Caught Between The Glitches and The Gotyas

We have been covering a significant report by VotersUnite.org, Vendors are Undermining the Structure of U.S. Elections. , the report summarizes the bind Connecticut and other states are in:

Violations of Federal Law Leave States in a Double Bind. The federal government fails to meet its HAVA deadlines for giving guidance to the states on how to comply with HAVA, yet states are held accountable to comply.

News from Florida of our vendor, Diebold Premier continues to reveal the disappointing quality of their products and the Federal testing programs. From the Harold Tribune a short sour story <read>

Two Diebold glitches in one month? That’s no way to rebuild confidence in automated elections.

Sarasota and Hillsborough counties experienced one of the problems Tuesday night. They suffered delays from a software flaw that revealed itself when officials tried to integrate absentee ballot totals into overall election results…

The manufacturer is Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold — a name long connected to doubts about the security of voting.

Earlier this month, Premier accepted blame for the other glitch — a coding error that can sometimes prevent precinct vote totals from electronically transferring to central tabulation systems. The problem could afflict 34 states.

Good news, bad news

The good news about these flaws is that faulty counts can be detected by cross-checks and refuted by a paper trail of ballots. The votes still exist, in other words, though they can be harder to find.

The bad news is that confidence has been shaken, yet again, in automation that is critical to democratic elections. The extra vigilance required to thwart these potential glitches adds to election administrators’ burden and cost.

The fact that the Premier problems occur intermittently, undiscovered during certification or testing procedures, is especially troubling. In Sarasota County, for example, the high-speed scanner/software glitch did not surface in a mock election held last month…

Despite many reforms since the 2000 fiasco, voting systems are nowhere near as credible, secure or user-friendly as they should be.

Here is the good news and bad news for Connecticut:

The good news is that these latest glitches do not apply here because we total results manually from election night paper tapes, rather than accumulating memory cards.

The bad news is we are totally dependent on Premier and their distributor, LHS, for our elections – they are rightfully in the spotlight and being sued for poor quality and generally remain in denial. The lack of security and poor quality of the AccuVote-OS has been proven by independent scientific studies commissioned by CT, CA, and OH.

Moderate good news is that Connecticut has chosen optical scan which is the best system available which meets standards set by the Help America Vote Act.

The bad bad news is that there is no alternative in sight. All the vendors have poor products with no better products or vendors in sight. While some states are improving their laws, procedures, and actions, proposed Federal laws in the Senate would “fix” the Help America Vote Act by making the situation much worse.

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