Voting machine transparency costs one county clerk

Summary:Emery County, in Eastern Utah isn't a very big place, at least by population--there are only around 10,500 people. So you wouldn't expect Emery County to be a hotbed of voting activism, but one person, the County Clerk, has taken a courageous stand that has landed him in some hot water.

Emery County, in Eastern Utah isn't a very big place, at least by population--there are only around 10,500 people. So you wouldn't expect Emery County to be a hotbed of voting activism, but one person, the County Clerk, has taken a courageous stand that has landed him in some hot water.

How do you feel about voting on machines that even the people who control them aren't allowed to inspect?

Last year Utah's Elections office determined to use electronic voting machines and selected Diebold as the vendor. There are lots of people who have questions about the integrity of electronic voting machines and especially those that you can't inspect. One of those people was Bruce Funk, the Emery County Clerk--the person charged with running elections in the county

On December 27, 2005 Bruce took possession of 40 Diebold TSx touch-screen machines as part of a statewide change to the new machines. Upon unpacking the machines Bruce noticed that the "new" machines has some problems "crooked paper feeds that jam, memory card bay doors that wouldn't close, parts getting stuck, coming loose, falling off, etc." Moreover, two of the machines failed their initial, Diebold run, acceptance testing.

Given these problems, Bruce decided he wanted a second opinion on the health of his machines and invited BlackBoxVoting (BBV), a non-profit group, to examine them. BBV in turn asked Harri Hursti and Security Innovation, Inc. to do a thorough examination.

Some of the results of Security Innovations' investigation are in, and they aren't good. He found that some of the machines had inexplicable memory usage, that the machines were network aware all the time, and that there were safety problems with the way the power cord attaches to them. BBV promises more results at a later date.

Meanwhile, things haven't gone well for Bruce Funk. Diebold asserted that he'd broken the warranty of the machines and wants to charge the State $40,000 to "recertify" them. After a heated closed door meeting with State elections officials and the Emery County Commission, Bruce orally resigned his position, but later changed his mind and is going to fight for his job.

It's clear to me that Diebold is sending a message to any other County Clerks who may step out of line and question the quality of the product that they're getting. The Utah Elections seems to be playing along. They ought to be supporting someone who is willing to make sure that the voting system works.  No matter how you feel about electronic voting, Diebold seems to be supplying a low-quality product and charging top dollar for it. 

How do you feel about voting on machines that even the people who control them aren't allowed to inspect them without being subject to financial penalties? It gives me the creeps.

If you're interested in sending Bruce an expression of support, here's his contact information:

Bruce C. Funk - Clerk/Auditor
Fax: (435) 381-5183
95 East Main
Castle Dale, Emery County
Utah 84513
funk@co.emery.ut.us

Topics: Hardware

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