County prepares Diebold machines |

County prepares Diebold machines

An instructor from Diebold Inc. has been showing Nevada County pollworkers how to use their electronic voting machines helping them test the locks and buttons on the new and controversial systems.

AccuVote TSx, the voting machine being used in Nevada County for this election, has pending certification from the California Secretary of State, who allows the machines to be used if certain safeguards are followed.

Simulated testing of the machines in October 2005 “found the many software failures potentially more troubling than the paper jams,” according to a report by advisors to the Secretary of State.

One of the concerns about electronic voting machines is that voting information stored on their memory cards is subject to risks from computer hacking or other technical problems. The AccuVote TSx prints a paper receipt where voters can verify their selections. The receipt also is meant as a back-up if the software fails.

People voting with paper ballots also have their choices scanned with Diebold technology, known as the AccuVote Optical Scanner, and stored in the Diebold software.

Counting paper ballots with an optical scanner has occurred before in Nevada County, and the paper ballots serve as a back-up, according to Assistant Clerk-Recorder Corey Wilkins. This year an AccuVote Optical Scanner will reside at each polling place, while previously all of the counting was performed on an ES&S Optical Scanner at the Elections Office, he said.

Money for the new machines has come from state funding and the federal Help America Vote Act, created partly to help disabled voters.

Nevada County is the only one in the state that has chosen to rent voting machines for this election, for which it is paying $250,000 plus $140,000 in consulting fees. Failure to comply with the act by Jan. 1, 2007 risks fines for Nevada County.

Around 75 inspectors, largely culled from a pool of previous poll-workers, are entrusted with supervising their polling places. Their duties now include safekeeping of the Diebold voting machines and the memory cards in which votes are kept.


To reach Staff Writer Josh Singer, e-mail or call 477-4234.

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