Maryland's Republican Governor
Issues Devastating Blow to Diebold
Calls for Paper Ballots, Decries Lack of Security, 1000% Increase in Maintenance Cost for Diebold Voting System!
Bradblog - 2/16/2006
In the letter sent by Maryland's Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. to the State Board of Elections on Wednesday, he declares that he "no longer [has] confidence in the State Board of Elections’ ability to conduct fair and accurate elections in 2006."
Citing the "widespread national concern about the reliability and security of electronic voting systems," the decertification and denial of certification of Diebold around the country, and the need to "get aggressive in responding to citizens' concerns over public confidence in the elections system," Ehrlich says it's time to demand paper ballots once again in the State of Maryland.
"It is my personal belief," writes Ehrlich in a letter to BoE Chairman, Gilles Burger, "that the voters of Maryland should be allowed to vote a paper ballot or have a voter verification paper-trail to electronic voting as reassurance to voters that their votes are being accurately cast."
In his excoriating letter to Burger, the Governor goes on to cite the 78% increase in base cost for the system over original estimates and the -- sit down for this -- "1000% increase for estimates of the annual maintenance costs for this system."
"The cost of Maryland’s Diebold voting machines has skyrocketed as our confidence in the system has plummeted," wrote the Governor.
Finally, the letter concludes with a brutal condemnation of the MD Elections Administrator, Linda Lamone, charging that her work and that of her staff, has been "primarily on behalf of partisan legislators and their interests and not on the interests of the citizens of Maryland."
Lamone, who is currently President of the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED) has been a champion of Diebold's paperless touch-screen machines in the state. She recently testified to the state Senate that there was not enough time or money to add "voter-vefied paper trails" to Maryland's touch-screen machines prior to the 2006 election. As well, she has maintained for years that the system is safe, reliable and secure. Those claims are not well-founded.
An internal review by the state Elections Board after the 2004 election titled "Lessons Learned" reveals that "189 voting units (7%) of units deployed failed on Election Day. An additional 122 voting units (or 5%) were suspect based on number of votes captured."
Those documented failures, of course, are just the ones we know about. In Leon County, Florida, when Diebold machines were hacked last December, it was done without a trace being left behind.
Washington Post's Thursday coverage of Ehrlich's letter quotes him as telling reporters, "Maryland is not prepared to conduct an election."
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