Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

How to Hack the Vote and Steal the Election 587

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the vote-early-vote-often dept.
divisionbyzero writes "Many people have asked for it so that the government will have to deal with it. So here it is: a guide to stealing an election that uses electronic voting machines written by Jon Stokes over at Arstechnica. From the article: "In all this time, I've yet to find a good way to convey to the non-technical public how well and truly screwed up we presently are, six years after the Florida recount. So now it's time to hit the panic button: In this article, I'm going to show you how to steal an election.""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How to Hack the Vote and Steal the Election

Comments Filter:
  • Lack of ethics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Scott Lockwood (218839) * on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:08PM (#16594838) Homepage Journal
    I agree that this is perhaps THE most pressing issue right now for Americans, but is it really ethical to distribute this kind of information? At what point do you take responsibility for what you post, and NOT diseminate information that, in the wrong hands, will cause what you are trying to prevent?
    • Re:Lack of ethics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chrismcdirty (677039) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:11PM (#16594896) Homepage
      I'd go as far to say that it is more ethical to distribute it. The information becomes widely known. Maybe someone will hack an election to make it very obviously hacked, thus forcing a re-vote with an honest, verifiable way to count votes.
      • Re:Lack of ethics (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BoomerSooner (308737) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:26PM (#16595160) Homepage Journal
        I just hope someone does it. MY PARTY!!! lol... the system is screwed.

        When people give a shit more about some gays marrying in NJ than they do about genocide in Darfur, military and civilian deaths in Iraq & Afghanistan, and people dying in this country due to being priced out of receiving their necessary meds, we have become a country that has lost focus on things that *actually matter*.

        That being said, I'm not optimistic anyone that's in my camp has the guts to steal an election, we'd rather give it away. Liberal media my ass... I wish!
        • by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Thursday October 26, 2006 @01:51PM (#16596872) Homepage Journal
          Which is that we don't have an independent media anymore. Rupert Murdoch is as likely to be a whistle blower as Karl Rove is.

          Unless we have a real free press, with real media outlets (read: TV, radio, internet, magazine, newspaper, etc.), then we don't have a democracy.

          Personally, after watching 911mysteries and other films on related topics, and reviewing the scientific facts for myself, I'm convinced that we already live in 1984, and the only solution is the bloody ugly one that Thomas Jefferson and most of our other founding fathers completely supported.

          You did mention the "liberal" media, so you touched on it, but really, when 3 channels are quoting each other with created facts by obvious pundits who are clearly party members.....

          You don't have freedom of the press anymore, and it's game over for democracy.

          It's been that way since Kennedy got whacked, and on a related issue, that was also our last real election.

          rhY
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by thrillseeker (518224)
            You don't have freedom of the press anymore, and it's game over for democracy. It's been that way since Kennedy got whacked, and on a related issue, that was also our last real election [about.com] : Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley became a nationally known figure during the presidential election of 1960 when he "delivered" Illinois for John F. Kennedy. Charges of vote fraud in Illinois and Texas led to vote recounts in several states as well as to the appointment of at least one special state prosecutor in Illinois.
          • liberal media (Score:3, Insightful)

            by falconwolf (725481)

            You did mention the "liberal" media, so you touched on it, but really, when 3 channels are quoting each other with created facts by obvious pundits who are clearly party members.....

            When I hear or read of the liberal media I ask what liberal media. But nobody bothers to reply. ABC? Disney owns ABC. CBS? It used to be owned by Viacom but after the split it's owned by CBS Corporation. And National Amusements is the majority owner of CBS Corp. NBC? NBC is owned by GE. Fox is owned by Murdock's News

      • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:29PM (#16595246)
        > I'd go as far to say that it is more ethical to distribute it. The information becomes widely known. Maybe someone will hack an election to make it very obviously hacked, thus forcing a re-vote with an honest, verifiable way to count votes.

        And if they get away with it, honestly, is that really so bad?

        DATELINE: January 27, 2009 - President Stallman and GNUHSEC announces arrest of Redmond, WA voting-machine hackers.

        President Stallman today announced the disruption of a terrorist plot, allegedly involving electoral fraud originating from a the terrorist organizations known as the Red Mond Alliance and the Darlings of McBride, both of which owe allegiance to a shadowy figure known only as the Monkey of the Thrown Chair.

        "Let the elections of 2008 stand as a warning to all who would attempt to defraud the American public", warned Vice President Eric Raymond. "The GNUTIA (Gnu's Not Total Information Awareness) surveillance programme is fully operational, and GNUHSEC (Gnu's Not Homeland Security) agents will not tolerate any future incidents of voter fraud."

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @01:03PM (#16595894) Homepage Journal
        Here's my prediction. The control of the House of Representatives in the coming election (which is after all, the most important thing, considering it would give Bush's opponents subpoena power to investigate all the sleazy crap he's pulled), will come down to one extremely close race. This close race will be decided, after a recount, and the Republican candidate will win by less than .01% of the votes.

        It will be a virtual repeat of the 2002 and 2004 elections. You see, all this nail-biting, down to the wire, razor-thin margin bullshit gives the idiots who watch TV the feeling that, well "it MUST be legit because it was so darn close" and "if there was anything crooked going on, they'd win decisively".

        Wednesday, the 8th of November, we will hear how the "values voters" pulled together at the last minute and despite the fact that all the exit polls showed the Dems winning by a huge margin, the Republicans yet again pulled a miracle out of the hat and retained power. Rush Limbaugh will explain that all the prayers of the good Christian Conservatives is what turned the tide.

        Because of the clear crookedness of our electoral system (and did you notice that the regions that the Republicans pulled their upsets in during the last elections were the ones that had Diebold machines?), it is probably too late to expect elections, op-ed columns or clever blogs to make a damn bit of difference.

        No, I'm afraid it's going to take people, lots of people, in the streets, being decidedly ill-behaved if we're going to keep this nation anything like the beautiful experiment that the Founding Fathers produced. If the principles of the Enlightenment are going to survive, we're going to have to act the way the heroes who created this country acted: badly. Civil disobedience and mass demonstrations, general strikes and boycotts. There's going to be some fighting before this power-grab by the Authoritarian Right who have masked themselves as "Conservatives" will end.

        Despite my general laziness and particular enjoyment of online games like Eve-Online, I am prepared to fight, and if necessary, die, for my country. Even if it means that it will be other Americans that I will have to fight to protect the United States of America.

        It's going to take a tamper-proof margin of victory in 11 days if this sleazy little tin-pot dictator in the White House and the crooked pricks who are pulling his strings are going to be stopped. It's the only chance we have to put a little oversight on these bad actors.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by AEton (654737)
          Despite my general laziness and particular enjoyment of online games like Eve-Online, I am prepared to fight, and if necessary, die, for my country. Even if it means that it will be other Americans that I will have to fight to protect the United States of America.

          With respect, your paranoid delusions and violent fantasies won't do much to change the political climate. Just vote, please.
    • Re:Lack of ethics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Recovering Hater (833107) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:11PM (#16594908)
      Or is it more unethical to have access to information that threatens us all and not say anything for fear that some "bad guy" might use it against us? The truth is that some "bad guy" is already sitting around thinking up ways to to use the information or writing the information down for himself from scratch. Security through obscurity never works for long.
      • the fact that this gives more bad guys the tools they need than might have had them before?
        • Re:But what about (Score:4, Insightful)

          by johneee (626549) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:39PM (#16595412)
          Hannibal is brilliant by all accounts (especially his own...) and one of the few people who understands technology and communication well enough to be able to put esoteric subjects into terms understandable to an intelligent lay person, but he's not anything close to the only person to be able to figure this kind of thing out - especially since he probably didn't spend a whole lot of time on this article compared to the amount of time someone who wanted to actually steal an election would.

          If Hannibal can do this then someone who wanted to steal an election, and could spend a trivial amount of money on doing it could absolutely do the same. It is utterly absurd to think that the analysis he did in the course of researching and writing a single article couldn't be done (and probably was done a long time ago) by any one of hundreds of other organizations if they had a small team working on it for months or years.

          The result? The only people for who this is news are the people who don't have a vested interest in stealing an election - and those are the people who need to know about it. Bravo to my favourite tech site for doing this.

          • Re:But what about (Score:5, Informative)

            by Hannibal_Ars (227413) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @03:17PM (#16598590) Homepage
            Ok, cracks about my (in)famous lack of humility aside, you have a great point. This article took me a week from concept to execution, and over half that time was spent making the diagrams. Ultimately, I did a little over two days of basic technical research for this (including email correspondence with security experts in this area). I am not an infosec expert and I don't pretend to be--I'm just good at digesting tech info and turning it into a form that a non-specialist audience can grasp.

            There are many Slashdot readers who could get up to speed on how to really steal an election in about half a day (or less) using publicly available documentation. The hardware isn't that complex at all, and the vulnerabilities in Windows (for the GEMS server) and WinCE (for the machine) are very well-known.

            What I've described here is very, very low-hanging fruit for anyone with real security expertise.
        • Well (Score:4, Insightful)

          by The Creator (4611) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:40PM (#16595430) Homepage Journal
          It's better that many bad guys know of a "hack" that doesn't work anymore, than that a few know of one that still does.
        • In this case, having one bad guy with the directions really isn't any better than 10 bad guys with it.

          In fact, the more bad guys that have it, the more likely the problem will get fixed, thus it's actually better that the most 'bad guys' possible get it. If only one person knows how to rig the election, chances are higher they'll be able to get away with it. If 100 people know and all try to rig the election, chances are none of them will get away with it, because the tampering will be too obvious.

          Frankly I
      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        Or is it more unethical to have access to information that threatens us all and not say anything for fear that some "bad guy" might use it against us? The truth is that some "bad guy" is already sitting around thinking up ways to to use the information or writing the information down for himself from scratch. Security through obscurity never works for long.

        You're correct in saying that Security through obscurity never works but the question is what is the correct way to approach a security problem?

        Personall
        • Re:Lack of ethics (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Smidge204 (605297) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:50PM (#16595654) Journal
          People hav ebeen writing reports and letters to the machine manufacturers and politicians since BEFORE the 2004 election warning how unsecure the electronic voting system was. A totally new way to bypass what little "security" these machines have seem to show up on a monthly basis.

          People have given sworn testimony in court about the security issues and how their concerns fell on deaf ears in upper management, or sometimes even met with legal threats and unemployment.

          Quite simply, proper channels HAVE been exhausted. Either nobody gets it or they are deliberately trying not to hear it.
          =Smidge=
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      Well, if you look at it from a pure ethical standpoint, no; but then if you look at the "ethics" of some in Congress, perhaps this information could be put to good use, a.k.a. rousting out the bums.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rainmayun (842754)
      Yes, if your ethics demand that you do whatever is in your power to change the situation. The alternative to this? Security by obscurity... and we all on Slashdot know how well that works...
    • by zokrath (593920)
      The information is already in the wrong hands. It was born into the wrong hands.
    • by nuggz (69912)
      But people aren't listening because they don't understand the problem.
      Explaining how easy it is might help people understand this is a serious problem.
      Can you think of a better way to explain how easy it is? and how much of a problem it is?
    • Re:Lack of ethics (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Atraxen (790188) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:22PM (#16595098)
      Correct. As a chemist, I know what harm chemistry can cause - illegal pharmaceuticals, explosives, etc. And so, I demand an immediate crackdown on publically accessible chemistry texts, to ensure a brighter tomorrow.

      Correct. As a firearm owner, I know what harm firearms can cause - killings, accidental shootings, property damage, etc. And so, I demand an immediate crackdown on publically accessible repair manuals, to ensure a brighter tomorrow.

      Correct. As a driver, I know what harm poor driving can cause - vehicular homicide, property damage, etc. And so, I demand an immediate crackdown on access to automobiles, driving instruction literature, etc., to ensure a brighter tomorrow.

      Congressmen should maintain an exemption to all of the above, to ensure they can oversee said systems, and protect the workings of our great society. Public oversight should not be necessary, as I have full trust in the state.
    • by Spaceman40 (565797) <blinks@@@acm...org> on Thursday October 26, 2006 @01:16PM (#16596204) Homepage Journal
      A commercial, and in some respects a social doubt has been started within the last year or two, whether or not it is right to discuss so openly the security or insecurity of locks. Many well-meaning persons suppose that the discussion respecting the means for baffling the supposed safety of locks offers a premium for dishonesty, by showing others how to be dishonest. This is a fallacy. Rogues are very keen in their profession, and know already much more than we can teach them respecting their several kinds of roguery.

      Rogues knew a good deal about lock-picking long before locksmiths discussed it among themselves, as they have lately done. If a lock, let it have been made in whatever country, or by whatever maker, is not so inviolable as it has hitherto been deemed to be, surely it is to the interest of honest persons to know this fact, because the dishonest are tolerably certain to apply the knowledge practically; and the spread of the knowledge is necessary to give fair play to those who might suffer by ignorance.

      It cannot be too earnestly urged that an acquaintance with real facts will, in the end, be better for all parties. Some time ago, when the reading public was alarmed at being told how London milk is adulterated, timid persons deprecated the exposure, on the plea that it would give instructions in the art of adulterating milk; a vain fear, milkmen knew all about it before, whether they practiced it or not; and the exposure only taught purchasers the necessity of a little scrutiny and caution, leaving them to obey this necessity or not, as they pleased.

              -- From A.C Hobbs (Charles Tomlinson, ed.), Locks and Safes: The Construction of Locks. Published by Virtue & Co., London, 1853 (revised 1868).

      (c/o Matt Blaze [crypto.com])
  • by SpooForBrains (771537) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:10PM (#16594878)
    1. Make sure head of company that supplies voting machines is a vociferous supporter of your party
    2. There is no step two ...
    • by lixee (863589) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @01:13PM (#16596130)
      1. Make sure head of company that supplies voting machines is a vociferous supporter of your party
      This actually happened a few months ago in Mexico; http://www.correntewire.com/mexico_calderons_broth er_in_law_wrote_the_vote_counting_software_and_its _already_been_hacked [correntewire.com]

      If you're not convinced the election has been stolen, check out this excerpt from an article by McNeills:
      Victor Romero is a Doctor of physics who specialises in statistics and randomness at the National University of Mexico. He studied the electoral commission computer results closely and he believes there is strong evidence of interference. Dr Romero explained to me a very unusual statistical pattern he noticed with the PRD vote as the tallies came into towards the end. "The PRD was winning and then suddenly at about 70% they start losing and never even gained .01 of a percentage," he explained. It seems incredible that as the last 30% of results came in, the PRD share of votes never increased. "It could be like this and then like that," Dr Romero explains, moving his hands up and down, "More of one party and less than another. But not in order. The order here is completely unexplainable."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:11PM (#16594900)
    All germans, please sign this petition:

    http://itc.napier.ac.uk/e-Petition/bundestag/view_ petition.asp?PetitionID=294 [napier.ac.uk]

    It currently has 13748 votes.

    Thanks!
  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:11PM (#16594912) Homepage Journal
    Are you the RIAA, going on about "stealing" intangible concepts that cannot be stolen? You can't steal an election, any more than you can steal music.

        -- The Diebold P2P Network Team
    • Actually you can. See, if you steal the election from the people, they no longer have one! Erm...

      If you steal the election, the people no longer have their result! Mpff...

      If you steal the election, the people will have a different result than they originally had!

      Rats...
    • Re:Are you the RIAA? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @01:08PM (#16596000)
      You should be +5 insightful.

      A lot of slashdotters who would argue both those ways without seeing a conflict.

      It's like the iraqi they had on NPR last night.

      A) He wants americans killed and he wants the shiite militia to do it.
      B) He wants the americans to stay and protect him from the suni's.

      he sees *NO* conflict in these two positions.
  • by Quaoar (614366) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:11PM (#16594914)
    It's the only way to be sure...
  • by jon787 (512497) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:12PM (#16594916) Homepage Journal
    Can we use this to create a CowboyNeal option in the next election.
  • Litigation (Score:2, Funny)

    by Xehn (669415)
    In other news, the Bush administration has filed a lawsuit against Arstechnica, stating that releasing this information is a "danger to national security". Meanwhile, GOP officials are scrambling to determine who 'leaked' their 2006 Election Strategy to the press.
  • Why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:14PM (#16594972)
    I'm not in any way encouraging anyone to actually go out and steal an election. This article is intended solely as a guide to the kinds of information and techniques that election thieves already have available, and not as an incitement to or an aid for committing crimes.
    Why not? I'd rather have a hacker with good intentions to steal or otherwise grossly manipulate an election (libertarian party coming out as first) and get the system fixed subsequently, than to have the republican/democrat party keep themselves in power and dismiss the people complaining about election fraud as conspiracy theorists.

    Since you cannot validate the correctness of the election either way, I'd opt for the path which fixes the situation.
    • Motivation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Original Replica (908688) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:21PM (#16595094) Journal
      (libertarian party coming out as first) and get the system fixed subsequently"
      If you really want election reform you have to make it in the best interest of the the Dem/Rep party. The best way to do that would be to have a third party victory. As long as someone in the Professional Politicians Club get's elected, the powers that be don't care about voting accuracy. They have no reason to.
    • I don't necessarily disagree, but the site is almost obligated to put up that message if they don't want to be brought to court after it happens. They're simply trying to cover their asses.
    • Do it, but make it obvious - libertarian party (or Ben Stein, if you like) wins the election with 120% of the voters voting.
  • Been done already (Score:4, Informative)

    by MECC (8478) * on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:17PM (#16595012)
    Its already been done. [rollingstone.com]

    From the referenced url: '"Electronic voting machines also caused widespread problems in Florida, where Bush bested Kerry by 381,000 votes. When statistical experts from the University of California examined the state's official tally, they discovered a disturbing pattern: "The data show with 99.0 percent certainty that a county's use of electronic voting is associated with a disproportionate increase in votes for President Bush. Compared to counties with paper ballots, counties with electronic voting machines were significantly more likely to show increases in support for President Bush between 2000 and 2004."'

    'Charles Stewart III, an MIT professor who specializes in voter behavior and methodology, was initially skeptical of the study - but was unable to find any flaw in the results. "You can't break it - I've tried," he told The Washington Post. "There's something funky in the results from the electronic-machine Democratic counties."'

  • Moo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chacham (981)
    How to steal an election in seven easy steps:

    1) Put the word Linux on your website.
    2) Add copious amounts of Microsoft bashing.
    3) Add Socialist blurbs to the website.
    4) Call the current astate of affairs evil.
    5) Advocating lowering the voting age to 10.
    6) Ask KDawson to post a link to your website.
    7) Have everyone on slashdot believe you are the |37357 |]()()|] @®0|\||}

    Well, it may not work, but most kids here think it will.
  • Know Where To Look (Score:3, Informative)

    by American AC in Paris (230456) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:21PM (#16595088) Homepage
    Folks, if there's gonna be wholesale election fraud, a smart fraudster is going to do it where nobody is looking. Don't expect it to take place in the precincts that make the news for irregularities.

    Expect it to take place in places where Candidate X carries 70-75% of the vote.

    That is, expect it to take place in places where Candidate X carries 75-80% of the vote.

    If you don't want anyone to notice you're doing it, do it where nobody will notice; if the election is close enough (which so many of them are,) your candidate will carry the day.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by OakDragon (885217)

      Here's the way to know if the election is hacked:

      Republicans do well - wholesale voter fraud, machines were manipulated, etc.

      Democrats do well - most open and transparent election in years; the people have spoken.

      I look forward to reading the post-election commentary, no matter who does well.

  • Here's hoping (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dlc3007 (570880) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:36PM (#16595364)
    The best thing that can possibly happen for this country and secure elections would be for Buggs Bunny to win 100% of the vote in at least one, preferably multiple districts. Until people see these results come in on election night, they'll never believe that it can really happen.
  • by Aqua_boy17 (962670) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:37PM (#16595366)
    Hotels across the United States reported an alarming shortage of hotel bar keys.
    • by caffeine_monkey (576033) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @01:32PM (#16596486)

      Unbelieveably, Diebold actually has an ecommerce site where you can buy all their electronic voting machine products online, including memory cards, security tape, and access keys. I'm really hoping they verify that you're an elections official before they actually ship the stuff to you:

      http://www.diebold.com/nasadmk/cgi-bin/desi_cata log.pl?section=9

      Here you go - buy a dozen keys, for you and your friends:

      http://www.diebold.com/nasadmk/cgi-bin/desi_cata log.pl?section=9&id=163

      On a funny/sad note, the front page of their election products site as a glaring coding error (%=rs("newsdate")%):

      http://www.diebold.com/dieboldes/

  • Access? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mogrify (828588) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:37PM (#16595368) Homepage
    In an article that exposes flaw after flaw in the electronic voting system, the one thing that really made my jaw drop is that the master vote tabulation is stored in an Access database. To my mind, Access is crippleware designed for quick-n-dirty solutions on small data sets for people that don't know any better. Putting it into a production application is madness. Madness!
  • by golgotha007 (62687) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:44PM (#16595520)
    Ventura, California, Buena High School, 1988 Class President election:

    It was the first year of electronic voting, done on a room full of Apple IIe's.

    Some kind of voting program was running. I simply made a break in the program, figured it which variables belong to which candidate and bumped the variable count up for my favorite. After that, i simply continued the program and then logged my official vote.

    My favorite was Todd Turner. I hear he won by a landslide. No one contested the results. Lucky Todd.

    And Todd, if you happen to read this, don't get mad at me, ok? I mean, you probably would have won anyway, right?
  • too complicated (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truesaer (135079) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:51PM (#16595690) Homepage
    That article was way too complicated for the "non-technical public." It was great for tech savvy people, but if he wants to convince the average joe he needs to simplify. We don't need to see 10 different ways the machines can be hacked, just ONE way that is simple, understandable, and presented clearly to the user. Preferably on 1, maybe 2 pages max (before they lose interest).


    Ideally, for the layperson you would simply explain that each pricinct's votes are stored in a small database, and that it can simply be edited with a piece of software commonly included in Microsoft's popular Office suite. Then, show a screenshot of access with the GEMS database opened, highlight the vote tally for some candidate, and explain that you simply click in the box and change the number. Then explain how it would be impossible to know what the vote count could be due to the lack of paper...relate it back to punched ballots (just save the ballots and recount em if necessary), optical scanners (again you have the ballots and usually there is a paper log that prints each vote as it is scanned), etc.


    All of that is understandable to even the layperson. Most people understand what Microsoft Office is. Most people have heard of a database and understand thats how businesses store all their information. Most people have seen a spreadsheet and a screenshot of someone editing an access database looks almost the same.

    • That's what blogs are for.

      It needs to have enough supporting evidence that someone can blog it as fact. When blogged, it will inevitably get taken out of context and dumbed down to the level that the average Joe will understand, with the substance behind TFA's link.

      Give this a few days to make it around the Internet. I can see this becoming a big stink.
  • by nuzak (959558) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:55PM (#16595762) Journal
    Go IMMEDIATELY to http://www.house.gov/writerep/ [house.gov] and send them an email/contact form entitled "How to Steal an Election", with the URL http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/evoting.ar s [arstechnica.com] in the body. Vary the title if you prefer (I'm open to suggestions), and please do add something in your own words about how much the unaccountability and lack of transparency concerns you.

    Repeat this process for http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/ senators_cfm.cfm [senate.gov] (the Senate's small enough that they just list them all on one page)

    After about a thousand folks do this, a staffer might actually go print out the story and hand it to their congresscritter in a brief.

    I'd also like to ask the Ars Technica people to make an exception for this story and make the PDF available to non-subscribers, as it would really help to disseminate this story to the right people. I'm not really sure how to go about contacting them.

    Here's my letter (slightly munged of course by slashdot):

    I recently came across "How to Steal an Election" at http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/evoting.ar s [arstechnica.com] which lays out in rather devastating detail how flawed the current system of electronic voting is. I am concerned that our election process has effectively been privatized by a small number of companies, some of which are overtly partisan in their politics, and none held accountable for the numerous and easily-exploitable security flaws in their equipment. One of the equipment companies in particular has taken to smear campaigns and litigation against its critics in an attempt to silence them.

    I understand that voting should and must be accessible to the disabled, but this can be done without compromising the security and integrity of our elections. Slot machines in Nevada are subjected to extremely rigorous design standards for security, while voting machines have no such standards at all. This situation cannot go on -- I urge you to secure our elections with appropriate legislation.

    [signature stuff removed]


  • What should be done. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nrlightfoot (607666) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @12:58PM (#16595806) Homepage
    The quickest way to get the system changed is to create a scandal by actually stealing an election. I would suggest making a Libertarian, Green, or other 3rd party win the govenor's race. That should make it pretty obvious. Then the person who hacked the election should send letters detailing what they did to a major newspaper and the state election board. I would also suggest backing up the real results so that no real harm is done. That should get us secure voting machines by the 2008 presidential elections.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Teancum (67324)
      I have long argued that what really needs to be done is not just making a major 3rd party like the Libertarians or Greens to win, but get some very very obscure party that is plainly obvious that nobody really supported the candidate, and make it a near landslide victory for that party.

      I've nominated a few suggestions like the Cthulhu [cafepress.com] Party or the National Fisherman's Party, but either would do the job very well.

      To be honest, if you wanted to avoid spending too much time in jail, I would suggest the student
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Frostalicious (657235)
      I would also suggest backing up the real results so that no real harm is done. That should get us secure voting machines by the 2008 presidential elections.

      I think you are going to need to cause actual harm for real change to be implemented. If the real results are backed up, then they will be restored, "proving the reliability of Diebold equipment". You need to leave someone with Wierd Al as governor and no recourse to repair the damage.
    • by radtea (464814) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @02:36PM (#16597814)
      The quickest way to get the system changed is to create a scandal by actually stealing an election. I would suggest making a Libertarian, Green, or other 3rd party win the govenor's race. That should make it pretty obvious.

      Statistical analysis has already demonstrated fraud in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. There is no doubt whatsoever that significant voting irregularities took place, and that they had the effect of giving the election to Bush rather than his opponent in both cases. There were also, it is worth noting, some anomalies that favoured Democrats, although not by so wide a margin (perhaps they were just playing their cards more closely, or didn't need as big shifts to win in those races.)

      I sincerely hope that some American hero stands up and hacks the upcoming elections in a big way. They will get jailed for some kind of crime, but someone has to stand up and fight, and not say, "Oh, but my career would suffer if I was willing to sacrifice myself for the good of my country." But I have no illusions that such a successful hack would have any immediate effect. It will take many hacks over many elections to convince the idiots who think that election fraud is simply a stick to beat Republicans with, or who dismiss all evidence of fraud as impossible because "they" would never allow such a thing.

      We know Diebold machines can be hacked very easily. We know that they have been hacked in past elections, based on analysis of exit poll anomalies. We know that there is a great deal at stake in the American elections in the next two years.

      If America deserves to survive, there will be at least one person somewhere who is even now implementing a plan that will result in 100% of the votes cast in their county going to third-party candidates. In practical terms it must be third-party, because otherwise the vast majority of voters who cast their ballot for the favoured candidate would simply shrug, spit, and say, "I don't see no problem with that." Nothing short of a third-party landslide victory will put a dent in the partisan complacency of mainstream voters, and even then the lying bastards in power will claim that this was a special-case problem that they know for sure didn't affect any other races. And the complacent sheeple will believe them.

      If no one is willing to take the risk of throwing egregiously throwing the vote in their county then America does not deserve to survive as a functioning democratic republic, and it will not.
  • by spoonboy42 (146048) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @01:17PM (#16596216)
    I agree with the general consensus among slashdoters that voting machine schematics and source code must be open to the public for inspection. I also think that we can improve election security, while still retaining an anonymous ballot, by allowing voters to check to make sure that their own vote was properly counted. Here's my plan:

    To begin with, the regular voter verification process happens at the door. You go into the polling booth, select all your options, and a confirmation screen comes up for you to check and make sure you selected everything properly. When you confirm, a small piece of paper is printed out that has a serial number and a dynamically generated decryption key on it. Your vote is then sent along to a tabulation server. Your unencrypted vote is added up with the other votes, and the pair of your serial number and your encrypted vote is stored at the same time.

    Later in the day, you can go home, and log onto a special government website. You enter your serial number, along with your decryption key, and the verification server shows your vote back to you. The only identifier attached to each vote is a serial number, and it requires the proper decryption key to view the vote. Nevertheless, it allows individual voters to check to make sure that their vote was counted. As long as source-code can be publicly inspected, we can verify that counting is not being "faked" by saving an individual user's vote for verification purposes but not actually adding it to the overall tabulation, thus preventing fraud by under-voting.

    To prevent fraud by over-voting, the tabulation server will keep track of the total number of votes it receives from each machine. Local election officials will keep a hand-tally of the number of voters who visit each poll. At the end of the day, the hand tally is checked against the server's tally to make sure there is no discrepancy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spitzak (4019)
      The problem is that any kind of verification like that allows vote buying. I think this is less of a worry for actually throwing an election nowadays, but it can lead to threats and violence and should not be allowed.

      There are crypto schemes that would allow you to verify that your vote was counted correctly without being able to show how you voted, but they are far too complex for an average voter to understand.
  • Easier Way (Score:3, Funny)

    by clambake (37702) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @02:18PM (#16597444) Homepage
    Here is the simplest way:

    Hi, I am running for president. If I win, I promise to do one single thing. I will create and sign an executive order to split the gold in fort knox equally among the workers, friends and families of those those work at the companies that make the voting machines. Included in the order will be a clause that gives them complete immunity from ALL prosecution for any crimes they ever commit, and also they get first in line for heart/liver transplants, etc.

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.

Working...