<\body> Stories in America: Princeton Professor Hacks E-Voting Machine

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Princeton Professor Hacks E-Voting Machine

So much for secure voting. Not that we ever believed it was secure:
A Princeton University computer science professor added new fuel Wednesday to claims that electronic voting machines used across much of the country are vulnerable to hacking that could alter vote totals or disable machines.

In a paper posted on the university's Web site, Edward Felten and two graduate students described how they had tested a Diebold AccuVote-TS machine they obtained, found ways to quickly upload malicious programs and even developed a computer virus able to spread such programs between machines.

The marketing director for the machine's maker -- Diebold Inc.'s Diebold Election Systems of Allen, Texas -- blasted the report, saying Felten ignored newer software and security measures that prevent such hacking.

"I'm concerned by the fact we weren't contacted to educate these people on where our current technology stands," Mark Radke said.

Radke also question why Felten hadn't submitted his paper for peer review, as is commonly done before publishing scientific research.

Felten said he and his colleagues felt it necessary to publish the paper as quickly as possible because of the possible implications for the November midterm elections.

About 80 percent of American voters are expected to use some form of electronic voting in the upcoming election, in which the makeup of the U.S. House will be decided, as well as 33 Senate seats and 36 governorships.


At 9/13/2006 9:52 PM, Blogger Jack Boo said...

Frankly, I'd like to see something done to reduce the number of dead and non-existant people voting. A constituency that seems particularly inclined to vote for dems, for some reason...

At 9/13/2006 10:14 PM, Anonymous truthseeker said...

Sounds like a right-wing talking point. Do you have data to back this up?

Frankly, I'd like to live in a country in which poor blacks don't have to wait for HOURS to vote. Doesn't Bush say we're the ones that should be spreading democracy?

Check this out:

We used to think the voting system was something like the traffic laws -- a set of rules clear to everyone, enforced everywhere, with penalties for transgressions; we used to think, in other words, that we had a national election system. How wrong a notion this was has become painfully apparent since 2000: As it turns out, except for a rudimentary federal framework (which determines the voting age, channels money to states and counties, and enforces protections for minorities and the disabled), U.S. elections are shaped by a dizzying mélange of inconsistently enforced laws, conflicting court rulings, local traditions, various technology choices, and partisan trickery.

In some places voters still fill in paper ballots or pull the levers of vintage machines; elsewhere, they touch screens or tap keys, with or without paper trails. Some states encourage voter registration; others go out of their way to limit it. Some allow prisoners to vote; others permanently bar ex-felons, no matter how long they've stayed clean. Who can vote, where people cast ballots, and how and whether their votes are counted all depends, to a large extent, on policies set in place by secretaries of state and county elections supervisors -- officials who can be as partisan, as dubiously qualified, and as nakedly ambitious as people anywhere else in politics. Here is a list -- partial, but emblematic -- of American democracy's more glaring weak spots.

At 9/13/2006 10:15 PM, Anonymous truthseeker said...

Voter registration forms are easily lost. In 2004, for example, headlines focused on a Republican National Committee contractor named Sproul & Associates, which subcontracted with a company called Voters Outreach of America that, in Las Vegas, was found destroying forms filled out by people trying to register as Democrats. Incidents like this would seem to justify a new Florida law that imposes fines of $250 to $500 per form on anyone who registers voters and doesn't immediately deliver the paperwork to election officials, with no exceptions for difficult circumstances or natural disasters. But since it was already illegal in Florida to deliberately delay handing in voter registration forms, and since the new legislation does not apply to the two main political parties, its only likely effect is to intimidate independent voter-registration organizations; the largest among them, the League of Women Voters, has stopped doing voter registration in the state altogether.

At 9/14/2006 9:59 AM, Anonymous timmy said...

I think if you do some googling on the subject of dead and non-existant voters in recent elections you'll see I'm right. With all due respect to the shortcomings of computerized voting, it's only part of the problem.

David Frum wrote an excellent book on the subject (byw, he doesn't, nor do I, like computerized voting machines either...this isn't a Republican vs. Democrat issue).

Here's an excerpt from the book description on Amazon that sets the tone:

"The U.S. has the sloppiest election systems of any industrialized nation, so sloppy that at least eight of the 19 hijackers who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were actually able to register to vote in either Virginia or Florida while they made their deadly preparations for 9/11."


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