Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Montogomery County, MD reports problems with 12 percent of its Diebold touchscreens

Elections officials in Montgomery County, Marlyand's largest county, completed a review of problems encountered with their 2,597 Diebold touchscreen units. The particular model in question, the Accuvote-TS, is used statewide in Maryland and is the same model used in California's Alameda and Plumas counties.

According to Montgomery County's review, 7 percent of the county's machines had frozen screens or failed to boot up on November 2, 2004, while another 5 percent had vote tallies that were "considerably lower than other machines used in the same precincts, causing elections officials to deem them "suspect" according to the report drafted by the county in December for the local election board," reports the AP in a March 8th story



But state officials disputed those figures, saying a review of the county's machines conducted by the state and the equipment's manufacturer showed that only .4 percent had significant problems on Election Day.

"There were no votes lost," said Linda Lamone, Maryland's election administrator.

Maryland used 16,000 touch screen machines statewide on Nov. 3, the second time the entire state used the electronic voting system meant to make casting a ballot easier and more secure.


The county's review of the election concluded that 189 of the units failed. Of those, 58 would not boot up and 106 had the screen freeze.

"In staff opinion, this is the most serious of the problems," the report states of the screen freezes.

An additional 122 units had results that were deemed suspect, meaning each had 25-50 votes recorded when all other units in a polling place had more than 150 votes.

Margie Rohrer, spokeswoman for the county election board, said some of the machines have been sent to Diebold for testing. She referred all other questions to the state board. The report does not mention whether the vote tally was affected by the problems.

Lamone said a state review of Montgomery identified 300 machines with problems, most of which were not electronic, such as broken clasps or bent legs. Fourteen failed to boot up and weren't used and another 12 had problems such as frozen screens, she said.

Lamone said she had not seen the Montgomery report and could not explain the discrepancies between the state and local figures. The state is reviewing other county results, she said.

Voting machine foes seized on the county report as proof the machines have problems.

"We observed exactly these kind of problems," said Linda Schade of Takoma Park, Md.-based TrueVoteMD. "I am not surprised."

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