COLUMN NINETY-SEVEN, SEPTEMBER 15, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
LIES ABOUT VOTING MACHINES:
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE 'ROB-GEORGIA FILE'
BY BEV HARRIS
Everyone assured me they
knew of no one named Rob. Move along. But I received an e-mail: "I think I
may be the Rob in rob-georgia," it said. And now I know why they didn't
want us to interview him. I think you'll agree that his interview is worth the
length, for the picture you get of what was really going on. If you prefer to
skim, check the sections in italics. Citizens, meet Rob Behler, straight talker:
Harris: What was the FTP
Behler:One of problems we
had was an issue with the GEMS database. They had to do an update to it, so they
just post the update to the web site.
Harris: What was rob-georgia?
Behler: I believe what that
file was for, I did a---well, there were a ton of holes with the programs on
those machines. When they all came into the warehouse, I did a quality check,
this was something I did on a Saturday. I found that 25% of the machines on the
floor would fail KSU testing---
Harris: "What is KSU
State University. We knew basically what they would be testing and the trick was
to make sure the machines would pass the testing. So I went and checked a pallet
and found it was bad. And I checked another, and another, and I knew we had a
Harris: "Was that both
you and James Rellinger?"
Behler: "James dealt
with the network, but I was dealing with the touchscreen machines themselves.
Harris: "What kind of
problems were you seeing?"
Behler: "…One of the
things we had wrong was the date wasn't sticking in the Windows CE. The real
time clock would go to check the time on the motherboard, and it would have an
invalid year in it, like 1974 or something, and basically the machine would
continue to keep checking. Every time it checked, it saw that the date was not
right and this put it into a loop.
"They had to do an
update in CE to fix all those dates. So the way we did that in the warehouse
was, they would post whatever the update was on the FTP site. James would go get
the file and put it on the [memory] cards. Because you load everything through
the PCMCIA cards. You boot it up using the card and it loads the new software.
"This was done in the
warehouses---once the machines were sent out to the county, these updates were
done just to make sure the machines were running correctly. I went over to
Dekalb [County]. We updated 1800 machines in basically a day and a half. I still
remember ol' Rusty, down at the warehouse, we ended up touching every single
machine off the pallet, booting 'em up, update it, we had a couple hundred
machines done when in comes a new update over the phone.
Harris: "You mean you
used a modem or they called you on the phone?"
Behler: "No. A phone
call. They'd say 'Oh no no, the way we had you do, that's not going to work,
here's another thing to do.’ Okay, we just did a few hundred machines, now we
gotta do it this way---But we got it done.
Harris: "Did you
personally ever download anything at all from the FTP site?"
Behler: [it was] mostly
Harris: "Did you work
for Diebold, or James Rellinger?"
Behler: "I worked for
ABSS. So did James."
Harris: "What about
the rob-georgia file?"
Behler: "I think they
put it out there for me when we were doing the Dekalb thing, but I was busy
managing the whole crew so, I had my laptop out, and one of the engineers used
my laptop---or maybe it was James---one of them had to go in and get it from the
FTP, put it on a card, make copies of the cards and then we used them to update
Harris: "So one of the
people downloaded the patch and then made copies of it?"
Behler: "They use my
laptop. It was not secure, either. They just used the laptop to repro the cards.
Diebold never gave us anything with a PCMCIA slot, then they'd tell us, 'Go
download this,' so we'd have to get out our own laptop to do it."
instructed you about the FTP site? Was it a Diebold employee?"
Behler: "It was
Harris: "Was it the
people in Ohio or the people in Texas?"
Behler: "The people in
Harris: "Who were some
of the Diebold people? Do you remember any names?"
Behler: "Ian. I
remember one of the guys, Ian, I can't remember his last name. One of the main
guys we dealt with was a guy named Ian. He was actually involved in the design
of the motherboard. He was very much involved in trying to figure out how to fix
the problems. So they sent us upgrades, but then after we did it KSU still
failed a ton of machines."
Harris: "As I
understand it, they send the system to Wyle labs for certification, and also to
Ciber to test the software. But from what you are describing, I can't understand
how the machines got through what they are telling us is 'rigorous
Behler: "From what I
understand they ended up figuring out that the cards that we were loading that
fix that Diebold provided for us, well they were never tested, they just said
'Oh here's the problem, go ahead and fix it.'
Harris: "So what is
your opinion about the certification testing?"
Behler: "No, it's not
just that. NOBODY even tested it! When I found that out---I mean you can't not
test a fix---I worked for a billing company, and if I'd put a fix on that wasn't
tested I'd have gotten FIRED! You have to make sure whatever fix you did didn't
break something else. But they didn't even TEST the fixes before they told us to
"Look, we're doing
this and 50-60 percent of the machines are still freezing up! Turn it on, get
one result. Turn it off and next time you turn it on you get a different result.
Six times, you'd get six different results."
Harris: "Can you give
me an example of different results?"
Behler: "Meaning the
machine does something wrong different each time you boot it up. One time and it
would freeze on you, next time it would load the GEMS program but have a
completely different type of error, like there'd be a gray box sitting in the
middle of it, or you couldn't use a field."
Harris: "Was this all
due to the clock?"
Behler: "I don't know
for sure. They [the machines] were not originally doing it. Then they fixed the
real time clock, and it was supposed to make it work normal. It fixed the clock
problem -- the clock problem had caused it to come up and not show the battery
at one point. It was supposed to say either 'low battery,' 'high battery' or
'charging.' But when the real time clock was messed up, you'd boot the machine
and it would say 'No battery!' I mean, you don't have the machine plugged in,
you boot it up, and it starts, and says it 'has no battery.' That's like saying,
'this morning I got out of bed and I stood up and I had no brain.'
"And that's how they
ended up finding it, the problem. What it was doing was it was checking for the
right time, and kept going back trying to get a better time, and while it was
doing that, it was supposed to get the battery status but it was still busy
trying to get the time.
"And then when we
loaded the software to fix that, the machines were still acting RIDICULOUS!
"I was saying, 'This
is not good! We need some people that know what this stuff is supposed to do,
from McKinney, NOW! These machines, nobody knows what they're doing but Diebold,
you need some people to fix them that know what's going on! They finally brought
in guys, they ended up bringing in about 4 people.
"When they left, they
still did not know why it was still sporadic. My understanding is, after I was
dismissed, they came back the following week. That's when they figured out what
the real problem was. But they'd already had us do their 'upgrade' on thousands
of machines by then."
Harris: "How did this
work? Did Dr. Brit Williams get the machines first and do acceptance testing, or
did you guys get them first?"
Behler: "When the
machines came in, they came to us first. They were in the warehouse. We
assembled them. They'd come in a box with a touchscreen, and another box with
the booth. We assembled the machine and we ran it though series of tests. We'd
check the power cord, boot up the machine, check the printer, bar code it,
update Windows CE, then send it on to Brit. He did the KSU testing the L&A
[Logic & Accuracy] was done at the county level, right before the
L&A was not done at acceptance testing?"
Behler: "It got so
there wasn't time. They did it before the election."
Harris: "How long does
it take to do a Logic & Accuracy test? Doesn't it take like, 15 minutes per
Behler: "When we did
the updates in Dekalb, they kept saying it would take a really long time. But
they don't think about the different overlapping things. You can update a bunch
of machines simultaneously. Same thing with an L&A test. You have a whole
group of cards, they have to touch every machine. What we had done before, we
had 10 material handlers throw the machines up there, use the key to open it up,
stick 10 cards in, boot 'em all up which installs the patch."
Harris: "But what
about the L&A testing?"
Behler: "The L&A
testing---You would just enter, like, one vote and---you just choose one---you
don't need to be specific on which one. When they did this L&A testing,
that's when they did the FINAL update to the software."
Harris: "So the
touchscreens came and had to be assembled?"
Behler: "Of course you
have to have the touchscreens assembled in the warehouse, and do some testing.
It turned out that there were a lot of problems that needed to be dealt with,
and they simply weren't dealing with them."
Harris: "How long did
you work there?"
Behler: "They let me
go only one month into it. The Project Manager let me go. He didn't like my
management style. I'm very matter of fact. If this is wrong, fix it. I'm a
simple person---if something is broke, do you stand around and talk about why
its broke for a month, or do you solve the problem?"
Harris: "After your
experience with Diebold, how confident are you that the machines count votes
Behler: "If you were
to ask me to tell you how accurate I thought the vote count was, I'd have to say
'no comment' because after what I saw, I have an inherent distrust of the
"I was absolutely
astounded that they functioned at all in the election. Here's me, I'm at the
polling place looking around, waiting for someone to get frustrated...
"I took this because
of James, who is my friend, and because I'm A-plus certified. But when I came in
there was a bunch of internal bickering. They had no inventory control in the
warehouse. I guarantee you that the state of Georgia can't accurately reflect
where each machine is.
"Diebold was impressed
with what I accomplished, and asked me if I was available for some other states
they'd be doing...
"The problem, what
they were doing with the inventory on the machine was this: Inside the case is
the serial number. They would hand write the serial number on a post-it, stick
it to the front of the machine, and there would be a sheet hand-written from
that list. Now, you've got 20 machines sitting on a pallet. The guy making the
list would look at the post-its and he'd record all the post-it numbers on a
list. Look, if you're writing numbers by hand, twice, by two different people,
there is a real good chance you'll transpose some numbers.
Then, they used the list
for bar codes, but I would say probably 1-2% of the machines are incorrectly bar
coded. They couldn't track them in the Access database, because they'd punch in
and it would say 'that number's already been used.' Then they'd check the
machines, and they had the right number, so the wrong bar code was sitting on
some machine that had already been shipped out to the counties.
would send a spreadsheet of all the numbers of the machines that they shipped
straight from the factory. This was from the same computer that generated the
labels. They had copies of it all along. I said, 'Hey guys, if you check these
when they come in the door you'll never miss a label.'"
"I was very down on
Diebold, because they were very sluggish and didn't move well. I worked there
from mid-June to mid-July. The whole time they were upgrading the software and
doing some sort of fix to it. This was supposed to be prior to KSU
Harris: "What about
the program patches begun in August?"
Behler: "Aug 20, they started to put these teams together and go out and update the machines. You have to understand that the patching all started when I did the first quality check that
has already stolen the 2000 election---why not another?
Saturday. They'd never have
done it. They had shipped us 6,000 machines and NO ONE had ever done a quality
check. I'd come in on a Saturday, I had two of my sons with me, and I thought
I'm going to just look. And it was bad.
"Then first thing
Monday morning I raised the question, I said, 'Hey guys, we've got a
problem---there's 20-25% of the machines that are palletized that are failing,
and then they had a new update come out and I was doing an update, and then they
sent a new one. I updated a whole bunch of machines. Then they finished about
the time I left. But later they put in another one, I guess. In August.
"You've gotta go take
care of this JS [junk shit] equipment, I told them. Finally, I raised it as high
as you go, I raised it to Bob Urosevich, he's the head of it. I told him
personally, 'This is bad, I don't see us putting an election on with these
"That's where they
finally assembeld the teams. They got some big ol' vans we loaded up as many
people as could fit in.
"They were actually
swapping parts out of these machines that were on site. They'd cannibalize a
machine with a bad printer or whatever, they'd grab the screen off of that to
put on another machine with a failing screen, they'd retest it. They were not
just breaking them down, they were taking pieces off and putting it back
"Even the machines
that are updated, that had the right release of the software, exactly like the
company wanted it, you'd boot it up and all kinds of crazy things would happen.
That led to my belief that when voting took place, there would be
Harris: "Do you
remember what release number it was? What version of GEMS?"
don't remember the number because what they did was it was always the date. I
had to take it to the level of these testers, they knew that the machine either
did pass the test or didn't. We'd check the date to make sure it was the right
"The date was…let me
see…June 28. No, the last one, the date that was supposed to be on there was
July 5. (Note: a patch labeled Georgia062802.zip is on the ftp site, and when
you review it, you will see that it contains much more than just the
"Windows updates" claimed by Georgia officials.)
"There was about three
updates, the CE software, the date that would come up would be the last. After
that they came up with another fix, that's the August one at that point.
"I told Darryl Graves,
the Project Manager, I told everyone at Diebold, 'I have zero confidence in the
ability of these machines to perform.'”
Harris: "I understand
that they go through Wyle testing labs and so forth. How in the world do so many
critical errors get through certification?"
Behler: "When I was
handling these machines, they were coming straight from a factory in North
Carolina. That's where the actual touch screen was manufactured. Booths came out
of California. We assembled the booth with the machine. That's all I know."
Harris: "What do you
know about the ROM chip, or whatever?"
Behler: "There's the
eprom, or the flash as they call it. A lot of the fixes they did they could do
in the flash memory.
"If they said they
tested it I'm going to tell you right now the software that I installed on the
machine myself, they found out that that was NEVER tested. Okay, I don't want to
get other people involved, but you should talk to Rellinger.
"Anyway, that they had
never tested it, that made complete sense to me, watching what was going on.
"This is an example we
did: We would plug it in, boot it 3 times, unplug it, boot it three more times.
I wrote a sheet on this. This guy came in from McKinney, he was about the second
in command. He's a good friend of Bob Urosevich. About second to Bob, at least
now, he got a promotion. Greg? Something like that. He flew in and I went to
Dekalb and I tested and together we
went through, and we wrote down every single error, and he booted them himself,
and was looking at the results and seeing how sporadic they were. and we found
out of the machines we tested, about 75% of the machines had different sporadic
things. He was working with me and we were writing them down, we literally wrote
Harris: "Do you have a
copy of that?"
Behler: "I don't think
I have it. I have some email. I'd have to look. I know we came back and he
copied it and he---Greg Lowe (spelling?) is his name. I drove him out there.
Brit was there, KSU was doing their testing. They were bombing these machines
out left and right."
"I'm telling him,
'They're all like this.' At this time I was working 150 hours in 2 weeks I was
there all the time with these machines, that's the reality of it. The techs were
working overtime trying to fix them. We couldn't get enough from the factory
because so many were bad. You'd get a shipment of 300, but 75 were bad, they
couldn't put them out fast enough to replace all the defects.
"It was the software,
not the hardware, that's where the problem was.
"If they're telling
you they tested that, well they did NOT test the fixes that they did to the
windows CE software.
Harris: "Do you know
who was writing the fixes?"
Behler: "He had a
weird name. He came out of Canada."
Lancaster? Josh …Talbot Iredale?"
Behler: "That's it!
Talbot Iredale would actually fix it and say, 'Oh, here's the problem,' and
stick it on the FTP site we'd grab it stick it on the card and make a bunch of
copies and use it." (NOTE: You'll see the initials "tri" in the
source code files. Talbot R. Iredale is one of the main programmers, and has
been a stockholder.)
Harris: "So you took
the patches right off the FTP site and installed them on the machines?"
Behler: "That's what
we did, he'd FTP it, and tell us to grab it, we'd put it on a laptop, copy it
and when you boot the machine---it's just like a computer that looks at the
"A" drive---these machines look at the card and then erase the flash,
reprogram with whatever they said needed to be fixed---I say, erase it and
reprogram it with crap---and then the whole thing would start all over again.
"My understanding was
that they figured out what was conflicting and James told me that Tab, well the
team that came out after I left, they figured out what was going on, they
figured out that when they fixed the real time clock problem they had never
tested their fix.
"The only people that
that cost was Diebold, who had to pay all kinds of extra expenses. The rumor
around the office was that Diebold lost maybe $10 million on the Georgia thing.
I mean, they only sold the machines for what, $2,000, or $2,500, and then you
have to build them and then you're paying people $30 an hour and you are out
touching 22,000 machines FOUR TIMES---there's no way they didn't lose money on
"You know one of the
main things that really just made me so upset, they were just like, 'This Brit
guy, don't even speak to him, it's a political game, you've gotta play the
politics.' Well, he walks in and says 'What are you guys doing?'
“I said, 'We're putting
in an update.' He said, 'Will it change what it does?' We said, 'Just do your
normal test, we're supposed to get the machines ready for you.'
“He tells someone at the
office and they freaked out. They were like, 'What the heck are you doing???'
"I wasn't supposed to
talk to him at all, I guess. The guy had a flannel shirt on, he was kicking it
and he was very genuine and open and there we are in the same room together, but
because I actually spoke to him I got reprimanded. They said, 'If they ask you
any question, you gotta say 'Talk to Norma, to one of us.''
"And then you know,
ironically, later on right before I exited, they were scrambling for a date,
they were trying to get us, the teams, into Fulton County to do Fulton County's
"They were in the most
horrific spot. The place they warehoused them was like 1900 machines in a little
office space, there was no way we could get at them. The machines are like 58
pounds, and they had to bring them in unstack them off the pallet, restack on
the pallet, talk about labor, talk about wasted money! It's like a warehouse and
offices off 75, in Atlanta, I'm talking to this guy he's a great guy, he's from
Fulton County. Him and I were scheduling this, figuring it out how to get to
these machines and do the update before KSU has to test them. We cannot be doing
this at same time as KSU because there was NO ROOM for that.
“Brit had been down
there, he knew this. I'm talking to the Fulton County guy. He opens this one
last door and here's this huge giant empty warehouse. Why didn't they put the
machines out here?
“He says, 'Well you see
over there's these boxes of county material, you can't be out here because there
may be some sensitive stuff in these files. They don't want anybody near 'em.’
His name was Barney, the only Barney I've met who's black. He said, ‘Yeah,
they were talking about putting a fence out here.’
"We could just get all
the testing done at once, I thought. Whatever. Maybe someone could just get a
security guard to watch us and make sure we don't get into the boxes. I go back
to the office. Brit was there, and he says 'What's it look like for Fulton?'
“I said 'There's no way
were going to able to get to Fulton County by Thursday.' I said we could
probably be out there by Friday or Saturday. He said 'There's no way we can do
it at the same time, you know that.'
"I think a lot of the
problems they had---I've worked in billing software, and it's common to have
this little thing wrong--a simple little hardware change, you have to put some
little line of code in Windows CE to make it work better. But the thing that
blew me away was when I'm told me they'd NEVER TESTED THE FIX.
"They produced it and
got it to us in 24-48 hours. If I'd known they hadn't tested it I simply
wouldn't have installed it! My background tells me that's a no-no.
"I went into this
Diebold thing with no real knowledge of the voting industry. When I left, I not
only had a complete grasp, but I had a complete disrespect for these machines.
"And with the folks in
the office who were so--you know, 'I'm the political person, you have to know
how the system works'--they were so much more concerned about their own self
importance, they were losing track of DO THE MACHINES COUNT THE VOTE PROPERLY!
"Because that's what
the people in Georgia need. And I'm one of them!"
Harris: "Who are some
of the names working in that office?"
Behler: "Norma Lyons
and Wes Craven--they're from Diebold, and Keith Long. Norma and Wes live in
Georgia. Keith was in Maryland before, then here, I think.
"They sat in the
weekly meetings on Monday. Norma had been a county worker doing voting for 10
years. She knew all these people in several counties. She was the liason between
Diebold and the counties. They [Diebold] would tell you something important, and
she may or may not tell you because she wouldn't know how important it was.
"Wes was the kind of
guy who needs to work for Sprint or a big company..."
Harris: "How secure
were the machines, from what you saw?"
Behler: "I'll tell you
something else---we didn't have badges---people could just walk right in and get
to the machines."
Harris: "And that FTP
site, anybody could walk right into it also? Even Diebold's competitors."
Behler: "Anybody who's
in voting, you leave one company you go over there. Ooh yeah, we'll take you on.
Someone comes in and says, 'By the way, I uploaded the source code, want to grab
Harris: "Were there
any protections to keep you from duplicating memory cards, or to have them
serial numbered or whatever?"
Behler: "The memory
cards, you can just duplicate them. You have to have the proper info on the
card, for the machine to boot up, but you can just make copies of the
Harris: "Were there
any passwords on those FTP files?"
Harris: "Any passwords
on the files themselves? Or the site?"
Behler: "What we got
never had passwords. You just pick it up and use it."
Harris: "Do you still
have any records?"
Behler: "Emails. And
James downloaded to his personal laptop, it's probably still on his. And
probably still on mine too. Diebold didn't provide us with anything with a
PCMCIA slot so we had to use our own laptops to transfer the files when they
told us to.
Harris: "When I asked
Diebold if there was anyone named Rob in Georgia, they said no. Did they know
Behler: "They knew me
and they knew me well. I met Bob Urosevich a couple different times, and Ian,
and then Greg Lowe, he got promoted to like almost the DFO, he was basically
Bob's right hand man."
"If you would have
realized the scolding I got for actually speaking to Brit. The whole quality
control issue, I kept having to remind them, I'm the one that pointed this
out---we want this to be right---my goal is to just get it fixed and move on.
Harris: "Do you think
anybody could have tampered with a machine, if they wanted to?"
Behler: "Well, when we
did the quality control check we'd open it up, they have a little box for the
printer. We would find the key still in the printer. Someone could literally
take that. We found cards left in the machine. I wondered what would happen if
the wrong person got it."
Harris: "I understand
they did a big demonstration during the summer, with the machines."
Behler: "I was there
when they told me I needed 1100 machines for a demo. I thought, 'The trick is
coming up with 1100 machines that actually work.’
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