Skip to comments.Diebold Accused of Threatening Calif. Vote
Posted on 04/21/2004 8:49:10 PM PDT by jwalburg
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -
The California secretary of state's office on Wednesday accused a company that makes electronic voting machines of computer glitches, late software fixes and poor service that had "jeopardized the outcome of the March election."
A state voting systems panel is considering disciplinary action against Texas-based Diebold Election Systems that could include fines or a ban on Diebold machines in the state.
The probe threatens to hurt Diebold's reputation as many states gear up to spend billions on new touch-screen voting equipment.
Diebold President Robert J. Urosevich apologized Wednesday to Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, the voter systems panel and the 17 California counties that use its electronic voting systems.
"We're not idiots, though we may act from time to time as not the smartest," Urosevich told the panel.
A report by Shelley's office said Diebold sold voting equipment to four counties before it was state- or federally approved, didn't test the equipment until shortly before the March 2 election, installed uncertified software in some of the equipment, and still lacks federal approval for its newest voting machines for the November election.
Reports presented to the voting systems panel showed 573 of San Diego County's 1,038 polling places failed to open on time March 2 because of Diebold computer malfunctions, while many machines also failed during the day in Alameda County, requiring voters to use paper ballots.
The Diebold investigation is part of a two-day hearing into touch-screen voting in California, where fears of another disputed presidential election have activists pressing for a ban on electronic voting this November.
Though nearly half the state's voters vote in counties with touch-screen machines, many rallied Wednesday against casting votes without a verifiable paper trail.
But advocates for the blind, disabled and those who speak languages other than English defended electronic systems as the only way for them to vote privately.
County officials vigorously protested a possible ban as an invitation to chaos and $30 million in extra costs.
The committee conducting the hearing is to make recommendations Thursday to Shelley on Diebold's fate and on a possible statewide ban on electronic voting.
Shelley must decide by April 30 whether to ban Diebold's machines, and possibly those of all other manufacturers, to give elections departments six months to make other plans for the Nov. 2 vote.
State lawmakers also have introduced bills to ban electronic voting in the November election.
One of the reports today said thousands were turned away from the polls..more than enough to sway an election one way or the other these days.
Most of my adult life has been spent around high-tech equipment, both computer and otherwise, and I still don't trust a lot of it. Some have too much faith in the machines.
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