Friday, March 06, 2009

a real gem

The report states that the inclusion of the button violated the federal voting-system standards under which the Premier/Diebold system qualified to be used in elections. The standards require that voting-system software automatically creates and permanently retains electronic audit logs of important system events that occur on the machine.

Premier/Diebold did not respond to a request for comment.

Kim Zetter reporting in Wired on the inclusion of a "Clear" button, equivalent to "Delete", that allows any user to delete voter audit logs in Diebold's vote tabulation system, known as the Global Election Management System (Gems).

Compounding the problem: The position of the button makes it likely that the user might select it in error when attempting to save the audit log, and the user is not presented with an interstitial dialog that might give them an opportunity to back out of the "clear" action once that button is selected.

Once "clear" has been selected the log evaporates. According to Wired: "The logs record changes and other events that occur on voting systems to ensure the integrity of elections and help determine what occurred in a system when something goes wrong."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Humboldt County, California-

Trachtenberg Election Verification Systems (TEVSystems), announced today the availability of its voter verification software, Ballot Browser. The software was developed by Mitch Trachtenberg, of Trinidad, California.

Ballot Browser was used recently in Humboldt County, California to verify the results of November's Presidential election. The program was developed by Trachtenberg as part of the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project, a citizens' group which worked with County Elections officials as part of an innovative project to ensure the integrity of its election results.

The program helped expose an error in the County's certified election results.  197 ballots were found to be missing in the final vote total. The missing ballots were all cast in Eureka, California, the county seat of Humboldt County. Elections official Carolyn Crnich confirmed the previous total was in error after investigating the missing ballots. The error was later found to be the result of a computer programming error in the proprietary software used by the County and purchased from Premier Elections Solutions, formerly, Diebold Elections Systems.

Ballot Browser is open source software and is free to download and use. The program is used with optical scan ballots, which account for approximately 59% of elections in the United States. The ballots were scanned using a commercial office scanner. Ballot Browser then allowed citizens to view the votes of each ballot while the program counts them. Ballot Browser provides an unprecedented level of transparency in election vote counting. The program is free for anyone to use and is available for download at
Ballot Browser, along with Humboldt's elections officials and citizen volunteers, has received widespread praise from advocates of transparent elections. Brad Friedman of, a popular blog concerned with election integrity, hailed the development of Ballot Browser and encouraged the widespread use of Ballot Browser, "If Trachtenberg could develop such a system on his own, with no federal funding whatsoever, no proprietary software and simple, off-the-shelf scanners, such that it seems to have counted votes more accurately than the one developed for years by Diebold, at enormous tax-payer expense, why shouldn't every voting jurisdiction that insists on op-scan voting systems immediately sue Diebold (and the other companies) for fraud, breach of contract --- or anything else they can find in order to recoup the millions spent on these broken systems --- and immediately switch to the Trachtenberg system?" wrote Friedman.  ( Trachtenberg and Ballot Browser were also featured in a recent article entitled "Serious Error in Diebold Voting Software Caused Lost Ballots in California County." 

TEVSystems encourages the free use of this important software. Clients can also purchase a licensed version from TEVSystems, which comes with full tech support. TEVSystems is now working on a turnkey hardware and software system for jurisdictions, and expects to have its first systems available by early 2009. "Integrity of our elections is paramount. Our goal with TEVSystems and Ballot Browser is to ensure the highest possible confidence in election results, by enabling accurate, timely, transparent, and verifiable vote counts," said Trachtenberg. More information is available at

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