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Criticizing the criticisms in an ongoing e-voting saga

Representatives from three voting machine companies expressed their criticisms against a California state-sponsored “top-to-bottom review” that found “very real” vulnerabilities in their products.

The study was lead by UC Davis professor Matt Bishop, who discussed the study at a hearing held by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, whose office is currently deciding whether or not to allow the machines’ use during the Feb. 5 presidential primary.

Under a contract with UC Davis and Bowen’s office, Bishop’s study examined machines from Diebold Election Systems, Hart Intercivic, and Sequoia Voting Systems. The conclusions, partially released last week, included findings that the voting systems posed difficulties for voters with disabilities and were vulnerable to intrusion. "It may be that all of [the vulnerabilities] can be protected against. It may be that some cannot,” said Bishop.  According to Secretary Bowen, a fourth company, Election Systems & Software, was also to be included in the review but was omitted because it was late in providing needed information to her office.

According to state law, Bowen has until Friday to set the rules for the upcoming primary election.  "I intend to go through a methodical process to determine what to do next," she said.

Sequoia Systems, in a statement released Monday on their web site, called the study’s findings “implausible,” objecting to the fact that the study was conducted in a closed lab environment over a period of weeks as opposed to a true election environment or in accordance with ISO criteria. “None of the attacks described … are capable of success,” said Sequoia sales executive Steven Bennett to a panel of officials from the Secretary of State’s office.

Diebold and Sequoia further pointed out that the study evaluated outdated versions of the voting machines and their software. “While it cannot be guaranteed that all of the extremely improbable vulnerabilities identified are prevented by subsequent product development and updates, many are specifically addressed,” said Sequoia. However, Sequoia acknowledged that it is working to insure that the “few system vulnerabilities” found could not be used to tamper with election results.

“Voting system reliability is something we're always working at improving … security is never finished,” said Sequoia spokeswoman Michelle Schafer.

Hart Intercivic also objected to the study’s laboratory environment, stressing it was not a considerable substitute for real-world “people, processes, procedures, policies, and technology” and, in the company’s official statement, suggested that a better study might “define a realistic threat that faces all layers of security in an election.”

Even members of the security community have questioned the study’s approach: “While the goals of this effort were laudable, our organization is concerned about its execution,” writes Jim March of watchdog group Black Box Voting, to Secretary Bowen. “Your agency's review only partially examines the risks of inside manipulation with these systems. Procedural remedies can be circumvented by those with some level of inside access. In fact, we would contend that the most high risk scenario of all is that of inside manipulation, and we would also contend that the systems used in California cannot be secured from inside tampering.”

Since their inception, voting machines in the US have received a bad rap amidst a storm of negative press, mishaps, and concern about their ability to be tampered with:

In September 2006, Princeton researchers were able to hack Diebold’s AccuVote-TS machine, going so far as to write a computer virus that spread between other Diebold machines. Later, voting machines from Sequoia were also found to have similar vulnerabilities. “You can’t detect it,” explained Princeton Professor Andrew Appel.

In the same month, a team of untrained 54-year-old women from Black Box Voting, using 4 minutes’ worth of time and $12 in tools, were able to circumvent tamper-proof seals on a Diebold vote scanner, and were able to replace the device’s memory card.

Also in September 2006, a consulting firm working for Ohio’s Cuyahoga County -- which includes Cleveland -- found huge discrepancies between the electronic and paper records kept by Diebold voting machines. Ohio was a key swing state for the tight 2004 presidential election, and its electoral votes help decide the result.

Earlier that year in August, Diebold voting machines botched the Alaska preliminaries in several precincts as they failed to connect to their dial-up servers to upload vote results, slowing the election considerably. Officials had to hand-count votes and manually upload the totals to the central server.

In December 2005, a Diebold whistleblower under the name of “Dieb-throat,” who was once a “staunch supporter of electronic voting’s potential” gave a scathing interview to The Raw Story accusing Diebold of mismanagement and burying known backdoors in their own products, including one that made the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Alert System for the first week of September 2004.

In 2004, Black Box Voting released a video demonstrating that a chimp, given an hour of training, was able to hack a Diebold voting machine. “What you saw was a staged production ... analogous to a magic show,” said Diebold spokesman David Bear, in response.

These findings, as well as others both negative and positive, culminated in a March 2007 warning from the US Government Audit Office as it testified before the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government: “[E-voting] security and reliability concerns are legitimate and thus merit the combined and focused attention of federal, state, and local authorities responsible for election administration.”

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RE: Election Fraud 2000&2004
By Rovemelt on 8/1/2007 12:21:32 PM , Rating: 0
There is ample evidence that supports the theory that the election in 2004 in Ohio was rigged:

Adding unreliable electronic voting systems just adds to the uncertainty of it all. We need, at the very least, a voter-verifiable paper trail for these votes and random vote counts to confirm an electronic vote. Or, we simply do it the old fashioned way and count paper ballots. Either way, it's critical that in a democracy that the people have confidence in their vote and that the vote be counted accurately.

RE: Election Fraud 2000&2004
By Master Kenobi on 8/1/2007 12:49:52 PM , Rating: 2
There is alot of theory that the 2004 election was rigged. I also see a lot of FUD in is article, lots of assumptions based on statistics. What have we learned about statistics? There are lies, dirty lies, and statistics.

I'm not saying the elections weren't rigged, I'm saying that there is conjecture, theory, and little hard evidence. I think some of the conspiracy theorists put in some overtime on this issue and made a mountain out of an ant hill.

RE: Election Fraud 2000&2004
By frobizzle on 8/1/2007 3:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying the elections weren't rigged, I'm saying that there is conjecture, theory, and little hard evidence. I think some of the conspiracy theorists put in some overtime on this issue and made a mountain out of an ant hill.

There is plenty of hard evidence. Just do a Google search for "voter caging" and you will find that Tim Griffin, one of Rove's flunkies, when trying to send one of caging lists to, he made a wee mistake. Instead of sending the emails — potential evidence of a crime — to email addresses ending with the domain name “” he sent them to “@GeorgeWBush.ORG.” A website run by prankster John Wooden who owns “”

RE: Election Fraud 2000&2004
By Nfarce on 8/1/2007 4:33:50 PM , Rating: 1
I don't waste time with the wingnut Daily Kos conspiracy theories. The Democrats (liberals) are in control of Congress and if there was any real shred of truth to a "stolen" election in Ohio, Nancy & Co. would be on it like wolves on a carcass. I find it amusing that every time a Republican wins an election, it must have been "stolen" yet when we hear about voter registration fraud with dog and dead people votes, illegal immigrant votes, and convicted felon votes, they say nothing. Is it any wonder Democrats are so vehemently against voter ID? Intimidation my ass. You think they complain about being "intimidated" when carded to cash a social security check? Please. Wisconsin's 2004 election that went to Kerry: 1,489,504 votes to Bush's 1,478,120 votes. Democrats would have screamed, claimed fraud, and demanded a recount had those numbers been reversed. I'm way over it.

RE: Election Fraud 2000&2004
By frobizzle on 8/1/2007 9:36:22 PM , Rating: 1
Typical see only what you want to see. The republicans couldn't win an election honestly, if they tried (which they don't.)

RE: Election Fraud 2000&2004
By Nfarce on 8/2/2007 10:11:37 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah I know, Reagan didn't clean Carter's clock in 1980 by the biggest landslide in US history, and Gingrich Republicans didn't Roto Rooter Congress by a landslide in 1994. Yeah genius lib, we know they all cheated somehow. Idiot.

BTW, "neocon" is a term you liberals need to understand the definition of instead of spewing it out like so many other words mindlessly (like lie , etc.). A "neocon" is a former socialist liberal who found his way out of the fog. I am not now or ever was a pinko liberal. I have my head out of my ass.

RE: Election Fraud 2000&2004
By Keine on 8/3/2007 3:56:33 PM , Rating: 2
The conservatives were handed an election in 2000 that they didn't earn, and people still aren't over it because it set the tone for the years leading up to now.
Its funny how the conservatives will be so quick to shrug off an archaic system of voting for a leader. A system where (using 04's numbers) a person could win the presidency with 33,357,643 and his/her opponent gets 88,864,990. Watch the conniption fits of mindless conservatives if that happened to them.

RE: Election Fraud 2000&2004
By RaisedinUS on 8/3/2007 6:00:21 PM , Rating: 2
OMG this has been beat to death. Get over it already. The New York Times (conservative paper?) went to Florida and recounted the votes themselves. Guess who won?
Let's count em until we have them all thrown out! Hangin, swingin, dimpled chad.....crosseyes counters....
Odd how this country managed to hold elections for over 200 years. It's almost like trying to watch a NASCAR race.
For those that want a paper receipt, how long do you think it'll take for the forgeries to start?
Doesn't matter who wins, the losing side will always say someone, somewhere, somehow cheated.
The conservatives were handed an election in 2000 Indeed

RE: Election Fraud 2000&2004
By RaisedinUS on 8/3/2007 6:06:53 PM , Rating: 2
As for the 2004 election, we all know that one was "rigged" too. Just look at the vote margin. Clearly, the GOP cheated here as well.
/more sarcasm
Do a search in election history, fraud is always claimed by someone. Both parties have let us down, but no one seems to hold them accountable short of mouthing words and conspiracy theories. Where are the practical solutions?

RE: Election Fraud 2000&2004
By Ringold on 8/3/2007 8:08:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, a leader can be chosen with 33.3m votes versus an opponents 88.8, or I assume you're correct at least with your argument.

It also shows the failure of the public school system to insert critical thinking alongside all the liberal bias they instill. Good job. Of course, critical thinking is the mortal enemy of liberalism anyway.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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