Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sequoia Touchscreen with Paper Trail Certified, With Conditions

Yesterday California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson announced that he has certified voting equipment manufactured by Sequoia Voting Systems. The equipment includes Sequoia's electronic voting machine with a voter-verified paper audit trail printer, which is designed to satisfy both the federal accessibility and state security laws.

As reported today in the Oakland Tribune, it is uncertain whether counties will purchase the newly certified equipment before the June 6 California Primary election. According to the article, Sequoia has "informed many counties that it needs three or more months to deliver after a sale."

A few counties that owned earlier models of Sequoia's touchscreens without the paper trail printer will need to either use paper ballots in June, modify their existing equipment with a printer unit, or purchase entirely new machines before the June Primary. Riverside County chose the last option, and has already taken delivery of the new equipment. In Shasta, however, the registrar of voters put her board of supervisors on notice a few weeks back that she may fail to comply with the state paper trail law.

Like the recent Diebold certification, Sequoia's came with conditions, many of which focus on the physical security of the removable memory card used in both vendors' electronic voting machines. There are new questions being raised, however, about whether these kinds of measures are adequate. Harri Hursti, the finish computer programmer who exposed security weaknesses in Diebold's optical scan voting system, recently traveled to Utah to take a close look at Diebold's latest electronic voting machine, the TSx. Access to the TSx was granted to Mr. Hursti by Emery County Clerk Bruce Funk. More details about this developing story are available from Bev Harris' Black Box Voting web site.

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