The November Train Wreck Begins To Pick-Up Steam...
UPDATE: Multi-Partisan Group of Maryland Candidates Call for Use of Emergency Paper Ballots instead of the Machines in Wake of 'Lack of Confidence' After Latest Reports of Diebold Touch-Screen Chaos!
By John Gideon on 10/25/2006, 10:39pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

And so it begins! Today the Washington Post has revealed, in a superbly written and investigated story, that Diebold secretly made modifications to thousands of their voting machines in Maryland and that everyone involved seems to have forgotten to tell the State Board of Elections about it.

It seems that after the state bought machines in 2002 they began experiencing intermittent and wide-spread screen freezes. Finally in 2005 Diebold installed all new systems boards in all 4,700 machines.

And, oh by the way, they forgot to tell the State Board of Elections that they had done anything. The State Elections Administrator, Linda Lamone, and her staff seem to have known but members of the SBOE seem to have been left out of the discussion.

UPDATE FROM BRAD: This is a very detailed story with a duplicitous cast of characters and it is very well investigated and told. Kudos to WaPo's Cameron W. Barr for this coverage! We look forward to seeing much more of it!

Also see Baltimore Sun's coverage which offers still more damning details about the duplicity of both Diebold (who still has the MD contract and hasn't yet been sued) and the MD State Board of Elections as headed by the Democratic Diebold-apologist Linda Lamone (who still has a job, remarkably enough.)

UPDATE FROM JOHN 10/26 4:45am PT: A coalition of candidates in Maryland has now asked that only paper ballots be used in the upcoming election. The coalition, with candidates for different offices and representing different political parties, has joined together under the banner of the non-partisan Candidates Alliance for Recountable Elections (CARE). A media release explains their stance on this subject and is below...

NOTE: The coverage of the Hart Intercivic screen display problems in Virginia having been found now in other states such as Texas and California has been moved to it's own item here....

Contact: Ray Mondor (301)681-8421 or (301)233-9781

October 25, 2006

Candidates Lack Confidence in Voting Machines, Call for Paper Ballots in Maryland's November 2006 Elections

Silver Spring, Maryland. - In response to recent performance failures of Maryland's voting machines, growing evidence of inadequate security, and a spreading realization that the machines cannot guarantee fair elections, a number of Maryland candidates under the banner of the non-partisan Candidates Alliance for Recountable Elections (CARE) are calling for the use of paper ballots in the November 2006 elections.

Kevin Zeese, who is running for U.S. Senator as Green Party candidate, is very clear. "There is widespread lack of confidence in the electronic-voting system in place in Maryland --- from the e-poll books to the e-voting machines there are problems of security and break downs. The state should quickly decide to run the election on paper --- paper registration and paper ballots."

Responding to the common claim that it is too late to switch Zeese continues "They are already printing 1.6 million ballots and each county has optical scan machines so it would not be a difficult change and would result in an election Maryland voters can trust."

Scott Rolle, Republican candidate for State Attorney General, shares that opinion. "I totally support the return to a paper ballot system in order to maintain the integrity of the voting process in Maryland and to give voters the confidence that their vote does, indeed, count."

Running for reelection in District 14 Democratic Delegate Karen Montgomery supports "a verifiable paper audit trail for the electronic voting machines or paper ballots in lieu of a satisfactory paper trail." Like many other advocates of paper ballots she quickly adds "However, these machines should be available for those with low vision or blindness, preferably with a recordable paper record."

Patricia Weathersbee, Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates in District 33a, says "It is imperative that the voting process be above suspicion. If that requires us to go back to paper ballots and our old optical scanning machines, so be it."

Although many voters will avoid the machines and vote by absentee ballot, the large majority of votes will be cast on machines that cannot provide independent verification of counts or meaningful recounts. In addition, absentee ballots themselves are vulnerable to disqualification.

Candidates representing a broad range of positions agree on this. The voting machines undermine public confidence in the integrity of elections and a paper ballot system is the only feasible alternative for this November.

The Candidates Alliance for Recountable Elections (CARE) was formed to add the voice of candidates to the chorus calling for a secure, accurate voting system.