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Voting tech news roundup -- CA Senate hearing and more

May 18, 2004

Hi Folks,

In this CVF-NEWS voting technology round-up:

May 19 California Senate hearing on Orange County/Hart Intercivic

On Wednesday, May 19 the California Senate Elections Committee will hold a hearing to examine the voting problems Orange County experienced on March 2 with its new Hart Intercivic eSlate electronic voting system. As you may recall, thousands of voters were given the wrong electronic ballots and experienced other technical problems.

Tomorrow's hearing will provide an opportunity to air these problems in a public forum. Witnesses who will address the committee include Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, Orange County Registrar of Voters Steve Rodermund, representatives from Hart, and myself. The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in Room 3191 at the California State Capitol in downtown Sacramento.

The California Channel is planning to carry this hearing live, which will be available on cable systems in CA as well as via webcast on the Cal Channel web site.

For more details about other problems Hart has encountered in Texas, see my weblog.

Santa Clara County sight-impaired voters report problems with touchscreens

Over the weekend, the San Jose Mercury News featured a story about problems that blind and sight-impaired voters experienced when attempting to use the county's new Sequoia touchscreen voting machines. The Silicon Valley Council for the Blind surveyed over 50 members about their voting experiences -- only two reported having a smooth voting experience. The article and excerpts are available on my blog.

13 members of U.S. Congress ask GAO to investigate e-voting

Federal Computer Week recently reported that thirteen members of the House of Representatives have asked the General Accounting Office to investigate electronic voting and the security and reliability of voting machines. In a letter sent to Comptroller General David Walker, the members, which include 8 Republicans and 5 Democrats, write that the topic concerns "a critical aspect of American democracy - the ability of Americans to have confidence that the votes they cast in an election will be counted accurately and fairly." Links to the story and excerpts are available via my blog.

EAC Chairman Soaries to speak in Richmond, VA May 19

Election Assistance Commission Chairman DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., will address Virginia election officials tomorrow to discuss the question, "Will We Be Ready for November 2004?". Soaries is expected to announce the steps the EAC will take to help local election officials prepare for the November election, and will speak about security among other topics. His remarks are scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m. This event will take place at the Holiday Inn Koger South Conference Center, 1021 Koger Center Blvd. in Richmond, Virginia and is open to the public. More information about the EAC is online.

More CA voting equipment lacks federal qualification

A new article from Ian Hoffman of the Oakland Tribune/Alameda Newspaper Group sheds light on the murky status of federal and state qualification and certification for a wide range of equipment used by many California counties. The story is based on the results of a Secretary of State-commissioned, county-by-county audit of all voting equipment in California.

The audit was a follow-up to the earlier Diebold audit, released in December 2003, which found that uncertified and in some cases, untested software was being used in all 17 California counties that are Diebold customers. This follow-up audit, also conducted by R&G Associates, found that other counties are using equipment from other vendors that is not federally qualified. In addition, the audit reports that there is uncertainty whether the various versions of software being used in California are all state-certified. The Secretary of State's office is reviewing historical certification records to determine the extent of this problem.

The R&G audit report for the 41 non-Diebold counties is online.

A summary of this report is online.

Links to and excerpts from Ian Hoffman's story are available via my weblog.

-- Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation

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