By Michael G. Stogner
In the last month Verified Voting has had 2 Advisory Board Members (Whistleblowers) Resign. The question I have is why haven’t the other 45 members done the same?
Community election reform activist Brent Turner has been warning San Mateo County and the USA about the vulnerabilities surrounding election systems. For the past six months Turner has publicly requested Supervisor Slocum step down due to a conflict of interest as Slocum sits on the board of Verified Voting. Turner has for years alleged Verified Voting had ” unclean hands” as a ” consumer watchdog ” as Verifed has business relationship with Microsoft and vendors. Turner originally became familiar with Verified Voting’s and Stanford professor David Dill from Dill’s ability to obtain Federal grant monies. Turner has alleged that Dill and his associates have blocked best election security efforts for personal gain. The following correspondence explains further.
As citizens of San Mateo County we are embarrassed by your association with this apparently nefarious activity.
Please consider joining other Verified Voting board members in stepping down from this group.
I would like to underscore and amplify Mr. Turner’s recent message by urging that all individuals who wish to maintain integrity in elections, who are in positions of leadership or affiliated with Verified Voting, should promptly resign. Before doing so, though, they should immediately move to have the VerifiedVoting.org organization dissolved and the Verified Voting Foundation removed from its 501(c)(3) status.
Everything that Mr. Turner has mentioned about the manner in which I and my company, Notable Software, Inc. were robbed of our share of the NSF ACCURATE grant, including by members of Verified Voting, despite the grantee’s continued and unauthorized use of my intellectual property, both in their funding application and in the naming of the Center, is true and well-documented.
Please also note certain highlights of the recent Fast Company article, as follows:
Richard DeMillo <https://www.cc.gatech.edu/people/richard-demillo>, a Georgia Tech professor who sat on Verified Voting’s advisory board, and UC Berkeley statistics professor and associate dean Philip Stark <https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~stark/>, a VV board member, have resigned from the advocacy group, stating that they believe that Verified Voting has been giving election officials false confidence in some voting machines and providing cover for the companies that make and sell these machines.
In DeMillo’s December 1 resignation letter to Barbara Simons (chair of VV’s board of directors), he claimed that “Verified Voting’s policy positions were unpredictable, contradictory, and not aligned with the values I once believed we shared. On more than one occasion, Verified Voting has taken contradictory public stances in the span of a few days, undercutting allies and supporters. The pattern of espousing new positions and making public statements that take local VV stakeholders by surprise is nothing new. Rather than seeking out advice, Verified Voting has gone to great lengths to avoid it.”
With respect to VV’s involvement in a Risk Limiting Audit (RLA) pilot in Georgia, DeMillo claimed that “Verified Voting’s seal of approval for the security theatrics in Bartow County undermines efforts to make elections more accountable. … No audit based on an untrustworthy audit trail can confirm the correctness of the outcome. Billing such an exercise as an RLA and touting it as a proof of security plays into the hands of cynics.”
Stark, who resigned on November 21, accused VV of being on the “wrong side” saying: “Our message to jurisdictions that buy poorly designed, insecure, universal-use BMD [ballot marking device systems] should be, ‘We tried to warn you. You need a better voting system’ … Instead, we’re saying, ‘Don’t worry: VV will teach you to sprinkle magic RLA dust and fantasies about parallel testing on your untrustworthy election. All will be fine; you can use our authority and reputation to silence your critics.'” [End of Article Summary]
I personally worked side-by-side with some of the members of Verified Voting in the early years. It is to our collective credit, in part, that Voter Verified Paper Ballots (a concept that I promoted extensively, years prior to the formation of VV, and even prior to Bush v. Gore) are now considered the Gold Standard for elections.
Those of you who have, since then, endorsed technologies that promise to undercut the authenticity of these ballots, have put an indelible blemish on your formerly fine work. You should be ashamed of yourselves and embarrassed about what you are doing to endanger voting at this critical time in history, when it is likely that the Impeached US President will be running for re-election. Please leave your egos at the door and dissolve Verified Voting, as it is now as untrustworthy as some of the voting machines and methodologies you have encouraged for adoption. The World Is Watching.
With extreme sincerity,
Rebecca Mercuri, Ph.D.
December 1, 2019
Barbara Simons, Chair Verified Voting Board of Directors
It is with profound regret that I resign from the VV Board of Advisors. When you invited me to join the board shortly after the 2016 elections, I agreed for three reasons. First, Verified Voting’s promise to promote policy positions that “are based on scientific evidence and understood best practices in election administration” offered hope in addressing a decade or more of willful neglect of those principles in Georgia. Second, I thought that lending my name to the organization would help in the fight to eliminate vulnerable, unauditable voting machines in Georgia and nationwide. Third, I understood that my voice would be joined with the voices of respected colleagues to be sought out, valued, and debated by the organization’s leadership. However, it soon became apparent that Verified Voting’s policy positions were unpredictable, contradictory, and not aligned with the values I once believed we shared. On more than one occasion, Verified Voting has taken contradictory public stances in the span of a few days, undercutting allies and supporters. The pattern of espousing new positions and making public statements that take local VV stakeholders by surprise is nothing new. Rather than seeking out advice, Verified Voting has gone to great lengths to
I have tried over the last two years to engage in dialog, but you, Marian, and her team have been unwilling to have face to face conversations, even when we are in the same city and sometimes the same building. These apparent disconnects have been seized upon and exploited in Georgia and other states to weaken, not enhance, the cause of accurate and verifiable elections. Although my concerns have been growing for some time now, Verified Voting’s involvement in a “pilot RLA” in Georgia following the recent election makes it impossible to continue as a member of the advisory board. VV issued and supported misleading public statements that those pilots confirm outcomes and even prove the security of new election systems. Verified Voting’s seal of approval for the security theatrics in Bartow County undermines efforts to make elections more accountable. This exercise conducted behind closed doors and billed as a practice run—even if flawlessly conducted—could only confirm the correctness of the tally of the unverified (and therefore possibly corrupted) ballots, not that the ballots tallied were correctly marked. No audit based on an untrustworthy audit trail can confirm the correctness of the outcome. Billing such an exercise as an RLA and touting it as a proof of security plays into the hands of cynics. Whatever benefits accrue from this practice, it does not help public understanding to aid election officials in misstating the results. A similar false claim was made in Pennsylvania the following week. Verified Voting subsequently tweeted a weak repudiation of the incorrect Pennsylvania claim, but let stand an identical incorrect assertion in Georgia. That unrefuted statement will surely be a factor in future litigation. Most recently, Marian’s essay, posted on verifiedvoting.org shortly after Philip Stark’s November 22 resignation from the board, doubled down on these and other expanded claims. It is a short essay, but I count at least nine distinct contradictions of prior Verified Voting statements and published positions. In light of this, the promise to pursue policy positions based on scientific evidence and best practices rings hollow. I can no longer lend my name to Verified Voting. Some, including anti-transparency activists, conflicted supporters of ballot marking devices, politicians trying to silence and intimidate critics, and opponents of evidence-based policy, have already mischaracterized the mainly technical debates within the election integrity community. If they are successful at confusing the public about the correctness of election outcomes in Georgia and elsewhere, I fear it will be in some measure due to the absence of values once embraced by Verified Voting.
Richard DeMillo Charlotte B. and Roger C. Warren Professor of Computing and Executive Director of the Center for 21st
Century Universities Georgia Tech Atlanta, GA