Diebold Tries To Charge County For Showing Its Machines Have Serious Problems

from the them-again? dept

It was just two days ago that we wrote about the actions of Diebold and other electronic voting machine companies in Florida, where they're effectively boycotting an elections official who had the gall to have their machines tested in a way that shows they have serious security issues. That article noted that Diebold was negotiating to sell new machines to the county, but only on the condition that the elections officials not run more security tests -- other than "authorized" security tests (because, of course, those with malicious intent would only hack the machines in an "authorized" way). Turns out that Florida isn't the only county where Diebold is using such tactics... and it may have cost one election official in Utah his job. Phil Windley has the disturbing story, which has many similarities to the Florida story. The county ordered a bunch of Diebold machines and noticed a bunch of problems with the machines as they unpacked them. So, sensing a problem that should be investigated, the official had a couple machines security tested -- which turned up all sorts of additional security issues. Diebold's response? They told the county that the tests broke the warranty on the machines and demanded $40,000 to "recertify" the machines. This resulted in a meeting between the county official and state election officials -- and in the heat of the moment (with state officials apparently siding with Diebold), the county official announced his resignation. He now claims he didn't really want to resign, and is trying to retain his job -- but the state doesn't seem interested any more. In fact, it sounds like state officials are positively furious with the guy for daring to test the machines. Combined with the story in Florida and (of course) story after story after story of questions related to the security of Diebold's e-voting machines (and their responses to such questions), it certainly gives off the impression that Diebold is putting a lot of pressure on elections officials not to run security tests on their machines. Again, this makes no sense. A company that is building secure machines should be proud to have it tested -- and should be willing to respond to and fix any security tests that show problems with the machine. Bullying those who demonstrate the problems just seems to raise more questions.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Philip (profile), Mar 29th, 2006 @ 11:26am

    Wonder what will happen...

    Well, story after story after story, it's quite evident, regardless of all the security issues, these machines will be making it into a live production voting environment. After all these stories, it's guaranteed they'll be hacked. I wonder now, how will the state or even Diebold handle that? Makes one wonder...

     

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

  2.  
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    Josh Erickson, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 11:31am

    Personally I'd rather vote on paper because of it's inherent safety regarding recounts. Digital data is to easily manipulated in my humble opinion.

    I just hope they never come to Minnesota and if they do, I hope the people here fight them tooth and nail.

     

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

  3.  
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    Disgusted, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 11:49am

    we've been sold out

    No offense to Techdirt, but until the "main stream media" pays attention to this, we're farked. The CNNs and MSNBCs, the WSJ and the rest of the crap that the baby boomers and their parents read, those are the clowns that are selling out our country.

    They have a journalistic duty to inform the public about this, to ride this story like they focused on Whitewater, Lewinski, and Iran/Contra. But they abdicate that duty. In the last decade they've gone from news agencies to being tiny facets in large corporate empires. They aren't in business to hurt the status quo. They are the status quo.

    We need civil disobedience about this. The stealing of our democracy should have people on the streets in numbers like the recent imigration-law protests. Wake up you sheep!

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    markbnj, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 12:09pm

    DIEBOLD rocks (not!)

    Hey . I used to work with Avi Ruben at AT&T Labs.

    Good, honest Guy. Opened his mouth about Diebold.
    No longer employed there.

    TIME TO START blogging this and passing it ALL OVER!
    can you say technocrati and slashdot?

    www.markbnj.blogspot.com

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 12:13pm

    lets just figure out a way to hack em.. and put people that techies want to put in office.. maybe the inventor of the internet ( Al Gore ) would of officially won. ( George Bush stole the election )

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    admin, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 12:36pm

    well a prefect 'civil disobedience' would be for anyone living in
    a town using electronic voting machines to request an absentee
    ballot and to encourage everybody else to do the same.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Mike Shizzle, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 12:37pm

    More Information

    You can find more up to date information about this at the Black Box Voting Forums. Apparently Diebold isn't only doing things unethically, they're breaking the law. Read on and spread the word.

     

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

  8.  
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    argh, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 12:47pm

    Ahhh

    I’m not a conspiracy nut; however, this subject I think begs a question…

    Are some flaws in security intentional? I mean, how is it possible to steal an election in Florida, if you cannot stuff the ballot box or throw out votes.

    Why would anyone in power want a tamper-proof election system? I mean for the sake of America, you want to make sure that your hunting buddy is not part of the 1% not reelected because of some silly grass roots movement.

    For now, you can live with the fact that the person you paid good money to elect might die in office. You know that it can be difficult to find someone with the same last name or a blood relative of the previous candidate on short notice, so you need to ensure that you can still steal the election.

    In the past, you could always pull the old trick of having recently dead people vote or find some pollsters that still think Jim Crow laws are still in effect. However, those silly liberals are starting to monitor the polls and you know that if you have another stolen election, the UN will send the French in to monitor. Therefore, you figure that electronic voting could be your ticket to maintaining political hegemony. You just need to make sure that the company making the machines is playing for the home team, if you know what I mean.

    Now, not only can you hack the voting machines electronically, you can accuse other candidates of stealing the election because you can prove the voting machines are insecure. You can demand new elections and take your sweet time creating some new propaganda and organizing bus trips from the old folk’s homes to the polls. All and all, it’s a win no matter how you look at it. God bless America!

     

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  9.  
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    imfbsbn, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 1:00pm

    Mike has a Diebold Fetish

    As someone from Chicago,voter fraud capital of the world, it drives me crazy when people rant on "election machine security." Why? Because there is no such thing.

    Locks only keep honest people honest.

    Trying to make a 100% secure voting machine would be a joke and would not stop the more common kind of vote fraud -- a bunch of people feeding extra ballots into the machine after the polls close.

    Is Diebold a model company? Who knows. But if you think they're so evil, then build your own damn machines and try to get them certified in over 800 counties. And, oh, be sure to let your "security" be defined by anyone with a blog.

     

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  10.  
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    merder, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 1:23pm

    bigger pic.

    the last two sentences are nothing but truth

    maybe these e-voting machines were put it place to rig future elections
    its time we look at the bigger picture
    why would any credable company not want the product tested for performance and security

     

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  11.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 29th, 2006 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Mike has a Diebold Fetish

    Trying to make a 100% secure voting machine would be a joke and would not stop the more common kind of vote fraud -- a bunch of people feeding extra ballots into the machine after the polls close.

    So, I shouldn't bother talking about it? We should all just be happy with what we have, rather than pushing to make it better? Yeah, that's a solution.

    Is Diebold a model company? Who knows. But if you think they're so evil, then build your own damn machines and try to get them certified in over 800 counties. And, oh, be sure to let your "security" be defined by anyone with a blog.

    So, by your logic, no one is allowed to ever point out problems, only to compete? Sorry, I'd rather not live in that society.

     

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

  12.  
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    ButWaitAMinute, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 1:38pm

    More diebold Stories without substance

    Once again a story about voting machines failing security tests and once again no details on exactly how they failed. This is a major ommission. Why did the state of Utah agree with Diebold? Because the the tests probaly made no sense at all. Why is a county official running security tests? Who did he get to do the testing? What are their qualifications? Did you ever think that perhaps they did break the macihnes because they had no idea what they were doing?

    Once again, one-sided reporting and once again no facts to support that side. Just Great......

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Ryan, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 1:42pm

    hack it

    alright well, since im the only person here that probably lives in china, i will hack it. they make the stupid boxes here, and half of them dont work so it isnt hard to get one. maybe people in china are trying to rig the votes in america to fit their economy. hope they dont find me. anyway there are many buffer overflows in the software, so ill hack it, and make sure its like 1000000 votes to 1... or -1... w.e.. in a area with a population of 10000. and everyone will be like.... we trusted these machines with bush?... so thats how he won.....

     

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  14.  
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    Joe Snuffy, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 1:43pm

    Get the word out.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Joe Snuffy, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 1:44pm

    Get the word out.

    I think the fastest way to spread the word, believe it or not, would be to get this story on "The Daily Show" or "The Cobert Report." Let them dig into it.

     

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

  16.  
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    qyiet, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 2:03pm

    Liability?

    How much is diebold liable for should someone hack their "certified" machines in an election?

    It would seem it's not hard to do, (thinking back to the monkey video).. and wouldn't a massive lawsuit make them rethink their attitude on security at least a little?

    -Qyiet

     

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  17.  
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    Ponder, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 2:04pm

    The UK can even have problems using postal ballots on paper eg 110% turnouts! Not chance using electonic machines here, then there'll be 1000% turnouts across the country.

     

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  18.  
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    erik falor, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 3:29pm

    The scary thing is...

    Have you ever seen the brand name on your ATM? Yup. Diebold. Not that years of experience in that market have given them any idea about comptuer security:

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=203&t opic_id=11874&mesg_id=19911

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/11/10/1172/9052

    http://avirubin .com/vote.pdf

    Some of those are things I learned not to do in my first year of CS coursework.
    Yeah, so I pretty much don't use ATMs anymore. Not until these sloppy bastards stop being so lazy. And crooked.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    fade-in, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 3:38pm

    Re: More diebold Stories without substance

    You want substance? Utah has a contract with Diebold. That's why they aren't on Bruce's side of this.

    http://www.kcpw.org/article/203

    As a Utahn, I sure do hope that there is a clause that says we can kick out of the whole deal should the machines prove faulty, but with only two of forty machines failing outright, I'm sure that Diebold will claim that they are well within their obligation.

    Also, there are fears that alternative machines will not meet HAVA 2006 guidelines:

    http://utahcountvotes.org/paper_under_glass.php

    Moreover, our beloved Senator Orrin Hatch, is a complete Luddite. He hasn't a clue about technology. And since most of our elected officials are either baby-boomers or older, I doubt that many of them do, either. (Sorry old people, but you know who you are... actually, if you're one of them, you aren't reading this right now!)

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Rob Miles, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 3:46pm

    Not the whole story

    For a little more balance on this story, here's the article that was posted at Slashdot: http://www.sltrib.com/ci_3646075. It's not as slanted against Diebold as the article linked to here.

    That being said, I'm not sure Diebold is the company I'd trust with my voting machines. Not until they make a paper trail a default part of the process. There's no good reason other than the potential to sway election results to not have a verifiable paper trail.

    However, in this case the county manager probably isn't the Dudley Doright everyone wants to think he is.

    Rob Miles
    --
    There are only 10 types of people in the world;
    those who understand binary and those who don't.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    fade-in, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 4:25pm

    Re: Not the whole story

    What do you mean that Mr. Funk isn't the "Dudley Doright everyone wants to think he is"?

    Diebold categorically denies requests for third-party evaluations of their systems. And for good reason:
    http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=504

    When confronted with an evaluation, they will fail. They've got a worse record than the Devil Rays.

    So Bruce Funk has cost the state $40K more in blood money to Diebold. I didn't see Joe Demma flinch when Diebold presented his office with the $27M bill, as mentioned in your link.

    Asking Diebold to comment on the quality of their system is like asking Bush if he's ever lied to the American people. It creates conflicting interests. It's makes sense for Diebold to take a play from the RIAA book and keep nosy people from asking too many questions.

    In my opinion, Bruce Funk is doing his county, and this nation a great service. I hope he slays this goliath.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    John W, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 5:13pm

    What's Diebold's Political Bent

    I'm wondering what Diebold's overall political bent is? You know how you can make some basic generalizations like pharmaceuticals are generally conservative (in whom they support), environmental non-profits are overwhelmingly liberal (in whom they support), etc. or that specific companies have a bent because of their founder's or board's bent...like Starbucks or Progressive insurance is liberal, and Dunkin Donuts and Dell are conservative. What's Diebold's swing?

    Not that it matters that much...I'm just sayin...

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    mediator_tom, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 5:23pm

    Electronic voting and tabulating: the greatest sha

    Go Google Harri Hursti, the Finnish computer scientist who made Diebold an actual laughing stock, and Diebold. Go find your own truth. Electronic voting and tabulating is the greatest sham of our time. Bush did steal the election in '04.

    Also google Ohio Sec of State General Kenneth Blackwell and election problems. Ohio is so rife with election violations and irregularities that I can't keep track of all them.

    Is it 2 or or now 3 Cleveland election official bureaucrats have been convicted of elections law violations and are still on the job?

    Go try and count how many Diebold voting machine employees around the country are convicted fellons. I guess you can be trusted to program an election machine as a convicted fellon but you can't be allowed to vote on one.

    I also recommend Black Box Voting and Utah Counts Votes.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    mediator_tom, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 5:33pm

    Re: What's Diebold's Political Bent

    Rabid Republican: The just former Chairman and CEO of Diebold, "Wally" O' Dell, is a major Bush campaign donor, having helped raise over a quarter million for Bush's 2004 campaign. In an August 2003 fundraising letter to some 100 wealthy friends, Diebold's chairman and CEO wrote, "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

    O'Dell quit at the same time an SEC lawsuit was filed by shareholders charging serious misrepresentations about company health.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Wolfger, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 5:40pm

    Re: Ahhh

    Why would anyone in power want a tamper-proof election system? I mean for the sake of America, you want to make sure that your hunting buddy is not part of the 1% not reelected because of some silly grass roots movement.

    Right. Because then who would you shoot in the face?
    :-)

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Paul, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 6:36pm

    Ummm.. Hellooooo....

    I have been reading on this topic for a while and my opinion is to do it right and Diebold rethink its objectives. Then again maybe the U.S government needs to WAKE UP!!!

     

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

  27.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 29th, 2006 @ 6:52pm

    Re: More diebold Stories without substance

    Once again a story about voting machines failing security tests and once again no details on exactly how they failed.

    If you follow the links, all the details are there. That's why we provide the links.

    This is a major ommission. Why did the state of Utah agree with Diebold?

    Seems like a money issue, from what they're saying.

    Because the the tests probaly made no sense at all. Why is a county official running security tests? Who did he get to do the testing? What are their qualifications? Did you ever think that perhaps they did break the macihnes because they had no idea what they were doing?

    Actually, the team he hired to do the security testing is well respected, and was the same team that demonstrated the problems with these voting machines in Florida. It's all in the links.

    Once again, one-sided reporting and once again no facts to support that side. Just Great......

    The facts are all there. We're not "reporters". We post a short story, with our analysis, but make it easy for you to read through the details. I'm sorry if you chose not to, but don't conclude that there are no facts to support what we wrote, just because you didn't click through on any of the links.

     

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  28.  
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    Xanius, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 7:47pm

    Makes me wonder....

    Kind of not related to the evoting machines but my bank uses diebold for the ATM, makes me curious as to how secure the ATMs are as well.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Vinnie, Mar 30th, 2006 @ 8:28am

    Civil Disobediance

    Maybe the best possible thing to do would be to hack the machines. Just go in and elect Mikhail Bakunin for president and see what happens. Even turn yourself in so that you can tell everyone that you did it just to show how easy it was to fix the election. If you can create enough fall-out then people might actually make some steps in the right direction. I honestly don't think that any amount of blogging will help (even though its a good first step).

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Sjoerd, Mar 31st, 2006 @ 10:16am

    Diebold

    I live in Utah, in fact in a neighboring county to where Funk is questioning the system. As a democrat in this state, my vote doesn't count for squat. But I sure as hell don't want a machine that will give it to the other guy or not count it at all.


    I think the rest of the county clerks, nut just in Utah but elsewhere, should jump on board with this one. They hold the responsibility for making sure votes are counted correctly. The tests in California came about because local officials raised concerns.


    Here's the local story... http://www.ecprogress.com/index.php?tier=1&pub=2006-03-28&page=news#3


    And when people like Utah Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert don't listen or claim the problem doesn't really exist, the rest of us should demand that we vote in the old fashion until they do. The problem with the whole e-vote concept in general is simply that there are only two producers out there. And neither one is willing to let the public review software and routines used for tabulating votes. That's a huge problem.


    Voting is the cornerstone of a democracy. Without it, you have totalitarian dictatorships. With Diebold contributing significant amounts to political parties, I have a problem trusting them to count the votes accurately.


    The voting process should be transparent, and I for one will demand a standard paper ballot until it becomes a more open process.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Adina Levin, Apr 22nd, 2006 @ 4:25pm

    Find out what your county is doing

    For technically-literate folk who are concerned about voting systems -- do you know what your county is doing?

    About a year ago, I went with a group of voters on a tour of the Travis County, Texas election office. We were the first group to have ever asked for a tour.

    One reason that county governments make such iffy technology procurement decisions is that the main information source they have is the vendors themselves. The more technically-literate citizens get involved in the voting process, the more opportunities for better local decisions.

    In the old days, elections were supervised by citizens from both parties watching the counting. These days, it's meaningless to watch someone press the "count" button. Citizens who want to help assure fair elections should start to monitor the technology purchasing and implementation process.

     

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


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