by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
anti-trust, e-voting

diebold, es&s, premier

Justice Department May Unwind Diebold E-voting Sale To ES&S

from the but-why? dept

After getting hammered publicly for having e-voting machines that didn't work well and had serious security problems, Diebold tried sell off its e-voting division for years with no luck. It then tried to change its name to Premier, hoping people wouldn't realize it was Diebold. In the end, Diebold finally found a buyer in ES&S, the other large player in the market. Between them they own 70% of the US market, apparently. And that's leading to some concern. The Justice Department is apparently looking into the deal to see if it should be unwound, out of fear that ES&S will jack up prices.

Honestly, I don't see what the value is in unwinding the deal. Then you'll have two awful e-voting companies with terrible track records with security and accuracy, rather than one. Instead, why aren't we focusing on requiring truly open solutions so that we actually verify that an e-voting system is both secure and accurate?

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  • identicon
    gg, 22 Dec 2009 @ 4:01am

    or, forget e-voting entirely

    I'm a software developer and I find talks about deployment of an e-voting system (in Italy, where I live we don't have one but someone is beginning to talk about it) extremely worrying. Why not forgetting about it entirely?
    Something so fundamental in a democracy as an election day should be performed by people, not by machines. Expecially by a machine whose work is extremely difficult to account. Even an opensource solution could have unforeseen security problems.
    The only solution is having people counting the ballots and having representatives from all parties supervise in every place counting is performed. Better even, open technologies could be used to open access to raw data while ballots are counted in real-time, to make the whole process even more accountable.
    Don't make machines do what should be done by humans!!

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

  • identicon
    thinkliberty, 22 Dec 2009 @ 4:56am


    You think that politicians will allow voting to be open, secure and accurate in America. Hahahaha

    That is a good one.

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

  • identicon
    :), 22 Dec 2009 @ 5:29am

    People do what they do already.

    Using ballots is no better then using machines.

    Ballots can be changed, faked there is not much that can be done in the real world that cannot in the virtual world.

    With that said the solution to a more transparent system may be online voting with secure encrypted keys that will send the data to multiple points and everybody come clean at the end if the results differ something is wrong.

    And people could go online to check if their vote was registered and to whom they voted.

    That would be impossible with(redundancy) with physical ballots.

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

    • identicon
      Jen, 22 Dec 2009 @ 6:12am

      Re: People do what they do already.


      It's true that paper ballots can be changed. What I find concerning about electronic voting is the scale on which fraud could occur. To pad or change individual ballots would require far more organization and manpower than hacking and manipulating the data electronically.

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

    • identicon
      gg, 23 Dec 2009 @ 7:06am

      Re: People do what they do already.

      Uhm. You don't see my point; you're looking at it from a technological point of view, and you're probably right (with the exeception correctly brought up by a commenter here that the scale of fraud relative to the effort and manpower necessary is very different with e-votes vs paper ballots).

      But I'm talking about society here. A good paper ballots system put a fundamental moment of democracy directly into the hands of common citizens and makes *them* responsible for it. Everybody has a role and every stakeholder has an interest and the right to have representatives at every level of the system. This is what makes it better, not technology - people. This is a moment that makes people become citizens.

      If the system functions with an underlying technology that is obscure to most citizens (and don't tell me that common people understand cryptography), that responsibility stops to be theirs and become of someone else - unknown and unaccountable, like diebold. That even if the system were technologically correct.

      In the end, what is democracy? If it's only a set of rules (a technology, or, more appropriately, a policy) then it could be easily exported. But it's not: it's a complex system that must exist before in the mind of citizens that partecipate in it. It's not a mystery that democracy is in pretty bad shape even in western countries, and e-vote systems do not help democracy - to the contrary, they're against it.

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

  • identicon
    Phil, 22 Dec 2009 @ 5:40am

    Single vendor = junk quality. & The DCMA will protect that vendor

    It's not just high prices that would be worrisome if there is only one major vendor, it's also quality that would suffer. (Not that Diebold sold quality machines before). It's simply that a monopoly, lacking a viable competitor, can offer a machine with known faults while proclaiming that, "We're working on it" without ever getting around to fixing it. Capitalism requires competition, or else there is no incentive to deliver a product that is free of defect at a reasonable price.
    This is a case where the product, which must have a certain verifiable quality, is software, and the unfavorable outcome that could occur due to a poor quality product, would be both serious --> potentially a false election result, and hidden.
    This is a perfect example of why the DCMA was such a poor idea, because this problem is arising from software which is copyrighted, encrypted, and protected by the DCMA.
    I challenge defenders of the DCMA to explain how this isn't a case of the DCMA interfering with normal free-market processes that are required for a buyer to know that what was purportedly sold, was actually delivered, and will function as advertised.

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

  • icon
    WammerJammer (profile), 22 Dec 2009 @ 6:48am

    Why aren't we requiring open solutions?

    It's very simple actually. The Politicians and the Corporations are still afraid of the people. They know we still hold the power and if we would just stop arguing and being so selfish we could stop them.
    But as long as we only think of ourselves we will be under their thumb. They work our greed and fear. We need to step up and vote them out.
    We need mostly in America to truly shut down the lobbyists.
    No more Obama crap and pandering to our dislikes. Obama was going to get rid of K street. What happened to that?
    Instead the lobbyists are still dictating law in America. Only our Congress with the majority agreement can make law.

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

  • icon
    Kacela (profile), 22 Dec 2009 @ 7:10am

    A possible solution

    A possible solution to vote fraud that already occurs with e-voting machines would be the generation of a receipt for the voter. I get a receipt at McDonalds - why can't I have one verifying my vote?

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

  • identicon
    The Anti-Mike, 22 Dec 2009 @ 8:00am

    I disagree with everything you've said, Mike.

    I'll explain my position after I've actually read the article. And then you'll be sorry. They'll all be sorry.

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

  • icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), 22 Dec 2009 @ 10:52am

    ya know, i just cant help but think e-voting, no matter what why how or when its employed is just not something i am going to trust for quite a while.

    combined with the fact that i have to go right by my local polling place or its within 5 minutes of where i live, i just dont see the need and/or reason. especially when every possible block to voting that anyone could come up with has already been removed. i cant really think of a single thing that e-voting can accomplish that current methods cant. if there is, feel free to inform me.

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

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