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June 15, 2009 at 4:00 PM

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Election-filing glitch

Posted by Letters editor

Software is not infallible; Janet Way deserves to refile for election

King County Elections should put Janet Way on the ballot ["Candidate deadline missed; glitch cited," NWTuesday, June 9]. She attempted to file over the Web, but King County software refused to permit payment. Others familiar with the procedure tried unsuccessfully to help.

Way intended to file. She had a good credit card. However, the software did not work. She should be allowed to file now.

Elections officials said they couldn't find a problem and that the filing process worked for more than 400 candidates.

First, this position is naive. Having used and written software in my job for 30 years, I can point to several instances where good, well-tested software that had run for hundreds, even thousands, of cases failed when it should have run.

The filing software takes the inputs from the calling computer, puts it in a database, matches against other databases and then writes a final report. An error in any step in this complex process would cause rejection.

Honest software developers will admit there is no such thing as demonstrably bug-free software. Successful use of the filing software on 400 cases doesn't show there are no bugs but that there are no frequently occurring bugs.

Second, any failure should be investigated -- not merely dismissed -- in order to identify the cause and fix it. Failure to investigate this software problem is irresponsible.

-- Chris Eggen, Shoreline

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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