Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Allegheny scraps deal for new voting machines

GREAT. We dodged a bullet.
Allegheny scraps deal for new voting machines: "With just six weeks to go before the May primary, Allegheny County is scrapping a multi-million-dollar deal for electronic voting machines built by Sequoia Voting System and instead is purchasing 4,700 touch-screen machines from Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software Inc.

County Chief Executive Dan Onorato made the announcement today, saying Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortes told him last week that Sequoia's system likely would not be certified because of critical software problems."
However, that does not mean there isn't another bullet on its way.

I want and urge, from the get-go, "OPEN SOURCE VOTING MACHINES." That's my benchmark. And, that's what would be BEST.

It is foolish to take something old that works and JUNK it for something that is new and broken.

Even if the new broken elements are paid for -- so too are the old working elements. They are paid for! Keep em.

Rush and hurry to scramble to spend. Forget that. Think again, thank you. We want a hungry, local, 'tiger team' to tell us that these machines work -- flawlessly.

I don't think we need to satisfy the Help America Vote Act -- until there is TRUST. That's the bottom line.

Where are the results of the Allegheny County "TIGER TEAM" who have pounded and tested the new machines on all sorts of angles?

As a backup in May, precincts with long lines will allow voters to use optical scan ballots. Those ballots, which resemble standardized tests, would be placed in secure boxes and taken to a central location for counting.
There will NOT be many precincts with long lines because too few people vote. I don't see a big groundswell of people rushing to the polls for the spring primary, sadly. But, at certain times in the day, there is a bit of a wait.

...The county will begin an "aggressive" educational campaign for voters and poll workers ....
Great, we need an aggressive educational effort. And, we need an aggressive TIGER TEAM approach as well. The TESTING campaign that I'm calling for is part education, part research and development. It can happen as the educational effort happens and the two can have, at times, meetings of the minds. But, both need to occur to raise the various issues and find flaws that are sure to exist.

Allegheny County voting machine with levers.
Mr. Onorato acknowledged the potential for difficulties. But, the biggest difficulty isn't with the act of the vote -- is it the process from within the technology of the voting. The potential difficulties are greatest when trust vanishes. That is the worst of the worst.

Mr. Onorato said the board would hold a public meeting Friday at 6 p.m.
Good. Put that meeting onto cable TV and onto the internet. Start the educational process now, with that introduction. Capture the meeting on video and put stream it off of the county's web site.

And if anyone is going -- please ask about the 'tiger team.'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

About Sequoia, from Investor's Business Daily

Issues & Insights
Hugo Wants Your Vote
Posted 4/5/2006

Elections: If 9-11 taught us anything, it was to be wary of asym- metrical threats from hostile entities no matter what size. We might just get ambushed again if the Venezuelan government ends up controlling our elections.

Don't think it can't happen. A Venezuelan-linked company called Smartmatic has bought out a U.S. electronic voting device firm called Sequoia, which holds contracts for elections in Chicago and elsewhere.

U.S. foreign investment bureaucrats aren't worried because no military secrets are involved. But that kind of thinking can blindside our democratic institutions as we look for threats to our hardware.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is the foremost meddler in foreign elections in the Western hemisphere and has been accused of secretly financing candidates in Peru, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Mexico. Why wouldn't he be interested in influencing vote outcomes here?

He's already trying to influence our politics through a congressional lobbying effort and a cheap fuel program for welfare recipients explicitly linked to congressional participation.

These and other shenanigans signal interest in influencing perceptions in the U.S.

There's plenty of domestic white noise about electronic machines to cloud the issue. But the problems Chavez could cause are in a different league.

Even as regulators dismiss security threats, the performance of Smartmatic in Venezuela's own elections raises questions.

For example, 82% of voters there sat out last December's Smartmatic-operational congressional race on shattered confidence in the system.

The Smartmatic machines are capable of controlling the speed at which votes are transmitted, creating long lines to discourage voting. They can also instantaneously tally as results come in, giving favored sides information to manipulate turnout.

Mathematicians accuse them of flipping results. And combined with fingerprint machines, they can match votes to voters, violating ballot secrecy.

There may be no problem with Smartmatic working U.S. elections, but just wait for a close call and see how credible the result will be. With as many problems as U.S. elections have seen, the one thing it doesn't need is to import Venezuela's electoral wreckage.