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News ::
Link To The Full Stash Of Diebold Memos... (english)
21 Oct 2003
The following are links to the incriminating stash of Diebold Election Systems memos... please take copies of this data and redistribute...
This set of emails has been posted all over the place and shut down all over the place. Webmasters - especially those out of the reach of the DMCA - are encouraged to take a full copy of the memos at the above link.

For background.... the following summary was posed on DU when the Italian set of files was posted...

"In the support link, check out October 2001 for the "alter the audit log in Access" memo, April 2000 for memos that refer to transmitting vote data from optical scan machines by cell phone, April 2002 for a Tab Iredale (senior programmer) memo that urges folks to avoid getting Windows CE certified by anyone, and January 2001 for a memo from Ken Clark (principal engineer) talking about how pointless it is to attempt a recount on a touch screen.

Then, bear in mind that GEMS programs 1.11.14 and 1.17.17 are certified -- and check out how many times they are installing 1.14.xx and 1.15.xx series and using them in elections! (Totally illegal: what this means is the software used in these elections was never looked at by ANYONE except a handful of programmers in Canada.) Pretty much throws the whole certification and testing argument out the window.

There are a few "gems" (pardon the pun) about blaming problems on the customer; one where they find that they upgraded software for the optical scan and now it won't work on some optical scan machines in Virginia. They discuss giving them new optical scans, but decide to instead find a way to blame it on the customer and make them pay for new machines.

Also look for one in Colorado Springs (El Paso County Colorado) where they discuss the fact that they can't pick up a check until they do a demo of what they sold, but they don't have software that does what they sold, so they discuss a way to fake the demo, mentioning they've faked it before...

Boring reading, but productive for anyone who wants to head directly into your attorney general's office and demand that we put a stop to using Diebold optical scan and touch screens."

# # #

Here are some examples...

If certification isn't being done properly, the whole house of cards falls. Below are actual copies of internal Diebold memos which show that uncertified software is being used in elections, and that Diebold programmers intentionally end-run the system.

Quick backgrounder first, scroll down to see the memos.


Our voting system, which is part of the public commons has recently been privatized. When this happened, the counting of the votes, which must be a public process, subjected to the scrutiny of many eyes of plain old citizens, became a secret.

The computerized systems that register voters, will soon sign voters into the polling place using a digital smart card, record the vote we cast, and tally it are now so secret they are not allowed to be examined by any citizens group, or even by academics like the computer scientists at major universities.

The corporate justification for this secrecy is that these systems adhere to a list of "standards" put out by the Federal Election Commission, and that an "ITA" (Independent Testing Authority) carefully examines the voting system, which is then provided to states for their own certification.

As it turns out, the states typically do not examine the computer code at all, relying instead on a "Logic and Accuracy" test which will not catch fraud and has frequently missed software programming errors that cause the machines to miscount.

A Diebold message board has been used since 1999 to help technicians in the field interact with programmers to solve problems. The contents of this message board were quietly sent to reporters and activists around the world, most likely by a Diebold employee. In a letter to WiredNews, Diebold has acknowledged that these memos are from its own staff message boards.

Without further commentary, judge for yourself whether Diebold has been following certification requirements:

From Nel Finberg, Technical Writer, Diebold Election Systems

(Note: Metamor/Ciber is the ITA assigned to certify the software)

alteration of Audit Log in Access

To: "support"
Subject: alteration of Audit Log in Access
From: "Nel Finberg"
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 23:31:30 -0700
Importance: Normal

Jennifer Price at Metamor (about to be Ciber) has indicated that she can access the GEMS Access database and alter the Audit log without entering a password. What is the position of our development staff on this issue? Can we justify this? Or should this be anathema?

Reply from Ken Clark, principal engineer for Diebold Election Systems

RE: alteration of Audit Log in Access

Subject: RE: alteration of Audit Log in Access
From: "Ken Clark"
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 09:55:02 -0700
Importance: Normal

Its a tough question, and it has a lot to do with perception. Of course everyone knows perception is reality.

Right now you can open GEMS' .mdb file with MS-Access, and alter its contents. That includes the audit log. This isn't anything new. In VTS, you can open the database with progress and do the same. The same would go for anyone else's system using whatever database they are using. Hard drives are read-write entities. You can change their contents.

Now, where the perception comes in is that its right now very *easy* to change the contents. Double click the .mdb file. Even technical wizards at Metamor (or Ciber, or whatever) can figure that one out.

It is possible to put a secret password on the .mdb file to prevent Metamor from opening it with Access. I've threatened to put a password on the .mdb before when dealers/customers/support have done stupid things with the GEMS database structure using Access. Being able to end-run the database has admittedly got people out of a bind though. Jane (I think it was Jane) did some fancy footwork on the .mdb file in Gaston recently. I know our dealers do it. King County is famous for it. That's why we've never put a password on the file before.

Note however that even if we put a password on the file, it doesn't really prove much. Someone has to know the password, else how would GEMS open it. So this technically brings us back to square one: the audit log is modifiable by that person at least (read, me). Back to perception though, if you don't bring this up you might skate through Metamor.

There might be some clever crypto techniques to make it even harder to change the log (for me, they guy with the password that is). We're talking big changes here though, and at the moment largely theoretical ones. I'd doubt that any of our competitors are that clever.

By the way, all of this is why Texas gets its sh*t in a knot over the log printer. Log printers are not read-write, so you don't have the problem. Of course if I were Texas I would be more worried about modifications to our electronic ballots than to our electron logs, but that is another story I guess.

Bottom line on Metamor is to find out what it is going to take to make them happy. You can try the old standard of the NT password gains access to the operating system, and that after that point all bets are off. You have to trust the person with the NT password at least. This is all about Florida, and we have had VTS certified in Florida under the status quo for nearly ten years.

I sense a loosing battle here though. The changes to put a password on the .mdb file are not trivial and probably not even backward compatible, but we'll do it if that is what it is going to take.


Reply by Nel Finberg

RE: alteration of Audit Log in Access

Subject: RE: alteration of Audit Log in Access
From: "Nel Finberg"
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 14:48:16 -0700
Importance: Normal

Thanks for the response, Ken. For now Metamor accepts the requirement to restrict the server password to authorized staff in the jurisdiction, and that it should be the responsibility of the jurisdiction to restrict knowledge of this password. So no action is necessary in this matter, at this time. Nel

From Tyler to Ken Clark, Diebold Election Systems

Re: Nichols Lab

To: >,
Subject: Re: Nichols Lab
From: "Tyler"
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 14:04:19 -0600

In point of fact, the user documentation MUST be completed before attempting certification. It is my understanding that the documentation is a certification requirement. I don't know how closely Nichols will scrutinize the documentation, but I wouldn't feel comfortable going forward with certification with what we have for GEMS. Ostensibly, the documentation we submit to Nichols will become the "certified" documentation and we ostensibly shouldn't provide anything but that to customers. But then again, with regards to the entire NASED certification process, I can never quite get a handle on the relationship between "ostensible" and "reality."... :-)

From Ken Clark

RE: AVTS - Diagnostics & Installation

To: "Support Team (E-mail)"
Subject: RE: AVTS - Diagnostics & Installation
From: "Ken Clark"
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 16:41:56 -0500
Importance: Normal

> From: owner-support (at) On Behalf Of > Juan Rivera

> > I do not feel that it is necessary or desired to do this on each and every > election. We, the manufacturer, are supposed to set the > procedures to follow > for this equipment since we build it.

I hate more than anyone else in the company to bring up a certification issue with this, but a number of jurisdictions require a "system test" before every election. I just helped Knecht yesterday with an RFP from Riverside that required this. That is why the AccuVote displayes the silly ***System Test Passed*** message on boot up instead of "memory test passed", which is all it actually tests.

No argument from me that it is pointless. You could probably get away with a batch file that prints "system test passed" for all I know. We will do something along those lines with the new unit after a memory test or whatever.


From Ken Clark

RE: Testing sb100 database 1.14.2 (asap please)

To: "SUPPORT (E-mail)"
Subject: RE: Testing sb100 database 1.14.2 (asap please)
From: "Ken Clark"
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2000 09:38:52 -0600
Importance: Normal

> Do you all think it would be a good idea to get Jeff Dean to send us 10 or > so precincts by eight parties with pre-printed test decks from one of the > California sites for Jane to test AccuVote and CC???? If so, > I'll call Jeff > Dean and set up asap.

*Any* testing we can do on 1.14 is a good idea. With the risk of sounding alarmist, 1.14 really needs more testing. Even though much of GEMS looks the same from the outside, the guts changed substantially between 1.11 and 1.14. That's why you see all kinds of things completely unrelated to shadow races broken in the early 1.14 releases.

Hats off to everyone posting 1.14 bug reports.


(The above memo is important because it documents that the "guts" of GEMS 1.14 are substantially changed from the certified version, 1.11 -- it was then used in elections, but according to Diebold's own chart of which versions were certified, version 1.14 was never certified.)

From Steve Knecht

1.14 vs. 1.15 GEMS versions

(uncertified versions used.)

To: "Global Support"
Subject: 1.14 vs. 1.15 GEMS versions
From: "Steve Knecht"
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 17:10:34 -0800

Is it the intention of development staff that California March election will be run on some version of 1.14 or will we end up in the 1.15 range. Can you comment on the following: Are the changes being made now to 1.15 GEMS things that are in the ballot layout realm, and will not impact ballot processing, or tabulation issues?? In other words, is it possible that changes made from now on will break things we're starting to test, such as memory card up/download, central count, etc. We are beginning testing of 1.14.4 this week. Should we be testing with something else?

I guess a little summary picture of what you expect over the next 3 weeks of testing would be helpful. I'd say we will have to lock down GEMS by mid - February, AVTS ballot station is to go on-line, along with a pollbook function by Feb. 7, but we are supposed to do testing and L&A prior to this. No panic yet, just wondering where we're going to lock some of this down for the March primary.

Here is the related memo from Ken Clark:

Needless to say, the changes were extensive. The paint is still wet, and I expect people will want some tweaks in functionality as well as the obligatory bug fixes. We'll treat the early 1.15 series as "prereleases" for LHS testing so California does not have to suffer. Once 1.15 looks at least as solid as 1.14 though, we'll end the 1.14 branch. 1.14 and earlier Databases will upgrade to 1.15 without harm as usual. People testing 1.14 are encouraged to try out 1.15 to avoid any surprises when they are forced to upgrade.


(Here is a whole series of odd memos pertaining to how they should handle the inconvenience of an uncertified version number popping up on the screen in Florida)

From Greg Forsythe

Florida Certified Versions

To: "Support"
Subject: Florida Certified Versions
From: "Greg Forsythe"
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 11:12:02 -0500
Organization: Global Election Systems, Inc

Just received a call from Beverly Hill, Alachua County. She has a survey form from the state regarding versions and things. She is at the SA screen and the version is 1.92-15. Saturday, Feb. 12 she created a screen test database. This copy has 1.92-14. 1.92-14 is certified, 1.92-15 is not. SOLUTION REQUIRED! Greg Forsythe

Re: Florida Certified Versions

From Nel Finberg

Subject: Re: Florida Certified Versions
From: "Nel Finberg"
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 09:51:10 -0800

I am currently looking into the problem with Beverly. Nel

From Greg Forsythe

Re: Florida Certified Versions

Subject: Re: Florida Certified Versions
From: "Greg Forsythe"
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 12:55:09 -0500
Organization: Global Election Systems, Inc
References: 1.16) but not minor releases (1.16.1->1.16.2). You can downgrade out of trouble between minor releases, but a major release upgrade is a one way trip.


From Jeff Hintz

Software for Los Angelas, CA

To: "Support Team (E-mail)"
Subject: Software for Los Angelas, CA
From: "Jeff Hintz"
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 12:31:06 -0500
Importance: Normal

I am going out to LA next week, and I would like to know what software version of Gems & AVTS is being sent out on their equipement. Thanks, Jeff Hintz

(uncertified versions used.)

From Rodney D Turner

RE: Software for Los Angelas, CA

Subject: Re: Software for Los Angelas, CA
From: "Rodney D Turner"
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 13:31:55 -0500
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