Florida county e-voting system deal nixed


Sancho has been public with his doubts about electronic voting gear reliability, and has even sponsored hacks into his own Diebold AccuVote optical scan systems -- a move that led to a somewhat strained relationship with Diebold. The Leon County hacks inspired the California secretary of state to sponsor similar tests there.

Sancho has another reason to look for a solution. Unless the county has HAVA-compliant equipment in place by the end of this month, it stands to lose half a million dollars in federal grant money.

ES&S's explanation of its decision offered few details. "Toward the end of last year, we were presented with the possibility of entering into a long-term relationship with the county," an ES&S spokesman said via e-mail. "After a great deal of careful consideration, we made the decision not to enter into an agreement to provide equipment and services to the county. After evaluating all of the information available to us at the time, we determined that we were unlikely to have an effective partnership with the county."

A Diebold spokesman said that the state of Florida hasn't certified any printers to work with its touch-screen machines. The company also has concerns about the vote accuracy of hybrid systems. "We can't vouch for the integrity of a competitor's product working with our system." The relationship with Leon County currently remains unchanged, he said.

Meanwhile, California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's office has told all e-voting hardware vendors seeking certification in time for their equipment to be used in the June 2006 elections to have their applications in by the end of this week. "The reason is that we have teams standing by, at the ready, but we cannot review or certify any systems which have not been submitted to our office," said a spokeswoman for McPherson. "It is one more proactive measure the secretary is taking to get as many systems through the process as possible."