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E-Vote: Vendor May Have Sold Unauthorized Voting Machines to California Counties

Penalties could include monetary damages up to $10,000 per violation; a refund of all money paid by a county to the voting system manufacturer; decertification of the voting system in question; and prohibition of the manufacturer from doing any elections-related business in the state for up to three years.

by / October 11, 2007

The California Secretary of State's Office will conduct a public hearing to examine whether Election Systems & Software Inc. (ES&S) sold unauthorized voting machines to as many as five California counties.

The ES&S AutoMARK Version 1.0, also known as Phase One, is an electronic ballot-marking device that a former Secretary of State certified for use in California in August 2005.  Fourteen counties use the AutoMARK to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requirement to provide at least one machine in each polling place so voters with disabilities can cast ballots independently.  However, said the Secretary of State's Office in a release, it appears ES&S sold nearly 1,000 AutoMARK Version 1.1 machines, also known as Phase Two, to five of those counties (Colusa, Marin, Merced, San Francisco and Solano) in 2006.  ES&S failed to notify the Secretary of State of the Phase Two modifications before selling the machines.

Under California law, no voting system or part of a voting system may be changed or modified without written notice to, and authorization by, the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State must hold a public hearing before seeking any penalties against a vendor. According to the Secretary of State's Office, those penalties could include monetary damages up to $10,000 per violation; a refund of all money paid by a county to the voting system manufacturer; decertification of the voting system in question; and prohibition of the manufacturer from doing any elections-related business in the state for up to three years.

More information is available online.