Skip to comments.Calif. secretary of state pulls plug on some electronic voting
Posted on 04/30/2004 3:55:36 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
SACRAMENTO (AP) - Secretary of State Kevin Shelley banned touch screen voting Friday in four California counties in the November election, saying the lack of a paper trail makes them unreliable and he threatened to block computerized voting in 10 other counties.
Shelley cited concerns about the security and reliability of new computerized voting machines manufactured by Texas-based Diebold Election systems, many of them used for the first time in the March election.
"We are acting boldly and responsibly to improve the system in time for November," Shelley said.
The decision means as many as 2 million voters in San Diego, Solano, San Joaquin and Kern counties will see paper ballots in November, marking their choices in ovals read by optical scanners.
It's also a setback for a national leader in electronic voting machine technology as counties gear up to spend billions of dollars to modernize the way Americans vote.
The action will idle 10,200 Diebold AccuVote-TSx machines in San Diego County, 1,626 machines in Kern County, 1,350 in San Joaquin County and about 1,100 in Solano County.
But it may not affect an earlier generation of 4,000 Diebold electronic voting machines in Alameda and Plumas counties, or approximately 24,000 machines manufactured by three other companies and used in eight other counties.
Shelley set 23 conditions for those counties to use their touch screen machines, including making alternative paper ballots available to voters.
California counties with 6.5 million registered voters have been at the forefront of touch screen voting, installing more than 40 percent of the 100,000-plus machines believed to be in use nationally.
The decision six months before a presidential election reflects growing concern about paperless voting inside the secretary of state's office and among many voting activists and computer programmers.
Many believe a paper printout of voter choices - required in California by 2006 - will protect against fraud, computer hacking and electronic errors.
Diebold has been a frequent target of such groups, though most California county election officials say problems have been overstated and that voters like the touch screen systems first installed four years ago.
A state advisory panel conducted three days of hearings on touch screen voting before recommending that Shelley ban voting in counties that didn't allow voters an option to use a paper ballot.
A state investigation released this month said Diebold jeopardized the outcome of the March election in California with computer glitches, last minute changes to its systems and installations of uncertified software in its machines in 17 counties.
It specifically cited San Diego County, where 573 of 1,038 polling places failed to open on time because low battery power caused machines to malfunction.
Diebold officials, in a 28-page report rebutting many of the accusations about its performance, said the company had been unfairly singled out for problems with electronic voting and maintained its machines are safe, secure and demonstrated 100 percent accuracy in the March election.
But Diebold acknowledged it had "alienated" the secretary of state's office and promised to "redouble its efforts" to improve relations with counties and the state.
The company, based in McKinney, Texas, is a two-year-old subsidiary of automatic teller machine maker Diebold, Inc., of North Canton, Ohio, and represents about five percent of its business.
Last week, Diebold Chairman and CEO Walden W. O'Dell downplayed the significance of California's moves and said the company planned to stay in the elections business. Diebold also has extensive touch screen business in Maryland and Georgia.
California lawmakers, meanwhile, still plan hearings on a pair of bills that would ban all touch screen voting in the November election.
The bills are sponsored by lawmakers in Orange County, where some touch screen voters in March received the wrong electronic ballots and Alameda County, where some machines malfunctioned and forced voters to use paper ballots. A hearing is scheduled Wednesday before the Senate Elections and Reapportionment Committee.
On the Net:
California Secretary of State: http://www.ss.ca.gov
Diebold Election Systems: http://www.diebold.com/dieboldes/
California Voter Foundation: http://www.calvoter.org
Read bills to ban paperless electronic voting this November, SB 530 and SB1723, at http://www.legislature.ca.gov
Before we got them in Fairfax County the Democrats regularly swept every office. After we got them it was found that the previously unknown Republican party was actually the majority party.
It only took a few elections before the Democratic Secretary of State in California discovered what happens with these devices.
Understanding the whole picture it's safe to say that Secretary of State Kevin Shelley is most likely up to his eyeballs in vote fraud.
Time to call the FBI in on this one! FUR SHUR.
Are you out of your mind? Electronic voting machines that lack an auditable paper trail are an open invitation to massive fraud and hacking of the results. Without at least a paper backup, recounts are impossible.
Kevin Shelley deserves great praise for taking this action. So far I give him high marks for the fair and intelligent way he has performed his duties as California Secretary of State.
Stick with the picture ~ the Dems finally figured out the electronic systems defeat vote fraud. Since they ordinarily engage in widespread vote fraud to win elections, that means the electronic systems will cause Democrats to lose.
It's really not surprising to see this Democratic official in California attempting to defeat the Republicans by having traditional but fraud prone voting systems put back in place.
The simplest solution is to have the electronic device print out a copy of the voter's balloting. The voter can look it over to see if it's correct, then deposit it in a sealed box (the same way punch cards are currently deposited). If no one challenges the electronic vote totals, the paper backups are ignored. But if there is any doubt about the integrity of the electronic numbers, the paper is available to be recounted.
This does not reveal a voter's identity. What it does do is make fraud much less likely to even be attempted, since the paper backups would have to be altered to match the electronic results.
I'm an electronic engineer, and I have absolutely no confidence in the security of purely electronic voting systems. There are all kinds of ways they can fail or be compromised, and there is no way to recover in the absence of a paper backup.
I've also personally been involved in very close elections and one recount (our candidate won a Park District race by 3 votes out of 95 thousand cast), so I know how crucial it is to be able to verify the results.
Don't kid yourself, both the Republicans and Democrats have been guilty of election fraud at different times and places. We must not presume that either party is inherently trustworthy.
If you want more sophisticated schemes for secure voting, while maintaining anonymity, those are also available. See David Chaum's white paper on Secret-Ballot Receipts and Transparent Integrity.
On the other hand, the tried and true methods used to corrupt all the other systems, most particularly the PAPER ballot systems, are still quite useable and well known.
This guy in California is just trying to preserve Democratic party dominance ~ nothing more to it than that. If you think any Democrat is concerned with the integrity of any voting system, you are confused.
You can find some examples of non-hypothetical fraud if you do a Google search. Electronic voting machines have only recently started to be used in large numbers, so the problems are mostly prospective, but that doesn't diminish their reality. A simple Google search will also show you the dangers associated with pure electronic voting.
I have no problem with touch screens or electronic voting systems as long as they have a paper trail or other tangible safeguards. Without that, there's absolutely no protection against someone (either an outsider or insider) hacking in and altering the results. Without that, there's absolutely no protection if power is lost or data files are corrupted.
You need to get beyond your partisan blinders and recognize that in this instance the California Secretary of State is doing the right thing to protect the integrity of the voting process.
"Electrical" engineers tend to be more involved in wired and power applications, while "electronic" or "electronics" engineers are usually associated more with computer or digital/analog circuit design. That's why the the IEEE is named the "Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers". There's obviously a lot of overlap, and the terms are often used interchangeably. If you want more information, just do a Google search on "electronic engineer".
My Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and my Master's degree in Electrical Engineering is from the University of Southern California.