Yesterday came more bad news for embattled vote
counting rigging machine manufacturer Diebold. On Monday, Diebold CEO Walden O’Dell unexpectedly resigned due “personal reasons,” one day before a securities fraud class action suit was filed against him, Diebold, and seven other current and former officers. (RawStory has more details on the company’s woes from Diebold insider “Dieb-Throat.”)
Well, now comes word from Black Box Voting that a major security flaw has prompted Leon County Florida supervisor of elections Ion Sancho to announce that he will never again use Diebold in an election, and will request funds to replace the Diebold system in his county.
A test election was run in Leon County on Tuesday with a total of eight ballots. Six ballots voted “no” on a ballot question as to whether Diebold voting machines can be hacked or not. Two ballots, cast by Dr. Herbert Thompson and by Harri Hursti voted “yes” indicating a belief that the Diebold machines could be hacked.
At the beginning of the test election the memory card programmed by Harri Hursti was inserted into an Optical Scan Diebold voting machine. A “zero report” was run indicating zero votes on the memory card. In fact, however, Hursti had pre-loaded the memory card with plus and minus votes.
The eight ballots were run through the optical scan machine. The standard Diebold-supplied “ender card” was run through as is normal procedure ending the election. A results tape was run from the voting machine.
Correct results should have been: Yes:2 ; No:6
However, just as Hursti had planned, the results tape read: Yes:7 ; No:1
The results were then uploaded from the optical scan voting machine into the GEMS central tabulator, a step cited by Diebold as a protection against memory card hacking. The central tabulator is the “mother ship” that pulls in all votes from voting machines. However, the GEMS central tabulator failed to notice that the voting machines had been hacked.
The results in the central tabulator read:
Yes:7 ; No:1
Of course, the fact that a system can be hacked, doesn’t mean it has been hacked. It should be noted that while this is exactly the same type of Diebold system used in King County and throughout much of WA state, our state’s electoral integrity survived the most grueling and definitive test of all: the 2004 gubernatorial hand recount. Apart from the ballots legally added between tabulations, the difference between the hand and machine counts was statistically insignificant, proving that there was no manipulation of the data coming from the optical scanners or the GEMS central tabulator.
Curiously, one of the election “reforms” pushed by WA state Republicans is to remove hand recounts from our election procedures, thus eliminating the most definitive check on our automated vote tabulation systems. Hmmm.
The lesson that should be learned from all this is that the franchise is simply too valuable to trust to proprietary software from a private corporation. The only way to assure the integrity of our vote tabulation system is to move towards one based on open source software.