Monday, November 21, 2005

No-Account Counts 

On the off chance that recent developments have left you feeling overconfident about the '06 midterm elections, check out the news from North Carolina --
Voting machine companies should have to abide by a new law requiring they turn over information on how their systems work, a Winston-Salem woman says in a court filing.

Joyce McCloy, founder of the N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting, wants a Wake County Superior Court judge to limit or remove an order that relieves companies from having to meet all the law's disclosure requirements.

Acceding to a request from Diebold Election Systems, Judge Howard E. Manning Jr. decided this month that companies competing to supply the state with voting machines won't be held liable if they don't provide all information about the machines' software and its creators, as spelled out in the law.
-- and Ohio --
Although delayed results are not the worst problem that can happen in an election, the first experiment with electronic voting machines clearly points to a need for the Lucas County Board of Elections to isolate the problems that occurred Nov. 8 and make it clear to voters what went right and what went wrong. The problems cannot simply be waved off until the next general election in 2006.

The board has come up with several differing explanations for delays in vote-counting, the latest one being that there was not enough space in a secure room to process election returns. There was room for only six tabulation machines, as against, for example, Montgomery County, where Dayton is located, which used 13 machines to count a somewhat smaller number of votes.

Two other problems emerged, however. One was that the machines seem fragile, and one has to wonder how durable they are. They were equipped with printing devices - to produce the so-called paper trail - that looked as if they had been purchased at a five-and-dime store. Printouts resembled cash-register receipts, flimsy and trouble-prone.

A more serious problem is that there is no provision for connecting the precinct voting devices via modem to the board of elections, where staff members had to upload 1,665 individual memory cards that were hand-delivered downtown. [The editors of the otherwise admirable Toledo Blade are inexplicably advocating a change that would make Ohio's Diebold machines more, not less, vulnerable to hacking --S.]

-- and California (via our revered colleagues Avedon Carol and Dave Johnson):
Apparently the Republican Secretary of State in California may be stealthily REVERSING the previous Democratic Secretary of State's decertification of Diebold paperless voting machines! Raw Story and Brad Blog have stories about this. Here's a summary: Democratic Secretary of State Shelley had decertified Diebold machines as dangerous to democracy. (He also sought to prosecute the company for lying to state officials.) Then, after the recall and Schwarzenegger's election Shelley was forced out of office on contrived charges, with a Republican appointed in his place. Now there is funny business going on and it looks like Diebold may be coming back. I tracked down a new document [Note - PDF] outlining requirements for voting machines, and the previous requirement that they produce paper ballot backups is NOT on the list.

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