|Truth, Lies, & Politics
When is a coincidence too much of a
coincidence to be one?
ES&S election monopoly blocked.
Still at least 17 ways to steal or botch your next
The DOJ’s block to ES&S’s nationwide election grab is a
major victory for all Americans. But does nothing to ensure
honest and accurate elections. Check these 17 ways to steal or
glitch your next election.
If you’ve been following recent news reports concerning Elections
Systems & Software, Inc.’s monopoly of America’s voting process, you
know ES&S will now be required to sell the Premier Systems/Diebold
assets they acquired last year, pending approval by a federal judge. (See
Brad Friedman’s DOJ TO REQUIRE ES&S TO SELL OFF ASSETS
FROM DIEBOLD MERGER CITING ANTI-TRUST CONCERNS
and DOJ: Voting machine maker must sell some assets, Pete Yost,
Have we dodged a bullet on that one? Maybe. The block to ES&S’s
nationwide election grab is one major victory for all Americans. It does
restrict the propagation of a host of voting errors that have long afflicted
ES&S voting systems.
However in no way does this ensure honest and accurate elections. It
simply restricts ES&S’s influence from 70% of Americans to 50+% of
Americans. It does nothing to protect your vote from intentional or
unintentional mishap. Particularly since the ES&S solution controls each
election from beginning to end with little or no viable external checks
and balances to keep the results honest: ES&S manufactures the
machines, outlines the testing process, produces the test data, manages
the voting process, tallies the votes, pronounces the winner, then
produces the reports to declare the election valid.
This rollback of ES&S's monopoly does nothing to prevent:
programming tricks infiltrates every election computer
manufactured by his or her company nationwide, including ballot
scanners and touchscreens, as well as central tabulation
computers. A caper such as this doesn’t even stretch the
imagination or talents. Consider the implications of holding the
power to spot control elections across the country. Do it smartly
and no one will know. Today, we’ve not enough checks and
balances to catch it.
2. Ballots from being accidentally or intentionally misprinted ever
so slightly so that one candidate’s votes aren’t even “seen” by the
ballot scanner, let alone counted.
3. Ballots from being printed with poor quality paper that jams in
the ballot scanners.
4. Ballot scanners from misreading your ballots.
5. Election officials from distributing ink pens that scanners can’t
read. Yes, it happened.
6. Touchscreens from flipping your votes due to programming
errors or defective hardware.
7. And of course failure to adequately test hardware and software
at the State level during the voting system certification process,
releasing an army of faulty machines. The State of Florida tested
and certified their infamous ES&S touchscreens without even
touching them. (A solid 89K votes went missing across the state in
the 2006 Attorney General’s race on ES&S voting machines.)
8. Failure to pre-test election setup at the local level. The U.S.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that Sarasota
County, FL performed logic and accuracy tests on 32 of 1,499
touchscreens prior to their failed 2006 election. 98% of the
machines went untested and ultimately 18K votes were lost.
9. Bad business behavior. ES&S has known about vote-flipping
and drifting candidates for years. Yet they let the voting public
flounder in the rancor and uncertainty of questionable elections.
10. Unethical business practices. Remember ES&S’s 22,619
defective vote flipping, calibration drifting, vote losing machines?
2,261,000 Stolen Votes & Counting. ES&S: “A time bomb waiting
to go off.”
11. Election personnel from accidentally or intentionally setting up
their ballot definitions incorrectly. Ballot definitions tell the
computers what each ballot looks like, who the candidates are, and
which click or bubble goes to each candidate.
12. Election tabulation software from miscounting the votes.
Remember some of the more outrageous errors in which the vote
tabulation started counting backwards?
13. Hardware failure as in the more recent meltdowns or
calibration drift of touchscreens in 2008 and 2009.
14. Hiccups in the communications between the voting machines
and the central computer that tabulates the results.
15. Intentional hacking of communications between the central
tabulation computer and the ballot scanners or touchscreens.
16. Intentional or accidental programming of the PEB storage
devices, the personalized electronic ballot definition that tells the
touchscreen which ballot the voter will be voting.
17. Individual touchscreens from being tampered with or hacked.
While scaling back ES&S’s march across the country does
create room for competition and may inspire ES&S to
improve the quality of its products, it does nothing to ensure
our votes are counted first time, every time. In order to
accomplish this, we must start running elections more like a
business to include: (1) comprehensive audits of every
election, (2) both manual and computerized processes that
automatically red-flag invalid or statistically improbable
results such as a 12% undervote, (3) updated election laws
that recognize that computer errors do occur and define the
appropriate corrective action to include sending the election
back to the people.
Fiction Stops Here