Friday, April 30, 2004

Diebold in trouble again

California has taken the step of banning the use of Diebold's electronic volting machines from their elections. It is about time someone took action on this. Not only are the machines totally buggy, as Californians discovered during a recent election, but the company itself was busted when some college students posted a bunch of emails from workers there that said basically that they knew the machines didn't work well and could be easily hacked (Diebold tried to attack the students and university using copyright law to force them to take down the documents). Also, the owner of the company is a die hard Republican donor who has promised to "deliver votes to the president."

"It is a good day for democracy," said Aviel D. Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University and a leading critic of the company's technology. "Those machines are poorly designed and full of bugs and security flaws." Michael Wertheimer, a former official of the National Security Agency who tested Diebold machines at the request of the state of Maryland and found that the election systems could be easily hacked by insiders or outsiders, said that the stringent action was appropriate and that the problems with the machines could be addressed. "They're absolutely fixable said Mr. Wertheimer, but "the time for mea culpas are behind for all of these companies. They have to get out front and say, `We are going to make these systems secure.' "

If you thought Florida 2000 was a mess, wait until November, when a bunch of states will use these machines without paper trails. If there are questions of accuracy after the votes are in, there wil be no way to count them at all, so we'd have to let the Supreme Court decide for us again. Diebold may even be facing criminal charges in California at the moment. Yikes.

Maybe this sounds crazy, but shouldn't a voting machine company at least have the appearance of being apolitical?

Via The New York Times.


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