Friday, March 6, 2009

Secretary of State Hearing on March 17 to examine software vote counting flaw

The Humboldt Transparancy Project uncovered a serious flaw in the vote counting software produced by Premier (formerly Diebold). The group found that the software erased 197 votes. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has sent this report to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission summarizing what happened and providing evidence that the vendor was aware of this flaw for years and did little to inform its customers, the counties of California using it. She is also convening a public hearing, to take place March 17 at the Secretary of State's auditorium in Sacramento.

To me, this all feels a lot like a deja vu. It was just about five years ago that another California Secretary of State, Kevin Shelley, held a series of public hearings to examine the same company's practice of distributing uncertified software to California counties, in violation of California statute. Hundreds of people showed up at the Secretary of State's office. In that case, Diebold was found guilty in court and was fined. Electronic voting machines were decertified.

For more on this episode, see Kim Zetter's Wired article, this synopsis by Mitch Trachtenberg (the Humboldt volunteer who created the software that detected the flaw), and today's Electionline story by Kat Zambon.

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