Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What The Maryland Study On Diebold Voting Machines Didn't Tell You

from the now-you-can-find-out dept
One of the issues concerning e-voting machines, and Diebold in particular, is how they've responded to all the criticism and vulnerabilities -- with the company often being accused of covering up, ignoring or denying the problems. Steven Zakulec writes to let us know that back in 2003, Maryland commissioned a study on the Diebold machines they'd just spent millions on, in response to the concerns originally raised by Prof. Avi Rubin. According to Steven: "Right from the beginning Diebold demanded two very broad concessions: no source code access, and they reserve the right to redact out any proprietary information." That seems like a pretty questionable demand, and one Diebold should have been in no position to make, considering the importance of truly independent investigation into the machines.
The final "redacted" report came out weighing in at a lightweight 38 pages. Remember, Diebold was only supposed to redact proprietary info. Turns out that they found an awful lot of that. Someone high up has leaked the original documents which weighs in at 200 pages meaning that someone (most likely Diebold) was able to knock out 162 pages of info on vulnerabilities. The link above has the entire original document for downloading, and wonders how many of the many, many vulnerabilities discussed in the report were actually dealt with before the 2004 election and how many were dealt with before today's election. Chances are not that many.
In the meantime, if you're looking to feel confident about e-voting companies and their tech ability, Chief Elf writes in to let us know that he went to check out the company, Advanced Voting Systems, that built the e-voting system he used this morning, and found a nice big error message right on their home page. I just checked and it was still there, but in case they fix it, here's a screenshot. It's tough to trust these companies to build competent voting machines when they can't even correct database/PHP errors on their own website on election day.