SecurePoll Electronic Voting
By Derek Dictson
& Dan Ray
cause glitches -- Officials sort out confusion at
Thursday, August 22,
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.
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.
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
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
"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
"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.
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.
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.
Candidate to Contest Ballots
Wed Aug 21,
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
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
"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
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."
Aug. 6 ballot
problems alleged - Clay, Barton county candidates seek review of races
The Associated Press
Thursday, August 22,
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,"
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
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
"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
adopted to split funds for switch to touch-screen
Sacramento Bee Capitol
Thursday, August 22,
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.
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
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
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
The board also capped
the state's contribution to voting machines at $3,000 per
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
Counties will then have
more time before they are asked to submit a more detailed
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
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
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
That will be changing
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
Assistant Secretary Of State
Joins Sequoia Voting Systems
Alfred J. Charles will
help Sequoia’s clients design and execute successful voter education
programs as the company’s Director of Public Affairs
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.
“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
“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
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
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.
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
machines hit snags in Tuesday tryouts
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
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-
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
election officials discount glitch
Friday, August 23,
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
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
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
But two Palm Beach Post
reporters who voted in Martin County Thursday were able to duplicate the
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
He said voters who tried
to vote for him couldn't make check marks appear next to his name on the
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
"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
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
"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
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
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,
"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