Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Secrets of Voting Machine Testing Exposed!

NY forces the dark world of voting machine testing into the open

The outrage at the New York State Board of Elections was palpable after the news broke that CIBER, the company conducting New York State’s voting machine testing, had failed to receive accreditation from the EAC, and neither CIBER or the EAC had bothered to inform anyone about this failure. But faced with a threatened subpoena by New York, and growing public and Congressional criticism, CIBER released the EAC reports documenting the serious problems found with CIBER’s testing practices. The EAC quickly followed suit and posted the report to their website.

The report exposes in damning detail what voting integrity activists have been saying for years – testing labs have operated in a closed loop system with the voting machine vendors and have used the lack of independent oversight to give us the disaster that is our nation's voting machine testing process.

The report’s findings are damning and will surely cause other states which have purchased and used machines “certified” by CIBER to question the security and reliability of their voting systems. Anyone who knows even a bit about what it takes to test hardware and software to minimally acceptable standards will be shocked by the revelations in the report. Here are some quotes from the EAC Assessment Report:

  • “CIBER has not shown the resources to provide a reliable product. The current quality management plan requires more time to spend on managing the process than they appear to have available and it was clear during the assessment visit that they had not accepted that they have a responsibility to provide quality reviewed reports that show what was done in testing.”
  • “CIBER’s reports provide limited or no descriptions of the testing performed so a reader or reviewer can not tell if all the testing was completed. Cross checking between CIBER and Wyle reports has revealed at times that neither [voting machine test lab] has performed certain tests, expecting that the test was done by the other.”
  • “In addition, during the review, [CIBER] indicated that the testing for a product tends to either use vendor developed tests or new tests developed specifically for the product—they have no standard test methods defined. This makes their testing dependent on vendor input and vulnerable to unique vendor interpretations rather than a core validated set of internal references for training and testing.”

This last statement validates what the voting integrity community has said for years. The testing labs and voting machine vendors are operating a closed loop system whose purpose is to give an appearance of thoroughness when exactly the opposite is true. In reality, no attempt is made to achieve the level of comprehensive testing that would even begin to give voters an assurance of confidence in the machines we use to exercise our most precious right – our right to vote.

New York State’s requirement for an independent security review of CIBER’s work, fought for and won by New York activists, has exposed the dark underbelly of the Testing Lab/Machine Vendor cabal. New York is in a unique position having set a high bar for certification and by making CIBER answerable to the State, not the voting machine vendors. The New York State Board of Elections must seize this moment to make a strong statement to the vendors, the testing labs, and the EAC. New York State voters will not accept half measures and bogus tests. The New York State Board of Elections must cancel the contract with CIBER now.

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