Ohio Finds All E-Voting Machines In The State Had Serious Flaws

from the no-surprise-there dept

Earlier this year, California found all sorts of problems with e-voting machines used in the state. Now, Ohio, home to some of the more controversial stories surrounding presidential elections, has also found serious flaws in every e-voting machine used in the state. It's the usual stuff that has been pointed out for years: it was easy to pick locks on the machines, introduce fake votes, and load up dangerous unauthorized software onto the machines. Not much new there -- just another confirmation. What's much more interesting is the reaction of the firms involved.

First up is "Premier Election Solution," who you probably would recognize better under its old name: Diebold. The company changed its name a few months ago, hoping people would no longer associate Premier with all of the ridiculously bad history associated with Diebold. A Premier official said that all of the problems noted in the report have been fixed in its new machines. While that's a better response than Diebold's typical response of trashing any researcher who points out a flaw or cracking jokes about the flaws, it's one of the few times we've ever seen Diebold/Premier admit that older machines actually did have significant flaws. Of course, the few times that's happened in the past, it's always come with the same sort of "but everything is fixed now!" clause. And... every time a Diebold/Premier representative says something along those lines, it's only a matter of months until new flaws are announced. So, given Diebold's history, it's pretty difficult to take the company's word that all the flaws have now been fixed.

Even worse, though, is the response of ES&S, who has become even more Diebold-like in its responses to various problems found in its machines. On the Ohio report, ES&S responded: "We can also tell you that our 35 years in the field of elections has demonstrated that Election Systems and Software voting technology is accurate, reliable and secure." Note that this doesn't actually respond to any of the specific criticisms in the report. As for that history, let's take you back to a few of ES&S's greatest hits: this is the company that was caught providing uncertified software to California, while also failing to disclose foreign manufacturing partners (as required by federal law). It's also the company responsible for the well-known case in Florida where thousands of votes went missing and the election in Texas where votes were counted three times. And, of course, let's not forget the internal memos at ES&S which showed the company knew about problems with its software, while publicly stating that the machines were perfectly fine. So, sorry, ES&S, you can try to pretend those things didn't happen, but the history you point to hardly shows that your machines are "accurate, reliable and secure." It shows a company that will say anything to avoid admitting that its machines have problems.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Ferin, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 5:10am

    The funniest thing so far is the newspapers

    The Columbus Dispatch(owned by repbulicans) ran an editorial proclaiming that there should be no 'rush to judgement' based on the report.

    I still think we should go back to hand filled, hand counted (with observers) ballots. The only reason we go through this idiocy with machines is so the media can report the results faster and be the first to crown the new champions. It's not like they couldn't take their time and worry about accuracy when it comes to the leaders of the country or are laws, right?

     

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    Maxie Montana, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 5:16am

    RON PAUL will make sure those fraudulent voting machine manufacturers are brough to heel! Their owners and directors will be convicted of treason and criminal fraud and thrown into prison indefinitely! Perhaps even some sort of capital punishment may be invoked. HOW DARE THEY SABOTAGE THE FUTURE OF AMERICA AND OF OUR CHILDREN!!!

     

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      Ferin, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 5:32am

      ugh.

      Oh boy, a Paulite. I'm vagule hoping you were making a joke, but I honestly can't be certain any more. Christ, I rmeber thinking the deanie boppers were annoying, but you people really take the cake.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 6:08am

        Re: ugh.

        i'm fairly certain its a joke and even more so that they aren't a 'Paulite'. the comment is somewhat contradictory to values of Ron Paul.

         

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    Wm. Dahlgren, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 5:58am

    It should also be noted that the companies in question are owned by republican party donors, and the votes counted multiple times were all for republican candidates, and the votes that "disappeared" were cast for democratic candidates.

    There appears to be circumstantial evidence of willful vote manipulation. Regretfully, this is no great surprise. I note that the office of Secretary of State has been a republican target in every state, and said office oversees the elections.

     

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      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Dec 17th, 2007 @ 6:25am

      Re:

      Umm...could you back up your claims? It sounds good and dandy but I haven't seen anything official on the subject. Plus I also heard some machines miscounting on measures, propositions, etc. That would make your claim false since the aforementioned aren't republican or democrat candidates.

       

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    Simon, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 6:09am

    All because....

    All of these problems are the product of the knee jerk reaction that occurred during the 2000 election, when the PREVAILING LAW AT THAT TIME prevailled. None of the electronic solutions since, have been properly thought out. The problem is the electronic voting machine, or the punch ballot, or the hand written ballot, or hanging/pregnant/dimpled/depressed chads or any other device. The problem is with the voter. So long as you have people who can not read, can not write, and people who "bes not noin how to bes talkin" you will have these kinds of problem. This is one of the reasons for the electoral college.
    To address the problem properly I think that any electronic ballot machine being considered should print the actual ballot that gets counted, The information should NOT be stored electronically and counted. I think that the hard copy created should be counted using an optical reader. The name of the candidate should appear next to the pip, bar code, or what ever the reader uses for its optical count. This way there the vote can visually check his/her/it's ballot BEFORE dropping it in the box, if there is an error it can be shredded on the spot and re taken. This is a simple solution to a problem that the media has made way too complicated.
    Additionally, "exit polling" and other forms of localized counting should be friggan stopped. Not a single vote should be counted until the entire country has voted. Knowing who/what has won/passed is not so important that we need to know the very second that the final vote it counted. Most states have to certify their vote counts and when that certification is done, we can all learn what the tallies are.
    oh and just so that it can be said, there has been some sort of voting 'problem' since the very beginning of this country. How many cemetery populations have voted in the past? how many people have double/triple(more) voted? It is not a perfect system, but it is the best one available.

     

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    John Duncan Yoyo, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 6:14am

    I don't mind the electronic machines if they are part of an easily audited ballot system.

    1- An electronic machine that marks a punch card with both a punch pattern and a typed name indicating for whom the vote was cast. This machine should also count the votes cast on it. These machines can be fairly elaborate touch screen machines with all the bells and whistles for assisting the handicapped.

    2- A separate ballot counting machine from a different vendor that takes and registers the votes and stores the ballot.

    3- At the end of the day all the votes are tallied from both machines. If there is a large enough discrepancy all the ballots are counted again. One would expect that the second machine could possibly come in low if someone neglects to put their ballot in machine 2. In no circumstances should the precinct vote be greater than the number of voters.

    4- If needed all the ballots could be sorted by machine and hand verified that the printed name actually matches the hole pattern.

     

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    Jimmy James, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 6:17am

    It seems pretty obvious to me that we should enlist a company known for building machines that are highly secure, reliable and backed by a proven record. No one is better suited than the slot machine industry.

    Besides the obvious comments regarding organized crime, these machines purchased and operated with appropriate oversight would be difficult to undermine.

     

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      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Dec 17th, 2007 @ 6:36am

      Re:

      It would be great. You place your vote. As you exit a group of three thugs tell you there was a system error and you didn't vote for the right people so you lose your vote. According to casinos, slot machines often erroneously give winnings.


      Techdirt Article 1

      Techdirt Article 2

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 6:47am

    I have absolutely no problem with electronic machines, as long as your ballot results are stored in hard copy form, and not electronically. Any sort of computerized database can be much more easily tampered with than physical ballots. This is a simple, proven fact, which nobody can argue against.

    Let's just cut the crap, go back to what works, and for cryin' out loud, come up with a standard for voting machines already. I'm sick of hearing about stupid stuff like hanging chads. The last time I voted, I was given a big card with little circles or boxes to darken, which was as simple as could be. When I was done, the card was inserted into a secure electronic card reader machine, and that was it. Super simple, super easy, and there was both a convenient electronic tally, as well as the hard copy of the ballot for verification if necessary. Why every place can't standardize on such a simple voting method is beyond me.

     

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    Sean, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 7:09am

    Sleight of hand in the age of information

    The real culprit here is information. Not all of it is useful. Daily I am bombarded with pleas to save this, stop that, beware of the other, and ALWAYS give more!

    In the meantime I work, go to school, raise a child, etc. More than once it has occurred to me "didn't I elect someone to take care of this stuff for me?" That may not be the right way to think about it, but it's what is in my head.

    I often struggle to understand what it means to be a good citizen. I perform charity work and giving (though probably not as often as I should). I pay attention to the issues and I vote. But honestly if I have to pay attention to every person that tries to manipulate the system and put their hand into my wallet, my family would starve.

    Any thoughts on the issue would be well-received.

     

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      piperonal, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 8:42am

      Re: Sleight of hand in the age of information

      to Sean,

      Amen, brother! This is the plight of the entire lower/middle/upper-middle class; we actually have to work and fulfill the ideal of the "Free American Citizen".

      Meanwhile, a huge "entitlement"-dependent class and a sizable uber-wealthy class both clamor for our money first and attention second. We're hosed! We have neither the time nor wealth to effectively combat those who would steal from Peter to pay Paul, and their elite protectors who through ignorance, guilt, or megalomania manipulate the takers in the first place.

      It's pretty grim. The single most effective solution: STOP GIVING THEM MONEY, vote for a flat or consumption tax and abolish income taxes, and starve the bastards out of office.

       

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    glitch, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 7:34am

    elections are a joke, make these changes, i may st

    1] no reporters within 500 feet of entrance/exit of polls
    2] all national elections are tallied locally, then the reports are submitted to a gubmnet site to be tallied and released on 1 date.

    one election date nationwide..all results submitted to a central baord for verification and tallys. Once verified, then a public announcement releasing the results.

    primaries on may 15, tallied and submitted to local boards, by the 30th, verified and sent on to state, then federal boards with 15 day deadlines.

    general elections, just change may 15 to november 5 and use the same "formula".

    oh, wait...darn we can't do that..the brits would lose the ability to bet on the outcome....

     

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    James, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 9:23am

    Who the heck to they have programing these machine

    The first question that comes to mind is why the heck are there so many problems with such a simple idea. We can build rocket ships to outer space, we can build the most sophisticated weapons for war, we can cure countless diseases and illnesses, but we can't build a reliable system that can increment a database by 1 when a button is pressed? This really isn't rocket science. Pac-Man was more of a technological undertaking than these voting machines.

    Here's the simple solution people, you want a reliable electronic voting machine, take it away from the huge corporations who want to squeeze every penny out of it. A reliable election is not their primary interest when they have shareholders to report to.

     

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    SCMike, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 9:49am

    Punch card ballots

    I'm 60+ I've used punch card ballots in four states. They are simple but not idiot proof. They are reliable but not idiot proof. Requiring voters (and voting officials) to be able to read English would solve 90% of the problems. Nothing will solve crooks. Lets go back to what worked for 200 years - or even 50 years. Screw the media. Screw the politicians. Screw the big corporations.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 10:21am

    re: Wm. Dahlgren

    You are absolutely right. After all, it is a well-known fact that the Democrat Party steals elections the old-fashioned way: people voting multiple times, dead electors on the voters list, etc.

    See the last Washington State gubernatorial election for all the juicy details.

    And of course, the greatest theft of all times, whore-lover's Kennedy's election.

     

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    Zensins, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 1:47pm

    Paper trail & open source

    Without a paper trail, electronic voting is a joke, and...

    If the software being used to count the votes is not open source, no one can be sure it has not been riddled with back doors to allow anyone who can afford to buy the election to do so from the software vendor.

    This is not rocket science.

     

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    identicon
    monkeys, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 10:33am

    Get elected

    Let's do away with this voting stuff.

    How about starting reality shows named "Presidential Election" or "Governor Election", etc.. and let everyone phone in their vote for their favorite candidate. After all, this method worked quite well for Sanjay Malakar on AI.

     

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