Ohio Finds All E-Voting Machines In The State Had Serious Flaws

from the no-surprise-there dept

Earlier this year, California found all sorts of problems with e-voting machines used in the state. Now, Ohio, home to some of the more controversial stories surrounding presidential elections, has also found serious flaws in every e-voting machine used in the state. It's the usual stuff that has been pointed out for years: it was easy to pick locks on the machines, introduce fake votes, and load up dangerous unauthorized software onto the machines. Not much new there -- just another confirmation. What's much more interesting is the reaction of the firms involved.

First up is "Premier Election Solution," who you probably would recognize better under its old name: Diebold. The company changed its name a few months ago, hoping people would no longer associate Premier with all of the ridiculously bad history associated with Diebold. A Premier official said that all of the problems noted in the report have been fixed in its new machines. While that's a better response than Diebold's typical response of trashing any researcher who points out a flaw or cracking jokes about the flaws, it's one of the few times we've ever seen Diebold/Premier admit that older machines actually did have significant flaws. Of course, the few times that's happened in the past, it's always come with the same sort of "but everything is fixed now!" clause. And... every time a Diebold/Premier representative says something along those lines, it's only a matter of months until new flaws are announced. So, given Diebold's history, it's pretty difficult to take the company's word that all the flaws have now been fixed.

Even worse, though, is the response of ES&S, who has become even more Diebold-like in its responses to various problems found in its machines. On the Ohio report, ES&S responded: "We can also tell you that our 35 years in the field of elections has demonstrated that Election Systems and Software voting technology is accurate, reliable and secure." Note that this doesn't actually respond to any of the specific criticisms in the report. As for that history, let's take you back to a few of ES&S's greatest hits: this is the company that was caught providing uncertified software to California, while also failing to disclose foreign manufacturing partners (as required by federal law). It's also the company responsible for the well-known case in Florida where thousands of votes went missing and the election in Texas where votes were counted three times. And, of course, let's not forget the internal memos at ES&S which showed the company knew about problems with its software, while publicly stating that the machines were perfectly fine. So, sorry, ES&S, you can try to pretend those things didn't happen, but the history you point to hardly shows that your machines are "accurate, reliable and secure." It shows a company that will say anything to avoid admitting that its machines have problems.
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Filed Under: e-voting, ohio
Companies: diebold, es&s, premier


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  1. identicon
    Simon, 17 Dec 2007 @ 6:09am

    All because....

    All of these problems are the product of the knee jerk reaction that occurred during the 2000 election, when the PREVAILING LAW AT THAT TIME prevailled. None of the electronic solutions since, have been properly thought out. The problem is the electronic voting machine, or the punch ballot, or the hand written ballot, or hanging/pregnant/dimpled/depressed chads or any other device. The problem is with the voter. So long as you have people who can not read, can not write, and people who "bes not noin how to bes talkin" you will have these kinds of problem. This is one of the reasons for the electoral college.
    To address the problem properly I think that any electronic ballot machine being considered should print the actual ballot that gets counted, The information should NOT be stored electronically and counted. I think that the hard copy created should be counted using an optical reader. The name of the candidate should appear next to the pip, bar code, or what ever the reader uses for its optical count. This way there the vote can visually check his/her/it's ballot BEFORE dropping it in the box, if there is an error it can be shredded on the spot and re taken. This is a simple solution to a problem that the media has made way too complicated.
    Additionally, "exit polling" and other forms of localized counting should be friggan stopped. Not a single vote should be counted until the entire country has voted. Knowing who/what has won/passed is not so important that we need to know the very second that the final vote it counted. Most states have to certify their vote counts and when that certification is done, we can all learn what the tallies are.
    oh and just so that it can be said, there has been some sort of voting 'problem' since the very beginning of this country. How many cemetery populations have voted in the past? how many people have double/triple(more) voted? It is not a perfect system, but it is the best one available.

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