Here's the hitch, according to BradBlog
McPherson's office, rather than simply decertifying Diebold once and for all in California, has today decided instead to pass the buck back to the the so-called Federal "Indepenent Testing Authority" (ITA). The ITA is a group of several companies chosen and paid for by the voting machine companies such as Diebold themselves, to test their equipment and software on behalf of the Federal Government. Those ITA labs then either certify the software and/or hardware or send it back to the company with the results of the failed tests kept confidential.
Debra Bowen, who is planning to run for Secretary of State next year, is calling for an alternative testing process:
"The Secretary of State shouldn't punt the decision about whether Diebold machines should be used to count ballots in California to the federal government and an `independent' testing authority that's financed by the voting machine vendors. That decision needs to be made in the open, right here in California."
"The federal testing process is notoriously weak and it's done in secret," continued Bowen. "Plus, these supposedly `independent testing authorities' the Secretary of State wants to rely on are financed by the voting machine industry and conduct their tests in secret as well. That's why California shouldn't be relying on proprietary software that uses secret code to count ballots. If we want to ensure we have voting systems that are reliable and secure - and that voters have confidence in - we need to be moving toward an open source software structure."
But even if the Diebold machines in question were to pass the ITA tests, McPherson's office plans on hiring an outside security expert to test the machines afterwards:
The secretary of state said last month that his office planned to hire an outside expert to perform a hacker test on a Diebold machine, but Kerns said it's premature to perform such a test until the Diebold machines have passed state and federal standards.
This spells trouble for Diebold in California, with an upcoming deadline of the first of the year for counties to make their voting machine decisions:
McPherson's decision is surely a setback for Diebold who, like several other Voting Machine Companies, are currently scrambling for contracts in the wake of the impending Jan. 1, 2006 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) deadline. If States and Counties wish to receive Federal money to pay for voting systems upgrades, they must make their final decision on which companies to use by that date. Many of those States and Counties had been watching and waiting to see what California would do, given their previous history with Diebold. And of course, as Diebold -- one of several private companies vying to control the country's public voting system -- has described the state: it is America's "largest voting market."
The ITA tests are said to take approximately two weeks, upon which the Secretary of State will either certify the machines or perform further testing.
Please pass this along to your local counties if they are currently considering ordering Diebold machines.
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