Group Sounds Alarm on Arizona Voting Machine Readers Lacking Accreditation

For the last year and a half, a group of individuals in Arizona have been investigating the lack of accreditation of the laboratories that certify voting machine readers used in Arizona. Concerned that the machines are susceptible to manipulation — not just fully electronic voting machines but also electronic voting machine readers that are used with paper ballots here in Arizona — the group has made several unsuccessful attempts to get the courts to acknowledge the discrepancy, as well as calling upon elected officials in the state’s executive and legislative branches for assistance.

The group is currently represented by three members: Daniel Wood, Brian Steiner, and Paul Rice. Wood told The Arizona Sun Times, “Because the laboratories weren’t accredited, and the state didn’t adhere to the law, our election due process rights have been and are being violated. We would like to see ballots counted by hand instead of machine tabulation for the November election. If France, a country of 65 million people, can successfully count ballots by hand in its presidential election last April, a few counties in Arizona can do it.”

Electronic voting machines became commonly used after the disastrous 2000 presidential election, which left the winner unknown for days after the election due to “hanging chads” on the punch card paper ballots. In response, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which created incentives for states to switch to electronic voting machines. HAVA also formed the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) which was tasked with developing a set of standards participating states are required to follow. Two of those standards, “accreditation” and “certification,” are of particular importance. Accreditation is the act of verifying a company as meeting all official formal requirements of excellence, competency, integrity, and performance. The law assigns sole responsibility to the EAC for the accreditation of any company that “certifies” the integrity of electronic voting machines used in our elections.

By examining the certifications of electronic voting machines, the group has investigated whether voting machines across the country and in Arizona’s 15 counties were compliant with the EAC’s requirements. They found that approximately half of the states, including Arizona, have adopted the HAVA provision that requires all electronic voting machines to be certified by an accredited Voting System Test Laboratory (VSTL), but they are not in compliance. This is significant, they say, because once properly accredited, the VSTL has demonstrated it is free from foreign influence and conflicts of interest, is financially stable, maintains adequate records, and is technically competent to evaluate the integrity of the election voting machines.

Read the rest of the article at The Arizona Sun Times
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