WASHINGTON – Maryland’s chief elections administrator has put the company that produces the state’s voting machines on notice that it must provide full information and daily briefings on testing required after another state experienced security problems with the devices.
In a Dec. 23 letter to Diebold Inc., State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone asked for all pertinent information and any reviews by the Independent Testing Authority related to Diebold electronic voting machines. She also asked for detailed information regarding the memory cards that store voter information and Diebold’s plans for addressing concerns raised in other states.
Lamone said Wednesday her letter to Diebold CEO Thomas Swidarski was prompted by a December incident in Florida, when an election supervisor allowed individuals to hack into the voting system and successfully alter results.
What happened in Florida, Lamone said, is analogous to her giving someone the keys to her car, and she said she did not have “concerns.”
“I just want to make sure that Diebold knows that I am aware of what’s going on, especially with the incident in Florida,” she said.
Though both states use Diebold machines — Maryland’s $56 million contract runs though 2008 — Florida uses optical scan machines while Maryland employs touch-screens.
Though she asked for an “immediate response” and “daily briefings,” Diebold has since communicated with Lamone only verbally and submitted the Florida memory cards to the ITA for testing, Lamone said.
A Diebold spokesman said nothing is wrong with either state’s voting machines, and that the Florida supervisor did not follow normal procedures or industry standards.
“It’s being portrayed as something other than what it is,” said David Bear. “They just offered complete and unfettered access to the system.”
Lamone’s letter — which was copied to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael Busch — was distributed by TrueVoteMD, a group advocating for electronic voting machines to produce paper records.
The group’s most recent success came Monday when, after several years of lobbying, a bill requiring the use of paper records in elections was introduced in the House of Delegates. With paper trails, a vote is cast in one of the state’s electronic voting machines, but a paper record is kept in the event of a recount or allegations of impropriety.
Linda Schade, co-founder of TrueVoteMD, sent a letter to Lamone asking her to make public any information Diebold discloses about the testing and to stop using the current voting machines.
Schade and several government officials sued Lamone, alleging that she was aware of possible problems with Maryland’s voting machines and refuses to act. The lawsuit is pending.
“If (Lamone’s) going to follow Maryland law, which requires our state to comply with federal standards,” Schade said, “she is really compelled to decertify the Diebold machines.”