Re: Voting machines repaired without telling Md.

From: Richard C. Johnson <dick_at_iwwco_dot_com>
Date: Fri Oct 27 2006 - 13:56:02 CDT

Alan,
   
  This is a very very common problem. Software configuration management is not a strong suit at Diebold, evidently. Any change to software, whether a fix or an insertion or substitution of code demands a new revision number. It is then clear that, whatever certification pertained to the old code, the new is completely uncertified and must be returned to the ITA for re-evaluation and re-certification.
   
  Diebold and others have done this repeatedly, because non-technical (and some technical!!!) people refuse to believe that, once a single character in the source is changed, the new compiled version must carry a new revision number and must be regarded, prior to test, as an unknown.
   
  The ITA may or may not award part credit for partly modified code. My own preference is for a complete regression testing of the modified code before one recertifies the code. This is why we need Open Test and an automated test engine. Otherwise, months of turnaround to get retested and an election coming next week leads to quick and dirty fixes and an actual election run on uncertified software. Automated regression testing can be done overnight at worst.
   
  -- Dick

Alan Dechert <dechert@gmail.com> wrote:
  
This underscores several things we already know:

- While claiming to have "publicly disclosed" the problem, Diebold shows
they don't have any concept of public disclosure.

- Testing and certification process is broken

- Duplicitous election officials in MD. "Problem resolved." Well, it's not
resolved , apparently, until the system is completely changed

- We have work to do in MD.

Alan D.

*********************
Voting machines repaired without telling Md.
Reports: Diebold fixed 'screen-freeze' issue; state probes contract
violation
The Associated Press

Updated: 5:07 a.m. PT Oct 27, 2006
BALTIMORE - Diebold Election Systems quietly replaced flawed components in
several thousand Maryland voting machines in 2005 to fix a "screen-freeze"
problem the company had discovered three years earlier, according to
published reports Thursday.

State Board of Elections Chairman Gilles W. Burger said Diebold's failure to
fully inform board members of the repairs at the time raises questions about
whether the company violated its state contracts.

"This demonstrates the level of contractor oversight that Diebold requires,"
Burger told The (Baltimore) Sun. "On Monday, I'm going to ask our attorneys
to report back to me if there was any violation of the contract and what
financial remedies are available to me."

The screen freezes prompted Diebold, a division of ATM maker Diebold Inc.,
to replace motherboards on 4,700 machines in Allegany, Dorchester,
Montgomery and Prince George's counties, The Washington Post reported. Those
counties introduced the machines in 2004 in the first phase of Maryland's
transition to a uniform electronic voting system.

The unpredictable freezes don't cause votes to be lost, officials said, but
they confuse voters and election judges who sometimes wonder whether votes
cast on a frozen machine will be counted.

The screen freezes are unrelated to problems in September's primary, when
Diebold's electronic voter-registration machines rebooted without warning in
every Maryland precinct. The rebooting was caused by a software defect,
which Diebold says has been corrected.

Both newspapers based their reports partly on documents obtained by the
activist group TrueVoteMD, whose members have sued the state to make the
voting system more secure. Documents obtained by the group's attorneys
reveal details about who knew about the problem, and when.

Diebold: Units fixed then tested
According to an internal Diebold e-mail, the company temporarily stopped
producing the voting machines on March 11, 2002, after reports that the
units - the same kind that were delivered to Maryland that year - were
malfunctioning.

Mike Morrill, a spokesman for Diebold in Maryland, told The Sun the company
stopped production to fix the problem, then tested every motherboard when
assembly was restarted. Maryland wasn't notified at the time, the Sun
reported.

In April 2005, responding to questions from Maryland elections chief Linda
H. Lamone, Diebold President Tom Swidarski wrote that any unit that had
passed the test had been deemed safe. Morrill told The Sun the company
eventually found that the test was inadequate.

Morrill told the Post the company didn't finish researching the screen
freezes until early 2005, when it agreed to replace all the motherboards -
main circuit boards in computers - to guarantee that the problem wouldn't
recur.

Burger told The Sun that he and fellow members initially were told that
Diebold was performing a "technical refresher" of the voting machines.

However, Morrill told the Post the company had "publicly disclosed"
information about the problem and its solution in communications with the
State Board of Elections staff, including a six-page letter to Lamone.

Burger told the Post that if Lamone had withheld information about the
motherboards, "I think she is not carrying out her duties as a public
official." Burger and other appointees of Gov. Robert Ehrlich sought in 2004
to oust Lamone, a move that was blocked in court.

Ross Goldstein, deputy state elections administrator, also said board
members could have learned details of the technology refresh if they had
asked, and he defended Diebold's handling of the problem. "They have updated
all the units, and the problem has been resolved," he said.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15441429/

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Received on Tue Oct 31 23:17:08 2006

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