California officials reject e-voting machine

California election officials have recommended decertifying an electronic voting machine which caused problems during the March...

California election officials have recommended decertifying an electronic voting machine which caused problems during the March US presidential primary elections and are launching an investigation of its manufacturer, Diebold Election Systems, for possible criminal conduct.

The recommendation was issued by the California Voting Systems and Procedures Panel and will be sent to California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, who is expected to decide by 30 April whether to withdraw the machines before the November 2004 US presidential election.

The panel based its decision on the "disenfranchisement" of voters who tried to use the touch-screen system during the March primary elections.

Residents in a handful of counties who tried to use the machine, called the AccuVote-TSx, were unable to record their votes because of technical problems.

The panel also cited the system's failure to receive federal qualification and to comply with the terms of its conditional certification, which was granted in November.

The panel recommended that its findings be sent to the state attorney general for possible civil and criminal action. The panel also urged Shelley to back a bill which would provide California officials with additional legal powers to regulate the use of e-voting machines.

The company's older Diebold TS voting machines and its Global Election Management System software were unaffected by the recommendation.

James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service

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