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Monday, Jan. 29, 2007 | After they have proven over and over again to be error-prone, easily hacked, and not worth the paper trails they often fail to print, why do we still have voting machines in San Diego?

When I asked the Board of Supervisors, they directed me to the City Council. When I asked the City Council they directed me to the Citizens Election Task Force. And when I asked the Task Force, they said it wasn’t on their agenda.

Since most of the labs that test these voting machines have been found not to have been properly testing them at all, and the machines themselves do not meet normal security standards, no less stringent election laws, it is very likely that our new Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, may decertify them. They had been decertified by a previous Secretary of State, Kevin Shelly, but he was recalled in an election run on those very same machines, and his successor recertified them even though they still weren’t certifiable.

But even if the machines aren’t certified, that doesn’t mean we won’t be stuck with them. Having spent a fortune on these pieces of junk, our Registrar of Voters is apt to insist that we need them in order to hold elections, and to ask for a waiver from the Secretary of State so that they can continue to be used.

Due to distrust of the machines, San Diego voters have been switching to mail-in ballots, however many are not aware that these ballots, if they are counted at all, are counted by the same voting machines they’re trying to avoid.

We need to return to hand-counted paper ballots at the precincts with full citizen oversight including videotaping the count. It was a citizen’s videotape that resulted in the recent convictions of two poll workers in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, whose only defense was that they had been violating the election laws that way for twenty or thirty years and didn’t know it was wrong.

Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas is not the Official Decider in Charge of Elections. He is paid to perform a public service. He should be responsible to the citizens of San Diego, not to the Diebold voting machine corporation.

The only way we’ll ever know for certain if our elections are rigged here, the way they are in other places, is if we dump the machines and let people count the votes at the precincts, while everyone who wants to, watches closely to make sure that it is done right.

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