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Ohio Sues Over Missing Electronic Votes

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the oh-it-was-only-a-few-votes dept.

The Courts 341

dstates writes "The Columbus Post Dispatch reports that the State of Ohio is suing Premier Election Systems (previously known as Diebold) over malfunctions in electronic voting machines. Election workers found that votes were 'dropped' in at least 11 counties when memory cards were uploaded to computer servers. The same voting machines are used nationwide. The company blames a conflict between their software and antivirus software for the problem and says that an advisory was issued on the subject. The Ohio lawsuit contends that the company made false representations and failed to live up to contractual obligations and seeks punitive damages."

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Punitive Damages (4, Interesting)

ExileOnHoth (53325) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518091)

If these machines affected the outcome of the election, perhaps it is the American people (and the people of Iraq) who should be seeking punitive damages from Diebold.

Re:Punitive Damages (5, Insightful)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518175)

perhaps is is the American people (and the people of Iraq) who should be seeking punitive damages from Diebold.

I'm hoping that this issue does not become partisan. Many people are unhappy about the outcome of some recent elections, but I think anyone, no matter what their political leanings, should be patently against black box electronic voting. These machines can be abused by either party.

Re:Punitive Damages (4, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518219)

Oh, this will be partisanized. In modern American politics, it's not about being right so much as it is about winning, about defeating the other team.

If it turns out that this benefited one party, the other will attack and the benefiting party will stonewall.

Re:Punitive Damages (3, Informative)

Ardipithecus (985280) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518569)

As a matter of fact Ohio gave the election to Bush. There were numerous other irregularities.

Hail Eris, full of mischief (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518699)

Hail Eris, full of mischief...

Hail Discordia, I mean Dieboldia!

Re:Punitive Damages (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518309)

Of course it's partisan. SoS Brunner is a Democrat, so the Republicans are forced to take the other side of the debate (that the machines aren't perfect, big whoop).

The best thing about the "nothing is perfect argument" is that these machines didn't do the most important thing that they are supposed to do. I mean, I can understand some problems with UI designs or touch screen calibration, but there is no excuse for failing to properly tabulate votes. Did all their programmers miss the day in class where they taught the increment operator?

To use a car analogy, these machines are the equivalent of a bunch of cars that won't start. The Republicans' answer is to talk about how great the AC works.

Re:Punitive Damages (4, Funny)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518481)

The Republicans' answer is to talk about how great the AC works.

Anonymous cowards don't work, they spend all their time trolling on Slashdot!

Re:Punitive Damages (4, Interesting)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518475)

I agree that the issue of blackbox voting machines should not be made into a partisan issue. On the other hand the issue of Diebold voting machines being a partisan issue was cemented when the CEO of Diebold said in a fundraising letter that he was committed to delvering Ohio for President Bush. It may have been the most ridiculously stupid comment ever, but it definitely had the effect of making the issue partisan.

Re:Punitive Damages (2, Interesting)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518873)

when the CEO of Diebold said in a fundraising letter that he was committed to delvering Ohio for President Bush.

I have often wondered who's genius idea it was to award the voting machines to a private company. I'm against them myself, but here they are. Now the question is why wasn't the design delegated to MIT or NASA or some other organization that could provide some degree of transparency, exemplary technical expertise, and not have a profit to worry about.

Re:Punitive Damages (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24519135)

Why make it non profit? You can't get people to give you money if you can't give them no bid awards for services not rendered...

Re:Punitive Damages (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518549)

I'm thinking that regardless of partisan issues, I think long prison sentences and company-destroying fines for Diebold are in order

This situation was partisan from the start. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518679)

I'm hoping that this issue does not become partisan.

The CEO of the Diebold was a die-hard partisan, and a top fundraiser for a partisan candiate. We all remember the quote where he "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes" to the partisan candidate. And if by magic, election fraud allegedly helped the partisan candidate win the tightly contested election in Ohio.

These machines can be abused by either party.

Sure. Both parties may do it. The point is, the machines WERE abused by one of the parties. The machines are one problem. The abuse is a second problem. Since there is no audit trail, not even fair-minded, non-partisan individuals can audit the election result. How ironic. And partisan.

This situation was partisan from the start.

Re:Punitive Damages (5, Insightful)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518735)

It is not partisan to go after the crooks, even if the crime leads to the GOP leadership.

Re:Punitive Damages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518995)

These machines can be abused by either party.

Excuse the sarcasm, but that pretty much sums up the "leading democracy". Two parties which agree 99% of the time and if someone doesn't play by the rules the argument is that the other side would have done the same if they were in the same position. I would just sit back and enjoy if it wasn't for the fact that your party system brings up the leaders of the most powerful nation of the world, whose actions have impact all over the globe.

Re:Punitive Damages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518411)

Finally. Somebody has found the price of liberty, free speech, and democracy.

What would that number be, by the way?

Re:Punitive Damages (5, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518579)

f these machines affected the outcome of the election, perhaps it is the American people (and the people of Iraq) who should be seeking punitive damages from Diebold.

Didn't RTFA, I see. The machines in question were delivered in the last year, and the only elections they've affected were purely local ones.

And they didn't even affect them, since the miscounts were noticed and corrected from the paper audit trail built into the system.

Just starting out (4, Insightful)

Stephen Ma (163056) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519057)

This is clearly just the start. Ohio seems to have a slam dunk case against Diebold/Premier with regard to the newer machines. If Ohio wins this one, anti-Diebold suspicions become much more credible, and you can expect a deeper investigation into the company's role in the probably stolen 2004 election.

PRES? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518581)

PRemier Election Systems?

(captcha: disobey)

Re:Punitive Damages (5, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518645)

perhaps it is the American people (and the people of Iraq) who should be seeking punitive damages from Diebold.

Having the executives stood up against a wall and shot would seem to be the appropriate punitive award. Free elections are...were...the foundation of this country. Deliberately undermining the basis of our democracy would be...should be...the very definition of treason.

Re:Punitive Damages (2, Informative)

fugue (4373) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518731)

Shooting them is barbaric. The People prefer Madame la Guillotine.

Re:Punitive Damages (1)

lee1026 (876806) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519049)

However, if you ever bothered to read the constitution, you would find a definition of treason, and it does not agree with you.

Re:Punitive Damages (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518869)

If these machines affected the outcome of the election, perhaps it is the American people (and the people of Iraq) who should be seeking punitive damages from Diebold.

Are (financial) punitive damages enough?
Compromising the integrity of our elections process ought to qualify as treason.

Diebold Found Em! (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518101)

They were all for Bush, imagine that!

Re:Diebold Found Em! (2, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518131)

The company blames a conflict between their software and antivirus software for the problem...

Yeah, the antivirus software kept deleting Diebold's Republican-favoring trojans.

Re:Diebold Found Em! (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518583)

Indeed, something doesn't sit well with me about that explanation....

One might reasonably ask why one would need to run anti-virus software on what should be a completely isolated network of computers that should never be in any way connected to anything resembling a public network. One might reasonably ask why an antivirus program would interfere with a network connection. One might reasonably ask how the authors of a piece of software could be so inept that they would fail to report such a failure to the operators in an understandable fashion, particularly on something so fundamentally critical to the operation of a democracy.

As much as I believe the adage that one shouldn't attribute malice where incompetence would suffice, the more reports of fundamental flaws in their software I hear, the harder it is for me to conceive of a team of actual software engineers who could be that inept.

Some voting systems use cell phone based data (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519099)

Some voting systems use cell phone based data modems.

End to End (5, Insightful)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518103)

For fuck's sake, can we just use an open source solution [punchscan.org] or build a better one already? This should be OSS's moment to shine because amongst us there are the ideas, talent and skills to make a system that for all purposes is more secure, transparent and robust than what is currently on offer from Diebold or any other proprietary vendor.

Re:End to End (3, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518139)

But then how do we steal elections easily and without a trail?

Re:End to End (4, Insightful)

Ethanol (176321) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518245)

I have an open source solution. How about marking pieces of paper with a pen, and then having teams of human beings count them?

It's okay with me for election results to take an extra day or two if they wide open and monitored at every level by volunteers.

I love high tech as much as the next geek, but high tech solutions aren't always the best ones. (Especially when they're applied to problems that aren't technical but political)

Re:End to End (5, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518455)

You might be OK with the extra day or so, but will the TV news folks allow it?

You see, if they don't announce a winner before midnight Eastern time then nobody will watch that station the next election. This means losses of millions in ad revenue. So, they are going to announce a winner before midnight Eastern time. Period. It is going to happen.

Now in 2000 they announced before midnight Eastern time that Gore won. Millions of people went to bed believing "their man" had won the election. Come morning they found out that somehow, through some mysterious process after actually counting votes that Gore was no longer the winner. Even though he was announced as the winner the night before - based on exit polls and trends. So "obviously" the election was stolen by the evil Bush.

You want to see the result should this happen again? It is almost a dead certainty of it happening unless all the votes are really counted before midnight Eastern time. You understand that this gives California less than three hours to submit their vote totals, right?

Two choices: electronic voting or revolution. Pick one. See if you can guess which the current crop of politicians will pick. Or the next crop of politicians. They understand what is at stake.

Re:End to End (4, Interesting)

TeacherOfHeroes (892498) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518805)

We use this exact pen and paper system in Canada, and TV stations are usually able to make a pretty good prediction by midnight as to who will win. The next morning, the newspaper headlines almost always confirm what the tv stations were predicting the night before.

Re:End to End (3, Insightful)

OctaviusIII (969957) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518819)

Two choices: electronic voting or revolution. Pick one.

What? Does that actually make sense to you, or are you just saying things that sound iconoclastic? Plenty of politicians want a voting system that is accountable and quick, and those are not mutually exclusive. Witness the California Secretary of State - an elected official - slamming electronic voting machines earlier this year. Or the states that haven't had much trouble as far as electronic voting goes. Or Nebraska's nonpartisan legislature.

Our system is not nearly as stultified or ossified as people enjoy thinking it is. Calling for accountability actually does work. Just because the Governor isn't calling up someone you know for advice doesn't mean the government isn't considering your issue, nor does it mean advocacy is powerless against the Establishment. Deal with it.

Re:End to End (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518623)

The problem here is it IS a technical problem. This kind of thing should be where computers SHINE.

The only thing holding them back is incompetence. My guess would be purposeful incompetence.

Vote-counting fast doesn't require technology (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518851)

Vote-counting fast without a ton of effort requires technology.

If you had a team of 10,000,000 million vote-counters and 20,000,000 watchers, you could have a Presidential election tally that was well within 1% of the final numbers within 2-3 hours easy. How?

Divide ballots into stacks of 20 or so. Tally up just the Presidential race on those stacks of 20. Have 1 watcher from each major party sign off on the count. This should take maybe 5-10 minutes max if there are no spoiled or unclear ballots.

Once you get the totals for each group of 20 ballots, then get precinct- or centralized-counting-location totals. Assuming 400 votes per precinct this shouldn't take more than 5 minutes past the last batch-count. Even with large precincts or centralized counting at county election HQ, you can do a completely manual count within 5-10 minutes of the final batch. Again, for each total, representatives from each party sign off.

Once you have those numbers, you fax them to state election headquarters then have someone there write down the numbers in words ("Two Thousand Twenty votes for Bush, Two Thousand Nineteen votes for Gore"), signed by representatives of all major parties, and fax it back to you. The local reps re-sign this and fax it back. The state should have a total within 5-10 minutes of getting the last one.

If there are unclear ballots, count them as "TBD" and report them as such.

Within 2-3 hours, each state would have a very clear count of "Candidate A," "Candidate B," and "unclear" votes for President, all using early-1980s technology.

Adding tech doesn't make the job faster or more accurate, it makes it take less people for the same desired level of speed and accuracy.

Re:End to End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518673)

Congratulations!!!
You have discovered how the Mexican elections works, and the results are mostly defined by midnight the same day of the elections, even if the official results take a few day to be validated. It works pretty well, but even with all the transparency that brings using mostly volunteers, there can be frauds, like the last presidential election, where the results were defined by such a small margin that it was well inside the error margin, but the Federal Elections Institute validated the elections and dismissed all the irregularities anyway and refused a vote recount, even if it still possible to do it, because the original ballots are kept safe. So no system is perfect.

Re:End to End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518827)

In these discussions somebody always comes up with that suggestion, maybe adding the observation that France and Canada do it that way. Their elections aren't like ours. They elect a party for Parliament and maybe a local mayor but that's about it. Our ballots ask dozens of questions, for all sorts of offices and ballot propositions, bond issues etc. that parliamentary countries leave to their MP's. Both approaches to democracy are valid, but one of them leads to much more complicated elections that really have to be counted by machine.

Re:End to End (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518841)

Reminds me of the false anecdote that while NASA spent millions of dollars developing a pen that worked in zero-g, the russians had an elegant solution: pencils.

Re:End to End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24519071)

The only tangible benefit I see of using computers is that it makes it cheap to count ballots in the context of proportional representation and, particularly, cumulative voting (which allows voters to choose more than one candidate, which they rank by preference -- see Wikipedia for more). This allows smaller parties to emerge into public view and allows people to express their real preference, while avoiding "wasted votes". But I can imagine that it's also a real drag (and error prone) to count the votes by hand with such a system.

Nonetheless, I can't imagine using computers in a non-transparent manner as has been the case with Diebold. Voters should at least have the choice of using paper so they can also "vote" on how they feel about electronic voting.

Re:End to End (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518265)

Hey, that's pretty awesome. Finally, a system that aims to give the voter a way to verify their vote online, yet is aware of the importance of secret ballots.

Re:End to End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518303)

Open source does not solve the problem. No matter how open everything is, what assurance do I have that that is what's actually inside the machine when it runs on election day.

As far as I know, it's all executing inside a virtual machine that behaves correctly until someone enters "execute code orange" on the keyboard (substitute whatever input dev you want) which is trapped by some chip made in China, and only then does the bad code start running.

A paper ballot (voter verified audit trail) is the only solution. The machine cannot be trusted, no matter how open it is.

Re:End to End (4, Funny)

fugue (4373) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518783)

...until we tried to decide whether it would be based on KDE or Gnome. It would of course come to a vote, run by an impartial committee of QT developers, and we'd never quite figure out why there were more votes for KDE than there are Linux users.

Treason (4, Insightful)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518107)

Maybe a couple charges of treason should be thrown in as well. Electoral fraud. Coup coup d'état. Indecent exposure.

Re:Treason (2, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518233)

Hangings. This country needs some hanged politicians.

21st century American political hangings (4, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518881)

The last politician to be hanged in America was Florida's own Rep. Chad.

Re:Treason (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518251)

So, you're for imprisoning the Governor of Washington state?

You know, keep recounting heavily Democratic King County until the Dem is in the lead, then stop?

Then again, you could demonstrate some class and concern for what a bitter election battle would do to the country. You know, like Richard Nixon did in 1960 when Kennedy $$$ bought the election through fraud in Illinois and other states.

Naaah, you'll just live in your fantasy world where election fraud is a Republican problem, and there are not Democratic precincts in Philadelphia that would have 99% turnout with 99.5% margin for Dems.

Re:Treason (2, Informative)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519141)

"you'll just live in your fantasy world where election fraud is a Republican problem"

Voter Fraud Charges Out West GOP Group Under Investigation In Oregon; Similar Charges In Nevada: 'Officials in Oregon have launched a criminal investigation after receiving numerous complaints that a Republican-affiliated group was destroying registration forms filed by Democratic voters statewide'

Karl Rove's big election-fraud hoax Republican manipulation of the polls long predates the U.S. attorneys plot:'At least part of the U.S. attorneys plot seems to derive from the "election fraud" hoax that Republicans are trying to perpetrate in order to gain control of the country's voter lists.' '...leaflets in African-American neighborhoods warning that voters must pay outstanding traffic tickets before voting; the calls in Virginia in 2006 from the mythical "Virginia Election Commission" warning voters they would be arrested if they showed up at the polls...'

Was the 2004 Election Stolen? Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted:

'something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)'

For those who would say, "But that was way back then, we got away with that crime (hehehe)", in recent news this is only now coming to a head:
lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, announced that he is filing a motion to "lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election." This is only beginning to surface.

So, in terms of your "fantasy" comment, please wake up and smell the coffee. This isn't your standard, small scale "oops" sort of behavior. This is historically unprecedented, and apparently federally orchestrated. This has the potential to make Watergate look as mild as Watergate made Blowjob-gate look.

I 2nd that motion! (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519131)

A treasonous attack on a republic is not the same as an attack on the Monarch (or the monarch's property; the USA is founded on this sort of 'treason'.)

No clear cut physical assaults on some person are necessary. Treason in a republic involves UNDERMINING THE SYSTEM OF REPRESENTATION! This clearly is a case of this. Since the USA (did) have a constitution, deliberate assault on it is also treason.

Treason (in this form of government) is not spy games or even assassination; often those are opposition to policies or groups and not the system itself or its constitutional foundation.

Punitive damages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518145)

Like what? Getting a do-over for the last eight years?

Antivirus software (3, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518199)

Who was fuckwitted enough to think using Windows on voting machines was a good idea? Nothing wrong with using an embedded appliance.

Re:Antivirus software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518253)

but all of diebolds products are on windows systems.

should make you feel good next time you vist the atm.

cute that they decided to change their name for the voteing division.

such a shitty company

It has nothing to do with Windows (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518281)

Oh please, Windows is the reason it went wrong?

No, the reason it failed is because it is a bad product.

I've used Windows and Linux software, as have many people here, and believe me, I've seen great and crap software on both platforms. Writing for non windows platforms doesn't infer some magical 'excellence' to code.

Re:It has nothing to do with Windows (1)

iztehsux (1339985) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518323)

Should have used Qbasic to write all the code.

Re:It has nothing to do with Windows (4, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518403)

You missed the subject "antivirus software", dipshit. A decent embedded appliance doesn't need to worry about viruses or shitty antivirus programs.

This looks more and more like Diebold were deliberately incompetent in order to have plausible deniability.

Re:It has nothing to do with Windows (1)

Jose (15075) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518591)

it sounds a lot more like the AV software was on the "servers"

FTA: she said an investigation showed that votes in at least 11 counties were "dropped" in recent elections when memory cards were uploaded to computer servers.

the voting appliances themselves wouldn't actually run windows.

Re:It has nothing to do with Windows (2, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518845)

the voting appliances themselves wouldn't actually run windows.

In a situation where only competant people were involved that would be so. Unfortunately that was not the case and these things run a fullblown desktop version of MS Windows. We could buy a pile of voting machines that work properly from India for the price of one of these things. For their national election they went for a lot of simple, cheap machines that have a fairly low maximum count per machine to reduce the consequences of fraud. There is no network link to compromise on those machines. They get returned like ballot boxes and counted independantly. For fraud to be effective it would mean stealing a lot of those machines. With the Diebold system fraud could be very effective from one machine or even complete control from the server - a truly stupid design choice.

Re:It has nothing to do with Windows (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518745)

But he said a conflict was identified involving the company's software and virus-protection software. A product advisory was issued in May, but Brunner said her office still is reviewing that explanation.

The votes have to be tallied internally (which may go from each v-machine to a main hub), then sent off to the main electoral college or main precinct, the machines themselves may or may not have a virus-scanner, but I bet that the main node(s) that they connect to does, cause it probably all gets tossed in an Excel sheet or some bullshit.

And embedded voting machines or not, im sure whatever that node is running, likely needs a firewall (AKA a "virus scanner" to most people - think about the potential, and obvious focal of attack), so I wouldnt doubt it if that machine(s) thought it was under attack (due to poor setup) and blocked the incoming messages/packets/etc for X amount of minutes or something, by the time someone noticed, the fancy little pop-up window vanished, it was logged, and the voting machines were stacked up and hauled off.

Just sayin' embedded might not be the answer... "dipshit".

Re:It has nothing to do with Windows (3, Interesting)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518435)

The one thing that I've never seen Linux do that Windows does extremely well is propagate viruses.

Again, why Windows? Why the worst of the worst of the worst???

Antivirus program conflict, my ass.

Re:It has nothing to do with Windows (5, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518725)

The point has been missed here that Windows XP, Vista or whatever is entirely the wrong choice - just as a full Fedora installation would be. Windows CE or similar would be a different story as would an embedded linux. What we have here is vast amounts of needless expense and complexity which may make a demo quick to produce but in the long run gives you an unreliable and expensive machine. The things really are nothing but a demo, and ridiculously easy to turn into a rigged demo. I think it is very likely that bribery was involved in winning the contracts.

Re:Antivirus software (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518285)

What about embedded windows?

Re:Antivirus software (4, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518291)

I find the concept of a voting machine needing virus protection hilarious. Desktop anti-virus protection is the last thing you think a voting machine would need; pretty much explains what a shitty concept these (specific) machines are. I can't wait to use these pieces of shit next election:

Select ONE:

(a) John McCain

(b) Barack Obama

(c) GIANT PENIS POPPING PILLS GAIN 2 INCHES SATISFY LOVER

Re:Antivirus software (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518931)

Sadly -- and perhaps deservedly -- President Lover would be elected by the widest margin in history.

Re:Antivirus software (5, Interesting)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518335)

As someone who has had a couple of contracts working with Diebold, it wasn't only Windows, but Windows, VB6, and an Access database. I wish I were joking.

Re:Antivirus software (4, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518501)

It's like they're allergic to using actual professional-grade tools. I'd suppose deliberate incompetence, but tell me this first: do they use those tools on their ATMs, when there's actual money at stake?

Re:Antivirus software (1, Informative)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518885)

It's like they're allergic to using actual professional-grade tools. I'd suppose deliberate incompetence, but tell me this first: do they use those tools on their ATMs, when there's actual money at stake?

No. They use OS/2 (seriously) on many legacy machines and the software is very custom. Is it any good? Well, probably not... But you'll never know, because you can't ever, ever, EVER see the code. It's kept very secure.

If you ever get the pleasure of booting an ATM machine, look for the nice OS/2 logo splash screen. :)

Re:Antivirus software (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519055)

I saw a recent Diebold ATM machine in a semi-crashed state once. IIRC, it was running Windows 2000, but I wouldn't be surprised if the older ones still ran OS/2. Newer ones reportedly run XP. No idea if any of them run Vista yet.

Re:Antivirus software (2, Interesting)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518949)

It is a well known fact that ATM machines produced by Diebold are highly reliable. They are capable of producing a product when they are held responsible for things going wrong. Apparently banks insist on secure and flawless ATMs. Imagine that.

I am thrilled to hear that at least some places are trying to demand reliability and/or punitive damages. Last I heard in other places, they were going to scrap the faulty systems and replace them by someone else, effectively pouring millions of dollars into Diebold for a crap product.

Re:Antivirus software (2, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518609)

Wow - holding things together with the most expensive brown paper and string they could find. No wonder they are doing an Andersons and changing their name to hide from past shame.

Re:Antivirus software (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518833)

I have herd about the Access thing before.

Every election I keep expecting a virus that changes the values randomly in Access databases.

If that didn't expose how fragile our voting system is, I don't know what would.

"And all voting results are in question as any votes cast on Diebold voting machines aren't being counted correctly", in the news this year?

Or would "Garfield" win the election, again?

Re:Antivirus software (2, Insightful)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519065)

"Every election I keep expecting a virus that changes the values randomly in Access databases.

If that didn't expose how fragile our voting system is, I don't know what would."

Ok... are you guys thinking what I'm thinking? Cowboy Neal '08!!

I vote for leniency! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518207)

...oh wait, did my vote get counted?

Antivirus software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518231)

Why in the world are they running antivirus software on these things? they are not connected to the internet and are only *allowed* to run software authorized by the manufacture. If they are suggesting that there security is that weak there is no way the should be used in elections.

Re:Antivirus software? (1)

harp2812 (891875) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518349)

I'm guessing the AV was on the server that the data was being uploaded to... which were probably networked, and have a good chance of being connected to the internet, if only for being able to download updates & patches.

Re:Antivirus software? (1)

harp2812 (891875) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518389)

Sorry for replying to myself...

Since these servers & data would be a lucrative target for a worm, virus, malware, etc... it's probably also a good idea to have AV on the servers & storage systems just in case... although since most AV isn't proactive and just scans for signatures, I'd be a little suspicious of their effectiveness.

I can't wait for the results of the trial (5, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518247)

COLUMBUS - In a decision that surprised nobody, a 6-man 6-woman jury voted 11-0 with no abstentions in favor of the plaintiffs. Testimony on damages resumes next week.

WINDOWS (1)

kipman725 (1248126) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518271)

"antivirus software" the election machines or the counting machine is running windows. Raise the charges to high treason.

Maybe this is just stating the obvious... (4, Interesting)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518347)

But shouldn't there be a law against tampering with elections? Like....a really really really serious, potentially company-destroying law?
The kind of law that would have fines and penalties so great, diebold is sent to the brink of bankruptcy and it's CEO's are all incarcerated?
Maybe that's a little extreme sounding to some, but when you consider that the very foundations your country was built on are at stake, you have to take a tough stand.
I certainly don't agree with the death penalty or anything like that, but I do think this should be a matter of the utmost importance.

Re:Maybe this is just stating the obvious... (5, Insightful)

D'Sphitz (699604) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518509)

Doesn't sound unreasonable to me, considering this kid could face prison [cnn.com] for selling a single vote. That seems pretty hypocritical considering the debacle that is our election system, but hey at least it makes them look like they give a damn.

Re:Maybe this is just stating the obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518663)

incinerated? :)

Re:Maybe this is just stating the obvious... (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518737)

>But shouldn't there be a law against tampering with elections?

Yes, and since it is a concern for the state government your state's legislature can place any penalty on the crime.
It is not a federal concern.

It might come as a shock to you that your state's legislature actually has the authority to choose electors without even considering the outcome of at-large elections. Sometimes I think that would be better.

Re:Maybe this is just stating the obvious... (1)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519019)

Yes, there should.

Even people who hand out these contracts should be incarcerated. They must be getting bribes. It seems a rather normal occurrence - some security expert finds a horrendous gaping flaw in voting machines or shady irregularities are reported. Conclusion: everything is denied, and then flaws become undeniable the machines are scrapped; for paper ballots or for a new set of machines. Whatever happened to holding people who provide these responsible? Like in every other business? Even vending machine vendor would be held responsible if their machine didn't work. Why are flaws in the voting machines treated as a natural disaster - unavoidable and apparently no one's fault?

Re:Maybe this is just stating the obvious... (1)

gznork26 (1195943) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519033)

Even if there was a really, really serious law that could be brought to bear against the company, it would still be a meaningless gesture. For all that corporations have wanted the full rights of citizenship -- beyond equating money with speech -- they can't be punished in any meaningful way. If you pin the crime on the managers, or the employees, the company will still go on doing the same thing. But what if you could execute a company for committing murder, or incarcerate it for crimes like this? How would you go about implementing that incarceration? I took a stab at that in a serious of short stories. The first story in the series was about the first corporate execution. Faced with an unknown future, the head of the second company to be tried tried to head the case off before it began. The second story, "Full Circle", starts like this:

Edward Reese, 62 and a tad too well-fed, wrinkled his nose at the smell of the badly cleaned kitchenette in the motel room he'd just checked into. He didn't even want to think about what might be living in the mattresses. "Well," he grumbled, "at least I won't have to sleep in this dump."

He glanced at the ancient clock-radio on the night stand. Five-thirteen. About right for a five o'clock meeting, except that there had been nobody to walk in on. Re-aiming the bulky remote laying on the room's small table, he switched on the TV news, and sat down to wait. He hated waiting for anyone, especially people he considered beneath his station.

"...in the pending grand theft case against lodging and food-services conglomerate, Fremont-Wayfarer. The Honorable Wilfred Clary, who had presided over the murder trial of the now-defunct Consolidated Communications Corporation, has been assigned to the case. According to our legal analyst, the precedent set in the Supreme Court's SandHill Realty decision, which granted..."

There was a knock at the door. Reese turned off the news.

The whole story, and the rest of the series, is here:
http://klurgsheld.wordpress.com/2007/09/01/short-story-full-circle/ [wordpress.com] ...and that's just a taste of what's there.

P. Orin Zack

Auditing (1)

sfcat (872532) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518351)

Public systems like this should be auditable just like accounts and trusts held for the public. I think votes are at least as valuable as dollars. But then again, we lost $8 billion in Iraq and don't know where it went. So maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

But somehow I just can't justify not using an OpenSource package for voting because the commercial solutions simply haven't done the job. The auditing aspect alone should require and OpenSource solution due to the need to track the behavior of the system. BTW, India seems to be able to make this work, but somehow we can't. Sigh...

There is one good thing that will come out of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518381)

If these punitive damages are awarded, then we'll finally get to know how much a vote is worth.

Punitive damages.. (3, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518387)

If you assign punitive damages to a vote, aren't you then assigning a value to said vote? Since it's illegal to sell your vote to begin with, what good is it to assign a value to something you cannot sell in the first place.

If you can't sell or buy something, does it have value? Is it priceless or worthless?

Re:Punitive damages.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518675)

What was bought and sold was democracy. To get the value of democracy, subtract the value of Zimbabwe from the value of Belgium, scale up per-capita to fit the USA and there's your punitive damages.

Oh, what a giveaway! (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518395)

Premier Election Systems (previously known as Diebold)

So their systems are for electing incumbent Premiers?

I wish someone would please tell me... (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518417)

Why is it that the operating system on Dibold's computer *not* immune from virus attacks and needs antivirus software???

This is what happens when you run mission-critical operations on a Fisher-Price operating system. I won't name names.

Too much variability (2, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518425)

Certainly voting technology should be open-source, cryptographically signed etc. But this is not the point. No matter where the software and hardware come from, there must be a unique certified official configuration, well ahead of the election. Ideally, there should be a way to prove that a given piece of hardware is in the certified configuration.

If there is adverse interaction between Diebold's software and the anti-virus software then the certified configuration should not have included the anti-virus software. Alternatively, once this was discovered. Diebold should have certified a new configuration (without the A/V) and removed the A/V product from the computers. In any case local authorities should not be in charge of making changes to the configuration, or installing software on their own (e.g. choosing the correct A/V product). To the customer, all components of the voting system should behave like black-box appliances -- not like general-purpose computers (independently of the underlying implementation).

What? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518483)

Election workers found that votes were 'dropped' in at least 11 counties when memory cards were uploaded to computer servers. The same voting machines are used nationwide. The company blames a conflict between their software and antivirus software for the problem and says that an advisory was issued on the subject.

Ok, if you are buying computers to be used as election machines why would you even run an antivirus? There should be no way a virus could even touch the install. Don't connect it to the internet, and think twice before even networking it. Don't have a single USB port on it, no CD ROM drive, card reader, whatever. And no HDs. What they should really have is an open source BIOS (such as Linux BIOS) booting Linux or another OSS OS, which logs into a user that only has rights to use one program, and that is the only program installed. Preferably, the data should be stored on a Compact Flash card for fast booting which would have double or triple redundancy over multiple cards.

Done deal, sorry. (2, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518599)

Electronic voting is FAST. Fast to get results. Some folks would be just as happy with results announced after a few days. Sorry, that isn't the climate in the US. You see, the TV News programs are going to announce a winner by midnight Eastern time. They have to. If they do not, nobody will watch their election results the next election and they lose millions (maybe billions) in ad revenue. Therefore it is a foregone conclusion they are going to announce a winner. And it will be by midnight Eastern time.

This was done in 2000. CBS announced Gore as the winner just before midnight Eastern time. Lots of folks went to bed knowing "their man" had won the election. Turns out, CBS was basing their "winner" declaration on exit polls and trends - just like they all do and have been doing since the beginning of such things. Only this time they were wrong. People woke up Wednesday morning and found out that somehow, after actually counting the votes, their man didn't win at all. Obviously the election had been stolen by the evil Bush.

Well, in 2008 if the counting isn't completed by midnight the TV News folks are going to announce someone as the winner. Maybe they are right, maybe not. Do you want to be around if McCain is announced as the winner early and it turns out Obama gets the nod two days later? Or, worse, Obama is announced early and McCain turns out to really have won. I see burning cities in November should that come to pass.

Another thing: with the elections running 50.0001% vs. 49.9999% counting individual votes becomes extremely important. We are way, way past the point where the accuracy of hand counting will lead to consistent results. Every count by hand is going to deliver different results because the accuracy is maybe 0.5% This has no effect when the difference is 10% of the vote. It changes the outcome when the difference is less than 0.5% of the vote total. Hand counting isn't going to get better than 0.5%, no matter what anyone does. There are people involved and that is just a limit on their abilities. So how many recounts do we go through and when does someone (like the Supreme Court) say to stop?

At this point in the US paper ballots might as well be exchanged for flipping a coin. Same outcome. I suppose paper ballots would feel a little better.

Anyone actually buying this excuse? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24518629)

Wow, is there actually anyone buying this excuse? As if a voting system would not also send the grand total as a checksum. It would be immediately clear that something is wrong, as it should. Anti-virus programs or even a virus-infested recipient system should NOT interfere with the actual process. There should be a safe protocol that verifies that the information is sent and received correctly. Seriously, if voting machines can be compromised this easily, then that strongly reinforces the demand for a paper trail. Just have the machines print out a ballot (which should not contain a barcode, just have the voting information), have the voter check to see if it corresponds with his or her preferences and put it in a container. Then count those votes, by machine if you insist, but have them on hand for a recount by hand. Citizens can then challenge the voting tallies and see their votes recounted manually. There is nothing more important than the right to vote, it should not be this easy to lose votes somewhere in the process...

The penalty should be as follows (2, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518721)

Amount of increased national debt (2008 National Debt - 2000 National Debt)

plus

Widow's and orphans benefits and social security payouts for soldiers dead in Iraq

times Ohio's population (2000)

divided by US total population (2000)

And then TREBLE DAMAGES.

Because that's how much it cost us.

Thank God my state uses mail-in permanent absentee optical scan paper ballots and only uses electronic ballots for disabled and/or elderly voters.

A family friend is part of an ohio watchdog list.. (3, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518779)

A family friend of mine is part of an ohio voter watchdog mailing list.

The MSM has at best mentioned it in passing, but senior diebold officials with heavy connections to the republican party were left alone to perform "patches" on the voting machines which, aside from eye witnesses at the time, went entirely unlogged, and which were entirely unsupervised.

Shortly after, the 2004 presidential elections took place.

Ok, a question I've been meaning to ask for awhile (2, Interesting)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518791)

For starters, I may be a dual citizen (US/CDN) but I do not live in the US and have not had the pleasure to deal with such devices. Here it's all pen and paper and people tallying the votes at the end of the day.
I completely understand the need and want of the voter to have his/her vote cast confidentially. But my biggest wonder, if you want this to be accurate, why not get a receipt from the machine when you're done voting, with say a unique serial-type number on the bottom (not like a counter since someone could watch and figure out who was #42, for the completely paranoid). So the machine would register that you have voted, and that say #55828034 Voted for X but the two would not be associated. Then when the results are uploaded/downloaded/processed you would have a list of people that voted and a separate list of #'s with vote results. Then have a 'secure' government website which you could punch your unique # into and make sure that it matches what you intended to vote. If not there should be a 'contest vote' option to say go to a government office, prove your identity and have your vote changed and possibly the system reviewed (depending on the percentage of error).

Ok, that idea got away with me haha but I hope you get my drift.

!columbuspostdispatch (2, Interesting)

Gregb05 (754217) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518905)

There is no Columbus Post Dispatch. It is the Columbus Dispatch.
It says "Columbus Dispatch" on the fucking byline.
It says "Columbus Dispatch" on the publications' title.
It says "Columbus Dispatch" on the URL. [columbusdispatch.com]

Cite your fucking sources properly.

ummm. (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#24518947)

The company blames a conflict between their software and antivirus software for the problem and says that an advisory was issued on the subject.

So, the anti-virus found the hacked wormy software on the memory cards that helped the republicans cheat and disabled access to that card?

seems like something worked as it should.

This is not new. Unfortunately. (1)

Ash1138 (1340637) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519121)

Anyone who is interested in this topic owes it to themselves to seek out and watch the documentary called "Hacking Democracy" by HBO Films.

How Do They Certify The Machines? (3, Insightful)

s7uar7 (746699) | more than 5 years ago | (#24519139)

If these PCs are running anti-virus software, how do they get certified? Do they certify a certain set of definitions and hope they don't get hit by a newer virus, or do they update the virus software after certification and hope there's nothing dodgy in the update? And even more importantly, what are these machines being used for that makes them susceptible to viruses?
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