Maryland House votes to oust Diebold voting machines

http://www.computerworld.com/governmenttopics/government/legislation/story/0,10801,109436,00.html?source=NLT_PM&nid=109436

The state of Maryland stands poised to put its entire $90 million investment in Diebold Election Systems Inc. touch-screen e-voting systems on ice because they can’t produce paper receipts.

The state House of Delegates this week voted 137-0 to approve a bill prohibiting election officials from using AccuVote-TSx touch-screen systems in 2006 primary and general elections.

The legislation calls for the state to lease paper-based optical-scan systems for this year’s votes. State Delegate Anne Healey estimated the leasing cost at $12.5 million to $16 million for the two elections.

Healey is the vice chairwoman of the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee, which recommended the passage of the bill.

The bill was sent onto the State Senate for a vote after the House action, she said.

Healey said the effort was inspired in part by concerns raised by officials in California and Florida that the Diebold systems have inherent security problems caused by technological and procedural flaws.

“We’ve been hearing from the public for the last several years that it doesn’t have confidence in a system without a paper trail,” Healey said. “We need to provide that level of confidence going forward.”

If the bill becomes law, the state’s Diebold systems will be placed in “abeyance” and the vendor will be required to equip them so that they provide the requisite paper trail, she said.

Healey said the law would require that the machines provide a paper trail before the 2008 elections or Diebold would risk losing its contract with the state.

Paper trails? That will make it harder to steal elections! WTF??

Arnold has pulled a bunch of BS in Cali to make sure this doesn’t happen here.

diebold bad

What I never understood about this whole debate is this: I get a receipt if I go to the store and buy a $.49 pack of GUM. And yet Diebold is suggesting that I don’t need a receipt when I VOTE? Seriously, how can anyone even suggest that? Why would they say that?

I think you can figure out the answer to that.

No, it’s not a good thing.

I mean think of the number of bank transactions that are accounted for to the penny every day, and voting is somehow this crazy messed up black box that all our technology cannot make right.

Uh, huh. Yeah. Sure.

Robert Cringely had an interesting comment about Diebold a few years ago.

Forgetting for a moment Diebold’s voting machines, let’s look at the other equipment they make. Diebold makes a lot of ATM machines. They make machines that sell tickets for trains and subways. They make store checkout scanners, including self-service scanners. They make machines that allow access to buildings for people with magnetic cards. They make machines that use magnetic cards for payment in closed systems like university dining rooms. All of these are machines that involve data input that results in a transaction, just like a voting machine. But unlike a voting machine, every one of these other kinds of Diebold machines – EVERY ONE – creates a paper trail and can be audited. Would Citibank have it any other way? Would Home Depot? Would the CIA? Of course not. These machines affect the livelihood of their owners. If they can’t be audited they can’t be trusted. If they can’t be trusted they won’t be used.

Now back to those voting machines. If EVERY OTHER kind of machine you make includes an auditable paper trail, wouldn’t it seem logical to include such a capability in the voting machines, too? Given that what you are doing is adapting existing technology to a new purpose, wouldn’t it be logical to carry over to voting machines this capability that is so important in every other kind of transaction device?

This confuses me. I’d love to know who said to leave the feature out and why?

Good question. I wonder what the answer is.

Conspiracy, bitches! For real this time…

If Diebold’s CEO hadn’t gone on the record claiming he’d “deliver” Ohio for Bush, maybe nothing would have come of it.

Doubtful. These things are loaded with “irregularities” that are uninvestigated. Numerous scientists and computer experts have assaulted their safety.

And yet those in power seem quite content to fight every attempt to increase accountability and open the software up for scrutiny.

Thing that make you go hmmm…

Fear is the mindkiller?

Er…

You are all just liberal idiots. The CEO of Diebold never made that comment! No he did not.

Walden O’Dell: “I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president.”

That is who said it, but the CEO of Diebold is Thomas W. Swidarski. You guys are an embarrassment. Throwing up fake quotes and crying that there is a conspiracy, you should be ashamed and belittled.

What, exactly, is the argument for NOT having an auditable paper trail? I can’t think of a single good reason to not record the votes.

To expensive? Too difficult to configure? Are they seriously simply saying “you just don’t need a paper trail, trust us”?

Crazy liberal. First it is save the trees, next it is cut all the trees down because computers are stoopid! Make up your mind, quit flip flopping!

This is exactly what they are saying.

What sort of paper trail would you like? A standard one would contain all the details of the transaction, and that would be unconstitutional, since balloting is secret. The machine probably already keeps a list of the names of people who voted and an aggregate vote total. If it kept a printed stack of receipts that matched the aggregate you wouldn’t trust it. I guess the machine could print a vote card, the voter could examine it, and then place it in a ballot box which could be audited if needed. That, however, is not a standard Diebold function.

We should just blindly trust the people in power cuz, they’re like, good Christians or whatevah!

In my country, you put a little “x” in the circle next to the name of the person you want to vote for. That night, some dude counts your vote by hand. You have the results before bed-time and there’s no retarded hanging chad voting machine Diebold paper trail touch screen optical scan bullshit controversy.

Yes, but we are more advanced and civilized. (Except for that whole “torture” thing, but we don’t want to talk about that…)

This is EXACTLY what it should do, only it should give you two copies of the vote card - one you put in the ballot box and one you take home, just in case.

More expensive? Sure, but it’s way less paper than the government sends out each and every year for taxes…

The problem with electronic voting is that bits and bytes are fleeting and it can be very hard to detect manipulation. All the paper trail is for is to provide the possibility of spot checks and recounts if there is an appearance of shenanigans.

There’s plenty of ways to maintain auditability and anonymity at the same time. Just off the top of my head, I would expect the machine to print a vote receipt with a transaction number and the votes on it. No name or anything identifying need be on the receipt. Vote tallies could be stored in a separate database from voter info, so that the vote tallies could be recounted against the physical receipts without the auditors needing to know how voted how.