Voting Machine Concerns - And Response (2)

Friday, October 11, 2013

I have to admit, I'm concerned. 

Dominion Voting Systems was founded in Toronto but is now a privately owned Denver based company.  In 2010 they acquired Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold) from ESS, who was required to sell off PES by the DOJ for anti trust concerns. It seems these machines (Diebold/Premier) were vulnerable to memory card attacks, among many other concerns.   

Avi Rubin from Johns Hopkins declared Diebold/Premier to be 'far below even the most minimal security standards'; the state of Maryland hired SAIC to perform another analysis…'the system…is at high risk of compromise'.  More recent info just gets worse; Carnegie Mellon, Univ of Connecticut, even HBO aired a documentary entitled Hacking Democracy concerning the vulnerability of electronic voting machines, especially Diebold.  Seems in 2007 Diebold changed their name to Premier, then ESS bought them out and Dominion, with the approval of the DOJ, took them over.   

On their Facebook page, Dominion advertises what a great job they did for the state of Illinois, for Chicago, and for Cook County (Illinois) in the November 2010 elections; another of their 'ads' focuses on the great job they did for Nevada… and their first big sale appears to be the state of New York.   

Guys, I know nothing about electronic voting machines except for what I can easily access by online searches.  I am not at all interested in a machine that favors any party or candidate…I want a machine that records my ballot fairly and securely.  If that cannot be absolutely assured, I want a paper ballot and monitors at every polling location.

I bet the county has already investigated all this and can respond; let me assure you that I make no accusations, and am the first to admit I haven't paid attention to the purchase of these machines before now.  It sounds as if they got a good 'deal' from Dominion...but gotta say, why is the federal government paying for our voting machines?  What strings are attached to these funds? 

I hope someone with answers will respond…I know the residents of Hamilton County want confidence that they are part of a true and accurate election process. 

Jo Peckinpaugh

* * *

I appreciate Jo Peckinpaugh from Hixson expressing concern about voting machines in Hamilton County.  I read the announcement or press release, or whatever it was on and wondered about the statement that they "kept their fingers crossed" during the last election.  

I wondered what exactly was the issue with the machines in our last election, and why do we need new machines now?

Brian Wood

* * * 

Ms Peckinpaugh and Mr. Wood,

We appreciate your concern with the new voting equipment that the Hamilton County Election Commission chose last week to replace our current system. However, we can assure you that we have put in countless hours studying, researching, and comparing voting systems to ensure that the decision that was made was one that will best benefit the voters of Hamilton County and the more than 800 poll workers that graciously give their time each election.  

Your history summary of Dominion Voting is accurate. They are a privately owned company founded in Toronto with offices in Denver, New York, and California. Dominion does provide support for the former Diebold machines (which Hamilton County currently uses) along with other machines that they have acquired in the past.  

In 2010 when Dominion acquired the rights to the Diebold Systems, Hamilton County had the option of choosing Dominion Voting or ES&S for the support of our current equipment. Based on our research, we selected Dominion and have received excellent customer service from them. We are also thankful for their quick turnaround time when we had to send machines in for service during busy election times.   

The Dominion Democracy Suite 4.0 is certified to the 2005 VVSG (Voluntary Voting System Guidelines) by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the Tennessee Coordinator of Elections. This newly certified equipment has nothing to do with the conspiracy theorist claims of the older Diebold systems. New equipment in the State of Tennessee must undergo stringent testing to assure that it is up to date with the latest security standards in place. 

We have had our current voting system in place since 1998 and it has served the voters of this county very well. We consider it to be one of the top voting systems in the country. However, like most electronics manufactured in the 1990’s it is starting to show its age. Thanks to a very thorough maintenance program we have in place we have extended the life of our equipment much longer than most expected. We have never experienced any “issues” with our current system but replacement parts are getting harder to find and we felt it was time to take advantage of newer technology.  

The system we chose will be a very similar setup to what the voters currently use when voting. There will still be a paper ballot that is marked and it will then be inserted into an electronic voting machine that will record the votes. As we have done since 1998 all pre testing of equipment and post election results will be audited by an outside auditing firm to further ensure accurate elections.  

Thankfully, the Federal Help America Vote Act will cover the cost of a new voting system keeping the cost burden off of the county. There are absolutely no strings attached to these funds other than state requirements for the system to be certified. 

When we get the new equipment delivered we are planning an open house type event for voters to come by and see for themselves how the new system looks and operates. We hope you will take time to come by and get a hands-on demonstration of the voting machines that will carry us into the future here in Hamilton County.  

Charlotte Mullis-Morgan
Election Administrator

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