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Premier Election Solutions

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Diebold Systems, those wonders of the modern voting machine, are no more. Actually they are but they don't want you to realise that. So they've renamed themselves Premier Election Solutions.

Premier Election Solutions: isn't that a nice name? If they're 'premier' then who is 'secondary'? Are there any other companies competing for the title of the world's best voting machine company? And last time around Premier - still using the now caustic moniker 'Diebold' - didn't exactly fare well.

There are a lot of links on the subject today. Why not let Mary Flaherty of the Washington Post start off?

Ohio Voting Machines Contained Programming Error That Dropped Votes

That's quite the header. From 21 August.

A voting system used in 34 states contains a critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards to a central tallying point, the manufacturer acknowledged.

Read that again.

  • These ace machines were used in 34 states. That's 68%. Over two thirds of all states. (That's a lot.)
  • According to the 'manufacturer' (Premier aka Diebold) the machines contained a critical programming error.

So how was the flaw detected? An ordinary in-house security audit by Premier/Diebold? Yeah right.

The problem was identified after complaints from Ohio elections officials following the March primary there but the logic error that is the root of the problem has been part of the software for 10 years, said Chris Riggall, a spokesman for Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold.

Oh wow. The flaw was there ten years - and nobody from Premier/Diebold went looking for it (or any other flaw). Outsiders found it.

What's the company's response? This is a good one so sit securely.

Riggall [the rep from Premier/Diebold] said he was 'confident' that elections officials through the years would have realised votes had been dropped when they crosschecked their tallies...

Confident? How does Chris Rigall define 'confident'? Why should uneducated election officials detect something wrong when Chris Rigall's ace programmers saw nothing?

And he's basing the reliability of his product on election officials being able to detect (and correct) errors? As in 'these [Premier/Diebold] machines are good machines, guys - just make sure you check now and again they don't screw up so you can get back the lost votes'.

Yeah that sounds like good machines alright.

Time to call out the big guns. A corporate president can be useful. Here's the corporate president Dave Byrd coming to spin everything down.

We are indeed distressed that our previous analysis of this issue was in error.

Previous analysis, Dave? So you did suspect there was something wrong? And sorry - but if your ace programmers are really 'ace' then how did they miss this? Sorry - but do you have any security audits at all?

The US state Ohio are namely up in arms and trying to sue the panties off Premier. (Does this explain why they're not called Diebold anymore - hiding assets, anyone?) Ohio used the Diebold machines - the so called GEMS (what an appropriate name) system - in half their counties.

Now here is where it goes beyond the pale.

Remedies to the problem will be in place for the November presidential election.

The people of Ohio - and of the US - are to still put their trust in a tech company that screw up this bad? Oh please.

We're back to the company president for the next mouthful.

Voters in jurisdictions Premier serves, both in Ohio and throughout the country, can be assured that election officials employing standard canvass and crosscheck procedures will count their votes completely and accurately.

Oh really, you clown? Then what do they need your stupid machines for in the first place?

Here is where it gets dicey - and where one begins to see the magnitude of collective stupidity in play.

Changes to systems must go through the Election Assistance Commission... and take two years... for certification and approval...

So in other words the previous flawed system was supposedly audited? That was some audit. Votes lost in 34 states. Lost in Ohio in half their counties. Great audit system. Are you hiring?

And what do the people of Ohio say about all this? From The Register.

Ohio official sues e-vote vendor for sloppy counting

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner wants an electronic voting machine vendor to pay for dropping hundreds of votes in the state's March primary election.

In a filing at Franklin County Common Pleas Court, Brunner seeks unspecified damages from Premier Election Solutions, formerly Diebold. She claims Premier made false representations of its equipment and failed to live up to its contractual obligations.

Votes from at least 11 counties in Ohio were lost in the recent election when memory cards were uploaded to computer servers that tally the votes.

So Ohioans aren't too pleased at all. Thank goodness El Reg can tell the story WaPo feel they have to pussyfoot around. But it's now time for the punch line. Up to now it's been an unrecognisable tip of an iceberg. Here comes the iceberg.

Premier pin the problem on an antivirus program that was loaded on the server. But Brunner claims the servers in Ohio were certified with the antivirus software installed.

Hello? What's this? Antivirus software on voting machines? Why? Is there any danger these machines can be compromised?

For we all know - all of us who qualify as having brains on board when it comes to IT - that secure systems such as Unix - and AIX and HP-UX and Solaris and Linux and Mac OS X - have virtually no risk of virus infection.

And we also know these systems are secure: that should any infection ever make its way onto any of these systems it would be contained.

So what kind of system are Premier/Diebold using for their voting machines anyway?

Surprise: Ohio's e-voting machines riddled with critical security flaws

Electronic voting machines used in Ohio contain critical security failures that could jeopardise the integrity of state elections, according to a study commissioned by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

The report found that the machines were susceptible to numerous hacks, many that required little sophistication on the part of attackers. A magnet and a personal digital assistant were the only tools needed to tamper with paper audit trails, according to the study. It also found materials such as memory storage and printer paper that hadn't been certified by manufacturers and a lack of standardised testing for hardware and software.

The study was federally commissioned; it cost taxpayers an additional $1.9 million. And in case you didn't already guess: Premier/Diebold absolutely love Microsoft Windows®.

Microsoft Windows® is a registered trademark no one else wants.

See Also
The Register: Ohio official sues e-vote vendor for sloppy counting
The Register: Surprise: Ohio's e-voting machines riddled with critical security flaws
Washington Post: Ohio Voting Machines Contained Programming Error That Dropped Votes

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