Debra Bowen, Secretary of State, California/Photo by Gerry McIntyre Rocking the Vote/Debra Bowen, Secretary of State, California Photo by Gerry McIntyre

The California Secretary of State's Office held a public hearing Tuesday to gather testimony about a software flaw in electronic voting systems that erased 197 vote-by-mail ballots in the Nov. 4, 2008, general election in Humboldt County, Calif.

The 'Deck 0" flaw automatically deletes the first batch of tallied votes from optical scan paper ballots after they are scanned into Premier Elections Systems' Global Election Management System (GEMS) version 1.18.19, according to the Secretary of State's Office. (Premier was formerly known as Diebold.)

The Secretary of State's Office also found problems with audit logs of version 1.18.19. It doesn't log important system events, records inaccurate timestamps, and contains a "clear" button that deletes logs.

Justin Bales, western region general manager of Premier, testified Tuesday that 16 California counties are using an updated version that fixes many of those problems. Premier isn't opposed to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertifying the flawed software version, he said. The deletion of ballots was inadvertent and election security is of paramount importance to Premier, Bales said.

Premier issued a workaround for the Deck 0 problem in 2004, but the Humboldt County elections worker who was informed about it left the county prior to the Nov. 4, 2008 election.


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Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor