Posted tagged ‘University of Alaska’

More scrutiny of electronic voting systems

September 27, 2007

Originally Published on, 9/27/2007 11:32:45 AM

In Alaska: Lt. Governor Sean Parnell, prompted by California’s recent decertification of the Diebold electronic voting system, has asked the University of Alaska to review the machines, which are used in Alaska’s elections.

In Ohio: Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner responded last week to an interrogatory by the state’s Republican lawmakers, who served up 23 questions about her intended methods for an electronic voting review similar to California’s tests.

Brunner answered all questions, and summed up, “Respectfully, I believe further delay is tantamount to opposition to the project.” In Ohio, any election reform activity will be viewed through the unfortunate prism of partisan bitterness resulting from its controversial 2004 general election.

The need for political harmony may partially account for the involvement of Ohio’s county election officials in the tests. The omission of election personnel from California’s technical testing has been repeatedly cited (oddly, the Reasonable Reporter believes) as reason to refute the entire disastrous accounting of engineering deficiencies in the machines and their peripheral devices.

Funding for the Ohio test was approved earlier this week.

In New Jersey: The legislature required a retrofit of voting machines so that they print out a paper ballot. The New Jersey Institute of Technology conducted tests, and declared the technology produced by Sequoia Voting Systems for producing a paper trail to be unreliable. (Sequoia is the system used by Nevada.)

So a judge has moved the deadline for the retrofit, and the machines will not provide the paper trail in time for the state’s February primary. New Jersey’s election watchdogs want to can touchscreen machines entirely and use optical scan devices instead. That isn’t happening. At least not yet.

In Florida, where the Bush-Gore debacle spawned the nation’s rush to touchscreen machines, millions of dollars worth of them have been sent to the morgue, packed away in warehouses on orders of the state legislature. Optical scan systems will be used instead.

Meanwhile, Volusia County, Florida election officials are in a tizzy, replacing faulty memory cards just days prior to a local election. The cards are part of Diebold’s optical scan system. They were found to have failed at four times the acceptable rate in the 2006 election. All of the county’s memory cards had been replaced in June of 2006.

In Washoe County, Nevada: The county commission will reconstitute an elections task force for a review of elections procedures. Voter Registrar Dan Burk says the focus will be on administrative procedures, as opposed to the technological security of the Sequoia Voting System.

Nonetheless, the task force will have in hand the technical reports from the “top-to-bottom review” by University of California computer scientists. Those reports found the machines, and indeed the entire Sequoia System, to be easily hacked at every level, and resulted in its decertification by the California Secretary of State. Burk says the panel will ensure county procedures are in place to avert the attacks described in the U.C. Reports.