The New Standard, Syracuse NY
by Brendan Coyne (bio)
Dec 27, 2005 - Amid questions about the reliability and security of electronic voting machines, elections officials in two states are taking strong measures against two of the nation's largest e-voting machine manufacturers.
Two weeks ago, elections commissioners in Florida's Leon and Volusia counties voted to dump Diebold Electronics Systems due to security weaknesses in the company's machines. In tests, elections officials and a computer-security expert determined that the machines could be easily hacked, opening the way for electoral manipulations, the Miami Herald reported.
Last week, California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson warned Election Systems & Software that the state will decertify the company's machines if it does not take immediate measures to correct certification and vote-counting problems found during a special election last November. That letter, which was obtained by the Associated Press, came as McPherson also placed Diebold's certification in limbo, stating that federal officials would test the company's memory cards, the Sacramento Bee reported.
According to a Government Accountability Office report released in September, e-voting machines and the 2002 enactment of the Help America Vote Act have led to uneven results in counties throughout the nation. The report recommended that the Elections Assistance Commission, formed to help implement HAVA, create and maintain a system of standards, assessment and assistance for state and local elections officials. EAC commissioners agreed with the recommendation but have yet to implement it.
States must be in compliance with HAVA by January 1 or run the risk of lawsuits and other penalties.
The actions in California and Florida come about just two weeks after Walden W. O'Dell, the head of Diebold, abruptly resigned. While he and the company have not officially stated the cause for O'Dell's departure, Diebold has been under tight scrutiny over flaws in its voting software, its decision not to include a paper record of cast votes and the CEO's stated allegiance to President Bush.
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