Calif. Halts E-Vote Certification
By Kim Zetter | Also by this reporter Page 1 of 1
05:49 PM Nov. 03, 2003 PT
SACRAMENTO, California -- Uncertified software may have been installed on electronic voting machines used in one California county, according to the secretary of state's office.
Marc Carrel, assistant secretary of state for policy and planning, told attendees Thursday at a panel on voting systems that California was halting the certification process for new voting machines manufactured by Diebold Election Systems.
The reason, Carrel said, was that his office had recently received "disconcerting information" that Diebold may have installed uncertified software on its touch-screen machines used in one county.
He did not say which county was involved. However, secretary of state spokesman Douglas Stone later told Wired News that the county in question is Alameda.
Alameda County, a Democratic stronghold that includes the cities of Berkeley and Oakland, converted to all-electronic voting last year at a cost of more than $12 million. The county used the machines in state elections last year and in last month's gubernatorial recall election. The machines will also be used in tomorrow's municipal election in Alameda.
The only other California county currently using the Diebold touch-screen machines is Plumas. No one was available for comment on whether uncertified software may have been installed on machines used in Plumas.
The Diebold machines slated for state certification, known as the AccuVote TSx, are a modified version of the machines used in Alameda and Plumas. The new machine is said to be a lighter, more compact version.
At the meeting, Carel delayed indefinitely the certification of the new machines until the secretary of state's office can investigate the matter.
Diebold officials, who were attending the meeting, seemed surprised by the announcement and expressed displeasure to several panelists afterward that it had been introduced in a public forum. They were unavailable for comment.
Also present at the meeting were representatives from Solano, San Diego and San Joaquin counties, where officials are waiting for state certification to begin using the new machines.
Officials from Alameda County's registrar of voters were unavailable for comment.