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Nevada County: $250,000 For Diebold System In November Election?
08-20-2006, 06:16 PM,
#1
Nevada County: $250,000 For Diebold System In November Election?
Author: YubaNet
Published on Aug 19, 2006, 09:30

Nevada County supervisors will decide on Tuesday if they'll go along with County Clerk-Recorder Kathleen Smith's recommendation for a controversial voting system to be used in the November General Election. Smith will ask for the board's approval to spend $250,000 for a one-time deal with Texas-based Diebold Election Systems, Inc.

The item, scheduled between 11:15 a.m and 11:45 a.m., along with several other agenda items, has been allocated sparse time for questions or even an in-depth discussion.

$250,000 Buys Nevada County Voters a One-Time Deal

According to the rental agreement dated June 15, 2006, Diebold will provide the following for the November election only:

72 AccuVote-OS Tabulators (optical scanners)
70 AccuVote-TSx Tabulator (touch-screens)
70 ADA Keypads and Audio Headsets

Diebold will furnish Nevada County with 5 Election Administrator cards, 130 TSx Precinct Supervisor Cards, 5 TSx Election Security Key Cards and 840 TSx Voter Cards. These "smart cards" are like regular ATM cards and allow access to the various levels of the voter system. Diebold is also the world's largest ATM machine manufacturer.

Included in the rental agreement are also software, various accessories and support services ($98,453).

The funds for this rental agreement will come from a federal grant, intended to allow Nevada County to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Why Go Electronic Anyway?

Until now, Nevada County voters have marked their ballots with a pencil and optical scanners tallied the results. HAVA mandates the use of a statewide voter registration database and the ability to use DRE (Direct Record Electronic) voting systems also known as touch-screens.

Another acronym voters and decision-makers should be familiar with is VVPAT, the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail. In theory, the VVPAT allows a voter to verify that their votes have been correctly cast. But Diebold's VVPATs have been consistently plagued by errors (see the Cuyahoga County report below.)

While striving to comply with the HAVA mandate of private and independent ballot casting for all voters, including those with disabilities, the security flaws and technology hurdles have been causing major headaches for election officials nationwide.

In a perfect world, voters would cast their ballot on a touch-screen, then receive a printed copy of their ballot which would be deposited in a ballot box. The box would remain sealed until the canvass period begins and the paper ballots are used for the mandatory manual recount and all other hand counts. No such system is certified for use in California.

Registrars are now caught between a rock and a hard place. Federal grant money needs to be spent before this election is over, but if the systems reveal themselves to be faulty, not only would they be a colossal waste of money, the very integrity of the November election could be called into question.

SB 1760, introduced by Senator Debra Bowen, was passed by the California legislature on August 10 to "prohibit the Secretary of State from approving any voting system, including a direct recording electronic voting system, unless the paper used for its voter verified paper audit trail is of sufficient quality that it maintains its integrity and readability throughout the required retention period."

The state's unified voter registration database also has been questioned. "That ruling tells me there's a very good chance the regulations the Secretary of State adopted to implement his agreement with the Bush administration violate federal law and the state Constitution because of the barriers they put up to prevent eligible Californians from registering to vote," said Bowen, the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee and the Senate Select Committee on the Integrity of Elections, commenting on a recent court decision from Washington. "We'll never know how many people were prevented from voting in the June primary thanks to the Secretary of State's regulations. The general election is less than 100 days away, meaning it's time for him to change his regulations to make sure no eligible voter who wants to register is turned away because they're not on some bureaucratic list."

DRE advocates often point to the HAVA requirements for voters with disabilities as a deciding factor in implementing touch-screens. In California, each polling place must have at least one voter-accessible device for the November election.

In Nevada County, "everyone and anyone who wants a paper ballot will receive one," Kathleen Smith told YubaNet. She said her proposal for the November election is not to be regarded as a permanent fix, but an interim solution to give Nevada County the time to evaluate and pick a viable, long-term voting system. Smith also stated that the Secretary of State's office will be monitoring the election in Nevada County.

Diebold's Dubious Track Record

Diebold has been making the news headlines for the past few years, citing problems on election days, security issues and statements by their former CEO Walden O'Dell. In a fundraising letter sent in August 2003, O'Dell said that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

More recently, Diebold and their system were sharply criticized in a 240-page report on Ohio's Cuyahoga County May primary election. According to Dan Seligson of electionline.org, a non-partisan, non-advocacy research effort supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by the University of Richmond, "the report raised more questions about the accuracy and reliability of touch-screen voting machines which researchers say failed to match up electronic ballots to paper versions of the vote." Perhaps equally significant - and noteworthy - are the details of the considerable woes that plagued the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system through careless election administration, printer failures or both, Seligson continues.

Aviel D. Rubin is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and technical director of the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute. In response to YubaNet's question about Diebold systems and their safety, Rubin was unequivocal: "The Diebold Accuvote is a terrible choice as a voting machine. It does not allow for independent audits or recounts." Rubin is the author of the upcoming book Brave New Ballot, which will be released in a couple of weeks.

In February, California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson commissioned and released an independent security analysis which only dealt with the Diebold memory cards. These cards are used to store vote totals and give instructions to the voting machines. The researchers stated: "We found a number of security vulnerabilities, detailed below. Although the vulnerabilities are serious, they are all easily fixable. Moreover, until the bugs are fixed, the risks can be mitigated through appropriate use procedures. Therefore, we believe the problems as a whole are manageable."

But not all the information has been made public, as researchers acknowledge further down in their report: "In a companion report we have listed in great detail all of the bugs we identified, the lines at which they occur, and the threats they pose. Because that report contains Diebold proprietary information, and because it details exactly how to exploit the vulnerabilities we discovered, that report must be confidential."

On August 8, 2006 California voters challenging the use of Diebold touch-screen voting systems filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in San Francisco Superior Court, asking the court to prohibit purchase or use in California of Diebold Accuvote TSx electronic voting machines for use in the November 2006 general election. A hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction is expected on August 31, 2006.

The Diebold election system obtained only a conditional approval from the California Secretary of State in February 2006. All other systems certified for use in California have unconditional federal and state approval.

Diebold is also currently the object of a formal SEC accounting probe.

It's the Supervisors' Call

The Nevada County BOS has repeatedly called for Smith to work with all interest groups, namely the FREED Center for Independent Living, and to put on a "full court press" to use a HAVA-compliant and reliable voting system for the November election. Vote PAD, previously proposed by Smith as a less costly solution, was rejected by FREED as not offering the required "private and independent voting." It is not known if FREED is in favor of the Diebold solution since YubaNet's request for comment was not returned by publication time.

In the past, FREED expressed its disappointment at not having a HAVA-compliant solution for June, but it appears that the organization has no recommendation as to which system would serve its needs. In an email dated April 5, 2006, Ana Acton, FREED's system change advocate, wrote to Smith: "As you know, there is no perfect voting system available for people with disabilities. When choosing a voting system for Nevada County I urge you to consider a system that allows many people with a variety of disabilities to vote privately and independently now and has promise of improving accessibility in the near future."

By taking an active role in deciding how voters will cast their ballots and how the votes will be counted, Tuesday's Nevada County BOS decision may have potentially far-reaching consequences, well beyond November.

Link
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http://www.TheInfoUnderground.com
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08-20-2006, 08:33 PM,
#2
Nevada County: $250,000 For Diebold System In November Election?
I don't know where you got this article from, but it couldn't be more wrong. I was born and raised in Las Vegas, and we have been using Electronic voting for the last 8 years here. There would be no reason to have this deal. There isn't even a Nevada County in the state of Nevada. The 2 biggest counties in Nevada are Clark County which is where Las Vegas is. And, Nye County which is where Reno and Carson City are. So I don't know where this guy is getting his info from, but he is wrong. If any of you would like to know how we vote in Nevada just ask and I will tell you.
Reply
08-20-2006, 10:25 PM,
#3
Nevada County: $250,000 For Diebold System In November Election?
http://www.yubanet.com/artman/publish/article_40871.shtml

That's the link
The InfoUnderground
TiU Radio
http://www.TheInfoUnderground.com
Reply
08-20-2006, 11:14 PM,
#4
Nevada County: $250,000 For Diebold System In November Election?
Quote:I don't know where you got this article from, but it couldn't be more wrong. I was born and raised in Las Vegas, and we have been using Electronic voting for the last 8 years here. There would be no reason to have this deal. There isn't even a Nevada County in the state of Nevada. The 2 biggest counties in Nevada are Clark County which is where Las Vegas is. And, Nye County which is where Reno and Carson City are. So I don't know where this guy is getting his info from, but he is wrong. If any of you would like to know how we vote in Nevada just ask and I will tell you.

The article appears to be about Nevada County CALIFORNIA.
Reply
08-21-2006, 08:04 PM,
#5
Nevada County: $250,000 For Diebold System In November Election?
My Bad, i guess I should read the whole thing next time.
Reply


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