Josh Singer

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August 21, 2006
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County looks at voting system


The Nevada County Board of Supervisors will consider today accepting a contract for voting equipment provided by Diebold, Inc. for the Nov. 7 election.

Diebold voting systems have been certified by the California secretary of state pending several conditions. Short-term mandates were issued to address security concerns about the technology, said secretary of state spokeswoman Ashley Giovannettone. The company is also required to make long-term changes, she added.

Nevada County Clerk-Recorder Kathleen Smith is requesting $250,000 to rent Diebold equipment for the upcoming election. Funds will be reimbursed with federal and state money provided through the 2002 Help America Vote Act.

Diebold offers a touch screen to increase accessibility for disabled voters in accordance with HAVA and provides a paper receipt that allows voters to verify their picks. Receipts generated by some Diebold systems make them slightly different from Automark voting machines, which print voting selections on the actual ballots.

Paper ballots will be available for voters who request them, she said.

Smith, meanwhile, rejected a contract for Automark voting systems prior to the June 6 election.

Installing Diebold systems at county polling places for the Nov. 7 election is a "step in the right direction," said Anna Acton of FREED Center for Independent Living. FREED officials voiced strong disappointment when Nevada County did not have HAVA-certified voting equipment for the June 6 election.

Diebold is a Texas-based company that, according to its Web site, has more than 130,000 of its electronic voting systems in use across the country.

It is also no stranger to controversy.

Avi Rubin, director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, made a statement in 2003 opposing the state of Maryland's use of Diebold voting systems because of security concerns.

"As a computer scientist, I believe that the fundamental design of the Diebold machines is unsound," he said. "In our haste to replace old technology, we should not settle for flawed electronic systems that risk the integrity of our election process."

Diebold also has come under fire for remarks its chief executive, Walden O'Dell, reportedly made in an August 2003 fund-raising letter to Ohio Republicans, stating he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to (President Bush) next year."

Twenty-five counties in California now use some type of Diebold voting system, according to secretary of state files.

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To reach staff writer Josh Singer, e-mail joshs@theunion.com or call 477-4234.

What: County supervisors to consider a contract for Diebold voting systems

When: Meeting starts at 9 a.m. today

Where: Board Chambers at the Rood Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City


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The Union Updated Aug 21, 2006 11:17PM Published Aug 21, 2006 12:00AM Copyright 2006 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.