Who Really Won?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Who Really Won Florida?

An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday.

BlackBoxVoting.org, which describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizens group, said it found 70,000 instances in Palm Beach County of cards getting stuck in the paperless ATM-like machines and that the computers logged about 100,000 errors, including memory failures.

Also, the hard drives crashed on some of the machines made by Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems, some machines apparently had to be rebooted over and over, and 1,475 re-calibrations were performed on Election Day on more than 4,300 units, Harris said. Re-calibrations are done when a machine is malfunctioning, she said.

"I actually think there's enough votes in play in Florida that it's anybody's guess who actually won the presidential race," Harris added. "But with that said, there's no way to tell who the votes should have gone to."

Harris said one machine showed that 112 votes were cast on Oct. 16, two days before the start of early voting, a possible sign of tampering. She said the group found evidence of tampering on more than 30 machines in the county.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

California Opts for Defective Diebold System

After almost three years, Diebold Election Systems won approval Friday to sell its latest voting machines in California, despite findings by computer scientists that the software inside is probably illegal and has security holes found in earlier Diebold products.

The scientists advised Secretary of State Bruce McPherson this week that those risks were "manageable" and could be "mitigated" by tightening security around Diebold's voting machines.

Of course, these are totally secure machines...

The scientists found the interpreted code was very limited in function and not particularly vulnerable, but the software that translates that code into computer instructions for the voting machine had at least 16 bugs that could be used to hack or frustrate elections, according to the team's public report.

"There are serious vulnerabilities in the AV-OS (AccuVote Optical Scanner) and AV-TSx (AccuVote TSx touch screen) interpreter that go beyond what was previously known. If a malicious individual gets unsupervised access to a memory card, he or she could potentially exploit these vulnerabilities to modify the electronic tallies at will, change the running code on these systems, and compromise the integrity of the election arbitrarily," the scientists wrote.

"The attack could manipulate the electronic tallies in any way desired. These manipulations could be performed at any point during the day. For instance, the attack code could wait until the end of the day, look at the electronic tallies accumulated so far, and choose to modify them only if they are not consistent with the attacker's desired outcome," the report went on. "The attack could erase all traces of the attack to prevent anyone from detecting the attack after the fact. It is conceivable that the attack might be able to propagate from machine to machine, like a computer virus."

Friday, February 10, 2006

Blue Jersey

The New Jersey Appellate Division announced today its agreement with concerns raised by the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers School of Law-Newark that all electronic voting machines used in New Jersey may violate New Jersey’s Constitution and election laws.

In its decision, the Appellate Division reinstated a lawsuit filed by the clinic in 2004 that challenges the ability of New Jersey’s electronic voting machines to count votes accurately, in compliance with voting rights laws. The Court reinstated the lawsuit even though, as a result of judicial and legislative efforts led by the clinic, all voting machines in the state must be equipped with a voter verified paper ballot component by 2008. The Court was concerned with protecting the hundreds of millions of votes that would be cast on voting machines between now and 2008. The Court also expressed its concern that the Attorney General’s office would use a loophole in the statute and issue waivers to the 2008 voter verified paper ballot requirement – further jeopardizing the franchise.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Diebold On the Way Out?

Diebold Inc.'s new chief executive, determined to cut $100 million in costs over three years, said he is reviewing whether the company should continue investing in its embattled electronic voting business.

CEO Thomas Swidarski insisted in an Associated Press interview that he feels good about the performance of the e-voting operations, even as some shareholders and computer experts complain that Diebold touch-screen voting machines have had a history of hardware and software woes.

``There's pieces and aspects of each of our businesses that I'm going to be looking at with a very critical eye in terms of what the future holds for us,'' Swidarski said in his first media interview since taking over in December the company best known for its automatic teller machines and security systems.

Risk within any of Diebold's businesses will be weighed against profit potential, Swidarski said. ``If any of the pieces don't fit or any of the pieces don't add the value we think is associated with that risk, then we'll make appropriate decisions at that point,'' he said.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Those Wacky Ohio Machines Again

Voters will have another opportunity Tuesday in a special election to decide whether the city should have a combined fire and emergency medical services department with 24-hour staffing or continue as a volunteer fire department.

This is the second time in three months this levy has been before voters. Last November, the levy was narrowly defeated.

But those election results were set aside due to voting irregularities from the new electronic touch screen voting machines.

More votes were cast than there were registered voters in the city’s Montgomery County precinct. The city contested the results, and the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court ordered Tuesday’s special election at Montgomery County’s cost.