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CA Electronic Voting Machines and Election Code Put to the Test

July 16, 2008

As the November election approaches, voting rights advocates say it is vital that California's county election offices allow for technical inspections of their electronic voting equipment. State law (California Election Code 15004) permits what it calls "accredited observers" to review machines and procedures.

But when Jim March, an observer for the Green Party, recently sought inspections in two different counties, he says he was met with very different results. While the Santa Cruz County election office was cooperative, March says, Monterey County was not. He claims Monterey election workers denied him access to the voting machines and did not abide by the law.

"Monterey threw down a gauntlet that we have to pick up, or other counties will be equally obstructive in November."

Monterey County Registrar of Voters, Linda Tulett, denies the allegations and says her office allows public observance of its electronic voting equipment. March says his group, Black Box Voting, may sue Monterey to help ensure that other counties are cooperative.

As March explains it, voting systems are certified to use only a certain, tested configuration that is cut off from Internet access in order to eliminate vote hacking, either accidental or deliberate.

"A voting system is supposed to be isolated and pure. If it's not, you have a potential or very real problem."

During inspections, March adds, he also makes sure only approved software is used and that basic computer security programs are in place. He believes the tech oversight law is a good one that will uncover "bad" voting machines.

More information about this issue is available online at www.blackboxvoting.org and www.electiondefensealliance.org.


Lori Abbott/Steve Powers, Public News Service - CA