Thursday, March 4, 2004

Electronic voting devices lack federal OK and disrupt votes for thousands

By Ian Hoffman, Alameda Newspaper Group, 03/04/04


None of the devices used Tuesday to generate digital ballots for millions of California voters have undergone federal testing and certification.

One such device, a precinct control module supplied by Diebold Election Systems, disrupted voting in the primary for thousands of voters, affecting as many as one in five precincts in Alameda County and one in 10 precincts in San Diego County.

A large number of voters were forced to fill out paper, provisional ballots, and some were sent away without casting ballots in two of the state's largest counties.

High volumes of provisional votes and late absentee ballots added uncertainty to Alameda County election results. On Wednesday, county Registrar of Voters Brad Clark reported to state officials an estimate of 30,000 uncounted absentee ballots, 8,000 provisional ballots and perhaps 2,000 ballots damaged in the mail or by voters or election officials.

Some of the provisional ballots may be ruled invalid as counting proceeds over the next few weeks. But the county's estimate suggests that as much as 13 percent of votes for Tuesday's election remain to be counted.

Clark said he was disturbed at the prospect that voters may have been turned away when poll workers were unable to get the voter-card encoders to work and, in some cases, ran out of provisional ballots.

``If people were turned away, that's awful,'' Clark said, adding that he has no first-hand reports of voters being unable to cast some form of ballot.

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