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Diebold Disks May Have Been For Testers 182

Posted by Zonk
from the concientious-tester dept.
opencity writes "The Washington Post reports on the two Diebold source disks that were anonymously sent to a Maryland election official this past week. Further investigation has lead individuals involved to believe the disks came from a security check demanded by the Maryland legislature sometime in 2003." From the article: "Critics of electronic voting said the most recent incident in Maryland casts doubt on Lamone's claim that Maryland has the nation's most secure voting system. "There now may be numerous copies of the Diebold software floating around in unauthorized hands," said Linda Schade, co-founder of TrueVoteMD, which has pressed for a system that provides a verifiable paper record of each vote."
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Diebold Disks May Have Been For Testers

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  • New tag (Score:3, Funny)

    by DittoBox (978894) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:32PM (#16541618) Homepage
    The new tagging system is cool. Diebold gets my "wretchedhiveofscumandvillainy" tag.
    • by sethstorm (512897) *
      I've tagged it liebold and politicalmath, given the following:
      Diebold: The voting machine that has "political math" functions built in to guarantee favorable results.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:37PM (#16541660)
    Can't play on ranked servers without a cd key and the gameplay itself is more boring than WoW. I'll stick with BF2.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:19PM (#16541964) Journal
      Now that's now fair.
      It's still great fun over the LAN!!

      Getting a bunch of friends together to suborn the vote is always a good time ;-)
    • by forkazoo (138186) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .snarcesorw.> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:48PM (#16542190) Homepage
      Can't play on ranked servers without a cd key and the gameplay itself is more boring than WoW. I'll stick with BF2.


      And, frankly, the AI is horribly unrealistic. All the little guys that you tell to cast votes... Most of them just ignore you. It's like they don't even notice you, or anything going on. And, the guys being voted for are like crazy over the top cartoon villains. Whoever made this game is obviously a moron, and has no understanding of a decent plot.

      Actually, on a more serious note... I haven't been able to find a torrent. This shit is pretty fucking fundamental to our democracy, and when it finally gets 'leaked,' it manages to stay buttoned up? Seriously, do we know anything about the source? Does anybody have a torrent, or at least asn assessment from somebody qualified to be frightened by looking at it? As far as I'm concerned, every citizen of the US not only should have the right to see the mechanics of demacracy, but an obligation to do so. Anybody who doesn't try to get ahold of the source code running their local voting machines should be considered grossly negligent.
      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday October 23, 2006 @12:35AM (#16542476) Journal
        Actually, on a more serious note... I haven't been able to find a torrent. This shit is pretty fucking fundamental to our democracy, and when it finally gets 'leaked,' it manages to stay buttoned up?
        It got 'leaked' to Cheryl C. Kagan, a former Congresswoman & obviously someone with a little bit of common sense.

        Kagan did the right thing, which was to contact the state elections officials, who in turn contacted the FBI, who went and talked to Kagan.

        She was part of the Government and respects it enough to try and work within the system.
        Anybody who doesn't try to get ahold of the source code running their local voting machines should be considered grossly negligent.
        Good luck explaining that to a judge. The penalties for messing with anything relating to an election are no joke. Why do you think those discs were delivered anonymously?
        • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Monday October 23, 2006 @01:42AM (#16542880)
          There are far more serious issues than our voting problems today when people consider wanting to learn about somthing akin to "messing with" it. As if my understanding of the source code behind how my vote is cast at all interferes with our country electing the next president. Unless, that is, there are flaws in the code that say all the votes will be converted to votes for [insert favorite politician here] if I press the upper right hand corner of the screen five times in under ten seconds; and my understanding of such a flaw [even though I wouldn't take advantage of it] stalls the election process. Nows whose fault would that be? Is it somehow my fault, for finding out that the Diebold did a bad job?

          I've heard the likes of your attitude before. It can pretty much be summed up as "Don't ask why, that's just how it is." Imagine if you told your kids that.

          Try appending that statement to the end of different statements:

          -"We can't cure cancer. Don't ask why, that's just how it is." And so nobody bothers researching a cure.
          -"Your computer's Windows installation is broken. Don't ask why, that's just how it is." And so you needlessly spend $$$ on a new computer when all you needed was a fresh installation and anti-vir."
          -"2 + 2 = 5. Don't ask why, that's just how it is." And so the plane crashes.
          -"You're wrong. Don't ask why, that's just how it is."

          I hope you get the point.
        • Slight correction (Score:4, Informative)

          by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday October 23, 2006 @01:52AM (#16542940) Journal
          Kagan did the right thing, which was to contact the state elections officials, who in turn contacted the FBI, who went and talked to Kagan.
          I went back and looked at the original Baltimore Sun story [baltimoresun.com]

          The Baltimore sun says that "Kagan called the attorney general's office, and word of the disks began to spread. Learning of the development, Linda H. Lamone, the state's elections chief, reported Kagan's possession of the code to the FBI yesterday [Oct 19]."

          Which only reinforces my point, since
          Attorney General > State Election Chief
      • by lynx_user_abroad (323975) on Monday October 23, 2006 @09:04AM (#16545306) Homepage Journal
        Does anybody have a torrent, or at least asn assessment from somebody qualified to be frightened by looking at it?

        Let's just suppose, hypothetically like, that I...um....have a friend who has access to the current source stream for all Diebold software, and has no problems with peeking at (or more), and is extremely well qualified to understand it (let's just say, again, hypothetically like, that he was the key architect for the system, and wrote most of the code himself), and is much more interested in seeing his own vote counted correctly than in seeing Diebold or any politically motivated individual rig the election. Let's also assume, hypothetically like, that while completely reliable, he's one of the tin-foil hat crew who is already convinced that someone is trying to rig the election through rigging voting machine software. More to the point, let's assume that preusing Diebold source code is this dude's full-time job, and if he wants to stay late reviewing code, his employer pays him time and a half.

        How would you suggest my friend go about making sure that the software running on the box he uses to cast his vote is the same one he just finished building at Diebold? Let's assume he knows what version is current, what patches are appropriate, and what every last function in the source does, and he's verified it's all clean. He knows an unrigged machine will display buildID 8675309, but he also knows how easy it would be to make a rigged machine display that as well.

        If you were "my friend", how would you?

        If the software running on the box were "open source" by law, it might solve the problem of clueless coders, and it might allow us to catch the unscrupulous ones, but it wouldn't allow us to address the fundamental problem of having to trust the machine count.

        In this application, having the source code buys you nothing, whether you're allowed to have it or not.

    • by TommydCat (791543)
      Not only boring gameplay, but it seems the red guys win everytime despite my score! WTF?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bky1701 (979071)
        That's because you didn't buy the "think of the children" upgrade to your propaganda... err campaign center.
    • by aminorex (141494)
      Can you even get the disks? I've been looking on eMule, gnutella, no luck. I suspect this was a planned "leak" of a mock version of the source code, a performance by Diebold black PR ops, because any serious whistleblower would have put it in the public domain (not Public Domain) by a p2p leak.
  • by strider44 (650833) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:38PM (#16541664)
    If the attackers can use the source code to attack the machines then the machines aren't secure and probably wouldn't withstand an attack from someone who had access to the machine even without source code.

    Having numerous copies floating around is a good thing if disclosure of security holes is encouraged, and the fact that Diabold are implying that the security of their systems rely on people not having access to the source code is a very bad thing.

    Lets look at things logically. The only people who would rig the election using those machines would have to have physical access to the machines, and if they did they wouldn't need the source code to highlight security holes. If the source code was released then the people who would be advantaged would be the people who would responsibly disclose security holes.
    • by WhiplashII (542766) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:15PM (#16541926) Homepage Journal
      What is funny is that no one has commented on the real story here - Diebold sent a copy of the source code for a security audit, as requested. Maryland's security team then leaked the code to external people and used the incident to claim that Diebold's security is awful...

      The real lesson here is the lengths some politicians will go to so that they appear "right".

      (OK, and Diebold also has security issues - but that is a side issue, everyone has security issues. These are the guys making ATMs, for goodness sake. A voting machine that is as secure as an ATM is probably good enough. You can't stop human fraud via a machine - humans win every time.)
      • by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatter&gmail,com> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:30PM (#16542062) Homepage
        "A voting machine that is as secure as an ATM is probably good enough."

        Wasn't it just a few weeks ago people were finding the passwords for ATMs 'hidden' right there on the net with instructions on how to reprogram them from the front pannel so that it thought the 20s slot was actually dispensing $5s???

        If this is the security we can expect...well, I just hope my side finds the password list before the other side. Those bastards are slimy cut and run warmongers who want to stay the course of flipflopping.
        • Those bastards are slimy cut and run warmongers who want to stay the course of flipflopping.
          Fucking Demopublicans!~
      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:35PM (#16542088) Journal
        "These are the guys making ATMs, for goodness sake. A voting machine that is as secure as an ATM is probably good enough."

        If the system were as secure as an ATM network I would have to agree. An ATM gives you a bit of paper to prove the transaction took place and are fully auditable by the bank, the voting machines in question do not give a receipt and do not leave an audit trail. The fact that diebold also makes ATM's indicates nothing less than malice in the design of such a piss poor security scheme for their voting machines.
        • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday October 23, 2006 @02:37AM (#16543164) Journal
          The fact that diebold also makes ATM's indicates nothing less than malice in the design ...

          Diebold BOUGHT the voting machine deisgn (by buying the company that made it). It is unrelated to their ATM designs.
          • Regardless of who designed it, diebold have too much security experience for me to belive the gapping holes are mearly due to stupendous incompetence.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by TFloore (27278)

            The fact that diebold also makes ATM's indicates nothing less than malice in the design ...

            Diebold BOUGHT the voting machine deisgn (by buying the company that made it). It is unrelated to their ATM designs.

            They slapped the company name on it after they bought it. That says "We stake our reputation on this product."

            Or at least, that's what it says to me.

            Or, looked at another way, they thought the product was good enough to buy and put their name on.

            I'd say that makes it related.

            This is the same reason (you

      • by jx100 (453615) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:36PM (#16542104)
        I'd argue that the source code for voting machine should be made public in any circumstance. There is *no* reason to keep any part of the counting process secret. If there are exploitable holes in this process, that means the *process* is at fault, and should be redone until there are no holes.
      • by bunions (970377)
        If they were even half as secure as ATMs I think we'd all have far, far fewer problems. I don't think you've been paying much attention to the diebold articles around here lately.
      • >A voting machine that is as secure as an ATM is probably good enough.

        That's not what we're getting, as the research and disclosures have made painfully clear.

        In any case, Diebold has had some trouble with ATMs, including the ATM reprogrammed as a jukebox [thetartan.org] and the ATMs infected by a virus [windowsfordevices.com].

        Voting machines are a harder and more safety-critical application than ATMs. Voting machines have to preseve anonymity. Imagine how that would complicate banking. Then, the worst case failure of an ATM is that some money changes hands inappropriately and laywers earn lots of money sorting it out. The worst case failure of a voting system is an election lost to fraud, meaning the victors are the crooks. The damage is potentially incalculable: think of the nations ruined by having the wrong leaders.
      • by mauddib~ (126018)
        No one commented on the story because it is too filthy to be true. But, Maryland gave away alot of power in order to show this scandal and help humanity a little. Because your last line: 'you can't stop human fraud via a machine' isn't true (and in my oppinion VERY unpatriotic). You CAN stop human fraud, with or without machines. This is the basis of a little fragement of that which still makes us human: trust and love, something you might want to look for.

        Even if we won't prevail in the end, even if all ho
        • Nice sentiments but in so far as elections go a secret ballot that is counted by people who all distrust each other guarentees the fairest outcome. At the risk of repeating myself the simplest example I know is a parent teaching their kids how to share, one cuts the cup-cake the other one gets first choice. This method doesn't extend to every situation ( see king solomon and the divide the baby story ), but in "seen to be fair" elections, distrust amongst the competitors is channeled towards a general trust
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bjorniac (836863)
        "A voting machine that is as secure as an ATM is probably good enough." No, it isn't. You defraud my ATM you can steal my money, but the bank will reimburse me, and overall there's not much harm done. You steal my vote, you can do a lot worse things to me than take my money away.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by strider44 (650833)
        (OK, and Diebold also has security issues - but that is a side issue, everyone has security issues. These are the guys making ATMs, for goodness sake. A voting machine that is as secure as an ATM is probably good enough. You can't stop human fraud via a machine - humans win every time.)

        There's even more money and power in cracking elections then there is in cracking ATMs, so no it's not good enough.
      • by rs232 (849320)
        "Maryland's security team then leaked the code to external people and used the incident to claim that Diebold's security is awful..."

        There is no actual proof that it happened this way. References to labels and 'documents' don't connect these disks with Maryland. It could have happened anywhere along the chain. It isn't the first time Diebold software has leaked.

        "A team led by Avi Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins, examined the machines' source code [securityfocus.com], whic
      • by hey! (33014) on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:21AM (#16544910) Homepage Journal
        A voting machine that is as secure as an ATM is probably good enough.

        I'll let you in on a dirty little secret. When it comes to security, "good enough" is good enough.

        In the case of ATMs, banks make a huge amount of money (or at least avoid losign a huge amount of business) by having them. But they don't have to be particularly secure -- just secure enough that the marginal cost of adding a bit of security is greater than the marginal increment of savings. In other words in business you don't "spend a buck to save a buck".

        "Good enough" security systems abound; for example credit cards and checks. The security of these systems are extremely lax, and consequently there is a _ton_ of fraud commited with them. But the cost of paying for fraud (to the banks) is less than trying to get an increment of security. Businesses do not subscribe to the "millions for defense, not one dollar for tribute" theory of security.

        It seems like a manufacturer of ATMs would be the perfect manufacturer of voting machines, until you take into account the difference between "good enough" for an ATM and "good enough" for a voting machine. Money is fungible -- a bit of fraud here and there is amply made up by profits elsewhere. Votes are not like that. Having a fair election in 95% of the districts doesn't make up for having a fraudulent election in 5%, especially when those districts can be strategically chosen.

        It would be better to pick somebody with experience in systems where system failures have horrible, unthinkable results rather than a vendor where failures are just an incovenience. Somebody who makes avionics, or medical instrumenation, or defense command and control systems.

    • by nephridium (928664) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:35PM (#16542098)
      Back in 2004 computer programmer Clint Curtis testified under oath [youtube.com] that he had been asked by a congressman to write software that would make it possible to rig elections. He quite blandly states that "anyone" (with the expertise) could write software to rig elections, because the system has not been secured in any way.
    • I don't think diebold is saying that people can use the source code to hack it. All things being equal (I am ephasizing that last statement, because I know people will ignore it otherwise) having the source code can only make it easier to hack into software. For example, if you intercept an encrypted message, knowing the general encryption algorithm is infinitely useful in determining what the message says.

      I know this is an unpopular opinion on Slashdot (which is built around open-source principles), but it
      • by strider44 (650833) on Monday October 23, 2006 @01:44AM (#16542890)
        You obviously haven't done any sort of cryptography. (And yes, I have and do do cryptography and cryptoanalysis.)

        I'll address the second and third paragraphs first of all since it's more on topic before refuting the first paragraph.

        I never said that a closed source software has to be inherently less secure than open source software. Whether the source is open or not doesn't have any direct implications on the security of the software. I said or implied that closed alrogithms are inherently less trustworthy than closed algorithms. Peer revue is an old and very well tested notion that lays the foundation for modern cryptography, and it is more than "look at the source and find flaws". I'll quickly outline the reasons for it here.
        On Corey Doctorow's excellent speech on DRM [boingboing.net] he slyly called this Schneider's Law: "any person can invent a security system so clever that she or he can't think of how to break it". In other words if you thought of it then you probably only see its benifits without seeing its flaws. For someone to see the flaws they have to be able to think differently; not necessarily be smarter than you, just be able to think differently from you. The chances of getting someone to be able to do this in a small organisation is slim. Even sending it out to technical officers only increases the chances of it being found slightly.

        The next reason more specific to this situation comes when you look at the likely attackers of the system. When looking at the voting machine you tend to think of politicians to be the most likely to compromise security. You might also have major corporations with a political adgenda, foreign governments, even private citizens. In other words, everyone. Not many people actually realise that this includes the programmers themselves!

        Do you trust every person in Diabold? I don't even know them - who the fuck are they to have control over my vote? (Luckily I'm not American so they don't have control over my vote) If the code is secret then they not only have the means but they also have the ability to do it without getting caught! If you personally don't have access to the code you are simply giving your vote to the programmers and trusting them to do the right thing. I'm not saying that they're necessarily bad people, but there's a lot of money in the US elections, and everyone has a price.

        I haven't really gone through that thoroughly and I think I've missed more than a few things but I don't really have that much time free. I'll get onto the first paragraph now. Firstly, gathering an algorithm without source from a binary is pretty trivial and as I said before the people most likely to attack these machines will have access to the machines themselves and thus have access to the binaries. Even without this, perhaps not knowing the algorithm is a disadvantage to a cryptoanalysist but even then many algorithms have identifiers in their output giving clues as to which algorithm it is. It's definitely not infinitely more useful to know the algorithm when determining what the message says. Even so if you're relying on an algorithm's secrecy to ensure security in your communications then as soon as the algorithm is released (and it most often is in more serious situations) then your communications are compromised. Yes you said all things being equal but the thing is the algorithm isn't supposed to be the secret, the key is.

        Now that was a long rant.
      • "For example, if you intercept an encrypted message, knowing the general encryption algorithm is infinitely useful in determining what the message says."

        Things have progress somewhat since WW2 and the enigma machines, ever hear of public key encryption? You can examine the algorithim to any arbitrary level of detail but it won't help you to decrypt a message.

        OTOH: I agree with the rest of your post, the most that can be said of diebold's "security through obscurity" is that it's an unknown quantity. M
    • Why leak something to a trusted official? Just think of the intent of leaking it to an official who is critical of the machines.
      If the intent is to disclose code only then there are many other BETTER methods.

      Anybody see the new film "Man of the Year"?
      Does art predict life now instead of imitate it?
      • by tftp (111690)
        If the intent is to disclose code only then there are many other BETTER methods.

        As I understand, the intent was not to disclose the code but to make it known that a copy of the code is out there. A person with government ties and sufficient understanding of what the disks contain was a perfect choice because the scheme worked and we all know what happened. The sender of the software also had to keep in mind that the recipient of the disks must be not personally interested in the outcome, since it's very

    • Voting machines with WiFi [netstumbler.com] have been produced, and apparently not as a joke. The commodity hardware from Diebold includes an IRDA port [votetrustusa.org].
    • If the attackers can use the source code to attack the machines then the machines aren't secure and probably wouldn't withstand an attack from someone who had access to the machine even without source code.


      This point is so critical it deserves reiteration.

      Secrecy is a not a substitute for robustness. Relying on secrecy actually hinders achieving robustness.

      Where security really matters, you actually try to reduce your reliance on secrecy, if possible to nothing or to a single thing that is nearly impossibl
  • Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `yppupcinataS'> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:40PM (#16541692) Journal
    If the software was well designed, this wouldn't matter at all. I mean it should be clean and simple, and secure. All incoming data should be validated, all data should be stored, and a mile wide system audit trail should be created at the same time. Then, spit out the paper version with a transaction # so you can run it right back against the system.

    Instead, I bet it's a pile of shit. Recycled code, buffer vulnerabilities, piles of ad hoc crap, with poor documentation.

    I hope someone does find a way to exploit the code. People need to wake the hell up.
  • Just joking. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Thisfox (994296) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:41PM (#16541696)
    Face it, it would probably be a more secure voting system if they voted by email. They could even make it into a computer game to encourage more young people to vote!

    Although, if they did vote by email, imagine the junkmail vote....

    You gotta wonder about any politician that wants no paper trail of his own votes. Why is he not interested in having hardcopy proof that he really did win this or that election? (or she, or she, I hope to the gods that Americans aren't backward enough to have only male options in parliament).
    • by Sinryc (834433)
      We have women congress..people. Just no Ms.president yet.
    • by joshetc (955226)
      In a way that doesn't seem too farfetched.. it wouldn't be unrealistic to have their e-mail address as a part of their voter registration. One vote per registration number and e-mail. They send an e-mail with the vote and verify the proper registration number matches the proper e-mail address. After one vote has been cast there are no changes for that particular person... I suppose there would be some holes which someone much wiser than me can point out to "patch".
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot...kadin@@@xoxy...net> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:17PM (#16541946) Homepage Journal
      I hope to the gods that Americans aren't backward enough to have only male options in parliament

      Actually, our options for Parliament are even more limited than that...

    • by SeaFox (739806) on Monday October 23, 2006 @12:43AM (#16542522)
      Although, if they did vote by email, imagine the junkmail vote....


      Cheap C!@lis for President!
      No money down m o r g a g e holds Senate majority!
      And plenty of HOT! NUDE! GIRLS! in Congress!

      • And plenty of HOT! NUDE! GIRLS! in Congress!

        if its a repub congress again, better plan for more hot nude boys ...

  • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:41PM (#16541702) Homepage Journal
    Forgive if if I misunderstood, but shouldn't Linda Schade be happy that there's copies of the software available for public scrutiny instead of complaining about it? If she's really concerned with the security of electronic voting, surely she would be in favour of the software being verifiable?

    If I didn't misunderstand, someone in D.C. should give this lady a call and explain to her the pitfalls of "security through obscurity" and why openness is a Good Thing.
    • by sshore (50665) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:04PM (#16541854)
      Perhaps she's concerned about the give_election_to_highest_bidder() function being discovered..
    • by TapeCutter (624760) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:22PM (#16541984) Journal
      "Security through obscurity" is diebold's methodology, by obtaining a set of original disks she has exposed a hole in their security and demonstrated the weakness in their methods. Diebold by their actions have basically admitted they belive their code is vunerable to "hackers", that "admission" alone should disqualify paperless voting machines.

      In other words: If diebold can't manage to secure their source code from theft then how the fuck can they be trusted to secure your vote from theft.
    • by Hemogoblin (982564) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:35PM (#16542094)
      She's probably unhappy because the copies are NOT being made available for public scrutiny. They are being returned to Diebold.

      Also, it is possible that those disks were copied before they were discovered. These copies could potentially get into the hands of someone who wanted to abuse the election. Security through obscurity is no longer a good defense when your enemy has the source code. The only thing they're succeeding at is hiding flaws from the people who wish to fix them.

      Remind me again why people use Diebold products?
    • Open source for voting machines is definitely a Good Thing(tm) under appropriate circumstances. The idea is that proper review of the source code before the voting machines are deployed should result in a safer and more secure system. If the code is bug-free, then it doesn't matter if people know how it works, because there will be no discoverable exploits left. Of course, the right time for this to happen was months or perhaps years ago.

      The question now is whether a major security flaw discovered and ma
  • by stox (131684) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:44PM (#16541720) Homepage
    that the versions, that have been anonymously submitted, were from the last election. Could someone be trying to tell us something? Will a third party have the chance to examine the contents?
    • by wkitchen (581276)

      Will a third party have the chance to examine the contents?

      Maybe. But would any third party, assuming they get this through unofficial channels just as Cheryl Kagan did, be willing to risk the litigation (or worse) that would inevitably be aimed their way if they ever went public with thier findings, or even with the fact that they looked at it, especially if there IS a "smoking gun" in there? I know I would fear for my safety and that of my family were I in that position.

  • by Dirtside (91468) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:48PM (#16541756) Journal
    Diebold whines about how the source code to their voting software is secret and copyrighted and blah blah... but you know what? Accurate democratic elections easily outweigh the need of any company providing voting software to keep their software secret. The government ought to be hiring a software company on contract to provide the service of writing voting software, not buying a product from them.

    This is assuming, of course, that there's any overall benefit to digital voting in the first place, which there really isn't. Digital elections are a terrible idea -- stick with paper. Oh no! We'll have to wait a few more hours to have complete results! Big fucking deal.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Guppy06 (410832)
      "The government ought to be hiring a software company on contract to provide the service of writing voting software, not buying a product from them."

      We're talking about Maryland, not California or New York. Annapolis simply does not command the influence to convince companies such as Diebold to change their terms. And even if a state could and did try to influence Diebold to change the terms, I could see Diebold taking the state to federal court based on the "Dormant Commerce Clause."

      Now, as to why they s
    • After all, would a state contract out a major construction project without expecting to get copies of the blueprints?

      If not, I have a bridge to sell them...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:49PM (#16541770)
    I was one of the RABA testers. We discussed this today and we returned the disks to the testers. The leaks came from Linda Lamone's OWN OFFICE!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:59PM (#16541818)
    Just before the 2002 election, a secret "patch" was distributed by order of the president of Diebold without the knowledge of election officials, according to several whistleblowers. You know, the guy who promised to "deliver [Ohio's] votes to the President".

    Who gives a fuck if J0e Hax0r can compromise a voting machine when secret code can be installed on thousands, if not all, of the voting machines at the last minute with absolutely no oversight and nobody knowing about it? Voting, to borrow from one of the current "President's" minions, is a "quaint" and outdated practice.
    • And how exactly would this patch be applied? It's not like the machines are turned on and connected to the internet when not in use on election day.
      • Simply replace the flash card, you know the one without any kind of seal. The problem extends further than just the machines, it involves many aspects of the procedures including access to the machines before election day. What the GP is saying has been reported many times, I leave it to you to find the relevant links.
  • by XNine (1009883) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:03PM (#16541846)
    Considering that paper ballots have been used for TWO CENTURIES. Jesus Christ. Just make a machine that scans the barcode on a piece of paper, punches holes in it, and copies the data so no duplicate votes can be made or votes be changed since there will be a paper back up to turn in that will back up the electronic vote, and the voter gets a carbon copy of the paper. Wow. How hard was that to think up? Now, can I have all of the money that Diebold has been getting?!
    • by fdiskne1 (219834) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:12PM (#16541904)

      and the voter gets a carbon copy of the paper

      You had me up until that part. The voter should be able to SEE the paper copy and verify it is accurate without being able to touch it. It is then whisked away, dropped down, or whatever onto a roll, stack or whatever so poll workers have a way to verify the machine counts with paper counts. If they are given receipts, this would provide proof they voted a certain way. Voters should not be given a copy since this opens the door to people being paid or intimidated to vote a certain way. Other than that point, I agree with your post.

      • I dunno what the big deal with actually providing a paper trail with these machines is. I live in Las Vegas, and while we do not get a paper copy of our voting. We do have it setup on every machine I've voted on at least to where theres a module thats added onto the side that shows you all of your votes very plainly once you finish keying in your votes. You take a minute to make sure whats on the paper is correct, you hit submit on the screen, and the paper is rolled onto the 2nd feeder roll at the top wher
        • This is not the first time I've heard this suggestion, and it seems a good one - at the least, orders of magnitude more so than "privatised company".

          In Australia, all elections are handled by an independent commission, the Australian Electoral Commission. Everything from federal to local elections, even union elections and such, to try to provide across-the-board stability, constancy, and accountability.

  • You, the voter, need to physically move your verified ticket into a box under the watchful eye of the election judge. This MUST NOT be done by machine, unless the machine also does it in an easily visible fashion under the watchful eye of an election judge - which is simply not what's going on.

    I early voted on a Diebold voter verified machine - and it's NOT good enough. I even had a nice conversation with the technical election judge, and since it did print a verified trail I did have to go home and think about this before I realized how it sucked.

    They totally and complete circumvented the idea of a voter verified paper trail.

    The way this machine works is you vote, it prints, you can see-but-not-touch the printout. You can vote AGAIN (up to 3 times) and it voids the previous printouts. Again, without you touching them. Which means the process expects that some percentage of its paper trail will be voided. The printouts get sent into some magic compartment.

    So 1) there's no way except by noise for the election monitors to know if it printed a variety of extra votes. And they were pretty quiet.

    2) There's absolutely zero way to know if it went back and voided your vote, because there's plenty of precedent for voiding votes.

    3) It can absolutely tell via paper alone who voted in which order; it's on a spool. Which could be easily tracked by anyone who watched what order people voted at that machine. Your votes are even less anonymous.

    *sigh*

    (Ok, so I posted this on the previous Diebold story - sue me. It's important, so I reposted it, Karma be damned.)
    • What's with early voting anyway? How is that constitutional? or even a good idea? Surely spreading the vote (and elections volunteers) out over a month prior to an election invites fraud and accidents.
    • And you're still right. And I'll mention again that I replied on my blog: How to have a democracy. [wordpress.com]
      • I do not believe that we must not have machines in order to have a reasonable level of fraud resistance. I believe that machines with human-readable-only recountable ballots which are placed, by the voter, into a box that is easily visible to all election judges is a great solution. If the machine never places those votes into the machine itself, you have a reasonably suitable audit trail.

        And then the machines are used for what they're supposed to be - speeding up the initial vote count.

        That said, I DO th
  • Not 1337 h4x0rs! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumFTL (197300) <justin DOT wick AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:45PM (#16542174)
    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
    • by mcpkaaos (449561)
      Why not?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dido (9125)

      Ordinarily, I'd agree, but this is a company whose CEO at the time said on the record [commondreams.org] that he is "commited to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president". He did exactly as promised, looks like. Open partisan bias like this makes me more inclined to believe that malice was involved.

  • My county doesn't currently use electronic voting, but if they used Diebold voting machines I would vote absentee. If enough people do this, thereby increasing election costs, the message will get out. Just the potential for shenanigans should be enough to disqualify these things.
  • by wkitchen (581276) on Monday October 23, 2006 @02:12AM (#16543052)
    ABC News is running a poll titled Is Your Vote Safe? [go.com] that asks:

    "Are you confident that your vote is safe and will be counted in the election?"

    Oddly, this poll seems to be suffering some voting irregularities itself. Repeatedly refreshing the results yields this strange sequence:

    approx 12:30am, 10-23-06
    no: 738 yes: 101 ns: 86 tot: 925

    12:53am
    no: 743 yes: 101 ns: 87 tot: 931

    12:54am
    no: 737 yes: 101 ns: 86 tot: 924

    12:55am
    no: 746 yes: 101 ns: 88 tot: 935

    12:56am
    no: 670 yes: 84 ns: 80 tot: 834

    12:57am
    no: 721 yes: 99 ns: 85 tot: 905

    12:58am
    no: 734 yes: 101 ns: 86 tot: 921

  • meanwhile... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dangil (167785) on Monday October 23, 2006 @02:34AM (#16543146)
    ... in the backwards, barbarous and poor country of Brasil, our elections have been 99% eletronic for the past 9 years, without any hicup... one can imagine that perhaps the monkeys, snakes and tigers are helping us vote somehow...
  • Please ensure election is rigged.
    Sincerely, Diebold CEO.
  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2&earthshod,co,uk> on Monday October 23, 2006 @06:45AM (#16544320)
    Receipts and audit trails in voting systems are solving the wrong problem.

    If you have a leaky roof, the correct solution is not to install a drainage trough in the floor. If you go down the floor drain route you will eventually end up installing an alarm system to detect blockages, a plug-in air freshener to deal with the smell when the blockage alarm fails to go off and the drain gets blocked, joss sticks for use during power failures when neither the alarm nor the plug-in air freshener work, and you'll still have a leaky roof.

    If there is any way for the person who cast a vote to be able to identify it as theirs, then there is also a way for someone else to do identify who cast a vote. Which creates the opportunity for corruption. If voters are issued with a receipt for the transaction, which they remove, then a failure mode is introduced where the receipt does not match the ballot. Also, unless receipts are readily falsifiable, an opportunity for corruption is created (imagine a boss allowing workers time off to vote as long as they shew their receipt, showing a vote for the local Tory candidate and the boss's cousin, on returning to the factory). And if receipts are readily falsifiable then they are of questionable value. If there is a separate audit log stored within the machine, there is still the failure mode where the log does not match the ballot.

    Much better would be to ensure that procedures are in place such that it is as difficult as possible for the result to be interfered with after a ballot is cast. The easiest and best way of doing this is still pencil-and-paper, one race per ballot, one box per race (with different coloured and/or sized papers, so that a ballot in the wrong box can quickly be identified and moved to the right pile) and manual counting in the polling station, under the scrutiny of representatives of all candidates. Disabled voters should be allowed to bring a carer whom they trust to help them use the same system as everybody else.
  • somebody post OpenDieVote software before November 7th, please ;)

"Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -- "Ali Baba Bunny" [1957, Chuck Jones]

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