Diebold flops in Florida

Posted on Thu, Dec. 15, 2005
ELECTIONS
New tests fuel doubts about vote machines

A top election official and computer experts say computer hackers could easily change election results, after they found numerous flaws with a state-approved voting-machine in Tallahassee.

TALLAHASSEE – A political operative with hacking skills could alter the results of any election on Diebold-made voting machines — and possibly other new voting systems in Florida — according to the state capital’s election supervisor, who said Diebold software has failed repeated tests.

Ion Sancho, Leon County’s election chief, said tests by two computer experts, completed this week, showed that an insider could surreptitiously change vote results and the number of ballots cast on Diebold’s optical-scan machines.

After receiving county commission approval Tuesday, Sancho scrapped Diebold’s system for one made by Elections Systems and Software, the same provider used by Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The difference between the systems: Sancho’s machines use a fill-in-the-blank paper ballot that allows for after-the-fact manual recounts, while Broward and Miami-Dade use ATM-like touchscreens that leave no paper trail.

”That’s kind of scary. If there’s no paper trail, you have to rely solely on electronic results. And now we know that they can be manipulated under the right conditions, without a person even leaving a fingerprint,” said Sancho, who once headed the state’s elections supervisors association.

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