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What is a Diebold Voting Machine?

Many polling places in the US now use electronic voting machines.
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  • Written By: CPW
  • Edited By: Jay Garcia
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2014
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The Diebold Voting Machine is a product of Premier Election Solutions (PES), previously known as Diebold Election Systems Inc. PES is Diebold subsiadary that is dedicated to the manufacture and sale of voting machine systems. The company’s voting machines are responsible for the tabulation of over three quarters of all votes cast in the United States of America. The operating system architecture that runs on the voting system is the Diebold GEMS central tabulator. This tabulation software, which sits on top of a Microsoft Access database system, has been criticized for its perceived security vulnerabilities and the unreliability of its tabulation statistics, the most notable instance being the misreporting of the 2004 United States presidential election exit polls.

The Diebold brand goes back to the nineteenth century, when the company produced robust bank vaults. So robust, in fact, that the Diebold brand owes much of its latter-day success to the Great Chicago Fire, when 878 Diebold safes and their contents were some of the few things to survive the blaze in tact. Thereafter, the company moved into ATM production and then into automated voting systems when, in 2000, the Brazilian government ordered 186,000 machines from the Diebold Brazilian subsidiary, Procomp. The company’s reach extended to North America when in 2002 the U.S government passed the Help America Vote Act, a $3.9 billion US Dollars (USD) initiative intended to replace the anachronistic punch card and mechanical level machines that the U.S. used at the time.

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The states of Maryland and Georgia were the first to place orders for the Diebold voting system, when in early 2002 the former purchased $13 million USD worth of touch screen voting devices and the latter signed up for 20,000 Diebold machines. The election observers who oversaw the elections in these two states the same year reported a number of problems, with the AccuVote-TS touch screen software that operated as the Graphical User Interface (GUI) of the Diebold voting system coming in for particular censure. Among the complaints that plagued the system was the phenomenon of "vote hopping," which was caused by an un-calibrated touch screen system registering a vote for a candidate other than the one the voter intended to vote for.

In 2006 the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Diebold Voting Systems, Thomas Swidarski, announced that the Diebold name would henceforth be removed from the front of its voting systems, and in 2007 the company changed its name to Premier Election Solutions.

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