Voting Systems – The Cherry and the Cream – ES&S

I’ve really stopped blogging as I didn’t want this blog to just become another place on the internet full of rants about the failings of Trump administration. In my drafts folder I have 33 posts, most of them finished, about the lack of leadership and failings of the administration. I’ll almost certainly never post them.

However, I cannot let the current storm over voting machines, and voting systems, and how the election was stolen from Trump pass without comment.

Back in May 2005, I was part of a pilot program to vote online in the UK General Election. As one of IBM UK most senior technical architects at the time, I requested and received a copy of the technical design guidelines for the system. Everything from how the web server was set-up, to how the backend database would record the vote, the audit trails, the security etc.

I cast my vote from the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in San Jose, California. Connected via Wi-Fi and with a postcard that came in the mail in the UK, that included my voter registration number, one side of a private/public key, that combined with a secure code I’d provided, generated a unique vote number. At anytime after I’d voted, I could check my vote online by entering my registration number.

Here we are in America, nearly twenty years later, and it seems the USA can’t even reliably build systems for in-person and mail-in voting. Heck, they can’t even agree that mail-in voting is desirable, let alone how to do it and record the votes.

Dominion voting systems that the ire and ranting of the losing GOP has been a thing to watch. This was especially true when you read the September 2020 vote into the failings of the ES&S Voting Systems in Texas. Strangely the report was not released until this month (December).

It contains a very well written report on the failings of the ES&S systems, by Brian Mechler. My attention was drawn to the report by a write-up by Jennifer Cohn, Attorney and Election Integrity Advocate, writing on

In her opening, Jennifer reminds us that the GOP killed the Safe Act. Helpfully providing links.

This is why the Democrats proposed the SAFE Act, which would have required robust manual audits for all federal races this year and banned most of the touchscreen voting machines currently in use. It also would have banned internet connectivity to voting systems. But the GOP killed the SAFE Act.

Jennifer Cohn America’s largest (and arguably most problematic) voting machine vendor is ES&S, not Dominion Voting | by Jennifer Cohn | Dec, 2020 | Medium

Jennifer ends by saying

Which raises the question again. Why are Republicans ignoring ES&S? Texas’s corrupt attorney general, Ken Paxton, recently went so far as to try (unsuccessfully) to overturn other states’ elections. Meanwhile, he has ignored that ES&S voting systems in his own state had a security “bug” as of September 2020 that could in theory have allowed the installation of unauthorized software.

Jennifer Cohn America’s largest (and arguably most problematic) voting machine vendor is ES&S, not Dominion Voting | by Jennifer Cohn | Dec, 2020 | Medium

And yes, the Secretary of State for Texas also has 2019 report’s on ES&S Systems which conclude

I cannot think of a circumstance where I would advise a Texas jurisdiction to buy [ES&S] ExpressVote XLs,

and a 2019 report into Dominion voting systems

I cannot recommend certification. Computer systems should be designed to prevent or detect human error whenever possible and minimize the consequences of both human mistakes and equipment failure

It’s National Failure

Here we again see, like with the failed Trump administration test and trace plan, and the grift and scam that turned into, as well as waste and delay that the vaccination system is currently experiencing, with poor leadership and governance, the US increasingly fails.

Of course, the anti-Federal government crowd always cry “yeah, a failing government and we should give them more power?”

Like with the IRS, you get what you deserve and vote for. Except you really don’t, you get what businesses pay and lobby politicians for. Dealing with the IRS is just awful. It takes a year or more to sort anything out. Is that because the IRS is incompetent? No, not not at all. It’s because its completely underfunded and under resourced, which is just what the rich want. A toothless oversite body that really can’t investigate and is essentially hamstrung by regulation.

The state of voting is just as bad. Instead of implementing the SAFE act, and even going further, creating a non-partisan system, free from political interference, and appointment, the USA is happy to continue letting for-profit companies to create a untrustworthy patchwork of systems that implement voting differently from state to state.

While the GOP have effectively managed to even sully USPS, their oversight and complaints about elections have an even more hollow ring.

Update: 1/28/21 19:00 Addressed comment highlighted by Steve Holton

4 thoughts on “Voting Systems – The Cherry and the Cream – ES&S

    1. In the total scheme of things, Trump is likely more in debt to the Saudi’s and they’ve been pulling the strings for a while. Along with the Israel’s who’ve been playing Kushner. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia had nothing to loose, and everything to gain from walking Trump into a war with Iran.

      Russia and China are both making hay from the political instability, I doubt it goes much beyond that.

      Thanks for your comment.

  1. Check the phrase:
    …that included my voter registration number, on side of a private/public key…
    I’m thinking you might have meant …one side…

    Also check paragraph 5, it appears to trail off into nothingness.

    1. Thanks Steve, comments addressed. It shouldn’t have taken so long but have been frantically busy on new year stuff. Stay safe!

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