I have raised this question before; why does Diebold choose Microsoft for their voting machines over Linux? Linux is much more secure, much more customizable, and, possibly the biggest reason, much cheaper (Linux is free). We find this week that this question still needs to be raised:
Problems found in an audit of Diebold tabulation records from an Ohio November 2006 election raise questions about whether the database got corrupted during the tabulation of election results, says a report released today (pdf).
The document, from a team of researchers tasked with auditing the November election in troubled Cuyahoga County, have called for a thorough examination of the database to determine if corruption did occur and the extent to which it may have affected the election results.
Among the report findings:
Vote totals in two separate databases that should have been identical had different totals. Although Diebold explained that this was part of the system design for separate vote tables to get updated at different times during the tabulation process, the team questioned the wisdom of a design that creates non-identical vote totals.
Tables in the database contained elements that were missing date and time stamps that would indicate when information was entered.
Entries that did have date/time stamps showed a January 1, 1970 date.
The database is built from Microsoft's Jet database engine. The engine, according to Microsoft, is vulnerable to corruption when a lot of concurrent activity is happening with the database, such as what occurs on an election night when results are uploaded and various servers are interacting with the database simultaneously. This is why Microsoft advises against using the Jet engine in a complex environment: