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Chimp Can Hack Diebold Electronic Voting System 402

rbuysse writes "A million monkeys can write Shakespeare, but it only takes one to mess up an election. Scoop here." Blackboxvoting is behind this demonstration; there's also a lengthy thread on the Bugtraq mailing list.
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Chimp Can Hack Diebold Electronic Voting System

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  • Nuff Said (Score:5, Funny)

    by (54)T-Dub ( 642521 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <eniapt>> on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:00PM (#10345455) Journal
    The Diebold central tabulators use a program called "GEMS" that saves vote totals in Microsoft Access ...
    I think that's all we really need to say about Diebold.
    • by nerd256 ( 794968 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:20PM (#10345577) Homepage
      "saves vote totals in Microsoft Access"
      Hey, at least its accurate advertising
    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:46PM (#10345716) Homepage
      Isn't it basically unconscionable that the actual process of elections be a for-profit venture? While the military may buy hardware from outside vendors, it does so because certain problems require such specific, high-level technical knowledge and manufacturing know-how which they don't posess in-house. A voting system is, at it's core, a system of adding numbers together that any first-year comp sci student could create. Why is something so basic to the legitimacy of our government being given to for-profit ventures with closed systems?

      At the government's disposal are hundreds of public universities with some of the brightest minds in the country, many of whom would gladly work on implementing the great american open-source voting system. Even if these graduate students and professors were paid market rates for their work, it would still be much cheaper than what Diebold systems are costing the US. There is also no competitive advantate go keeping the system closed-source... so what if Austrailia decides they want to run their elections on our software? We've proud of other countries copying our constitution and systems of government, why not our systems of elections too? Especially if they improve it, and give those improvements back to us? What, are we suddenly going to be exporting less consumables to them because they have more legitimate elected officials?

      • by Frizzle Fry ( 149026 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:55PM (#10345755) Homepage
        Isn't it basically unconscionable that the actual process of elections be a for-profit venture?

        This is already the case today. Do you think the current voting booths or the printed ballots are manufactured by the Salvation Army? Why should it be a surprise that when the government moves from lower to higher tech forms of voting it continues to buy from private industries? I agree that buying from a corrupt and/ or incompetent company is reprehensible. I also agree that everything should be accountable to the voters and the software, security mechanisms, etc., should not be kept secret. But I don't like the idea that the government should be unable to give a contract to any private company to manufacture any of the tools used to run the election. That is neither workable nor desirable.
        • by Aadain2001 ( 684036 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:10PM (#10345807) Journal
          True, but I think the system the grandparent was promoting was using public funds to create a public solution, which still requires buying/paying for tools from the private sector. Instead of buying a "black box" and just trusting the company that made it to Do The Right Thing(tm), you buy the hardware from one company/group, pay another group to write the software with public funds (thus making the results open to the public so anyone can find problems/backdoors), and another group to actually run things. This is a great example of checks and balances: spreading power between many groups instead of just a few or only one, thus reducing the change of tyranny and power grabs. It's what a lot of our Constituion is based on, and I would welcome seeing the same happen to our voting system, seeing as how voting is the greatest power in the country.
          • by laird ( 2705 ) <lairdp AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @09:41PM (#10346138) Journal
            "I think the system the grandparent was promoting was using public funds to create a public solution, which still requires buying/paying for tools from the private sector"

            Exactly. Please visit http://www.openvotingconsortion.org/. We're a consortium dedicated to creating an open source voting system. The idea, exactly as you propose, is that many commercial vendors can take the open source platform and package it with hardware, training, and so on. Or a particularly motivated (or cheap) organization could run their own election system using internal technical resources. :-) The project has been under active development for several years, and has produced a system that's been publicly demonstrated.

            • by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:05PM (#10346238) Journal
              And not to make light of your accomplishments, but how fucking tough could this be? Seems like they want big holes in their security, doesn't it?

              To change the subject slightly, at what point does sabotage become a morally acceptable alternative? I'm assuming that a knife dragged across the touch-screen would ruin the machine, but I won't assume that ruining a voting booth for others would help... any thoughts?

              "Hell, I'll piss on the spark plugs if that'll help"
  • So, uh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:00PM (#10345458)
    Is that chimp one of the Diebold engineers?
    • Re:So, uh (Score:5, Funny)

      by cgranade ( 702534 ) <cgranade&gmail,com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:03PM (#10345472) Homepage Journal
      Don't insult the monkeys!
    • Re:So, uh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:29PM (#10345626)
      You fools laugh, but this could be serious. Maybe it's some kind of super monkey. What if there's more supermonkeys like it? WHAT IF THEY'RE CREATING AN ARMY OF THEM? Holy shit. It must be a conspiracy like in the X-Files... ROSWELL style. This little monkey could be the fuckin' damn dirty ape responsible for the fall of the human race. In this world gone mad, we won't spank the monkey- the monkey will spank us. And after the fall of man, these monkey fucks'll start wearing our clothes and rebuilding the world in their image. OH and only those as super smart as me will be left alive to bitterly cry - DAMN YOUS DIEBOLD. Goddamn yous all to hell.
  • Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by cbrocious ( 764766 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:01PM (#10345466) Homepage
    This is interesting, but why would George W. want to do such a thing?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:02PM (#10345470)
    A new denial of service attack is spreading through the wild. It involves hurling feces...
  • hey now... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Paladin144 ( 676391 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:03PM (#10345475) Homepage
    Chimp Can Hack Diebold Electronic Voting System

    Hey now, is that any way to talk about our beloved president? Besides, we won't know until election day whether that's true.

    • by kfg ( 145172 )
      Hey now, is that any way to talk about our beloved president?

      Hey now, let's not cast aspersions until after the next election. After all, it will only take 60 million chimps to elect him fair and square this time.

      KFG
  • Video Mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by chrispyman ( 710460 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:03PM (#10345476)
    Incase of the enevitable slashdotting, here's the movie of the chimp hacking the vote [chrispyman.com].
  • No kiddin' (Score:5, Funny)

    by HateBreeder ( 656491 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:03PM (#10345477)
    A million monkeys can write Shakespeare, but it only takes one to mess up an election.

    I'm a proud Bush voter, You insensitive clod!

  • by lateralus_1024 ( 583730 ) <mattbaha&gmail,com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:04PM (#10345482)
    Final_Results.Mdb
    Look for this attatchment on the Electoral College's Outlook Express inbox.
  • Coral Cache of video (Score:4, Informative)

    by Meostro ( 788797 ) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:05PM (#10345492) Homepage Journal
    http://www.blackboxvoting.org.nyud.net:8090/baxter /baxterVPR.mov [nyud.net]

    Although it's pretty weak... just a bunch of cuts of a monkey and a computer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:06PM (#10345500)
    That's why the liberal media, like Fox, is reporting on it.
  • Adequate Punishment? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eSims ( 723865 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:07PM (#10345501) Homepage
    Am I the only one who thinks that the only adequate punishment that is gonna put a stop to the Diebold-esue shenanigans is to prosecute the company into the ground and then go after every VP/Salesman who lies about the severity of the problems and the coverup?

    This Has Got To Stop!

    (Yes... been sitting on the sidelines, but I am about fed up)

    Go Getem Ahnold!
  • What's the big deal? (Score:2, Informative)

    by outrage98 ( 99696 )
    I'm not sure why [newtechusa.com] any of this should be surprising...
  • Chimp (Score:3, Funny)

    by lateralus_1024 ( 583730 ) <mattbaha&gmail,com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:10PM (#10345527)
    PS...that's not just an ordinary Chimp.
    Here is an action photo of the actual hack. [staticfiends.com]
  • by cmowire ( 254489 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:11PM (#10345535) Homepage
    "Dacek said Wednesday that she fears that critics of the new voting system may try to physically sabotage the machines."

    Wow. That's so..... scaremongering.....
  • Fortunately, we have much better chimps on our side than the Russians or the Chinese do.
  • They're not suing (yet?) to suppress the information.
  • Was the monkey name Spank, like Spank, the monkey? Or "l33t |-|4xx0R 5P4|\|"?!

    When pressing the touchpad I guess his trainer must have said something like:
    NO! Bad monkey, BAD monkey, BAD MONKEY!!!! NO!!!!!....... ARGH! Dam Hackers!

    I'm european, you know... in this side of the Atlantic we mark a piece of paper with an X on who we vote. And yes, a monkey can also do it, but at least we don't spend billions in tech just to keep all the monkeys voting...
  • by MarcoAtWork ( 28889 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:20PM (#10345570)
    rather than going 'all electronic' there are not more efforts to have a hybrid paper-computer model, off the top of my head:

    - the voter comes to the poll, is identified and is given a paper token with a barcode that contains the polling ID station ID and a sequential number (note that the ID is not humanly readable, important for privacy)

    - the voter goes in the box, which has a touch screen and an 'easy' UI, voter inserts the paper token in the box which scans it

    - voter votes on the touch screen (make it really easy, BIG buttons, BIG text, whatever)

    - machine prints out a ballot with the voter's vote in humanly readable form (say, prints out a 'real' ballot with blackened out rectangles on the relevant candidate(s)) and a 2D barcode at the bottom with the vote in machine readable form including the ID on the 'paper token'

    - voter looks at the ballot to make sure it's ok, folds it, comes out, puts the ballot in one box and the paper token in the other. If the ballot is not ok there is a shredder right there inside the poll station and the voter votes again.

    ========= election over ===========

    the paper token are shipped to the central office, scanned (should be very fast via the 2d barcodes) and votes tabulated accordingly; for an additional level of security you can always count the votes via the 'human readable' part of the ballot before shipping them.

    If a recount or anything is necessary there are several safeguards with this system:

    - you can't have ballot box stuffing, because 1 'token' = 1 vote and if those ID are generated 'well' you could even double check that all IDs make sense, sort of like a 'there are only so many valid serial numbers' there. Multiple votes with the same 'ID' will be discarded.

    - you can't have doubts on the voter intent, they'll vote on the screen *AND* look at the paper copy before putting it in the ballot box later on

    - if there is really no trust in the computers no problem, you can just look at the 'human readable' portion of the ballot as many times as you want: no nonsense about hanging chads or anything.

    this (or something like it) would cover all the bases in terms of fast results (via scanning ballots, ship them all to a central location and do it), paper trail and so on. I really can't understand who in their right mind would consider putting the fate of the election in the hands of MS Access, for crying out loud!
    • Some possible problems with your idea:
      1. Printers are expensive.
      2. Printers are unreliable. You don't want poll workers (who are volunteers, not technicians) having to spend all their time clearing paper jams, etc.
      3. Scanning the bar codes is going to be a lot of work, and will probably have some error rate.
      4. It makes vote buying possible, because the person walks out of the booth with a piece of paper showing how he voted, and can show it to someone who's paying him to vote a certain way.

      There's a good ar

      • by Woody77 ( 118089 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:03PM (#10345785)
        1-2: Handled by millions of point-of-sale terminals already. This is no large feat of engineering that needs to be reinvented.

        3: Scantrons are ancient, and work well, with a very low error rate, at least, lower than hanging chads when you've got machines to properly mark the cards in the first place.

        4: He walks out of the booth with it, and right up to the ballot box, just like we do currently. No big deal, and after that, he can have proof he voted, but the card with the actual votes on it is in the box.

        =====

        I wouldn't be amiss to a mis-vote called whenever the election was indeterminate with a known (low) level of error. Like, 0.01% or less (or some other number, that one was pulled out of thin air). To cover error in the system.

        Automatic revote.
        • 1-2: Handled by millions of point-of-sale terminals already. This is no large feat of engineering that needs to be reinvented.
          I dunno about you, but I've often seen sales clerks spending a lot of time refilling the paper rolls, dealing with ink outages, paper jams, "Sorry, but do you mind if I don't give you a receipt, it's not working," "Sorry, but the ink is really faint."

          : Scantrons are ancient, and work well, with a very low error rate, at least, lower than hanging chads when you've got machines to p

  • by asciiwhite ( 679872 ) <asciiwhite&gmail,com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:20PM (#10345573)
    You tell me. [bushorchimp.com]
  • Spin Spin Spin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miu ( 626917 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:22PM (#10345591) Homepage Journal
    From the article:
    "Quite honestly it's somewhat insulting to elections officials and volunteers," he said to the idea that elections officers would tamper with vote results.
    -Some Diebold talking head.

    Sure we trust the election officials, but do we trust every contractor or tech who might work on those systems? Especially as Diebold seems so lax in checking backgrounds that people with convictions for fraud, blackmail, and embezzlement have access to their code. I'd bet that their contractors are even less subject to appropriate background checks.

    • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gorimek ( 61128 )
      Why would you trust election officials?

      The US (not to mention many other countries) have a long and rich history of election officials tampering with the results. What says that that has suddenly ended in 2004?

      A different way than "election officials are corrupt" of framing the issue is to point out that corrupt people who want to influence results will want to become election officials. Especially if there are no checks on their power.
      • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by miu ( 626917 )
        When I say we trust election officials, I mean that we trust them in the same way that we trust cops, emergency personnel, teachers, and other responsible public servants. Such people are in positions of responsibility and authority - which means that we try to make sure that they are worth that trust. Diebold employees and contractors have not been through any sort of screening process or background check that entitles them to a position of responsibility and trust.
  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:22PM (#10345594) Homepage Journal
    Their "evidence" of a chimp hacking diebold is a series of poorly cut images of a chimp and a computer????? Come the fuck on now... First, half of the minute video is useless filler text and a picture of smiling chimp, which immedietly jumps to a sequence that could have only been cut by an editor with suffering from ADD syndrome. Seriously, where's that foot icon, because there's no way you could possibly take this story seriously.

    But for the inveitable slashdotting it'll receive, I'll summerize: Makers say Diebold works, opponents say it doesn't, que poorly edited movie of monkey sitting by computer hitting stuff, analogous to the new "Baby hitting mouse" AOL 9.0 commercial. The End.

    Thank me, beecause I just saved you 5-10 minutes of your life. Use it to get a free ipod or something.
  • by burtonator ( 70115 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:24PM (#10345605)
    The good thing is that even though a monkey can hack the system this still puts the hack out of the reach of the average Republican ;)

  • by switcha ( 551514 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:30PM (#10345629)
    But Black Box Voting on Wednesday demonstrated two quick ways that "an unscrupulous person with no computer skills whatsoever" could sabotage vote totals, according to Associate Director Andy Stephenson.

    Judging by the fact that most people with the time to volunteer for poll work are our 'seasoned citizens' who, let's be honest, aren't, as a group, too computer savvy, I'd be more worried about the scrupulous people with no computer skills whatsoever messing things up.

    I know this makes me an ageist asshat, but how in the heck are all these people going to get up to speed on computers enough to ensure a little 'whoops' doesn't toss a whole county or something?

  • by frdmfghtr ( 603968 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:32PM (#10345639)
    "Quite honestly it's somewhat insulting to elections officials and volunteers," he said to the idea that elections officers would tamper with vote results.

    I say "Quite honestly, it's somewhat insulting to the voters," to the idea that the voting public should naively disregard the human factor and that temptation/corruption/bribery "just don't happen."

    Never underestimate the power of money, especially in large, unmarked bundles.
    • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @09:41PM (#10346139)
      I used subscribe to the notion this was a Republican conspiracy to steal the election. Maybe it still is but the election was really stolen back in Iowa and New Hampshire when Kerry miraculously went from cellar dweller to winner. The guy is unfortunately a loser, no one in their right mind actually likes him. Most of the people voting for him are voting against Bush and not for Kerry.

      It would be very interesting to have insight in to the machinations in Iowa and New Hampshire that destroyed Dean's candidacy. Did Al Gore and Jimmy Carter endorse him, because they knew it would make him look like an establishment man and hence a hypocrite. About a dozen rich democrats from the DNC and DLC inner circle funded attack ads in Iowa that equated him to Osamm bin Laden, coupled with a couple dumb remarks insured his fall in Iowa. When the media started piling in the race was decided though a tiny fraction of Democrats had actually voted. When Dean was destroyed, that was the point when the American people were actually denied any real choice. Its kind of wasting your time to steal the presidential election with electronic voting since it's already been stolen.

      You see, there isn't a dimes worth of difference between Bush and Kerry on the stuff that matters, Iraq, the patriot act, homeland security, the war on islamic terrorism. They are both going to spend the U.S. in to bankruptcy and line the pockets of big corporations and their wealthy shareholders at the expense of working people.

      Most telling, they are both Yale grads and Skull and Bones men. You know democracy is dead in America when a secret fraternity of the elite of the elite, which has 800 living members, can count BOTH presidential candidates as members. What are the odds on that unless the whole process is rigged.

      Maybe Kerry was maneuvered into the Democratic nomination by the ruling elite to take a fall, or maybe they knew he was such a pathetic candidate that running him insured Bush would be reelected, or maybe they will be happy whichever one wins though I wager Bush is their favorite. The new Forbes billionaire's list is out and Forbes says they overwhelmingly support Bush. Why shouldn't they, he's given them unprecedented windfalls.

      Running a shill is about the only way Bush could get reelected, after the deceit and insanity his administration perpetrated in Iraq. If people were to actually stop and look at how pathetic his record has really been over the last 4 years he would be rode back to Texas on a rail. Fortunately people don't have to think about it, they just have to see that loser John Kerry "reporting for duty" and all of sudden Bush doesn't seem so bad. We'll he really is bad but there isn't anything you can do about it so they just resign themselves to it and pretend it doesn't matter.

      Maybe riggable electronic voting machines, and the Pentagon's plan to gain control over the military's vote, were insurance to make sure Bush wins but I doubt that will be necessary at this point. The media feeding frenzy has already started and that will insure Kerry will be doomed before the people even weigh in on the subject, the same kind of frenzy that devoured Dean.

      If electronic voting machines are going to be used to rig an election the most likely races they will be used on are the Senate races. The Republicans are desperate to get 60 seats in the Senate because at that point they would have a democratically elected and constitutional dictatorship, especially after a few more years of stacking the courts. When that happens the U.S. is going to be a good country to get out of, and the rest of the world really needs to start working on a global alliance to prevent this group of extremist Christians from dominating the entire planet.

      The next four years are going to be a dark period for the U.S. no matter what.

      As an example, I heard today on CNN and its on
      • The guy is unfortunately a loser, no one in their right mind actually likes him. Most of the people voting for him are voting against Bush and not for Kerry.

        I think you've forgotten the politics electing the democratic nominee. We decided that we needed someone moderate because of how far right the country has shifted. So, we get rid of Dean and go with Kerry. Then again, "loser" isn't what I'd call a thoughtful critique.

        You see, there isn't a dimes worth of difference between Bush and Kerry on the s

  • As a comparative analysis... an uninformed reader only needs to read two disparate statements and decide which is more true.

    "We probably have the most secure system in the nation," said Lamone

    and

    according to Associate Director Andy Stephenson, "The entire voting record can be deleted by choosing "reset the election" on a drop-down menu."

    Only a fool would pick an otherwise obvious statement...

  • It isn't like this is even the only ace up their sleeves. Kerry is starting to look like a fallguy to me. If these incredibly brilliant people that have come up with incredibly brilliant ways to attract the press (and have been hugely ignored considering how serious this is), and a live demonstration of a fucking monkey hacking a voting systems doesn't get some of them to ignore their bosses and partisan politics long enough to wake the fuck up and start doing their god damn jobs, Bush will delay the electi
  • by Oriumpor ( 446718 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:39PM (#10345685) Homepage Journal
    But I guess Chimp hacks Access Database isn't really news.

  • by Iphtashu Fitz ( 263795 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:43PM (#10345698)
    Because Access functions are already built in to the Windows operating system, the totals could be altered even if a computer did not have Access installed on it...

    But Maryland election officials agreed with Bear that no hacking can happen unless the hacker is physically at the computer.

    How long until somebody writes a virus/worm/trojan that does nothing on most Windows boxes (other than propagate) and on systems where GEMS is detected then around 8:00pm on election day just go wreak havoc with the election results? No physical access to the GEMS systems is needed. If those machines are hooked up to the internet at any time prior to the election (like to get Windoze updates) they could potentially become infected with just such a worm.

    Yeah, I know it's a stretch. Just playing devils advocate...
    • I have one idea to plant in the hacker mind:

      Is this an election or a slashdot poll? Who cares? We need the "CowboyNeal" option. and since it won't get on the ballot by election time, but we know that everyone would vote for CN, given the chance, let's just reset their votes. CowboyNeal for pres!
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:45PM (#10345709) Journal
    beowulf cluster of chimps could do.
  • by Awptimus Prime ( 695459 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:49PM (#10345731)
    Dacek said Wednesday that she fears that critics of the new voting system may try to physically sabotage the machines. She pointed to a recent incident in which a poll judge had to be ordered to return a voting machine that was used for demonstrations at an suburban folk festival.

    Does anyone else find it rather strange they are worried about the "critics" and not the ones who seem to be in a big hurry to get these insecure systems in place? In my mind, the critics are the ones trying to stop a possible hi-jacking of democracy.

    This reads like a AM radio talk show host comparing protestors at a convention to terrorists.

    • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:04PM (#10345787) Homepage Journal
      Bingo. It's classic kill-the-messenger stuff: critics = protestors = anti-American = TERRORISTS! Thus anyone who dares to criticize the machines, and to suggest that just maybe possibly there might be a little something wrong with the largest voting machine company in the country being run by someone who has publicly vowed to do everything in his power to deliver votes for a specific candidate ... can be written off as an America-hating nutcase.

      Why do YOU hate America so much, Citizen?
  • ASIMO Demo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EvilGoodGuy ( 811015 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:00PM (#10345773)
    This reminds me, at the recent ASIMO [honda.com] demonstration that I went to this Thursday at my college, they played a movie. In this movie, they were trying to prove the importance of how the robot looks determines how the public will accept it. And at some point they threw in a picture of a touch screen voting machine and mentioned "Florida" and "elections." I was too caught up in my selective hearing to know why these were mentioned in a video about trusting machines, but my friends and I had a good laugh. After all I have read, I could never trust this failure of a company. They need to fold, tuck their tails and find something else.
  • by mantera ( 685223 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:02PM (#10345779)


    The idea that elections can be entrusted to the Diebold corporation is wholly absured when you consider that democracy is an activity of the people, for the people and by the people. Of course the results will be and ***SHOULD*** be questioned; that's the whole point of a democracy. That's why an open source voting system is and should be the only way to do computerized voting; it's open to scrutiny by anyone and everyone, and such it is, eventually and ultimately, beyond scrutiny when the final vote is out.

    The open source community should produce as soon as possible an effective, secure, and open source voting system that's ready for reliable usage. It's one thing to criticize Diebold, it's another thing to question an elected official why an open source solution that's proven and secure and anyone can know the ins and outs of is not implemented and another obscure, closed, and highly questionable one is entrusted.

  • by Soldrinero ( 789891 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:12PM (#10345818)
    Did anyone else burst out laughing when they read this?
    The entire voting record can be deleted by choosing "reset the election" on a drop-down menu, he said, or a hacker can destroy a tabulator's ability to recognize ballots by un-selecting three checkboxes on a program control panel.

    I mean, really. They practically have a button that says "Press to Hack Election."

  • by BlueLightning ( 442320 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:14PM (#10345822) Homepage Journal
    "Hacked by chimpanzees"
  • Bulls**t (Score:5, Interesting)

    by uncoveror ( 570620 ) <webmaster@uncovero[ ]om ['r.c' in gap]> on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:21PM (#10345847) Homepage
    Diebold says...
    Even if the system could be hacked, he said, it could only be done by a person with "unfettered access to the system." Bear noted that elections are not just the machines, but also the people who work the elections.

    "Quite honestly it's somewhat insulting to elections officials and volunteers," he said to the idea that elections officers would tamper with vote results.


    At every election I have voted in, the officials and volunteers are retirees who have VCRs flashing 12:00! They would never know it if some young whipper-snapper was farting aroung with the newfangled high-tech whizbang voting machines, nor will they be able to help anyone if the machines screw up.
  • by servoled ( 174239 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:21PM (#10345849)
    For all the Americans out there, we live in a democracy [wikipedia.org] where "all decisions are made by representatives who act by [our] consent". However, it is incredibly difficult for an elected representative to follow his/her constituent's wishes if they are not informed of which bills they should vote for by their constituents.

    A simple letter (here [verifiedvoting.org] or here [verifiedvoting.org] or here [verifiedvoting.org] or here [verifiedvoting.org]) is one of the easiest ways to inform your elected representative of your stance in regard to certain bills [loc.gov]. If you feel strongly enough about fixing the current state of electronic voting in this country, I highly reccomend writing to your elected [house.gov] representatives [senate.gov] to inform them of your concerns and certain bills [loc.gov] which [loc.gov] they [loc.gov] should [loc.gov] support [loc.gov].

    Remember, for a democracy to work as intended there needs to be participation by all of its citizens though voting as well as keeping their elected representatives informed of the citizens wishes.

    Also remember that when contacting your representatives a signed, mailed letter makes a much bigger impact than an e-mail.
    • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @09:11PM (#10345999)
      In general I like your post and its well intended, but I can't help but think this somewhat incomplete;

      "Remember, for a democracy to work as intended there needs to be participation by all of its citizens though voting as well as keeping their elected representatives informed of the citizens wishes."

      Would you say that democracy works as intended when powerful media corporations use well tested, well developed advertising-like techniques (which border on hypnosis) to sway public opinion and thereby influence voting patterns?

      (Because I believe that this is exactly what happens; human beings are, on the whole, remarkably suggestible (otherwise advertising of products or brands wouldn't be worth the billions that get spent on it)).
  • by bergeron76 ( 176351 ) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:26PM (#10345862)
    ... and an infinite amount of time that could create a Shakespearean work.

  • by molo ( 94384 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @09:15PM (#10346024) Journal
    I was driving home from work today when KQED [kqed.org] aired The California Report [californiareport.org]. They had a segment on E-Voting. See link above for audio stream.

    E-Voting


    In the November election, nearly a third of California voters will cast their ballot on a touch screen voting machine. And virtually every vote cast in California will be counted electronically, even in those counties using punch card ballots. County officials often praise the machines. But electronic voting activists warn e-voting technology can't be trusted.

    Reporters: Cy Musiker


    The report was fairly critical, but balanced.

    -molo
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @09:16PM (#10346025) Homepage
    When asked about the chimp hacking their voting machine a Diebold spokesman shrieked loudly, barred his teeth and threw feces at the offending reporters.
  • by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @09:28PM (#10346082) Journal
    What Diebold clearly don't understand (or care about) is that while trust in the election officials has always been very important, never before could one single person change all the votes in seconds leaving no evidence! Its like being able to stick your coat hanger through a stack of 50 million punch-cards and have the chads disappear into thin air. But that's not even half of it - they just assume that it can only be done with physical access to that machine - how can they be sure the data is secure on its way to the machine? What if its already been compromised? With a system as complex as the average computer you have allot of exits to cover. At least with paper it would take an army of people to fake 50 million ballots, with computers it could potentially take a few lines of code and an opportunity. Its not even in Diebolds interests to secure things like verifiable election logs, because, if something does screw up Diebold certainly wont want you to know. This is why we call privatisation "The short-sighted or externally lobbied greed of a government in which an enterprise requiring only better management is aquired by worse management who take all profits and place them in a tax haven or a yacht."
    • What Diebold clearly don't understand (or care about) is that while trust in the election officials has always been very important, never before could one single person change all the votes in seconds leaving no evidence! [Emphasis added]

      The classic case of a cashier who trades tickets for money and a ticket taker shows that you can have a trustworthy system even if you don't trust the participants.

      Flim-flam. Make it complicated enough and there's plenty of room for skuldudgery. Sure you run checks and ba
  • by noda132 ( 531521 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @09:54PM (#10346198) Homepage

    Am I the only one who started hearing alarms going off in my head when I read this sentence:

    "We probably have the most secure system in the nation," said Lamone...

    Translation: "We know nothing about security."

    And lo and behold, they're using Microsoft Access. I rest my case.

  • by jpetts ( 208163 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:44PM (#10346387)
    Assistant: Maybe we should finally tell them the big secret: that all the chimps we sent into space came back super-intelligent.
    Chimp: No, I don't think we'll be telling them _that_.

    [Roller skates away, making monkey noises]
  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @12:34AM (#10346727)
    Well, if the chimp was an employee of Primate Programming, Inc. [newtechusa.com], that wouldn't surprise me.
  • by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @12:34AM (#10346728) Homepage
    That's the plain and simple of it. No one has ever been able to demonstrate that they'll save money during an election, nor that they're anywhere close to being secure. Diebold's machines are black-box proprietary and it's essentially impossible to determine if someone (say, a bought-and-paid-for Diebold exec) has tampered with the results.

    I used to work with county and city elections. No machines were used, just a supervisory staff of elections officials and a horde of volunteers. All voting locations would count each box of ballots twice, each time by a different person, and if the tallies weren't exact they'd go through the whole process again for that ballot box. This would continue until two separate individuals got the same count for the box.

    Afterwards, all of the paper ballots would be boxed and stored in a secure location in case it became necessary to do a recount. And again, all recounts were done by box, twice, and any discrepancies meant starting over from scratch for that box.

    This wasn't a terribly expensive way of doing things. The primary cost was in printing and mailing the ballots (for mail-ins). The elections sites themselves were run by volunteers, and the supervisory staff was already paid for. Fraud was rather difficult to pull off on the part of the volunteers and the entire process was 'open source'. Individual citizen groups could demand to have a representative sit in on the recounts, as could any political party that was running a candidate.

    Why, exactly, are we dumping a system like this for Diebold machines? It makes no sense at all unless someone is specifically looking for a way to fuck up the elections in their favor, or in favor of whomever happens to be paying them off.

    And don't tell me that this system can't be scaled; that's bullshit. The system I'm speaking of here was used on the city, county, and state level. If it can be done by one state, it can be scaled for any state, and it's the STATES who run the elections, not the federal government.

    Max
  • by NoMercy ( 105420 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @07:25AM (#10347764)
    The voting machines software must be available for public inspection.

    The hardware design for voting machines must be available for public inspection.

    The assembley of voting machines must be available for representitive public inspection.

    The voting machines security must be based on cryptographicly secure systems.

    The voting machine once put into service must not be openable, the case must be sealed and no software route to controll the unit in place.

    The voting machine must produce a full tally of all votes for any election it has ever been used in when requested by an authorised key holder.

    The voting machine must log all administrative transactions, and produce this with all vote counts.
    --

    The electoral volentears know how to handle people voting, a secure system would have to be devised for handling of the votes taken from the machines, possibly a small printer device similarly open to public inspection to convert the data into a human readable form from an early point in the chain.

    If anyone wants to add any more to this, comment on how it can be done feel free. There's no way I can have total trust without proof that the names on the list tally up to what the clicks on the screen mean.

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