Thursday, February 23, 2006

PA News Takes a Look At Voting Machines

WTAE Ch8 News in PA did a background check on voting machine companies and found bribes, kickbacks and false statements.
The new electronic machines rely on software. So voters need to trust the companies that write that software. The state examines the machines, but what about the companies that build them? (...)

Let's begin with ES&S, the company that's making voting machines for Cumberland and Lebanon counties. In 2002, a senior ES&S official received immunity from prosecution for cooperating in a kickback and bribery investigation involving the Arkansas Secretary of State, who was convicted. That executive still works for ES&S as an independent contractor.

The company also settled with an Indiana County for just over $1 million on software and service issues.

At Sequoia Voting Systems, an executive was also granted immunity in a kickback investigation, this time in Louisiana. The top Louisiana elections official went to prison for funneling millions in state money back to himself and others. (...)

Another manufacturer, Danaher Controls, has also run into problems in other states. Connecticut officials stopped a deal with Danaher last month. The secretary of the state said Danaher misled officials over its federal certification.

The company Accupoll backed out of a deal with Lebanon County. Reports state that Accupoll is facing an SEC investigation and that it plans to file for bankruptcy.

And finally, Diebold, a company best known for its ATMs, is becoming known for controversy over its voting machines. Diebold settled with the state of California for $2.6 million in 2004 over false claims.

One might think a company producing voting machines would keep its politics private, but in 2003, in a Republican fundraising letter then Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell said he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

Along with those issues, technical problems have been reported after elections in a number of states
Hat tip again to Bradblog, who is relentless in covering the voting machine scandals.

Also, Bradblog points out that the new Diebold voting machines are equipped with infrared data transfer ports on them. WTF?!? FYI, that little window that recieves your remote control commands on your TV is an IR port. There is simply no ethical reason why a voting machine would include a port for wireless communication with another device. Especially not from Diebold, whose hackability of its machines to manipulate vote totals has been proven repeatedly.


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