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E-Voting Manufacturer Admits Voting System Flaws

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March 27, 2009

A California Secretary of State investigation into electronic voting machines has uncovered a software problem much bigger than first thought. The e-voting systems used in California have the potential to drop votes without leaving an audit trail, the investigation found. At a recent hearing, an executive for Premier Election Systems, formerly known as Diebold, admitted the problem exists with every version of its tabulation software.

Mitch Trachtenberg is an elections auditor with the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project, the group which initiated the investigation after nearly 200 votes from last November’s election vanished. He says they were surprised to learn the extent of the problem.

"The vendors have been saying that their systems have fail-safes, and at least in the case of Diebold GEMS, that fail-safe is now looking pretty sad."

What’s most disturbing, adds Trachtenberg, is that Premier Election Systems has been aware of the problem for years.

"They certified that these systems pass whatever test they’re imposing on them and here’s a system that’s been passing those tests for years and years and years and its audit log doesn’t record when decks of ballots are deleted."

Justin Bales, Premier's western United States general manager, testified at the hearing that the company supports the state's proposal to withdraw approval of the system in question, that the unearthed problems trouble the company greatly and that an accurate vote count is Premier's mission. The company adds, deletions would be accounted for in ballot canvasses and will be reflected in technology updates.

More info at

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA