Out-Of-State Corporation Offered Wisconsin Election Clerks a Deal on Touchscreen Voting Machines That Make Election Results Impossible To Verify: EDA Alerts Clerks To Dangers
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But County Gets Negative Marks for Pushing DREs
Coverage from Riverside Press Enterprise
Voter Advocacy Group Praises Special Election
By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise Wednesday, May 20, 2009
A watchdog group critical of how Riverside County has handled past elections said Wednesday that Tuesday's special election vote went smoothly with added accountability.
Temecula-based Save R Vote monitored Tuesday's election and praised Registrar Barbara Dunmore for putting a series of safeguards in place to maintain the integrity of cast ballots.
"This was the most improved, smoothest election that I have seen in seven elections," said Tom Courbat, the group's founder.
The safeguards came from an audit led by former district attorney Grover Trask.
The measures include adding a redesigned ballot statement that precinct workers fill out to account for ballots and signatures, adding a form at ballot collection centers for workers to report if there is something wrong with ballot boxes and installing two computer monitors at the registrar's headquarters for observers to monitor ballot counting.
"This proves they could do it in a big election. It didn't result in that much additional work," Courbat said. "It gives a higher degree of accountability."
Dunmore said Wednesday that the light turnout made the election a perfect time to unveil the new measures.
"We wanted to put them in place as quick as possible," she said. "We worked very hard on that."
Dunmore said she is pleased to hear that Save R Vote found the improvements well executed.
Still, the group remains critical of Riverside County for what it sees as the over use of electronic touch-screen voting machines.
"There's an agenda here, to prove people like electronic voting when given the choice.
It is not about liking. People like to drive 120 on the freeway, but it is not safe.
You cannot adequately secure these machines."
Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified the use of touch-screen voting machines in 2007, citing security vulnerabilities. She then set conditions for their limited use.
In Tuesday's election, poll workers asked voters whether they wanted to use a paper ballot or an electronic machine.
"There's an agenda here, and the agenda here is to prove people like electronic voting when given the choice. It is not about liking," Courbat said. "People like to drive 120 on the freeway, but it is not safe. You cannot adequately secure these machines."
Courbat criticized the county for not informing voters at polling sites that there have been issues surrounding the machines.
Dunmore said her office must offer voters the choice. She said poll workers can't provide a history of the machines to each voter, and if voters have questions, they can contact her office. The use of electronic voting machines on Tuesday complied with election rules, she said.
"We did see precincts where there were more votes cast on the electronic voting unit than on paper ballots," Dunmore said. "That is a choice made by the voter." On Tuesday, there were 28,148 votes cast on electronic machines, about 41 percent of the ballots cast a precincts, Dunmore said.
Riverside County had at least three precincts, two in Corona and one in Murrieta, where all the votes were cast on the electronic machines, Dunmore said. Fifty-seven precincts didn't have any votes cast on electronic machines.
Reach Duane W. Gang at 951-368-9547 or dgang@PE.com