For many years election system security experts have been whistle-blowing on Microsoft based vendor sold voting systems that utilize proprietary “secret ” software rather than a publicly viewable ” open source ” code. Experts state plainly that to defend against outside ( or insider ) interference an open source environment is preferred. NASA and the DOD utilize open source for mission critical operations.. and now New Hampshire has deployed the better systems. The systems are far less expensive and eliminate vulnerabilities to the point of being referenced as ” unhackable “
San Francisco County, just north of San Mateo County, CA has done extensive studies over a ten year period and now started the build-out of their open source / paper ballot voting system. The current voting machine vendors do not want SF County to accomplish this effort, and pioneering watchdog groups like California Association of Voting Officials ( www.cavo-us.org ) and CAVO is actively protecting the project against the derailing effects that have befallen other jurisdictions ( Travis County , TX and Los Angeles ) attempting to move away from the previously :”locked in” price gauging vendors.
The scenario is historic Davey vs Goliath as Microsoft and those who” bob in their wake ” scurry to delay the public systems while setting up to sell another round ( at a price tag over eight BILLION dollars ) of the scientifically concluded insecure systems. Money in the form of political contributions continues to flow toward decision makers.. and activists accuse the blocking politicians of putting personal gain before country and the national security. Recently U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard worked with CAVO to put forth a federal bill advocating open source election systems
So what’s up with San Mateo County ? As the technology capitol of the world, it would be natural for SMC to lead the advancements .. or at least follow San Francisco’s lead as a next door county. Could it be San Francisco politicians are that much more intelligent than those in San Mateo County.. or is it rather just corruption ? Let’s look at the Supervisors and some other elected folks..
Many years back Supervisor Warren Slocum was a major player bringing in the flawed voting systems that are now notorious as a national security threat. San Mateo County Supervisor ( and former registrar ) Slocum sweated profusely while presenting his case for purchasing the ” corporate / secret ” voting systems and prompted the League Of Women to join his advocacy. Upon direct questioning by this writer the LWV lead Jackie Jacobberger confessed ignorance regarding voting system security and promised to never advocate at Slocum;s urging again. It appeared “business as usual” occurred during that initial purchase, and the Texas based Hart Company scored a windfall.
Slocum then went on to join the board at Verified Voting, a group notable for destroying an open source voting project in Texas,and also for absorbing millions of dollars ( with no results ) in grant monies from federal voting projects.
Supervisor David Pine may not be directly corrupted but is apparently suffering from the controlling “persuasion” of notorious staff. Burruto is a controller of party politics and has been a staunch political opponent of open source voting The other SMC Supervisors Groom and Horsley seem to blindly follow behind Slocum and Pine apparently oblivious to their duties to country and democracy.
Relief is available to San Mateo County but it takes courage. Silicon donors that make or break politicians do not like the election system security solution as it involves a free software that out performs what they are selling. With the spotlight now on San Mateo County to join San Francisco’s efforts to set voting system security precedent, it will be interesting to see how the San Mateo Board of Supervisors deal with this circumstance.
Brent Turner is a native of San Mateo County.Mr. Turner is recognized as a civil rights activist and a catalyst for sustainability
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