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Bowen De-Certifies, Re-Certifies Voting Machines

by: David Dayen

Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 06:42:04 AM PDT

Debra Bowen is doing what we elected her to do.  After her top-to-bottom review of the voting systems in California revealed serious flaws, she acted:

In a dramatic late-night press conference, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified, and then recertified with conditions, all but one voting system used in the state. Her decisions, following her unprecedented, independent "Top-to-Bottom Review" of all certified electronic voting systems, came just under the wire to meet state requirements for changes in voting system certification.

Bowen announced that she will be disallowing the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems made by the Diebold and Sequoia companies on Election Day, but for one DRE machine per polling place which may be used for disabled voters. The paper trails from votes cast on DREs manufactured by those two companies must be 100% manually counted after Election Day. DREs made by Hart-Intercivic are used in only one California county and will be allowed for use pending security upgrades.

The InkaVote Plus system, distributed by ES&S and used only in Los Angeles County has been decertified and not recertified for use after the company failed to submit the system source code in a timely manner to Bowen's office. LA County is larger than many states, and questions remain at this time as to what voting system they will use in the next election.

Read the whole thing.  Bowen is going up against some really powerful forces and needs out support.  The registrars are going to scream holy hell about this, and we'll hear that we don't have the money to up and change everything now.  That dog shouldn't hunt.  I think everyone in this state, or at least a vast majority, is willing to pay for the security of our democracy.

David Dayen :: Bowen De-Certifies, Re-Certifies Voting Machines
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GO BOWEN! (0.00 / 0)
Thank God she won. We have our disagreements here, Debra Bowen isn't one of them

The Silent Consensus

Bowen decertifies... (0.00 / 0)
Thank God somebody has the stones to stand up for the rest of us.  After the Ohio and Florida debacles where Republicans got caught rigging elections and destroying the records,  we need somebody to stand up to their brand of street thug politics.

If Nevada slot machines can be secure, where's the argument that California voting machines can't?

I wrote Ms. Bowen an e-mail thanking her profusely; please do likewise.  She's taking a lot of flak from people who got their toes stepped on, and a kind word would help.

you know, the Chronicle got the story WRONG today (0.00 / 0)
Luckily, I'd already seen the Sacramento Bee coverage with the real news, so I didn't have a minor heart attack reading that:

Elections chief gives OK to vote machines
Despite security concerns, she clears them for use in February

here's John Wildermuth's lead:

California counties will be able to use their electronic voting systems in February, subject to tough new security conditions and other restrictions, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Friday night.

While "investigators found serious vulnerabilities in all systems," Bowen said, the machines could be made safe and secure, although counties would face plenty of extra work complying with her rules.

Even though Wildermuth goes on to report that Bowen has limited the use of Diebold and Sequoia touchscreen machines to 1 machine per precinct for disability access, he doesn't seem to understand what that means, because he also goes on to write:

The decision came mostly as a relief to local election officials, who had argued that six months was hardly enough time to make major changes in their plans for the first-time-ever February election.

Obviously local jurisdictions who'd planned to use Diebold and Sequoia touchscreens for most/all of their polling place voters will indeed have to "make major changes in their plans"!

This is all he writes about ES&S:

Bowen's decision will have no immediate effect on San Francisco, Contra Costa or Solano counties, which all use voting machines made by Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software, which were not studied in the University of California review.

No mention of Bowen's decertification of ES&S Inkavote machines, or of ES&S's refusal to cooperate.  And again generally confusing the issue: SF uses opti-scan machines, presumably Contra Costa and Solano, do too? Nobody was expecting Bowen to decertify opti-scan machines.

here's the LA Times header from their web site right now:

Calif. secures electronic voting machines
Secretary of State orders precautions against tampering, and withdraws support of systems used in SoCal

Sure, the news came after Wildermuth's deadline last night, but the Bee and the LA Times got it right!

thanks for diary, dday, and the Brad Blog link.

Gutsy decision (0.00 / 0)
She is going to need some support. Kind of glad Wilderbeast got it wrong -- may slow some of the response.

Can It Happen Here?

well, he changed his tune today with (0.00 / 0)
"Touch vote machine ban hurts counties"

check out the lead of this supposed 'news' story;

Secretary of State Debra Bowen has made it clear she doesn't trust touch-screen voting systems, and Napa and Santa Clara counties are going to pay the price.

and worse, Wildermuth writes:

But forcing every voter at a polling place to use a single machine could cause voter gridlock on election day.


Napa uses more than 300 of the Sequoia machines, with about three for each polling place, said John Tuteur, the county registrar.


While Napa could run an election with one voting machine per polling place, it wouldn't be easy, Tuteur said. And if the county is required to recount every vote cast on those touch-screen machines by hand, it could take weeks.

Ah, Mr. Tuteur? You're not supposed to be using that 1 touchscreen machine per polling place for general voting. It's for disability access. If you can't get certified opti-scan machines for your voters to use for the next election (February 5th 2008), you know, there's these things called "paper ballots" you could print up? And then count by hand?

No doubt Napa County already hand-counts a substantial percentage of absentee votes.

[ Parent ]
Contact info for Bowen (0.00 / 0)
It took a few minutes of foraging on the SOS website to find Debra Bowen's email, so to spare others the trouble,

secretary dot bowen  at  sos.ca.gov

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