Jim March, a member of the Black Box Voting board of directors, was arrested Tuesday
evening for trying to observe the Diebold central tabulator (vote tallying machine)
as the votes were being counted in San Diego's mayoral election (July 26).
According to Jim Hamilton, an elections integrity advocate from San Diego,
he and March visited the office of the registrar of elections earlier in the
day. During this visit, March made two requests, which were refused by Mikel
Haas, the San Diego Registrar of elections.
1) March asked that the central tabulator, the computer that tallies up the
votes from all the precincts, be positioned so that citizens could observe it.
According to Hamilton, this would have required simply moving a table a few
2) March also asked for a copy of the ".gbf" files -- the vote tally
files collected during the course of tabulation – to be provided for examination
after the election.
During the tallying of the election, the Diebold computer was positioned too
far away for citizens to read the screen. Citizens could not watch error messages,
or even perceive significant anomalies or malfunctions.
Unable to see the screen, March went into the office where the tabulator was
housed. Two deputies followed him and escorted him out.
According to Hamilton: "He was not belligerent, not at all. After he went
inside the tabulator room he came [was escorted] out and he said learly 'I’m
not resisting.' They handcuffed
him, took him out of the building. They put him in a squad car. They’re
going to take him to the police station, book him and take him to jail,"
said Hamilton. "He’s getting charged with a felony, 'interfering
with an election official.'"
March's actions are the culmination of two years of increasing frustration
with the refusal of election officials to respond to security deficiencies in
the voting machines. The software that tallies the votes in San Diego is made
by Diebold Election Systems, a company that has already paid the state of California
$2.8 million for making false claims, due to a lawsuit filed by March and Black
Box Voting founder Bev Harris.
On July 4, a report was released by European computer security expert Harri
Hursti, revealing that the Diebold voting system contains profound architectural
flaws. "It is open for business," says Hursti, who demonstrated the
flaws on Leon County, Florida Diebold machines. He penetrated the voting system
in less than five minutes, manipulating vote reports in a way that was undetectable.
Despite the critical security alert issued by Hursti, San Diego County sent
713 voting machines home with poll workers, increasing the risk that the "memory
cards" housed in the machines could be hacked, and removing the argument
that "inside access" was carefully
The arrest of Jim March underlines a fundamental problem facing Americans today
as, increasingly, they lose the ability to monitor, verify, or watch any part
of the counting process.
The San Diego registrar of elections knew of the security flaws in the voting
system. Diebold has never denied the vulnerability identified in Hursti's report,
found at http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVreport.pdf.
Despite knowledge of the increased risks, Haas made the decision to create
additional vulnerability by sending the machines home with hundreds of poll
While San Diego officials will no doubt point to a small seal on the compartment
housing the memory card (the component exploited in Hursti’s study), Black
Box Voting has interviewed a former San Diego poll worker, who reported that
all that is necessary to dislodge and then reaffix the seal is a small pair
IN A NUTSHELL:
- The machines have been demonstrated to be vulnerable to undetected tampering
- The San Diego registrar of voters chose not to take appropriate precautions
- The main tally machine was placed in a location that was impossible for citizens
- Many voting integrity advocates have come to believe that voting machine reform
now rivals the urgency of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.
Jim March acted on those beliefs.
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If you share the feelings that Jim March has expressed about voting system
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