[E-voting] Diebold failure in CA tests far worse than originally reported

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at eircom.net
Thu Aug 4 23:13:07 IST 2005

by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

This shows why similar testing runs are needed in Ireland.

And these failures don't even include any of the security concerns. 

I'd like to see systems first go through extensisve penetration threat 
tests, and only on passing them with flying colours should this 
additional kind of testing be allowed.  Passing both phases should be 
required before any system could be used in a real election in Ireland.  
(Our existing paper system is more secure and a better use of government 
funds in my opinion.)


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Who approved such a deeply flawed system and what must be done in the 
By John Gideon, Information Manager, 
<http://www.VotersUnite.Org> and 
04 August 2005

On July 29, 2005 it was reported that certification of the Diebold TSx 
GEMS v. 1.18.22 had been denied by the Secretary of State, Bruce 
McPherson. The initial report told of a 10% failure rate due to jammed 
printers and computer "crashes". [1]

Just 5 days later, the newspapers reported that the failures were twice 
as bad as originally reported, and the failures were not centered in the 
printers but were instead software issues. Of the 96 voting machines 
tested, 19 failed with a total of 21 crashes resulting in a blue screen 
and messages about an "illegal operation" or a "fatal exception error." 
Also, 10 machines had a total of 11 printer jams. Nearly one-third of 
the test machines failed in one way or another. [2]

This failure of 29 voting machines out of 96 is a revealing example of 
what can go wrong in an election when voting systems that are not ready 
to be used are subjected to a real-life scenario. What if the state had 
followed the lead of the federally certified Independent Testing 
Authorities and passed this system as being acceptable? What if the 
state had followed the lead of the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) 
Voting Systems Panel and accepted this system as fully qualified for use 
in an election?

What does Diebold have to say about their voting systems and their 
failure rate? On July 15, 2003 Diebold Elections Systems Inc. responded 
to a request posed by the state of Ohio: "Provide documentation to 
support the claim of a 20-year DRE life expectancy." The response from 
Diebold was, in part, "If a customer had 4 elections per year, then the 
unit would theoretically continue for 250 years before failing."[3] 
Since Diebold was referring to their TS system, how much longer life 
might they have estimated for their newer, improved TSx systems that 
failed so badly in California during a 7-hours mock-election?

So what does all of this prove? Of course the obvious answer is that the 
Diebold TSx with AccuView voter-verified paper audit trail (vvpat) 
printer is a miserable failure. It also certainly lends credence to all 
who have been asking for a voter verified paper ballot and audit 

On May 16, 2005 the Diebold TSx voting system (the one that failed 
testing in California) was given the National Association of State 
Elections Directors (NASED) "Seal of Approval" and the EAC gave the 
system its federal qualification approval. This was the result of what 
is supposed to be a rigorous period of testing and inspection by 
federally certified Independent Testing Authorities (ITA). Yet, at its 
first trial run, over 30% of the approved units failed to function as 
they are supposed to function.

How many of the systems that are now being used in states and counties 
across the country were passed through this same testing process with 
serious flaws that weren't detected? How does anyone know that the 
machines that they are using to cast their votes are working properly 
even though they passed through the process successfully?

A voter verified paper ballot and audit requirements are certainly 
essential to ensure the machines can be checked for accuracy. But there 
is a more urgent need.

Right now counties in Utah, Mississippi, and Ohio are planning to 
purchase the exact same machines as those that failed testing in 
California. Why has no one at the EAC or NASED demanded a recall and a 
disqualification of the Diebold TSx GEMS v. 1.18.22? Why has nothing 
been done to warn the elections officials in those states that this 
system is a failure? In response to the testing failure the Secretary of 
State of California has established stringent new standards for all 
voting systems in his state.[4] Why hasn't there been a similar response 
from the EAC or NASED?

We can only hope that something is done quickly.

"E-voting machines rejected", by Ian Hoffman, Oakland Tribune, 7/29/2005
"Initial report undersold e-vote snafus", by Ian Hoffman, Oakland 
Tribune, 08/03/2005
"Representations made by Diebold to the State of Ohio regarding its 
AccuVote Voting Machine"
"McPherson Toughens Up On Voting Machine Makers", by Political Desk, 
American Chronicle 03 August 2005
Information Manager, VotersUnite.org

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