Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites


Saturday, April 24, 2004

California on the Verge of Booting Diebold

From the Times editorial page this morning:

California's secretary of state, Kevin Shelley, is expected to decide in the next week whether the state's electronic voting machines can be used in November. His office has just issued two disturbing studies — one on machine malfunctions in last month's primary, another on misconduct by one of the nation's leading voting machine manufacturers — that make a strong case against the current system. Refusing to certify the state's electronic voting machines at this late date is a serious step, but there are compelling reasons for Mr. Shelly to decertify some, and perhaps all, of them.

The “leading voting machine manufacturer,” of course, is Diebold. The California Secretary of State’s report on the March primary, here, provides some disturbing details. During that primary, the report notes, a critical piece of Diebold equipment called the “Precinct Control Module (PCM)” – which issues voter cards – failed:

As a result, over half of San Diego’s polling places could not open on time as a result of the PCM failure and the failure to provide back-up paper ballots. Voters were turned away or sent to other polling places to vote provisionally. Presumably, some of these voters cast their ballots later in the day. There is no way to estimate the number of voters who failed to return to the polls after being turned away. (emphasis original)

A separate investigation by the same office concludes:
In sum, Diebold:
  1. marketed and sold the TSx system before it was fully functional, and before it was federally qualified;

  2. misrepresented the status of the TSx system in federal testing in order to obtain state certification;

  3. failed to obtain federal qualification of the TSx system despite assurances that it would;

  4. failed even to pursue testing of the firmware installed on its TSx machines in California until only weeks before the election, choosing instead to pursue testing of newer firmware that was even further behind in the ITA testing process and that, in some cases, required the use of other software that also was not approved in California;

  5. installed uncertified software on election machines in 17 counties;

  6. sought last-minute certification of allegedly essential hardware, software and firmware that had not completed federal testing;and

  7. in doing so, jeopardized the conduct of the March Primary.

Stayed tuned, folks. Common sense, and verifiable voting, may yet prevail. |

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