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E-voting vendor succumbs to California source code demands

Worried about 'personal agendas'

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Electronic voting machines vendor Election Systems & Software Inc. has finally given in to demands by California's Secretary of State office that it submit the source code used in one of its products. But it made it abundantly clear it is unhappy about the requirement.

ES&S complied with the demand in an overnight package that was received yesterday by the office of Secretary of State (SOS) Debra Bowen, about three months past due date. Of the four e-voting firms selling products to California counties, only ES&S failed to meet the deadline.

Bowen's demand for the source code used in ES&S's InkaVote Plus Voting System stems from a "top-to-bottom" review of election system certified for use in California that was announced in February. Bowen based her review on a state law that mandates the SOS "review voting systems periodically to determine if they are defective, obsolete, or otherwise unacceptable".

Lest Tuesday's overture appear to be a conciliatory gesture on ES&S's part, the Nebraska-based company wagged its finger at the whole process, questioning both its need and impartiality.

"... there are serious concerns regarding the motivations and apparent personal agendas of a number of the currently proposed examiners," ES&S exec StevenPearson wrote in a letter agreeing to turn over the source code. "Please understand that ES&S will hold not only the examiners responsible, but the SOS as well, for any prohibited disclosure or use of ES&S' trade secrets and related confidential and proprietary information."

The company noted that it had been approved by federally accredited independent testing authorities and certified for use in California.

Over the past seven years, confidence in the US election system has been challenged by hanging chads and congested polling places. In the case last year in Florida's Sarasota County - which uses ES&S machines - huge voting anomalies have called into question the accuracy of results in the race for that state's 13th Congressional district. ®

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