16 February 2006

Documents show Maryland held election, primary
on uncertified, illegal Diebold voting machines

RawStory - 02/16/2006

The Maryland State Board of Elections allowed Diebold Election Systems to operate its touch-screen voting machines during the state's 2002 gubernatorial election and the 2004 presidential primaries before the state agency actually certified the controversial machines, according to recently disclosed documents.

That is a violation of state law, according to Linda Schade, executive director of TrueVoteMD.org, an election integrity group.

Schade discovered the document among thousands of others she recently acquired through a lawsuit filed against the Maryland State Board of Elections in 2004. After almost two years of public records requests and attorney wrangling, she received four boxes filled with e-mail conversations, faxes and contracts between the elections office and Diebold.

[...] Upsets and unusual outcomes

In November 2002, Lamone, a Democrat, allowed Diebold to operate its machines in four counties for the state gubernatorial election. That was when Ehrlich became the first Republican governor to be elected in 36 years in what had always been known as a solidly Democratic state.

That was also the year when a Republican political newcomer, a self-described "nobody," ousted a veteran Democratic state senator in what The Baltimore Sun described as "one of the most remarkable election upsets in recent Maryland political history."

After serving for several decades, Democratic House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. lost his Allegany County seat to LeRoy E. Myers. Allegany County was one of the four counties where Diebold machines were used that year.

In March 2004, during the presidential primary elections, Maryland became one of only two states in the country to use Diebold voting machines throughout the entire state. A month later, Schade filed her lawsuit in an attempt to prevent Diebold from running the upcoming November 2004 presidential elections, accusing Lamone in the suit of "recklessly certifying" the machines for the primary elections.

But at the time, Schade had no idea that Lamone had not even bothered certifying the machines. In fact, the machines did not get certified until the following month. The machines were finally certified May 20, 2004.

Though now certified, machines still may not meet FEC standards

[...] An easily altered paper trail

The Diebold voting machines used in Maryland since 2002 use a common PCMCIA card, which record the numbers of votes cast on that particular machine during an election. When the polls close, election workers are suppose to print out results from each machine before shipping the PCMCIA card to a the main elections office.

Just last month, computer expert Harri Hursti showed Florida election officials in Leon County how easily these cards can be manipulated in a study now known as the "Hursti Hack."

"What Harri discovered was that using a laptop and a PCMCIA card reader, which you can buy on the Internet, he could change the contents of the card," Jones said. "He could reprogram the card to print anything he wanted and it only took seconds."

The contents on the card, which are shipped off to the main elections office, remain unchanged, but the printout, the only paper trail produced by the machines, end up altered, he said.

"And the paper trail is what most people would look at to verify an election," he said.


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