election.

I volunteered to man a booth. A week before the lection we had to attend an eveing of class on procedure. and then volunteer 1 day for the election. for this we were paid a stipend of about $75 dollars.
When it came to counting, all 3 parties had a volunteer at each booth. All three had to agree to the final tally that my partner and i had counted before them. after that we sent the resluts to the local collection center etc....

yes it was not super fast results. but yes everyone agreed that it was fair, open, transparent and non-partisan.

Everything was made from recycled materials from the cardboard ballot boxes to the actual ballots themselves. It didn't cost a fortune and there was no question about the count.
yes there are more people in the states, that means there are also more volunteers to call upon. on open, transparent, system is doable and should be the standard.

Simon Neville