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Colo. Bans Most Electronic Voting Machines

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/12/18/politics/main3627490.shtml?source=RSSattr=HOME_3627490 Colo. Bans Most Electronic Voting Machines Security Risks,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 18, 2007
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      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/12/18/politics/main3627490.shtml?source=RSSattr=HOME_3627490

      Colo. Bans Most Electronic Voting Machines
      Security Risks, Inaccuracy Cited; Federal
      Certification Process Called "Inadequate"

      DENVER, Dec. 18, 2007

      (AP) Colorado's top election official decertified
      electronic voting machines used in many of the state's
      largest counties Monday, calling into question
      equipment used in past elections in a move he said
      could have national implications.

      Electronic voting machines used in Denver, Arapahoe,
      Pueblo, Mesa and Elbert counties cannot be used in the
      next election because of problems with accuracy or
      security, Secretary of State Mike Coffman said.

      A number of electronic scanners used to count ballots
      were also decertified, including a type used by
      Boulder County as well as more than three dozen small
      to mid-size counties around the state.

      His decision affects six of Colorado's 10 most
      populous counties and three of the four equipment
      manufacturers allowed in the state.

      The manufacturers have 30 days to appeal.

      Following a 2006 lawsuit that said electronic voting
      equipment was vulnerable to tampering and should be
      banned, Coffman announced in March that he had adopted
      new rules for testing electronic voting machines.

      He required the four electronic voting systems used in
      all 64 Colorado counties to apply for recertification.
      The four systems are manufactured by Hart InterCivic,
      Premier Election Solutions - formerly known as Diebold
      Election Systems - Sequoia Voting Systems and Election
      Systems and Software.

      Coffman had also put Denver, Pueblo, Douglas, Montrose
      and Routt counties on an election watch list for
      problems in the November 2006. Pueblo has since been
      removed from the list.

      "What we have found is that the federal certification
      process is inadequate," Coffman said, adding, "There
      are some issues here that need to be addressed."

      The secretary said his decisions were based on an
      exhaustive review of voting equipment. During a news
      conference to present his findings he stood in front
      of stacks of boxes and a library of binders he said
      contained more than 160,000 documents on the state's
      four election vendors.

      Coffman would not comment on what his findings mean
      for past elections, despite his reports that some
      equipment had accuracy issues.

      "I can only report," he said. "The voters in those
      respective counties are going to have to interpret"
      the results.

      Two kinds of Sequoia electronic voting machines used
      in Denver, Arapahoe, Pueblo and Elbert counties, were
      decertified because of "a variety of security risk
      factors."

      Machines that scan and count ballots made by Hart
      InterCivic failed because "they could not accurately
      count ballots."

      Hart is used in Boulder, Douglas and more than 40
      other counties.

      And both optical scanning devices and electronic
      voting machines made by Election Systems and Software
      (ES&S) did not pass muster. ES&S is used by Jefferson
      and Mesa counties.

      Sequoia in a statement said it was reviewing the
      175-page report on its system. Ken Fields, spokesman
      for ES&S, said the decertification was based on
      additional requirements recently imposed.

      Peter Lichtenheld, a spokesman for Hart, said they
      planned to appeal based on how the state conducted its
      tests and maintenance of its machine. He said it
      appeared state testers ran the same stack of ballots
      through the machine several times, which could punch
      holes in the paper ballots and skew the results.

      "Hopefully, we have a leg to stand on there,"
      Lichtenheld said. "Our systems are used nationwide and
      they've been proven reliable and accurate across the
      country, so there's no reason why it should be any
      different in Colorado."

      Sequoia and ES&S also said their systems had
      previously been tested for accuracy, reliablity, and
      security and would work with Coffman's office to meet
      requirements.

      Only Premier Election Solutions, formerly named
      Diebold Elections Systems, had all its equipment pass
      the recertification.

      Former District Court Judge Larry Manzanares, who
      handled the lawsuit seeking electronic voting
      machines' ban, chastised state officials for a sloppy
      certification process. He allowed the machines' use in
      the November 2006 election on the condition the state
      recertified the machines.

      Opponents of the machines said they should not have
      been certified by former Secretary of State Gigi
      Dennis' office.

      Coffman, a Republican, was narrowly elected last
      November.

      Several county clerk and recorders said they were
      digesting the findings Monday evening.

      "This report is really just part of the larger
      equation for us," Denver Clerk and Recorder Stephanie
      O'Malley said in a statement. "Once we feel we have
      the full picture of what the Secretary of State's
      report means, we can move forward with choosing our
      systems and preparing for the 2008 election season."

      Denver used a $1.4 million federal grant to buy 240
      Sequoia electronic voting machines last year.

      Jefferson County's clerk and recorder, Pam Anderson,
      said "we will listen to (Coffman's) - perspective,
      then work to adjust our election procedures
      accordingly in order to ensure that the conduct of the
      2008 elections is successful and every eligible voter
      has the right to vote."

      The news comes days after Ohio's Secretary of State
      Jennifer Brunner urged Cuyahoga County to switch to
      the optical scan system - ballots filled out by hand
      and read by computer - in time for the state's March 4
      presidential primary. She cited security flaws that
      make the electronic ballots vulnerable to tampering
      and the county's past problems with voting technology.

      By George Merritt
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