Complaint Alleges New Post-Election Audit Requirements in Close Elections Are Too Expensive, Create Too Much Work for Them...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2007, 7:01pm PT  

Newly missing e-voting chips isn't the only election news to break out of the People's Republic of San Diego County today.

The sunny Southern California enclave, which has succeeded in making an infamous name for itself over the last several years by running some of the most poorly administrated and least transparent elections in the nation, is now suing California's Sec. of State Debra Bowen for her new security mitigation mandate requiring a hand audit of a random 10% sampling of ballots, in elections where the final result margin is less than one-half of 1%.

The full complaint may be downloaded here [PDF].

Deborah Seiler, the former sales rep for voting machine companies Diebold and Sequoia, who was recently named Registrar of Voters for San Diego County, believes Bowen's mandate is onerous in that it would "create extra work and delays" for her office following elections, as the North County Times described it.

Seiler and the county are "alleging that Bowen overstepped her authority in requiring new recount procedures in close races beginning in February," according to the paper, which quotes a spokesperson from Bowen's office defending the legal right of the Secretary to issue such directives as she sees fit.

Bowen's spokesperson, Nicole Winger, confirmed to The BRAD BLOG that the office is confident the Secretary of State may issue such "use procedures," along with voting system certification, which must be followed by counties that choose to use those particular systems. She adds that prior administrations have issued similar use procedures along with system certification, and that their statutory right to do so has held up in past court cases.

According to Winger...

California law is very clear about the Secretary of State's authority --- and duty --- to periodically review voting systems to determined whether they are defective, obsolete, or otherwise unacceptable. Secretary Bowen's top-to-bottom review earlier this year was just that: a comprehensive analysis of the security, accuracy, reliability, and accessibility of California voting systems. Having gained much more insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the voting systems, Secretary Bowen recertified each of them with conditions that shore up security, accuracy, reliability, and accessibility.

Another point of contention for Seiler and San Diego, apparently, is the cost of the auditing procedure. Yet, the money for such audits is to be paid by the voting machine companies themselves, according to Bowen's mandate, due to the unreliability of their voting systems.

The rightwing San Diego Union-Tribune however, in their coverage of the story reports that the voting machine companies --- which have taken California's money, under the clear terms of Bowen's conditional certification requirements --- may be "balking" at paying up for audits, as required.

Instead of suing those voting machine companies, in order to require them to follow the law and pay up, as agreed under the terms of their contracts, Seiler and San Diego are choosing instead to sue Bowen with the complaint that, in addition to causing them more work (poor dears), the hand-count requirement is also too expensive for them.

Bowen's common sense recommendations to improve on the likelihood of accurately tabulated elections were made following her landmark, independent "Top-to-Bottom Review" of e-voting machines in the state. The study, commissioned at the University of California and released in August, found that all such e-voting systems were easily manipulated in seconds' time, could result in the nearly undetectable reversal of election results, and required little more than the aid of common household objects.

San Diego, and their Voting Machine shill turned Registrar of Voters, have yet to make common sense recommendations for anything, as we see it. At least not anything that actually seeks to improve or enhance democracy and transparency for the benefit of the voters who they (supposedly) work for.