Calif. Official Bans Some Voting Machines

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Sat May 1 10:29:17 EDT 2004



Yahoo! News   Sat, May 01, 2004

Calif. Official Bans Some Voting Machines

 Fri Apr 30, 8:56 PM ET
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By JIM WASSERMAN, Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -  The state's top elections official called for a
criminal investigation of Diebold Election Systems Inc. as he banned use of
the company's newest model touchscreen voting machine, citing concerns
about its security and reliability.

 Friday's ban will force up to 2 million voters in four counties, including
San Diego, to use paper ballots in November, marking their choices in ovals
read by optical scanners.

 Secretary of State Kevin Shelley asked the attorney general's office to
investigate allegations of fraud, saying Diebold had lied to state
officials. A spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer said prosecutors
would review Shelley's claims.

 Diebold issued a statement saying it was confident in its systems and
planned to work with election officials in California and throughout the
nation to run a smooth election this fall.

 The ban immediately affects more than 14,000 AccuVote-TSx machines made by
Diebold, the leading touchscreen provider. Many were used for the first
time in the March primaries and suffered failures.

 In 10 other counties, Shelley decertified touchscreen machines but set 23
conditions under which they still could be used. That order involved 4,000
older machines from Diebold and 24,000 from its three rivals.

 The decision follows the recommendations of a state advisory panel, which
conducted hearings earlier this month.

 Made just six months before a presidential election, the decision reflects
growing concern about paperless electronic voting.

 A number of failures involving touchscreen machines in Georgia, Maryland
and California have spurred serious questioning of the technology. As
currently configured, the machines lack paper records, making recounts

 "I anticipate his decision will have an immediate and widespread impact,"
said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation and a
frequent critic of the machines. "California is turning away from e-voting
equipment, and other states are sure to follow."

 Activists have been demanding paper printouts - required in California by
2006 - to guard against fraud, hacking and malfunction.

 Diebold has been a frequent target of such groups, though most California
county election officials say that problems have been overstated and that
voters like the touchscreen systems first installed four years ago.

 At least 50 million voters nationally were expected to use the ATM-like
machines from Diebold and other companies in November.

 California counties with 6.5 million registered voters have been at the
forefront of touchscreen voting, installing more than 40 percent of the
more than 100,000 machines believed to be in use nationally.

 A state investigation released this month said Diebold jeopardized the
outcome of the March election in California with computer glitches,
last-minute changes to its systems and installations of uncertified
software in its machines in 17 counties.

 It specifically cited San Diego County, where 573 of 1,611 polling places
failed to open on time because low battery power caused machines to

 Registrars in counties that made the switch to paperless voting said
Shelley's decision to return to paper ballots would result in chaos.

 "There just isn't time to bring this system up before November," Kern
County Registrar Ann Barnett said. "It's absurd."

 Diebold officials, in a 28-page report rebutting many of the accusations
about its performance, said the company had been singled out unfairly for
problems with electronic voting and maintained its machines are safe,
secure and demonstrated 100 percent accuracy in the March election.

 The company, a subsidiary of automatic teller machine maker Diebold, Inc.,
acknowledged it had "alienated" the secretary of state's office and
promised to redouble efforts to improve relations with counties and the


 On the Net:

 California Secretary of State:

Diebold Election Systems:

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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