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Will Your State's Voting Machines Count Backwards Nov 7 ?

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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 06:33 PM
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Will Your State's Voting Machines Count Backwards Nov 7 ?
This November 7, will your state's voting machines "count backwards"?
If you have older models of ES&S and Diebold, you could be at risk.
If you have newer equipment, do you know it's capacity?

Oct. 8, 2006 - Voting Machines That "Count Backwards" or Choke - Diebold and ES&S

Remember the ES&S "Counting Backwards" software bug?
Similar "bug" found in Diebold TS System.

The ES&S problem traced to a bug in the software - it could not count past 32,767 and then apparently flipped over like an odometer.

Well, digging around today I stumbled upon a similar problem in the Diebold software, in Gaston County NC dating back to a 1998 election where the Diebold TS was used. (This system also caused serious problems in 2004)

The ES&S bug emerged in Guilford County NC where the Unity 2.2 Election Management Software was used for accumulating votes on ES&S equipment.

Joseph Lorenzo Hall explains the ES&S "Counting Backwards" software bug.
"This appears to be a case where a local jurisdiction used voting equipment out of the context of the vendors design. If they had used an unsigned 16-bit integer variable, they could have reported 65,536 votes."
An internet search turned up a similar capacity issue in the Diebold TS in Gaston County - dating back to 1998:
"In 1998, Gaston County was using direct-record electronic voting machines for the first time. Before the election, officials discovered some problems with the machines, and an upgrade was necessary. The machines were run through basic testing, but the upgrades cut into time for additional testing for known bugs.

Suddenly it was election night. The first sign of a bug appeared when the time came to report the totals. Nearly one-third of Gaston Countys precincts reported no votes because the cartridges that read the totals from the machines were not functioning. Another facet of this bug was evident for the county at large: when the vote totals reached 32,000, the tabulators would not tally any higher.

The chair of the county board of elections opened the process up to all who wished to observe, as the computer experts opened the machines and retrieved the source code that showed the proper vote totals.
The internal drives that showed how each voter had voted were intact and retrievable. Two statewide court of appeals races, one state House of Representatives race, and one local race were close enough that they were determined by the data retrieved from the machines. Because of the safeguard of public scrutiny, confidence in the way the matter was handled was high, and there were no election protests." (page 8)
Joe Hall explains what happened in Gaston County in 2004 with the Diebold TS and inability to upload over 12,000 votes on election night. This "snafu" ended up costing the director her job. And the Diebold tech, "end-run Jane" (Barth) got paid $1,000 a day to pretty much run the election:
"Documents surface in NC with Diebold and Gaston Co.
This document is fascinating.

It is an exchange between an attorney at Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (DESI) and the general counsel for the North Carolina State Board of Elections. It mostly centers around a few incidents that occured in Gaston Co., NC. It is a great illustration of a number of worrying characteristics of the vendor/jurisdiction relationship typical of modern election systems." More detail here.

The county had updated its central tabulator by then, and I do not have a record of what they used in 1998.

Obviously there were serious problems even in the new GEMS:
Gaston County Voting Equipment: Gaston has 340 Diebold AccuVote TS (touchscreen) NASED ID nr NO3060011717 aquired Jul-98 model 19rW-1990, programmed by Diebold. Central Tabulator is GEMS 1.17.17, installed in 2001.

Professor Michael Shamos, voting machine examiner and member in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University advised that there are no federal standards regarding voting machine capacity.
North Carolina has replaced all of its old voting systems due to the new law passed in 2005, the Public Confidence in Elections Law. Every vote should have a paper ballot backup. I have not confirmed the capacity of our new voting systems, but will report back with that information. Capacity was addressed in the publicly issued RFP.

So, any states using the older ES&S or Diebold software may be in for a surprise in the next large election. Possibly the November 2006 General Election.
Other states who should check the capacity and software version of their voting system tabulators - but not confirmed: Indiana and Florida (ES&S), Georgia, and Maryland.
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bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 08:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. K&R.
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 09:47 PM
Response to Original message
2. K&R#5!
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troubleinwinter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 10:33 PM
Response to Original message
3. "Every vote should have a paper ballot backup" (& a recommend)
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goclark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-10-06 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. They should but will they?
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