Machines decertified by Colorado Secretary of State
With Colorado’s 2008 presidential primary looming on the horizon, Secretary of State Mike Coffman has decertified many of Colorado’s electronic voting machines for being error-prone and easily hacked. The December 17 declaration has thrown the process for 53 Colorado counties, including Gunnison County, into uncertainty.
“We identified obvious problems, and there’s no way we could ignore them,” Coffman said in an interview a day after he announced the results of 2006 court-ordered review. “It is going to take some leadership and changes to state law to address this.”
Three of the four voting equipment manufacturers allowed in the state were decertified by Coffman, affecting six of Colorado’s 10 most populous counties. On December 18, he backtracked slightly, saying some machines could be re-certified if a software patch was installed.
Gunnison County elections supervisor Kathy Simillion says it is too early to tell what the repercussions of Coffman’s declaration will be to Gunnison County.
“We’re trying to get clarification,” she says.
The declaration of the de-certification comes on the eve of an important election year, and Simillion says county officials are scrambling to make sure they are prepared.
“We had a four-hour meeting about the de-certification,” says Simillion.
Simillion says while the state of Colorado has de-certified 75 percent of Colorado counties, Gunnison County is still federally certified.
The next major Colorado election, the presidential primary, will be on Tuesday, February 5.
Gunnison County purchased the voting equipment in 2006 as required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. HAVA was signed into federal law to provide funds for states to replace outdated voting systems. Under the terms of HAVA, each polling location must have a direct recording electronic system to enable disabled voters to submit a ballot without assistance. Gunnison County used federal money to buy six direct recording electronic systems, among other equipment, from Hart InterCivic in June 2006 at a total cost of $104,000.
Simillion notes in the last election, all the county’s voting machines worked correctly.
“They passed with flying colors,” she says.
However, according to Simillion, the county’s Hart InterCivic eSlate, purchased to assist people with disabilities in voting, was one of the machines that the Secretary of State’s declaration targets.
“It’s been conditionally certified,” says Simillion, of the Hart InterCivic eSlate machine. But she says such a designation is a “gray area,” and county election officials are trying to discern exactly what that means.
According to Simillion, none of the county’s electronic voting machines have a paper receipt indicating to the voter whether a vote was properly cast.
“Once you cast your ballot, it’s cast,” she says.
If county clerks in Colorado wish to appeal the Secretary of State’s decertification of their machines, they must do so within 30 days.