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HBO's Hacking Democracy Available Online 350

prostoalex writes "HBO's controversial special 'Hacking Democracy' on issues with Diebold voting machines is now available in full on Google Video." Covered earlier on Slashdot, the documentary seems to have gathered quite a bit of heat from Diebold in addition to the one that didn't air.
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HBO's Hacking Democracy Available Online

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  • Countdown to Diebold biting off more than they can chew by suing Google.
    • Bittorrent (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Watch an hour and 20 minute video on google? No thanks acy []
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kfg ( 145172 )
      Fact is an affirmative defense to libel.

      To determine facts there is a legal process known as "discovery." I don't imagine that Diebold is going to be in much of a hurry to go there; hissy fits are their stock in trade.

      Just as it is for all abusive control freaks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Fact is an affirmative defense to libel.

        No, it is not in the US. An affirmative defense is something the defendant must prove. Truth is not an affirmative defense to defamation (libel or slander), proof of falsity is part of the prima facie case for defamation that the plaintiff must prove.

        To determine facts there is a legal process known as "discovery." I don't imagine that Diebold is going to be in much of a hurry to go there; hissy fits are their stock in trade.

        Yeah, putting the facts in this case into a

  • No Talking! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 06, 2006 @06:54PM (#16743649)
    Alright people, there should be no talking for 1 hr 21 min 57 secs after the post, or else you didn't WTFM!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Technician ( 215283 )
      Alright people, there should be no talking for 1 hr 21 min 57 secs after the post, or else you didn't WTFM!

      True, unless you are one of the people who already noticed it was posted to Google before Slashdot posted it.

      I was in the educational videos last night watching the "Physics for Future Presidents" lectures. (great stuff!) I noticed the Dibold video in my search results. That was some pretty hot stuff and covered some pretty blarring problems including official records in the trash and other serious
      • by doom ( 14564 )
        Technician wrote:
        My hats off to the lady who started it all.

        You would be referring to Bev Harris, who runs the site Black Box Voting [].

    • You forget about us subscribers...
  • One that didn't air? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @06:55PM (#16743659) Journal
    Which documentary didn't air? Why not, did HBO not air something because of diebold?
  • That neither of the 3 voting machine companies can make a system that counts 60 million votes every 2 years.

    They do millions of ATM transactions FLAWLESSLY every day

    But then again, it is flawless by design. Who am I kidding.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gladbach ( 527602 ) is your friend.
    • by Chagrin ( 128939 )
      The documentary isn't suggesting that the systems aren't "flawless" (as far as bugs go), it's suggesting that the voting process, as it exists today, is extremely easy to manipulate. One part of the documentary discusses the voting occuring in Ohio and how the recount process, using punch cards, was rigged with a non-random selection of voting cards.

      Diebold is a big part of the problem, but they're simply just one of the players in an untrustable voting system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by neoform ( 551705 )
      The coder managed to get around the security by using SQL injection. It boggles my mind that you can do that.
    • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @07:21PM (#16744127)
      They do millions of ATM transactions FLAWLESSLY every day

      Of course, ATMs are capable of providing a paper receipt and the accuracy of ATM actions are routinely audited by average citizens with a vested interest in the accuracy of an ATM's tabulations.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by green1 ( 322787 )
        >> the accuracy of ATM actions are routinely audited by average citizens with a vested interest in the accuracy of an ATM's tabulations.

        it's really too bad that average citizens don't have any vested interest in the accuracy of a voting machine's tabulations...
        • by cduffy ( 652 )
          it's really too bad that average citizens don't have any vested interest in the accuracy of a voting machine's tabulations...

          It's the "ability to audit" thing that's a problem.

          I can audit an ATM's accuracy by looking at my bank statement. I can't check whether a voting machine recorded my vote -- unless I use something like the punchscan solution.
          • err... voter-verifiable paper trail? say, a dot-matrix in a plexiglass box... um, which line-feeds your record out of sight once you are, you know, did done verifying?

            there, tool all of 12 seconds to come up with that. And you are telling me a multibillion-dollar behemoth could not imprement auditing of any sort?
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by cduffy ( 652 )
              It's been proposed, and even implemented. Not popular with the election officials due to expense and maintenance hassle.

              "Auditing of any sort" is one thing. Auditing packaged such that the states' election officials are willing to actually buy it is a different matter.
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @07:29PM (#16744239)
      Voting machines are much harder. See with ATMs there's trust on all parts except the final operator. The ATM trusts the bank fully and does whatever it says. The bank could lie to the ATM and say you had no money, or tell it you had money you didn't. However they have no reason to do that since the amount they could steal that way is peanuts and they'd be shut down over it. So what it comes down to is you can trust the owner of it, you just need to make sure the person using it can't break in and steal money.

      Not the case with a voting machine. Here you can't really trust, well, anyone. The person who controls the machine might very well want to change the results so you have to have a system to keep them from doing that. It's a much harder problem.

      It would be somewhat analogue to why encryption works for SSH but not for copy protection. With SSH you are trying to keep everyone out except for trusted parties. You trust the server, it trusts you (if you authenticate). All the people who should have keys. However for copy protection you want to keep everyone out, even the person who you are giving the software to in the end. You want them to have use but not access. Well it doesn't work like that, the key has to be there somewhere and thus the encryption is mostly just for show.

      So that's actually part of the problem here. Diebold just kinda decided to apply their ATM design to voting machines, but that doesn't work because voting machines are a much harder problem.
    • by inKubus ( 199753 )
      That's because counting money affects EVERYONE. Counting votes only affects the people, not the elected politicians.

  • Or is it something that HBO will remove in short order?
  • Is that legal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chroot_james ( 833654 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @06:59PM (#16743767) Homepage
    What's the legal status of that video being there?
  • by M0b1u5 ( 569472 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @07:00PM (#16743787) Homepage
    Great documentary.

    Despite the fact that I have very little faith in the electoral process in the USA, and no confidence at all in the election results - what I still retain faith in is the way that US citizens will not stand idly by, while democracy is stolen from them, whether it be by design, or by mistake (it's immaterial really, either way).

    The important thing is that the US system of checks and balances permits citizens to kick up an almighty stick about the systems which count (or fail to count, or alter, even worse!) their votes.

    The only question in my mind is this: can the citizens of the USA kick up a big enough stink, and fast enough, to produce a fair election in 2008. Somehow, I doubt it, sadly.
    • by Xiroth ( 917768 )
      Hmm, could you possibly list these checks and balances, for other people who may feel the need to take action?
      • by doom ( 14564 )
        Xiroth wrote:

        Hmm, could you possibly list these checks and balances, for other people who may feel the need to take action?

        I take your drift, of course, because we've seen remarkably little of "checks and balances" in action of late. To take one example, the election fraud in Ohio was pretty scandalous, but the Republican congress got out their rubberstamp and accepted the result anyway: party loyalty seems to have paralyzed the US system of "checks and balances".

        But then, that suggests to me that i

    • Where were you for the dmca, patriot act, iraq war, etc... Remember when half the country did put up a big stink and the leaders totally ignored it?
      • Where were you for the dmca, patriot act, iraq war, etc... Remember when half the country did put up a big stink and the leaders totally ignored it?

        Well, since way more than half of the people that were elected by all of us to Congress decided the PATRIOT Act was an important set of tools, the question (rather than why "helf the people" weren't listened to) is why way more than half of them elected legislators that didn't do their bidding. Or did they?

        If half of the people couldn't talk the "leaders"
  • Vote Prediction (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by thoolie ( 442789 )
    A bit OT, (but in the same vein), from the office here at the UW, the guys have predicted:

    House Senate
    220 49
    226 50
    221 48
    209 50
    220 51

    Remember, we are all engineers and not really all that politically affiliated. So, what does the rest of /. think?
  • Excellent! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oZZoZZ ( 627043 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @07:41PM (#16744451)
    I live in a suburb of Toronto and we have our municipal elections tomorrow. I voted early on Saturday and I noticed my vote got counted on a Diebold machine. All previous elections we wrote an "X" in a circle and they were hand-counted - this time it was electronically counted.

    I asked the elections official how did they know my vote was counted. Her response was, (as she pointed to a small LCD display), "this counter here says how many votes this machine processed." I asked her how does she know it was counted *CORRECTLY* she made the mistake of saying "we're pretty sure it's correct."

    At this point I demanded to know how "pretty sure" she was. Her defense was "there's a paper trail incase of an error" - a fairly valid defense. I proceeded to point to two electronic Diebold machines, the 6" thick ones with an LCD screen, and asked her "what about those?" She told me in a very matter of fact way that there's a paper trail for those too.

    I asked her where the printer was, and if she ever actually say a printer. It was at this point that she no longer wanted to talk to me and kinda laughed me off as some sort of conspiracy wackjob.

    The fact that we used these machines after their utter failure in larger US elections pissed me off, but the fact that they FAILED in CANADA, just one province over ( 324237&from=rss) really pissed me off.

    I wanted to argue with her further but had no hard references memorized, essentially making my argument invalid. I did a bit of research from the usual sources (, but I was really hoping to see this documentary before the elections tomorrow.

    I encourage all Canadians voting in municipal elections tomorrow to make your feelings about e-voting (especially on Diebold machines) known to the organizers, and write your MPs and MPPs to tell them that e-voting is not acceptable.
    • "I encourage all Canadians voting in municipal elections tomorrow to make your feelings about e-voting (especially on Diebold machines) known to the organizers"

      I agree with your statement and will probably talk my municipal elected official. Now I want to add that our federal voting system is right now perfectly good in is paper ballot country wide form. If any party, Conservatives or Liberals, try to introduce some of those shenanigans blatant imitation of democracy, I really hope that all Canadians wi

    • Err, you really should be talking to your city councilors, they're the ones who handle municipal voting issues.

      I'd be happy to document any experiences with the Ontario November 13 municipal elections in my blog, Paper Vote Canada [].

  • by monopole ( 44023 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @08:06PM (#16744839)
    Is having a national release tomorrow! One day only!
  • 1. Since Diebold says they have no executables on the memory card ... what happens if you remove the executable and run another "mini" election. If the election works then what they have found is not only a backdoor into the Diebold Voting Machine but also they have found a cracked machine, and a trace on the origin of the executable needs to be done by Federal Authorities. 2. Can the executable be modified to work virally on gem?, or for that matter can a virus be "installed" on the memory card surrepti
    • by inKubus ( 199753 )
      Plus how hard would it be to make the card look like a real card during any pre-election check by either the officials or concerned observers and of course, can the virus rewrite the card after closing out the election to make it look like a real card again?

      And on a side note, isn't it funny how all these Texas-based companies keep coming up again and again? Diebold, Halliburton, KB&R, Enron, etc. etc. Maybe we should take a closer look at the education software firm Bush's brother runs that supplies
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by novus ordo ( 843883 )
      Already been [] done.
  • I watched this documentary over the weekend and one thing didn't make sense to me (spoilers ahead, if such a thing can exist for a documentary everyone can see for free). They went on about how that one place in Florida had -16,000+ votes for Gore in 2000 and they near the end explain the concept of negative votes (implication being: someone hacked that memory card in Florida). They explain that the concept behind the negative votes is to subtract votes from the person you want to lose and add votes to the
    • Re:Negative votes? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Technician ( 215283 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @09:15PM (#16745699)
      So the demonstration at the end showed how this could work - they voted in a fake election. They had six votes for "Yes" and two votes for "No". They put in the hacked memory card and it produces the initial printout which shows zero votes for no and zero votes for yes. After entering in the votes through the machine it comes out as seven for "Yes" and one for "No" (so I guess they had -5 "No" and +5 for "Yes" on the hacked card).

      Just to set the record straight;

      The vote was can the machine be hacked?

      6 no votes were cast and 2 yes votes were cast.

      The pre count showed no votes cast for either option and no votes cast.

      After the count (optical scan) the official verified result was 7 yes and one no.

      My question is - why did the initial printout show zero votes?

      The initial votes on the card were zero..

      The important question is.. How did the final count get altered?

      Answer.. The card that does not contain a program actualy does contain a program. That program altered the result. Re-watch the film. The card contains much more than just the poll totals which is denied by the manufacture.

      I would hope the machines would format any card at the start of an election and then write the encrypted count totals to the card and nothing else except a checksum and the machine ID number.
  • I thought this would be of interest. I texted a friend of mine who works as a pole worker volunteer about the system used in Orange County California. The "OC" uses a paper audit trail system developed by Hart-Intercivic [].

    Here is what my friend had to say:

    The current electronic voting machines consist of a Judge's Booth Controller (JBC) & a daisy chain of (usually) 8 electronic voting screens w/Voted Paper Audit Transaction Systems (VPATS). The JBC governs all of the screens, but is not connected

  • []

    Open Voting System Explained
    What is the Open Voting system?

    The Open Voting system is very much like a traditional system in which the voter enters the voting place, marks his or her choices onto a paper ballot, and inserts the ballot into a ballot box except the voter marks the ballot using a computerized voting station rather than a pencil or colored marker. The Open Voting system preserves the paper ballot. However, which is printed in plain text that the voter can read
  • by ProfessionalCookie ( 673314 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @09:13PM (#16745683) Journal
    This is a great sworn testimony [] by a programmer named Clinton Curtis that talks about the hackability of the machines. Eak.
  • by krs804 ( 986193 )
    Almost as much as fraud, is that you can hit one button and vote a straight party ticket (at least here in NC.) What ever happened to knowing were a candidate stands on the issues? Doesn't the constitution state that votes will be cast for the CANDIDATE of your choosing, not the party? Also, here in NC write-ins aren't allowed in partisan races. You have to choose Rep or Dem or nothing at all. The only non-partisan race that I saw was for "Soil and Water Conservation District Manager". We can bitch about v
  • I remember as a kid, there were some kids that were obsessed with "cheating" to the point that playing with them was nearly impossible. At a certain point I realized (often as they were redefining the rules of the game as we were playing it) that they had the slogan, "Either I win, or you cheated..." Technology can be scary, but elections have had a "fudge-factor" since they were created. The best way to win an election is to keep it from being really close. Typically that's based upon good ideas, not on bl
  • Tally Software (Score:4, Informative)

    by tymbow ( 725036 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @09:49PM (#16746135)
    I noted that one of the computers running GEMS (don't know if it was an actual tally machine) seemed to have Bear-Share installed so I assume it was connected to that "series of tubes". Nice; a Windows box running something as monumentally critical as voting connected to the web and probably used for general computing as well - there's a system I would have faith in. I'm also amazed at how stupid this piece of software was. You modify the MS access database (or maybe it was a plain JET database) which has seems to have no protection whatsoever and the stupid software doesn't even notice - "its ok, it has a password". Diebold made much about encryption but it seemd bogus if you can modidy databases and memory cards and not have the software notice. The worst part is the election officials presented all seemed to blindly accept that all was OK. I'm we use paper in my country.
  • by Onymous Coward ( 97719 ) on Monday November 06, 2006 @09:55PM (#16746215) Homepage
    By the way, if you're voting in California, you might consider that one of the candidates for Secretary of State, Debra Bowen [] is a proponent of Open Voting.

    Bruce McPherson, the incumbent, appears to be obstructing progress towards open voting.

    I don't know the other candidates' stances. Anyone?
  • by PingXao ( 153057 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @03:35AM (#16748727)
    What do they have to worry about? That's the mantra of a large percentage of Americans. Probably the same ones who, over the past couple of decades, in survey after survey, say that Americans have "too much" freedom. These are the people (and companies) that scare me. Not the Republicans.
  • Truth in advertising (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Frantactical Fruke ( 226841 ) <> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @04:34AM (#16749093) Homepage
    'Dieb' means 'thief' in German, so could say that you're getting exactly what the name promises. Isn't that comforting?
  • by scheming daemons ( 101928 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:15AM (#16751545)
    ...that had no paper trail. At the end, the old lady running the place gave me a sticker that said "I Voted". I told her, that it must be a misprint... it should say: "I Voted?" ..For the record... this was PA district 06.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"