Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Butte County's election clerk says paper trail does nothing to improve security

Today's Chico Enterprise-Record features an article about the local county clerk-recorder's reaction to Kevin Shelley's resignation. In the story, Butte County Clerk-Recorder Candace Grubbs tells the paper that adding a voter verified paper record to computerized voting machines does nothing to improve security.

Grubbs apparently does not know about or understand the importance of the state's manual count law, which requires that a subset of paper ballots be selected at random and publicly counted by hand to verify that the software used to count ballots is accurate. With California's paper-based voting systems, such as optical scan, the manual count law can be satisfied. With paperless, electronic voting systems, it cannot.

Grubbs goes on to tell reporter Larry Mitchell that in the end, voters have to trust their election officials. But such trust is misplaced when neither the voters nor election officials have the ability to audit the proprietary software used to count our ballots.

Grubbs, according to the article, also criticized Kevin Shelley for "needlessly decertifying" voting systems that some counties had purchased. This would be Diebold's TSX machine, which the Secretary of State decertified after discovering that the machine had not in fact been federally qualified for use, even though the vendor and the Secretary of State's staff assured the certification panel that it had been. CVF and many others urged the Secretary of State to decertify the TSX primarily for this reason.

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