Gustoman writes with news that the California Secretary of State has sued ES&S, a vendor of e-voting machines, for selling machines that were modifications of the model that has been certified. Apparently ES&S relocated two circuit boards, rerouted several internal cables, and changed some mounting bracket supports in their AutoMark A100 devices, named the modified version AutoMark A200, and sold 972 of them to five California counties. The changes sound somewhat trivial, but the certification contract specified that no "substitution or modification of the voting systems shall be made with respect to any component of the voting systems... until the secretary of state has been notified in writing and has determined that the proposed change or modification does not impair the accuracy and efficiency of the voting systems sufficient to require a reexamination and approval." The state is seeking a penalty of $10,000 per machine sold, plus the cost of the machines to the counties — almost $15 million in all.
"California Secretary of State Debra Bowen just announced details about the previously discussed 'top-to-bottom review' of almost all voting and counting systems used in the state. The team features big names in e-voting security: David Wagner, Matt Bishop, Ed Felten, Matt Blaze, and Harri Hursti, among others. Vendors have time to submit their machines including documentation and source code until July 1st or face severe restrictions, including decertification, for the 2008 elections. Scheduled to start next week, the review will include a red-team attack and going through the source code."
With state and federal primaries just months away, California's chief elections officer has ordered the largest U.S. makers of voting machinery to be finished with national testing and ready for state testing by the end of January.
That allows just enough time for state testing and approval of those systems before March 10, when counties must know what voting machinery they will use and begin designing their ballots for the June primaries.
"We will have an election whether these requirements are met or not. California voters will vote on June 6 and on Nov. 7," Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said Monday.
But he said he will not loosen state rules for voting systems, considered among the nation's toughest.
The electronic voting system that San Diego County planned to start rolling out in November has been rejected by the Secretary of State's Office.
In a mock election, machines turned off, screens froze and papers jammed.
The voting system has a checkered past. In 2004, hundreds of polling places opened late and voters were turned away when a computer glitch paralyzed the touch screens.
Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said the voting machine failed 10 percent of the time during testing. He notified Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems Inc. on Wednesday that its system was "not suitable."