More Humbolt Election Tech Weirdness: Premier Huffs

Well, I am sorry to say that I have to make an exception to my avoidance of casting voting system vendors in a bad light — in this case Premier Systems (formerly Diebold). I was rather proud of PS(fD) when they owned up to the "ballot dropping" software problem (paper ballots scanned and apparently counted, but the first few not actually counted, and no log record of the deletion) that was discovered in the post-election audit conducted in Humboldt County by registrar Caroline Crnich. I thought that PS(fD) responded pretty well to these findings, even when the Humboldt County transparency project made the it possible for anyone to re-create the audit.

It’s shame, then, that PS(fd) acted rather capriciously with legally threatening letters severing license agreements and support contracts, instructing Crnich to immediately stop using their voting system devices, and software. Of course, Crnich had chosen to replace the Premier with another vendor’s system, but this takes time, and she had planned on using the Premier system in next month’s election. PS(fD)’s action seemed petty, but also created a situation in which Crnich had to choose between legal fracas with PS(fD), and going into an election with less experience and training in the new system than would be typical — and run the risk of election irregularities created by accident or poor training. So ironically, PS(fD) ensured that there would be risks whatever Crnich chose. Disappointing behavior, not only because of that outcome, but because it brought no benefit to anyone, including PS(fD) — there was really no good business sense involved.

Now, the above part is somewhat old news (originally reported here) but I was told more recently that PS(fD)’s action was not only capricious but also baseless, because there were no contracts for PS(fD) to sever! So I suppose that the whole affair would have to go in the "silly" bucket if it weren’t for the fact that Humboldt County election officials and volunteers are working extra hard to learn a new voting system in not a lot of time, in order to reduce risks to Humboldt voters’ votes being uncounted, again.


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