(Without Telling Us What Was Wrong in the First Place)
Some Quick Damage Control After Secret Letter Uncovered Threats of Decertification for Voting Machine Company by SoS in the Golden State
By Brad Friedman on 12/29/2005, 11:11am PT  

Everything's fine. Nothing to worry about. These aren't the droids you're looking for. That was the message out of Sacramento yesterday in regards to the newly exposed concerns about ES&S voting machines in California as recently revealed by a secret letter from California's Secretary of State. That letter was written and sent five weeks ago privately, but only reported publicly for the first time last week after it was uncovered by an AP reporter.

Of course, CA SoS Bruce McPherson's office has yet to actually inform the voters (you remember them, don't you, Mr. McPherson?) of the "problems experienced by counties utilitizing ES&S voting equipment and software" as discovered during the recent November Special Election which "deeply concerned" the SoS enough to threaten ES&S with decertification in the entire state, according to the letter.

But the message out yesterday is that all is well, and no --- you pesky voters don't need to worry your pretty little selves about a thing!

According to the Vallejo Times-Herald (note how the concern in the lede here is for Elections Officials as opposed to Voters!):

Solano County leaders could breathe a sigh of relief Tuesday when the state announced it would not decertify voting machines used here.

If the state had gone forward with its threat to decertify the Election Systems and Software used in Solano and in 10 other California counties, it likely would have meant Solano would have to replace its voting machines for the second time in nearly two years.

Yea! The Solano County leaders don't have to worry about a thing! Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!

But after threatening potential decertification of the ES&S voting machine company, a Secretary of State's office spokeswoman said Tuesday the state was satisfied the company would make necessary improvements.

Specifically, in a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections Bradley J. Clark warned he'd start the process of decertifying ES&S machines for use in California if senior officials didn't address concerns with vote counts and verification, problems that surfaced during the state's Nov. 8 special election. The concerns needed to be dealt with immediately, the letter said.

"They've thoroughly met our needs," Secretary of State spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns said Tuesday, adding that the company addressed the concerns "one by one."

What exactly are those needs, Ms. Kerns? Do the California Voters have any right to know about them? Or will it require investigative reporters and bloggers with bad attitudes to uncover still more secret letters and documents sent to the Voting Machine Companies that we, the Voters (you remember us, don't you, Ms. Kern?), are paying with our tax-dollars to privatize our public elections?!

State Senator Debra Bowen had previously called on you "to immediately release all corrspondence to all vendors, and all documentation related to the certification of any and all voting equipment and voting systems." Have the SoS's office done so? It would certainly be appreciated, so we could judge for ourselves about those "one by one" needs that ES&S has "thoroughly met". And we speak as California Voters ourselves here, by the way.

Bowen also asked, "When is the public entitled to know?" Which, of course, we'd like to know as well. She also added "This kind of secrecy is completely unacceptable." And, of course, we agree to that as well.

So, Mr. McPherson or Ms. Kerns --- or whoever it is that is making decisions up there in Sacramento while you suppose that few are paying attention between Christmas and New Years --- would you like to answer the Senator's call on behalf of the voters of California for whom you work?

Our lines are always open. We'll be happy to help you disseminate all of that information. If you actually care about such things. We'll even try and get rid of the bad attitude when we do just for fairness sake. But you'll have to meet us halfway. If you work for us (as you're supposed to), then we'll do our best to work with you.

(Hat tip to the eagle-eyed John Gideon, who, unlike Diebold, actually means it when he says he "never rests".)