Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 1 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
General News   

Hold on to your lugnuts

By Black box voting  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 4 pages)   1 comment
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Joan Brunwasser
Hold on to your lugnuts, ES&S and Sequoia may risk Hursti-style hack

Dec. 13, 2005: Harri Hursti performs devastating hack in Leon County Florida
with Diebold optical scan system, proving he could control votes by manipulating
a credit-card-sized memory card..

Jan. 3, 2006: Information received pointing to similar vulnerabilities in the
and Sequoia "Optech" optical scan machines.

In an exclusive interview by BBV investigator Jim March with Dr. Douglas Jones,
University of Iowa associate professor and a former voting machine examiner
for the state of Iowa, it was learned that one of the most widely-used voting
machines over the last 15 years may suffer from design flaws broadly similar
to Diebold's version 1.94 and 1.96 optical scan system.

The first problem is that memory chip contents can be modified with easy to
obtain reprogramming devices, in ways that could enable Hursti-style hacking.

The second problem is that Sequoia and ES&S have been able to force their
way into intimate access to the mechanics of democracy. The electronic ballot
controls were maintained exclusively by the vendors at the vendor's headquarters
rather than by county election staff.

Diebold took over total control of elections in counties that allowed it. ES&S
Sequoia didn't give them a choice because of the system's design. This
removed county officials from their proper oversight role.


Two of the four major voting machine companies have been using an identical
machine, the Optech, originally produced by Business Records Corp (BRC).

BRC was the largest voting machine company in America when ES&S purchased
it in 1997. The SEC objected on anti-trust grounds, and in the resulting
allowed ES&S to purchase BRC, splitting the Optech scanners up between ES&S
(service contracts for existing machines) and Sequoia Voting Systems (sales of
new machines).

Although now being phased out, Optechs have been used for 15 years without a
peep from the federal testing labs, and without the public ever being told of
vulnerabilities, nor of the vendor’s extraordinary level of control over local


According to Dr. Jones, the Optech machines are precinct optical scanners
originally developed in the late 1980s. They reflect the technology of that
They are broadly similar to the Global/Diebold optical scanners designed around
the same time: These voting machines store votes on removable electronic memory
devices and print out an "end of day ticker tape" on paper similar to a cash
register tape, providing a precinct total of votes for each candidate and issue.

The Optech machines don't use a credit card-sized memory card – rather, they
use a memory pack about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

This cigarette pack-sized device plugs into the body of the scanner with a
proprietary connection. The memory pack provides three things:

- A chip ("ROM" memory) which is difficult to modify outside of a factory and
contains the programming for the machine ("firmware")
- An "EPROM" chip which is easier to modify (more on that to follow) containing
the ballot layout and precinct information
- Battery-powered memory chips to hold the vote totals

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Joan Brunwasser Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact EditorContact Editor
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Interview with Dr. Margaret Flowers, Arrested Tuesday at Senate Roundtable on Health Care

Renowned Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck on "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success"

Howard Zinn on "The People Speak," the Supreme Court and Haiti

Snopes confirms danger of Straight Ticket Voting (STV)

Fed Up With Corporate Tax Dodgers? Check Out!

Literary Agent Shares Trade Secrets With New Writers

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend