Monday, January 30, 2006

Secretary of State requests voting system contingency plans

California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson last week sent a memo to all county registrars in the state asking for information about what, if any contingency plans the counties have if their voting equipment does not receive a favorable review by the indepedent testing authority, according to this article by Shane Mizer in Sunday's Eureka Reporter (Humboldt County). Excerpts are featured below.


Humboldt County election officials could see longer hours come election night if the Independent Testing Authority decides to issue an unfavorable review of a component found inside Diebold Inc.’s AccuVote-OS voting machine. In anticipation of the results, expected to be received by Secretary of State Bruce McPherson on Tuesday, local election officials are crossing their fingers.

“There’s always hand counts, but I don’t see that, (considering) the time involved, as a desirable alternative at all,” Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich said.

On Tuesday, the day after McPherson paid a visit to Humboldt County election officials and the Board of Supervisors, a memo from the secretary of state’s office was sent to all registrars of voters throughout the state with a questionnaire attached designed to gauge what sort of contingency plans counties will adopt if the ITA does not recommend certifying Diebold’s machine for the upcoming elections.

The request for a contingency plan came as a surprise to election officials, considering that the county is being forced to troubleshoot a problem that the federal and state guidelines have only recently created.

Up until now, Crnich has assumed that the only ramifications of the ITA results would be to cause an extended delay in the certification of Diebold’s AccuVote-TSX system.

If approved for state certification, the county plans to purchase the AccuVote-TSX machine to comply with Help America Vote Act of 2002.

One of HAVA’s requirements is to establish greater accessibility for disabled voters in all polling stations in the county, which the AccuVote-TSX would hypothetically fulfill.


When asked if the state has created any contingency plans for a county due to the delays, the McPherson’s press secretary Jennifer Kerns said:

“We are laser-focused on getting qualified systems for counties to use for the June elections; therefore, I cannot speculate on any contingency plans. We are doing everything in our power to meet those deadlines and that is our top priority. We continue to have conversations with election officials at the local level, and all options are currently on the table for June.”

Despite the secretary’s optimism, under the worse-case scenario for the upcoming June 6 primary election, if the entire Diebold system is decertified, the county’s election department could find itself relying on only three central counting machines at its Eureka office that will have to suffice for collecting all 60,000 ballots estimated to come in that night.

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