Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

Electronic Voting Flaw Eyed by California



March 17, 2009 By

The California Secretary of State's Office held a public hearing Tuesday to gather testimony about a software flaw in electronic voting systems that erased 197 vote-by-mail ballots in the Nov. 4, 2008, general election in Humboldt County, Calif.

The 'Deck 0" flaw automatically deletes the first batch of tallied votes from optical scan paper ballots after they are scanned into Premier Elections Systems' Global Election Management System (GEMS) version 1.18.19, according to the Secretary of State's Office. (Premier was formerly known as Diebold.)

The Secretary of State's Office also found problems with audit logs of version 1.18.19. It doesn't log important system events, records inaccurate timestamps, and contains a "clear" button that deletes logs.

Justin Bales, western region general manager of Premier, testified Tuesday that 16 California counties are using an updated version that fixes many of those problems. Premier isn't opposed to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertifying the flawed software version, he said. The deletion of ballots was inadvertent and election security is of paramount importance to Premier, Bales said.

Premier issued a workaround for the Deck 0 problem in 2004, but the Humboldt County elections worker who was informed about it left the county prior to the Nov. 4, 2008 election.

Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich testified that the county has decided to move to a new vendor for its electronic voting, but will have to use Premier systems for its next election in May.

Crnich and her office oversee an innovative program called the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project that relies upon volunteers to use a high-end scanner in order to produce digital images of all ballots. The images are uploaded to the Internet and are also available on DVD.

Kevin Collins, a volunteer for the transparency project, testified Tuesday that the vote tally inaccuracies in Humboldt County beg the question of many other elections in the U.S. have been unknowingly impacted by flaws in version 1.18.19. The software version is federally and state-certified.

According to California Elections Code, the Secretary of State has the authority to withdraw approval of an electronic voting system if it's defective. The decision would go into effect after a minimum of six months.

In 2007, Bowen ordered that California discontinue using touchscreen e-voting technology.


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All