Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Diebold Trying to Turn the Golden State Red

Skippy has a list of state senate committee members who need to hear from us regarding McPherson's premature certification of Diebold voting machines.

Here's my report on calls I made today:

I first called Senator Don Perata's office at (916) 651-4009 and was told that they are experiencing high call volume and could only record my remarks, not answer my questions. I told him I wanted the Senator to know that I don't trust electronic voting machines in general and Diebold in particular and that McPherson's certification of their use in California is premature.

Next I called Senator Jim Battin's office at (916) 651-4037 . He's a Republican so I didn't waste my time trying to ask questions. His staffer was polite and recorded my remarks.

Senator Ashburn is also a Republican whose number is (916) 651-4018. The staffer told me he doesn't know the senator's position on the matter, but recorded my remarks.

The last person I called was Senator Cedillo's office at (916) 651-4022. His staffer was polite and didn't rush me. He expressed his opinion that the senator shares my concerns about the certification of Diebold. This staffer was the friendliest of all.

Senator Debra Bowen is very concerned about McPherson's certification of Diebold and is actively working on the issue. She prefers to be contacted by email, rather than by telephone. Contact her at debra@debrabowen.com

Senator Bowen made the following statement on her blog:

Late Friday afternoon, I learned that Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has conditionally certified the use of Diebold electronic voting machines in California’s 2006 elections.

Secretary of State McPherson’s release of bad news late on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend is a blatant attempt to prevent us from learning about this decision. We were in a similar position the Friday before Christmas last year when the AP ran a story disclosing voting problems from last November’s special election.

But, try as he might, Secretary of State McPherson is not going to succeed in burying this story from the people of California — this is too critical an issue to go away quietly.

With the many problems that have plagued Diebold machines, as well as the complete lack of transparency into this certification process, McPherson’s decision certainly does nothing to restore confidence in California’s elections.

I’ll have much more to say about this Diebold certification in the next few days, and I’ll be inviting you to do your part as well, but for now I just wanted to share this information with you.
In her official response to McPherson she says:

“Last December, the Secretary announced with great fanfare that he was sending the Diebold machines back for review by the Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) because the memory cards those machines rely on hadn’t been reviewed,” continued Bowen. “Now, contrary to what he said two months ago, he’s approving the Diebold machines without waiting for the report from the ITAs. Instead, he’s basing his decision on a supposedly ‘independent state audit’ that no one has seen before today. There’s a March 1 public hearing for four other voting machine vendors before their machines can be certified for use in California, so what was the rush to certify Diebold and side-step a public hearing on this issue?”

“In August, the Secretary said any machine approved in California would have to comply with all federal standards and regulations, yet the EAC bans machines that contain interpreted code and these Diebold machines rely on that type of code to operate, so he’s gone back on that commitment,” continued Bowen. “In December, he said he’d wait for a report from the ITAs before acting on the Diebold re-certification request, yet now he’s re-certified the Diebold machines without hearing from the ITAs. He says he’s acting based on the recommendations of an ‘independent state audit’ that came out on Tuesday, but the California State Auditor hasn’t issued any reports on this issue and hasn’t been asked to do a report. Asking a board appointed by the Secretary to make recommendations doesn’t constitute an ‘independent state audit’ in my book.