By Brad Friedman on 8/4/2006, 9:03am PT  

Motel Blogged from the road by Brad...

In addition to the previous article mentioned in Florida, more Voting Machine 'Sleepover' coverage today, this time from Marc Songini in ComputerWorld...

A lawsuit has grown out of alleged breaches in security procedures around electronic voting machines in San Diego County after a hotly contested congressional election, throwing a spotlight on the reliability of the machines themselves.

The suit, filed on Monday, requests that a special election on June 6 to fill the 50th Congressional District seat be invalidated. It also seeks a complete hand recount of the paper ballots, said Paul Lehto, an Everett, Wash.-based attorney handling the case. The suit was filed in Superior Court in San Diego and names Mikel Haas, county registrar of voters, and Brian Bilbray, the winner of the seat, as defendants.

San Diego voters used AccuVote optical-scan and TSx touch-screen systems from Diebold Election Systems.

Whatever the specific merits of the suit, it could heighten some citizens' concerns about e-voting technology if critics' claims of the inherent security deficiencies get debated in court during the run-up to the fall elections.

One of the main points raised by the suit is the so-called sleepover policy, under which Haas directed that all the machines be released to poll worker supervisors before the election. These sleepovers lasted from three days to more than a week.

"During these sleepovers, the voting machines were unsecured, subject to access by innumerable neighbors, strangers and family members, and stored without records or proof of actual chain of custody, eliminating the ability of any person to detect whether or not fraud or improper access to the voting machines occurred," according to the lawsuit.

"The sleepover issue is fairly egregious," said Lehto. Tampering with one card in one device conceivably could change race results.
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This lawsuit is an example of what could happen in upcoming contests, said Brad Friedman, who covers e-voting issues in his blog. "Is this the sort of thing we want to see happen in 435 House races, 33 Senate races and 20-something gubernatorial races around the country on Nov. 7 this year?" said Friedman.