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National Issues

Why Machines Are Bad at Counting Votes PDF Print Email
By Wendy M Grossman, The Guardian   
May 03, 2009
Democracy is made difficult by the fact that electronic voting systems are inherently flawed - and susceptible to fraud

This article appeared in the UK Guardian on April 30, 2009.

It's commonly said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Yet this is what we keep doing with electronic voting machines - find flaws and try again. It should therefore have been no surprise when, at the end of March, California's secretary of state's office of voting system technology assessment decertified older voting systems from Diebold's Premier Election Solutions division. The reason: a security flaw that erased 197 votes in the Humboldt county precinct in last November's presidential election.

Clearly, 197 votes would not have changed the national result. But the loss, which exceeds the error rate allowed under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, was only spotted because a local citizen group, the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project monitored the vote using a ballot-imaging scanner to create an independent record. How many votes were lost elsewhere?

Humboldt county used Diebold's GEMS operating system version 1.18.19 to tally postal ballots scanned in batches, or "decks". The omission of votes was a result of a flaw in the system, where, given particular circumstances, it deletes the first deck, named "Deck Zero", without noting it in the system's audit logs.

Read the entire article at Guardian.uk.
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