You're Doing It Wrong

xkcd 463

Today Randall Munroe’s webcomic XKCD features an amusing clip mocking Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold Election Systems, for installing anti-virus software on their voting machines. For those unfamiliar with the subject matter, the comic suggests that there should be absolutely no need for security software on such devices, and if there is then Premier Election Solutions has made some extremely poor design choices. Premier is using McAfee anti-virus software, which indicates that their voting machines run a version of Windows. However this in itself is completely overkill for the simplicity of the task, not to mention a security liability.

The voting machines were intended to increase accuracy, security, and overall efficiency during the voting process. This would have been feasible with a simple microcontroller, but Premier seems to have taken the wrong course of action, installing an Operating System that is not only susceptible to viruses but capable of running nontrivial anti-virus software.

Diebold also has a history of performance issues with its election technology. They have since changed their name to shed this reputation, but the most recent incident confirms that the new entity is experiencing the same issues. Last week county boards in Ohio filed suit against the company for device malfunction and tabulation errors. Apparently in all test cases their tabulation software failed to upload votes from memory cards while equipment indicated they had been counted. It’s alright though, Premier spokesman Chris Riggall has blamed the malfunctions on the McAfee anti-virus software.

As XKCD points out, someone is clearly doing their job horribly wrong.