Sunday, September 24, 2006

Security Procedures "Blatantly Not Followed"

The Washington Post reports on how problems in training undercut the security of the election and slowed the compilation of the election results:

The widely publicized failure in Prince George's County to electronically transmit results from many polls after the Sept. 12 primary was compounded by a host of other errors, including failure to swiftly collect the data cards on which some votes are recorded and to properly secure voting machines.

The last of the cards were not retrieved and counted until nine days after the balloting -- several from inside electronic voting machines from a Landover precinct where Robert J. McGinley, the county elections board's attorney, said security procedures were "just blatantly not followed."

In some instances, machines containing cards were found in storage cases that lacked a required security seal. In others, tamper tape was missing from a locked door on the machine. In still others, data cards were found in machines on which doors were not locked.

Despite the roiling debate over whether electronic voting machines might be hacked into and an election stolen, the experience of Prince George's suggests a more mundane and probably widespread challenge in voting's digital age: Armies of minimally trained, modestly paid election workers are increasingly confronted with an unfamiliar, complex business.

Although the voting process was less dramatically flawed in Prince George's than in neighboring Montgomery County, the nearly two weeks since have seethed with suspicion and recrimination.

The elections board disqualified none of the cards, but the lapses undercut assurances that officials offered after the primary. Robert J. Antonetti Sr., interim Prince George's election administrator, had said 47 uncounted cards would remain safe because of the multiple security measures.

Montgomery officials shouldn't feel grateful that the attention has shifted slightly to the east for a day. As you can see, The article declares that the problems were "dramatically less flawed" in Prince George's than in Montgomery.