By John Gideon on 3/12/2006, 5:30pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, of VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA

The "DVN Top 5" is a feature in the weekly voting newsletter of VoteTrustUSA. The March 6 edition can be found here. The selection of what will be the "Top 5" for each week and where it goes on the list is all mine. The fact that you may disagree with my choices is great because it shows that you have been reading the DVN articles that I've posted throughout the week here on The BRAD BLOG!...

This week's news was very hard to break down into just 5 top stories. I have an "Honorable Mention" this week and only because this single article gives us an insight into the future of next year and following years.

Honorable Mention: Ohio � The Columbus Dispatch reported earlier this week that counties who have purchased new voting systems are being surprised when they get new contracts from their vendor that are for maintenance and technical support. Fairfield County can expect to pay Diebold $90,000 next year for needed programming and technical support. Many small counties are looking at their contracts and realize they cannot pay them. And what does the state have to say? Ken Blackwell has told the counties they got the first year paid for by the state and it is up to the counties to pay from now on.

#5 � I was, and am, amazed at the stupidity of elections officials in Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. They have ignored all of the evidence and advice given them by voting activists and computer experts as they made a deal to buy used voting machines from Sequoia. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that these machines were used for up to the last 10 years in Clark Co. (Las Vegas), Nevada and Baltimore, Maryland. What is truly amazing about this deal is that the county gets to pay $11.8M for the right to use other counties cast-offs. That's over $4,000 per machine for the 2,800 voting machines. And, they Sequoia has told them that they will upgrade the machines to 2002 standards and make them accessible prior to the May primary.

#4 � As reported by VoteTrustUSA and BRAD BLOG the Maryland House dealt a blow to state elections officials when they voted unanimously, 137-0, in favor of HB-244, a bill that would require voter verified paper records of every vote and a mandatory random audit. The 137-0 vote came after only 10 minutes of debate. This is a sound defeat for Linda Lamone and Diebold though Diebold is now trying to save the day by coming out with a brand new DRE printer that can be applied to their voting machines in the state.

#3 � Elections Systems and Software must not have any quality control program and must buy from subcontractors who eschew any such program. This week Summit Co. Ohio announced that 30% of the ES&S provided memory cards failed. A new batch were tested on Friday and 10% of those failed. As reported in the Akron Beacon Journal and
BRAD BLOG
the company blames the problems on batteries and on their subcontractor. In answer to a question that I and the Beacon Journal reporter both had, ES&S claims that they have told their other customers about this problem. I can say that they have been reluctant to do this in the past.

#2 � This past week was the primary in Texas. Many counties used new voting systems for the first time. Even though ES&S has claimed that their machines were a success we find that when looking at all of the problems ES&S and Hart both were a disaster with programming problems, ballot issues, and administrative problems that are only in existence because of the switch to new voting systems. It must also be pointed out that many counties in Texas gave the voters a choice between paper ballots and DREs and in most cases over 70% of the voters chose to vote on paper ballots. Here is a short list of problems as taken from "Daily Voting News":

TX: Most voters give the system a thumbs up (It's apparent that where voters are given a choice between e-voting and paper they go to the paper) Link

TX: Galveston County - New voting system, same problems (Hart eSlate and eScan) Link

TX: Hidalgo County - Salinas earns majority over Garcia with all precincts in (County found votes on unused machines) (ES&S iVotronic) Link

TX: Jefferson County - Voting woes mar debut of electronic ballots (ES&S iVotronic) Link

TX: Potter County - Hairy Potter elections (ES&S) Link

TX: Robertson County - Robertson County says glitches delayed results (ES&S) Link

TX: Tarrant County - E-Voting System Adds 100,000+ Votes in One Texas County During Tuesday's Primary Election! Link

TX: Tom Green County - Computer problems delay election returns (Hart eScan) Link

TX: Webb and Bexar County - 'Glitches' get blame in Webb (ES&S) Link

TX: Willacy County - Tracking the primary elections (The county claims the new touch screens are a huge hit but only 30% of the voters are choosing to use them) Link

#1 � This has been a very busy week in Leon Co. Florida. Early in the week, as announced by BRAD BLOG and VoteTrustUSA county elections boss, Ion Sancho, announced that legal proceedings would be begun against Diebold for breech of contract. Then on Wednesday, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Sequoia had decided not to sell the county any voting machines. Sequoia used the excuse that they needed to "focus on their current customers" yet they are still writing contracts elsewhere in the country. Then on Thursday, as reported by the Bradenton Herald the state informed Leon County that they would not be able to borrow equipment from a neighboring county in order in an emergency situation. On Saturday the Tallahassee Democrat announced that the new found hero of many voting activists across the country, Ion Sancho, would be meeting with Secretary of State Cobb on Monday. In a show of support an action alert has gone out all over the country asking people to send an email to members of the state government in support of Ion.