Tuesday, January 27, 2004

All of Arizona gets new voting gear

By Jon Kamman, The Arizona Republic, 1/27/04

The entire state of Arizona will use paper-based, optical scan voting systems this year, choosing to replace punch card systems with paper based, rather than electronic ballot systems. According to the story, Deputy Secretary of State Kevin Tyne said the state "bought 467 voting machines, together with training services and a maintenance contract, for more than $2.5 million", and that "Secretary of State Jan Brewer was "more cautious and conservative" in buying optical-scan equipment, rather than a touch-screen voting system that has drawn concerns about possible tampering."

Printed-ballot case to get early hearing

By Herald Staff, The Miami Herald, 1/27/04

Florida Congressman Robert Wexler has filed a lawsuit claiming the use of paperless computerized voting systems in his state violates state manual recount laws. His lawsuit will be heard by a Palm Beach Circuit judge on February 6. Here's an excerpt:

The suit responds to critics who say the current system doesn't give voters a way to be sure that the button they touch on a screen actually translates to the vote they intend. And, Wexler contends, state law requires a way to recount ballots by hand in close races. Now that's not possible -- as Broward officials discovered after a recent special election.

Ellyn Bogdanoff's tiny margin of victory in state House District 91 -- 12 votes -- triggered an automatic recount under state law. But there were no ballots to count -- only a series of 1's and 0's on a tape inside each machine.

Wexler said he was pleased with the court's agreement to an expedited hearing in the case. The judge set a hearing on preliminary motions for Feb. 6.

Also on Monday, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach county commissioners called for the state Legislature to require a ballot-by-ballot paper record of votes cast on electronic voting machines. The Palm Beach Post contributed to this report.

Voting machine proposals kept from public view

By Mark Naymik, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/25/04

The Cleveland Plain Dealer requested copies of an Ohio county's voting technology proposals, but the county did not fulfill the newspaper's request, saying they could get in trouble for disclosing vendors' trade secrets. Here's an excerpt:

Michael Vu, the county's elections chief, said the board is trying to negotiate for computers and items needed to run the voting systems, additional staff training and items needed to store the machines in the county's warehouse.

The board has not turned over any documents that explain these items in detail, nor has the board or its attorney offered any explanation of how the disclosure of such items might betray a trade secret.

"If it wasn't for the objections of the vendors, we would be willing to give them to you," Vu said. "Three out of the four vendors have objected to releasing the information, and the board would be liable if we released it."

He said Hart Intercivic may be willing to release its proposal.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Panel calls for revote in Senate District 29 (Mississippi)

By Julie Goodman, The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS), 1/20/04


..."Last year's Election Day problems started when the voting machines would not work at Precinct 94.

"Poll manager Alvin McGowan passed out hundreds of paper ballots.

"At the end of the chaotic day, some votes were not properly handled, in part, because some of the poll workers disregarded his instructions, said McGowan, who testified before the committee.

"Two and a half months later, District 29 has no representative."

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

San Joaquin voting machines in question

By David Siders, The Stockton Record, 1/16/04


"SACRAMENTO -- State election officials Thursday demanded security and certification documents from the company that makes voting machines used in San Joaquin County.

"The voting system used in the county does not have full federal approval, an elections research specialist at the Elections Assistance Commission said. It has passed most federal tests and has conditional state certification.

"Diebold Election Systems has 30 days to submit documents to the state Voting Systems and Procedures Panel. The panel could then decide to certify or withdraw certification from Diebold's TSx touchscreen system.

"TSx machines can be used in March elections regardless of certification, said Mark Kyle, the panel's chairman and California's undersecretary of state. Machines can be used in elections up to six months following decertification, he said.

"Dozens of Californians lobbied election officials Thursday to withdraw certification, some calling electronic voting "faith-based.""

Diebold Gets Stay in California

By Kim Zetter, Wired News, 1/17/04


"Yesterday the panel sent a letter to Diebold giving the company 30 days to turn over documentation for, among other things, the federal testing and qualification of each version of its software and hardware; procedures for tracking its inventory, especially when machines come back for repair; copies of all contracts signed with county election officials since January 2001; and, at the behest of voting activist Jim March, a description of all changes the company made to the Windows CE operating system in its touch-screen units.

"The latter information will show whether the company violated Federal Election Commission voting-system standards, which require federal code review of software like Windows CE only if it's altered. Voting activists and computer experts believe that Diebold never submitted the Windows CE for review. Diebold was unavailable to confirm that before press time.

"We'll certainly work with the secretary of state's office to continue to provide them with the information they feel is necessary to conduct a complete and thorough audit," said Diebold spokesman David Bear.

"The VSP meeting, which has previously attracted little more than a dozen voting-system vendors and activists, drew more than 100 people this time, including county election officials, computer experts and dozens of TV and newspaper journalists."

Probe of voting machines focuses on software upgrades

By Troy Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 1/15/04


"As a result of the investigation and Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's order in November that all electronic voting machines in California must provide paper receipts by 2006, McCormack said the county has put on hold its request to spend up to $115 million to install electronic voting machines countywide in the 2006 elections.

"McCormack said the new optical scanning voting machines, which replaced the punch-card voting systems after the October recall, will be used in the March presidential primary election.

"Computer scientists and voting-rights advocates have been warning for months that at least 50,000 paperless voting terminals nationwide expose the vote to hackers, software bugs and mechanical breakdowns."

Friday, January 16, 2004

Officials defend new vote machines

By James McElhatton, Washington Times, 1/15/04


"....Mr. O'Field said Sequoia initially programmed the machines to discount ballots that were blank or included write-in votes, contrary to a directive from election officials.

"Reprogramming the machines on election night to count all ballots caused delays, along with the fact that poll workers had to report election returns by hand rather than by using a modem."

Thursday, January 8, 2004

New System no easy touch for 134 voters in Broward

By Erika Bolstad, Miami Herald, 1/8/04


"Three years after helping render punch-card voting systems obsolete, Broward County voters have proven that no election system is foolproof.

"In Tuesday's special election to fill state House seat 91, 134 Broward voters managed to use the 2-year-old touch-screen equipment without casting votes for any candidate."....

"None of this would have drawn much notice had the race to fill the District 91 seat in Northeast Broward not been so breathtakingly close, said Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore, who survived her own recount in 2000 after designing a controversial ''butterfly'' ballot.

"''We always pray for large margins,'' she said."