Some Election Officials Voice Concern That Recent Changes Restricting Use Of Some Voting Machines Jeopardizes Integrity Of Elections
But Secretary Of State Debra Bowen Defends Actions By Calling Voting Machines 'A Major Threat To Democracy'
By Alan Breslauer on 1/16/2008, 8:27pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

According to a NewsHour report, some county election officials in California believe that changes ordered by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, including decertifying some voting machines, may put the integrity of upcoming elections in jeopardy. Seriously. This despite Bowen's explanation for her actions:

Bowen: Our scientist found that every system they looked at could be compromised in ways that made me uncomfortable. They were able to bypass security seals by undoing two screws and opening the whole machine. They were able to change the results without ever having any knowledge of the computer code itself.

Steve Weir, an election official from Contra Costa County, explains why election officials are concerned with Bowen's directives not to use some newly purchased machines:

Weir: You can't keep changing voting systems. You don't make changes to your voting system without really jeopardizing your own security and your own reliability, um, this close to an election.

However, Stanford professor David Dill backs Bowen and proclaims, "It seems that there is almost a national consensus that we have a serious problem". Dan Ashby, of the Election Defense Alliance, agrees that the use of voting machines is a dangerous endeavor:

Ashby:The election department public servants are not capable of running the election without having all kinds of technical help from the voting machine companies. [Which is dangerous because] They have the access and the means, motive and opportunity, if they were inclined, to change the programming in ways that no election official or voting member of the public could possibly perceive such that it would change the outcome of the election in an undetectable untraceable way.

Voting machines pose another, often overlooked, problem beyond the technical problems most often associated with such machines. Mainly, voting machines have led to a vast public distrust of elections. According to Bowen, the lack of trust in voting machines has caused people to "check out and not participate" and is thus, "a major threat to democracy".