Why Do Elections Officials Always Seem To Side With E-Voting Companies Over Voter Concerns?

from the vote-here-and-let-us-know dept

For years, every time yet another report would come out about e-voting vulnerabilities, we'd quickly see responses from elections officials defending the e-voting systems. It wasn't a surprise to hear the e-voting manufacturers defend their machines, but why would elections officials almost always take the side of the e-voting manufacturers over various computer security experts and the very voters whose votes they're supposed to be protecting? There are some obvious possibilities, such as embarrassment over buying faulty machines or (more likely) fear at the cost of replacing those machines. However, Tim Lee points to a potentially more troublesome reason: many elections officials move in and out of jobs for the e-voting companies before and after their state jobs. Conflict of interest? Apparently it's just politics as usual.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 5:32am

    Politics as Usual

    Yup, bought out politicians are usual.
    Very sad.
    We need to take back out country.
    Need a new political party that actually cares and doesn't sell out.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    John B, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 5:34am

    Mike's misleading headline and article

    As usual, Mike is using misleading scare taglines and analysis to drum up interest. We should be applauding the election officials' actions, not screeching about it. If you actually read the article Mike points to in his post, it’s clear that the reason the testing firm lost its certification is not that it failed to narrow its testing procedures, as Mike implies. The reason it lost it's certification is that it was not following its (the laboratory's) own quality controls and was not thoroughly testing the machines and not adequately documenting what they did test (so that the problems could be readily verified, identified and fixed):

    Federal election officials found that Ciber (the testing firm) "was not following its (Ciber's) quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests...Experts say the deficiencies of the laboratory suggest that crucial features like the vote-counting software and security against hacking may not have been thoroughly tested on many machines now in use."

    Here's a link to the original source article in the NYT:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/04/washington/04voting.html?ei=5090&en=584c62f92a3b93b5&a mp;ex=1325566800&adxnnl=1&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=118 6143425-o4IM/GchP9LcW4ZKIDFveg

    Mike's so desperate for readers that he's willing to post misleading analysis to drum up his readership numbers at the expense of actually keeping pressure on election officials to make sure the e-voting machines are actually thoroughly tested. Pretty pathetic.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Bob Knight, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 5:47am

    Why Do Elections Officials Always Seem To Side Wit

    They are human and lazy

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 6:31am

    The adoption of electronic voting machines has been corrupted by bought politicians from the beginning.

    Just one example: The manufacturers refused access to their programming source code to anyone including independent, non-partisan inspectors such as universities. They claimed it was to protect their trade secrets.

    Compared against our right to vote in an honest and fair election, their trade secrets are not as important. The inspections could be done in a manner to protect their code.

    And the state governments allowed them to get away with it.

    The so-called "rights" of corporations trumped democracy again.

    Watch the TV documentary - Nova or Frontline, I believe - on the subject.

    PS - The so called rights of corporations to be treated as though they are citizens is based on a misreading of a single judge's opinion in a single case.

    Excerpt from:
    Now Corporations Claim The "Right To Lie" by Thom Hartmann

    In the 1886 Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state tax assessor, not the county assessor, had the right to determine the taxable value of fenceposts along the railroad's right-of-way.
    However, in writing up the case's headnote - a commentary that has no precedential status - the Court's reporter, a former railroad president named J.C. Bancroft Davis, opened the headnote with the sentence: "The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteen Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
    Oddly, the court had ruled no such thing. As a handwritten note from Chief Justice Waite to reporter Davis that now is held in the National Archives said: "we avoided meeting the Constitutional question in the decision." And nowhere in the decision itself does the Court say corporations are persons.
    Nonetheless, corporate attorneys picked up the language of Davis's headnote and began to quote it like a mantra.
    -----------------------
    Google it - read it. It's very important to us all.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 6:36am

    Re: correction to my PS above

    the problematic phrase wasn't in judge's opinion - it was in the court reporter's commentary (note the phrase in bold face)

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 6:39am

    I think it's because in this debate there are two clear sides of the fence..

    The Side Voters are on

    And then the Side the Politicians, Elections Officials, and Corporate Interests are on.

    They more than make that clear to us.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 6:44am

    Re: Mike's misleading headline and article

    John B doesn't agree with Mike, so instead of discussing the points of disagreement, he attacks Mike.

    "As usual, Mike is using misleading scare taglines and analysis to drum up interest"

    "Mike's so desperate for readers that he's willing to post misleading analysis"

    This is the kind of counterproductive - win at all costs - tactic that has harmed our country for the last 20 years or so.

    Not acceptable!

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    TooLate, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 6:46am

    Control is Power

    Because politicians are pushing hard for these machines to be put in place so that it will be easier to fix regulate the outcome of an election. "Does your candidate need to win? Our voting machines will scan voter registration lists and "automatically" cast votes for those people who (we're 97.638% sure) would have voted for your candidate but just didn't make it to the polls." and "No, our code is not available for public scrutiny - trade secrets, you know. But we hold all of our software to the highest standards and won't release it until it passes all of our quality-control procedures and documented tests."

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Are you serious???, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 6:50am

    Re: Mike's misleading headline and article

    You provided a link to the NY Times???

    hahahaha

    Read much biased media? Hearing that election officials have or will work for the voting machine company sounds like a cut and dry case of conflicting interests. I'd rather just have our voting officials be non-affiliated. Just as I'd rather not have an oil man controlling our military.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:15am

    Always conflicts in politics

    Where do you think that all the politicians used to work/will work after their done in office? Influential positions in big business or for lobbying firms. Even their family members "work" for lobbying firms while they are in office and get pretty hefty payment for "consulting." Election officials are just politicians too.

    PS John B, What are you talking about? The post is about how elections officials side with e-vote machine manufacturers most of the time when results of faulty machines are proven. Just because the testing company overlooked some procedures does that mean the voting official should discount the findings and say that e-voting machines are flawless? No, it means he should demand the tests be done properly. Of course, I am sure he will always cry foul whenever the results implicate faulty software from his previous/future/(possibly current) employer.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:16am

    Give anyone hard access to any system and eventually it will be hacked. I am still waiting for the report that outlines how a hack can occur in the real world.

    Better yet, where is the story of an e-voting machine being faulty in a real election?

    BTW, I am not an elected official nor do I work for an e-voting manufacturer. I am just someone who spends to much time being a news junkie, and I have yet to see a real world situation of a failure in the e-voting machines.

    I do agree that all e-voting should have a paper trail. Our county uses e-voting in all elections. The machines here print out a hard copy showing how you have voted. The last screen says something like "review the printout and press Confirm if the information is correct." With that type of a trail, any fault can be caught during an audit.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:18am

    Whoops!

    That should say 'they're' not 'their'. Probably 'they are' would be best. I think I was going to say 'their term in office.'

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Andrew, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:36am

    This one is easy...

    Here in San Diego County, we are especially luckily, our Registrar of Voters, Deborah Seiler, was the sales person from Diebold who sold the county the machines, so I am sure she knows better than anyone whether this things work or not. I don't know about the NYT, but our Copley News Service San Diego Union Tribune printed this article: http://cfx.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070728/news_1n28elect.html
    -Mike, I think John B. doesn't understand the concept of an attention grabbing headline, I bet he is a great salesperson "Hello Ma'am, would you like to buy our moderatly overpriced vacuum that you could buy at Target for half the price?"

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:38am

    uhh, money?

    elections officials don't make money from voters, they make money from making deals with the companies that make voting machines and the people who want to skew elections. if you want fair and honest elections, you need to make fair elections profitable for the officials involved.

    jeez, i thought that was pretty obvious.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    JEff, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:44am

    HA

    "...but why would elections officials almost always take the side of the e-voting manufacturers over various computer security experts and the very voters whose votes they're supposed to be protecting?"

    http://images.google.com/images?q=piles+of+money

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    William, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:51am

    Why???

    Because it are more accurate than the old methods of voting.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Pat, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:59am

    Re: Mike's misleading headline and article

    The article you post has nothing to do with the faulty code in the voting machines. It is only about a lab that was shut down for not following qc procedures. That might suggest that you were hoping that no one would actually read the article.

    Nothing in that article suggests that Mike's writing is anything other than factual. Yes, he gets emotional sometimes, but most passionate people do when they believe that something they care about is being threatened. In this case, it is his vote. As an American, I can relate. If you dig through every article cited in each of the links -- and I have -- you find a curious, almost viral, strain running through the articles. I have heard the testimony of a man a few years ago who stated that the programming for the e-voting machines could be easily subverted and very likely has been since the "chain of evidence" appears to be non-existent for many of the e-voting machines. Someone with enough money could get his or her guy elected without so much as a sneeze.

    So are you stating that the information that has already been brought to light is wrong or has been corrected? If so, then please, by all means, present the citations here because I would love to read facts -- as opposed to rhetoric -- that the glitches have been fixed and a voter's information has a hardcopy proof-of-choice in case of tampering.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Fred, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 8:46am

    Maybe they're just sick of being punching bags for people with nothing better to do than complain. We used to use paper ballots, but the professional Bitching Class said those weren't secure, were too confusing, were too easily manipulated (i.e. butterfly ballots and hanging chads). So the election officials put in electronic systems. Now we bitch that they're not secure and are too easily manipulated. What exactly do people want? Maybe we should just have a monarchy with hereditary succession; then we wouldn't have to worry about voting systems (not that many of the people bitching about source code and Diebold conspiracies bother to vote anyway).

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Ed, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 9:16am

    Because they are the same people that could not punch out a chad, make a line or make a X. There are so many dumbass voters that could not get it right it they just had to point at a pic of who they wanted.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 9:36am

    Re: Why???

    It are?

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Why???

    Yeah, I thought we have already proven that it aren't.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    oh21, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 10:04am

    TRAITORS to US and The US Constitution!

    I will start posting (as anonymously as possible for someone like me) mugshot photos with a politicians, corporatist, televangelist ... last name.png in as many internet public places as possible and including the simple caption "USA TRAITOR". I will leave it up to US Citizens to know/investigate why.

    Any USA Congressperson or Senator voting or corporatist, lobbyist, general ... against or President/VP vetoing "the bill banning/outlawing paperless voting machines and/or against requiring a voter-verified paper record for every vote in the country" will have their "name.png" mugshot plastered across the internet globally to make sure Yahoo, Google ... search-engines find their many mug-shots.

    ALSO, politicians and others beating the dead-horse mythology/religion and/or pseudo-patriot drum can expect the same "USA TRAITOR" mug-shots.

    Mythology/religious beliefs and practices are fully protected by The USA Constitution, and I fully support and defend mythology/religious freedoms for all US Folks. The Separation of mythology/religion from Government is fully protected by The USA Constitution, and I fully support and defend US Citizens freedoms from mythology/religious tyranny in Government. Any US Citizens seeking compromise are Traitors to DEMOCRACY, The USA Constitution, US Citizens and Culture.

    IOW: Mythology/religion are Personal OKay and Public NoWay!

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    oh21@comcast.net, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 10:24am

    Re: Dumb-Ass, education always suffers ....

    Dumb-Ass, education always suffers in the most totalitarian states/governments (including The USA). So, bonehead/dumbass if education in the USA is at such at highpoint of worthless value, then what is the real problem, illiteracy or wet-dream democracy.

    For anyone to think that illiteracy is to blame for flawed a/o corrupt elections/machines proves that many folks are illiterate, and there are far many more educated idiots/fools believing in print-books of spin-dogma/mythology as proving their pseudo-reasoning ability.

    I wish you narrow minded Dumb-Asses were able to think and grow up. Reactionary dogma-hog spin-spew murders them, then it eventually murders USAll.

    Are you a "USA TRAITOR" like most of the politicians and their staff in Washington, D.C.?

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 10:37am

    Re: Mike's misleading headline and article

    As usual, Mike is using misleading scare taglines and analysis to drum up interest

    Funny that you say that, and then write an entire comment about a totally different story than the one posted here. If anyone's being misleading, it would appear to be you.

    Also, your reasoning doesn't make sense. If my analysis is misleading, won't that *cost* me readers, rather than gain new ones? Why would we want to risk credibility like that? I strive to back up my positions, but this is an analysis site and we leave the comments open because we get into good discussions here with people who agree or disagree.

    It doesn't make sense for us to be purposely misleading. It only makes sense for us to make our opinion clear and back it up as strongly as possible.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    John B, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 11:32am

    Mike,

    The link I provided was the from the previous post to which you linked (defending the e-voting systems) in the article on this page. You put the exact same link in that post you wrote to support your views on this topic. Everything in this article depends upon the premise that that article shows that election officials are attacking e-voting security experts on behalf of the e-voting machine companies. If they're not attacking them on behalf of the e-voting machien manufacturers, then the rest of the article(s) does not make sense.

    Click on the link (defending the e-voting systems) in the article above, then click on the link in the linked article and see for yourself!

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 12:17pm

    Re:

    The link I provided was the from the previous post to which you linked (defending the e-voting systems) in the article on this page. You put the exact same link in that post you wrote to support your views on this topic. Everything in this article depends upon the premise that that article shows that election officials are attacking e-voting security experts on behalf of the e-voting machine companies. If they're not attacking them on behalf of the e-voting machien manufacturers, then the rest of the article(s) does not make sense.

    Elections officials have *repeatedly* sided with e-voting firms. I linked to one example, but there have been plenty of others.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 1:05pm

    Which best describes America?

    Which of these best describes America:

    "we the people", or "follow the money"?

    Not exactly what our Founding Fathers had in mind, is it?

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    John B, Aug 5th, 2007 @ 6:55am

    Re: Mike's misleading headline and article

    You accuse me (and others) of making vague criticisms. You try o poke holes in my arguements by criticizing the link I post because you don't even realize that a link I posted was the same one you posted to support your whole lame tin foil-hat theory.

    Then you make lame, general arguements against my critique without providing any supporting information or logic.

    If there are so many examples, then why did you link to that lame one example that actually works against your point?

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This