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Diebold Admits Flaw In Voting Software

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the is-anyone-shocked dept.

Government 281

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "At a public hearing in California, Diebold's western region manager has admitted that the audit log system on current versions of Premier Election Solutions' (formerly Diebold's) electronic voting and tabulating systems — used in some 34 states across the nation — fails to record the wholesale deletion of ballots, even when ballots are deleted on the same day as an election. An election system's audit logs are meant to record all activity during the system's actual counting of ballots, so that later examiners may determine, with certainty, whether any fraudulent or mistaken activity had occurred during the count. Diebold's software fails to do that, as has recently been discovered by Election Integrity advocates in Humboldt County, CA, and then confirmed by the CA Secretary of State. The flaws, built into the system for more than a decade, are in serious violation of federal voting system certification standards."

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and who's going to CARE? (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249031)

The flaws, built into the system for more than a decade, are in serious violation of federal voting system certification standards.

Sure, you and I care, but who's the them that's going to DO anything?

Besides the obvious "toss them out on their arse", I'd like to see them heavily fined. And I mean like "we want a refund"

Re:and who's going to CARE? (4, Funny)

Moblaster (521614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249171)

The "them" will "do" what they can to steal an election here and there. And no refunds shall be due to you -- since of course you didn't get a receipt now, did ya?

There is a lot of talk, and little action. (5, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249945)

'The "them" will "do" what they can to steal an election here and there.'

That seems to be the correct interpretation, that the flaws are deliberate. If there were a few defects and they were corrected immediately, that could be accidental. But we've been discussing Diebold flaws for years. Most Slashdot readers, I'm guessing, would be fired for living with something so buggy.

Diebold changed the name [wikipedia.org] of its unit that sells voting hardware and software to Premier Election Solutions [premierelections.com] . Don't be confused; it's still Diebold.

Re:There is a lot of talk, and little action. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250123)

...it's still Diebold.

And Claria is still spyware

Re:and who's going to CARE? (5, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249305)

And I mean like "we want a refund"

Yeah! I want my eight years back!

Nader 2000

Re:and who's going to CARE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249369)

I want my eight years and 3 months back.

Browne 2000
Badnarik 2004
Baldwin 2008

Re:and who's going to CARE? (4, Interesting)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249311)

"we want a refund"

But the problem is that they probably have a EULA which excludes any damages in whatever form whatsoever (limited warranty). This would then require the invalidation of that clause, which then could be a devastating result for the software business as a whole. No software company wants to pay for any damage ever...

Re:and who's going to CARE? (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249913)

While probably true, I would like to believe that this is more of some company not playing by government regulations than the government not playing by some company's rules.

Re:and who's going to CARE? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249967)

there is consumer software and there is software for critical applications like
1. medical equipment
2. power plants
3. space missions
4. defense operations

which require very high standards. and even if they cost 10 times as much, you just can't use lower grade replacement there.

Re:and who's going to CARE? (4, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249323)

Well at least here in Cuyahoga County, Ohio we threw out the massively expensive and even more massively flawed Diebold systems and went with proven, reliable optical scan machines. I haven't heard anything about the board of elections trying to recoup some of the millions we spent on those things but I agree that they definitely should have sought compensation.

Re:and who's going to CARE? (5, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249679)

There are 4 boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order. Starting now.

And if your goal is the opposite, what is the order in which one removes these boxes from use?

Re:and who's going to CARE? (4, Insightful)

WNight (23683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250157)

Soap, ammo, jury, and leave ballot because it doesn't change anything anyways.

Re:and who's going to CARE? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250285)

Well at least here in Cuyahoga County, Ohio we threw out the massively expensive and even more massively flawed Diebold systems and went with proven, reliable optical scan machines.

In Florida they were switching optical scan machines to "silently ignore" mismarked ballots in contested locations, e.g. predominantly black precincts, and to "reject" mismarked ballots in precincts which could be counted on to come in Republican. I don't know if you've got the same kind, but that technology can be used against you as well.

Re:and who's going to CARE? (4, Interesting)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249475)

It's a shame your constitution defines treason so narrowly.

Re:and who's going to CARE? (2, Interesting)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250335)

No it isn't, believe me. This is bullshit. We walked into this on our own, staring right at it, refusing to see because it might jeopardize their favorite lizard's chances. Now, after doing nothing about it, the "victims" want revenge. Diebold, or whatever they call themselves, should lose their corporate charter, and the offenders fined from their personal accounts, and possibly future profits garnished also. Sweet and simple

Re:and who's going to CARE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250347)

Wait, you mean Obama isn't our real president?

Re:and who's going to CARE? (2, Funny)

ocularDeathRay (760450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249657)

Sure, you and I care, but who's the them that's going to DO anything?

I know, lets take a vote!....

ok, ok, everyone who wants to vote, open internet explorer and make sure that little padlock looking thing is showing...

Re:and who's going to CARE? (1)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250139)

I have thirty miles of paper and a thousand pens. Lets do this thing.

Re:and who's going to CARE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249731)

Sure, you and I care, but who's the them that's going to DO anything?

The metagovernment [metagovernment.org] . Governance through open source. And no voting machines at all.

Re:and who's going to CARE? (3, Interesting)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249807)

Declare all elections held using Diebold equipment null and void. See what happens then.

Re:and who's going to CARE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249911)

Bush wins the popular vote in 2000?

This explains everything... (1)

Grog6 (85859) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250133)

Bush getting elected makes complete sense now...

With the known remote exploits, having the system not log certain events, like clearing the log or maybe overwriting the earlier log, would allow an election to be stolen easily.

Of course, Obama is a lot more net-friendly...

Maybe he stole it back. :)

Umm, duh? (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249037)

These flaws have been reported in many mainstream press outlets, investigated by a half-dozen independent groups, and yet it was still cleared for use in state, county, and federal elections. Let's ignore Diebold for a minute -- I know plenty of other people here will (rightfully) hang them. This points to a major systemic flaw in our certification programs for voting machines. Period. End of discussion.

This isn't just Diebold. This is dozens of state, local, and federal agencies that abjectly failed in their duties to their constituents to protect the voting system. This is huge. Epic. I cannot stress enough the damage this has caused to the confidence in the system. Again, let's ignore Diebold and ask the really hard question -- Where do we go from here? Can e-voting systems be trusted? What changes need to be made to the system (and they better be major)? What do we do to restore voter confidence in a system that just got skinned, gutted, and mounted?

Re:Umm, duh? (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249123)

e-voting can not be trusted. Not at all.

Hell I can give you code that looks perfect, but then have the compiler put a backdoor in for me.

Computer science is not ready for this type of system to be used on a scale the size of a state.

Re:Umm, duh? (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249235)

Hell I can give you code that looks perfect, but then have the compiler put a backdoor in for me.

And then I could give you a processor that has a backdoor in it.

Re:Umm, duh? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249495)

Hell I can give you code that looks perfect, but then have the compiler put a backdoor in for me.

And then I could give you a processor that has a backdoor in it.

And then I could give you a election observer that has a backdoor in him/her.

Re:Umm, duh? (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249557)

And then I could use my software backdoor to change the results and blame it on your processor.

MUAHAhahaha...hum

Re:Umm, duh? (4, Funny)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249327)

Since paper voting -- given enough effort -- can also always be corrupted, we may as well go with the new, efficient tech. Where before people had to collude, hide, counterfeit or use some other elaborate scheme to throw an election, now all they have to do is:

DELETE * FROM VOTES WHERE CANDIDATE = 'OPPONENT';

Think of all the man-hours being saved.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249971)

Ha! My preferred candidate is named 'NEMESIS'!!!! My votes stay!!!!

NO! (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250153)

Paper voting is not perfect but the flaws are known. Electronic voting machines can be given different kinds of flaws from year to year... the long and short of it is, paper may not be perfect but it's a hell of a lot BETTER than electronic systems.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250307)

Since paper voting -- given enough effort -- can also always be corrupted

What good is a ballot, Mister Anderson, if you are not permitted to perform a recount?

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249777)

E-voting backed up by an auditable paper trail can be designed to be trusted. I agree that E-voting with no physical audit trail cannot be trusted at all. Your reference to the compiler backdoor scenario pointed out by Ken Thompson 25 years ago [albion.com] is also correct; thorough review of the source code is not sufficient to guarantee security.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249817)

e-voting can not be trusted. Not at all.
Hell I can give you code that looks perfect, but then have the compiler put a backdoor in for me.


Really? No voting machine can be trusted? So you fill them with disappearing ink so that the printed ballot from the electronic system will also get wiped?

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249881)

Possible solution:

Invent your own language and write a compiler for it in-house. Do not explain what it'll be used for. Doesn't matter if it's a crappy version of BASIC. Before getting any developers, choose a development environment and stick to it. A particular version of GCC for instance, and make sure to keep all that well checksummed to be sure there can't be any changes to the environment.

Once the compiler is built, hire programmers to make your vote counting application.

Explanation: It's very unlikely that a compiler you chose before starting development could effectively patch a compiler for a language that didn't exist when it was released. It's also very unlikely that this new compiler could patch an application that isn't written yet.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250019)

... And I could give you a corrupt poll official that seems honest, but isn't. Since votes seem to mostly not be recounted for accuracy [wheresthepaper.org] , it isn't too hard to imagine a ballot counter with an agenda.

I get your point though - the potential damage is far greater by compromising an automated system. My point is though, that almost nothing can be fully trusted.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250097)

First, I disagree. E-voting as implemented cannot be trusted at all, but that does not mean E-voting in general cannot be.

Let us take the simple case where every transaction is placed in a transaction journal. It is never erased from that journal, no matter what. You can "delete" as many times as you like, each delete is itself just a transaction that is logged. You now have a fix for the above problem, and indeed for any other problem to do with summing things up, as each vote is independently stored in the log, NEVER a total. Totals are calculated by replaying the transaction journal, they are never what the machine directly uses or processes.

Ok, but what about vote injection? That can be done via the backdoor you mention. Easy fix for that. PKI. Each voter has a registration card, right? So store a public key on it and have a dictionary of private keys on a remote machine. The compiler can insert all the backdoors it likes, if there's no private key on the remote vote tally system, the vote cannot be decrypted and therefore cannot affect the total.

Ok, what about backdoors which allow a hacker to directly delete data from main memory? Easy fix for that too. Never rely on the voting machine to be a file store. Each time a vote is cast, have it transmitted. In fact, if you really want, have it multicast. Anyone who wants to count the number of cast votes can then join the multicast group and count votes. They can't see who voted, they can't see who was voted for (it's still encrypted), but they CAN tell if the total number of votes sent to the multicast group is equal to the number of votes counted plus the number of votes rejected.

So far, so good. Now, what about making sure that votes aren't fraudulantly rejected? Easy. The private keys, when generated, can be duplicated and a spare set placed in a neutral archive. If there is a legal challenge, the duplicate keys can be removed from the archive and (a) compared with the keys used by the tally computer, and (b) used to decrypt the votes gathered. It doesn't matter who gathers the encrypted votes, so you can use the encrypted votes gathered by UN monitors if you really insist. The UN can't tamper with them any more than anyone else. The most they can do is randomly delete them, but since everyone has a copy of the encrypted votes (including all parties), this would be instantly open to legal challenge itself.

What about privacy in voting? Well, when the key pair is generated, simply split the pair. If there is no connection in any part of the system, after generation, to link the public key to the private key, nobody at all can tell who cast which vote.

(Well, technically the voter can tell, as they have their public key and know what vote they cast, so can re-generate the vote, re-encrypt it, and look to see if a vote posted over the network matches the vote that was re-calculated. But nobody else could do this, and given the time overheads, this could never be used to check up on voters to see who they voted for. It could only be used by voters themselves to ensure their vote was in the system.)

You don't have a "perfect" system after doing all that, but it's damn close to perfect, in that it meets the paper trail requirements, it is virtually impossible to add or remove votes without detection, retains anonymity, and yet is completely open to audit by anyone who feels like putting in the time and effort. There isn't a paper ballot system on the planet that can compare with that degree of integrity checking, and the basic paper ballot is one of the best systems ever devised.

Re:Umm, duh? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249133)

What do we do to restore voter confidence in a system that just got skinned, gutted, and mounted?

Skinning, gutting, and mounting those responsible for certifying these machines would be a good start.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

Compholio (770966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249389)

What do we do to restore voter confidence in a system that just got skinned, gutted, and mounted?

Skinning, gutting, and mounting those responsible for certifying these machines would be a good start.

We could probably get away with that if we convict them of treason.

Re:Umm, duh? (-1, Flamebait)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249717)

Hey, now. Even they deserve a fighting chance. Give 'em guns and drop 'em off in Iraq or Afghanistan for 8 years. The ones who survive get to come back home with full benefits and perhaps a well-deserved TBI.

Somewhat offtopic and risking flamewar, but I think that we should re-institute the draft. Not because I'm gung-ho about war(quite the opposite) but because Americans will pay a little more attention to things when their own asses are on the line.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

sirsnork (530512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249925)

Hasn't this whole Diebold thing proven your last statement completely false?

Draft (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249991)

Won't work. And I'm not talking about politically.

Current military doctrine relies on a highly trained, highly professional force. It's not just hand-the-guy-a-gun.

Draftees won't be able to fit in properly.

Re:Draft (1)

Drantin (569921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250371)

draftees didn't go to boot camp/basic training?

Re:Umm, duh? (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249509)

Skinning, gutting, and mounting those responsible for certifying these machines would be a good start.

The problem, as I see it, is that the certification process is a farce. The vendors who sell something sign that they meet the requirements. If "independent" testing is required, the vendor pays for that too, hiring "independent" testers to sign papers.

I.e. it's all based on trust. No, sir mayor, I can assure you that there's NO offal in our sausages!

Until the government people who make the requirement actually do QA testing themselves, without "assistance" from the vendors, the public is going to get scammed. And this will continue as long as we here in the US have a deep distrust for government, and rather would hire companies and corporations to do the job instead of hiring government workers at a decent pay. There are neither people nor funds for the local governments to do the job themselves, so they HAVE TO trust the vendors or their cronies.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250377)

Eeww, even dead I wouldn't want to mount those guys.

Re:Umm, duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249183)

Why aren't they prosecuted yet? There's evidence, witnesses, and a HUGE crime committed. Figure it out Mr. AG.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249227)

Again, let's ignore Diebold and ask the really hard question -- Where do we go from here?

Why is that a hard question?
Electronic voting is imminently desirable.
The only real problem is that the software is crap
and the people certifying the crap software have been doing a crap job.

The hard question is determining whether the certification process was marred by incompetence or willful/malicious blindness.
Either way, reforming the process isn't all that hard if you're willing to buck the mfgs.

Re:Umm, duh? (2, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249553)

Why is that a hard question? Electronic voting is imminently desirable.

Why? I have no desire for electronic voting.

I much prefer a simple, paper ballot. It is a physical object that can be counted and recounted. If there is a question of ballots being lost, simply count all the ballots and see if the number matches the number of ballots that were turned in. If there is a need to recount, you can go back to the original ballot and count it again.

AND I prefer elections to be run using polling places, where a voter goes to identify himself prior to voting, thus proving that he exists and has a right to vote. Where he casts a secret ballot with nobody looking over his shoulder. Where absentee ballots are provided to ONLY those who can prove they will be away and can't make it to the poll.

AND where the polling takes place during the same time everywhere the polls are open. For obvious reasons.

The only real problem is that the software is crap and the people certifying the crap software have been doing a crap job.

Crap job? Wasn't there a story not long ago about some precincts using OBSOLETE electronic voting software (Diebold, as I recall) with known problems? And that somehow this was Diebold's problem and fault? I remember it because I immediately thought "what would someone who reported a bug in gcc version 1.0 be told?" Would the gcc authors accept responsibility for fixing it, or would they laugh and say "dude, gcc 4 is out, update your ass."

Re:Umm, duh? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249229)

The old system (ballot boxes) could easily be gamed (stuffing, anyone?). Any system is subject to gaming at some level or another (from voter coercion or inducement all the way to crooked supervisors of election).

This is much ado about nothing -- well, it's about something: Slashdot longstanding hatred (and NY Country Lawyer's newfound hatred) of Diebold.

So why all of a sudden is NY Country Bumpkin so anti-Diebold. Has he perhaps found a pulpit here and a bunch of rabble-rabble-rabble sycophants to preach to? Yes he has.

Mod me down, but you know I'm onto something and the metamods will agree we me as well.

Re:Umm, duh? (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249493)

Canada uses paper ballots. Care to name the last time there was any evidence of ballot stuffing?

This claim of some major flaw in paper ballots is a load of horsecrap. It's been the line of inept goons like Diebold, and it's just plain false.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249957)

Canada uses paper ballots.

But down south they vote on like 80 different things at once.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250275)

We don't need to stuff ballots very often due to coalition governments http://www.mapleleafweb.com/features/coalition-governments-canada [mapleleafweb.com]

This doesn't really work in the case of a majority government. So in that case, we would have to resort to the US solution. I know a bunch of farmers with Enfields and 22s they got from SEARS 40 years ago don't seem like anything that could take over a government but keep in mind that this would be the Canadian government and that L'Arme Secrète is only useful in the case of US or Russian invasion.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

Kaboom13 (235759) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249239)

This points to a major systemic flaw in our certification programs for voting machines.

Our certification programs involve a supervisor of elections, some Diebold salesmen, and some "scholarship money" at the local strip club.

Re:Umm, duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249281)

abjectly failed in their duties

It's called, in one form or another, a waver. Critical systems have flaws. The flaws are acknowledged and handwaved by the powers that be with the understanding that while the flaw is significant and needs to be fixed, life must go on. Every non-trivial critical system in the history of our species has some notion of this, including every aircraft you've ever flown in, every power planet, every space launch of humans, most of the food you've ever eaten, etc. Grown-ups evaluate the risks, mitigate exposure and make a call.

The only difference is that election systems have been become, since 2000, the center of a conspiracy theory regime, and every discovery of a flaw in an election system has become an excuse to engage in hysteria. The grown-ups know this and have ceased paying much attention. So you go right ahead and enjoy your little drama. If you have any mod points you should note that this is anonymous so the best you can do is bury this deep; my karma is immune to your conniption fit.

Re:Umm, duh? (0)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249313)

Can they be trusted anymore than paper ballots? With those, all the loosing side has to do is keep pushing for more "recounts" until they win, ie Washington governorship a few years back.

Re:Umm, duh? (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249921)

lol. We have some retarded mods today. First point given is a "overrated". How is that possible when it hasnt even been rated?

Calling into question... (4, Interesting)

gznork26 (1195943) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249069)

...every election that these machines have been used for in each of those 34 states. If the machines should not have passed certification, and yet they were certified (were they?) then the agency doing the certification ought to be brought up on charges as well, and any OTHER systems that they certified ought to be open to question as well. This could get you dizzy.

---
Read my political short stories at http://klurgsheld.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]

Funny how they admit flaws (5, Funny)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249083)

when they lose the election.

Re:Funny how they admit flaws (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249137)

Funny how they admit flaws when they lose the election.

Why would they admit non-existent flaws when the machines correctly ignored the votes cast, and properly logged deletions when the machines were being watched?

Re:Funny how they admit flaws (1)

neurolux (1150083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249257)

The flaw is that they accidentally let Obama win.

Re:Funny how they admit flaws (1)

evolx10 (679412) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249899)

The flaw is that they accidentally let Obama win.

Only if Obama wasn't a tool from the same box as all the past pres', would it be a "flaw". Is Diebold still owned/run/silent parter- by a Bush family person? And they also have a good line of faulty ATM machines.

Re:Funny how they admit flaws (2, Funny)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249381)

What do you mean? They won.

American Idol (4, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249095)

We can vote with high confidence for American Idol but the guys who make our freaking ATM machines can't get it right? Maybe the American Idol guys should be making our ATM machines instead.

Up until the last election it seems that most Americans thought the election for American Idol was more important. I hope that the last election marked a change in this attitude. It'd be nice if we could avoid electing another idiot to high office... Aaah who am I kidding?

Re:American Idol (3, Informative)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249399)

Actually, we have no idea how fair or to what confidence level American Idol singers are voted on. We have nothing except what we're told by the producers.

Re:American Idol (1)

BigBuckHunter (722855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249655)

We can vote with high confidence for American Idol but the guys who make our freaking ATM machines can't get it right?

Wait.. You think that they actually count the votes for Idol? I was under the impression that they picked whoever had the highest network ratings and simply charged people $1 to 'feel' like they're voting.

BBH

Re:American Idol (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250219)

A few years ago on the Australian version of "Big Brother" a failure in the vote counting process resulted in them "evicting" the wrong person... the evictee went back in, the votes were recounted and the "right" person was evicted: here [abc.net.au] . The company involved - Legion - is also responsible for Australian Idol SMS voting.

All this resulted in more hype and publicity and advertising dollars for the show, of course.

Re:American Idol (1)

McGruber (1417641) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249865)

We can vote with high confidence for American Idol

That's because American Idol voters have a real choice to make.

Re:American Idol (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249969)

Out of curiosity, what makes you think we have high confidence on American Idol votes? I've never seen any kind of investigation of independent review of them, do you know something I don't?

Or are you just trying for some "shocking" example without worrying about if your example is even close to correct, much less relevant.

One Word: Scantron (4, Insightful)

indytx (825419) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249105)

We can all agree that punch cards are terrible, but there are other alternatives which are secure and accountable. Scantron ballots are used in Texas, and there's always a paper ballot trail of the actual vote in case of a ballot contest. I'm no Luddite, but I've never understood this rush to replace technology that works with the next big thing just because it's the next big thing.

Re:One Word: Scantron (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249209)

I'm a Humboldt County resident (where these machines were investigated). The machines with the flaw are the scantron-style voting machines that are built by Diebold. My understanding is that the flaw isn't in the vote collection, it's in the vote tabulation.

I agree with you though that it's nice that at least there is a paper trail to follow unlike with touchscreen voting.

Re:One Word: Scantron (2, Interesting)

mathx314 (1365325) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249359)

I realize no one method is going to be perfect for everyone, but Scantron is very bad for people like my father, who has crippling arthritis, and me, who has mild-but-occasionally-awful arthritis.

Re:One Word: Scantron (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249597)

Can't you get someone there to help you out?
Does it really matter if a person there designated to help people knows who you voted for? sure on a wide scale basis that can be bad.

Re:One Word: Scantron (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250365)

Most of those scanners will detect pen or pencil. Why not just mark it with a Marks-A-Lot or other similar wide-tip marker?

Re:One Word: Scantron (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249371)

Hear, Hear.

Touch screen voting is an overpriced, overly complex solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Mark original paper ballots, then count them by machine for speed. They remain as original, voter-marked, legal documents in case of a recount.

Re:One Word: Scantron (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249575)

Scantron: More then meets the eye.
I mean: Not anything more then meets the optical eye.

Re:One Word: Scantron (1)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249641)

These WERE optical scan ballots! The problems were in the counting system

Re:One Word: Scantron (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249685)

Scantron machines aren't a panacea for curing the ills of electronic voting. There are physical ballots which can be counted manually which is good for auditing, but most states have laws which specify the rules under which a physical recount can occur: evidence of election tampering, and a too-close-to-call election. With respect to the first scenario, a losing candidate will not get standing to have the courts order a recount unless there is evidence of election tampering. But in order to force the state to investigate election tampering you must first present the evidence of election tampering--Catch-22. In the second scenario of close elections, the actual scanned ballots aren't necessarily counted, but just the totals taken off of each scantron machine's tape are compared with the numbers uploaded to the tabulating servers. A scantron machine can still produce vote totals that do not match what the physical ballots show, and the tabulating servers can still be messed with, especially if the tabulating software has sucky/non-existent auditing capabilities like the Diebold versions.

What needs to happen are random statewide audits of various precincts by the state election board (handled by a neutral third-party accounting firm) to make sure that physical ballots match the machine tapes that match the totals uploaded to the tabulation servers. There's still too many weaknesses in the chain to make electronic voting a reliable alternative to pencil and paper.

I don't understand (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249131)

I don't understand how this companies electronic ballot boxes can be tolerated. Given the history of Diebold stories this announce doesn't surprise me. I'm sure there are plenty of other folks who aren't surprised. I'm damn near certain if there was public access to the code operating these machines then the faults would have been determined much earlier. Surely something is horribly horribly wrong here.

Does this acknowledgement mean that Diebold machines will be retired from service immediately? And, more importantly does it mean that the process which allowed these Diebold machines to be used in the first place will be reviewed?

Perhaps it will mean that the concept of using a machine where most voters don't understand it's workings will be viewed as unacceptable. I doubt it.

Democracy has become a bad parody of itself.

Rant ends.

Re:I don't understand (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249397)

Simple - a whole generation of voters have been brought up on Microsoft Windows computers and expect computers to be unreliable and error prone and don't care about it.

Ha! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249253)

It's funny, now that Bush is out of office it seems like all the old cronies that got him in there in the first place are practically tripping over themselves to admit their guilt all of a sudden.

Re:Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249595)

Mod the guy flamebait all you want, you know he's telling the truth.

Seems unlikely (3, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249287)

I know the whole don't attribute to malice what can be attributed to ignorance thing. But Diebold is an ATM maker, I find it hard to believe that they were this ignorant. I would think that an ATM would be a more complex device than a voting machine.

Re:Seems unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249347)

Maybe they've been skimming cash in their ATMs, and accidentally transferred the scamware over to the voting machines.

Re:Seems unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249769)

Their ATMs suck too.

I've seen it (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249329)

I used to work as a "Computer Audit Analyst" for the Florida Division of Elections, certifying voting systems for use in the State of Florida. Certification for Premier/Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia was pretty much a given, no matter the fact that their systems are complete shit and the certification process is a joke. Scan a few thousand ballots, have an independent testing lab review your source code, and you're good to go. Google "sequoia yellow button" to see what I mean.

Not to mention the attitudes of the folks who work there. They call people like me "activists" with a sour tone of voice, grudgingly fill public records requests, and the newly-built [2006] voting-systems lab was the size of a damn closet. Think the types of people who think F/OSS is so high-school students have something to tinker with.

Sadly, most American voters don't even think about the voting backend, and are wholly uninterested in the fact that three corporations have a legally-enforced triopoly in voting equipment, sell overpriced shit to the counties, and take legal action against anyone who finds security flaws in their systems.

They've admitted lots of flaws. (4, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249361)

Many of them have represented material breaches of public trust, and have uncovered dishonest development and business practices throughout their organization. Yet they're still selling voting systems to several states. Unbelievable.

Banned in Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249411)

The supreme court of Germany (Bundesverfassungsgericht) recently ruled that electronic voting machines are a violation of the constitutional openness requirement.

This is a joke (1)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249687)

I am not saying we shouldn't fix this problem, but what about a far greater problems that revolve around the fact that non-citizens are voting in US elections and union workers are voting twice in places like PA? Why don't we address bigger proven problems if we are to fix "potential problems" like this.

Re:This is a joke (2)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250433)

Because when a flawed machine counts the ballot, every vote tally is suspect, every vote may have been miscounted. This is a much bigger problem than the traditional methods of ballot-box stuffing, because the scope is so much wider.

It's not a bug; it's a feature! (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249697)

I'm much more worried that the Diebold system works exactly as designed, which is much more sinister than a "flaw" unexpectedly creeping into the software. I say the developers should either prove this wasn't intentional or go to jail for conspiracy to commit election fraud.

Re:It's not a bug; it's a feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250089)

Innocent until proven guilty?

Re:It's not a bug; it's a feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250269)

Plausible deniability... some big $$$
Rigged elections.... priceless

And these clowns also sold their wares internationally?

Re:It's not a bug; it's a feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250329)

I say the developers should either prove this wasn't intentional or go to jail for conspiracy to commit election fraud.

Unfortunately, we have that nasty little "innocent until proven guilty" thing.

Congratulations (1)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249701)

Really, everyone involved. Good Job.

It is all zeros and ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249715)

It has been my observation that there is an inverse relationship in having computer knowledge and the desire to have computerized voting.

The Diebold software is crap... (1)

fruviad (5032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249839)

...but the election officials will fight change tooth-and-nail.

Is it because they find it to be a valuable tool?

Is it because the technology does something that no other product or process can?

Or maybe because they get free stuff (i.e. bribes) from Diebold to stay where they are?

Nope. They just don't want to have to learn anything new.

Any change in the processes & technology will be achieved against the wishes of the election officials who should be working for our interests but instead are seeking the easiest path.

A (thankfully FORMER) elections official.

The time for action is past! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250151)

From the random quote at the bottom of the page when I read this thread:

"The time for action is past! Now is the time for senseless bickering."

Seemed appropriate.

slot machines (1)

ffuunnkkyyjj (1064220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250155)

Why is it that the consequences of making and/or tampering with electronic voting machines are non-existent while the consequences for putting unauthorized software on a Las Vegas slot machine are harsh? Is grandma's right to slowly lose money more important than the integrity of our elections?

Re:slot machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250187)

Why is it that the consequences of making and/or tampering with electronic voting machines are non-existent while the consequences for putting unauthorized software on a Las Vegas slot machine are harsh?

Is grandma's right to slowly lose money more important than the integrity of our elections?

The state makes a cut of the money from the gambling machines so of course they're very concerned with the correct operation of the gambling machines. Duh!

Seen on a bumper sticker: (2, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250185)

Ignore your rights and they'll go away

Diebold executives could be charged with:

  1. Violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  2. Graft.
  3. Obstruction of justice.
  4. Treason.

And this is just off the top of my head. But sadly, this isn't receiving the outrage it should, and I suspect the reason is because Americans have always been largely apathetic to things which didn't directly affect them.

We needn't worry about things like democratic process and the right to vote; if we ignore the problems long enough, we won't have to worry about election fairness, because there won't be any elections. This is how it starts, folks. For that reason alone, these guys should be charged with crimes.

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