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More E-Voting SNAFUs 301

tassii writes "Looks like Diebold is in yet more trouble. In this article from Wired.com, an audit of the Diebold E-Voting machines revealed that the company installed uncertified software in all 17 counties that use its electronic voting equipment. While 14 counties used software that had been qualified by federal authorities but not certified by state authorities, three counties, including Los Angeles, used software that had never been certified by the state or qualified by federal authorities for use in any election. And in this article, Wired.com is reporting that at least five convicted felons secured management positions at a Diebold, including one who served time in a Washington state correctional facility for stealing money and tampering with computer files in a scheme that 'involved a high degree of sophistication and planning.'"
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More E-Voting SNAFUs

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  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:41PM (#7773693) Homepage Journal

    from the article: "The core of our American democracy is the right to vote," Shelley said. "Implicit in that right is the notion that that vote be private, that vote be secure, and that vote be counted as it was intended when it was cast by the voter."

    In my thinking this should mean the source code should be opened to the public to ensure continued trust in the system. "Trust us, we're the government" doesn't carry any weight these days.
    • by k12linux ( 627320 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:50PM (#7773748)
      this should mean the source code should be opened to the public

      My thinking is that if the security can't withstand public scrutiny then it shouldn't be in use anyhow. Even if the source is secure, open disclosure is still needed. Without it, supporters of the losing side are always going to claim there was cheating or that the election was rigged... without public proof to the contrary.

      Open sourcing of the code is needed for public confidense if nothing else.

      • by grub ( 11606 )

        Open sourcing of the code is needed for public confidense if nothing else.

        Or at least a "dumbing down" of the system so Ma & Pa Kettle can understand it. Here in .ca we have paper votes, you mark an X in a circle next to the candidates name and you put it in the box. Representatives from all parties in that riding are there to witness the count after and, as a voter, I can stick around to witness the count myself (though I never have).
      • "Implicit in that right is the notion that that vote be private"

        Here in the UK all ballot papers for a specific election (eg MP, MEP, local councillor) have a unique number - so the ballot isn't technically secret. Electronic voting would need the same - having a unique number for each vote - and no duplicate numbers - to rule out the same person voting twice.
        • by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @02:10PM (#7774138)
          Electronic voting would need the same - having a unique number for each vote - and no duplicate numbers - to rule out the same person voting twice.

          Why would you need to have ballot serial numbers to prevent that? Strike a person's name off of the voter's list when he shows up to vote, hand him an unmarked ballot and let him go and vote. Done. He can't vote twice because his name has now been stroked off of the list.

          No serial numbers or ballot identification required.
          • by 56ker ( 566853 )
            "Why would you need to have ballot serial numbers to prevent that?"

            Well it provides a way that it can be checked which way somebody voted. However they don't strike a name off the voter's list - they just put a mark next to their name. If you are 16 or 17 you can't vote but are in the system in case you turn 18 just before an election. Once my brother (who wasn't 18 yet) was on the voter's list even though he didn't have a vote....

            The way voting works (in a polling station) in the UK is thus:-

            You go to t
          • Why would you need to have ballot serial numbers to prevent that? Strike a person's name off of the voter's list when he shows up to vote, hand him an unmarked ballot and let him go and vote. Done. He can't vote twice because his name has now been stroked off of the list.

            Erm... there's another reason ballots would need serial numbers. Politicians currently get access to voting records after elections. Yep, your anonymous vote is not really anonymous. It's only anonymous during the election, to prevent vot
            • by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <roystgnr&ticam,utexas,edu> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @05:51PM (#7775428) Homepage
              Politicians currently get access to voting records after elections. Yep, your anonymous vote is not really anonymous. It's only anonymous during the election, to prevent vote buying.

              Do you have any references for this? This is the first time I've heard of it. I'd also like to know who thinks it would prevent vote buying, since figuring out how to buy votes with such a system (e.g. pay half now, half when you can confirm the vote) seems so obvious.
        • Here in the UK all ballot papers for a specific election (eg MP, MEP, local councillor) have a unique number - so the ballot isn't technically secret. Electronic voting would need the same - having a unique number for each vote - and no duplicate numbers - to rule out the same person voting twice.

          Whooa! Are you sure the serial number isn't on a detachable stub that you tear-off from the ballot after showing it to the scrutineer before stuffiting in the box?

          This way, you have both anonymo

      • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @04:16PM (#7774863) Homepage Journal
        Seems to me that perhaps the Freedom Of Information Act is applicable, here. It has been used in the past to gain access to many other documents that were relevant to the public good.

        As for "Trust us, we're the government!" that's something the founding fathers would NEVER agree with, as they didn't completely trust the government they themselves were creating.
    • by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:59PM (#7773794) Homepage
      "Trust us, we're the government" doesn't carry any weight these days.

      Acually, it never did and it never will. In the case of democracy, the people must NEVER give in to government for voting systems that are not accountable, accurate and reliable. Diebold's #@$@ machines are none of the above.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:00PM (#7773810) Homepage
      In my thinking this should mean the source code should be opened to the public to ensure continued trust in the system.


      Looking at the source code would be interesting, but it shouldn't give you any confidence in the system. Even in the (practically unattainable) ideal case, where the code is thoroughly analyzed by all the experts and they all agree the code is correct... there is still no proof that the code everybody looked at is the code that will actually be running on the voting machines. Even if you stand over the Diebold employees and watch them compile the source code and install the resulting binary on the machine, you still don't know if that code is what will be running on the machine during the election [acm.org].


      The point is, having access to the (alleged) source code is no guarantee of accuracy. The only reliable guarantee of accuracy is having the system print out a paper receipt that the voter hand-verifies and turns in at the poll. Once you have that, the vote can be recounted by hand, if necessary, and any inaccuracies will be detected. Without that, no electronic system will ever be trustworthy.

      • by nehril ( 115874 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:17PM (#7773886)
        exactly. A car may have power-assisted brakes and steering, but the power systems are not required to be operational. they are nice to have and make life easier, but if they cut out you can rely on your own muscle to continue functioning in an emergency.

        So sure, go to electronic voting for fast initial tallies, clearer voter instructions etc, but definitely have your human-readable paper ballots as backups and for spot-checks.

        the stakes are so high in certain elections that fraud attempts are already commonplace and guaranteed.
        • I would say that the only gaurantee of accuracy is tht the process needs to be transparent enough for anyone to observe, understand, and validate.

          I don't think the "paper receipt" concept solves anything. The counting is still done ELECTRONICALLY. If the receipt is held by the voter, there is no practical way to go back and audit the election. Sure I can give the voter a form saying WHO they voted for, but any audit would require users bringing their receipts back. Somehow, I think they as likely to en
          • You miss one important point: voters need to verify their receipt, but cannot keep it. Remember the purpose of the seceret ballot is to make sure nobody can win elections by threatening harm against those who vote "wrong". With the seceret baallot if you are threatened you vote however you want and then claim you were one of the two people who voted for the guy doing the threat and everyone else is lieing.

            I think there should be a law (though it should never come into play) that if in court someone is as

        • by HiThere ( 15173 ) *
          FWIW: "Drive by wire" cars are currently being designed, and for all I know tested, and perhaps even sold. I'll grant you that they will be for the luxury market to start with...but don't count on the manual override staying around. Tried to roll down a window with the key out of the ignition recently?

      • You're focusing on how hard it is to show that there are
        "no" problems. You're ignoring the fact that we have a
        situation where there are extremely serious *known* problems
        that should be absolute showstoppers, yet there is still
        somehow, contraversy about what should be done.

        The Diebold exec who said out on the record that the
        company was committed to delivering the election to
        the republican candidate, ought to be in Guantanamo Bay right now getting his teeth checked.
        The company ought to ALREADY have been bar
      • Correct (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
        I think electronics should just be used to make things easier and clearer. Here is how I would envision a voting system:

        You come in and a touch screen given you a choice of language options. You then enter your information to confirm you are elegable to vote. The system then has you vote on everything that is of issue at the particular vote. When you're done, it shows you your choices and asks if you'd like to revise them. Once you are happy, it does two things:

        1) Submits your results electronically to th
    • by SpaceLifeForm ( 228190 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:02PM (#7773814)
      The source code should be open for another reason.

      Auditors couldn't examine eight machines in various counties because they failed to boot up when turned on. Another 12 machines were in the Diebold plant in McKinney, Texas, being repaired.

      Make them 'broke' so they can't be audited.
      Ship them out of state so they can't be audited.

      A great method to cover up a fixed election.

    • by whorfin ( 686885 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @03:00PM (#7774345)
      "Trust us, we're the government" doesn't carry any weight

      Actually, in this case it's not the government that we're being asked to trust. It's companies producing demonstrably untrustworthy products.

      Unlike many (apparently) on /., I don't fear government-backed vote rigging being more likely due to e-voting. There are plenty of examples of this using old techniques...Plus, taking advantage of this on a national scale would require a rather elaborate conspiracy, and I don't believe that the conspirators would trustworthy enough to keep quiet about it...

      As long as we have a multi-party system, instead of a single-party or 'power and opposition' system, allegations of rigged votes will get attention.

      And I know that this being /. that somebody will reply saying that Bush used the supreme court to steal his way to the presidency. However, perhaps you should read this article [cnn.com] before replying.
      • Plus, taking advantage of this on a national scale would require a rather elaborate conspiracy, and I don't believe that the conspirators would trustworthy enough to keep quiet about it...

        Under pain of poverty, yes they can keep quiet about it. Only one of the Florida conspirators has come fessed up about Florida erasing black folks from the roles under pretense of their being "felons".

        BTW, An official with ChoicePoint/DBT (the third party that did the role cleansing) mysteriously died in an aviation ac
      • You miss the point. Perhaps he would have won the recount, and perhaps not. But it was prevented by legal trickery of the supreme court.

        P.S.: The information needed to actually determine whether or not he would have won was sealed by court order. Studies that make estimates don't count as an adequate substitute.
  • No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbardell ( 677791 ) <jbardell86@@@yahoo...com> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:41PM (#7773694)
    Sometimes the most advanced and easiest way of doing something isn't the best. I'll take pen+paper sign-in and handle-pull voting machines, thank you very much.
    • by ArgumentBoy ( 669152 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:53PM (#7773770)
      I bet Mayor Daley is rolling over in his grave, regretting all the opportunities he missed by being born too early.
    • Re:No thanks (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gumbi west ( 610122 )
      The problem this system is that it disenfranchises disabled people. e-voting systems, for example, read to blind voters. Don't write this advantage off, most of us will be disabled as we grow older.
      • The problem this system is that it disenfranchises disabled people.

        No it doesn't. Traditional (reliable) paper-and-pencil ballots can be used by disabled people too.

        e-voting systems, for example, read to blind voters.

        Around here a blind or visually-impaired person can get a cardboard template that the paper ballot slips into. The template is marked in Braille with the names on the ballot and there are cut-out holes in the template where you are to mark your X.

        People with other disabilities can
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:44PM (#7773715) Homepage Journal
    So what exactly is the problem with the way the rest of the civilized world does elections? (i.e. pen and paper and counting by hand)

    It works, it has a paper-trail, any idiot understands the ballots, there are no hanging chads, and the entire voting system is entirely political and not commercia... oh, I see.
    • The problem with our current voting system is that most people are too lazy to even vote. If electronic systems were used instead, they wouldn't take as much space, nor would they need to assign voters to a specific polling place. Therefore they could plant voting machines all over the place to increase turnout. Plus the computers could offer info on the candidates so that voters have something to decide on besides political party.
      • by Liselle ( 684663 ) * <slashdot@l i s e l le.net> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:19PM (#7773897) Journal
        No, THAT'S not even a problem. Voter apathy isn't necessarily a bad thing: it can be a sign that people are content, and don't feel the need to change the status quo. Compelling people to vote, either by law or by fine, takes a little bit away from your freedom of choice. Making it easier for people to vote is fine, but not for the sake of shaking the tree to get more voters out of it.

        I see polititians getting on TV/radio and talking day-of election registration (hello kneee-jerk elections), or making Election Day a national holiday, etc... I think these people, like the folks behind e-voting, are trying to fix something that's not a problem to begin with.
        • by stewball ( 83006 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:57PM (#7774087)
          Actually, if you look at who wants more registration and who wants to make Election Day a national holiday (or, hell, moving it to a weekend day), it's pretty clear that the left wants more participation and easier voting, and the right wants more restrictions on registration and harder voting.

          The reasons are pretty straightforward -- people who are well off and have high-end salaried jobs are more likely to be able to get past registration barriers and to take time off from their weekday jobs (which are salaried, not hourly) to vote. By comparison, the less well-off are typically less educated and less likely to be able to take time to vote without a financial hit.

          Now, the interesting thing about all of this analysis is that it's kind of backwards, because, IIRC, the more education and (to a point) income someone has, the less likely they are to vote conservative, and vice versa. There's a distinct lack of class consciousness in America, probably because the right has been really good at playing to the emotions and non-economic beliefs of the lower economic classes, while really pursuing agendas destructive of their actual economic interests.
          ----------------
          • The reasons are pretty straightforward -- people who are well off and have high-end salaried jobs are more likely to be able to get past registration barriers and to take time off from their weekday jobs (which are salaried, not hourly) to vote. By comparison, the less well-off are typically less educated and less likely to be able to take time to vote without a financial hit.

            Now, the interesting thing about all of this analysis is that it's kind of backwards, because, IIRC, the more education and (to a
          • " Actually, if you look at who wants more registration and who wants to make Election Day a national holiday (or, hell, moving it to a weekend day), it's pretty clear that the left wants more participation and easier voting, and the right wants more restrictions on registration and harder voting."

            The answer is simple and obvious. Move election day to July 4th. There is no better way to celebrate your independence then to vote. It's already a holiday. It's summer time so it would be easier for the handicapp
            • There's a distinct lack of class consciousness in America, probably because the right has been really good at playing to the emotions and non-economic beliefs of the lower economic classes, while really pursuing agendas destructive of their actual economic interests.

            A demonstration of this. A little while ago I saw a bumper sticker encrusted mid eighties rustbucket of a Ford Escort - you know the type, cracked windows, muffler looks like it will fall off any second, dents, rust, blue smoke exhaust, sag

          • Well said. We have THREE national holidays dedicated to honoring those who died so we can practice democracy (Independence, Memorial, Veterans).

            We have ZERO holidays dedicated to practicing democracy (Election Day).

        • Voter apathy in many states, at least in the presidential election, can be directly attributed to the electorial college. In California during the last election, for example, I saw not a SINGLE campaign ad by a presidential candidate. Nader pressed a lot more flesh in the state, but without posters, radio ads, etc, what is the point? That the state was going to Gore was a foregone conclusion... one more vote doesn't actually count for anything.

          Get rid of the electorial college, re-engage the population
      • Lazyness is not always the problem. Some people are too poor to vote. If you work an hourly job and have to take mass transit to your registration/voting centers the two half days off work can make the cost simply too high. While some states have polling day registration or motor-voter laws, others explicitly make it hard to register if you are poor.

        Maybe we should bring the computer to people's houses. We could have mobile voting sites--vans with voting machines on them.

      • by Homology ( 639438 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:45PM (#7774029)
        The problem with our current voting system is that most people are too lazy to even vote.

        How arrogant, to think that just because people don't vote, they must lazy. How you concidered that many thinks that none of the candidate will have their best interests at heart? Or that the election is fixed in such a way that the "right" candidate is elected by use of gerrymandering, thus makeing my vote count less?

        There are many sick things with the election system, but lazy voters is not one of them.

    • Because the US has an inferiority complex and has to use gadgets and gizmos to "prove" we're "better" than everyone else.
    • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:46PM (#7774034)
      So what exactly is the problem with the way the rest of the civilized world does elections? (i.e. pen and paper and counting by hand)

      Old Wizard of Id cartoon:

      "Sire! The voting machines are broken!"

      "Well, can't they be fixed?"
      "No -- that's the problem."
    • The advantage of e-voting is that people who could not vote in private are able to use e-voting machines to have them, for example, read to the blind.

      For this we couuld have just a few e-voting machines at each electin site.

      However, E-voting also realizes, for the first time, "instant run off" voting where you rank the candidates. Then in a series of rounds (until someone has more than 50% of the vote) all the votes are tabulated and the lowest vote getter is thrown out. Then the people who had this perso

  • Why is it.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by instantkarma1 ( 234104 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:45PM (#7773718)
    That we hear about this from Wired, as opposed to CNN? MSNBC? New York Times? Washington Post? Fox News? (well, the last is a rheotical question).

    My point is, what does it take for the mainstream press to pick up on this?!?!?!?
    • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:56PM (#7773782) Homepage

      Bush to lose ?
    • Re:Why is it.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:58PM (#7773792) Homepage
      It takes people writing their newspapers and demanding the story.

      Pick up the phone and talk to the editor, then pick up a pen and write to the editor. Then get a half-dozen friends to do the same, and get them to get a half-dozen of their friends to do it, too.
    • Simple answer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by corebreech ( 469871 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:15PM (#7773875) Journal
      The point of the acquisition of media, or the concentration of media power, is to influence the electorate.

      And no greater influence can be held over the electorate than replacing them outright with programmable machines.

      So basically what you are asking for is to have the same people who aspire to control the electorate to call attention to their efforts at achieving even greater control over the electorate.

      It's just not going to happen.

      They see where America is going. They see the exodus of jobs going overseas that is to come (what we've seen to date is nothing), and they realize that the result will inevitably be the electorate veering hard to the left. And since they can take all their capital with them overseas that would be fine, except for one thing: the U.S. military.

      They can't simply cede America to a reactionary leftist because there's no telling what kind of retribution would be exacted.

      So they do this instead.
    • Because those media corporations, along with most of the newspapers and magazines in the country, have certain corporations with a fairly large voting interest. And those same corporations also have controlling interest of ES&S and Diebold, the two big e-voting machine firms that just happenen to be run by two brothers.

      What it takes to get them to report it is enough risk and backlash to make the bigger investors let them run the story, whatever Omaha World-Herald Company and the McCarthy Group say

    • Search on "Diebold" at news.google.com and you'll see a fairly decent number of mainstream outlets with this news. It's rarely on the front page, of course.
    • Re:Why is it.... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Polyhazard ( 730570 )
      I know this isn't exactly THE mainstream press, but the Sacremento Bee printed this article, [sacbee.com] which is fairly informative. It also makes someintersting comparisons to ATM machines to illustrate why these machines should be taken far more seriously.
    • They have [kron.com] - article came out shortly after the October 7th recall election in California.

    • It would require the bosses at these mega-corporations to care about something other than their bottom line.

      The system is delivering the change they want. President Bush is mowing down the laws protecting consumers from big business and big media. They are ALL pro-Bush and pro-Republican. Isn't it so cute how they all accuse themselves of having a "liberal" bias?????

  • by glomph ( 2644 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:48PM (#7773733) Homepage Journal
    Since the current government is committed to increasing efficiency wherever possible, the following plan will be pursued:

    1) Get 75,000 WinCE-based Diebold machines built (and paid for!)

    2) Send them to India and have lower-cost labour do the "voting"

    Makes stealing elections MUCH more cost-effective!
    • Sorry, but I can't resist.

      1) Get 75,000 WinCE-based Diebold machines built (and paid for!)

      2) ??? Send them to India and have lower-cost labour do the "voting"

      3) Makes stealing elections MUCH more cost-effective! Profit!

      My good sir, I think you've found it!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:48PM (#7773735)
    Think about it, it is just a bunch of Yahoos that want to secure their status in power, and to that they need to subvert checks and balances, subvert the will of the people, etc, etc.
    There is no reason to trust Diebold, for that matter. It is a corporation that has been contracted to change the way we vote, and the way we are counted.
  • by leoaugust ( 665240 ) <leoaugust@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:59PM (#7773798) Journal

    Walden O'Dell, head of Diebold Election Systems, wrote a letter to Republican contributors in August [usatoday.com] that said "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

    Maybe there really was much basis for his confidence ....

    • by Homology ( 639438 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:32PM (#7773960)
      Walden O'Dell, head of Diebold Election Systems, wrote a letter to
      Republican contributors in August that said "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
      Interestingly, Republicans is widely believed to have manipulated vote-counting computers in South Korea. From historian Bruce Cumings US policy on North Korea (part 2) [zmag.org] we have the following :

      Many specialists remain convinced that a Republican team jiggered the vote-counting computers during the 1987 Presidential election that brought Chun's protege, Roh Tae Woo, to power.

      Now, taking into concideration the election frauds in Florida, one does not need a tin-foil hat to see that voting computers will make election frauds even more easy.

    • I hate to be negative, but he didn't say which president. Anybody providing voting services is helping the state deliver its electoral votes to the president. He's pretty confident he's working for an electronic voting services company.

      It does seem a bit suspicious if he's making that statement to one side and not the other though, but I don't think it's a smoking gun.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2003 @12:59PM (#7773803)
    Here's the task: inflitrate DieBOLD and gather enough evidence to expose them. Granted most slashdotters are wannabes, but there are some true-to-life technologists among the rabble. Make it your cause to get hired by Diebold and become an insider privy to the schemes.

    Of course, if the conspiracy-theorists are correct and the company is a front for the RNC to control election results, or the company is in the business of selling results to the highest bidder, you'll be risking your life. Techno-warfare for the protection of our democracy.

  • back to paper (Score:5, Interesting)

    by woverly ( 223564 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:00PM (#7773806)
    The often suggested idea that we return to paper ballots misses an aspect of US elections that would make such thing difficult, namely the complexity of our elections. Although the national offices get most of the attention, ballots may include 20-100 other things to vote on. Everything from state representatives down to obscure changes in county and city charters that most don't even take the time to read.

    These ballots have always been tedious to count by hand. Perhaps we could outsource the hand-counting to some third world country.
    • Sadly, this could be suggested. I hope you were making a funny regarding outsourcing, but that seems to me just as ripe for corruption.

      Bottom line, these totally untrustworthy voting machines must be replaced with what can be trusted better, and that is the older legacy system (to use a nasty word).

      So, yes, that means going back to paper. And that also means *at all costs*. There can be no excuses as to why it can't be done such as cost. The future of the world is at stake, and the cost of freedom h

    • I am not so sure (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PotatoHead ( 12771 )
      Here in Oregon we have the mail in ballot. Counting happens quickly enough and the costs appear to be in line with voter expectations.

      Turnout is somewhat of a problem on some issues, but the tax related elections are seeing good results. (hmmm)

      Another interesting side-effect is related to the political messaging. Voters can commit to a vote anytime after they get their ballots. Maybe it's me, but I hear more political discource over a longer period of time because of this. You can't just blast your m
  • Relax (Score:5, Funny)

    by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:00PM (#7773808) Homepage Journal
    ... included a cocaine trafficker, a man who conducted fraudulent stock transactions...

    What's the big deal? These guys sound like everyday, ordinary CEOs to me.

  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:03PM (#7773820)
    From page 2 of the article:
    "Shelley acknowledged responsibility for the failure of his own office to track what systems were in place and said changes would be made. He said he hoped the statewide review wouldn't result in the decertification of Diebold systems or the systems of other vendors."

    The state board of elections did NOT audit these machines BEFORE THE ELECTION and KNOWING that Diebold installed uncertified software in past elections. Shelley also does not want the machines decertified. How can you decertify what you did not certify to begin with? And if Diebold REALLY IS in violation of their agreement (as Shelley claims) they should be cut out of the process IMMEDIATELY because they're NOT CERITIFED But...they're not... Why? (Because, just maybe this is a political witch-hunt? Naaaahhh..)

    Lastly, Diebold says the "felon computer programmer" was released when Diebold acquired the company. Which means he never WORKED for Diebold. so there's no need to do a background check on him.

    • by leftie ( 667677 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:37PM (#7773988)
      Wrong. Jeffrey Dean and John Elder are still working for Diebold. Dean was given 24/7 access to the King Co. elections office and compter room in order to program the Diebold software. Diebold presently has Elder managing a division of the company working in elections, too. http://www.blackboxvoting.com/bbv/1216presskit.pdf
  • by TheMidget ( 512188 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:11PM (#7773856)
    IMHO, they are far more interested in the cash machine (ATM) business of Thiefold than in their voting machines.

    Planting cash machine weaknesses (or more likely: profiting from accidental weakness which they get to know about) allows them to obtain quicker and more anonymous rewards than tampering with elections would.

    An obviously fake high-stakes election might lead to a thorough investigation, which might not only land the politician that profitted from it in hot water, but also his minions at Thiefold.

    However, nobody would make as much fuss about cash machines that occasionnally spit out too much if the right cheat-code is punched.

    • Over-giving ATMs would be discovered in an instant in actual use. A certain model coming up $20 short in cash counts all over the place would be a giveaway clue that something is up.
      • It would be discovered pretty quickly that something is amiss... But not necessarily what is amiss. If our thiefs are smart enough, they make sure to only steal relatively small amounts at each ATM. Too small to warrant a full blown investigation in the matter. If the bank figures out that it is cheaper to just eat the loss than it is to find out what is goin on, they will eat the loss. They are a business after all! Why else do you think we are still using the same insecure credit cards after all these yea
        • There might not be a full blown investigation in the matter, but it's hard to steal any meaningful ammount of money before it'd make their ATMs have a red-flag of a higher error rate than the competitors... might not be worth it to figure out exactly why, but still worth it to buy the competitor's machines...
          • It said these felons work as managers at Thiefold, not as top-managers. So, they probably do not care about the ultimate fate of the company. Lost sales affect them only as much as this makes the number of potential targets slightly smaller, i.e. not a big inconvenience. And if things turn really sour, it's time for a last big heist, followed by a long vacation to some sunny destination not yet controlled by the US... (preferably one which doesn't have any petrol...)
  • by cheezus ( 95036 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:14PM (#7773866) Homepage
    Polls are much more efficient. For example, Howard Dean is the democratic nominee and nobody had to waste their time voting, electronic or not.

    "Of course, this is just a television poll which is not legally binding. Unless proposition 304 passes; and we all pray it will."
    -Kent Brockman
    • Polls are much more efficient. For example, Howard Dean is the democratic nominee and nobody had to waste their time voting, electronic or not.

      Cynical, but perhaps not all that far off the mark. People needs to know and feel that one-man-one-vote is for real, and that there is real difference between the candidates.

  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:14PM (#7773868)
    It's good that this is being reported on Wired, but now that the situation has escalated to a company actually clearly violating federal election laws (uncertified software), employing former felons in information sensitive positions, and meeting each and every one of the tests to show method, motive and opportunity to commit election fraud, why isn't this making the front page of the NY Times and Post the same day? Why isn't CNN already reporting on this? Where's USA today? Where's Peter Jennings?
  • Paper 1.0 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:20PM (#7773900)
    Votes were never meant to be pure virtual. Use a touchscreen to help a voter make their paper ballots, but always print a paper ballot and drop it into the ballot box. It's okay to have machines count those paper ballots, but what we learned in Florida 2000 is that the paper ballot must be clearly human readable too. That way, manual recounters don't have any ballots where the voter's intent is questionable, and voters can read their ballot on the way to the box, and if it doesn't say what they want it to say they can hand tear it up and try again.
  • Lets just face it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    THE next election will be done by diebold, and the election after that will be by a bunch of angry americans with rifles. the revolution is comming my frends, this is the beginning, bush lost the last election, and he is still our president, now it will be easyer to hide the next election resuts and put whoever you want in power next. im not advocating to own a gun, because they will get rid of those people first but at least make sure you know how to use one. because if you have any sense and dignity, you
  • Radio (Score:5, Informative)

    by Triv ( 181010 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:35PM (#7773978) Journal

    Jack Hitt did a story on Diebold for This American Life [thislife.org] a few weeks back. It's a good listen and neatly sums up all the problems with untrusted computerized voting. I know WE know what the issues are, but it's refreshing to see this out in the public eye.

    A description of the show and a realaudio stream (yeah yeah, I know) is available here [thislife.org].

    Triv

  • by morelife ( 213920 ) <f00fbug@@@postREMOVETHISman...at> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:41PM (#7774009)
    It's interesting and disappointing to note how these stories are not picked up by the mainstream media.

    Or at least, not yet.

    All it's going to take is enough public sentiment against Diebold to change this situation... and this can only happen if msnbc, cbsnews, washpost, foxnews, latimes, et al pick this up.

    I wonder what they're doing in the cash machine world that hasn't yet come to light?

  • by eyenot ( 102141 ) <eyenot@hotmail.com> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:47PM (#7774041) Homepage
    read any issue of 2600 and think about e-voting, then go have a heart-to-heart with your elected representatives, especially if they are democratic as the democrats intend to involve from-home e-voting in the upcoming democratic primaries.

    'governor, this is a simple 64mbyte ram module. there are sixty-four million groups of eight switches in here. if you count each of these groups one per second, it would take you over two years. now consider that each little individual switch of on and off has to be verified. one switch per second, this would take you sixteen years, and would total more seconds than there are american citizens, almost twice as many. and this, just to count one storage device, dozens of which would be required to actually do the job of recording indexes, names, addresses, signatures and social security numbers, and other data that are collected in current ballots in order to ensure fair elections. there would have to be more storage, as well, to keep logs of all the electronic transactions required in order make sure the processes were secure and retractable, for the purpose of tracking down any offenders. now this task of sixteen years to count every switch in this chip has been multiplied by dozens, perhaps hundreds or even thousands. you may find enough volunteers to reduce the time required, but now reduce the volunteers, in the case of just 1,000 such citizens, by the requirement of ability to run an electron-scanning microscope and to work steadily at the task for as many as sixteen years. now find 10,000 electron-scanning microscope-operating humans who can work without stopping to eat, sleep, or drink for a year and a half and you're approaching the end of your problem. now find 1,000,000 such citizens and the work has been reduced to .016 years, or perhaps a modest six days. consider that humans need to sleep, and you have eighteen days. count breaks, errors, and certain numbers having to count the same switch at the same time to verify it, and you have a multiply of that, perhaps exceeding a month. now pay them all or otherwise convince them to spend all their time for one month counting microscopic switches. now consider that you will have to either print and provide for them on paper, or have them record on paper, the status of the switches to be verified. now accomodate the 1,000,000 vote-counters. you already have all the materials you need to have done the ballot by classic ballot means and also at the very least quadrupled the expenses. i urge you to ditch the computer junk and ask people to turn out to the booths, instead.'
  • by Woy ( 606550 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @01:59PM (#7774089)
    Wired.com is reporting that at least five convicted felons secured management positions at a Diebold, including one who served time in a Washington state correctional facility for stealing money and tampering with computer files in a scheme that 'involved a high degree of sophistication and planning.'"

    He's not a manager, he is a domain expert.

  • by Sean Clifford ( 322444 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @02:03PM (#7774106) Journal
    Clearly, Diebold's actions through this debacle has been criminal, not negligent. According to previous stories and Diebold's own email they've knowingly installed uncertified software, faked demos, installed machines with thousands of negative votes for one candidate, and have repeatedly deceived election officials and investigators. One feels that this reflects Diebold's corporate culture after browsing through an archive of their email.

    I can't fault them for folks already in place at Global Election Systems (GES) when they acquired the company at the beginning of 2002. Nor do I believe that folks with a criminal history should be barred from IT careers. Someone with expertise in large scale fraud could be very helpful, if not invaluable, in finding exploits in systems you're trying to secure.

    However, a development and management staff comprised of numerous folks with experience in stock fraud, money laundering, smuggling, cracking and grand larceny certainly calls into question the legitimacy of the projects they've worked on. The Diebold spokesdrone said that a few of them left at the time of acquisition, but did not say if any remained working at Diebold.

    My own opinion is that Diebold itself is a criminal enterprise whose thin facade of trustworthiness has been torn down to expose the company's true character.

    This calls into question not only Diebold's election systems, but all of their products including their ubiquitous ATM machines. Who knows how many of those have been cracked or if there's an ongoing fraudulent scheme (beyond ATM withdrawl fees) by Diebold to defraud Joe and Jane Citizen of their hard-earned cash.

    Based on Diebold's behaviour, I don't think that that sounds terribly crazy.

  • by laird ( 2705 ) <lairdp@@@gmail...com> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @02:42PM (#7774260) Journal
    If you're concerned about reliable voting in the US (and elsewhere) based on an open, auditable system, please go to http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/, read up on what they're doing, and volunteer to help out.

    To quote from their web site:

    The Open Voting Consortium (OVC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development, maintenance, and delivery of an open voting system for use in public elections.

    We are currently developing free voting software to run on very inexpensive PC hardware. The OVC voting system will accommodate different languages and scoring methods, as well as voters with special needs.

    We expect to be fully operational by 2005, with the certification of version 1.0 of the Open Voting software. Meanwhile, we have demonstration software under development at http://sourceforge.net/projects/evm2003, which should be ready by the end of this year.

    If you want to Help make it happen, then mailto:alan@openvotingconsortium.org to send us an e-mail.
  • by skyfaller ( 624053 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @02:54PM (#7774317) Homepage
    Just a reminder to check out the Diebold memos for yourself [swarthmore.edu]. Find some more juicy stuff and get it in the news!
  • by TheShrike ( 123025 ) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @03:07PM (#7774380) Homepage
    Risks Digest is reporting that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D - CA) will introduce a bill requiring stringent background checks [ncl.ac.uk] on all electronic voting company employees who work with voting software.

    Propenents of Open Source solutions for electronic voting systems should be concerned about this. I see no mention of this at Boxer's website [senate.gov], so it's hard to say exactly how this might be worded. But clearly, the process of performing and verifying such a vetting could be problematic for a distributed, volunteer development effort. Would it be just the "official" maintainers who would be subject to such constraints, or would such requirements require that patches submitted by non-vetted contributors be rejected purely on those grounds? My concern is that voting software should be evaluated and put into use on technical grounds, and in the pursuit of using the best available methods, we shouldn't be placing barriers into place which preclude the selection of well-written software.

    • No. It would rule out some means of developing that software. For instance, it would mean that the Sourceforge project couldn't be directly adopted.

      It would not, however, be likely to mean that the code created and used by that project couldn't be used with only minor modifications. Which would mean that it would still be GPL.

      And it certainly wouldn't mean that the code couldn't be written from scratch by certified staff as GPL code.

      Note, however, that the Open Source voting project is not a an electr
  • Make our own (Score:2, Interesting)

    Why not make some e-voting software that is open source. Run it on linux, or one of the BSDs. Instead of whining for Diebold to open the source (they won't) try making your own. I'm not a good enough programmer, but I'm sure someone here is.

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