Montana Politics

Diebold voting machines? Sucktastic…

There has been a lot of joking and innuendo about Diebold voting machines and certainly many critics have imagined that the ways that an election could be stolen by hacking the voting machines.  I have always thought that electronic voting, although holding a great amount of potential, is absolutely worthless without some kind of paper receipt for voters, no to mention a paper trail for recounts.

Paper trail issues aside, the Open Voting Foundation has actually put their hands on one of these little technomonsters and have pulled it apart only to come to some interesting and scary conclusions:

“Diebold has made the testing and certification process practically irrelevant,” according to Dechert. “If you have access to these machines and you want to rig an election, anything is possible with the Diebold TS — and it could be done without leaving a trace. All you need is a screwdriver.” This model does not produce a voter verified paper trail so there is no way to check if the voter’s choices are accurately reflected in the tabulation.

Lets say you are a voting area with a heavy dominance of one party or another.  Want to mess with the totals?  Flip the switch.  That’s all you need.

Why isn’t the need for a paper trail obvious?

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  • What we’re seeing is that strange silence that comes about when decisions have been made above but not communicated to us down below. The need for auditability is painfully obvious to anyone with a brain, yet these machines are becoming more and more the norm. The fix is in.

  • In Montana, we have banned touch-screen voting machines. My bill in the 2005 Legislature, HB297, requires that all voting technology use paper ballots that can be counted by hand.
    As a software engineer, I was able to convince my colleagues that touch screen voting machines are unreliable at best. The bill passed 95-5 in the house and 50-0 in the senate.
    We can stop the machines. Really.

  • I like Diebold’s previous response to security flaws in their software:

    “For there to be a problem here, you’re basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software,” he said. “I don’t believe these evil elections people exist.”

    I think the first requirement for building election software should be that you have at least some connection to reality.

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