Vote errors lead to state repair order

first_imgSACRAMENTO – California election officials have told one of the country’s largest manufacturers of voting machines to repair its software after problems with vote counts and verification surfaced during California’s November special election. In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections Bradley J. Clark threatened to start the process of decertifying Election Systems and Software machines for use in California if senior officials didn’t address the concerns immediately. “The California Secretary of State is deeply concerned about problems experienced by counties utilizing ES&S voting equipment and software,” Clark wrote in a letter addressed to company President Aldo Tesi nine days after the Nov. 8 election. Software problems included incorrect counting of turnout figures, a malfunction that prevented voters from verifying that their choices were registered accurately and one machine recording the wrong vote during a test, according to the letter. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Eleven California counties used the company’s voting machines during the special election. Election Systems and Software equipment also is used in 45 other states. The problems in California are similar to ones the company has experienced elsewhere. During the 2004 primary election in Hawaii, glitches with the company’s optical scanners led to a miscount of about 6,000 votes. It is the second time this week that questions have arisen about electronic voting systems in California. The Secretary of State’s Office also warned 17 counties that machines made by Diebold Election Systems must pass more rigorous security tests to be available for use in 2006. At issue with those machines is the computer language that secures ballot entries and instructs election officials on how to access and tally the votes. The state’s letter to Election Systems and Software said it was imperative that company representatives “take corrective action as soon as possible.” Ken Fields, a spokesman for the Omaha, Neb.-based company, said officials have since met with the Secretary of State’s Office. “We listened carefully to the issues that they raised, and we’ve been working to address each of the issues,” he said. According to the secretary of state’s letter, other problems discovered in California on Nov. 8 include: • The company’s software incorrectly counting the total turnout figures for counties that used multiple ballot cards: “This problem was a recurrence of a problem experienced by your customers in November 2004; you have had a year to correct this known problem, and have not done so,” the letter stated. Fields said the problem resulted from incorrect coding on ballots that were more than one page. The coding caused the optical scanner to count each page as a separate voter. But he said the problem was detected and did not affect the outcome of any votes. • The touch-screen machine used in Merced County did not properly display the summary of votes, “making it impossible for voters to confirm their vote choices in those contests,” the letter stated. Fields said the visual on the computer screen was designed to show only how many votes the voter had cast and in which races, not summarize their vote. “Someone assumed that screen was supposed to list all of a voter’s selections, and that’s not what that screen was designed to do,” he said. “Other versions of the equipment are designed to do that.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img