E-voting outfit confesses vote-dropping software bug
Ten years later
Electronic voting machine manufacturer Premier Elections Solutions has warned government officials of a critical programming error that can drop votes before they are tallied.
The logic error is present on Premier's touch screen and optical scan equipment and occurs when votes are being transferred from memory cards to a central database, according to The Washington Post. In some cases, stored votes waiting to be tallied are erased before they can be counted by other stored votes. The mistake occurs in milliseconds. The problem is most likely to plague larger counties that upload a large number of cards.
The only way to detect the error is for elections officials to track the exact number of memory cards fed into the central database and compare it to the number of cards recorded as being read.
Premier, which used to go by the name Diebold, fessed up to the bug after Ohio elections officials complained of irregularities during primary elections in March. After first blaming the problems on human error and bugs in anti-virus software, Premier now admits they were caused by the logic error. The logic error has been part of the software for 10 years.
"We are indeed distressed that our previous analysis of this issue was in error," the company's president, Dave Byrd, wrote in a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. No votes were lost because the nine counties that experienced the cock-up caught it before the results were finalized, Brunner has said.
Premier is recommending all 1,750 jurisdictions that use its equipment follow procedures that remedy the glitch. Evidently, demanding a refund and moving to paper ballots isn't among the recommendations. ®
Yes Diebold, you remember..
The company who's CEO said during the 2004 election "We'll do whatever it takes to get Bush re-elected"
The same company that published a photo on its website of the actual keys that fit EVERY SINGLE voting machine (and many many people can make usable keys from those pics).
The SAME company who's voting machines are so riddled with back doors and security holes that you don't need to vote, just let Diebold (now hiding behind a new name) vote for you.
Hell! why not have the mob take your votes for you, and let them rig it the way they want to.
Details would be nice
But one doubts they'll every be forthcoming.
A simple scenario that would satisfy the conditions in the article would be for each compact flash to have a votes.xls file that when plugged in to the vote collector machine copies votes.xls to some share and then wipes it from the compact flash, probably in the name of data security.
Of course if the tabulator hasn't finished with one votes.xls before the next votes.xls gets copied into the share.....
What would be fun to see is a class action suit from the last ten years worth of election losers aimed at Diebold.
ps - David Halko, if only you were as correct as you are certain.
Write Once Media
By erasing the card you are erasing the original record, so a recount or any kind of validation of results at a later date is impossible. Why not use write once media (CDR?), with a unique serial number on each disk. The media could be securely stored for recount purposes once the votes have been counted. Also, using two vote counting systems, from different suppliers, would validate the result.
Seems easy and sensible to me.
Never delete the input records.