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Open Voting Newswire

Paper trail law for e-voting has fans, foes

John Wildermuth, Chronicle Political Writer
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

California will require all electronic voting machines to produce a printed record of votes in the June election, but there are still concerns that the expensive overhaul may cause more problems than it solves.

The Pacific Research Institute, a free-market think tank, has called the paper trail requirement one of the state's top 10 policy blunders of 2005. The new law "may force California to relive the mistakes of America's punch-card voting past,'' the group said, and will make voting "increasingly difficult and negate the original virtues of e-voting: speed, cost-savings and efficiency.''

Bowen announces hearings on "open source" voting software issue

From: Senator Debra Bowen's Office

Contact: Evan Goldberg (916) 651-4028

SACRAMENTO – The issue of whether California should be using electronic voting machine systems that rely on “open source software,” instead of the traditional proprietary software being used today, will be addressed in a pair of public hearings by Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee.

“If we want people to have confidence that their votes are being counted accurately, the systems counties use to tally ballots need to be open, accessible, and completely transparent,” said Bowen, a long-time open government advocate and the author of the 1993 measure that put all of the Legislature’s bills, analyses, and voting records on the Internet. “Nationwide, only 48% of the people are confident their votes are actually being counted correctly or being counted at all and you don’t build confidence in our electoral system by leaving people in the dark. To restore people’s faith in the system and ensure ballots are tallied accurately, we need to turn on the lights and let people see how their votes are being counted and protected.”

State threatens to pull plug on vote machine firm

John Wildermuth, Chronicle Political Writer
Saturday, December 24, 2005

A voting machine company whose equipment handles elections in San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Solano and seven other California counties could be out of business in the state if it doesn't fix software problems that surfaced in November's election, a state official has warned.

"The California secretary of state is deeply concerned about problems experienced by counties utilizing (Election Systems and Software) voting equipment and software,'' Bradley Clark, assistant secretary of state for elections, wrote in a Nov. 17 letter to the Omaha, Neb., company that was obtained by the Associated Press.

Secretary of State knew of problems with ES&S electronic voting machines

From: Senator Debra Bowen's Office

Contact: Evan Goldberg (916) 651-4028

SACRAMENTO – “The fact that we’re only learning about this more than a month after it happened is as outrageous as it is unacceptable. You don’t build people’s confidence in the voting systems you’re asking them to use by refusing to talk about the problems with the machines in public. I don’t know why the Secretary of State is so intent on keeping all of the problems with these machines a secret, but California voters deserve better.”

That was how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee, reacted to a report from the Associated Press today that it had uncovered a letter from the California Secretary of State’s office sent shortly after the November 2005 special election disclosing problems with the Elections Systems & Software (ES&S) voting machines used in that election.

Errors lead California officials to warn voting-machine company

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - California election officials have told one of the country's largest manufacturers of voting machines to repair its software after problems with vote counts and verification surfaced during California's November special election.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections Bradley J. Clark threatened to start the process of decertifying Election Systems and Software machines for use in California if senior officials didn't address the concerns immediately.

"The California Secretary of State is deeply concerned about problems experienced by counties utilizing ES&S voting equipment and software," Clark wrote in a letter addressed to company president Aldo Tesi nine days after the Nov. 8 election.

Diebold Hack Hints at Wider Flaws

By Kim Zetter
Wired News

Election officials spooked by tampering in a test last week of Diebold optical-scan voting machines should be equally wary of optical-scan equipment produced by other manufacturers, according to a computer scientist who conducted the test.

Election officials in Florida's Leon County, where the test occurred, promptly announced plans to drop Diebold machines in favor of optical-scan machines made by Election Systems & Software, or ES&S. But Hugh Thompson, an adjunct computer science professor at the Florida Institute of Technology who helped devise last week's test, believes other systems could also be vulnerable.

Secretary of State punts question of re-certifying Diebold machines

From: Senator Debra Bowen's Office

Contact: Evan Goldberg (916) 651-4028

SACRAMENTO – “The Secretary of State shouldn’t punt the decision about whether Diebold machines should be used to count ballots in California to the federal government and ‘independent’ testing authorities that are financed by the voting machine vendors. That decision needs to be made in the open, right here in California.”

That’s how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee, reacted to today’s decision by the Secretary of State to send Diebold to the federal government and the Independent Testing Authorities for more information before deciding whether to re-certify the company’s touch-screen machines for use here in California.

Voting Machines Rejected

By Juliet Williams

SACRAMENTO - Secretary of State Bruce McPherson on Tuesday told electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold Election Systems that it must submit two of its machines for more rigorous federal testing before they can be certified in California.

The memory cards on the systems have "unresolved significant security concerns," according to a letter sent to Diebold Tuesday from McPherson's elections chief, Caren Daniels-Meade.

She asked the company to submit source coding, or program instructions, for the machines to federal investigators.

The problems were discovered during routine testing of the machines by state employees and independent consultants, said Secretary of State spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns. She said each system approved for use in California must meet 10 security requirements, and the Diebold machines did not meet one of those standards.


By Susan Jameson
Granite Bay View

Ah, the dangling chad.

Who'd have thought that a system implemented in the 1960s could cause so many problems in the 2000 national election and subsequent laws and resolutions, including the Help America Vote Act of 2002?

Perhaps Granite Bay programmer Alan Dechert, co-founder and president of the Open Voting Consortium (OVC). The group of citizens and master programmers is dedicated to voting transparency by developing, maintaining and delivering accurate and verifiable open-source software to be used in public voting.

According to Dechert, the problems that drew national attention in the 2000 election were bound to happen, but worse has been the nation's answer to that problem - the direct recording electronic (DRE) paperless voting machine.

SB370 Signed Into Law

From: Senator Debra Bowen's Office

Contact: Evan Goldberg (916) 651-4028

SACRAMENTO – “People need and deserve to know their votes have been counted accurately, and the best way to ensure that happens is to use the paper printout that the voter has already verified as being accurate and check it against the results tallied by the electronic machine.”

That’s how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee responded to the Governor’s decision to sign SB 370 into law tonight.

“This isn’t complicated, either you care about whether the election results are accurate or you don’t,” said Bowen. “I don’t see how the Secretary of State, who led the opposition to the bill, could say with straight face that he’s for fair elections, he’s for having a paper trail on electronic voting machines, yet he’s against using that paper trail to ensure the accuracy of the vote count.”

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