Voter Group Sues To Block Diebold's Latest Miraculous Recovery

from the voting-is-too-important dept

After first refusing to certify Diebold voting machines, California's Secretary of State later re-certified the machines, quietly releasing that info late on a Friday afternoon last month, and going against his own "strict rules" he put in place for Diebold machines to be re-certified. Given how many "second chances" the company has received -- with serious security issues surfacing each time and with the company focusing more on going after critics rather than improving the security and accountability of their machines -- it's amazing that they keep getting approved. However, a voters group is now suing in California to overturn the "certification" and stop Diebold machines from getting used until they're actually secure.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 11:43am

    Approving Diebold for election machines is either a.) incompetence or b.) the result of bribery.

    Politicians: Take your pick. Which is it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Scott, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 12:22pm

    Re:

    I pick A and B

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 12:34pm

    Re:

    it's politics...so it is obviously both A and B.

    Even though it's been stated many times, it bears repeating the definitions here..

    politics: break it down into the base words and you get:

    poly-many
    ticks-bloodsucking parasites

     

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  4.  
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    jayfish, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 1:08pm

    Diebold makes automated teller machines. Why are they suddenly having security issues? Shouldn't they have a little professional insight on how to make things secure?

     

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  5.  
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    Devil's Advocate, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 1:12pm

    If the voting machines are like ATM's...

    I'm afraid they would be applying a surcharge vote every time I used it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    surfdork, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 1:14pm

    If votes were treated like dollars we would have 100% valid polling.

    My solution, equate votes with dollarts, track em the same way a Diebold ATM tracks cash.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    gfag, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 1:16pm

    ATM vs VOTE

    If they made ATMs the way they make voting machines I would be rich.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Mike Shizzle, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 1:25pm

    Re:

    "Diebold makes automated teller machines. Why are they suddenly having security issues? Shouldn't they have a little professional insight on how to make things secure?"

    I guess you've never seen a blue screened ATM.

    However, there is a big difference between ATMs and voting machines which I think was brought up on this site before. ATMs have a whole supporting backend and infrastructure setup to track the money. While these voting machines don't have that benifit. All the votes are stored within the machines in digital only form until they are tabulated.

    All they would need to do is include some form of paper trail or strict backend and we'd be set. The solutions to these problems are relatively simple. You need accountability and integrety checks.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 1:49pm

    How do you know this?

    Mike,

    You stated, "with the company focusing more on going after critics rather than improving the security and accountability of their machines ". I'm wondering how you know this? I would agree that Diebold is putting forth a significant effort going after critics. But how do we measure what effort is currently being put into improving security? I presume that this would be Diebold internal information. Past failures are not an accurate indicator of what effort is being put forth now to correct those failures. And without an accurate evaluation of the effort being put into security, how can a valid comparison be made to support your assertion?

     

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  10.  
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    RenderingSanity, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re:

    In reply to the broad, sweeping argument of, "it's politics, therefore it's A & B."

    Ok seriously folks, it's not as easy as it looks to be in a political office. Yes there are lousy politicians, no doubt about that, but not every official who does something stupid a few times is incompetent. Perhaps there are circumstances that you are unaware of.

    It's not an excuse for politicians to screw up all the time, but how would you like every talking head on TV to critique that lousy parking job you did this morning or how you forgot your TPS coversheet for the third time this week. Hey you were in a hurry to get to work early and you couldn't find your coversheet file but that information wasn't known to the press at the time and by the time it came to light and a retraction was issued it's old news and the nation "knows" you suck at your job.

    Yes they should be responsible for their post but you do not know everything and unless you have all the facts you cannot claim the right to comment so certainly on the situation.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    RenderingSanity, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re:

    In reply to the broad, sweeping argument of, "it's politics, therefore it's A & B."

    Ok seriously folks, it's not as easy as it looks to be in a political office. Yes there are lousy politicians, no doubt about that, but not every official who does something stupid a few times is incompetent. Perhaps there are circumstances that you are unaware of.

    It's not an excuse for politicians to screw up all the time, but how would you like every talking head on TV to critique that lousy parking job you did this morning or how you forgot your TPS coversheet for the third time this week. Hey you were in a hurry to get to work early and you couldn't find your coversheet file but that information wasn't known to the press at the time and by the time it came to light and a retraction was issued it's old news and the nation "knows" you suck at your job.

    Yes they should be responsible for their post but you do not know everything and unless you have all the facts you cannot claim the right to comment so certainly on the situation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Patriot, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 2:19pm

    Re:

    Diebold makes automated teller machines. Why are they suddenly having security issues? Shouldn't they have a little professional insight on how to make things secure?

    Exactly. They DO know how to make E-voting secure.

    So the question you have to ask is:

    Why don't they?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 2:20pm

    Re: How do you know this?

    You stated, "with the company focusing more on going after critics rather than improving the security and accountability of their machines ". I'm wondering how you know this? I would agree that Diebold is putting forth a significant effort going after critics. But how do we measure what effort is currently being put into improving security?

    The company has repeatedly insisted that its existing machines are perfectly fine and secure -- even after the problems were well documented. If they were really focused on improving security, they'd actually put in place better machines and things like a verifiable paper trail. These are not difficult or expensive to do -- but the company refuses to take that simple step.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Elf Ink, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 2:26pm

    All they need to do?

    "All they would need to do is include some form of paper trail or..."

    Uh, so I vote and get a paper receipt, and a paper receipt prints out and drops into a locked box. Lots of others do the same. I look at my receipt, and it says I voted for Joe, which matches the icon I tapped. So I ask the poll attendant, "I'd like to see your copy of my vote, please, to confirm that it's correct." They say, "Oh, no, no one can open the locked boxes until we get them all to the election commission's office."

    So how does that help anything? How can the public be sure the votes haven't been tampered with?

    I know! We can get together everyone who voted, and have them write out on paper who they voted for, and then manually count them to compare to the electronic results! That's great!

    Of course, we can skip all this because everyone who works for the electronic voting machine companies and everyone who touchs the voting computers are incapable of doing anything dishonest.

     

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  15.  
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    Devil's Advocate, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 2:39pm

    Here's the solution to your problem.

    The receipt is displayed in a window before being dropped into the locked box manually by a confirming button, or ejected if the user hit a cancel button.

    The whole notion of RELYING on electronic-only voting is insane. We're not trying to completely eliminate the problems of past voting methods necessarily, we're just trying to make sure we don't introduce a bunch of new and rather obvious ones! Electronic voting should only be used to provide a rapid view of the results, they should still be tabulated the old fashioned way.

    The people need to feel confident in their voting systems in order to feel confident in the election winners. Just look at Bush and the "Hanging Chads" if any of you remember it.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Bob, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 2:55pm

    All They Need To Do

    Having a paper copy of the vote provides an audit & integrity trail. It would not normally be necessary, but could be counted if the vote is particularly close and/or challenged by someone.

    Here's the simple steps:
    1. Voter places vote electronically in voting booth.
    2. Voter receives paper receipt indicating for whom they voted. This receipt would also contain a unique ID matching the ID stored on their electronic vote record. (with nothing personally identifiable that could match the voter to their votes).
    3. Voter manually verifies that receipt matches their votes.
    4. If receipt doesn't match, then the voter tells a voting official, who invalidates the vote. Voter starts over from scratch.
    4. If voter is satisfied that the receipt matches, they drop the paper receipt in a secure ballot box, and their vote if finalized electronically.
    5. The electronic votes are tallied to tell us the election results.
    6. A small sample of the paper votes for each machine (1-2% should be sufficient) could then be manually compared to their electronic counterparts (using the unique ID to match them). If a certain percentage of the paper ballots didn't match their electronic counterpart, then we know something is wrong with
    any votes on that machine.

    Pretty simple system (despite my long-windedness) that provides us with complete auditability, accountability, and piece of mind knowing that our votes are being counted as intended.

    What's wrong with that?

    Bob

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Lance Albertson, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 6:08pm

    So use the ATMs

    The ATM infrastructure is in place.
    The ATM infrastructure is deemed secure enough to handle our money.
    So...why not use the ATM infrastructure to vote?

    You have to provide an SSN to open a bank account, so there's already an association - if someone decides to vote twice their votes just get tossed out.

    People can use their existing ATM card to ID themselves at the machine. Not only that, they could vote anywhere there's an ATM - goodbye to absentee ballots.

    Yeah, not everyone has a debit card. Seriously, how many of them vote? Seriously. Create a fund so that banks can issue a Vote-only debit card to anyone; it would be a lot cheaper than paying Diebold directly. Everyone is required to register to vote now as it is, I don't see this as any more onerous.

    Paper trail is already there. Security - not perfect, but no system is. The ATM system is in place, which should significantly reduce the costs. Major trick would be how to display votes on an ATM, but, you know, that's a lot easier than building accountability into the standalone voting machines.

    Just a thought. Just thinking out of the box. And anyone who thinks about patenting the idea - this suggestion counts as prior art.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Patriot, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 11:40pm

    It really is even simpler than windows and buttons and locked boxes, and cross-referencing ballots with electronic IDs.

    Didn’t any of you go to college? Or even a vaguely modern High School?

    It is called scan-tron, or par-score.

    The voter uses a #2 pencil to fill in the bubble next to the candidate of their choosing, and runs it through the machine. The machine scans the ballot, and tabulates the vote, the ballot is kept for paper verification, if that is requested.

    Bingo! E-voting with a paper trail.

    Welcome to technology from 1978.

    AND we don’t have to worry about Die-Bold rigging our elections again – which of course is exactly why this is not going to get wide-spread traction.

     

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  19.  
    icon
    Mitch (profile), Mar 23rd, 2006 @ 5:37am

    Re: It is called scan-tron, or par-score.

    And this is what has been used for SAT's? Anyone know what has happened with those lately? Hrrrmmm a lot of mis tabilation of scores screwing honest smart kids out of the college of their choice. And when they found the error they screwed up again. Every system has flaws. I do nto think scantron is the best option. I do like the idea Elf INk has above. I would feel relatively confident in voting if it worked like this (hey can never be 100% look at all the paper balloting gone wrong in the past.)

     

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  20.  
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    bjc (profile), Mar 23rd, 2006 @ 6:40am

    The only solution people like us (nerds) will trust is Open Source voting machines and software. Let the people who understand electronic security and care about it examine the code themselves and show people where the holes are so they can be fixed.

    Why do you think the Linux operating system is so secure? It's because the community of users, with open access to the source code, have repaired its weaknesses and passed the repairs on to others to test.

    Security by obscurity is never a good choice. Let us see the code and try to break it!

    People have shown you can hack the votes in the Diebold machines used for the US so-called "election" simply by copying a properly-formatted Access database to the memory card. I am shocked Americans accept this. When I voted in the Canadian election recently, I was very happy to put my little X on a slip of paper (although I would have rather voted online).

    Will it be possible for the same people to steal THREE elections in a row in the US???

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    randomboy, Mar 23rd, 2006 @ 8:05am

    Re: incompetence or bribery

    it's neither. It's the result of good lobbying, which in the US was legal last time I checked :)

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    E, Mar 23rd, 2006 @ 8:28am

    Re: All They Need To Do

    The voter also needs to have some mechanism for checking after an election his vote is still for Candidate X and not Candidate Y.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2006 @ 9:36am

    I see the Diebold employees are online in force today.

    Since no one seems to agree on what government should be doing, I'm not sure we can describe any government action as "competent" or "incompetent." It all depends on your viewpoint.

    Bribery occurs, of course. Though it's often prettied up with nicer words, such as "lobbying."

    The idea of "good lobbying" again depends on your viewpoint. This only exists if you're wealthy and/or a corporate stockholder. If you're like the rest of us (and actually care about such things), you probably want lobbyists and lobbying outlawed to some degree.

    Also, when it comes to political influence peddling, incompetence and bribery are only the tip of the iceberg. Don't forget the importance of favor-trading, misplaced loyalty, and outright extortion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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