Monday, May 12, 2008

Gee, Maybe Those Voting Machines Don't Work


County prepares to sue Diebold
Lab hired to check voting system
Friday, May 02, 2008
Joe GuillenPlain Dealer Reporter
Cuyahoga County hired a nationally renowned lab on Thursday to prepare for a possible lawsuit against the maker of the $21 million touch-screen voting system scrapped in December.
The county - currently shopping for voting equipment for the November presidential election - wants to recoup its $7 million investment in the old system, which is only two years old. The rest of the purchase price was supplied by the federal government.
To prove the machines made by Diebold, Inc. were defective, the county has brought in SysTest Labs, of Denver, to study the touch-screen machines and vote-counting computer software

SysTest is one of four labs accredited by the federal government to test voting systems for certification. The company has worked for a variety of governments and machine makers, including Diebold.
"Because of the sophisticated technology we're dealing with, we're going to need an expert to show a breach of the warranty," said Board of Elections Chairman Jeff Hastings.
The county wants to negotiate a settlement with Diebold. If the two sides reach a settlement, the contract with SysTest, for up to $325,000, can be ended. The agreement can run through 2009.
Hastings said hiring SysTest is a clear sign Cuyahoga is ready to take its grievance to court.
Diebold renamed its elections division Premier Election Solutions. A spokesman for Premier, based in Allen, Texas, said the company fulfilled its contract with the county. "We believe we provided a high quality voting system," Chris Riggall said.
Cuyahoga County's recent election troubles began with the arrival of the Diebold touch-screen machines. Mismanagement at the Board of Elections contributed to long-delayed election results in May 2006, but the Diebold equipment has been consistently unreliable, the board officials said.
The latest meltdown was in November 2007, when vote-counting software crashed twice. After that election, two of the four board members and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner decided to get new equipment for the March 4 primary.
The board rented a "central-count" optical-scan voting system for $1.5 million. Further use of that system has been prohibited by the state because the equipment does not notify voters of balloting errors.
The board wants to buy or rent a "precinct-based" optical-scan system for November. On Friday, May 23, voting machine manufacturers will make their sales pitches to the board.

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