Lamone delays decision on election equipment

She's awaiting test results for modified e-poll books

October 05, 2006|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,sun reporter

State elections administrator Linda H. Lamone delayed a decision yesterday on whether to deploy the state's new voter check-in system in the November election until its manufacturer finishes testing a solution to one flaw remaining from the primary.

"We expect that all of the reviews and the additional testing on all of the potential solutions can be accomplished in the next 24 hours and that we will be able to make the most informed decision to guarantee success in the upcoming election," Lamone said in a statement.

During a daylong test Tuesday of the retrofitted touch-screen check-in computers, known as e-poll books, mock election judges were instructed not to touch the screens or else risk having the units sporadically stop communicating with each other.

Diebold Election Systems Inc., the maker of the $18 million system, added a computer mouse to each of the terminals to bypass the software flaw and, at the end of the 13-hour test, announced that its subcontractor had repaired the piece of software causing the communications problem.

As of Tuesday evening, Diebold had checked in more than 1,000 mock voters on the improved software but said that it needed to continue testing yesterday to ensure that it worked.

Lamone said in her statement that she was encouraged by the company's progress on the issue.

Gilles W. Burger, chairman of the State Board of Elections, said yesterday that Lamone's decision to wait for the results of the additional testing and for a report from an independent quality-assurance team on Diebold's fixes was "reasonable."

"It would be premature to make a decision before the quality-assurance team had finished looking at the results of the test," he said. "And as you know, Diebold didn't do a complete fix of the system for the demonstration."

Burger said that the state could decide to use computer mouses but acknowledged that not touching the screens would be "awkward" for poll workers who were accustomed to doing so during the primary.

"I have a high degree of confidence" that Diebold will finish fixing the system, he said.

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