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Supervisor told new vote machines pose time-change problem
By JIM HAUG, Staff Writer
Daytona Beach News-Journal   02 November 2006

DAYTONA BEACH Voting machines could stop accepting votes an hour or more before the polls close on Election Day because of a glitch in their automated clocks, elections officials said Wednesday.

"To say I am frustrated is an understatement," said Ann McFall, the Volusia County supervisor of elections, in an e-mail to the county Canvassing Board.

McFall was waiting for assurances from Diebold, the manufcturer, and the state Division of Elections that the machines would not prematurely turn off next Tuesday. The County Council decided to buy the touch-screen machines in February after a year of debate about how to meet a federal mandate for access for disabled voters.

The latest glitch is an example of the controversy associated with Diebold machines, which some critics claim are susceptible to manipulation by hackers.

To avoid any local controversy, McFall also wants to prepare a document for poll workers to certify that their polls were open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day and resolve any discrepancies with the different times recorded by the voting machines.

"I hope that's the least of our problems," McFall said in an interview.

The machines are believed to be off an hour because their automated clocks were set back for daylight-saving time at the urging of the Diebold representative, McFall said.

But the machines were already set to change automatically for daylight-saving time, she said.

In another glitch, the time of the machines apparently goes back an hour every time they are turned on and off. So units at the four early-voting sites could be off by as much as six hours.

Volusia County officials learned this after testing a machine at the urging of officials in Polk County, which was having problems with its voting machines.

For the sake of transparency, McFall wants to open an early-voting machine at her DeLand office on Friday morning to see whether the time "has indeed changed five to six hours," she said.

Glitches with the voting machines' clocks are believed to be confined to the five counties Polk, Putnam, Glades, Leon and Volusia that got the new, Class D machines from Diebold.

Diebold did not respond to calls for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Anita Lapidus, a lawyer with the Florida Coalition of Free Elections in DeLand, said it was too early "to know the extent of the problems."

"This is what happens when you rush it through the process," said Lapidus, noting the Class D machines have not been certified by the state.

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