No, Seriously, Really Bad...
PLUS: Skippy Calls the Secretary of State!
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2006, 11:36pm PT  

Diebold continues to run their previously good name into the ground, as the Mainstream Media finally begins to notice what's been going on around here...Finally, the unAmerican Voting Machine Company who originally brung you the War on Democracy, seems to be getting the incredibly bad press they've always deserved...Now from coast to coast...

In today's LA Times (in the Business section, because your elections are big business!) Michael Hiltzik condemns the recent inexplicable re-certification of Diebold in California:

[T]here's no excuse for exposing the integrity of our election system to computer hackers. Yet that's what California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson may have done last week by approving electronic voting machines from Diebold Election Systems for use in California elections through the end of this year.
As the last two presidential elections demonstrate, ballot results are of profound interest to everybody --- including determined hackers with partisan agendas. Therefore, it's proper to demand of the high-tech machines replacing the paper ballots and punch cards of yore that they be technologically bulletproof. The Diebold systems certified by McPherson --- an optical scanner that reads hand-marked ballots and a touch screen that totes up votes directly --- fall well short of that standard.

And there's much more...This in regard to the panel assembled by McPherson to study the issue, after whose brutal report, he went ahead and --- incredibly --- re-certified the machines anyway!

The panel found 16 software bugs that could cede "complete control" of the system to hackers who might then "change vote totals, modify reports, change the names of candidates, change the races being voted on," and even crash the machines, bringing an election to a halt. Hackers wouldn't need to know passwords or cryptographic keys, or have access to any other part of the system, to do their dirty work. Voters, candidates and election monitors wouldn't necessarily know they'd been rooked.

The bugs lead some computer professionals to believe that Diebold's software designers never treated security as a high priority. "It's like they were making a mechanical device, and never heard of computer security," says David Dill, an expert in electronic voting at Stanford University who wasn't on the panel.

And then there was Tom Elias in today's column for Torrance Daily Breeze (syndicated in many other papers, as well):

You can call it capitulation to local election officials likely to be called on the carpet if it turned out they had wasted tens of millions of dollars. You can call it practicality, assuring that California counties can put the most modern election equipment into use this year.

But the undeniable fact is that millions of voters in as many as 21 counties will be voting this year on machines that can be hacked to alter election results.
Although an evaluation by University of California, Berkeley computer experts concluded that hackers can easily change election results on them, thousands of Diebold machines will be in place for the June primary.
"We found a number of security vulnerabilities," said that study, whose authors include some of America's most determined critics of electronic voting. "We determined that anyone who has access to a memory card ... and can (modify its contents) ... can indeed modify the election results from that machine in a number of ways."

Well, heck, with rave reviews like that, no wonder McPherson re-certified 'em!

Speaking of which, our new pal Skippy the Bush Kangaroo called the Secretary of State today to register his complaint about recertification. Guess what Skippy found out?

Meanwhile, on the other coast, out in Diebold's one-time "showcase state" of Maryland where the Republican Governor recently declared he "no longer [has] confidence in the State Board of Elections' ability to conduct fair and accurate elections in 2006" on Diebold's machinery, Mike Himowitz in the Baltimore Sun rages against the machines and the pitfalls of secret software used to count our votes:

With every jurisdiction in Maryland now using the same system, all it takes to ruin an entire statewide election is a single glitch in a single line of that secret code.

In the systems business, this is known as a computer monoculture. It's a term borrowed from agriculture to describe a large area planted in a single crop - and hence vulnerable to devastating damage from a single source. Maryland is completely planted with Diebold's electronic cotton - all it needs for disaster is one electronic boll weevil.

To all of this criticism, Linda H. Lamone, the state election administrator has had one response: "Trust us."

Well, I don't and you shouldn't. Elections aren't based on trust. They're based on verifiable results. You can't throw technology at a problem and throw common sense out the window. There's no way to fix this system. I don't care how much we've spent on it.

Ouch. We suppose the boyz in North Canton, OH, would be wise to find a buyer soon...before the lawsuits start hittin'.