Who even came up with this rollout plan for the new Diebold machines in Maryland? They bought new technology for $18.4M during the summer, give limited hands-off training and then they expect that by some miracle, a bleeding edge solution is going to work in time for the elections.
Anyone who has ever spent any time at all on new technology knows that buying the technology is just a part of the costs and plan. Rolling out something new, especially a system that has not been used anywhere before, is going to require plenty of training and hand holding. No, the team in Maryland fell for the "plug and play" pitch from someone and now the voters are stuck paying the price.
At one Baltimore precinct, poll worker Al Samples, a 38-year-old computer scientist, said he could not prevent the three small check-in stations made by Diebold Election Systems Inc. - called e-poll books - from suddenly turning off. The machines crashed about 40 times, he said.Guinea pigs? Diebold ought to be giving this away if they are looking for a guinea pig. That is typically more common in the tech business when you are looking for a guinea pig.
The governor's office said yesterday that it might ask state election officials to abandon the new equipment during November's general election or at least have a backup paper list of registered voters on hand."It should have been disclosed that we were the guinea pigs," said Joseph M. Getty, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s policy director.
It took Samples, who installs and maintains computer networks for Agilent Technologies, an hour and a half to figure out that the units in his precinct weren't talking to one another and to discover that a cord had not been plugged in all the way. Even after the correction, the computers continued to crash.
"The training was pathetic," said Samples, who has volunteered as an election judge since 1992 and who was responsible for checking in voters on the e-poll books. "I'm sitting there bored out of my mind, and they never let you work on the machines. A person just stands up front showing it to you."
And to think there were problems. Go figure.