Diebold Hid Faulty Machines From Elections Board

from the again-and-again-and-again dept

It’s hard to go a day without hearing yet another story about electronic voting machine problems. However, the worst thing is the way that the companies in the space, with Diebold leading the way, respond when they find out about problems. Whether it’s denying they’re problems to cracking jokes about those who find the flaws, it doesn’t make you very confident that they really want these machines fixed. The Washington Post has now discovered that Diebold had to quietly replace defective parts on a bunch of their machines last year. Now, obviously, defects happen, but what’s odd is the way Diebold made sure that as few people as possible knew that the machines had problems that were being fixed. While Diebold claims it was “publicly disclosed,” it turns out all that was disclosed was that there would be “a technology refresh” to bring the machines up to a more recent specification. It did not say anything about the devices having faulty parts — which may have raised some concerns from the Elections Board about how ready these machines were for elections. Now, it’s not at all surprising to find out that a company would want to keep news of technical failures in its equipment from being publicly discussed — but it should be required for equipment that is being used for a public election where people need to trust that the equipment is safe and accurate. Along the same lines, as we suggested when Diebold’s source code was leaked, some in the press are starting to point out that having the source code available should be required. There’s simply no reason not to require it, if you want a fair and accurate election.

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Comments on “Diebold Hid Faulty Machines From Elections Board”

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Steve says:

Re: two cents worth

Their ATMs dont act up because the customer (the bank) insists on quality and reliability. The customer for the voting machines (government) has no incentive to require that.. On the contrary – They were probably awarded a low-bit contract, which means that for profit motives, any and all corners must be cut…

I can see it now… “Welcome to Diebold, as our newest Junior programmer, you’ll be assigned to the voting machine project”, while the veteran programmers work on the “real” projects…..

Ben says:

Re: two cents worth

they do. i work for brinks and service their atms. when an atm goes down, only about 10% it is because it has run out of money. most of their atms are built very cheap. so far this year i have witnessed two broken locks for the access doors, and last week we had an atm that would not close up and had to call diebold to install another lock! and these are new atms… less than a year old! they’re constantly malfunctioning… no feeding receipt paper correctly… and sending about 10-15% of the the cash into the divert because the sensors malfunction!

been there done that says:

Re: is it really that hard?

I’ve seen the systems and how they work… and I rest easy knowing that the system is both secure and consistant.

when we had the paper ballots that looked like Scantrons, how do you think we counted votes?

we have been using computers to count the votes for almost 75 years…

just because we removed the paper scantron to save the trees, doesn’t make the count less acurate. also, my state requires a paper trail, so you look and agree or the vote isn’t recorded.

and as for secure, last I looked, they don’t use networking at all, and the media was encripted better the the DOJ laptops that have been being stolen recently.

Aaron says:

Absentee votes can get lost in the mail or tossed out intentionally.
Paper votes can be manipulated by election officials.
Electronic machines can malfunction or be manipulated.

There are so many things that can go wrong on voting day, intentionally or accidentally, that all that is accomplished by worrying about each and every one is voter dissatisfaction and disillusionment. With electronic machines, there are new ways for things to go wrong, but on balance, it’s no more insecure that every previous election (and prior to 2000, nobody saw a huge problem).

Maf says:

Re: Re:

Yes, a lot of things could go wrong in any election, electronic or otherwise, but it’s much easier to cheat with a computer than without.

But that’s not really the point, the point is that the machines have been proven faulty several times and that that the companies have been very closed and deceitful on the subject (and the government/people don’t seem to mind much)

j37hr0 (user link) says:

Conspiracy Theory

If it is incredibly simple or highly likely that this electronic voting will be tampered with, let someone do it. Make a write in candidate the winner. Make yourself the winner. Make Abraham Lincoln the winner. The possibilities are endless. And with no paper trail there can’t be a recount. Something will be fixed if that happens. If it doesn’t, there will be no reason to think the electronic voting is any less accurate or reliable than paper hanging chad ballots.

Steve Savage says:

Diebold and ES&S shenanigans

How many people would do business with a bank that refuses to give you a paper trail of your accounts?

Its no surprise that the GOP wants electronic voting more than anyone else, and that the 2 main companies who provide them have contributed to pro-GOP 527 organizations.

Its just too tempting to steal an election no matter which party is in control. The whole idea of a paper trail is so recounts can be done and verification by external parties can occur.

techdirtReader says:

flawed argument

“With electronic machines, there are new ways for things to go wrong, but on balance, it’s no more insecure that every previous election”

Oh yes, minimize the weakness of an idea by pointing out a weaknesses of an alternative idea, no matter how insignificant those weakness are in comparison. Its a wash!

‘Yes, I realize that solution A has been found to cause cancer and permanent brain damage, but solution B has been found to cause goose bumps on first application. There are risks with either solution’.

General Fault says:


Can anyone tell me why we need multi GHz machines complete with floating point processor, networked over several layered protocols using with a multi-threaded OS, touch screens with double buffered 24 bit color output and several MB of memory with data stored over a complex bus that includes all sorts of unused functionality all to do a simple candidateA = candidateA+1 when a button is pressed?
Take a look at the electronic voting system in India. The machines are simple to use/make and the results are easy to verify and even multi-lingual.

|333173|3|_||3 says:


THis way they are more fun to hack – how fo you make sure the right candidate wins when anybody can uderstand the system.

To Spork: if the permenant officials were actually permenant and promoted by thier own hierachy, not by the politicians. HTis way, they would be able to get on with government while the politicains do the politcs, a much better division of labour. The Civil Service can make sensible decisions, and do not need to worry about etting re-elected, and the politicians can worry about being re-elected without thet making a mess of the country. THe Civil Servants can be those mebers of the upper-middle class who do not need to line thier own pockets or worry about thier tax bill. THe perfect system of governemnt is that in Yes POrtime Minister, where there is a disinterested and unelected upper house which moderates the actions of the lower, and the Civil Service is independent of politics. Unfortunately, the system was neer that perfect and is now being destroyed.

Mike Mixer (profile) says:

It doesn't take a Diebold to ruin an election

Many years ago I lived and worked in a small town where emotions ran high at election time. One concerned citizen took it upon himself to stake-out
City Hall the night of the election to see if he could catch the powers that be in any shenanigans. Lo and behold, at about 12:30 am, a light went on in the supposedly sealed ballot counting room. This concerned citizen went ballistic to say the least. Aside from all of the conspiracy talk generated the one pertinent question was” Why was the cleaning crew allowed into a sealed room with uncounted ballots the night of an election?”. explanations from those involved(some of whom were incumbants in
the election) ranged from” it was a minor mistake” clear up to “you have to wonder about somebody who thinks he has to guard the ballots” trying to impugn the integrity of the concerned citizen. As it turned out , none of the challengers won(insert gasp of amazement here) and all of the winners hailed Oregon’s new vote-by-mail ballots a rousing success.
Moral: It doesn’t take a Diebold to ruin an election, it
only takes an opportunity.

John (user link) says:

rigged vote tallies

Does anyone think the Cheney regime is going to let power slip away after all their banging on the Constitution and consolidating the power to snoop and torture…just because a bunch of .. the majority of voters want change .. ?? Not a chance.
The risk of investigation of 9-11 as to who really dunnit is too great to leave the election outcome to chance….More phony results in 2006 than ever in history of the world…..bet me.

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