Many Colorado Voting Machines Are Decertified

Tuesday, December 18th 2007, 7:06 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Colorado's secretary of state has declared many of the state's electronic voting machines to be unreliable, a move that could leave the looming presidential election here in disarray.

Secretary of State Mike Coffman decertified three of the four equipment manufacturers allowed in the state. That affects six of Colorado's 10 most populous counties.

``The results today will have national repercussions across the country,'' Coffman said Monday during a news conference. ``What we have found is that the federal certification process is inadequate.''

The decision means electronic voting machines used in Denver, Arapahoe, Pueblo, Mesa and Elbert counties cannot be used in the upcoming 2008 primary because of problems with accuracy and security. A number of electronic scanners used to count ballots were also decertified.

Coffman announced in March that he had adopted new rules for testing electronic voting machines. He required the four electronic voting systems used in all 64 Colorado counties to apply for recertification.

The four systems are manufactured by Hart InterCivic, Premier Election Solutions _ formerly known as Diebold Election Systems _ Sequoia Voting Systems, and Election Systems and Software. Only Premier Election Solutions had all its equipment pass the recertification.

Two kinds of electronic voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems that are used in Denver, Arapahoe, Pueblo and Elbert counties were decertified because of ``a variety of security risk factors.''

Machines that scan and count ballots made by Hart InterCivic failed because ``they could not accurately count ballots.'' Hart equipment is used in Boulder, Douglas and more than 40 other counties.

And both optical scanning devices and electronic voting machines made by Election Systems and Software did not pass muster, Coffman said. ES&S is used by Jefferson and Mesa counties.

Sequoia said it was reviewing the 175-page report. Ken Fields, spokesman for ES&S, said the decertification was based on additional requirements recently imposed.

Peter Lichtenheld, a spokesman for Hart InterCivic, said his company planned to appeal based on how the state conducted the tests and maintenance of its machine.

``Our systems are used nationwide and they've been proven reliable and accurate across the country, so there's no reason why it should be any different in Colorado,'' Lichtenheld said.

Sequoia and ES&S also said their systems had previously been tested for accuracy, reliability, and security and would work with Coffman's office to meet requirements.

Several county clerk and recorders said they were digesting the findings Monday evening.

``This report is really just part of the larger equation for us,'' Denver Clerk and Recorder Stephanie O'Malley said in a statement. ``Once we feel we have the full picture of what the Secretary of State's report means, we can move forward with choosing our systems and preparing for the 2008 election season.''