The Digital Signage Insider

Voting Kiosks and Super Tuesday

Published on: 2004-03-04

Recently, a lot of attention has been given to Diebold, a Canadian manufacturer of POS and self-service devices, among the most notorious of which are their E-voting kiosks. Diebold has been working with local, state, and federal government entities to try and standardize all electronic voting on their hardware/software platform (for an understanding of what a kiosk software platform is, I invite you to look at FireCast software from WireSpring).

However, the system has been plagued with problems, and despite lawsuits, inquiries, and a tremendous amount of bad press, for some reason people continue to test and deploy these systems for voting throughout the United States.

The problem, from my perspective, is not the fact that these machines are expensive, complicated, difficult to set up, and unreliable (all of which are true), but that there are massive security problems, many of which have actually been acknowledged by Diebold employees (or former employees, as the case may be).

This past Tuesday was "Super Tuesday," when several states held their primary elections, and a number of them (including Maryland) introduced Diebold voting machines to do the job. Despite smooth sailing for the most part, there are those people who still doubt that voting kiosks are a wise choice, especially when contracted from a single vendor.

While I applaud the use of self-service technology in any situation where it will make things faster, easier and more efficient, I have to agree that the notion of having one company (a non-U.S. company, to boot) in control of a huge number of ballots is far from comforting. Add to that the fact that the selected company has based its software on an insecure platform, making poor (or no) use of encryption and other security measures, and you have a recipe for disaster.

This problem needs to be addressed and solved before every locale adopts E-voting. While the opportunity for a faster, more efficient voting process is certainly appealing, we all need to take into consideration the potential pitfalls of adopting such a system before it is ready.

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