Jennifer Brunner Responds to Kudos, Criticism Following State's Massive and Disturbing E-Voting Assessment
'The last thing I want for my state, is to be looked at as a pariah, like it was for 2004'

The BRAD BLOG spoke on Wednesday, by telephone, with Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, for an exclusive in-depth interview following the release of her state's unprecedented "Evaluation & Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards & Testing" (EVEREST) review of e-voting systems.

While the bi-partisan, multi-teamed, scientific testing carried out, by a unique combination of both corporate and academic computer scientists and security experts, has won praise from most, if not all (see, predictably, here and here) quarters, the specific recommendations for changes to Ohio's voting system in its wake, as made by Brunner, have garnered a fair amount of criticism and concern from Election Integrity and Administration experts. Indeed, The BRAD BLOG has reported a number of our own concerns about those recommendations, as detailed last Friday upon the release of the report.

One thing is clear: the view from EVEREST is a mountain of "critical security failures" in Ohio's electronic voting systems --- the very same systems which will also be in use in other states and counties all across the U.S. in 2008. The question now is what can be done to mitigate the chances of yet another Ohio election meltdown next year, given the short time before before the state's primary in March, and the rapidly-approaching November general election when many eyes, no doubt, will again be on the Buckeye State.

In our interview --- the first of its kind to be published post-EVEREST --- we challenged the state's new Democratic Secretary, a former state judge, to answer to a number of growing concerns about her '08 recommendations, and whether she may be open to changing them in light of concerns. As well, we asked her about the criticism leveed against her by on-the-ground citizen Election Integrity advocates in the state, who have been critical of her for not having done enough to bring accountability following the J. Kenneth Blackwell regime, under whom Ohio's election system was so infamously gamed in 2004.


Some notable quotes from the interview...

Brunner on the "critical security failures" in Ohio's voting systems, revealed by the EVEREST study...

"To protect the systems against viruses that can be inserted into the system through something as simple as a PDA and a magnet and then the cards are passed from machine to machine almost like Typhoid Mary, I think that we have to take greater care."

"If there is malicious software, like a virus put into the system, it can not only affect the machines at the polling places, it can affect the tabulation that occurs at the server and it can also affect future elections if it's not detected."

On controversy surrounding her recommendations...

"These are going to be issues that are going to be controversial, people are going to have differences of opinion, and my attitude is to try to embrace what's out there, to look at it objectively, understanding that I don't have all the answers to everything."

BRUNNER: I'm not proposing a permanent solution. I'm proposing a way to deal with the limitations in the equipment that we have now.

BRAD BLOG: So you're open to changing those recommendations as you hear from those election integrity folks?

BRUNNER: Yes. I don't pretend to have all the answers.

On the issue of the infamous, and still unaccounted for, Warren County lockdown from 2004...

BRUNNER: It troubles me, Brad.

BRAD BLOG: It troubles you, too?

BRUNNER: It troubled me at the time and it, it, I can't…I can't find any justification for it.

On her outlook for 2008...

"The last thing I want for my state, is to be looked at as a pariah, like it was for 2004...We think that when this all comes together for 2008, that the country will see a difference."

Read the full interview at Brad Blog