Guest Blogged by John Gideon, Executive Director, VotersUnite.Org
Moving the ball forward a bit in regard to New York Times' stunning report last week that Ciber was refused interim accreditation last July. I've been able to learn a bit more about the existence of the paperwork concerning that denial of accreditation.
The refusal, according to the Times front page exclusive last week, was due to an inspection the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) conducted at the lab. Ciber is one of the three e-voting test labs or Independent Testing Authoritys (ITAs) which are paid by the Voting Machine Companies themselves to test their hardware and software prior to federal certification.
But contradictions have been flowing from the EAC in the considerable fallout from the Times report which revealed the commission not only failed to accredit Ciber, they also failed to tell the public, or even state and local Elections Officials who used the systems approved by Ciber for last November's election. What nobody --- except the EAC knew --- was that, according to the Times Ciber "was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests."
While at first the EAC had denied there was any paperwork documenting the reasons why they had denied interim accreditation to Ciber, I've now been able to learn from an EAC source that such paperwork actually exists. The EAC has simply, again, withheld it from the public. So far. I was then able to get confirmation about it from an EAC spokesperson, along with a hint as to when the world might get to see the actual reasons they withheld accreditation from the private testing lab...
In an article I wrote dated 6 January "Testing Lab Failure Leads To Obfuscation By The Election Assistance Commission" The Journal News (NY) was quoted:
"At the present time, until we get that report in our hands and have a chance to review it, I can't comment myself that we are fully comfortable that all of those issues have been addressed," said Peter Kosinski, co-executive director of the state Board of Elections.
But Commissioner Gracia Hillman of the Election Assistance Commission said Thursday there is no such report.
I asked two simple questions: "No such report? If there is no report on the testing procedures used by Ciber, on what basis did the EAC refuse to accredit them?"
It turns out that Commissioner Hillman was wrong. There is a report. In fact there seems to be a lot of paperwork and that paperwork was the basis for the lack of accreditation.
In a phone call with a source at the EAC I was told that reports will be released before the weeks end on the interim accreditation of Wyle and Systech Labs. The report on Ciber, and all associated paperwork and correspondence, will not be released until the EAC reaches a final conclusion on their accreditation. It does exist and it will be released according to the source. An email from EAC spokeswoman Jeannie Layson confirmed this information:
"We will share this information with election officials, including the state of New York."
Whether the EAC will share their documents with the State Board of Elections in New York now or after the "process is complete" is not explained.
So why did Commissioner Hillman tell the media that the report did not exist?
UPDATE 1/12/06: Sen. Dianne Feinstein sends letter to EAC demanding they turn over all communications on these matters and supply Congress with explanations for their actions. Her letter is here...