Diebold Trying To Stop Documentary On E-Voting Problems; Complains About Wrong Film

from the opening-the-dialog,-huh? dept

On Monday, we wrote about how it suddenly appeared that e-voting concerns were going mainstream, not even realizing that HBO was preparing to show a documentary called "Hacking Democracy." In that post, I linked to a Fortune article that is actually somewhat more encouraging about e-voting's number one target: Diebold. Beyond giving the history of the company, it suggested that the company more or less recognized that they had been both "stupid" and "naive" in getting into the e-voting business, without understanding anything about it. It also noted that almost all of the companies top execs have recently been replaced -- and even said that the company is considering getting out of the e-voting business altogether. All of these suggest that the company actually recognizes that they've screwed up big time. That's a big step forward, since every time a new problem comes up they react by brushing it off (often with outright lies), attacking their critics or simply cracking jokes about their security problems. And, by now, it should be clear that the security problems are very, very real.

So, with all of that, perhaps it was wishful thinking to hope that the new Diebold management would be a bit more willing to engage in discussion over issues, rather than just attack. Of course, given all of the recent problems the company has had, followed by the same old, same old response, it seems clear that the company hasn't learned a thing. To make that clear, rather than dealing with the problems, they're working hard behind the scenes (and failing) to convince HBO to cancel the documentary. They claim that the documentary is filled with false and inaccurate statements -- which would be more believable if (a) the company ever owned up to any of its mistakes and (b) they had actually seen the movie (which they haven't, apparently). In fact, the points that Diebold raised in their letter apparently refer to an entirely different film called Voter Gate, which has nothing to do with the documentary HBO will be showing. Diebold claims it's by the same people, but it's not. Now, isn't that a surprise? Diebold can't even accurately figure out who's involved in a movie about them.
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  1. identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, 1 Nov 2006 @ 5:53am

    What Diebold should be building.

    What is needed is two separate systems that come from independent sources.

    First a computerized Ballot marking machine which will mark a standard sized ballot form- something like an old fashioned Holarith-computer card. That ballot should be marked with the written candidates name and a punch pattern. The voters can confirm their choices as printed on the ballot. If there is a difference then a new ballot can be issued and the old ballot marked as spoiled and retained in a special sealed box. When an acceptable ballot is produced the voter presses the accept button. This first ballot marking machine will record the votes placed on it.

    Second a Ballot reading machine that will accept the ballot, capture the ballot and record the vote on that machine as well. A slightly more complex machine should be provided to allow the handicapped to confirm their votes match what was placed on the first machine.

    At the end of the day all the votes are tallied from both systems. The numbers for a precinct should be compared and if they fall into an accptable range of error- say less than 1% the numbers should be accepted. If not a mechanical recount should be started on the printed ballots. If these numbers compare favorably with the count on the second machine then that number should be accepted.

    If the count fails then the cards may be sorted by an old fashioned computercard sorting machine and the votes can rapidly be visually inspected and verified. Any errors should be published and investigated linking the manufacturers to the errors.

    A fixed largeish number say 5-10% of precincts should be randomly reccounted and audited after the election.

    Lots of this is old technology that works well enough to prevent problems. Punch cards work fine if the punches are cleared from the machine and written names that can clearly indicate what was intended if the punch fails.

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