Did South Carolina Use Second-Hand E-Voting Machines That Louisiana Decertified?

from the conspiracy-theories dept

The election situation in South Carolina keeps getting stranger. Last week, we noted how the controversial election of Alvin Greene, a broke, out of work guy currently facing felony obscenity charges, who did no campaigning and no advertising of his campaign, had people looking at the e-voting machines in the election as one possible culprit. The ES&S iVotronic machines used in the election have no paper or audit trail, so there's really no way to go back and check, but the differences in voting patterns between the e-votes and absentee ballots certainly raised some eyebrows, as did a test of randomness in voting results using Benford's law (a useful tool for suggesting data was faked).

Now, reader Pickle Monger alerts us to the news that the previously expected winner of the campaign, Vic Rawls, is claiming that the ES&S e-voting machines used in the campaign were bought secondhand from Louisiana after Louisiana outlawed their usage:
Third is the well-documented unreliability and unverifiability of the voting machines used in South Carolina. It is worth noting that these machines were purchased surplus from Louisiana after that state outlawed them.
In response, the state is insisting there is no truth to this claim at all:
South Carolina's election commission begs to differ about the provenance of the voting machines. Spokesman Chris Whitmire says the state's 12,000 iVotronic voting machines were bought brand-spanking-new from Election Systems and Software, an Omaha-based behemoth that boasts of operations in 39 states.
Rawls' campaigns' response is hardly reassuring:
"That was what the word around the state was -- heard it from several people."
In other words, total hearsay. I'm all for pointing out the problems of e-voting systems, and ES&S certainly does have an exceptionally long history of having problematic machines that have been decertified in certain states, but claiming that such machines were used in South Carolina without any evidence other than "heard it from several people," seems pretty silly.

Of course, South Carolina's election commission has its own credibility problems. Apparently, its been telling local news media that the iVotronic systems do have an auditable paper trail. They don't. They have a paper tally, but that's not the same thing.

Either way, if you've been following the whole e-voting mess for many years, this sort of situation was bound to happen. Even if it turns out that e-voting machines were not the problem, the very lack of a voter verifiable paper trail, combined with massive security problems and ridiculous levels of secrecy from the e-voting companies has created a world in which no one actually trusts those machines. Even if the results were accurate, the voting machine companies' own actions have created so much doubt in people's minds, that they don't trust the results at all.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 8:07am

    I'll lean toward real results.

    Voters looked over the list and picked the one they'd heard the least of, sick of incumbents. It's the way I've shopped for many years: if I can recall a brand name, I don't buy it, simply can't stand the drivel that passes as advertising.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 8:09am

    all this does it point out the need for regulation in voting systems at the federal level. that machines can be declared useless in one state, and then get sold to another state for use is an outrage.

     

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  3.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    Yes, more laws and regulation will fix it. [/sarc]

     

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  4.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 8:21am

    Re: I'll lean toward real results.

    "Voters looked over the list and picked the one they'd heard the least of, sick of incumbents."

    Pretty funny, a randomly selected official. He will probably work out better than one that has all this political debt to pay back.

     

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  5.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: I'll lean toward real results.

    Hmm, not so sure about that one. The guys broke, so rather than political debt, he likely has monetary debt to pay back. Plus, do you really want to give purse powers to a guy who can't stay in the black himself?

     

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  6.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re:

    You are right.Voting was so much more honest before those pesky regulations like the secret ballot messed them up.

     

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  7.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I see to remember Iraq having pretty tightly regulated elections back in the day when Saddam was getting 100% of the election votes....

     

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  8.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re: Re: I'll lean toward real results.

    "do you really want to give purse powers to a guy who can't stay in the black himself?"

    Please remind me, how much has the national debt gone up this year? This guy probably thinks 50 bucks is alot and would think twice about signing a bill thats going to cost a trillion dollars.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 9:01am

    Re: Re: Re: I'll lean toward real results.

    Given all the bribes he will get from Lobbyists, he won't be broke for long.

     

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  10.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I'll lean toward real results.

    Fair point, though I'd rather have a successful small business owner in his space than anyone else....

     

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  11.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'll lean toward real results.

    " I'd rather have a successful small business owner "

    Agreed

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 9:10am

    I was just posting in another "news" (http://techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20100614/1905389816.shtml) and just occurred to me: what if this was on Iran? What the headlines would say?

    I guess something like this:

    Iran Uses Second-Hand E-Voting Machines That Israel Decertified!

    So funny how this "news" road is a one way road.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Raised in LA, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 9:16am

    No Possible Way

    The is absolutely no possible way those machine came from Louisiana. If they had of, Edwin Edwards would have won the election.

     

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  14.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 9:31am

    am i the only one who thinks the whole voting machines thing is a farce? i would much rather just punch a card then rely on the shitty products being put out by these criminals. besides, the sources should be open. who in their right mind trusts their voting to something they can't see?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 9:37am

    who in their right mind trusts their voting to something they can't see?

    GEEKS

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    DS, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 9:46am

    It could be worse, they could just allow 6 votes per voter...

     

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  17.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    and did anyone there complain about fraud? You're from Chicago, you know what voting is like even with the feds coming in to check once in a while. Do you think it would be better if Cook County was unregulated?

     

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  18.  
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    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 10:16am

    Re:

    That would suck. Only 6 votes? That's not enough for me to sway an election!

     

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  19.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hmm, interesting question. Which do we trust more, unregulated voting that might open the process up to corruption, or regulation of voting by those we KNOW are corrupted?

     

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  20.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Re: I'll lean toward real results.

    An electrician has wires hanging all over his house.

    A plumber has pipes and no faucets.

    A carpenter has no finished walls in his partitioned basement.

    This guy could be excellent with money.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 10:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'll lean toward real results.

    Also, someone with little money is more susceptible to "bribes" or perhaps not direct bribes but actions by special interest groups that ultimately serve their financial interests. Someone with tons of money, like Bill gates, who already gives tons of money to charity will probably be much harder to bribe.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 10:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I trust a cryptographic end to end user verified voting system more. Post grad cryptographers spent MANY years developing these systems and if used correctly they are far better than what we have now (and they do a good job of ensuring both anonymity and the assurance that your vote was counted).

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Not Me, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 11:01am

    Re:

    It plainly states in the article that it was hearsay that the machines were de-certified. Put your outrage away!

     

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  24.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 11:11am

    'differences in voting patterns between the e-votes and absentee ballots certainly raised some eyebrows'

    I would think absentee voters were a little more educated in the races than those who show up to vote for a governor and pick the name at the top of the list in the other slots.

     

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  25.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 11:28am

    Re:

    as a general rule absentee voters are a little more educated than the rest... i find it easy to believe based on what you even have to do to vote absentee (which is more than show up at your local school down the block on your way to or from work)

     

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  26.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Might? There was no might. Voting machines would have votes on them for the favored candidate before the election started. At least the Daley machine has to work harder now.

     

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  27.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Post grad cryptographers spent MANY years developing these systems


    Yes, but did any good cryptographers work on these systems?

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    Not that I care all that much about SC politics, but getting someone that is unemployed is pretty good. Throw in if he wins he can serve but he can't actually vote for himself in the election (they don't allow felons to do that ya know?) is classic.

     

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  29.  
    icon
    R.H. (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 9:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think we're talking about a regulated system of voting rather than a regulated election. Here in Michigan we vote by filling out by hand a sheet with the little multiple choice bubbles like you have on a Scantron. Then you feed that into an optical scanner which checks to make sure the ballot is not spoiled (missing votes, too many choices for an office, etc.) and stores the results. So then you have an electronic and easy to count system with a paper backup just in case the machine is compromised. Even if we did switch to a touchscreen system here I'd prefer there to be a paper-trail that the voter can check before confirming his or her vote. With something this important, saving a bit of paper and ink just doesn't seem to matter anymore.

     

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  30.  
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    R.H. (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 9:12pm

    Re:

    Well he's not a felon yet. He's been CHARGED with felony obscenity. Unless he's convicted he won't become a felon.

     

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  31.  
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    mattarse (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 2:31am

    Re: Re:

    Either way that's an implication I hadn't thought of - brilliant!

     

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


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