Big Voting Machines Stories

Over at Black Box Voting, a story about a former employee of a voting machines company, suing the company for firing him for whistleblowing.

Spillane’s lawsuit charges wrongful and retaliatory termination; he contends he was removed so that he could not blow the whistle to certification labs and pass critical information to the US General Accounting Office.

He says he has evidence which shows voting systems are certified despite known flaws, demonstrating a weakness in both the NASED and the ITA system for certifying machines.

Here’s a bit about the ownership of this company:

VoteHere’s board of directors includes former CIA director Robert Gates. VoteHere’s Chairman is Admiral Bill Owens, who was senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney, and also includes Ralph Munro, a key Washington State politician.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara County, Ca voted to purchase voting machines WITHOUT A PAPER TRAIL!

Santa Clara County supervisors rejected pleas from computer scientists Tuesday that they require new electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail after each touch-screen vote is cast, leaving that decision to the California secretary of state. But supervisors did vote to set up a limited pilot project for November’s election that will give some voters a physical receipt to verify their otherwise ethereal ballot.

They take it with them? What good does THAT do? It doesn’t help a recount, but it does help people sell their votes!

After Tuesday’s 3-2 vote, supervisors will begin negotiating with Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland to buy at least 5,000 electronic voting machines. The company will get the $20 million contract only if it agrees to provide paper printouts when — and if — the California secretary of state calls for printed verification of electronic votes.

So it’s up to the California Secretary of State. (Let the Secretary of State know how you feel. Here is contact information. Scroll down to Elections Division.)

This month, in response to stepped-up pressure from a nationwide network of computer scientists, voting rights advocates and security and fraud experts, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley launched a task force on electronic voting. Members are expected to call for security guidelines and the need for verification of votes.

So what happens if the machine has a glitch and loses its voting data? Do they throw out the election or just the votes?

Here is the county’s official press release:

Board of Supervisors Selects Electronic Voting System — Calls for Pilot “Paper Record” Study

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved the staff recommendation of Sequoia Voting Systems to provide its Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system, and directed staff to proceed with negotiations.

Under the Board’s proposed plan, the County will petition the Secretary of State to approve pilot projects for a paper record a voter could inspect in the November 2003 and March 2004 elections. This strategy would enable the County of Santa Clara to move forward to comply with the Federal Court Order which requires nine counties, including Santa Clara County, to convert to electronic voting by the March 2004 Presidential Election. It also would set the stage to prepare for a voter inspected paper records, pending the final recommendations of a newly appointed State Task Force on Electronic Voting.

All three firms that competed for the $20 million County contract are certified by the California Secretary of State’s Office to provide DRE voting systems. In recent weeks, computer scientists and computer technology professors have voiced concerns about DRE voting systems that do not produce paper records for voter inspection. The Board held a workshop on February 11, 2003 to review issues pertaining to accessibility by the disabled, costs and security.

“The action taken by the Board of Supervisors keeps us on track to meet the Federal Court Order and if the Secretary of State approves the pilot for a voter verifiable paper ballot, it would enable us to develop a system that assures our voters that Santa Clara County elections continue to be fair and accurate,” said Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, Chairperson.

The proposal to move forward with DRE voting system, using paper records on a limited basis for the November 2003 and March 2004 was offered by Supervisor Pete McHugh who cited concerns that the work of the newly formed State Ad Hoc Touch Screen Task Force might take longer than anticipated; and waiting for those results could place the County in jeopardy of violating the Federal Court Order.

“All of the recent reports in the media may have created doubts in the minds of voters about the ability of the County to conduct an accurate election using the electronic voting machines,” said Supervisor Pete McHugh, District 3. “If the Secretary of State approves the pilot studies, it would enable the County to test the accuracy of the machines, assess the impact of the paper record requirement on those who are visually impaired and should minimize any doubts and concerns these security issues have created among County voters.”

The Board also approved the creation of an ad hoc election systems oversight review committee, proposed by Supervisor Jim Beall, District 4. The Committee would be comprised of voters, computer security experts and citizen observers.


Following an extensive competitive process that included a six-month pilot program and extensive community input, the County of Santa Clara Registrar of Voters recommended Sequoia Voting Systems as the preferred vendor to implement its new Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting System. The County’s Finance and Government Operations Committee reviewed the selection on January 31, and forwarded it to the full Board for consideration on February 4, 2003. The Board decided that additional time was required to study the issues pertaining to access for the disabled, costs and security and set a special workshop for February 11, 2003.

At that workshop, the Board heard presentations by staff on the six-month pilot project and the vendor evaluation process. It also heard brief presentations from the three firms who responded to the RFP – Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia. The Board also heard concerns from members of the computer science community.

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So contact California’s Secretary of State! Write a letter!