portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

election fraud

Calif. Senate Majority Leader Pushes Electronic Voting Ban

Senate Majority Leader Don Perata introduced urgency legislation Thursday to ban use of computerized voting machines in Alameda County and across Cali-fornia during the November election -- a dramatic move the secretary of state said he is seriously considering.

The authors -- Perata, an Oakland Democrat who is chairman of the Senate elections committee, and Sen. Ross Johnson, an Irvine Republican who co-chairs the panel -- said the bill is aimed at thwarting the sort of problems with e-voting machines that emerged in Alameda and San Diego counties during the March primary.
 http://www.oaklandtribune.com/Stories/0,1413,82%257E1865%257E2058529,00.html

Perata pushes ban on e-voting

Oakland Democrat's bill aims to stave off repeat

By Steve Geissinger - SACRAMENTO BUREAU

SACRAMENTO -- Senate Majority Leader Don Perata introduced urgency legislation Thursday to ban use of computerized voting machines in Alameda County and across Cali-fornia during the November election -- a dramatic move the secretary of state said he is seriously considering.

The development -- the nation's biggest step back so far from electronic voting -- triggered fears among local election officials that the presidential election in California could be plunged into chaos.

But the move drew praise from election watchdog groups concerned about the integrity of the touchscreen machines used by more than 40 percent of California voters in over a dozen counties.

The authors -- Perata, an Oakland Democrat who is chairman of the Senate elections committee, and Sen. Ross Johnson, an Irvine Republican who co-chairs the panel -- said the bill is aimed at thwarting the sort of problems with e-voting machines that emerged in Alameda and San Diego counties during the March primary.

"Thousands of Californians were denied their right to vote on March 2 because electronic voting systems failed to work," Perata said. "We cannot afford to let that happen to November. We have a duty to seek a legislative solution if that becomes necessary."

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, the state's top election official, is "seriously considering" decertification of computerized voting machines as one of his options while he pressures manufacturers and county officials for greater security precautions, said Shelley spokeswoman Carol Dahmen.

Lawmakers said their bill, which would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to go into effect immediately as an urgency measure, is meant to give Shelley the statutory authority to carry out the action if necessary.

Representatives of Diebold Election Systems, which made the machines used by Alameda County, were not immediately available for comment Thursday evening. Diebold officials vowed last week to fix problems plaguing their equipment.

Officials said the worst glitch in Alameda County -- mass failure of voter-card encoders at nearly 200 precincts -- kept an unknown number of people from voting. Similarly, problems in San Diego County affected more than 500 precincts.

"Let us assume that, conservatively, one voter from each of those 573 precincts in San Diego did not return to vote," Perata said. "Those voters could have made a difference in the outcome of an election as evidenced by the fact that President Bush defeated Al Gore in Florida, and therefore won the presidency by a mere 537 votes."

Election watchdog groups have long worked for greater precautions.

Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, says she wants the touchscreen machines "to be put away until they're safe enough to use, and we're not there yet."

But local election officials said trying to revert to older, less high-tech systems would be costly and could prove impossible in so short a time. Even if counties acquired the equipment in time, they said, it could take days rather than hours to count all the ballots.

"I think it could throw the election into chaos," said Brad Clark, Alameda County's chief elections official.

He said problems with e-voting systems were held to a minimum during the primary.

Other counties, however, have balked at state efforts to bolster the integrity and security of the machines, saying the desired machine improvements do not yet exist.

Perata said lawmakers "wanted to give him (Shelley) maximum leverage on the (county) registrars, some of whom have been ... downright stubborn in doing what Kevin's directed them to do."

"We have given him a mallet in his back pocket," Perata said. "If they won't comply with the direction he's given them, then we will give him the statutory authority to decertify."

 http://www.oaklandtribune.com/Stories/0,1413,82%257E1865%257E2058529,00.html

homepage: homepage: http://www.verifiedvoting.org