Diebold Cracks Jokes About Hacked Voting Machines In Florida

from the ha-ha-very-funny dept

Earlier this week, we wrote about the latest hacking tests on Diebold voting machines in Florida, that apparently resulted in one county declaring it would not use Diebold machines any more. At the time, the only report was from the group that did the hacking -- so some of the details weren't entirely clear. The Associated Press now has the full story which includes some more, important, details and a response from Diebold. First of all, the important detail which wasn't made clear by the original story was that the test was not about Diebold's electronic touchscreen systems -- which have been the focus of most of the controversy over the past few years. Instead, the hack was of a Diebold scanner -- which is used on the more traditional paper ballots. A Diebold representative used this fact to joke about the hack: "Now we're not trusting paper. Somebody could also steal the pencil and then you couldn't mark the ballot."

Of course, if you have even the slightest respect for the integrity of our voting system, the results of the test and Diebold's response should scare you silly. It raises serious questions about why we would ever trust any Diebold machine without also hand counting a paper trail. The fact that their touchscreen machines don't include a secondary paper trail means those machines should never be used at all. In joking about it, Diebold is not only brushing aside the very valid questions about the integrity of their machines, but also distorting the argument in favor of paper ballots by suggesting that since this test showed that paper ballots weren't reliable, then the request for a paper trail in their other machines made no sense any more either. What he's being misleading about, of course, is that it wasn't the paper that failed. It's the paper that proves that his company's machines failed. Diebold also brushed aside the actual hack by saying that it would be impossible to do in a real election environment, because people would be around. That's again misleading. If you read the details of how the test was run, you could see that it's entirely possible that, with some planning, someone could have a preprogrammed memory card with plus or minus votes already on them, and then just figure out a way to make sure that card is used. Either way, the details of what happened as well as Diebold's response should make it clear to everyone why not only is a paper backup trail needed, but in many cases, it should be used to check on the validity of any electronic votes.

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  1. identicon
    CloakedMirror, 16 Dec 2005 @ 5:29am

    No Subject Given

    While I can understand the various worries about Diebold voting machines, the reality is that there is no perfect system for casting and tabulating votes. Are their machines any more, or any less, vulnerable to fraud? I personally don't know. I do know that accusations of ballot rigging/stuffing have been around for much longer than I have even been alive.
    So, the questions should be this...
  2. Do the Diebold systems create greater or lesser chances for voter fraud?
  3. How can we compute those chances?
  4. How much of the current "scandal" is actually media hype brought about by the fact that the former CEO is/was a Republican supporter?
    If anyone actually believes that there is some means by which voter fraud can be completely done away with then I would love to hear how you would accomplish it. Maybe we could do something like they did in Iraq, and make everyone dip their finger in ink. Oh, wait, I heard a report this morning that there was a group of militia that voted and then refused to dip their fingers! So much for that idea!

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