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Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2002 5:19 AM
Subject: SecurePoll Update 8/26/2002
SecurePoll Electronic Voting Update
By Derek Dictson & Dan Ray
August 26, 2002
News & Updates
Diane R. Stepp
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Thursday, August 22, 2002
Georgia -- Sara Lathem, 78, doesn't have a computer at home. Doesn't want one.
But that doesn't mean the Canton retiree isn't looking forward to switching over to the new touch screen voting machines in November.
Before taking her place in line to vote Tuesday at the Canton fire station, Lathem gave the touch screen system a quick trial run.
Demonstration volunteer Gail Sams handed Lathem the plastic access card --- just as poll workers will on Nov. 5 --- and showed her where to insert it into the machine, bringing up a fictitious sample ballot.
Lathem quickly punched in her pick for Favorite President: John Adams, Famous Georgian: Burt Reynolds, and Famous Athlete: Bobby Jones. She hit the next screen for amendments, then touched the "cast ballot" key as the computer recorded her vote.
"Simple," pronounced Lathem as she headed inside the fire station to circle the ovals and cast her paper ballot in the primary election.
What worries Sams is that Lathem was one of only a handful of voters who took time Tuesday for a quick lesson.
"Many of them told me they'd wait until November, or they'd forget how it works," she said. By then it will be for real and the voting booth is not the ideal place to become acquainted with casting a ballot you can't hold, punch out a hole in or use a pen to fill in the oval.
"They'll have to have people to help, but I don't know how they're going to do it because you don't want others to know how you voted," said Sams.
The county elections office will be stepping up its education campaign this fall to introduce voters to the new machines, taking them to community centers, churches, clubs, organizations and senior citizen centers, for instance, said Sams.
Not all voters got a chance to try the touch screen machines at their polling places Tuesday. Despite promises that there would be one at each site, only one of five precincts checked Tuesday had one. The distribution glitch was one of many on Tuesday.
"We have all kinds of problems with the redistricting. We've been putting out fires all day and the phone's been ringing off the hook. We're using all our resources to get through this," said Rhonda Bishop, a clerk in the county elections office.
Cherokee Elections Board member Donald Sams, who was checking precinct sites Tuesday, said one of the demonstration machines was supposed to be at the Teasley Middle School polling site. That didn't happen because the access card to the machine wasn't programmed correctly, he said.
Sixes Elementary poll worker David Porfolio grimly predicted there would be other problems when the machines debut in the general election.
"The legs on them are so wobbly, they fall off," he said. He said that's what happened when assembly of the new machines was demonstrated earlier this summer at the Cherokee Republican headquarters.
"This is just the beginning of the screwups," Porfolio said.
Meanwhile, county elections supervisor Al Stone had his hands full with minor "screwups" all day Tuesday. Stone kept a cellphone to his ear troubleshooting everything from irate candidates who called to complain that their illegally placed campaign signs had been removed from school yards to sorting out frantic calls from newly trained poll workers reporting that the colors of their ballots were wrong.
"It's been one of the roughest election days we've had in a long time," said Stone. Redrawn precinct lines confused some voters who went to the wrong polling places. Some hadn't received their new precinct cards from the secretary of state's office, Stone said. Poll workers at Buffington Elementary were locked out of the building, delaying poll opening by about 15 minutes.
These and other headaches could crop up in November. Stone is already concerned over the specter of long lines in November since the number of machines will be substantially reduced, he said.
Wed Aug 21, 2002
By MARK NIESSE
Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA, GA -- Chads, those little bits of paper that don't fully detach from punch card ballots, could be an election issue again.
College professor Max Burns won a narrow unofficial victory over Barbara Dooley in Tuesday's 12th Congressional District Republican primary, setting up a recount.
Dooley's campaign now plans to contest the district's paper ballots, lever voting machines and punch card ballots — the source of Florida's infamous hanging, swinging and dimpled chads.
Georgia purchased touch-screen voting machines for $54 million, but the 12th District used its older methods because the secretary of state's office didn't have enough time to install all 19,015 machines across the state before the primary, said spokeswoman Kara Sinkule. They will be ready for the general election Nov. 5.
"We do need those modern voting machines, and it's high time," Dooley campaign manager Clint Murphy said. "Shame on our secretary of state for not having them in place by now."
During the 2000 presidential election, thousands of Florida ballots were submitted with misplaced chads, complicated the recount as President Bush ( news - web sites) won a razor-thin victory statewide.
With all 234 precincts reporting, Burns had 13,915 votes, or 50.5 percent, according to unofficial returns compiled by The Associated Press. Dooley had 13,641 votes, or 49.5 percent.
That's a difference of only 274 votes, and candidates are entitled to an automatic recount if the margin is less than 1 percent.
The results will not be official until later this week or next week, and the re-count would not start until after that.
Burns does not think the re-count will change the results.
"We learned a lesson in the last election cycle in Florida," Burns said. "I'm convinced and I'm confident that our poll workers did their jobs in a professional manner and there won't be any problems."
The Associated Press
Thursday, August 22, 2002
Kansas -- The discovery of a computer glitch reversed one outcome from this month's primary elections in Kansas, and an unsuccessful candidate in another race has based his request for a special election on technical difficulties that allegedly occurred in his race.
In Clay County, computer results from a county commission primary had challenger Roy Jennings defeating incumbent Jerry Mayo by 22 votes.
The hand recount, completed Tuesday, revealed Mayo as the winner — and by a landslide, 540 votes to 175.
In one ward, which Mayo carried 242-78, the computer had mistakenly reversed the totals. And in the absentee voting, which originally showed a 47-44 edge for Jennings, a hand count found Mayo winning 72-19.
"I'm sorry everyone had to go through that, but glad to see the will of the voters carried through," Mayo said.
Jennings, whose attorneys walked out of Tuesday's election panel hearing, said he had reservations about the recount.
"The ballots and counting machine and program chip were open to anyone with access to the (county) clerk's office, mostly active opponents to my campaign," Jennings said.
And in Great Bend, a fossil hunter who sought a seat in the state Legislature is seeking a special election, alleging problems with a machine that scans ballots opened the door for possible tampering.
Alan Detrich lost his GOP primary bid for the 112th District seat to the incumbent, Rep. John Edmonds of Great Bend, by a margin of 2 to 1.
Detrich, also of Great Bend, wrote to Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall and Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh on Monday with concerns about how ballots were handled on election night.
"I have no evidence that any ballots were tampered with, but the fact that the ballot boxes were outside Barton County for approximately five hours in two separate vehicles with unknown occupants raises serious questions," Detrich wrote.
By Ed Fletcher
Sacramento Bee Capitol Bureau
Thursday, August 22, 2002
California has edged closer to Florida-proofing its elections with the acceptance of a plan to distribute $200 million to modernize voting.
The money will be helpful across the state but is particularly beneficial to the nine counties -- including Sacramento -- that state election officials say must replace their voting equipment.
County elections officials say it's no stretch to pin the jump-started election reforms on the botched 2000 Florida election.
"Everything we are doing in terms of election reform is a result of Florida," said Ernest Hawkins, registrar of voters for Sacramento County.
Facing a California court challenge to the voting systems used in the troubled Florida election, Secretary of State Bill Jones announced in December that the nine counties using prescored punch-card ballots must replace them by July 2005.
Switching the voting systems used in nine counties is no small task. The nine are home to half the state's voters.
But the Voting Modernization Bond Act will make the process easier. Passed in March, the bond act will help fund new touchscreen voting machines across the state. The state will provide a 3-to-1 match on county purchases of approved equipment.
The state plan for distributing its voting modernization money weighs the number of eligible voters, the number of registered voters, the average turnout for the last four elections and the number of polling places.
The "blended formula" was a way to try to satisfy the broadest number of counties.
The board also capped the state's contribution to voting machines at $3,000 per machine.
The next step in the process is for counties to submit a request for funding consideration, to be accompanied by a non-binding resolution from county supervisors.
Counties will then have more time before they are asked to submit a more detailed application.
The money is important, but county officials also have to do the legwork to make touch-screen voting happen without losing electronic votes along the way.
"It's a big job," said Bradley Clark, registrar of voters for Alameda County. "Changing voting systems is like taking everything you have done and throwing it out."
Sacramento County residents will be able to try out touchscreen machines and cast live ballots weeks before the November election at six locations around town. Early voting will help the county decide on a vendor for the voting machines.
El Dorado County won't be pushing as hard. The county uses Datavote, an optical scan system still certified for use.
Some counties might not be asking for money.
Vicki Frazier, registrar of voters for Del Norte County, asked the Board of Supervisors to consider the matter, but she said she is not pushing it. The Datavote system also in use there is working well, she said.
Only two California counties -- Riverside and Plumas -- have used used touch-screen voting for a major election. A handful of others have tested the technology in smaller elections.
That will be changing soon.
In addition to the state funds, federal help may also be on the way. House and Senate negotiators are trying to meld election reform packages that promise new election money and requirements. "In the next few years, you will see the bulk of the counties voting electronically," Hawkins said. "All because of Florida."
Alfred J. Charles will help Sequoia’s clients design and execute successful voter education programs as the company’s Director of Public Affairs
Aug. 22, 2002
OAKLAND, Calif. ― One of California’s top election officials is departing the Secretary of State’s office to join Oakland-based Sequoia Voting Systems, the nation’s most experienced provider of touch screen voting machines.
Alfred J. Charles, California’s Assistant Secretary of State for Communications and eGovernment, will become Sequoia’s Director of Public Affairs on Sept. 9.
“We are very pleased that a senior advisor to Secretary of State Bill Jones will be joining our team,” said Peter Cosgrove, Sequoia’s president and chief executive officer. “Alfie not only has unparalleled expertise in California election law, but in supervising successful voter education and outreach programs. His insights and expertise will prove quite valuable to Sequoia’s current and future clients across California.”
Charles joins Sequoia following a seven-year career with the Secretary of State’s office in which he chaired the California Internet Voting Task Force and drafted California’s digital signature regulations. He also counseled Secretary of State Bill Jones on a number of election policy issues, including voter access issues involving computers and the viability of Internet voting.
“It is apparent that Internet voting is a technology whose time has not come,” Charles said. “For large jurisdictions needing to upgrade their voting equipment, touch screen voting clearly represents the easiest, most reliable and unambiguous method of conducting elections today and for the foreseeable future. Sequoia has not only gained more experience than any other company in touch screen technology, but, by all accounts, has an unrivalled history of working with counties to conduct successful elections with state-of-the-art technology. That’s a track record I can be proud of and I look forward to helping Sequoia and its customers continue to improve their voting systems.”
Before joining the Secretary of State’s office in 1995, Charles honed his voter outreach skills by managing several high-profile political campaigns, including the landmark Three Strikes and You’re Out initiative, which he supervised while working as an account manager for Cavalier & Associates, a Sacramento-based public relations firm. He also coordinated California media activities for Arizona Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2000.
Charles earned a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Sacramento, where he majored in government and minored in history and philosophy. Charles lives in Elk Grove with his wife, Kristin, and their children.
Charles is the second high-ranking public official Sequoia has added to its election management team hired during the past year. Last summer, the company hired Santa Clara County’s Registrar Kathryn Ferguson as its Vice President of Governmental Relations and Public Affairs. Ferguson was previously Registrar of Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada, from 1993 to 1999; and Bexar County (San Antonio), Texas, from 1991 to 1993. With a computer science background, she has also served on numerous voting reform committees and panels, including the California Secretary of State’s Voting System Certification Advisory Panel. Ferguson was the chairman of The Election Center’s Voting Technology Committee at its inception in early 1999.
A pioneer in voting reform, Ferguson initiated and managed Clark County’s 1994 conversion from punch cards to full face electronic voting machines, fully six years before Florida’s voting problems in the 2000 presidential election highlighted the need for electronic voting systems across the country. The electronic early voting program she put into place there was the first of its kind and has become a national model for electronic early voting programs. More of Clark County’s voters now vote early than vote on Election Day, and the county’s absentee voting numbers have held steady rather than increasing exponentially like California’s have done.
Oakland, California-based Sequoia is the nation’s most experienced provider of Direct Record Electronic (DRE) technology, with an installed base of more than 35,000 full face and touch screen voting machines in 16 states, including Riverside County, California and Palm Beach, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Indian River counties in Florida.
Sequoia Voting Systems is a subsidiary of Hampshire, England-based De La Rue, a leading worldwide provider of tamperproof government documents and secure cash processing technologies. De La Rue’s accurate cash-counting mechanisms are used by one fifth of the world’s ATMs and more than 2,000 financial institutions in 60 countries rely on De La Rue to secure their transactions. De La Rue applies the same commitment to accuracy and integrity to the election business through Sequoia Voting Systems. The companies invite you to visit their respective websites at www.sequoiavote.com and www.delarue.com
By MICHAEL PEARSON
Georgia -- Software problems and human error prevented some voters in Tuesday's primary from trying out Georgia's new touch-screen election system.
State officials promise the problems should be fixed before the statewide rollout in November. And they pointed out that the machines worked well in Hall and Marion counties, the only counties where real votes were recorded electronically on Tuesday.
In Fulton County, at least 11 percent of the touch-screen machines failed. Some froze up like balky home computers, while others got stuck in a mode that effectively locked up the machines, said Gloria Champion, the county's director of registrations and elections. No one was denied the right to vote because the machines were only being demonstrated for interested voters. The real votes were cast on punch cards.
Chris Riggall, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office, attributed the problems to errors by poll workers, a glitch in the Windows operating system that runs the machines and problems with electronic cards that replace paper ballots and ballot boxes.
Riggall said an extensive training program for poll workers, a planned software upgrade and ample technical support on Election Day should hold problems to a minimum. The training and software upgrade already had occurred in Hall and Marion counties, where actual electronic voting was near- flawless.
"Certainly the best measure of the performance we expect was in the two counties where we were configured to actually hold an election," Riggall said.
Hall County elections chief Anne Phillips said she was thrilled with the system.
"We had a really good day," she said.
But Fulton County officials said they still worry there isn't time to ensure a smooth Election Day. Commissioner Bob Fulton, a Georgia Tech engineering professor, likened the planned November debut to the liftoff of an unproven rocket.
"Once it launches, you don't have many options," he said.
The state purchased 19,015 of the touch-screen machines in May to replace a patchwork of older systems and head off a repeat of the 2000 presidential election, in which old technologies complicated tabulation of an already close vote.
Each of the state's 2,823 voting precincts got one of the machines for voters to try out on Tuesday as part of the secretary of state office's ongoing voter education campaign.
The most common problem was untrained poll workers unintentionally starting the machines in "election mode" instead of "demonstration mode," Riggall said. The access cards needed to display ballots on the machines weren't programmed to work in election mode, and poll workers weren't equipped to override the strict controls placed on machines in that mode.
In Fulton, poll workers also reported the machines mysteriously switching from demonstration mode to election mode, Champion said. But state election officials and the company that makes the machines, Diebold Election Systems of Ohio, said that's virtually impossible and instead suggest untrained workers were to blame.
"It's very difficult to create a problem with it, but sometimes they do it," said Mark Radke, Diebold's director of the voting programs.
The only other reported problem, Riggall said, was power cords improperly attached to the machines.
Diebold officials say its machines have been used in elections in Maryland, Virginia, Indiana and California with few reported problems.
Just to make sure, the Ohio-based company will send 387 support employees to Georgia on Nov. 5, including one roving technical support worker for every 30 precincts. Poll workers will be trained after the Sept. 10 runoff elections and will also have the benefit of a toll-free support line for immediate help, Riggall said.
By PAT MOORE
Palm Beach Post
Friday, August 23, 2002
STUART, FL -- Martin County elections officials conceded Thursday their touch-screen voting machines are capable of making the same error discovered this week in Palm Beach County.
During a demonstration Tuesday, critics of Palm Beach County's new touch-screen machines showed that voters could incorrectly select a candidate when more than two names appeared in a race.
The machine would select the middle candidate when the user simultaneously pressed boxes next to names listed before and after that candidate's name on the screen.
Martin County elections officials said Tuesday it was "impossible" for their machines, which are from a different manufacturer than those in Palm Beach County, to make the same mistake.
But two Palm Beach Post reporters who voted in Martin County Thursday were able to duplicate the problem.
Martin County Elections Supervisor Peggy Robbins later Thursday defended the machines, which are being used for early voting through the Sept. 10 primary.
Voters who accidentally cast an incorrect vote for any reason have several opportunities to correct the selection with a single touch of finger before the final votes are cast electronically, Robbins said.
"I don't think there will be any problems," she said.
The Palm Beach County demonstration was conducted by critics of the touch-screen machines who claim the electronic voting is flawed.
Former Boca Raton Mayor Emil Danciu, who finished third in a four-candidate race March 12, filed suit, claiming the election was marred by computer problems.
He said voters who tried to vote for him couldn't make check marks appear next to his name on the touch screen.
Robbins said she's confident Martin County voters will have no problems changing their minds and recasting a vote if they initially make an incorrect selection.
"It's very, very easy to see which candidate was selected," she said, noting the candidate's name lights up when selected.
If a voter chooses a candidate by mistake -- for any reason -- all the voter has to do is touch the box next to the correct candidate's name and the vote will change, she said.
All voters are required to review the names of all of their choices before they are allowed to cast their final votes.
If a mistake was made, the voter still has the opportunity to touch the incorrect name and change the vote.
"There are so many ways of changing your mind or correcting your vote before you cast the final votes," she said.
Early voting for Martin County's primary began Monday, and Robbins said no one has reported any confusion.
Martin County spent more than $2 million to buy 300 machines from Election Systems and Software Inc. in Nebraska after Florida's infamous voting problems during the 2000 presidential election.
Palm Beach spent $14.4 million to buy its machines from Sequoia Voting Systems.
Robbins said Martin County voters, who have used lever voting machines for years, will find similarities in the new electronic machines.
"Voters are used to pulling down a lever and looking at an X next to the candidate's name, so they're familiar with that appearance," she said.
Even with the old machines, Martin County voters who mistakenly voted for one candidate could correct their vote by lifting the lever and pulling down the correct one, she said.
"The votes are not cast until the red button is mashed," she said of the touch-tone screens. "On the old machines, the votes were not cast until they pulled the red knob."
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