Secretary Of State Debra Bowen Decertifies E-Voting Machines
By Alan Breslauer on 8/7/2007, 11:52am PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

A Transcript of the segment of Lou Dobbs is below

DOBBS: The state government of California has decided to restrict electronic voting after voting machines there were found vulnerable to fraud. As Casey Wian now reports, election officials are scrambling to implement new voting procedures before the 2008 primary.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Waiting until the last possible moment, midnight Friday, California Secretary of State, Deborah Bowen, severely restricted the use of electronic voting machines during the February 2008 primary election.

DEBORAH BOWEN, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: We have to assure that our voting systems are secure, accurate, and reliable. And they shouldn't be used solely because we've already funded them. The studies that have been done since certification by the independent testing authorities of some of these systems has found a significant number of flaws and particularly security vulnerabilities in the systems.

WIAN: The potential for manipulating vote counts was exposed last week when teams of hackers working for the University of California found major security flaws were found in all three e-voting systems they that they tested. The locks on some machines could be bypassed with a screwdriver. Others were disabled with undisclosed ordinary objects. In response, the secretary of state decertified the electronic voting machines used in 42 of California's 58 counties. Then recertified them with conditions. Those include limiting e- voting to one machine per polling place to accommodate disabled voters and requiring a manual recount of every electronic ballot cast. Officials in 20 counties heavily dependent on e-voting, predict confusion on Election Day with results delayed for days.

STEPHEN WEIR, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA ELECTION OFFICIALS: The voters when they don't hear the results start to worry about what can go on. And by the way, there's ample evidence across this country in our history of elections being stolen by paper. And so we ought to be just as concerned about paper-based systems as we are about the theoretical vulnerabilities of the electronic voting systems.


WIAN: Two of the voting machine manufacturers responded with statements, Diebold saying we are disappointed that Secretary Bowen has taken action to severely limit the options available to local election officials and voters in California. Hart InterCivic called the state's test highly improbable in a real-world election. Both vowed to work with California to address voting fraud concerns. California's secretary of state actually downplayed the impact of her decision, saying 75 percent of the votes cast here are paper ballots. Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein plans a hearing next month on e-voting fraud. She's one of a dozen senators sponsoring a bill that would require all state e-voting systems to have a paper trail.


DOBBS: Not only is the situation with e-voting systems troubling, concerning, and in many ways so reckless after 2004 and our experiences, but there are also concerns in California and a number of other states about the validity of the registration system there as well and considerable concern about the fraud that could be in play here in the registration of voters. WIAN: Yes. It's absolutely an amazing mess. The secretary of state of California, Deborah Bowen, ran on a platform to clean up this mess. A lot of people disagree with what she's done. But you can't argue with the fact that she is taking action, Lou.

DOBBS: There is no question. And responsible action on behalf of the integrity of the voting system, which obviously is the sense of our democracy. Casey Wian from Los Angeles, thank you, sir.


DOBBS: California, of course, isn't the only state with e-voting problems. The state of Florida has found serious flaws as well in one of its electronic voting systems. Researchers at Florida State University discovered glitches in Diebold's electronic voting software. This is the same system found vulnerable to computer hacking in California. Researchers say hackers were able to switch votes to other candidates. Florida election officials say the company must correct those problems by the 17th of this month in order to remain certified for e-voting in the state of Florida.

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