Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Diebold CEO Resigns!

The resignation of Diebold Inc. Chief Executive Walden W. O'Dell was cheered on by Wall Street Tuesday as a move seen giving the company a fresh start from leadership marred by controversy...

The company was thrust into the center of controversy during the 2004 presidential election campaign, after O'Dell wrote in a Republican Party fundraising letter that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." The Canton, Ohio-based company is among the nation's biggest suppliers of paperless, touch-screen voting machines. (Business Week)

That Diebold voting machines were allowed to be used without a paper trail is obscene. There is no way to verify that the vote you cast is counted for the candidate you voted for in these machines. You just have to trust Diebold, not only to be honest, but to create the perfect, bug-free system. Anybody who has ever used a computer knows that that's impossible. Even if the CEO of one of the "largest suppliers of paperless, touch-screen voting machines" hadn't promised to deliver the election to one of the candidates, there is simply no excuse for such stupidity. What's more important than the trustworthiness of our elections?

This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue; it's an American one. I say this as a citizen and as a professional software engineer: No paperless voting machines!

Remember what Stalin said: "The people who cast the votes don't decide an election, the people who count the votes do."

(via slashdot)


Jack's Shack said...

Long Live Commander Taco. Go Slashdot. No paper trail is problematic.

asher said...

In this country you have a choice: paperless voting machines or hanging and pregnant chads. Take your pic. The machines in New York City are so old the curtains have to manually pulled behind you.

Any think voting on line might be a good idea?

Laura said...

There was a professor at MIT that addressed issues of voter fraud with electronic machines. He and his students were easily able to hack a machine, and leave no trace that it was tampeered with.

As far as online voting - absolutely not. One trojan horse, one worm, one lost connection and your vote may or may not get cast - and you'll never know.

There must be a verifiable way of re-counting votes, and a computer spitting out a number is unsatisfactory.

As for the old voting machines - yes, upgrades are required. Chicago has great booths and ballots. I'm even not opposed to a touch screen that prints out a paper ballot for you that you can then put in a box for re-counting purposes. No hanging chads, no pregnant chads.

It's ridiculous that we can't figure out a better way. THere's a happy medium between Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004.

Shlomo said...

The last two elections were delivered by partisan Republican hacks. It bothers me that these voting machine companies REFUSE to issue paper receipts! If I go to an ATM and that bank or institution does not offer me a receipt, I take my banking elsewhere and then report them to the Feds.

These elections were stolen, along with several senate, mayoral, and gubenatorial races where Diebold machines have been used. In those elections, the exit polls, normally very good indicators of results, were off by margins of 15 to 20 points, a mathematical and statistical impossibility. We also had districts in Ohio report more votes for GW than were total voters in the district!

Blech. I'm fed up. This asshole at Diebold PROMISED to deliver Ohio to GW and did so. Why is anyone surprised with the accusations of tampering?

I'm also sick and tired of those who whine about 'conspiracy theories' or accuse dissenters and whistleblowers of being 'disgruntled liberals'. Here is some news for you : CONSPIRACY is just a fancy word for PLAN! Conservatives hsould be outraged at the lack of transparency in our voting process and the unwillingness of the Republican Ohio Sec. of State (conflict of interest) to allow a recount or any oversight of the process. The lack of transparency, especially where the law DEMANDS it, is the #1 reason I KNOW the election was fraudulent.

After all Mr. Blackwell, if you have nothing to hide, then why are you hiding?

oracle25 said...

It amuses me that you Dems continue to hang on to this myth that the elections were stolen from you. BUSH WON!!!!! GET OVER IT!!!!!!!

Kyaroko said...

The Brennan Center for Justice @ NYU launched a Voting Technology Initiative before the last election and put a lot of time and cash into researching the pros and cons of the various ways we have to record votes. ( Details here: http://www.votingtechnology.org/)
My friend Eric Lazarus headed up the group and I helped him with some of the initial research. I read some really scary studies that had been done at various polling places throughout the country that made me doubt the ability of any technology to promise us an accurate count of votes. A paper receipt of our vote gives us a wonderful illusion of democracy in action, but it's no proof that this is the vote that was counted. And, unless you're going to round up all the voters in your district with all your receipts and tabulate them yourself, there is no way to verify the results. However, Eric and his team of experts did make some excellent recommendations and their paper is worth a read.
And yes, I do think that Diebold is an agent of the devil. And yes, I do agree that George W. Bush probably won the last election fair and square. And if there is a hell, he'll be burning there in due time.

Laura said...

Oracle: That's not the issue here. The issue is transparency. SL hit it on the head... would you trust any important transaction you made to a computer without a verifying receipt? I don't. Especially when it comes to voting. At least you can get a refund if the bank fucks up.

Random said...

As for foolproof technology, how about this? Every voter on turning up at a polling station is issued a piece of paper with a list of the names of all the candidates. He then takes it into a booth where there is a pen, and places a cross next to the name of the candidate he is voting for. He then folds up the piece of paper and puts it in a sealed box. After the polls have closed the boxes are then taken to a counting station where they opened under the eyes of the candidates (or representatives) and the individual pieces of paper are counted, also in full view of the candidates. This is how we do it in the UK, and it works every time - the simple truth is you do not have to worry about the machines going wrong if you do not allow machines any role in the process.

Oh and Sl, your guy lost fair and square - get over it. But if you really must talk about a stolen election let's talk about Wisconsin. In the city of Milwaukee alone at least 25,000 illegal votes were cast. Now Milwaukee votes 80% Democrat - and Kerry won Wisconsin by just 12,000 votes. Do the math. Where's the outrage on the left about the denial of democracy to the citizens of Wisconsin?

Jewish Atheist said...

oracle25 and Random,

This isn't about Bush or Kerry.

The point is that it's literally impossible to know if voter fraud occurred, since there is no tangible record. I could walk up to a Diebold machine, vote for Kerry, and the machine could send in 30 votes for Bush. Or you could vote for Bush and 30 votes would go to Kerry. The point is there's no way to know! Or how about this -- I could walk into a voting station with a very powerful magnet (which costs less than 50 dollars) and wipe out the last few hundred votes. Or there could be a bug in the software which accidently gives Nader a state. Everybody would know something was wrong, but nobody could prove it.

If we use electronic machines at all, they should simply print out a paper ballot which is filled with your votes. You could verify it and then put it into a box. That way, if the vote is under dispute, the actual ballots could be recounted. Obviously no system is perfect, but the Diebold one is just asking for trouble.

Random said...

I know that, JA. I was merely refusing to allow Sl's (who wasn't chastised) bizarre allegations to go unchallenged. It wasn't meant to distract from my main point which was that if you are genuinely worried about machine error then you need to get rid of the machines. A paper based system like the one we use is reliable, transparent hard to fool and easy to check. I've honestly never understood why the USA persists in using machines which always seem to have reliability issues.

Shlomo said...


There is nothing bizzare about it at all. the man who OWNS the machines says that he will 'deliver' the election to a particular candidate. That election goes to said candidate, with most irregularites occurring where this fellow's machines are in use.

Mr. Diebold made good on his word to give GW the White House. I don't see it as bizarre that a man who promises to do something for one of his friends actually goes out and DOES it.

The 'well you guys did it too!' went out of style for me when I was 4 years old.

This is a non partisan problem.

Shlomo said...