CARSON CITY — Concern over voting machine security in California won’t affect Nevada’s second-in-the-nation presidential caucuses in January because this state’s machines won’t be used in the caucuses, Nevada’s secretary of state said Monday.
“The actual administration of the caucuses will be run by the Democratic and Republican parties,” Ross Miller said when asked about any spillover effect in Nevada as a result of the California flap.
The University of California, under a contract with California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office, examined machines sold by Diebold Election Systems, Hart InterCivic and Sequoia Voting Systems.
The study concluded that they were difficult for voters with disabilities to use and that hackers could break into the systems and change vote results. Bowen is weighing whether to prohibit use of any of the machines during that state’s Feb. 5 presidential primary.
Representatives of the three voting machine companies criticized the study, saying it had reached unrealistic conclusions.
Sequoia, in a statement read by systems sales executive Steven Bennett, called the UC review “an unrealistic, worst-case-scenario evaluation.”
Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax called the study “absurd,” adding Nevadans “have the best voting system that you can have.”
Lomax described the methodology of the California study as “giving someone the keys to a bank and the combination to the vault and then leaving for a month and saying, ‘See if you can steal anything.’ It’s a meaningless study.”
Nevada and Clark County have Sequoia voting machines. Lomax said the Clark County machines aren’t scheduled for any use in Nevada’s Democratic and Republican caucuses on Jan. 19, although Republicans had inquired about possible use of his county’s devices.
Matt Griffin, Miller’s elections deputy, said he has seen the California study and is monitoring developments in that state.
He added that Nevada election officials already are working on election security and other issues. The next statewide election will be the primary contest on Aug. 12, 2008.
Griffin said rules are being developed to tighten Nevada’s election auditing procedures.