A House united. That seems to be the effect that Diebold has had on the state of Maryland where they had initially deployed their paperless touch-screen voting machines in 2002 as one of two "showcase" states along with Georgia.
That "showcase" has turned into yet another public relations fiasco for Diebold of late.
The Republican Governor there recently slammed Diebold's paperless system, called for paper ballots and announced he had lost confidence in the State Board of Election and its Diebold-supporting Director, Linda Lamone, to carry out a fair election. Then information surfaced that Lamone had allowed MD to use uncertified Diebold software in the 2002 and 2004 elections. Then revelations were made public of massive machine failures in 2004. And now this from MD's Democratic House...
The state House of Delegates this week voted 137-0 to approve a bill prohibiting election officials from using AccuVote-TSx touch-screen systems in 2006 primary and general elections.
The bill was sent onto the State Senate for a vote after the House action, she said.
Healey said the effort was inspired in part by concerns raised by officials in California and Florida that the Diebold systems have inherent security problems caused by technological and procedural flaws.
Note the reference to the AccuVote-TSx system in the above is an error in ComputerWorld's reporting. Maryland uses the AccuVote-TS system which does not include a "voter-verified paper trail" --- unlike the newer TSx model which does.
Also note, the movement in the MD statehouse is calling for "paper receipts" or "paper trails" which is a far cry from paper ballots --- you know, those things which are actually counted, unlike paper "receipts" or "trails" which are not. Though their interim plan to lease optical-scan machines for 2006 would mean there would actually be ballots used --- at least until 2008.
Washington Post who ran a story on this on the front page of this morning's print edition (though it's labelled as page B04 on their website), led this way:
The 137 to 0 vote in the House and the endorsement of the plan this week by Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. represents a stunning turnaround for a state that was on the leading edge of touch-screen voting in 2001, and it reflects a national shift toward machines that provide a paper record.
The MD Senate still has to approve the bill, and there is said to still be some opposition there. WaPo reports that the Senate is hoping to arrange for Diebold to bring in their newer TSx machines (which include an uncountable "paper trail") to avoid a massive state-wide switch to optical-scan machines this late in the year.
As well, the WaPo story allowed for an unchallenged quote from MD's former Sec. of State, and Diebold supporter, John T. Willis, who is quoted as saying, "There is no evidence of anything wrong with Maryland elections."
Wrong, John. We guess neither you nor WaPo read our previous article in which we wrote about an internal review by the MD State Board of Elections compiled after the 2004 election titled "Lessons Learned" [PDF]. The report reveals --- amongst many other problems --- that "189 voting units (7%) of units deployed failed on Election Day. An additional 122 voting units (or 5%) were suspect based on number of votes captured."
TrueVoteMD, as well, issued a massive document dump yesterday with loads of "evidence of anything wrong with Maryland elections" including information on a five-month "Diebold-imposed lockdown" on machines after Maryland's "November 2004 meltdown."
Still and all, of course, all of this is certainly a move in the right direction, and yet another stain on Diebold's atrocious record in the Voting Machine Industry and as once-great American company.