Diebold's Solution To E-Voting Problems: Beg Poll Workers Not To Touch Touchscreens

from the total-fix,-huh? dept

Remember last week, when Diebold insisted that it would have a total fix in place for the problems they faced in the recent Maryland election? Yeah, well… it appears that isn’t going so well. The state ran a daylong test, and found plenty of problems still to overcome — including the same problems with the e-poll books that caused all sorts of delays during the election. It gets better, too. While Diebold is still working on fixes for the system, they’re pushing a workaround for the problem with the e-poll books: attaching mice to the machines and demanding that poll workers ignore the touchscreen and use the mouse instead. Of course, should anyone dare to touch the touchscreen, the devices may malfunction again. Not to worry, says Diebold: “poll workers would be instructed repeatedly not to touch the screens.” Of course, during the test itself, those “repeated” instructions didn’t stop at least one person from touching the screens and fouling the system up. Beyond the issue of introducing last-minute fixes to a system such as electronic voting machines, without any real chance to understand what other problems those fixes bring up, the idea that the “solution” is to hope that no poll worker actually touches a touchscreen seems pretty ridiculous.

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Comments on “Diebold's Solution To E-Voting Problems: Beg Poll Workers Not To Touch Touchscreens”

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thecaptain says:

Re: Don't touch touchscreens: let's think outside

This doesn’t solve the relevant problems with diebold machines….indeed with a lot of e-voting


1 – How do you KNOW for 100% sure that your vote is actually recorded properly?
2 – How do you KNOW the code that runs the machine isn’t rigged?

With the old system, you have physical ballots to verify, with these, you do not. Even if there IS a paper trail…these would only be checked in a contested election or if someone proved there was a machine problem…which wouldn’t happen if the election was rigged properly.

Identification is a relatively minor issue compared to that.

Andrew Tonner says:

Re: Don't touch touchscreens: let's think outside

How would that work exactly?

I’m assuming that you don’t mean going around in advance and fingerprinting every registered voter… (Freedom is on the wane in the USA, but it ain’t there yet.)

Most fingerprint search systems out there are only designed for identification, for verifying that a fingerprint is the same as a previously gathered example, so a false match is to be avoided at all costs but where were not too concerned about ruling out a match in a particular case (and so we don’t have to worry about poor image quality, the Birthday Paradox, malfunctioning readers, Mr. Smith deciding to hang out with his wang out in the polling booth, etc.)

bA says:

Biometrics for identity verification?

Do you think Americans will be comfortable being fingerprinted by the government just to vote? In order, for fingerprint (or any biometric) verification to work the gov would have to record it first. Magneprint would be a better method … it identifies the magnetic stripe on cards as the original and every drivers license has one (magStripe that is), as well as, a photo of the holder. Biometrics and a fool-proof identification scheme … can’t loose. (http://www.magneprint.com/)

lar3ry says:

Re: Biometrics for identity verification?

A “fool proof” identification scheme is plain scary: Where in the constitution does is state that in order to vote, one must have a driver’s license? What about those that are blind or otherwise disabled and/or do not want to drive? How about those that, for one reason or another, can not pass the written, driving, or vision tests? What about those that do not want their photograph on file at the state or federal government, especially in light of the clear abuses of privacy in this brave new post-9/11 world?

What is needed is reasonable people using common sense. You cannot legislate or even define such vague terms as these, but it has worked in this country for over 200 years. Attempts to legislate such things just add more definitions and open more loopholes for people to take advantage of.

The obvious answer in Maryland and other states utilizing voting machines is to have on hand a decent supply of PROVISIONAL BALLOTS–preferably one for every person that is likely to show up at the polls. If the machines stop working, turn them off and immediately switch to the provisional ballots without missing a cue, and the long lines and delays will not happen.

ThaRizza says:

Re: Re: Biometrics for identity verification?

Uhhhh…I do believe most states require you to carry at the very least a personal ID card if you are not able/willing to get a license. You must have some sort of ID available in order to open bank accounts, cash checks, get a job. The list goes on and on. Stop thinking that it is all BIG BROTHER and start thinking that it is a needed ID.

bob says:

Re: Re: Re: Biometrics for identity verification?

Why are you trying to further complicate a system that doesn’t work? They can’t reliably keep a count of votes, you can’t touch the “touch” screen. Sure, add on a fingerprint device…..

One step at a time. Lets make a voting machine that works. Throwing alpha or beta systems out there for something like voting is very scary.

OxyMORON says:

Instant fix

Here’s a guaranteed fix!! I have the solution!! Tell Diebold that their service are not required until they fix the d@mn thing, then stick with old school paper ballots. See, the thing about paper is, YOU CAN’T MAKE IT CRASH and lose your data, and (nearly any) change that is made will leave a (semi) visible mark…

Ed says:

Re: Instant fix

Tell that to the untold number of people in Georgia who had their paper votes destroyed before they were even counted. Boxes of absentee and provisional ballots were found sealed in a closet weeks after the election, and some high-up ordered them destroyed before they could be counted. Oddly, it appeared that the boxes were from predominately democrat-voting precincts.

Moogle says:

Re: Re: Instant fix

I’m not sure if it’s the case for GA (where I live), but I think many places won’t count absentee ballots unless the number of them is larger than the difference in the polls (i.e. could actually make a difference in the outcome). So while I can’t guarantee that nothing fishy went on, there’s certainly a way for you to be entirely correct and still have nothing be wrong.


Celes says:

Re: Re:

As a resident of Maryland, I can safely say that most of our state government is NOT in its right mind and therefore decided to go on with it.

At least it looks like Lamone is starting to back down a little… but it still seems that Gov. Ehrlich can’t get his way in our Democratic state, even in the rare case when most of the people seem to agree with him.

who are you says:

I’ve not used one of these e vote machines but in theory I could figrue out who you voted for. If I go vote and wipe the screen down, then you vote then my crime partner goes in couldn’t he or she see which buttons you pushed by looking for smudges? This of course is useless if you got a new screen after each cote (ie one for president one for mayor).

Corruption!! says:

Wanna win an Election?

It’s easy to win an election these days, simply use these machines and pay one of the operators to insert a virus infected memory card. Do a search for Diebold on Techdirt and read about the problems associated with these machines!! There are several videos on Google and YouTube about how easy these machines are to infect.

Maybe I should run for governor!! I may actually win!!!

Chronno S. Trigger says:

I don't get it

My dad runs a company that makes Kiosks that people use to pay there water bill. How much harder could it be to make one for voting? Now I can see that making sure no one votes twice is really hard but making a kiosk that works and is secure is really easy. We have several all over the US already. So, why is this a problem?

ebrke says:


Things like this just reinforce my feeling that this is no longer the country of which I used to be proud to be a citizen. Voting has been one of our most precious freedoms, and it has now degenerated into a farce of gargantuan proportions. The small percentage of us who are even willing to vote can be disenfranchised because they haven’t the ability/money to obtain a particular “approved” ID, others can be disenfranchised at random (or not) by quirks of software. And the worst of it is that very few of us seem even to care.

Lay Person says:

Re: Sad


Yeah that’s just where they want us…disinterested, complascent, and full of the belief that our government, through consensus, knows what it is doing.

It’s best not to question whats going on and just accept it blindly. It’s all legitimate and there is nothing wrong. We are just non-conformist, conspiracy types who are possibly losing our minds.

Keep it moving… there’s nothing to see here… just keep it moving…

Anders says:

no electronics good enough

The problem is that all tech can be hacked, and nothing is a bigger target, you may think “well we have online banks that are secure..”, well first of all, banks have much more tools at hand like names, adresses, accountings etc, if one million is suddenly transferred to your paycheck account, they have the records, they can make traces etc, even if you do hack them, and even if you do it all undetected and get away with it, its just money, its simply some losses.

Its a completely different thing to trace a election hack, with an embedded virus, a poll machine can easily change a million votes for candidate A to votes for candidate B and then the virus can delete all traces of itself or that anything suspicious has happened.


Get serious

Clean the punch card machines before each election and they will work correctly. They malfunction when they are full of chads.
Has anyone ever used a computer that did not crash?
Of course the scantron machines counting the ballots can also be rigged; just ask any teacher whoever used one and inserted the wrong “correct” answer card first before running a stack of student-marked cards through the machine.

LadyJaneDoe says:

Diebold should be voted out

Enough is enough with this company supplying voting machines. They can’t do it in a strightforward, honest way with a paper receipt – then they do not deserve the business.
I urge voting jurisdictions to vote out these machines and get an alternative that gives a paper printout so voters can be assured their votes were recorded correctly. Without that – we will all be in doubt again and again and again.

Just a developer... says:

To everyone that doesn't trust technology...

Yes, the new voting machines are buggy and should not be used (dump this moronic company)… yes, technology has issues… computers crash, etc.

But is everyone really ignorant enough to believe that the original system is fool-proof? Computers are no more succeptable to hacks than ANYTHING that has human intervention.

I agree, I could probably write a virus that would mess with the system… and even if a printout (or some kind of receipt system was used), I could fake that too… it’s all controlled by the technology, and thus can all be manipulated…

But how is that any less effort than one of the millions of scandals committed by our government over the years?

Really now people… really……

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