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BevHarris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 10:25 AM
Original message
Black Box Research Thread: Why the funny hop in Brit Williams' career
Dr. Brit Williams, like R. Doug Lewis, is one of the key players in the voting machine industry. His career took an odd leap. It may prove very important to find out what happened to cause him to go from head of the Computer Technology and Applications Divison at Georgia Tech (high prestige) to Kennesaw State University, the small college of Newt Gingrich/GOPAC fame.

We are particularly interested in the bumps down and the reasons for them.

According to Stickdog: Brit Williams spent the lion's share of his career working at the Georgia Tech Research Institute where he rose through the ranks to head the Computer Technology and Applications Division.

In a previous thread (last spring) I believe we have Dr. Williams in another academic position in Florida.

Anyone?

Thanks, as always!

Bev Harris





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BevHarris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 10:32 AM
Response to Original message
1. BBV Activists: There's another research topic on the forum
the Activist forum at BBV on another topic -- kinda urgent.
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OneBlueSky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 10:34 AM
Response to Original message
2. I seem to recall several mentions of Kennesaw State . . .
as a center of activity for the certificatioin of touch screen voting machines . . . how did it come about that this "small college of Newt Gingrich/GOPAC fame" assumed such a prominent role in such an important area? . . . just wonderin' . . .
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BevHarris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 10:38 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. The budget for this comes directly from the GA Secy' State
I need the link for this -- I think it's on the web, or was (check cache) something like $500,000 from Cathy Cox's Secretary of State office and $50,000 for Brit Williams himself. I need the link, need the facts.

Bev
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DEMActivist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Here ya go...
Edited on Mon Aug-25-03 10:42 AM by DEMActivist
The Center for Election Systems, House 57, Kennesaw State University.

http://elections.kennesaw.edu/

That's what we're looking for. And we need to answer OneBlueSky's question....
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BevHarris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Oh now this is gonna drive me nuts
Because I just saw that precise web design, colors, logo (different words) and all, just yesterday. Different site, almost identical look. Not Kennesaw anything.

Bev
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tlcandie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Can't locate the Activism BBV urgent ... ?
Even did a search for BBV subject line for the last month and nothing :(
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BevHarris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 04:48 PM
Response to Reply #6
40. You have to be signed up as an activist to use the BBV
forum that it is on. And then, when you log in, the forums that apply to you appear.
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DEMActivist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. Ummm, that would be the Georgia SoS site
Yes, Bev. The design, navigation, look and feel is exactly the same.

You saw that design at http://www.sos.state.ga.us/default800.asp

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Junkdrawer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. Ya know, Georgia could put out a sign: "A wholly owned subsidiary...
Edited on Mon Aug-25-03 11:15 AM by Junkdrawer
of GOPAC, Inc."
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ret5hd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 11:25 AM
Response to Reply #9
12. just a side note on this side issue...
i just took a glance at the source html at each site...
it really looks like all they really have in common is the bg color ("#000066"). just the style of coding looks different for each one.

just putting it out for what its worth...
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Junkdrawer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 11:51 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. Try moving your mouse cursor over each of the thumbnails...
looks to me a WHOLE lot more similar than background color. Those are the only two websites I've seen that use that uncommon naviagtion technique. (There may be more, but I don't remember them.)
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ret5hd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. well, i was more referring to the way it is coded, not the way it acts...
Edited on Mon Aug-25-03 12:21 PM by ret5hd
i mean, if you look at the html code itself, it really looks different, thats all i'm saying.

on edit: and i probably shouldn't even be commenting, cause i'm not that great of a html programmer. there may be similarities i don't see that others would. i was merely commenting on superficial appearances.
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Vadem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #5
26. Here it is, Bev:

http://ie.kennesaw.edu/prog_rev/ss_reports/year_2_ss_reports_serv_res_centers/CntrElectionSys.pdf


The Center operates under two grants provided by the Georgia Office of
the Secretary of State. The larger grant ($500,000) is for overall center operations. A smaller grant ($50,000) is used to support a certification consultant (Dr. Brit Williams).
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Junkdrawer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #5
33. Bev: check your PM
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stickdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 10:52 AM
Response to Original message
7. Bev, I looked high & low for this info and I couldn't find it.
Edited on Mon Aug-25-03 11:41 AM by stickdog
Brit races boats.

Brit had a boat for sale recently.

Brit may have has his house remodeled recently. He seems to live pretty well.

That's all I got on Brit other than his "lateral move" from GTRI to KSU.

Check out this document (actually pretty decent overall):

http://www.ecotalk.org/VotingMachines-SaltmanReport.htm

4.5 Gwinnett County, Georgia: November, 1986

A recount undertaken in a State Senate race showed the loser in the first count winning the contest by 77 votes. The original tally had given challenger Steve Pate a winning margin of eight votes. However, the recount gave incumbent Donn Peevy 13,682 to Pate's 13,605. According to an article in the Atlanta Constitution, November 13, 1986, "the recount was the result of a computer hardware error ... affecting hundreds of uncounted votes ..." <62> The "computer hardware error" in question was believed to be a problem with the card readers that read the pre-scored punch card ballots.

<SNIP>

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) was asked by the office of the Secretary of State of Georgia to render any possible assistance. GTRI decided to review the situation and to determine the source the discrepancies between the two computer outputs. The investigatory team, headed by Dr. Britain Williams, hoped to separate the causes of the errors into at least two classes: those caused by handling of the ballots by voters and voting officials, and those caused by the hardware. According to Williams, "everything that could have been done to insure the accuracy of the recount was, in fact, done and the discrepancies observed are inherent in this type of system. A thorough analysis of these results will be conducted in an attempt to estimate the inherent error in using pre-scored ballots." <63>

A report has now been produced by Williams and an associate. <106> The report compares differences in the results in three counts: the general election, and the recounts on the two individual machines. The report states that:

"Errors were either tabs which were not yet dislocated from their pre-punched positions in the ballot, or stray tabs which filled other previously punched-out positions (+ and - errors)."

According to the report, errors were caused by such factors as handling procedures, the ballot puncher (which was of the "votomatic" type), the vote counter, the punched card's density, vote position on the ballot card, human error, and pure chance. The report concludes that:

"...there should be a system set up to make the voters and especially the volunteer workers aware of the effects procedural care has on the accuracy of tabulations (since this was where the main problem was discovered). Details like not putting large (or any) rubber-bands around the ballots would also be advisable (especially since custom ballot carriers are provided)."


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tlcandie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Ethics complaints.... mother jones
Edited on Mon Aug-25-03 11:02 AM by tlcandie
http://www.motherjones.com/coinop_congress/eye_on_newt/ethics.html

<snip>
Also at issue are questions of influence peddling. Gingrich's effort to win access to a college campus, for example, was facilitated by Kennesaw State College business dean Timothy Mescon. While helping Gingrich find a forum at Kennesaw, Mescon was getting help from Gingrich in drumming up business for his consulting firm, the Mescon Group. The relationship is clearly spelled out in an exchange of letters.
<snip>


EDIT:
<snip>
The final branch of Newt's machine is the Progress & Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit think tank set up by former GOPAC director Jeffrey Eisenach in 1993--before he resigned from GOPAC. Legally eligible for tax-deductible contributions, the foundation began sponsoring Gingrich's college course in late 1993.
<snip>

Yet another link .. 'Will He Fall?'
http://www.motherjones.com/mother_jones/JA95/simpson.html
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 11:14 AM
Response to Original message
10. Did you know Mr.Williams
Edited on Mon Aug-25-03 11:29 AM by seemslikeadream
was a consultant to the FEC during the development of the FEC Voting System Standards in 1990?

He also assists the states of Penn, Maryland and Virginia with certification evaluations of computer-based voting systems.

or maybe you'd be interested in the Minutes of the 21th Century Vote Commision Meeting June 11,2001










/
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hedda_foil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 11:38 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. Could this little nugget be relevant?
June 11, 2001 minutes relevant to Brit

http://www.sos.state.ga.us/vote_comm/minutes.pdf

On the state level Dr. Brit Williams of Kennesaw State
University, a member of the NASED Voting System Board (a sub-committee of
NASED), ensures that all equipment submitted for certification in Georgia
complies with State laws and rules.
After determining eligibility, Dr. Williams
prepares a Certification Report for review by the Secretary of State's office. The
Secretary of State makes the final decision whether or not to certify certain
voting equipment. On the local level, it is verified that the equipment has passed
national and state certification tests, and complies with local contracts and
procurement documents.
B. Mr. Barnes then informed the Commission that there were eight different
vendors who had submitted information to Dr. Brit Williams for certification of
their voting equipment in the state of Georgia and that of these eight, seven were
in position to obtain full national and state certification in time to participate in
the pilot project. In fact two vendors have already completed the certification
process.
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 11:56 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. Thanks so much
Edited on Mon Aug-25-03 11:58 AM by seemslikeadream
I had that link but I took it out because it wasn't working for me from DU. I could get there from google

Williams Southworth and Lewis on the same page!

Here's something interesting:
Roster of Members
Marie Brewer
Yyonne Smith
Denise Lamb
Donetta Davidson
Robert Naegele
Jim Hendrix
Brit Williams
Steve Freeman
David Elliot
Paul Craft
Penelope Bonsall
Tom Harrison
Joe Hazeltine
Jim Dearman
Jennifer Price
Shawn Southworth Director of Software Engineering Nichols Research
R Doug Lewis

www.electioncenter.org/commit/vote_accred/vote_accred.html
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:16 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. Shawn Southworth Nichols Research Corp.
Edited on Mon Aug-25-03 12:40 PM by seemslikeadream
Would it be fun if it was this Nicholas Research Corp.
Is being awarded a $14,045,435 faqce value increase to a cost plus award fee contract to provide for engineering analysis and design support for the Air Force Ballistic Missle Defense Program Office.

The same company that merged into CSC Computer Science Corp. in Sept 1999
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tlcandie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. Security in the Georgia Voting System/April 23, 2003 by Brit Williams
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tlcandie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Mr. Williams is also technology adviser for the state of Viriginia
http://www.verifiedvoting.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=10

<snip>
The Virginia SBE's voting technology adviser, Britain J. Williams, joined Diebold on Thursday in condemning the ISI analysis and said its authors owed Diebold "a public apology."

Williams, addressing the board via telephone from a conference he was attending in Colorado, said that the computer code the scientists analyzed was not the software that is installed in the Diebold AccuVote-TS.

Jean Jensen, the SBE's secretary and a member of the board, said Williams was convincing and reassuring. "Dr. Williams point-by-point took exception to all of the criticisms of the system," she said.
<snip>
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Cocoa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:17 PM
Response to Original message
20. are the voting machine manufacturers digging up dirt on the activists?
Obviously there's a struggle here between the manufacturers/election center/ACLU/League of Women voters on one side, and the activists and academics on the other side.

One of the approaches the activists are taking is to dig up information and insinuate wrongdoing on the part of anyone on the other side.

I wonder if it goes both ways. Is the other side playing the game that way too?
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:32 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Would breaking into their houses
be considered digging up dirt?
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never cry wolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. I forget which thread I read that on
one of the long ones by now no doubt. Maybe these "funny" incidents merit a thread of their own to keep them in the open.
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Cocoa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. no, I was thinking more of "opposition research"
PR firms offer this kind service. Here's a recent article about a state agency here in IL that signed up for such a service.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0308170378aug17,0,955110.story?coll=chi-news-hed

A Chicago public relations firm proposed that Maryville Academy improve its image with a campaign that includes using third parties to question the motives of its critics.

Project Sunshine, a strategy crafted by Thom Serafin of Serafin & Associates, Inc., proposed that the state's largest private child welfare agency tap an outside agent to "conduct opposition research."

Political experts define opposition research as an effort "to dig up dirt on an opponent," said Herbert Simons, a Temple University professor with a specialty in political communications.

Child welfare experts interpreted the proposal to suggest that Maryville, which has been under fire for the last year, should investigate critics using negative information to discredit them.

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stickdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:34 PM
Response to Reply #20
22. No, Diebold just make an innocent mistake with Rubin.
These activists are concerned citizens. Their only powers are their undeniable arguments and unrelenting effort. They don't control the standards for fraud-made-easy machines; they're just trying to raise these standards. And other than Rubin, I haven't heard of a hint of a conflict of interest.

But perhaps you have some inside knowledge into this that you'd like to share?
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Cocoa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:49 PM
Response to Reply #22
25. no, no inside info, everything's out in the open here at DU
anyone and everyone who disagrees with or questions the activists is fair game for attacks and innuendo. There aren't any exceptions, even reputable organizations like the ACLU are accused of being in bed with the corporations.

My question was, we have the notes from the mfgrs' meeting with their PR firm and I didn't see any mention of using the same tactics. I wonder why they would show any restraint. I mean if they're capable of physically attacking or even killing their critics, why be shy about something like opposition research, which isn't even illegal as far as I know?
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never cry wolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. I am sure that
there are people digging into the past of certain people on this site looking for dirt. On another BBV thread there were reports by some of our activists of break-ins of thier homes and cars, even a brake line being cut. I have no doubt that research into anything that may discredit them is going on as well, though no proof of it.
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stickdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. Because there's no there there?
Just a guess.
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hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #20
27. I'm much too good to sling mud!
I haul it around in a wheelbarrow.

I may be standing at arm's legnth from Bev and David's BBV, but that's not because I believe in hydroponic gardening or any sort of political modesty. In my opinion one needs lots of dirt to make things grow. (BTW, all the dirt covering me is 100% organic, and sweetly composted.)

The "other side" is always welcome to visit my garden, but they never do. I think they are afraid of the spiders.

Mostly I'm wondering why Cocoa wonders if it "goes both ways." Of course it does! The "other guys" certainly know who is sleeping with who. But they also know the relationships are sanctioned by Lady Liberty, and probably God Herself, so they don't like to talk about it.

Peace be with you.
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DEMActivist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 02:40 PM
Response to Reply #20
31. So, Cocoa! That was you?
Who called "from the Jerry Springer show" asking for my 7 yr. old by first name?

All I have to say is the next person who enters my property at 5:30 AM should be prepared to be confronted.
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Cocoa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #31
34. that's so preposterous, it really calls your judgement into question
What did I write, or have I ever written, that would make you think I would threaten your child or break into your house?

If you are able to say something so insane about me, for no reason, what am I supposed to think about the rest of what you say?

By the way, I'm on record for disapproving of intimidating tactics. When the BBV cult was in a frenzy over Lewis and Southworth, and posting personal information such as home addressess and aerial photos of their homes, I objected to it and those posts ended up getting removed.
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DEMActivist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #34
35. Oh my!
I should have added the </sarcasm> tag.

Who would have known you'd take it so personally?
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stickdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 04:10 PM
Response to Reply #34
36. You were correct then,
But your behavior on this thread reminds me of a frantic soccer goalie who doesn't realize the ball is all the way over at the other goal.

Nobody has stepped out of bounds on this thread that I've seen. Not even close.
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hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 04:43 PM
Response to Reply #34
39. The "BBV cult..."
I hear Bev gives you a special ribbon for your tinfoil hat. There's also a secret car antenna ball, maybe you've seen 'em... :silly:

It's very good that you disapprove of intimidating tactics, Cocoa, except now that I've thought about it, criticizing people using words like "frenzy" and "cult" seems pretty intimidating.

But I'm not saying you are a bad guy -- I've seen you posting naked elsewhere about other subjects. Most BBV critics don't do that.

I must now return to my garden, to dig in the dirt, to make things grow.


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Robbien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 01:31 PM
Response to Original message
30. This doen't answer your request for info
But in case you didn't see it, Sunspot.net did a very nice indepth article on Avi Rubin today. Nice photo too.

http://www.sunspot.net/features/bal-to.vote25aug25,0,5240559.story?coll=bal-features-headlines

Loved the title "A vote of no confidence".
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althecat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 04:38 PM
Response to Reply #30
37. Posted a new thread about this... is a big feature on Rubin... good read.
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=104&topic_id=228671

I was particularly interested to learn that Dill put Rubin et al up to their inquiry. The feature tells the story of the tactics employed and fears of the Hopkins Heroes inquiry team... fascinating.
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althecat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 04:42 PM
Response to Reply #30
38. Nor does this... article on NY State voting machines...
We'll buy them first, fix em latter. NY State election officials on BBV machines...

****

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/news/0825FR1JPB9_ballot25_news.shtml

Report says new machines easily corrupted


By Yancey Roy
Albany Bureau


(August 25, 2003) ALBANY A recent report from a team of Johns Hopkins University computer-security experts that details how easily electronic voting machines can be manipulated has triggered a minor panic as states around the country prepare to overhaul their voting systems.

In Maryland and Georgia, states that have agreed to shell out millions for new machines, some officials called for postponing the switch to ATM-style machines until security is enhanced.

But in New York, state officials say theyre not troubled by the findings they still plan to push for phasing out mechanical lever-style machines. Because the new machines dont have to be ready until the 2006 elections, theres enough time to make sure all the bugs are worked out, they say.
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PATRICK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-25-03 02:50 PM
Response to Original message
32. Gingrich
My only take on this is memory of Gingrich on C-Span hinting vaguely that the GOP must get interested in voting technology- without explanation at all as if he knew the cameras were watching. That called to mind his summit with Clinton when one key issue again was technology. The progressive, science friendly, public service minded Mr. Gingrich.

I didn't know about Hagel and his connections and HIS odd presidential aspirations. Yet for anyone nurturing a suspicion the picture in Georgia seems completely tuned to a possible conspiracy theory. Or is it all soem devilish serendipity and coincidence at work?

Of course, Gingrich would dare to call it providential. Another take on the picture would be unseemly and against the will of the cybervoter.
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