Diebold Election Systems

Diebold Elections Systems is a subsidiary of Diebold that makes and sells Voting machines.

Diebold Elections Systems is currently run by Bob Urosevich who has worked in the election systems industry since 1976. In 1979, Mr. Urosevich founded American Information Systems. He served as the President of AIS from 1979 through 1992, and that company, now known as Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), counted over 100 million ballots in the U.S. 2000 General Election. Bob's brother, Todd Urosevich, is Vice President, Aftermarket Sales with ES&S, DES's chief comptetitor. In 1995, Bob Urosevich started I-Mark Systems, whose product was a touch screen voting system utilizing a smart card and biometric encryption authorization technology. Global Election Systems, Inc. acquired I-Mark in 1997, and on July 31, 2000 Mr. Urosevich was promoted from Vice President of Sales and Marketing and New Business Development to President and Chief Operating Officer. On January 22, 2002, Diebold announced the acquisition of GES, then a manufacturer and supplier of electronic voting terminals and solutions. The total purchase price, in stock and cash, was $24.7 million. Global Election Systems subsequently changed its name to Diebold Election Systems, Inc.

Together, ES&S and Diebold Election Systems are (as of 2004) responsible for tallying approximately 80% of the votes cast in the United States. The software architecture common to both is a creation of Mr. Urosevich's company I-Mark. Some experts claim that this structure is easily compromised, in part due to its reliance on Microsoft Access databases. Britain J. Williams, responsible for certification of voting machines for the state of Georgia and a consultant to Diebold, has provided an assessment based on his accounting of potential exploits.

Their Diebold GEMS central tabulator software, version 1.18.15 of which counted most votes in the United States in the U.S. presidential election, 2004, is at the center of controversy for apparent irregularities versus the U.S. presidential election, 2004, exit polls. The Diebold AccuVote voting machine has also come under scrutiny especially by Ralph Nader's campaign.

The GEMS software, certified by NASED via Ciber Labs employee Shawn Southworth of Huntsville, Alabama is at the center of an alleged Diebold Election Systems electoral fraud, 2004 that is much more serious than the previous allegations in the U.S. presidential election, 2000 and U.S. midterm election, 2002 in which Diebold also came under scrutiny.

Jeff Dean, Senior Vice-President and Senior Programmer at Global Election Systems (GES), the company purchased by Diebold in 2002 which became Diebold Election Systems, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft for planting back doors in software he created for ATMs using, according to court documents, a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years. In addition to Dean, GES employed a number of other convicted felons in senior positions, including a fraudulent securities trader and a drug trafficker.

In December 2005, Diebold's CEO Wally O'Dell left the company following reports that the company was facing securities fraud litigation surrounding charges of insider trading.

In August 2003, Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold, announced that he had been a top fund-raiser for President George W. Bush and had sent a get-out-the-funds letter to Ohio Republicans. In the letters he says he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Critics of Diebold interpreted this as implying that he might rig the company's electronic voting machines to give an unfair advantage to Bush. The letter also was seen as an indication of a perceived conflict of interest by critics. He has responded to the critics by pointing out that the company's election machines division is run out of Texas by a registered Democrat. He also claims the statement about delivering Ohio's electoral votes to Bush was simply a poor choice of words. Nonetheless, he vowed to lower his political profile lest his personal actions harm the company. O'Dell resigned his post of chairman and chief executive of Diebold on December 12, 2005 following reports that the company was facing securities fraud litigation surrounding charges of insider trading.

DES claims its systems provide strong immunity to ballot tampering and other vote rigging attempts. These claims have been challenged, notably by Bev Harris on her website, Blackboxvoting.org, and book by the same name. Harris and C. D. Sludge, an Internet journalist, both claim there is also evidence that the Diebold systems have been exploited to tamper with American elections — a claim Harris expands in her book Black Box Voting. Sludge further cites Votewatch for evidence that suggests a pattern of compromised voting machine exploits throughout the 1990s, and specifically involving the Diebold machines in the 2002 election. DES has also come under fire for the recent discovery that the Diebold voting machines do not and did not in 2004 meet the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) error standard.

The controversy regarding electronic voting machines is related to a larger debate concerning the relative merits of open source and proprietary security products. Advocates of the open source model say that systems are more secure when anyone can view the underlying software code, identify bugs and make peer-reviewed changes. Advocates of proprietary systems claim that so-called black box systems are more secure because potential weaknesses are hidden.

Avi Rubin, Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University and Technical Director of the Information Security Institute has analyzed the source code used in these voting machines and reports "this voting system is far below even the most minimal security standards applicable in other contexts." Following the publication of this paper, the State of Maryland hired Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to perform another analysis of the Diebold voting machines. SAIC concluded “the system, as implemented in policy, procedure, and technology, is at high risk of compromise.”

In June 2005, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that when given access to Diebold vote-counting computers, Bev Harris- a critic of Diebold's voting machines - was able to make 65,000 votes disappear simply by changing the memory card that stores voting results for one that had been altered. Although the machines are supposed to record changes to data stored in the system, they showed no record of tampering after the memory cards were swapped. In response, a spokesperson for the Department of State said that, "Information on a blog site is not viable or credible."

In early 2006 the Diebold Election Systems subsidiary came under considerable fire from alternate media sources for creating voting systems without reasonable auditing, no paper trail, security holes, and software bugs. The attention negatively affected Diebold stock (though elections are only a small part of their business) and triggered investigations in several states after insiders revealed irregular practices in Diebold's election division. Diebold was the first major vendor to experience a serious backlash from poor quality, service and preparation in the election industry, and condemnation of Diebold helped to focus attention on other vendors (ES&S). According to Avi Rubin, the Johns Hopkins University computer science professor who first identified flaws in the technology in 2003, the machines are "much, much easier to attack than anything we've previously said... On a scale of one to 10, if the problems we found before were a six, this is a 10. It's a totally different ballgame." According to Rubin, the system is intentionally designed so that anyone with access can update the machine software, without a pass code or other security protocol. Diebold officials said that although any problem can be avoided by keeping a close watch on the machines, they are developing a fix. Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is a proponent of electronic voting and the examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania, stated "It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system." Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, stated "This is the barn door being wide open, while people were arguing over the lock on the front door." Diebold spokesman David Bear decried the seriousness of the situation, asserting that "For there to be a problem here, you're basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software. I don't believe these evil elections people exist."

On 31 July 2006 the Open Voting Foundation released a press release which explains, with photographs, how to open the case with a screwdriver and alter the boot configuration of the Diebold TS so as to boot from EPROM, on-board flash memory or external flash memory. The implication is that a previously tested and certified machine could be booted using an unauthorised boot profile, and that such a boot profile could be activated with relatively little technical expertise.

In March 2006, the Maryland House voted to ban Diebold machines from state primary and general elections. The Senate still has to pass the bill in order for it to become law, but the proposal highlights concerns that the Diebold machines do not leave a paper trail. The text of the law states that Diebold must equip its touch-screen voting machines to produce paper receipts by the 2008 elections in order to keep its contract with the state. Similar concerns have been voiced in other states, including Florida and California.

In 2004, after an initial investigation into the company's practices by the California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley caused him to issue a ban on one model of Diebold voting machines California, the Attorney General of California, Bill Lockyer, sued Diebold, charging that it had given false information about the security and reliability of Diebold Election Systems machines that were sold to the state. To settle the case, Diebold agreed to pay $2.6 million and to implement certain reforms.

In September 2003, a large number of internal Diebold memos, dating back to mid-2001, were posted to the Web by the website organizations Why War? and the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons, a group of student activists at Swarthmore College. Congressman Kucinich (D-OH) has placed portions of the files on his websites. Diebold's critics believe that these memos reflect badly on Diebold's voting machines and business practices. For example: "Do not to offer damaging opinions of our systems, even when their failings become obvious." In December 2003, an internal Diebold memo was leaked to the press, sparking controversy in Maryland. Maryland officials requested that Diebold add the functionality of printing voting receipts. The leaked memo said, "As a business, I hope we're smart enough to charge them up the wazoo for this feature".

Diebold attempted to stop the publication of these internal memos by sending cease and desist letters to sites hosting these documents, demanding that they be removed. Diebold claimed the memos as their copyrighted material, and asserted that anyone who published the memos online was in violation of the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act provisions of the DMCA found in § 512 of the United States Copyright Act. When it turned out that some of the challenged groups would not back down, Diebold retracted their threat. Those who had been threatened by Diebold then sued for court costs and damages, in OPG v. Diebold. This suit eventually led to a victory for the plaintiffs against Diebold, when in October 2004 Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled that Diebold had abused its copyrights in its efforts to suppress the embarrassing memos.

In January and February of 2004, a whistleblower named Stephen Heller brought to light memos from Jones Day, Diebold's California attorneys, informing Diebold that they were in breach of California law by continuing to use illegal and uncertified software in California voting machines. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed civil and criminal suits against the company, which were dropped when Diebold settled out of court for $2.6 million. In February 2006, Heller was charged with three felonies for this action.

Ohio State Senator Jeff Jacobson, Republican, asked Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in July, 2003 to disqualify Diebold's bid to supply voting machines for the state, after security problems were discovered in its software, but was refused. Blackwell had ordered Diebold touch screen voting machines, reversing an earlier decision by the state to purchase only optical scan voting machines which, unlike the touch screen devices, would leave a "paper trail" for recount purposes. Blackwell was found in April 2006, to own 83 shares of Diebold stock, down from 178 shares purchased in January 2005, which he attributed to an unidentified financial manager at Credit Suisse First Boston who had violated his instructions to avoid potential conflict of interest, without his knowledge. When Cuyahoga county's primary was held on May 2, 2006, officials ordered the hand-counting of more than 18,000 paper ballots after Diebold's new optical scan machines produced inconsistent tabulations, leaving several local races in limbo for days and eventually resulting in a reversal of the outcome of one race for state representative. Blackwell ordered an investigation by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections; Ohio Democrats demanded that Blackwell, who is also the Republican gubernatorial candidate in this election, recuse himself from the investigation due to conflicts of interest, but Blackwell has not done so.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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