Letter from Sec. of State, Obtained by The BRAD BLOG, Says America's Largest E-Voting Vendor Failed - Yet Again - To Deliver Required Materials to State Testing Board
Company Previously Decertified After Lawsuit Found Little or No Testing Performed by State in 2006...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2007, 9:39pm PT  

Once again, the country's largest voting machine vendor, Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), has failed in yet another state certification process, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

In a letter faxed to the company yesterday, Colorado's Secretary of State Mike Coffman informed the Omaha, Nebraska, company that the state has suspended the certification process of ES&S's voting systems due to a failure to provide required documentation and other materials needed to complete testing. That, after several previous deadline extensions had been granted.

"[T]here is a history of coordination issues with your company," Coffman wrote to ES&S's Vice President of Certification, Steve Pearson, in the two-page letter, before detailing a litany of problems they've had with the company throughout the testing period.

"Those issues include the following: changing project managers multiple times since April, providing incorrect programming of required databases for testing, providing incorrect ballots for testing, failing to provide required documentation of Federal testing, and test failures requiring extensive machine servicing," wrote Coffman.

The complete letter is posted at the end of this article.

The testing of Colorado's systems comes after all of the state's voting systems were decertified by a state judge just prior to last year's November election. In the 2006 lawsuit, brought by legal e-voting watchdog VoterAction.org on behalf of several Colorado voters, the judge found that the state's certification process amounted to little more than opening the box, checking for manuals, turning the system on and off and stamping it as good-to-go.

As the finding in the lawsuit came just prior to the November general election, the state's e-voting systems were allowed for use one more time before all such systems were automatically decertified, to allow the testing process to begin again afterwards --- legitimately this time.

Since then, all of the companies whose systems are being tested in the state have delayed in turning over needed materials, prompting speculation from e-voting critics that, with elections pending, they may be purposely delaying the process in hopes of running out the clock.

But similar failures by ES&S to cooperate with state officials around the country have now become legion.

The latest mess in Colorado echoes closely similar problems with the company as seen in other states over the last year. Just a brief sampling of some of those extraordinary failures include...

  • In CA: Refusal to supply needed materials in time for state certification testing.
  • Also in CA: Deploying nearly a thousand uncertified voting systems without notice to state authorities.
  • In AR, TX, IN and several other states: Failure to deliver absentee and early ballot programming on time for the start of elections.
  • In OR: Failure to supply voting machines as per contract with the state.
  • In the contested FL-13 U.S. House election: Strong-arming state officials before agreeing to release source code for post-election forensic studies.
  • At the Federal level: Failed to disclose to federal authorities that touch-screen voting machines were being made in The Philippines.

After several previous unmet deadline extensions, as described in the letter, Coffman generously offers ES&S one more opportunity to submit the required materials in order to un-suspend the testing process. The company must act by November 16th, the date described by Coffman as the "ultimate deadline for these items to be delivered and finalized to the Testing Board."

Of additional note, during the VoterAction.org lawsuit, John Gardner, the man responsible for certifying/rubber-stamping the systems originally on behalf of the state, under then-Secretary of State Gigi Dennis, admitted during his deposition that he had no formal training in computer science and that he was not an expert in the areas required by state law.

Curiously enough, however, according to the notice sent to ES&S, it seems that Gardner is still in his post, as Coffman concludes: "If you have any questions regarding this request, please feel free to contact John Gardner directly."

We obtained a copy of the letter too late at night to receive comment on the Gardner matter from the Colorado SoS office.

Of additional additional note, the SoS who initially oversaw the entire fine Colorado certification mess, prior to Dennis, was Donetta Davidson.

Davidson would leave her post in 2005 when she was tapped by George W. Bush to become a commissioner on the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC). In 2006, she became their chairwoman. The EAC is responsible for overseeing federal certification of e-voting systems for the entire country.

The two-page 10/24/07 letter from CO Secretary of State Mike Coffman to ES&S Vice President of Certification, Steve Pearson, follows in full below. Here is a downloadable PDF of the letter...