Anti-virus and the anti-voting machine

There’s some intriguing and ironic details near the bottom of the on-going legal saga in Ohio.

The latest is Ohio filing a set of counter-claims in a lawsuit that election system vendor Premier Election Systems (formerly Diebold) brought against the state of Ohio. Back up, why the company suing the state? Because Ohio Secretary of State Brunner and Cuyahoga County asserted that Premier has not fully performed its contracts and complied with state law governing  voting systems.  Ostensibly in the midst of settlement discussions, Premier filed suit against the State and County seeking to have the court declare that Premier had fully performed all legal obligations with regard to voting systems. Now Brunner’s office has filed specific counter-claims.

This case is fundamentally about flakey voting systems that Brunner says  simply don’t get the job done that – for example, make errors in counting the votes, by dropping some votes during tabulation. A specific example of this type of error was discovered in Butler county, and this is where it gets a bit weird. According to a Washington Post article, Butler County elections staff asked Brunner’s office to investigate a potential vote-dropping problem. Some analysis discovered that — rather unexpectedly — the flakey system were running commercial anti-virus software. The analysis suggested that the cause may have been anti-virus software interfering with Premier’s software (which runs on Windows OS) and causing a malfunction of the voting systems.

Perhaps just as alarming, the anti-virus software was not part of the legally certified  election system product. Apparently someone thought it necessary to add the anti-virus software (presumably to counter threats of malicious software) even though such addition makes the system illegal to use in an election.

It may require quite a bit of litigation for a court to figure out what really happened and whether laws or contracts were broken. In the meantime we can also wonder why it was a good idea in the first place to build an election system— including the computers that record and count votes— on common system that is so rife with security issues that it requires a growing list of special security software to be able to operate with even minimum safety.


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