By Brad Friedman on 9/19/2006, 12:38pm PT  

As I wrote on Sunday, when your Ford Pinto blows up in the course of regular use --- such as when it gets hit from behind in a rear-end collision --- you don't blame the driver for the disaster.

Diebold's response in general (along with the other voting machine companies and the elections officials who are now their "unofficial" representatives in the media) to the mountain of problems we've seen with electronic voting machines at the polls so far this year has been to blame the poll workers. Indeed, Diebold's official response to the catastrophic findings by Princeton University that Diebold touch-screen systems can be hacked with an election-stealing virus implanted undetectably in a minute's time --- one that can then spread to every machine in the system --- has been to say that if poll workers and elections officials do their job properly, that could never happen. That's simply nonsense and they know it.

Computerworld's blogger, Martin McKeay, posted a brilliant reponse to Diebold's nonsense the other day. His on-the-money reply ends this way:

Diebold may be a private company, but the service they're providing is consumed by the voting public. As such, saying "It's secure, trust us" is not an acceptable answer. This is not a situation where security through obscurity is an acceptable answer. Not only do the results of each election have to be verifiable but how we arrived at those results also needs to be verifiable. Code verification has been one of the most asked for requirements since the first evoting machine was developed. There are very few situations where the saying "trust, but verify" applies more than in voting.

Here's my final comment, and it's directed right at [Diebold Election Systems, Inc., President] Dave Byrd: Quit attacking the critics of your product and attack the basic problems your product has continually displayed. Rather than attacking researchers and running off election officials who want your products verified, take the time to address the fundamental problems with your products. Give us a paper trail, quit using WindowsCE, allow verification of your software. Part of being in a democratic society is that the voting process needs to be transparent to anyone who's willing to take the time to look. Until Diebold is willing to accept thattransparency , you're going to keep getting hammered by your critics and your products will never be acceptable. It's only going to get worse unless Diebold changes their tactics.