Friday, April 07, 2006

Bankrupt AccuPoll CEO speaks out: No vendor "has a system that voters can trust"!

With voting machine company now bankrupt, CEO speaks:
No vendor "has a system that voters can trust"!

Straight from the horse's mouth
by Sean Greene, electionline.org

The realities of the e-Voting market most recently took its toll on voting-machine maker AccuPoll, which filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, leaving two counties in Texas using its products with no vendor support and a frustrated former CEO in its wake.

The company, which produced the AVS-1000, a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT)-equipped touch-screen machine, has ceased all operations. And it also leaves the company's former head fuming about the nature of the voting-machine business.

"I am not happy about the outcome, or the state of the industry. I think that something needs to be done. I'm not sure what it is, it probably doesn't include AccuPoll at this point, but I do not feel that any of the vendors has a system that voters can trust," said Dennis Vadura, former AccuPoll CEO.

"I think that vendors outright misrepresent the robustness, stability, and security of their systems. You just have to look at the litany of problems and it points at one thing, bad fundamental design, and not enough checks and balances. I also wonder why the other vendors were so adamant in fighting a VVPAT system requirement. They spent much more in fighting it than in implementing it," he said.

"It was too little business too late. Our investors were fed up with funding the company, and not winning business," Vadura said.

He also described a difficult experience in dealing with the government procurement process.

"I am extremely jaded by the government procurement and purchasing game. In some cases I would point the finger at sheer incompetence on the part of the procurement officers. Some of it is also due to them not wanting to take risk, or not wanting to make a decision for political reasons."

Those that did take the risk - the two counties in Texas - reported that both voters and officials that used AccuPoll said they were pleased with the performance of the machines and its VVPAT component during the March primary, even though they know going forward they will be administrating without a support network from the vendor.

"That's why we liked it," said Jane Jones, Delta County clerk, referring to the paper trail.

Both counties had support from former AccuPoll employees during the primary. However, when it comes to future elections, both county clerks noted they are on their own.

"We know the machine well enough. We'll just have to wing it," said Erath County clerk Gwinda Jones.

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