June 29, 2006 - Group questions election security, calls for recount
Copyright 2006 The San Diego Union-Tribune
The San Diego Union-Tribune
June 29, 2006 Thursday
SECTION: LOCAL; Pg. B-6:C; B-4:E; B-5:S
LENGTH: 464 words
HEADLINE: Group questions election security, calls for recount;
Touch-screen voting machines at issue
BYLINE: John Marelius, STAFF WRITER
A coalition of election watchdog organizations is calling on the San Diego County registrar of voters to conduct a full manual recount of the June 6 primary election because of alleged security breaches involving touch-screen voting machines.
Specifically, the California Election Protection Network contends the county violated federal and state regulations requiring "secure custody" of voting machines by allowing poll workers to take them home before election day.
"There is no proof of this election's legitimacy," said Jim Soper, a computer software engineer with the group. "Despite a mountain of proof that these machines are easily hackable, Secretary of State (Bruce) McPherson certified the system, claiming a set of handling procedures would keep the machines safe. Now we learn that machines were unsecured in poll workers' homes before the election, rendering those procedures useless."
Officials of the California Election Protection Network held a town-hall meeting last night in Oceanside to discuss alleged "election violations" in San Diego County.
San Diego County Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas dismissed the complaint as "paranoia," and said all proper procedures were followed in the June election and that there is no reason for a recount.
Haas noted that only about 7,000 of the nearly 500,000 people who voted in the June 6 election in San Diego County used touch-screen machines. They were mostly voters who were disabled, required translation or voted in person at the registrar's office. Most other voters used an optical-scan voting system that required them to fill out a paper ballot.
The registrar said the county followed the chain-of-custody requirements for voting machines set forth by the secretary of state.
He said voting machines were turned over to precinct captains who signed them out after attending mandatory classes -- a procedure he said has been followed without incident for about 40 years.
"We know who they are. We know where they live," Haas said. "We can hold somebody accountable for the equipment, and they have to set it up and have it up and running at 7 o'clock in the morning. How do they think this stuff gets out there?"
Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, said she shares the California Election Protection Network's concerns about electronic voting equipment, but not the basis of its complaint against San Diego County.
Alexander said the secretary of state's regulations "did not include prohibiting election officials from allowing machines to go home with poll workers before and after an election."
But she added: "I continue to believe we're not ready for electronic voting systems. The fact is these high-tech voting systems are being used in a primitive process, and that is a recipe for disaster."