For those who see the power to vote as the heart of Democracy, some discouraging news. The Secretary of State has decertified most electronic voting machines, including those in Inyo and Mono. Elections officials call the decision at best not well thought out and at worst a total breakdown of the voting process for California.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen had issued an audit that claimed electronic voting systems could be easily hacked into, potentially compromising millions of votes. Bowen finally decided to de-certify electronic voting systems, including the Sequoia systems in Inyo and Mono. The narrow ability to find another way of voting by the February Presidential Primary could also compromise millions of votes.
Inyo County Clerk Mary Roper said that some counties are talking about all-mail ballots. Is the post office ready for that? This is just one unanswered question prompted by the Secretary of State's sudden move. Roper said that she would consider using the same type of ballots that are used for absentee votes, with an optical scan and people to count them. Roper called it all a nightmare.
She's waiting for the dust raised by the Secretary of State's decision to settle. Another problem not thought out – can vendors produce enough paper ballots for all 58 counties in California in time for the Primary Election. Roper said costs will be high and complications numerous.
Computer scientists conducted extensive tests on electronic voting systems and concluded that many of them could be compromised and votes skewed. Secretary of State Bowen had, in part, run her campaign on the dangers of computerized voting.
In Mono County, Elections Manager, Christy Robles confirmed that Mono County is in the same boat. She spoke to the Mono Supervisors Tuesday about what she called the Secretary of State's disservice to voters. Robles said the Secretary has required a 100% manual hand-count of the paper-trail ballots on each touch screen machine. Poll-workers will not be acceptable and each polling place must include both an electronic machine for the disabled and paper ballots.
Robles said hand-counts are subject to human error and have not been in use in Mono County since the late 70's. Robles said scanning of thousands of ballots election night, as the Secretary of State has required, will cause serious delays and extra cost.
Robles said many lawsuits are now being drafted against the Secretary. Right now, the future California vote appears more like chaos.