Did South Carolina Use Second-Hand E-Voting Machines That Louisiana Decertified?

from the conspiracy-theories dept

The election situation in South Carolina keeps getting stranger. Last week, we noted how the controversial election of Alvin Greene, a broke, out of work guy currently facing felony obscenity charges, who did no campaigning and no advertising of his campaign, had people looking at the e-voting machines in the election as one possible culprit. The ES&S iVotronic machines used in the election have no paper or audit trail, so there’s really no way to go back and check, but the differences in voting patterns between the e-votes and absentee ballots certainly raised some eyebrows, as did a test of randomness in voting results using Benford’s law (a useful tool for suggesting data was faked).

Now, reader Pickle Monger alerts us to the news that the previously expected winner of the campaign, Vic Rawls, is claiming that the ES&S e-voting machines used in the campaign were bought secondhand from Louisiana after Louisiana outlawed their usage:

Third is the well-documented unreliability and unverifiability of the voting machines used in South Carolina. It is worth noting that these machines were purchased surplus from Louisiana after that state outlawed them.

In response, the state is insisting there is no truth to this claim at all:

South Carolina’s election commission begs to differ about the provenance of the voting machines. Spokesman Chris Whitmire says the state’s 12,000 iVotronic voting machines were bought brand-spanking-new from Election Systems and Software, an Omaha-based behemoth that boasts of operations in 39 states.

Rawls’ campaigns’ response is hardly reassuring:

“That was what the word around the state was — heard it from several people.”

In other words, total hearsay. I’m all for pointing out the problems of e-voting systems, and ES&S certainly does have an exceptionally long history of having problematic machines that have been decertified in certain states, but claiming that such machines were used in South Carolina without any evidence other than “heard it from several people,” seems pretty silly.

Of course, South Carolina’s election commission has its own credibility problems. Apparently, its been telling local news media that the iVotronic systems do have an auditable paper trail. They don’t. They have a paper tally, but that’s not the same thing.

Either way, if you’ve been following the whole e-voting mess for many years, this sort of situation was bound to happen. Even if it turns out that e-voting machines were not the problem, the very lack of a voter verifiable paper trail, combined with massive security problems and ridiculous levels of secrecy from the e-voting companies has created a world in which no one actually trusts those machines. Even if the results were accurate, the voting machine companies’ own actions have created so much doubt in people’s minds, that they don’t trust the results at all.

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Companies: es&s

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Comments on “Did South Carolina Use Second-Hand E-Voting Machines That Louisiana Decertified?”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I'll lean toward real results.

“do you really want to give purse powers to a guy who can’t stay in the black himself?”

Please remind me, how much has the national debt gone up this year? This guy probably thinks 50 bucks is alot and would think twice about signing a bill thats going to cost a trillion dollars.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I'll lean toward real results.

Also, someone with little money is more susceptible to “bribes” or perhaps not direct bribes but actions by special interest groups that ultimately serve their financial interests. Someone with tons of money, like Bill gates, who already gives tons of money to charity will probably be much harder to bribe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I trust a cryptographic end to end user verified voting system more. Post grad cryptographers spent MANY years developing these systems and if used correctly they are far better than what we have now (and they do a good job of ensuring both anonymity and the assurance that your vote was counted).

R.H. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I think we’re talking about a regulated system of voting rather than a regulated election. Here in Michigan we vote by filling out by hand a sheet with the little multiple choice bubbles like you have on a Scantron. Then you feed that into an optical scanner which checks to make sure the ballot is not spoiled (missing votes, too many choices for an office, etc.) and stores the results. So then you have an electronic and easy to count system with a paper backup just in case the machine is compromised. Even if we did switch to a touchscreen system here I’d prefer there to be a paper-trail that the voter can check before confirming his or her vote. With something this important, saving a bit of paper and ink just doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

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