Vendor charged with testing eVoting machines using faulty methods

A company hired by The New York State Board of Elections has been told to stand down because its testing and certifying of electronic voting machines employed flawed methodology.

For several months, Ciber Inc. had been testing machines under evaluation for purchase by the state under a US$3 million contract signed in 2005.

The Ciber testing process had gained accreditation under federal guidelines set in 2002 but has yet to be certified for meeting updated requirements created in 2005.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission last summer failed to grant Ciber’s request to gain special interim accreditation that is available to companies whose application for 2005 certification has yet to be acted upon.

That failure, first reported by The New York Times earlier this month and confirmed last week by the EAC, was blamed on undisclosed problems with Ciber’s documentation process, said an EAC spokeswoman.

The EAC has so far declined to provide a report on its audit of the Ciber process to New York officials or to make it public.

“The initial audit identified issues, and we asked [Ciber] to address them,” the spokeswoman said. “They came back and gave us an update on what’s happening, and we’re now reviewing that information. The process requires due diligence.”

Late last week, Ciber sent 150 pages of information about the audit to state officials. A spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections said its staff is reviewing the material.

The spokesman said the state will not allow Ciber to continue testing machines until it can identify the problems in its processes. The review will be done “expeditiously,” said the spokesman.

A Ciber spokeswoman defended the company’s testing lab and its processes.

In an e-mail statement to Computerworld, she said, “The issues found in the audit do not reflect on the accuracy of tests conducted before the audit. Ciber was accredited at the time those tests were conducted, and they met all of the standards set for testing and accreditation at that time.”

The spokeswoman said that the issues raised in the initial audit have been addressed and that Ciber staffers “are awaiting final results from the EAC” on the accreditation application.

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