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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    rijit (profile), Mar 12th, 2007 @ 10:40am

    "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."

    At least for now, until the lobbyists figure out who to pay off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Republican Gun, Mar 12th, 2007 @ 12:12pm

    Don't Forget the USPS

    The US postal Service is also on top of things. They are the only ones that actually are self sufficient per the GAO.

    2012 is coming and the Hopi Indians were right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    billy, Mar 12th, 2007 @ 12:27pm

    3 cheers for GAO

    I hope they do not sell out like the rest of congress and the government.
    It is nice to think there is a sliver of hope where greed does not rule our government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2007 @ 1:02pm

    Massive budget cuts hit the GAO, film at 11:00.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    John B, Mar 12th, 2007 @ 3:04pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2007 @ 3:28pm

    Why do people insist on fixing what isn't broken? There never was and still is not a need for e-voting machines. Cards work just fine, and it's a lot harder to tamper with those. Anytime you make something electronic, it makes it at least 10 times harder to maintain and secure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Adam, Mar 12th, 2007 @ 4:50pm


    Where's Jo now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Wizard Prang, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 7:25am

    Election officials love it. It makes their job easier.

    The Old way: Hand-count thousands of votes.
    The New Way: Press a button.

    Apparently their convenience is more important than the security and accountability of the election process.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Never An Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 1:07pm

    Re: From someone using electronics to make his poi

    Walk the talk, and instead of using electronics to spout your opinion. Why don't use a pen and paper. Like you said, if it isn't broken. Why use electronics.


    Never An Anonymous Coward

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 15th, 2007 @ 5:50am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Wizard Prang, Mar 15th, 2007 @ 8:22am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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