Government Accountability Office Trashes E-Voting Machine Testing

from the yet-again dept

The latest evidence of problems with the electronic voting actually comes from the government itself. John points us to the news of a report coming out of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) slamming the process of e-voting testing. In January, the story broke that the company that had supposedly certified approximately 70% of the e-voting machines used in last November’s election had actually lost its own certification back during the summer due to some serious questions about whether or not it was really thoroughly testing the e-voting machines (if it was testing them at all). When this was pointed out, people who supported reform on e-voting machines were called wild-eyed activists even as they were being proven correct. Some industry insiders then stopped by Techdirt to claim we had no idea what was really going on and insisting (a) that the machines had been tested and (b) letting security researchers look at the machines would be somehow irresponsible. Yet, the GAO seems to find the opposite — noting just how problematic these machines have been: “We concluded in 2005 that these concerns have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes.” It’s all pretty damning again, but we fully expect the e-voting companies (at least the ones who aren’t looking to sell their e-voting units, as both Sequoia and Diebold have explored) to continue to deny there are any problems.

On a related note, can we give a public hand to the GAO, which seems to be the one government agency that doesn’t seem to toe the party line all the time? From telling Senators that blaming file sharing system for porn is bogus to slapping down the FCC over its bogus broadband competition numbers to noting that pharmaceutical patents prevent the development of new drugs to this latest report, it seems like the GAO actually is one government organization that’s more focused on what’s actually happening, rather than what the lobbyists and politicians want to happen.

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Comments on “Government Accountability Office Trashes E-Voting Machine Testing”

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John B says:

Why GAO is actually independent

A few yeas back, I went to an OECD talk on international competitiveness, where I was relieved to find out why the Government Accountability Office is actually independent of the current political climate. The primary reason is because, David Walker, the guy who heads the GAO, is appointed to a 15 year term. Yes, that’s right: a fifteen year term! This helps insulate the office from the political winds (whims?) of the times, which is exactly what it was designed to do. This means that his or her appointment is taken very seriously by the Senate, which has to approve the nomination. The term of the current head of the GAO expires in 2013.

Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Re: Re: Walking the talk

Dunno if you were talking to me, but…

I am not opposed to e-voting because I have a problem with “electronics”, I am opposed to it because it because in many cases it is inherently insecure.

Voting NEEDS a paper trail, so that…

1) Recounts can be meaningful.
2) People can see that their votes were count as cast.

Without that, we’re reduced to “The computer says so, so it must be right”. Electronics has its place, as does hard copy. Would you buy in a store that had no price tags on the shelf?

To answer your question; Techdirt isn’t broken. e-voting is.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

er, stupid

he does not want to keep his point secure, he wna ts you to read it. Also, if TD gets hacked, the worst that will happen (hopefully) is that Mike swears a lot, cleans the web server, and loads the backup of the site and all the stories, and has to re-post he stories for that day, with an embarrasing announcement about why the site was down. If an e-voting machine gets hacked, the best that can happen is that that Bugs Bunny Reform Party, or the National Socialist German Worker’s Party wins the election. teh first option would be funnier, but the latter might make more trouble. the worst that can happen is that you end up with a President who makes Stalin look honest, who mandates that the hackable voting machines are to be used in the next election, giving him control of Congress, enabling him to change the Constitution at will. scary thought, huh?

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