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Diebold Election Results Released By AZ Judge 134

Posted by Zonk
from the just-a-little-more-oversight dept.
Windrip writes "A judge in the case covering the nature of the database used in Diebold Gems software during Pima County, Arizona elections has ruled the DB is not a computer program (pdf). The result is that the Arizona Democratic party will have the chance to review previous elections for transparency and accuracy. ''The Pima County Democratic Party sued the county this year for the electronic databases from past elections. The party requested the databases and passwords be released according to Arizona public-records law. Pima County denied that part of the request, while turning over other records the party asked for. In closing arguments of the four-day trial that began Dec. 4, Pima County argued the databases meet the definition of a computer program, which is protected by state law, said Deputy County Attorney Thomas Denker."
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Diebold Election Results Released By AZ Judge

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2007 @10:37AM (#21778594)
    Diebold is the dictator's choice for subverting democracy.

    Imagine a world where people vote, but the votes don't go anywhere. They just sit in a machine controlled by puppets of the fascist wing of the Republican Party. We are living this dream.
  • Re:Good. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday December 21, 2007 @10:41AM (#21778634) Homepage
    Presumably the same way that gems like "your RAM is evidence, do not delete" come about.
  • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday December 21, 2007 @10:43AM (#21778670) Homepage
    The data set is not a program, but the program required to interpret the dataset is. If the data files are in some binary proprietary format, there may not be an easy way to interpret what's in the data files without also having access to the program.
  • Not again! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashname3 (739398) on Friday December 21, 2007 @10:46AM (#21778700)
    Why do they keep demanding recounts! Seems like the better approach would be to set out a platform that solves the basic problems for the majority of people. Instead they (both parties) spend time tearing down each other as well as themselves then run crying to the courts when things don't happen to fall their way.

    Concentrate on solving the problems not trying to figure out some loop hole or proving some conspiracy and blaming others for not doing well at the polls.

    I really wish there was a third party candidate that had a shot at winning.
  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Friday December 21, 2007 @10:48AM (#21778720)
    Databases need to be available to be output in a standard format, and describable by a data dictionary. Data stored in a binary proprietary format which cannot be interpreted without reading the code of a program is NOT a database.

    Why do I in any case guess that this database is either MSDE or SQL Express?

  • A simple remark (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Friday December 21, 2007 @10:52AM (#21778780) Homepage Journal
    How is it possible in the 21st century in the USA that one uses electronic voting machines with one hand while publishing important documents as scanned images with the other one?
  • by TTURabble (1164837) on Friday December 21, 2007 @10:52AM (#21778790)
    "There is a significant risk these systems could be hacked or discredited," Denker said.

    I pretty much think that this is the point; and it is an important point, because without the ability to call "bullshit" then you lose the legitimacy of the votes. Any corporation wouldn't trust an accountant to maintain the books without auditing them periodically, this is basically the same thing.

    also, the systems can already be hacked (quite easily I believe)
  • by spleen_blender (949762) on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:00AM (#21778884)
    Just a hint, they both are the same thing. Don't trust either, fight both.
  • Re:Not again! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TTURabble (1164837) on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:11AM (#21779028)
    Why do they keep demanding recounts!

    Because of people like you, You can call everything a conspiracy theory and denounce it as crazy, but I'd rather have checks in place to make sure anyway.

    There isn't any reason to go crying over spilled milk, but at the same time we should be working to make sure it won't spill again. This is one of the ways to make sure our next election is fair.
  • by dbcad7 (771464) on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:14AM (#21779058)
    who had only to push around a few bits

    Close races are close races.. can go either way.. that's when manipulation is useful... If there is no doubt that someone was going to win, and they didn't, manipulation would be kind of noticeable wouldn't it ?

  • by argent (18001) <peter@slashdot.2 ... com minus physic> on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:16AM (#21779074) Homepage Journal
    If the security of the system depends on keeping the implementation secret, then it's not secure. Huckelberry's assertions are themselves an indictment of Diebold's product.
  • Re:Not again! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Falstius (963333) on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:20AM (#21779130)
    Yeah! And why bother investigating burglary, just buy better locks. No need to investigate embezzlement just have better accountants. Oh, and murder, pshaw. We should focus on inventing better medicine.

    Accountability is important. There is not nearly enough of it in the American government, at any level.

  • by harshmanrob (955287) on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:24AM (#21779170) Journal
    Hopefully, this ruling will lead to the removal of all of these "electoral vote control and modification machines" and getting back to a system of legit elections. I still think we need UN election monitors at every polling station in the US.
  • Re:Not again! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MonsterMasher (518641) <Steven.Work@uvm.edu> on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:24AM (#21779174)
    If the data shows when the vote was done - which I'm sure it does - then
    the data can be evaluated and stats worked up.

    If someone was fooling with the vote count they would have to be very careful
    in how they entered the data. Stats can be run one the distribution pattern and
    non-random sequence of entries can be looked at closely.

    Hell - every election voting database should be accessable on the net for any
    election, so that ANYONE can run the numbers and take a look. look what happened
    2004 election - someone was able to show the the exit poles were SIGNIFICANTLY
    different then the results. Showing it had been rigged.

    The powerful conservative group that is trying to run this country and own the media
    tried to debunk it but it holds true.

    They silenced the discussion pretty well - don't you think?

    **BANG** ("looks like another suicide guys - but it's okay the guy's
    spelling was harrable!")

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:32AM (#21779278)
    Does it make you a conspiracy theorist to be suspicious and cautious when an election comes down to a few hundred votes in a state whose election commissioner was appointed by the brother of the winning candidate?!?! If it is, then give me my tin-foil hat, brother!
  • Re:Not again! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashname3 (739398) on Friday December 21, 2007 @12:30PM (#21780124)
    When has a police department every really investigated a burglary? Maybe when it happens to some one in power or famous. In the real world police departments simply file some paper work and then go get some donuts. They don't investigate anything as lowly as a burglary.

    Accountability is important. But after all these recounts and investigations there has not been anyone charged with voter fraud, just accusations and innuendo.

    Politicians have been breed to win elections, not to solve the problems that this country has. Actually it is a fairly good example of evolution in action. Those that can get money from various lobbies and can talk to crowds and convince them that they have the same views as the crowd.

    Politics has come down to simple sound bites, there is not substance. Regardless of which party is in office we get pretty much the same results.
  • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Friday December 21, 2007 @12:43PM (#21780324)

    A database file is just data, to be interpreted by a database program.
    But the database program is just data to be interpreted by the CPU.

    Data vs. document is a spectrum. There is no clear distinction. ...

    Everything is just data. What makes it meaningful is the order and interpretation that we impose on it.

    How very Hinduistically existential of you, actually. Quoting from a recent Natl. Geo. article, Faces of the Divine in the January 2008 issue (which I received earlier this week, thanks apparently to time-traveling magazine editors):

    ... Beauty meant nothing in itself: A work of art, whether a bronze statue of Shiva engaged in his cosmic dance of creating and destroying the universe or a painting of the Buddha attaining enlightenment under the bodhi tree, amounted to no more than base metal or dried pigment until a viewer responded to it. Seeing a painting or sculpture in a temple opened the minds of receptive worshippers to intimate communion with the divine. Seeing was believing.

    Hindus call this intense participatory relationship with art an act of darshan, or "seeing" the deity. "Such seeing does not literally mean merely using one's eyes," according to art historian Vidya Dehejia, "but is a dynamic act of awareness." For the Buddhist monks and their patrons at Ajanta monastery, paintings of the Buddha served the same potent function, providing a key to revelation.

    So I suppose what you describe would be the CPU's darshan of the code. (Though one could probably make a reasonable argument about which is data and which the program on the basis of specifically how dynamic the darshan needs to be to make sense of it.)

    I find it somehow reassuring, and deeply cool, that certain wisdoms of the ancients can be perfectly relevant in wildly different contexts. It's also humbling to find how much our supposedly "primitive" ancestors got right in areas that we have forgotten or set aside. :)

    Cheers,

  • by nadaou (535365) on Friday December 21, 2007 @01:27PM (#21780998) Homepage
    Yeah right both parties are the same thing.

    Prime example: Imagine the world today with a President Bush vs. a President Gore or President Kerry.

    Both parties may share some of the same social diseases, and the fringe reactionary kooks of both parties are still reactionary kooks, but A==B? No way.

  • Re:Good. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday December 21, 2007 @03:31PM (#21782942) Homepage Journal
    Me + Joke == Wooosh!

    I'm actually a bit horrified if this shit is going to be used in a serious election processes.
    Who said it was serious? The latest controversies are over Hillary's wrinkles, the Romney's Mormonism, Huckabee's sexist and bigotted statements, and Giuliani's divorces.

    This is about as serious as an episode of Guiding Light.
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Friday December 21, 2007 @03:44PM (#21783128)
    Can we get the last 8 years of our lives back? How about the thousands of Americans that've died in combat, and the resulting 100,000+ innocent Iraqi's that've died as a consequence of this bastard?
  • by lenski (96498) on Friday December 21, 2007 @07:14PM (#21785930)

    And you base this opinion on what, precisely?


    The fact that Diebold's central tabulator used Microsoft Access [equalccw.com]?

    (Reported in several stories, notably a DVD called "Invisible Ballots")

    That their hardware [blackboxvoting.org] is some of the most programmer-friendly ever (straight X86 CPU, SDcard, CompactFlash sockets)?

    (This is a simplified, smaller version of a larger report. A quick Google search will reveal more.)

    WindowsCE OS?

    (Same report as above)

    Executable Scripts on the ballot-definition CF cards?

    (Demonstrated in "Invisible Ballots", also known as the Hursti Hack [wired.com])

    By one set of measures these sorts of decisions are hallmarks of el-cheapo implementation of systems that should have been designed to meet far more rigorous standards of security and reliability.

    Finally, I refer you to the author of a nice little easter-egg that he was asked to write: Clint Curtis [youtube.com]

    The *most charitable* characterization of this issue is that these people are guilty of professional negligence. Anyone understanding the importance of elections to this society and that (especially recently) elections are extremely high value to some people, and are hotly contested, would understand that voting systems should be developed under the strictest, most disciplined methodologies.

    It is clear that none of the major voting system suppliers have bothered with the most basic architecture, design, verification and validation methodologies.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.

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