Calif. refuses to recertify Diebold voting machines

Statement of Bruce McPherson

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California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson wants Diebold Election Systems to submit the source code for its machines’ memory cards for federal testing, according to a letter sent yesterday to David Byrd, the company’s vice president of operations.

Until the code is tested and certified, California will suspend Diebold's application to have its voting systems recertified for use in the state, wrote Caren Daniels-Meade, chief of the Elections Division in the secretary's office. Both optical-scan and touch-screen systems use the memory cards, which have "unresolved, significant security concerns," Daniels-Meade wrote. Furthermore, Diebold never submitted the code to an independent testing authority, which is required for federal certification.

"It is the secretary of state's position that the source code for the AccuBasic code on these cards, as well as the AccuBasic interpreter that interprets the code, should have been federally reviewed," she wrote.

Byrd said in a written statement that the company will review California's request.

"So far, we have complied with every certification test the secretary’s office has requested of us," Byrd said in the statement. "As the only vendor of electronic voting machines to have participated in and successfully passed volume testing in California, we know how important it is to adequately test and certify all applications of these machines to satisfy the public's demand for a reliable voting system. We have always complied with what the state has requested of us and will treat this new request in the same spirit of cooperation."

Earlier this month, a consultant successfully changed mock election results in a test of Diebold machines in Leon County, Fla., by manipulating the system's memory card. According to the Miami Herald, the county’s election supervisor, Ion Sancho, scrapped Diebold's machines in favor of systems from Election Systems & Software after that test. The Orlando Sentinel reported that officials in Volusia County, Fla., also chose to drop Diebold shortly after Sancho conducted the test.

Diebold spokesman David Bear told the Miami Herald that the tests did not simulate real-world conditions.

Diebold Election Systems is a subsidiary of Diebold, which makes automated teller machines. Earlier this month, Walden O'Dell resigned as Diebold’s chairman and chief executive officer. Shareholders had filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that the company violated securities laws and cannot ensure the quality and working order of its voting machines.

According to a company statement, Diebold officials believe the allegations are without merit.

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