What The Maryland Study On Diebold Voting Machines Didn't Tell You

from the now-you-can-find-out dept

One of the issues concerning e-voting machines, and Diebold in particular, is how they’ve responded to all the criticism and vulnerabilities — with the company often being accused of covering up, ignoring or denying the problems. Steven Zakulec writes to let us know that back in 2003, Maryland commissioned a study on the Diebold machines they’d just spent millions on, in response to the concerns originally raised by Prof. Avi Rubin. According to Steven: “Right from the beginning Diebold demanded two very broad concessions: no source code access, and they reserve the right to redact out any proprietary information.” That seems like a pretty questionable demand, and one Diebold should have been in no position to make, considering the importance of truly independent investigation into the machines. The final “redacted” report came out weighing in at a lightweight 38 pages. Remember, Diebold was only supposed to redact proprietary info. Turns out that they found an awful lot of that. Someone high up has leaked the original documents which weighs in at 200 pages meaning that someone (most likely Diebold) was able to knock out 162 pages of info on vulnerabilities. The link above has the entire original document for downloading, and wonders how many of the many, many vulnerabilities discussed in the report were actually dealt with before the 2004 election and how many were dealt with before today’s election. Chances are not that many.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to feel confident about e-voting companies and their tech ability, Chief Elf writes in to let us know that he went to check out the company, Advanced Voting Systems, that built the e-voting system he used this morning, and found a nice big error message right on their home page. I just checked and it was still there, but in case they fix it, here’s a screenshot. It’s tough to trust these companies to build competent voting machines when they can’t even correct database/PHP errors on their own website on election day.

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Comments on “What The Maryland Study On Diebold Voting Machines Didn't Tell You”

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SPR (profile) says:

Voting machine fraud

The government has the ability and resources to design and build voting machines that should be able to be fraud proof. Why are we as a country relying on some company with questionable political connections and even more questionable ethics to do this? Why are we trusting them at all when they are subject to being influenced by a dictatorial individual that is a known supporter of terrorist entities that have vowed to destroy us?

Charles Griswold (user link) says:

Re: No Such Thing ....

“Complain all you want. Just bear in mind that there is no perfect system!”

Nice attitude. We had a working but non-perfect voting system that used paper, and they want to replace it with a totally broken system using buggy and easily-hacked voting machines, but that’s OK because no system is perfect.

I know, let’s replace our government with an autocratic dictatorship. Hey, no government is perfect. Let’s replace our paper money with large wooden planks. After all, no monetary system is perfect. Let’s replace the internet with semaphore towers. After all, there is no such thing as a perfect information network, right?

Good grief, man, next time you post why don’t you pull your head out first?

Too much compaining... says:

Shut up and go vote

#2 If you don’t trust a private company that has connections to a certain political party, why would you trust the political party itself to build the machines. By the way, since when did “let the government do it” become an acceptable solution. A government designed/built voting machine would cost 10 times as much and take 3 times as long to roll out. Not to mention using private companies helps the economy. The particular company picked may not the the ideal choise ( I really don’t know) but going private is far better than asking the government to do it. As fo your last comment, that is just plain idiotic.

#4 I don’t think #3 was refering only to electronic voting machines: “no perfect system” rather any voting method. Paper ballots will have all sorts chad issues. Any method you select, regardless of how you feel about our system of checks and balances, is going to have flaws.

#5 So far complaining has done nothing to change anything, never has either. Come up with a solution and do something or quit complaining. Things change because action is taken, not because someone complains.

Now everybody shut up and go vote…

SPR (profile) says:

Re: Shut up and go vote

“#2 If you don’t trust a private company that has connections to a certain political party, why would you trust the political party itself…”
Where have you been hiding??!! The “private company with political connections” is NOT connected to a political party but is “Diebold” tied to Hugo Chavez of Venezeula. He has bought a significant interest in the company that is manufacturing our voting machines!!! Why is that they can’t produce a machine using technology that is able to do a simple head count? it’s not like it’s a complicated problem!! After all, how many ways can you count YES/NO answers??

Egat says:

Re: Re: Shut up and go vote

Any electronic system that is required to solve a problem with 100% accuracy is INHERENTLY complicated. Even if the problem was only to count the number of times a button was pressed.

Accurately counting votes for items on a ballot, while only allowing a person to vote once, geting the data to a central location and reporting results is quite a bit more complicated that it sounds. Doesn’t matter if your solution is paper or electronic.

However, that is an even greater reason to have these machines be open to outside inspection, source code, schematics, everything. That is the only way we can be confidant the problem has been solved in a satisfactory manner.

D says:

Re: Re: Shut up and go vote

Actually, Diebold was not the company with Hugo Chavez ties. That company was Sequoia Voting Systems. Additionally, most Diebold machines have been modified to produce a paper trail. And yes, they do make optical scanners. However, the machine that was used to make the paper/absentee ballots was made by Ricoh. And when localities go outside of themselves, they normally use a printing press company anyway with strong ties to the community.

Also, I have a problem with paper ballots. Though electronic machines may be vulnerable at times to inside tampering, at least they are not prone to being thrown away (see numerous Chicago and San Fran elections where paper ballots were found at the bottom of the lake or bay). The fact is, there is no perfect system.

Oh, my knowledge is because I worked for a locality as an independent consultant.

Dave (profile) says:

Geren, you're right.

But my bank trusts my ATM, and I trust it because it generates a paper receipt. If I deposit a check and the bank says I didn’t, I can bring in the receipt and say, “yes, I did”. If they refuse to honor it, I can call the cops, or the newspapers or just tell everyone I know.
I know that.
The bank knows that.
The ATM company knows that. (they also know that the bank will make their lives difficult, if I make the bank’s life difficult.)
So the ATM folks make verifiable ATMs that work right. I trust the bank and the bank trusts me. Mostly.

It ain’t perfect, but it’s pretty good.

Some of the voting machines we’re using in this election would have to be improved a lot to make it up to ‘unacceptable’.

That’s my two cents, anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Advanced Voting Systems

Even without the home page error I would be hesitant to trust a tech company with a website that looks like theirs. It looks like it was designed (and I use that term loosely) 15 years ago by an eighth grader.

Hey, if an eighth grader can design a voting machine surely they can design a website.

Go figure says:


Actually, complaining is the ONLY thing that prompts actions by the government, so we should do plenty of it if we want anything to change. What do you want, everyone to go invent a better voting machine instead of complaining? Get real!

Diebold is a highly suspicious company for many reasons, soem of them related ot the CEO’s politics and statements he’s made, an dsome of them purely greedy busienss decisions to squash legitimate concerns. We don’t use Diebold machines in Arlington County where i live. And if we did, you had better believe I would complain!

just me says:

voting machines

I believe our rights are being violated. We have the right to vote, and have our vote counted. Anything less, is a violation. We should be able to take them to Court, and Ram their voting machines where the sun don’t shine. If we are refused, then the public will know our rights don’t count. As a Nation, someone should be able to tell us what our next recourse shall be. Granted many will be pissed, but this needs to be cleaned up now. Before you know it, More will win elections, and they will have not of earned the public vote. Our Election Process will be a joke for other Nations to be humored by. We already look bad in some areas. No need to be called the worst Nation out of all of the developed Countries.

Jessica J. says:

Just a quirky tangent observation...

Maybe I am a snob when it comes to what graphics these bigger companies place on their web sites…but I consider a company’s layout and content to be a direct reflection of what kind of people are involved with the company being promoted over the web.

While looking at the screen shot you offered, on the left side is a graphic of an eagle with an “imprint” of an American flag over its eye. That graphic is offered on a multitude of free clip art web sites…

They couldn’t afford to hire someone to design custom graphics for their site?

Again, just a quirky tangent…

Dane says:

Re: Just a quirky tangent observation...

I’m not sure how you can have much faith in a company that can’t spell it’s own name or address properly (Company name: Adavanced? & Address: Boulavard?) on the Investor page. Overall the whole site looks like someone in accounting whipped it up to save money on a real designer… and they got their money’s worth. 😛
No offence to accountants.

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