Memo Shows ES&S Knew Its E-Voting Machines Were Buggy
from the whoops dept
Remember those missing votes in Florida? The ones where a judge decided that the source code didn’t need to be revealed and where a very, very limited test showed all sorts of problems (even if the press pretended it said the machines were fine)? Yes, those same machines that an (anonymous) representative from an e-voting company (hint: it’s the one in question here) insisted was perfectly fine and that all of these complaints were just fear mongering. Well, now it turns out that, not only did those machines have some pretty big problems, the e-voting company ES&S that made them knew about the problems and had even sent a memo to election officials in Florida about it.
The memo noted that the machines had a flaw that sometimes would make the machines respond very slowly — requiring voters to push on their voting choice for much longer than would normally be expected. They had a fix, but admitted the fix wasn’t certified so it couldn’t be used. ES&S recommended that election officials post signs telling people to make sure to keep pressing on the screen until the vote was recorded — but Florida election officials decided that wasn’t necessary. Even better, during the court case looking into the missing votes, Florida officials conveniently “misfiled” that memo and did not turn it over to the court. Not surprisingly, the elections officials claim that it’s no big deal and are falling back on the examination of the source code — though, as other experts point out, simply examining the source code alone wouldn’t spot this kind of problem. That’s exactly why Ed Felten said that just examining the source code wasn’t sufficient in figuring out what the problem was. All in all, this repeats the same exact pattern we’ve seen over and over again with e-voting systems. The machines are tremendously flawed, and those who work at the companies (and many elections officials) respond to attempts to do serious research into their security and accuracy by stonewalling and misleading people. That’s not healthy for democracy and it’s not healthy for this country.