Feeds

Diebold e-voting software includes delete audit logs button

No confirmation necessary

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Vote tabulation software currently in use throughout the United States contains a button to permanently delete audit logs that are required under federal voting-system guidelines, according to a report submitted to California's top elections official.

The button is included in version 1.18.19 of the GEMS, or Global Election Management System, manufactured by Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold Election Systems. That was the piece of software that silently dropped 197 votes from November's final vote count in Northern California's Humboldt county. The report warns that the feature could be used to intentionally or unintentionally delete logs needed to conduct audits into the accuracy of an election.

"GEMS 1.18.19 not only includes 'Clear' buttons that permit deletion of these records, it provides no warning to the operator that exercising the 'Clear' command will result in permanent deletion of the records in the log, nor does it require the operator to confirm the command before GEMS executes it," the report states.

"Deletion of the records in either log would make it impossible to monitor operator access to GEMS or to reconstruct the sequence of operator access, defeating the purpose of [federal guidelines] that GEMS version 1.18.19 was required to adhere to."

Under guidelines established by the Federal Election Commission in 1990, tabulation software used in all US elections must automatically create and permanently retain electronic audit logs of important system events while tallying votes. The guidelines state they are intended to provide a "concrete, indestructible archival record of all system activity" and are "essential for public confidence in the accuracy of the tally."

Premier removed the delete button in later versions of GEMS but three counties in California and several jurisdictions in Texas and Florida continue to use the older program, the report says.

Word of the delete button, which was reported earlier by Wired.com, came as California Secretary of State Debra Bowen was investigating the dropped votes in Humboldt County. The glitch came to light only after a volunteer outfit known as the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project passed every ballot cast through an optical scanner after it was officially counted.

The dropped votes were the result of another deficiency in Central Count Server of GEMS 1.18.19 that in some cases silently drops all tallied votes from the first batch of optical ballots, the report (PDF) concludes. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.