E-voting Flaws Admitted


Wired.com reported last week that Premier Elections Solutions (formerly known as Diebold Election Systems) admitted in California state hearings "that the audit logs produced by its tabulation software miss significant events, including the act of someone deleting votes on election day." The company's e-voting machines are reportedly used in 31 states and 1,400 election districts.

The issue came to light after a problem in an election last November in Humboldt County, California caused ballots being dropped. Some 197 vote-by-mail ballots, which had been scanned through vote counting machines, disappeared from the final ballot tally as tabulated by Premier Elections Solutions' GEMS software.

According to the report released by California's Secretary of State Debra Bowen dated 2 March 2009, the GEMS software version 1.18.19 contains not only a "serious software error in its Central Count Server" but "fails to record in any log important system events such as the deletion of decks of optical scan ballots after they have been scanned and entered into the GEMS election results database ... it records the wrong entry date and time for certain decks of ballots ... it permits deletion of certain audit logs that contain â'' or should contain â'' records that would be essential to reconstruct operator actions during the vote tallying process."

Premier Elections Solutions' admission of flaws in its e-voting software will add weight to the arguments that e-voting machines continue not to be ready for prime time.


Risk Factor

IEEE Spectrum's risk analysis blog, featuring daily news, updates and analysis on computing and IT projects, software and systems failures, successes and innovations, security threats, and more.

Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City