Category Archives: Diebold

California..Debra Bowen needs your support!

Democracy for America, aka DFA has sent out an email asking voters to support the decisions made last week. Debra Bowen made a huge decision. Show your support by contacting our local Registrar of voters and telling them:

“I support Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s decision to restore election integrity and ban unsafe voting machines. I’m counting on you to support the ban and protect our votes.”

If anyone attended the States investigation of the Kern problems with Diebold or any of the other investigations and voting machine problems, great! So did I but if you didn’t I blogged about it here. Ms. Bowen loved my writeup so much, she linked to it on her website when she was running for office last year. Here is the link to find YOUR Registrar in your county.Fax them, email them..all the info is there to contact them. If you call them..the best can tell DFA how it went here.

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Diebold Voting Machines and snafus questioned in Kern County’s ’06 primary.

The state of California’s Select Committe on Integrity of Elections began holding hearings today in my city of Bakersfield. Kern county experienced significant problems during the ’06 primary, forcing some voters to become disenfranchised..Meaning they couldn’t vote. The following three areas were targeted as unacceptable. And the cause of the voter disenfranchisement and reporting problems here in Kern County:

The Voter Access Cards
Lack of paper ballots for backup if the machines failed to work
Tabulation of the votes after the polls closed.

The Voter Access Cards, or VAC’s, which activate the Diebold TSX voting machine for each voter, did not work in many precincts when the polls opened. I personally did not experience any problems, but several precincts, such as those in Delano, CA did not have any working VAC’s and people were waiting to vote when the precincts opened. The poll workers had not been trained in how to deal with this type of malfunction. They were told it wouldn’t be a problem.

But it was. And people were turned away or got tired of waiting and left without voting. A privilege and one protected by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The root cause of the malfunction was determined to be old VAC’s from the previous election year that had not been updated with the new security codes. Who’s fault was this one might ask..Diebold piped up and accepted blame. But during the hearing, Diebolds California representative could not say with any certainty why Diebold dropped the ball in putting this crucial step into their training manuals sent out to Kern county, or why their representatives, who were in town on a weekly basis to the runup of the election, didn’t tell the Kern County Registrar that the VAC’s had to be re-programmed. The Diebold representative couldn’t answer most of the questions asked of him with any certainty. Neither could the Deputy Registar when it was her turn on the hotseat. The Deputy Registrar couldn’t even tell the senators how many paper ballots were cast because of the VAC malfunction. Neither individual seemed prepared for the hearing. Neither person could tell the Senators how much Kern County paid for the Diebold system that left voters out in the cold.

According to this article in the Bakersfield Californian, Kern County paid “about 5 million” for the system.

Two of the three senators conducting the hearing were Democrats. The lone Republican, Roy Ashburn however, asked many of the hard questions and didn’t accept the empty explanations and the “I don’t knows” offered by Diebold and the Registrar’s Office for the problems that occurred over the course of the election day and evening.

Some folks were given paper ballots. The county Registrar only issued 20 of these to each precinct. It should also be mentioned that Delano’s poll workers were lax in showing up to work. They had to grab folks that were not trained during the preceding months to fill in. When they ran out of paper ballots, they started giving people Spanish ballots, even if they didn’t speak Spanish. They also copied ballots and handed those out. They tried vainly to fill the need and rights of Californians to vote in an election. At one point it was mentioned during the hearing that the Registar had said she would accept “Faxed” ballots from voters. It had to be explained to the Registrar during the course of the election night that faxed ballots were not legal, and they were not accepted.

The third issue was the failure of Ridgecrest to transmit their voting results after the polls closed. Ridgecrest is over two hours away from Bakersfield. Each Diebold machine has the ability to act as a transmitter but the problem seemed to be blamed on the baud speed of the modems. The voting results had to be driven to Bakersfield, resulting in a major delay that should of never happened. The inability to transmit voting results from Ridgecrest, coupled with the processing of paper ballots led to a three hour delay in voting results after the polls closed here in California. When they did start showing results..they were being reported as “100% of precincts reporting” when in fact they had just started tabulating the votes.

Another problem in the process to tabulate the votes was the Security within the computer center for the Registrar. There was the expected panic when the numerous problems arose, however, people who had been hired for menial positions and were NOT cleared by security checks were given access to the computer room. Some were asked if they had any computer experience, and if not, would they be willing to learn. The secure computer room was no longer secure. Add to this mix, the paper ballots that were not expected to be processed because, according to several people that testified, this was never going to happen, and you had procedures that were ignored or altered after the fact.

These issues affect all voters, party affiliation has no bearing on this important issue of disenfranchisement. The three senators were Roy Ashburn, Joseph Dunn and the chair Debra Bowen. All three asked questions and participated equally. Sen. Ashburn was incensed that Ann Barnett, the Registrar, who is also our Auditor/Controller/County Clerk did not appear. He demanded to know why. He was told by Sandra Brockman, Deputy Registrar that she was “on vacation”. Sen. Dunn stated that accepting blame was easy for Diebold but providing restitution to the disenfranchised voters was no where to be found. Diebold’s representative stated they were going to pay for the helicopter needed to deliver working VAC’s to the precincts that did not have any when their polls opened that morning. This was not an acceptable response judging by the reaction of Sen. Dunn. Many of the important questions posed by the committee went unanswered. Since this is their first stop, I hope they will get answers to them somewhere down the road. Our right to vote depends on it.

Cross-posted at Bring it On! and Progressive Blogwire

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