Holy cow...perhaps this explains why California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson suddenly started turning inexplicably back to Diebold some time around mid-November of this year after having decertified them already back in 2004, and then finding them to have failed massively in a recent mock election test over the summer.
"Information about problems with voting machines should not have been delayed long enough to become a lump of coal in California's Christmas stocking," half-joked State Senator Debra Bowen to The BRAD BLOG upon reading the following astounding new story.
AP's Juliet Williams reports today on a letter written by McPherson's office to voting machine vendor, Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) after the recent Special Election here on Nov. 8th. The letter documents a number of very serious problems discovered on ES&S voting equipment during the election. Apparently the SoS threatened ES&S with decertification in the bargain, similar to the one Diebold faced in the state back in 2004 under the previous Sec. of State Kevin Shelley...
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.
Software problems included incorrect counting of turnout figures, a malfunction that prevented voters from verifying that their choices were registered accurately and one machine recording the wrong vote during a test, according to the letter.
Eleven California counties used the company's voting machines during the special election. Election Systems and Software equipment also is used in 45 other states.
The problems in California are similar to ones the company has experienced elsewhere. During a 2004 primary election in Hawaii, glitches with the company's optical scanners led to a miscount of about 6,000 votes.
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Bruce McPherson declined to elaborate further on the Election Day mishaps, the problems discussed in the letter or the company's assertion that state officials are pleased with its proposed solutions.
In other words, it's none of the voters damned business what problems occurred in their own elections just five weeks ago! And had Williams not discovered the letter, none of the citizens in California, or for that matter States and Counties around the country --- all of whom are making their last minute decisions on which vendors to sign with prior to the Jan 1, 2006 HAVA deadline --- would have ever known about any of these problems with ES&S machinery!
CA State Senator Debra Bowen, who has been a leader in the state on issues of election integrity, was clearly irked upon reading this news, as reflected in this comment she just shared with The BRAD BLOG, asking [emphasis hers]: "WHY IS IT THAT WE HAVE BEEN IN THE DARK ABOUT THE PROBLEMS WITH ES&S FOR FIVE WEEKS?"
She went on to call on the SoS to release all pertinent information on these matters in her missive:
I call on the Secretary of State to immediately release all correspondence to all vendors, and all documentation related to the certification of any and all voting equipment and voting systems. Information about problems with voting machines should not have been delayed long enough to become a lump of coal in California's Christmas stocking.
As well, she promised to reiterate those concerns with a "formal request" in her official capacity soon.
Yet, there's still more that SoS's office doesn't feel, apparently, that voter's have the right to know. Back to the AP coverage:
Fields said company officials have reviewed the state's videotape and blamed the problem on the tester's long fingernails.
"The iVotronic touch screens are designed to be used by soft-touched objects," he said. "We do not recommend sharp, hard objects like a stylus, a pen or fingernails."
Lovely. A device created to be used by touching the screen with ones finger, won't work if fingernails are used. Good thinking!
In all honesty, however, the entire "fingernail" defense from ES&S sounds like a bunch of nonsense to us. Once again, we've got a documented and video-taped report of "Vote Hopping", not unlike the thousands of similar reports that American's testified to back in November of 2004 after the Presidential Election --- only to be dismissed and called "conspiracy theorists" later when they testified to the incidents, and signed official affidavits along with it.
And just a bit more from the article:
_ The company's software incorrectly counting the total turnout figures for counties that used multiple ballot cards: "This problem was a recurrence of a problem experienced by your customers in November 2004; you have had a year to correct this known problem, and have not done so," the letter stated.
_ The touch-screen machine used in Merced County did not properly display the summary of votes, "making it impossible for voters to confirm their vote choices in those contests," the letter stated.
Between ES&S and Diebold, the two companies currently tally more than 80% of America's votes. They have each been run by two brothers named Urosevich. And while Diebold, Inc. in total, is a larger company than ES&S, the latter is actually a larger provider of Voting Systems and Machinery around the country.
AP's Williams deserves big props her reporting here! So...thank you to her! Please put us out of "business" entirely! And soon if you don't mind!
On further related matters from Sen. Bowen, who is running for Sec. of State in 2006 herself, she's been a rather busy bee of late, even if everyone else in Sacramento has already knocked off for the holidays.
A "Letter to the Editor" of hers was published in today's Tallahassee Democrat down in Florida, lauding Leon County's Ion Sancho for his leadership on the recent Diebold "Hack Test" which revealed that an Electronic Election could be entirely flipped by a hacker without as much as a trace being left behind.
As well, she issued a press release late yesterday spelling out how California's law requiring Voting Machine Companies to place their source code in escrow is virtually identical to the law in North Carolina which Diebold yesterday said they could not abide by and thus stated their intention to withdraw from the state completely. If that was the case in NC, suggests Bowen, then apparently Diebold needs to withdraw from CA as well.
She also states her serious concerns about the so-called "Independent Testing Authority" (not so "independent", they're chosen and paid for by the Voting Machine Vendors, and not so "authoritative" since they seem to rubber-stamp just about anything the companies send to them!) The ITA's are supposed to certify all of this software and hardware on the Federal level. Recently, as Bowen points out, Sec. of State McPherson opted to "punt" the matter of Diebold's hackable memory cards back to the ITA rather than doing what Sancho did; Simply decertify them and their crappy machines once and for all from all further elections!
As her press release on the ITA matters has not yet been published anywhere as far as we know, we offer her our Christmas gift by doing so here, in full, below...Happy Holidays, Senator...We look forward to coming to Sacramento in '07 for your Inaugural as the next California SoS...