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Ohio Sues Over Missing Electronic Votes 341

Posted by timothy
from the oh-it-was-only-a-few-votes dept.
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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Ohio Sues Over Missing Electronic Votes

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  • Punitive Damages (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ExileOnHoth (53325) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @06:50PM (#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.

    • by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @06:55PM (#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.

      • by Nimey (114278) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @06:58PM (#24518219) Homepage Journal

        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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ardipithecus (985280)
          As a matter of fact Ohio gave the election to Bush. There were numerous other irregularities.
          • Re:Punitive Damages (Score:5, Informative)

            by Sparky McGruff (747313) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @08:50PM (#24519407)
            It's not a bug, it's a feature. [rollingstone.com]
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by corbettw (214229)

            Which is irrelevant at this point. No one's going to go back and run the election again. We can punish the people behind it, and if that chain leads up to Rove or Bush or Cheney, then punish them for their part in it.

            The important thing now is to make sure it doesn't happen again. Either go strictly with paper ballots, or go with a completely Open Source system with no Internet access (and only limited networking among the machines), and only allow election workers to insert and remove the data cards that t

          • Of the counties mentioned where votes were dropped, Cuyahoga (Cleveland area) is overwhelmingly Democratic. Butler (Cincinnati suburbs) and Montgomery (Dayton), OTOH, are much more Republican.

            What we need is an Open Inspections of Electronic Voting Machines Act which would require that any citizen be allowed to inspect the software and security process/procedures used in any electronic voting machine. The manufacturer would still be allowed to copyright the software so that competitors could not copy it.
        • by Original Replica (908688) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:55PM (#24519983) Journal
          In modern American politics, it's not about being right so much as it is about winning, about defeating the other team.

          That's because the two "teams" aren't different enough ideologically to make it about anything other than winning. Regardless of who wins this next election: the government will grow larger, the nanny state will increase, the Bill of Rights will be chipped slowly away, wealth will become more concentrated, the US will meddle in the affairs of other sovereign nations, public education will decline in quality, police forces will become more militant, incarceration rates will remain the highest in the industrialized world, and the failed War on Drugs will continue. All of these are problems that have spanned both Republican and Democratic power in both the Whitehouse and Congress. But the powers in those parties have already agreed on that direction for the country and options on those issues will not be offered to the American people.

          sidenote: Because they also agree that "one man-one vote" will never go away, third parties are rendered moot.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Mike610544 (578872)
            That's an excellent summary of things that neither party will fix. The problem is that the alternatives are just as bad. The Green Party or the Libertarians or the Constitution Party would address 80% of those problems effectively but they always have to tack on a few batshit crazy things that (rightfully) scare away their potential supporters. I'd like to see some people elected who can solve the real problems without the impractical ideology.
            • I'd like to see some people elected who can solve the real problems without the impractical ideology.

              I have to agree with what you say. Even I consider my party leaders to be nuts.

              Of course, I consider myself a libertarian mostly on four points:

              Government budgets should be balanced - on the federal level by cutting spending, not increasing taxes
              Guns should be legal(but regulated for safety - IE carrying is legal, brandishing/discharge in an unsafe manner is not; self defense encouraged)
              Drugs & Prostit

      • by stinerman (812158)

        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

        • by ksd1337 (1029386) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:20PM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tthomas48 (180798) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:19PM (#24518475) Homepage

        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by negRo_slim (636783)

          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            I have often wondered who's genius idea it was to award the voting machines to a private company.

            They are awarded by the local Secretary of State, on a state-by-state basis. Trouble is, once the contract is awarded by a Republican Sec'y of State, and big money is spent, it makes it harder for the Democratic Sec'y of State that takes office (after the Republican Sec'y of State gets indicted) to throw the filthy machines out and start over. What happens is, Diebold (or whomever) swears on a stack of bibles

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by langelgjm (860756)
              Here's my question. Presumably, those voting machines have to go through a procurement process just like any other government purchase (typically the cutoff is $25k for competitive bids, I believe). Now, if enough governments (state and local) specified in their invitations for bids that they wanted auditable, open-source, etc. machines, you'd think that some manufacturer would step up to the plate. After all, who else is buying the damn things other than the government?
          • by Leebert (1694) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @11:36PM (#24520613)

            Now the question is why wasn't the design delegated to MIT or NASA

            Dude, I'm a NASA contractor. You really don't want NASA to code your voting machine, unless you want it implemented as a scary FORTRAN program... :)

        • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @08:35PM (#24519241)
          Even if you took away all of Bush's votes in Ohio (almost 3 million, or 4.6% of his total), he still would have defeated Kerry in the national popular vote. So ultimately, this controversy over Ohio doesn't really change who should have won the 2004 Presidency - if there were irregularities which gave Ohio to Bush, it merely had the effect of making the Electoral vote match the popular vote. Quite different from the situation in 2000 where Bush lost the popular vote but won the Electoral vote based on a controversial count in Florida. So any partisanship in the controversy over Ohio really doesn't matter - the will of the people won out. Let's just drop it and instead focus on the braindead design of the machines and possible criminal behavior by the CEO of Diebold.
          • by Genom (3868) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @08:46PM (#24519365)

            If it happened in Ohio, how can we be sure it didn't happen elsewhere? Since there are no records, we can't.

            How do the numbers change if we apply this same logic to each state where these machines were used?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by corbettw (214229)

            Who cares about the popular vote?? That has never, not once, mattered in this country when electing the president. The ONLY thing that matters is the electoral college; and if Kerry had carried Ohio, he would've won the election.

            That said, it's impossible to know how many, if any, of Bush's votes were due to voting machine errors. So it's kind of pointless to dwell on it. Better to learn from the experience, and use a system with better checks and balances in it.

          • by zsau (266209) <slashdot.thecartographers@net> on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:35PM (#24519831) Homepage Journal

            You've been modded insightful, but you're plain wrong. The game has very high stakes and so it has strict rules. It must be played by the rules — even if today we think the rules are not right any more. If that's the case, we can change the rules until they reflect our current standards, but you can't say: "Well, the rules weren't followed properly, but we got the result I think is more proper, so we ignore the rules".

            In 2000 Bush won because someone said "well, let's stop playing the game now and whoever's in front, wins". That's not right. In 2004, Bush might've won because someone said "let's make sure Bush wins Ohio, even if he's not supposed to". Neither of those are the right way to play the game — there's thousands of reasons for that, and one of the most important is that it's divisive. If everyone agrees that the winners won fair and square — then, well the losers might reckon every else is dumb, or that the winners didn't play fair in the campaign, but at least the system works. They go home and lick their wounds and say "aren't they such meanies?" until they decide they want to begin fighting the next election. If there's any reason to believe your team was cheated, you won't forget this easily. And you must not. (In the end, the right thing to do in 2000 was probably for Bush to win, even though Gore won the popular vote; that or invalidate the election results and hold a new election in Florida with ballots designed according to a national standard that is demonstrably easy to read and follow, and with such novel voting tools as pens — things that are not black boxes and not likely to fail without the voter understanding that.)

            You cannot drop this. Giving the election to the team you thought has a moral justification for winning, in spite of not winning based on the rules, is a step on the road to totalitarianism. The rules must be followed and the must reflect moral justifications that the general public upholds.

            I also think I should point out that whether or not winning the national popular vote is the entitling criteria to winning the election is a matter of opinion. Many people honestly believe that votes should be weighted according to some standard (like states or land area, to give isolated people a bigger vote). Some people honestly believe that the best government can only occur when someone was born and brought up to be ruler from their youth. I myself think any system that doesn't result in me being the indisputable overlord of the whole world is flawed. So this is another reason why the question of national popular vote is completely irrelevant

            You are allowed to say: "The rules are bad. We must fix the rules." But you cannot say: "The rules are bad. We must ignore them." The first election after the system switches from an electoral collage to a single popular electorate, then a team can claim victory solely on the basis of the popular vote. Until that day, there are no excuses.

            (And to fairly disclose my bias: I'm not American, and I think Bush was a horrible mistake and I wish he'd never been elected. But more than that I want rules to be followed.)

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I'd give you modpoints if I had any. Just because some people think the electoral college system sucks doesn't mean they should just ignore it. Personally I think it's a good idea in the way it was conceived, but now it's just an imperfect proxy for the popular vote. The founders had originally intended for the vote to eventually go to the House because they felt Congress was most qualified to choose the president. They didn't really account for parties and tickets though, which completely throw off their p
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by zsau (266209)

                My karma's high enough that I'd rather the reply anyway :) I'm not keen on so much power going to one person. If I were to reform the United States, I'd begin by dissolving it. Not down to the level of states, but three or four independent federations. I don't have anything necessarily against the idea of selection by popular vote (well, as long as I'm the only candidate), but selecting a person as powerful as the President of the United States is by popular vote gives them even more power in the form of a

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  Haha, yeah. The thing is the president was never intended to have so much power, and the Legislative was supposed to be the dominant branch. Of course that kind of goes out the window when parties and career politicians come around, especially recently where everything seems to be divided across sharp party lines, and with the whole either with us or against us mentality.
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by TheRaven64 (641858)

                  Disclaimer: I'm not an American, but I've studied US politics (although not for quite a few years).

                  The original idea of the president was twofold. He was meant to act as a check on the power of congress - having a veto meant he could prevent populist legislation passing. Fear of 'tyranny of the majority' was a large influence on the design of the Federal Government. The president was not directly elected; each state would send some representatives to D.C. every few years and they would select a presiden

                • I'm slightly different, in that if I were to reform the USA, I'd simply take away quite a bit of the power of the federal government. Leave it somewhere between where it is now and about where the EU is now.

                  For example - I'd give the senate back to the state legislators. That ensures that senators are beholden to the state they come from. I believe that this would tend to act to preserve state powers, limiting federal ones.

                  I'd also create a 'house of repeals'. Their job is to balance the budget(by slash

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:25PM (#24518549) Journal

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

        • by samkass (174571) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @08:25PM (#24519165) Homepage Journal

          I'm against the death penalty, but if I were for it I can think of few crimes worse than tampering with our system of government. Enough men and women have died to create it and uphold it that I feel it's at least as bad a crime as murder. Prison sentences and fines seem pretty petty compared to the integrity of our nation.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:36PM (#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.

      • by civilizedINTENSITY (45686) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:41PM (#24518735)
        It is not partisan to go after the crooks, even if the crime leads to the GOP leadership.
      • Re:Punitive Damages (Score:5, Informative)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday August 07, 2008 @08:44PM (#24519339) Homepage Journal

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

        You have got to be kidding me. You do understand that the CEO of the company that makes the voting machines has given his assurance, in public, to do everything he can to help the Republican Party. You do understand that in the last 3 election cycles, the Republican party has done everything it can to limit the number of voters registered and actually prevented voters from casting their ballot. They've gone so far as to use robocalling to tell voters that the polling place address has changed, or that people will lose their government assistance if they show up to vote, or that there will warrant checks on everyone voting. They tell US Citizens of Hispanic descent that their citizenship status may be reviewed if they show up at the polling place. All of these things have been documented.

        In Florida, 150,000 new voter registrations were "lost" by the Republican secretary of state. There are instance after instance of examples of the Republicans doing everything in their power to screw up our electoral system. Go read about the lawsuit of the State of California vs. Diebold. And where all of those games have failed, they are not above simply fucking with the machines, in the dark of night, when no Democratic or Independent election judges are present (see the 2004 Georgia Gubernatorial election where 4 hours after the poll closed, the Democrat had a commanding lead, and somehow, after midnight, with only the GOP election commissioner present, an additional 60,000 Republican votes were "found" in the voting machines. Go read about Florida, 2000.

        This issue is partisan as hell, because today's Republican party knows that their only chance at winning is to game the system. They are as hostile to democracy as any tinpot dictator.

        I have gotten spam emails about how Barack Obama is responsible, personally for killing some 30-plus people (some of those names are on a similar list attributed to Bill Clinton's homicidal hand). I have gotten emails about how Barack Obama is a secret muslim who was actually born in Indonesia (or Kenya, or Nigeria, or Malaysia). I have gotten emails about how Barack Obama is the motherfucking antichrist.

        Now tell me about how you're "hoping this issue does not become partisan".

        I'm not questioning your sincerity, LaskoVortex, but your awareness of the state and integrity of one of our political parties seems to come up a bit short. Believe me, there are worse things in a democratic nation that "partisanship".

    • Re:Punitive Damages (Score:5, Informative)

      by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:28PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Stephen Ma (163056) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @08:11PM (#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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by noidentity (188756)

        The machines in question were delivered in the last year, and the only elections we're so far aware they've affected were purely local ones.

        There, fixed that for you.

      • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @08:30PM (#24519199) Journal

        ... 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.

        You don't know that they didn't affect the elections. The miscounts THAT WERE VISIBLE may have been corrected. But that doesn't prove they aren't just the tip of an iceberg - like the mismatch of a few cents in an accounting ledger that may point to multiple errors that nearly canceled - in THAT check - while shorting one account by a bunch and boosting another by almost the same amount.

        The tiny difference tell you something's wrong. They aren't necessarily the ONLY thing that is wrong. And if something else is wrong it may be wrong by a LOT.

    • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:33PM (#24518645) Homepage

      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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fugue (4373)
        Shooting them is barbaric. The People prefer Madame la Guillotine.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @08:36PM (#24519247) Journal

      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.

      The American People MAY have been harmed and MAY have standing to sue. But that's a hard sell in court.

      The State of Ohio HAS been harmed and DOES have standing to sue. (And they decided to do it. Oh, Goodie!)

  • They were all for Bush, imagine that!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      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.

      • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:28PM (#24518583) Journal

        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.

  • End to End (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linzeal (197905) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @06:50PM (#24518103) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gat0r30y (957941) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @06:53PM (#24518139) Homepage Journal
      But then how do we steal elections easily and without a trail?
    • Re:End to End (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ethanol (176321) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:00PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:17PM (#24518455) Homepage

        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 (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TeacherOfHeroes (892498) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:48PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by OctaviusIII (969957)

          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 peopl

      • 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.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      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.

    • by fugue (4373) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:46PM (#24518783) Homepage
      ...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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @06:51PM (#24518107)
    Maybe a couple charges of treason should be thrown in as well. Electoral fraud. Coup coup d'état. Indecent exposure.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nimey (114278)

      Hangings. This country needs some hanged politicians.

  • Antivirus software (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nimey (114278) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @06:56PM (#24518199) Homepage Journal

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

    • by thermian (1267986) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:02PM (#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.

      • by Nimey (114278) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:11PM (#24518403) Homepage Journal

        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.

        • by Jose (15075)

          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dbIII (701233)

            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. The

        • 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

      • by Eggplant62 (120514) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:15PM (#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.

      • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:40PM (#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.
    • by neokushan (932374)

      What about embedded windows?

    • by nawcom (941663) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:03PM (#24518291) Homepage

      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

    • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:06PM (#24518335) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • by Nimey (114278) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:22PM (#24518501) Homepage Journal

        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mitreya (579078)
          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 Diebo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dbIII (701233)
        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.
      • by corsec67 (627446)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by D-Cypell (446534)

          "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!!

  • by davidwr (791652) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:00PM (#24518247) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by neokushan (932374) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:07PM (#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.

  • 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 syst

  • Punitive damages.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:10PM (#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?

    • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @08:35PM (#24519239)
      If you assign punitive damages to a vote, aren't you then assigning a value to said vote?

      No. If you assign actual damages, then you are placing a value on the vote. Punitive damages are just that, punishment, regardless of the value of the loss.

      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.

      I can't sell my life (either to someone that would want to kill me for sport, or for slavery). Yet the government has put a value on human life. It's a couple million dollars. So you can value something that can't be sold. Just because it's statutorially illegal to sell something doesn't mean it doesn't have value. Prostitution is sale of something that is illegal to sell (except in Nevada), yet people manage to agree on a price for that all the time.
  • Premier Election Systems (previously known as Diebold)

    So their systems are for electing incumbent Premiers?

  • 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 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by l2718 (514756) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:14PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:20PM (#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. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:29PM (#24518599) Homepage

    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.

  • 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.

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:46PM (#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.

  • by Mr. Sketch (111112) <mister,sketch&gmail,com> on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:47PM (#24518787)

    Diebold has already accidentally leaked the results:
    http://www.theonion.com/content/video/diebold_accidentally_leaks [theonion.com]

  • by Gregb05 (754217) <bakergo@NOspam.gmail.com> on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:57PM (#24518905) Journal
    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.
  • by s7uar7 (746699) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @08:19PM (#24519139) Homepage
    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?
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:44PM (#24519903) Journal
    Karl Rove is about to be indicted for playing with the ohio election. [themoderatevoice.com] Of course, in the end, my guess is that if this proceeds too fast, or if McCain gets in, it will not matter. Either W or McCain will pardon Rove. After all, the pub party ALWAYS comes before the nation or morality.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:45PM (#24519915) Homepage Journal

    Maybe this entire goddamn decade has been nothing but a Y2K bug in some virtual reality demo at some rave, jammed on "bummer" the whole time.

    Can I get a reboot?

  • Stealing America (Score:4, Informative)

    by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray@becker[ ]legal.com ['man' in gap]> on Thursday August 07, 2008 @11:34PM (#24520595) Homepage Journal
    A good movie which deals in part with some of the shenanigans that go on in Ohio is Stealing America : Vote by Vote [stealingam...emovie.org] by Dorothy Fadiman.
  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jandersen (462034) on Friday August 08, 2008 @01:59AM (#24521375)

    One thing I still haven't seen anything like an explanation of is this: How is it possible to have any, let alone that many, technical and programmatic problems with something so conceptually simple? I mean, we are not talking about a control system for a Mars lander, or the entire Oracle database, or even a simple accounting application. This is a simple enough task: verify the user's eligibility to vote, accept a vote, save a log entry, send results to server. I bet I could make this work in a week in any language, up to and including Intercal. One would have to go out of one's way to create a transmission problem that would lose votes.

    So perhaps the answer is that somebody has gone out of their way to make something that looks like a faulty system, so the result of elections could be manipulated under the cover of "technical difficulties". Or are they just criminally incompetent?

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead

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