More than 10,000 pre-programmed election-ready Diebold touch-screen voting machines, to be used for the first time across the entirety of San Diego County this November 7th, are now in the cars, garages, homes, and hands of poll workers and lord knows who else across one of Southern California's largest voting regions.
As reported in several first-hand accounts from San Diego poll workers just after recent training sessions (see end of article for one of those first-hand accounts), the voting machines were sent home on so-called overnight "sleepovers" with temporary poll workers beginning on October 16th, allowing for a full three weeks prior to the election for poll workers to find the 60 seconds they might need to hack a single machine. One tampered machine could affect the results on every single voting machine, in every race in the county.
San Diego Registrar Mikel Haas --- easily one of the country's worst and most irresponsible election administrators --- is unconcerned. He's also instructing poll workers not to give out paper ballots despite a recent order from the California Secretary of State.
The ability to easily insert malicious viral code onto Diebold's touch-screen systems has been proven, and video-taped by Princeton University and others. A single person could hack an entire election, flipping votes undetectably, and no trace would be left behind after the election.
But it's not just tampering that should be of concern to the voters of San Diego. It's the fact that these particular systems are amongst the most unreliable in the country. They simply do not work.
Diebold touch-screen voting systems are innacurate. Their screens freeze. Their printers jam and fail to create reliable "paper trails" and frequently they simply fail to start up at all. All of which occurred during Primary Elections in states across the country earlier this year, resulting in thousands of legally registered voters being disenfranchised, or turned away without being able to cast a ballot.
Incredibly, Haas has ordered these systems to be used for the first time in this November's general election, without even a test run during the June 6th Primary & Special Election, when a blended system of both Diebold optical-scan (paper-based) and touch-screens was used.
The few touch-screen systems in place during the June election (one per polling location) went almost completely unused. And yet Haas has ordered them for use across the entire county this November, despite notorious failures by these same unreliable systems in states like Georgia and Maryland and --- perhaps most notably --- Cuyahoga County, OH, where the systems in first-time use failed monumentally during the Buckeye State's Primary Election.
USA TODAY wrote Friday about the aftermath of Cuyahoga's Primary Elections and the extraordinary measures now being taken to turn the county's temporary poll workers into rocket scientists able to trouble-shoot the many expected problems with the systems. After some 300+ recommendations were made by an independent audit of that particular train wreck, elections officials are scrambling and bracing for the worst.
Haas, however, has taken no such measures and, indeed, his poll worker training has reportedly consisted of instructing folks to sing the praises of electronic machines and avoid handing out paper ballots to voters despite the recently unearthed memo from the California Secretary of State's office instructing all Registrar's that all California voters may vote on paper if they wish.
An account of one such training class by Ken Simpkins, the Carlsbad attorney who filed an election contest to challenge the results of the Francine Busby/Brian Bilbray Special Election sleepover fiasco last June, reports that workers are being told not to give paper ballots to voters even if machines are unavailable when voters show up to vote.
"If the machines were not ready at the opening of the polls and voters were there," Simpkins writes about instructions given at a training class he attended, "voters should be asked to wait until the machines are ready." His full description of that and other stunning moments from Haas's training is at the end of this item.
In an accidental fit of reporting, the far-right San Diego Union Tribune yesterday asked Haas about the ongoing "sleepovers" in an article on concerns about the county's upcoming
beta test election. As usual, his obnoxious answer was just another "fuck you" to the voters of San Diego:
Haas disagrees. "We know exactly who has the machines," he said. "We know where they live."
Never mind that we've previously reported first-hand accounts from poll workers who took voting machines home with them during the June 6th election, where they admitted that family members, and any number of neighbors, may well have had easy access to the machines in the "secure storage space" known as their garage or their car. But Haas knows "where they live." So rest easy, San Diegans!
Also, never mind that such sleepovers are in violation of state and federal law. But, hey, it's San Diego! Mikel Haas territory! He makes the rules and can do whatever he wants!