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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Little Ohio 

The New Zealand news site Scoop has published a press release from TrueVoteMD.org, a group calling for the decertification of electronic voting machines in Maryland:
According to county election officials and other sources, all Maryland voting machines have been on "lockdown" since November 2, 2004 due to statewide machine failures including 12% of machines in Montgomery County, some of which appear to have lost votes in significant numbers. The State Board of Elections convinced the media that Election Day went smoothly, when in fact there were serious statewide, systemic problems with the Diebold electronic voting machines -- so serious that the SBE and Diebold still have not figured out how to prevent the loss of votes in the future.

"Election Day was anything but smooth. Votes were lost, computer cards storing votes were unreadable, thousands of error messages were reported, machines froze in mid-voting and machines refused to boot up. The problems with the machines were so widespread and serious that efforts to hide the problems have failed," said Linda Schade, director of TrueVoteMD.org. "It is not sufficient for Diebold and the SBE to investigate themselves. They have misled the public about this problem and an independent investigation is needed. Further, these problems indicate that the Diebold machines should be decertified as required by Maryland law and as provided for in the Diebold contract. This is an opportunity to correct the mistaken purchase of paperless electronic voting machines. Diebold should refund Maryland tax dollars and we should start anew with a system that voters trust because it can be independently audited and recounts can be meaningful."

According to the IT Report to the Montgomery County Election Board, dated December 13, 2004 there were two broad levels of problems. Seven percent of units (189) failed. This included failure to boot up, screen freezes and a variety of other problems. Screen freezes, which occurred on 106 voting units were "the most serious of errors" because many "froze when the voter pressed the Cast Ballot button." As a result "election judges are unable to provide substantial confirmation that the vote was in fact counted." In addition there were "122 suspect units (5%) were identified because the unit had few votes captured compared to other voting units in the polling place. A unit was considered suspect if it had 25-50 votes captured when all other units in the polling place had over 150 votes," the report stated. The IT report includes other details of Diebold machine failures including smart card and encoder problems as well as thousands of yet unexplained error messages, now called 'ballot exception errors."

Multiple sources also have revealed that the computer memory cards where vote totals are stored inside each voting machine were unreadable in multiple counties.

After IT examinations within Maryland failed to decipher the root of these problems, the State Board and Diebold sent voting machines to several out-of-state locations in Texas and Ohio for further testing, according to a Diebold memo dated February 16, 2005. As of the March 3, Montgomery County Election Board meeting, the PC memory card problems as well as those listed above cannot be explained by Diebold, according the IT report.
Click here to read the same story sanitized for mainstream consumption.

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