Alaska declares state’s raw voting data a company secret…

The state Division of Elections has refused to turn over its electronic voting files to the Democrats, arguing that the data format belongs to a private company and can’t be made public.

The Alaska Democratic Party says the information is a public record essential for verifying the accuracy of the 2004 general election and must be provided.

The official vote results from the last general election are riddled with discrepancies and impossible for the public to make sense of, the Democrats said Monday. A detailed analysis of the underlying data could answer lingering questions about an election many thought was over more than a year ago, they say.

“Basically what they say is they want to give us a printout from the (electronic) file. They don’t want to give us the file itself. It doesn’t enable us to get to the bottom of what we need to know,” said Kay Brown, spokeswoman for the party.

At this point, it’s impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004, Brown said.

“The issue is not about whether public information can be released, because the Division of Elections has already offered to provide the information requested by the (Alaska Democratic Party),” elections director Whitney Brewster said in a written statement. “The issue is that the (Democratic Party) is asking for a file format the state of Alaska uses but does not own.”

Diebold told the state it owns the format, which can’t be released because it’s a company secret.

Diebold maintains its voting systems produce accurate results, as proven through recounts in numerous close races, said Mark Radke, Diebold director of marketing.

Questions still hound the company. Some elections officials in other states are questioning whether its electronic machines are secure. Investors have sued the Ohio-based parent company, Diebold Inc., over whether it concealed problems with its voting machines, among other issues. Its chief executive, who once vowed to deliver Ohio electoral votes to President Bush, recently stepped down.

What the article doesn’t mention is that there’s no way of proving it produces accurate results, as there’s no paper trail to confirm the results. I’ve never understood why people trust these things; I work in IT, yes, but I also am familiar enough with technology to know that you ALWAYS have a separate paper trail on something as mission-critical as this. I can’t understand why people would just blindly trust those who make the machines and aren’t willing to do the bare minimum to make sure they’re trustworthy. As my parents always taught me, “Never trust anyone who says `trust me’.”

*sigh* Oh, well. I’ve since ceased being angry about this. Now all I feel is disgust towards those who blindly accept this, mixed in with a twinge of sadness. I’m not sure that’s any better…