The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

October 21, 2009

Group complains about electronic voting machines

Raleigh County officials: No problems reported

A local leader of the conservative Constitution Party asked Raleigh County Commission members Tuesday to stop using the Election Systems & Software (iVotronic touch-screen voting machines currently used in West Virginia.

The machines are approved by Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, and her office recently paid around $500,000 for the Raleigh machines. The county anted up another $400,000.

Gene Stalnaker presented Commission president John Humphrey and Commissioner John Aliff with the Ohio Project EVEREST voting study.

According to the study, the voting machines are intrinsically flawed. Due to several flaws, the report alleges, hackers can control the outcome of the entire election due to errors in input processing, poll workers can easily extract or alter the memory of the machines and a voter in a single precinct can corrupt the software to impact the outcome when provisioning a subsequent election.

Under state law, county commissions can choose not to use the machines, said Gene Stalnaker, Constitution Party treasurer.

“This report calls for the State of Ohio to do away with the machines six months before their election,” Stalnaker said. “There’s other states that use the same machines that also have done that.

“So I’m just asking you as commissioners to follow (state code) and call a meeting to do away with the machines.”

Humphrey said he’d received no complaints about the performance of the machines and that no other voters had expressed concerns.

“As of now, we have no reason to doubt these machines,” he said.

After the meeting, Aliff pointed out the process referenced in the EVEREST study is not identical to the one used with the ES&S; machines in Raleigh County.

Stalnaker said although the paper ballot system also presents opportunities for cheating, individual poll workers can be held accountable.

“You can’t indict a machine,” he said. “You’ve got to live with it.”

Voters in Jackson and Taylor counties told a legislative interim subcommittee Sept. 14 the machines switched votes from one candidate to another in several races during 2008 balloting.

State media organizations reported voters in Putnam, Berkeley, Ohio, Monongalia and Greenbrier counties also complained about the machines “flipping” votes during the 2008 elections, often from Democrat to Republican.

Ohio, Florida and California have stopped using the machines.

— E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

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