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The Case vs. Diebold (or any other Electronic Voting Machine Vendor, for that matter)

By       Message Charles Corry     Permalink
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Let me see if I understand the current situation with regard to using Diebold electronic voting machines and central tabulators in the November 7, 2006, election:

* Many of the hard drives and apparently all of the motherboards of the voting machines are Made in China. China is known to be attacking Department of Defense, Commerce Department, and other government computers. Since the motherboard controls the voting machine, and hiding a malicious program in the boot sector of a hard drive isn't much of a trick, one has to assume that some or all of the Diebold voting machines are potentially, even probably controlled by China (Security 101). The only remaining question is whether they have exercised that control yet? Personally, if the option were mine, I'd wait until the 2008 elections.
* Diebold voting machines are all based on one variant or another of the Microsoft Windows operating system. No other computer operating system in the world is subject to so many viruses, trojan horses, hack tools, worms, rootkits, or other attacks as Windows.
* The voting machine does not have to be connected to the Internet to become infected with these agents. For one example see Tom Clancy's novel The Bear and the Dragon.
* Diebold programming is primarily done in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, by individuals of unknown allegiance who are certainly not citizens of the United States or loyal to it.
* Diebold has established a reputation for selling election "vaporware."
* Diebold treats all software and hardware as proprietary so that it is impossible to determine what is actually used in an election to tabulate votes.
* Logic and Accuracy Testing (LAT) is done in "Test" mode, not "Election" mode.
* Central tabulation software, GEMS, is widely available on the Internet and step-by-step instructions on hacking the vote are posted. Whether this is the actual software used in a given election is impossible to determine as Diebold requires a non-disclosure contract and regards their software and hardware as proprietary.
* Diebold uses Microsoft Access database to store election results with basically no security on the database.
* There are no meaningful standards in place and the so-called "Independent Testing Authority" that "certifies" the voting machines is paid by Diebold and only tests what Diebold wants tested. And, if problems are found, they may or not be corrected.
* What standards do exist permit wireless communication with the voting machines and Diebold is known to have implemented such methods in their voting machines in the past. A wireless link would be easy to include in the motherboard when Made in China.
* Diebold has repeatedly used uncertified and untested software and hardware in elections, making a mockery of even the weak certification and testing procedures in place.
* Diebold voting machines do not meet HAVA requirements for handicap access. The only handicapped they even try to assist are the visually impaired. Diebold paid one association of the blind $1 million to promote their voting machines. But when blind voters have used them in elections they haven't been real happy and to hell with any other handicapped voters.
* Diebold voting machines have failed every independent security test ever undertaken by a number of nationally-recognized authorities.
* Diebold has repeatedly failed to correct known security flaws and software bugs.
* Attacks by a variety of experts have shown Diebold voting machines are easily hacked.
* Standards for security of these machines has been demonstrated to be completely inadequate and unaffordable even if required by court order. So the argument that election processes and procedures "protect" them is fallacious. For example, every vote counting machine used in a precinct is sent home with an election judge from one day to a week before the election (known as "sleepovers").
* Diebold hires technicians to support local elections off the street, does no background check, provides minimal training, and gives them unlimited access to the voting machines in most jurisdictions.
* In many election jurisdictions Diebold personnel actually run the election.
* Diebold TSx DREs with paper ballots must have the paper roll changed by a technician, not an election judge, every time 60-75 ballots are cast. The ballots are on a continuous roll and make a potential hand recount very tedious and time consuming.
* "Programming" and machine errors have been exposed in every election cycle Diebold voting machines have been used in for the past ten years. Note that it is virtually impossible to distinguish "programming" errors from deliberate fraud or sabotage.
* It has become easy to determine that a Diebold representative is dissembling. His, or her lips are moving.

With the exception of the motherboard, the other issues listed above are documented in the EJF book on Vote Fraud and Election Issues. Pictures of the Diebold motherboard and details on the Hursti hack can be found at http://www.openvoting.us/tsx/all-files.php.
Additional examples of problems with Diebold voting machines are documented on VotersUnite, Vote Trust USA, Brad Blog, Black Box Voting, and by many others.
The truly frightening thing is that Diebold may not even be the worst of the electronic voting machines in use. While I have painted China as the villain in the above synopsis, Sequoia Voting Systems is owned by a government-controlled Venezuelan company. Venezuela hasn't been notably friendly to the U.S. lately, either.
Our forbearers developed a working solution for elections. Voters go to a local precinct, hand mark a paper ballot and put it in a locked ballot box. At the end of the day the ballots are counted in public view by at least two election judges of opposing parties before the ballots ever leave the polling place. That is as safe, secure, and accurate a method as has been devised for voting. It is also considerably cheaper than electronic voting. Why don't we use it?
Before you dismiss the above as the paranoid ranting of one more radical, consider the following listings from my curriculum vitae:

Who's Who in the World, 16th through 24th Editions, 1999-2007.

Who's Who in America, 53rd through 61st Editions, 1999-2007.

Who's Who in Science and Engineering, 4th through 9th Editions, 1998-2007.

I began working with electronics in 1957 and with computers in 1960 on flight control and guidance systems for Atlas and Centaur missiles. In 1976 I earned a Ph.D. in geophysics that was largely supported by the aerospace engineering department at Texas A&M. Much of my career was spent in such institutions as Scripps and Woods Hole. I also served on the IEEE Voting Equipment Standards committee for virtually its entire duration from 2001 to 2006.
So when some election official claims problems with electronic voting machines don't exist, ask them for their credentials and educational background. Pay particular attention to their computer experience (most don't have any).
As a Marine, I took an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I still take that oath seriously.
Semper Fi,
Chuck Corry

 

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Dr. Charles Corry is President of the Equal Justice Foundation.

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