State Considers Decertifying Election SoftwareThadeus Green The Times-Standard Feb 22 2009
After the disappearance of 197 votes in Humboldt County during the 2008 election due to a software programming error, California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, considers withdrawing the state's approval of the flawed software.
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is considering withdrawing the state's approval of the flawed Premier Elections Solutions software that resulted in almost 200 ballots disappearing from Humboldt County's final November election results.
Bowen's office announced that it will hold a public hearing March 17 at her Sacramento office to discuss the findings of its investigation into the problem, and to take public comment on the possible withdrawal of the state's approval of the voting system. Meanwhile, the two other counties in the state that use the system are left contemplating what its decertification would mean, and some election advocates are lobbying for some punitive action to be taken against Premier Elections Solutions.
”The public hearing is typically the last step in the process,” Secretary of State spokeswoman Nicole Winger said. “It offers one final opportunity for input, for the vendor to state their side of the story and for the public to give comments or input as well. It's a chance for everyone to be on the same page and see where things stand.”
The software error reportedly first came to Bowen's attention after Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich informed her office that the first-of-its-kind Humboldt County Election Transparency Project had uncovered a discrepancy in the final vote tallies from the county's November election.
The project found that 197 vote-by-mail ballots, which had been scanned through vote counting machines, mysteriously disappeared from the final ballot tally as tabulated by Premier Elections Solutions' GEMS software.
The problem was traced to a programming error with the specific version of the software used in Humboldt County -- GEMS version 1.18.19 -- a programming error that sometimes results in the first deck of ballots scanned through the vote counting machine vanishing without a trace from the final results.
Chris Riggall, a spokesman for Premier Elections Solutions, said in a previous interview with the Times-Standard that the company had known of the programming error since 2004. Saying the certification process is too lengthy and time consuming to have had the software re-certified, Riggall said Premier instead issued “work around” orders by e-mail to its customers instructing them how to take steps to avoid the problem.