Are E-Voting Fears Leading to HAVA Problems?

The Washington Post is reporting today that Alameda County will hand-count or central count optical scan ballots in the primary because the County cannot use the Diebold machines that they had purchased previously. The machines no longer meet the state voting system certification requirements. As the story notes:

The county’s board of supervisors voted in March to return to paper ballots until the county could replace the 4,000 Diebold Election Systems touchscreen machines. County officials hope to have new machines in time for the November election, but they still are negotiating with several companies.

While some other counties are doing the same, Alameda, which has 82,114 of the state’s 6.7 million registered Democrats, is in a jam because it does not have enough optical scanners to count paper ballots at all polling places.

As a result, paper ballots will be trucked to a central location, scanned and counted by volunteers. The final count could be as late as noon Wednesday, Ashley said.

The Diebold electronic voting machines have been criticized by voter groups and computer scientists who say they are vulnerable to fraud. A California group named Voter Action sued 18 counties that use the machines, including Alameda. Seven counties were removed from the lawsuit when they assured a judge they would use paper ballots.

The secretary of state has certified some electronic voting machines, but Alameda’s didn’t meet state law because they are too old to upgrade and did not produce a required paper record.

Note the bolded text above; voters will a difficult time having their Section 301(A) of HAVA rights met because these voters will not readily have the ability to have ability to have their ballots checked for overvotes and errors. The County can meet the Section 301(B) requirements by

(1) establishing a voter education program specific to that voting system that notifies each voter of the effect of casting multiple votes for an office; and (2) providing the voter with instructions on how to correct the ballot before it is cast and counted (including instructions on how to correct the error through the issuance of a replacement ballot if the voter was otherwise unable to change the ballot or correct any error).

You can decide for yourself if the Alameda County Registrar’s website provides the information needed to address this issue before you go to the polls. At the bottom of the County’s page on precinct voting is a link to Paper Ballot Instructions. Of course, it isn’t the County’s fault that the voters are having these problems. It would be interesting to know how the California Secretary of State is supporting Alameda in these voter education efforts since it was the decision of the State that led to Alameda’s problem.