March 19, 2008
NJ Digital Voting Machines Can't Count Accurately
Ed Felten tells us about the discrepancies in vote tallies from electronic voting machines manufactured by Sequoia Voting Systems and used in the New Jersey primary election on February 5.
(image source: Ed Felten)
But 179 + 192 = 361, not 362; and 1 + 13 + 40 + 3 + 4 = 61, not 60.
What’s alarming here is not the size of the discrepancy but its nature. This is a single voting machine, disagreeing with itself about how many Republicans voted on it. Imagine your pocket calculator couldn’t make up its mind whether 1+13+40+3+4 was 60 or 61. You’d be pretty alarmed, and you wouldn’t trust your calculator until you were very sure it was fixed. Or you’d get a new calculator.
This wasn’t an isolated instance, either. In Union County alone, at least eight other AVC Advantage machines exhibited similar problems, as did dozens more machines in other counties.
Sequoia Voting Systems doesn't understand how to handle a PR crisis. Edwin Smith, Sequoia's Vice President for Compliance/Quality/Certification sent Felten a nastygram stating that if the state of New Jersey presented Felten's group with a Sequoia machine for analysis, the state would be in violation of its contract with Sequoia. Smith goes on with a threat of vaguely-worded legal action if Felten published results from such an analysis.
Yes, that's right: Sequoia's VP for QA is attempting to suppress independent QA on his company's product. Someone should tell him about how Johnson & Johnson handled the Tylenol tampering.
Earlier in As I Please:
Howto: Hack a Diebold Voting Machine (As I Please)
How Not to Talk to Reporters