Skip to comments.Calif. Official Bans Some Voting Machines [Calls for Criminal Investigation of Diebold]
Posted on 05/01/2004 6:03:36 AM PDT by AntiGuv
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The state's top elections official called for a criminal investigation of Diebold Election Systems Inc. as he banned use of the company's newest model touchscreen voting machine, citing concerns about its security and reliability.
Friday's ban will force up to 2 million voters in four counties, including San Diego, to use paper ballots in November, marking their choices in ovals read by optical scanners.
Secretary of State Kevin Shelley asked the attorney general's office to investigate allegations of fraud, saying Diebold had lied to state officials. A spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer said prosecutors would review Shelley's claims.
Diebold issued a statement saying it was confident in its systems and planned to work with election officials in California and throughout the nation to run a smooth election this fall.
The ban immediately affects more than 14,000 AccuVote-TSx machines made by Diebold, the leading touchscreen provider. Many were used for the first time in the March primaries and suffered failures.
In 10 other counties, Shelley decertified touchscreen machines but set 23 conditions under which they still could be used. That order involved 4,000 older machines from Diebold and 24,000 from its three rivals.
The decision follows the recommendations of a state advisory panel, which conducted hearings earlier this month.
Made just six months before a presidential election, the decision reflects growing concern about paperless electronic voting.
A number of failures involving touchscreen machines in Georgia, Maryland and California have spurred serious questioning of the technology. As currently configured, the machines lack paper records, making recounts impossible.
"I anticipate his decision will have an immediate and widespread impact," said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation and a frequent critic of the machines. "California is turning away from e-voting equipment, and other states are sure to follow."
Activists have been demanding paper printouts required in California by 2006 to guard against fraud, hacking and malfunction.
Diebold has been a frequent target of such groups, though most California county election officials say that problems have been overstated and that voters like the touchscreen systems first installed four years ago.
At least 50 million voters nationally were expected to use the ATM-like machines from Diebold and other companies in November.
California counties with 6.5 million registered voters have been at the forefront of touchscreen voting, installing more than 40 percent of the more than 100,000 machines believed to be in use nationally.
A state investigation released this month said Diebold jeopardized the outcome of the March election in California with computer glitches, last-minute changes to its systems and installations of uncertified software in its machines in 17 counties.
It specifically cited San Diego County, where 573 of 1,611 polling places failed to open on time because low battery power caused machines to malfunction.
Registrars in counties that made the switch to paperless voting said Shelley's decision to return to paper ballots would result in chaos.
"There just isn't time to bring this system up before November," Kern County Registrar Ann Barnett said. "It's absurd."
Diebold officials, in a 28-page report rebutting many of the accusations about its performance, said the company had been singled out unfairly for problems with electronic voting and maintained its machines are safe, secure and demonstrated 100 percent accuracy in the March election.
The company, a subsidiary of automatic teller machine maker Diebold, Inc., acknowledged it had "alienated" the secretary of state's office and promised to redouble efforts to improve relations with counties and the state.
Those selfish activists! Don't they realize how many hackers are going to lose their jobs at the DNC because of this decision? < /sarcasm >
Yep, we use punchcards here, (Virginia Beach,VA), I've yet to see a chad of any sort. It's simple, quick and easy.
Simple, quick, easy, leaves two paper records - one in the machine, one to the customer.
The things are everywhere, too - no need for absentee ballots.
And the banks execute billions of transactions a day, with very, very, few errors.
And they would be happy to do it - for a buck a vote. Much cheeper than our current efforts.
Such machines can easily support two databases, report one, print the other.
And the banks execute billions of transactions a day, with very, very, few errors.
An ATM is just your checking account. A ballot is your freedom. The stakes are just a little different, no?
The very fact that we DON'T use ATM's convinces me that someone has a vested interest in cheating.
You won't know what your vote really was, because what the screen says and what the paper says may be the same, but that isn't necessarily what the machine will report to the tabulating computer upline. The way these systems work, it's easy for an administrator to get into it from a remote location and change your vote after you've left the polls.
Ballot Transparency to Eliminate Fraudulent Counts
Voters have read and seen all sorts of assurances that the new touch-screen balloting systems are fool proof, tamper proof, and nothing to worry about. Many, including those who are familiar with the technology, are not at all reassured.
The concerns are on two levels. First, from the perspective of those not familiar with the technology, it is a device whose inner workings and inherent security they cannot possibly understand. If they can't understand it, how can they be assured that it is honest? Second, those who DO understand signal processing, software, and communications technology know that is far too easy to defraud the system in a way that would be irreversible and undetected. Either way, touch-screens are a loser.
Now, as users of ATMs, cell phones, the Internet, and other electronic media, it might at first seem a little strange that so many people have such concerns. Upon further consideration however, the key distinctions between voting and a service handling mere money become obvious:
Governments are monopolies. One can go down the street to another bank and take the offending bank to court. An evil government can land you in prison (or worse) because they ARE the court. The stakes associated with voter fraud are far higher than with an ATM and so is the temptation to defraud the system. Necessary and Sufficient
Necessary and Sufficient
So, given that we are still smarting over hanging chads, what are the alternatives? Lets begin to answer that question by looking at the requirements.
Electronic sensors and interlocks are permissible as long as they can be duplicated manually.
Here is my proposal for a system that meets these requirements:
At the Polling Place
Note that the Scantron pattern is the perfect bridge between human and machine. It is readable by people for manual counting but does not require an optical character reading machine that needs cameras or software.
Both parties thus know the EXACT number of ballots cast in every precinct and in every box. Every box is signed. All parties can thus run check sums at the processing centers and verify the chain-of-custody.
At the Ballot Counting Center
The Diebold system uses Microsoft Access as a database (appropriate choice, don't you think?). When the Diebold system was first audited for security, one reviewer reported in Wired Magazine that the operating system was so open to manipulation that, "It's not just a bug, it's a feature."
Great system. Perhaps you should restrict your grousing to something you understand a little better.
Oh somebody thought it through all righty, It's worse than you realize. See the link in Post 16.
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