Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sarasota's Diebold scanners flunk test, fail to read blue ink on ballots

WARNING: Voters in jurisdictions that use the newer Diebold/Premier optical scanners OSX with 1.0.2 firmware should use black ink to mark their ballots. The machines may not read markings made with blue ink. The OSX also has trouble reading markings by a number 2 pencil according to other reports. This is an intermittent problem.

In the logic and accuracy testing of Premier Optical Scanners, which will be used in Sarasota elections
beginning October 19th, test ballots were run with blue marking of ovals. The result was an under vote in races where blue ink was used to fully fill out voting ovals. The machine tested was the Diebold/Premier AccuVote OSX Digital Scan Tabulator (Hardware Model A) with Firmware 1.0.2 .

Scanning glitch in vote machine test Saturday, October 17, 2009
A voting machine test this week didn't go off without a hitch.

A handful of individuals were on hand this week at the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections office where Supervisor Kathy Dent and staff tested 16 ballot scanners that will be used in the Nov. 3 city council election.

In one test a ballot with both blue and black ink was unable to be scanned. Officials pulled that scanner from service and substituted another. It didn't work either.
"One big factor is this is an intermittent problem," Parish said. "Until the defect in the pickup of votes is discovered and fixed and then tested to stress levels, you will not have a solution. To do that the state needs to go after the problem and get it fixed."

According to the SOS website, the machine tested, is the AccuVote OSX Digital Scan Tabulator (Hardware Model A) with Firmware 1.0.2 (WCER7-500.3.1, BLR7-1.3.9)

The following counties are
listed by the FL SOS website as having the Premier AccuVote OSX model optical scan machine :

HILLSBOROUGH*, LEON, LEVY, MADISON, MONROE, OKALOOSA (some), OKEECHOBEE, OSCEOLA, PUTNAM, SARASOTA*, SEMINOLE, TAYLOR,VOLUSIA, AND WALTON. Only Hillsborough and Sarasota use the Premier/Diebold OSX exclusively for in person and absentee.

Another snafu in the making? Sarasota Florida is challenged once again with a flawed system under the leadership of Election Supervisor Kathy Dent. This is same Kathy Dent who presided over the Sarasota FL 13 2006 Jennings/Buchanan Race election debacle. Sarasota suffered a shocking 18,000 under votes causing doubt of the election outcome, and resulted in investigations, lawsuits and national embarrassment

The debacle might have been avoidable: Kathy Dent failed to heed the warning letter that the voting vendor sent August 15th. ES&S warned of a problem with the touch-screen smoothing filter that could cause voters to under vote. The letter urged Dent:

"train your poll workers and voters to expect this slightly delayed response time for their highlighted selections. We have included with this mailing a sample voting booth instruction sign for your review and use."
But Kathy Dent did not put the signs up in polling booths. During that same election, there was a initiative on the ballot to get rid of the paperless touch-screens and replace them with paper ballot based systems.

The GAO concluded somehow that the
touchscreens were not to blame. (In spite of the fact that the vendor felt it necessary to warn officials of potential undervotes on the systems). Factors including ballot design and the voters. of course, were left holding the blame.

Does your state use the Diebold OSX? If so, have extensive tests been run on it to check scanning ability for various types and colors of ink?

No new voting systems should be certified and or sold until testing is sufficent to protect the public from voting systems that aren't ready for prime time.

Voting News by Joyce McCloy.
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