Tuesday, September 27, 2005

HuffPo'sAndrew Gumbel on the Georgia vote debacle

Cathy Cox is a Democrat in a now heavily red state, but I've never understood her devotion to Diebold. Now some ugly facts are coming out: "The new poster-child for how not to run elections is Cathy Cox, the Secretary of State of Georgia. Only she comes with an added twist. She won’t merely be helping to run someone else’s campaign in next year’s mid-terms; she will be running for office herself.

Cox, a Democrat, was the first Secretary of State to champion and purchase an all-electronic touch screen voting system for her state. She persuaded Georgia to spend an initial $54 million on a hitherto untried Diebold system in 2002, and has tried ever since to parlay the e-voting revolution she helped launch into a bid for the Georgia governorship in November 2006. “Advancing the e-government revolution,” is the slogan on her website.

Contrary to the fine rhetoric, however, a raft of official documents obtained exclusively by the Huffington Post – including the original contract signed with Diebold and a flurry of six amendments that followed between July 2002 and December 2004, as well as official correspondence and legal papers – show that Cox’s management of Georgia elections has been little short of a disaster. The documents were obtained by way of multiple public records requests, most of them coordinated by the Georgia voting rights activist Roxanne Jekot and her organization, Count The Vote.

The documentary record shows that elections were run on software that was not only untested but also uncertified, that key components broke down during live elections, that county officials were left clueless on how to operate the new machines because of a breakdown in the training schedule, and that the cost of installing the electronic touch-screen system jumped dramatically beyond the advertised $54 million, without proper legislative oversight or approval. None of this has previously been made public."

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