John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

AccuVote? Bit of an Oxymoron, Don’t You Think?

The access panel door on a Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine–the door that protects the memory card that stores the votes and is the main barrier to the injection of a virus–can be opened with a standard key that is widely available on the Internet. The exact same key is used widely in office furniture, electronic equipment, jukeboxes and hotel minibars.”

Princeton professor Ed Felten

With the presidential primary approaching, Diebold Election Systems is finally developing a voter-verified paper trail–of bad press. Earlier this week, the company made headlines when a team of investigators found fundamental security vulnerabilities in its touchscreen voting machines (as well as those of rivals Sequoia Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic).

Now it’s back in the news again, thanks to another government-ordered study that found its optical-scanning machines to be flawed as well. According to a report released by Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning, Diebold’s AccuVote OS optical-scan voting devices could compromise the upcoming presidential primary elections in which they’re to be used. The machine’s “memory card can be preprogrammed to redistribute votes cast for selected candidates on that terminal, including swapping the votes for two candidates,” the report explains. “The attack can be carried out with low probability of detection, assuming that audit with paper ballots are infrequent and that programmed cards are not detected before use.”

An unsettling revelation for anyone concerned about this whole idea of “election integrity.” But never fear, Diebold has vowed to patch the vulnerabilities identified in the report by the Aug. 17 deadline given it by the state. If it doesn’t, it risks decertification, which some would argue might not be a bad idea at this point. Remember, Diebold is the company that designed its widely criticized electronic-voting systems, to be opened with a hotel minibar key and then posted a detailed photograph of that key to its online store.

It’s the company that can’t seem to safeguard its source code. It’s the company that evaded election transparency laws in North Carolina. And it’s the company that modified its machines without notifying election officials. Twice.