31 August 2004

Will your vote be counted?

The Black Box Voting web site has revealed that there’s an interesting ‘defect’ in the Diebold GEMS voting system’s central tabulator.

If you enter an appropriate two-digit code into a hidden part of the system, the software creates a second database of votes. The second set of votes can be edited without any safeguards, and the voting system will report the final tallies from the bogus database rather than the one containing the real votes.

A spot check against paper records will use the real data, and the machine will seem to be counting the votes correctly because the computer’s output will match the paper votes for all the votes checked. However, the totals reported for the district will be taken from the bogus database instead. This is, of course, exactly how you would want an election-fixing feature to work…

Interestingly, the dual-database ‘feature’ appeared in the Diebold system shortly after Jeffrey Dean was hired as senior programmer of the GEMS central tabulator. Who’s Dean? Oh, just some guy who pleaded guilty to 23 counts of embezzlement, performed by manipulating data in computerized accounting systems.

There are over 1,000 Diebold GEMS systems in place in over 30 states. They count millions of votes. The ‘problem’ was reported to Diebold in 2003, but they haven’t fixed it in any of their subsequent software releases. Now, isn’t that interesting?

Remember that last year, Diebold CEO Walden O’Dell wrote that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year”, and urged people to donate to the Republican party.

© mathew 2017