Bev Harris

Bev Harris

Bev 'Merton' Harris is an American writer, activist, and founder of Black Box Voting Inc., a national nonpartisan, nonprofit elections watchdog group. She helped popularize the term Black Box Voting, while authoring a book of that title.

She first gained national prominence in 2002 when she discovered that Senator Hagel of Nebraska owned a large share of ES&S,Fact|date=September 2008 a major voting machine manufacturer of the machines that counted the majority of votes in Nebraska. In 2003, she discovered the source code of another voting machine manufacturer, Diebold Election Systems, which now operates under the name "Premier Election Systems."

After examining these files, Harris wrote an article on July 8, 2003 detailing how to bypass passwords and manipulate election results on the Diebold GEMS central tally system. [ [ "Inside a U.S. Vote Counting Program" July 8 2003, by Bev Harris] ] The information in Harris's article was subsequently confirmed by internal memos written by Diebold's own engineers. [ [ "End-run the database" October 18, 2001] ]

Researchers at Rice University and Johns Hopkins University also studied the programs she obtained and found security weaknesses which afforded opportunities for abuse [ [ Analysis of an Electronic Voting System, May, 2004] ] Diebold officials and state election officials disputed the findings of the Rice and Johns Hopkins researchers. [Krugman, Paul, "Hack the vote," New York Times, December 2, 2003, pg. A31] [Schwartz, John, "File sharing pits copyright against free speech," New York Times, November 3, 2003, pg. C1]

Original investigative work by Harris has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CBS, Fox News, and NBC, as well as by the Associated Press, NPR, and many other mainstream news outlets.

Hacking Democracy

Harris's organization, Black Box Voting, was invited by Ion Sancho, Leon County, (Florida) Supervisor of Elections to conduct a series of tests election of Diebold's GEMS central tabulator and Diebold's optical scan voting machines. The tests took place February 14, 2005; May 2, 2005; May 26, 2005 and December 13, 2005 and resulted in proof that Diebold machines were not secure and could be hacked and results altered. [ HBO Documentary Films. retrieved November 6, 2006] ]

Her work to expose security weaknesses in electronic voting systems was assisted by Kathleen Wynne and is featured in an HBO documentary, "Hacking Democracy". The film follows a series of investigations, many of them captured live on videotape by Kathleen Wynne.

Harris discovered that counterfeit audit records [ [ "Photocopies of Volusia County poll tapes, including mismatched tapes with strange errors"] November 2004, from Black Box Voting forums, posted by Bev Harris] Verify credibility|date=September 2008 had been provided to Black Box Voting in a public records request. Harris subsequently found some of the original records in the garbage at a Volusia County warehouse. Florida Fair Elections Coalition founder Susan Pynchon and Broward Election Reform Coalition founder Ellen Brodsky found more original poll tapes in the garbage behind the Volusia County elections office.Fact|date=September 2008

Harris, Wynne, and Andy Stephenson audited the originals against those given out by Volusia County in public records requests. Data on several of the poll tapes found in the garbage did not match data on the tapes provided in public records; many key audit items were missing, and unusual errors (such as a date-stamps 16,000 years in the future on one tape) indicated the alterations appeared to be due to alterations in programming the device that produces the poll tapes. Harris, Wynne and Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy Researcher/Producer Russell Michaels, arranged for a series of hacking demonstrations on the "GEMS" central tabulator and also the hacking of memory cards. The finding of the records in the trash, along with the hacks, can be viewed in the HBO documentary "Hacking Democracy," which premiered November 2, 2006.

Other investigations

In March 2006, Harris's organization, Black Box Voting, was contacted by elections official Bruce Funk, from Emery County, Utah. Black Box Voting again secured the services of Harri Hursti and Dr. Herbert Hugh Thompson and examined the Diebold TSx touch-screen (DRE) system. Hursti, Thompson, and a member of the Black Box Voting board of directors, Jim March, found flaws which prompted emergency warnings and last minute corrective actions in Pennsylvania, California, and other states. [ [ Technology Daily: States Still Concerned About New Voting Equipment] , May 30, 2006] [ [ Black Box Voting TSx Report] , from Black Box] Verify credibility|date=September 2008 [ [ Black Box Voting TSx Report Supplement] , from Black Box] Verify credibility|date=September 2008

Harris's investigations into the testing labs that examine voting system software were revealed in a hidden camera interview in the HBO film "Hacking Democracy"; she also obtained secret test lab reports which showed that the Ciber Laboratories omitted security testing on the machines. [ [ "Photocopies of Ciber reports, Penetration Analysis 'Not Tested'" 2002 and 2003] , from Black Box] Verify credibility|date=September 2008

Harris also identified and broke the story on the criminal records of a number of individuals who owned, programmed, and printed ballots in the elections industry. [ [ "Prison records of voting system programmer Jeffrey Dean" 1996] , from Black Box] Verify credibility|date=September 2008 [ [ "Prison records of Diebold ballot printing supervisor John Elder" 1996] , from Black Box] Verify credibility|date=September 2008 [Vanity Fair: Hack the Vote; April 1, 2004 by Michael Shnayerson] [Seattle Post-Intelligencer: No elections harmed by work of ex-cons; February 12, 2004]

Diebold lawsuit

Together with Jim March, Harris filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that Diebold Election Systems had made false claims when selling their system to Alameda County, California. Diebold paid the state of California $2.6 million to settle the case, [Seattle Post Intelligencer: Election Activist Claims Victory; Voting Machine Maker Settles Over Her Whistle-Blower Lawsuit, January 25, 2005, by Michelle Nicolosi] and paid approximately $76,000 to Harris, which she donated to the nonprofit Black Box Voting organization. [2006 Black Box Voting 990 tax form, Schedule A]

VoteHERE investigation

She has been served with four cease and desist notices and in 2004, was interviewed by the US Secret Service Cybercrime Task Force five times in connection with a claim by the VoteHere company that their site had been "hacked" with their source code stolen. In connection with this, Harris received a gag order from a U.S. Attorney in preparation for a federal grand jury investigation. The order was dropped following an investigation by The Seattle Weekly [ [ "Seattle Weekly article ''" 2004] ]

Other activists

Harris, who the Boston Globe referred to as "the godmother" of the movement to reform electronic voting [The Boston Globe: It's the computer's turn to mess up elections; Business section; November 17, 2003, by Hiawatha Bray] has collaborated with many other citizens. Among them: Jim March, Kathleen Wynne, Vickie Karp, Andy Stephenson; Natalie D'Arielli; and Linda Franz. She frequently collaborates with other researchers and voting rights advocates throughout the country; among them, co-founder of Democracy for New Hampshire, Nancy Tobi and co-founder of Psephos, election rights attorney Paul Lehto. Harris's work, along with that of Wynne, Thompson, Stephenson, Hursti and others, has been documented in a film produced by Russell Michaels, Simon Ardizzone, and Teale Edwards Productions, "Hacking Democracy", which premiered November 2, 2006."


External links

* [ Black Box Voting website] (full text for free download)
* [ Daily Kos - Bev Harris, target of a disinformation campaign with strong links to Tom Flocco]
* [ Bev Harris ProCon Bio]
* [ Bev Harris discusses the voting industry and Diebold Election Systems' master programmer] (Audio/MP3)
* [ Seattle Weekly - Secret Service Investigates]
* [ Hacking Democracy at Google Video]

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