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California suing voting machine maker for $15 million

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen on Monday sued a Nebraska voting machine company, seeking fines and reimbursements of nearly $15 million from the firm for allegedly selling nearly 1,000 uncertified machines to San Francisco and four other counties.

I love Debra Bowen.  She's an elected Democrat who's actually following through on her campaign promises.  Imagine that.  

"ES&S ignored the law over and over and over again and it got caught," Bowen said in a statement after filing suit against the company. "I am not going to stand on the sidelines and watch a voting system vendor come into the state, ignore the laws and make millions of dollars from California's taxpayers in the process."

Bowen's decision could be a windfall for the affected counties. In the suit, the secretary of state is seeking a $10,000 penalty for each of the uncertified machines sold in the state, with half that fine intended to go to the counties that bought them.

ES&S also would have to reimburse the counties for the full cost of the machines, but the counties would be able to keep the AutoMARKs, which are now slated to receive full state certification in early December.

Bowen has been working hard to remove potentially dishonest voting systems from the state of California, going to far as to decertify machines made by Diebold and others.  Soon after being sworn in, she spent some serious money to conduct tests on the systems:

Matthew Bishop, a UC Davis researcher who led the "Red Team" that hacked into the machines, testified Monday at a hearing that his researchers were able to change vote totals and override the software on electronic voting machines.

A report released Thursday by UC Berkeley researcher David Wagner determined that hackers could install viruses that spread throughout a county's voting network when ballots are being tabulated by a central computer.

But Bishop's test drew immediate controversy when its results were released a week ago. The experiment focused on machines made by Diebold, Sequoia and Hart InterCivic. A fourth company, Election Systems & Software, did not provide information to the state in time to undergo review. Bowen decertified that system, which Los Angeles County had planned to use in February.

And now she's sued the bastids.  HA!  

Could it be the start of removing these potentially fraud-enabling  machines from being used in our elections?  

Well .. maybe not.  San Francisco intends to replace its ES&S machines with those made by another company:

The city is moving toward approval of a $12.6 million contract that would replace the ES&S machines with ones made by Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland.

Seems like some people never learn.  But at least we've got Bowen.  Now we need another 49 just like her.  

Originally posted to theyrereal on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 11:46 PM PST.

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