GEMS Tabulation Database Design Issues in Relation to Voting System Certification Standards

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Electronic Voting Technology/USENIX Conference

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Boston, MA


This paper analyzes the Diebold Election Systems, Inc. election management software (GEMS) using publicly accessible postings of GEMS election databases. It finds that the GEMS architecture fails to conform to fundamental database design principles and software industry standards for ensuring accurate data. Thus, in election tabulations, aspects of the GEMS design can lead to, or fail to protect against, erroneous reporting of election results. Further, GEMS’s dependence on Microsoft’s JET technology introduces additional risks to data accuracy and security.

Despite these technical and systemic deficiencies, GEMS received approval as complying with Federal Voting System 2002 standards. Questions then arise concerning the adequacy of the 2002 and 2005 regulatory standards. The paper concludes that the standards structurally encourage and reward election system vendors for using less exacting database design standards.