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Election Officials And Crackers Challenge Diebold 219

Rick Zeman writes "The Washington Post is reporting that election officials in Florida have manipulated election results in controlled tests. From the article: 'Four times over the past year Sancho told computer specialists to break in to his voting system. And on all four occasions they did, changing results with what the specialists described as relatively unsophisticated hacking techniques. To Sancho, the results showed the vulnerability of voting equipment manufactured by Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, which is used by Leon County and many other jurisdictions around the country.'"
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Election Officials And Crackers Challenge Diebold

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  • by James_Duncan8181 ( 588316 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @06:52AM (#14531781) Homepage
    I'm actually now seriously considering that.

    It may actually only be a few weeks worth of coding, and I can think of only a dew things that need to be covered.

    1: Graphic selection via a touch screen.
    2: Voice reading of the candiate names for the blind.
    3: A safe, intepreted language to provide a sandbox.
    4: An aim for the minimum number of LOC to make it easy to verify.
    5: No open ports, but constant transmission of votes as they are made on an SSH, public-key encrypted tunnel (so it will be noticed if the total changes fast).
    6: A paper trail (viewable by voter).

    This could be less then 2000 lines of code (addmittedly with hookups to ogg123 etc).

  • My impression is that the Bush family is the most corrupt family every to have political power in the United States. These are people who believe that they are more than 100% right, and that other people don't matter.

    It does not surprise me that Jeb Bush's state is involved in voting machine vulnerabilities. Quote from the story "... vendors such as Diebold have too much influence in the administration of elections, a view that resonated with Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, the founder of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition."

    The president of Diebold said he would deliver the votes to Bush []. And he did [].

    I wrote short reviews of books and movies about the corruption, but I only barely touched the surface: Unprecedented Corruption: A guide to conflict of interest in the U.S. government []. Note that, although Michael Moore's manner of expression is sloppy, other authors supported his main points in the movie Fahrenheit 9/11. For example, George W. Bush does hold hands with Saudi leaders, his father was at a meeting with a brother of Osama bin Laden on the day before 9/11, and so on.
  • by Big_Al_B ( 743369 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @07:14AM (#14531844)
    As nifty as a paper trail sounds, there are problems with that too. For example, how do you verify that the votes people input are logged correctly on the printout? Bits are easy to flip, whether done on purpose, or by executing buggy code.

    And do you really think that vote anonymity--an essential feature of our process--would last if people walked out of their polling place with some sort of receipt? If you can connect an identity to a vote, you can directly coerce or otherwise influence that voter with all manner of nasty tactics. No thanks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, 2006 @07:14AM (#14531845)
    5: No open ports, but constant transmission of votes as they are made on an SSH, public-key encrypted tunnel (so it will be noticed if the total changes fast).
    Are you NUTS? Privacy, man...
  • by rben ( 542324 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @08:04AM (#14531957) Homepage
    Control over the election of the President of the United States is probably the biggest cash cow you could have. Couple that with control over the elections of the Congress, and you have a way to influence how a trillion dollar budget is spent. Now how much would you pay?

    The only thing stopping wholesale cheating is the use of exit polls, and even they weren't enough in the last presidential election. If the exit polls and actual poll results differ by 30%, people will get upset. In reality, even a small deviation should raise alarm flags and cause a recount, except with the Diebold system there's no way to do that!

    Ultimately, this isn't Diebold's fault. It's the fault of a public that has become disconnected from the political system. It's become rude to discuss politics. Those who do discuss things are so polarized that it alienates the rest of us. The result is that most people don't care. They no longer get excited about the fraud and cheating that's discovered. They've come to expect it.

    The Press used to play an important role in keeping the public informed, but now the huge media companies are more concerned with protecting their bottom line than in providing objective reporting. In the last 30 years, the FCC has steadily increased the share of local markets that can be controlled by a single company, meaning there is little or no real competition in many major markets. The same company can own the radio, television and newspapers. If a story might hurt the interests of the larger corporate entity, do you think the average editor is going to risk his career?

    People need to be reminded that we have a pluralistic society, meaning that, at least in theory, we tolerate people who have ideas we don't agree with. That's what has made us a great society. It's important that we reestablish that as an important cultural value. It should be okay to discuss politics at parties without causing fist fights. Dissent at the dinner table should be met with well reasoned arguments, not shouts.

    That's my 2 cents.
  • by earthbound kid ( 859282 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @11:05AM (#14532512) Homepage
    F 9-11 was crap on many levels. It was a crappy movie from a propaganda point of view, because he began by focusing on the 2000 election, turning off any potential 'switchers' who supported Bush in 2000 but then grew uncomfortable with his actual leadership. It was crappy from a investigative point of view as well.

    So, Bush hangs out with the Saudis, and they influence our policy, eh? THEN WHY THE FUCK DID WE GO TO WAR WITH IRAQ!? Hello, the Saudis were against the war! They were doing diplomacy up until the final minute to try to avert a war, because they thought it would be destabilizing to their regime in either the bad case (Iraq collapses, war spreads through the region) or the good case (Iraq democratizes, pressure is put on SA to democratize). Duh.

    Next Moore tried different stunts like proving he can't tell the difference between Iraq and Vietnam with the 'sign up your son for war' bit. FFS, doesn't he realize that the draft is over? In the Vietnam War, "would you make your son fight?" was a legitimate question, because people in power kept their kids from fighting by pulling strings to get them out of the draft. In the Iraq War, there's not a single man or woman over there who didn't sign up for military service themselves. Everyone over there is over 18 and legally decided to go on their own. The whole stunt about 'sign up your kid' didn't even make sense. You *can't* sign up your kid for the military. You have to volunteer for yourself.

    Then Moore continued to drop bombshells like "mothers are sad when their children die" and "Bush protected the privacy of someone unrelated to his military record by blotting his name" and "rich people hang out with other rich people." Wow, way to blow the lid off of that one! The whole thing is just a bunch of ridiculous guilt by association garbage.

    What makes it really infuriating is the fact that Bush actually has done so many crap things out in front of every, like the PATRIOT Act, that there's no need to make up all this bullshit about "boo-hoo, they stoles our election from us! Wah," and then play clips of people fixing their hair in slow motion with sinister music that lets us know that only bad guys like Wolfowitz lick their palm before slicking their hair back. For crying out loud, just focus on the actual things that matter instead of trying to figure out if Bush tried to get out of military service back before he turned his life around and decided not to just waste it on drinking and drugs. F9-11 is such a pointless waste of potential!!
  • by deKernel ( 65640 ) <.timfbarber. .at.> on Sunday January 22, 2006 @12:06PM (#14532832)

    The only thing stopping wholesale cheating is the use of exit polls, and even they weren't enough in the last presidential election. If the exit polls and actual poll results differ by 30%, people will get upset. In reality, even a small deviation should raise alarm flags and cause a recount,

    Why in the heck would exit polls stop wholesale cheating? You are assuming:
    a) people are telling the truth about whom they voted for
    b) either all the people are polled or a good sampling
    c) and the most important, the people taking the polls as well as reporting do not have a vesting interest in the results.

    'C' is the biggest problem because it also goes back to (b). The news media openly wanted the Dems to win. That was the biggest problem.

    Now dealing with the recounting issue, just about all of the recounts in Florida (I am assuming this is what you were referencing.) came out in favor of Bush so the majority did win.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, 2006 @02:38PM (#14533648)
    I live in western North Carolina. Last election our county used the optical-scan ballots, but for the next election we will be getting voter-verified paper-trail machines. Thankfully, we never got the true Diebold experience like some others had.
  • by Cognitive Dissident ( 206740 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @06:23PM (#14534705)
    The reason for this is more than 'apathy', it's active suppression. The major news outlets that aren't actually controlled by the same people who are behind Diebold and its ilk are intimidated by the constant barrage of 'media bias' attacks from the segment of the media that is allied with Diebold & Co. There is a perfectly good book that documents the theft of our last several elections by Mark Crispin Miller, just published a few months ago. But he can't get PBS or NPR (specifically WHYY) to let him appear and promote it. I have submitted stories on this but only get rejected. Can anyone figure how to get this information about censorship onto the main page of slashdot?

    Mark Crispin Miller's Blog []

    The story [] on his blog noting Joe Bageant's recent essay on his inability to get airtime on WHYY's "Fresh Air"

    Joe Bageant [] is a journalist and recently a very popular blogger of the plight of the 'redneck' culture in the neo-con political machine. His most recent essay is specifically about the refusal of WHYY to allow Mark Crispin Miller to appear on Fresh Air or otherwise promote his book [] -- Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They'll Steal the Next One, Too (Unless We Stop Them) [] He hits tha nail on the head:

    It is safe to say that WHYY and the rest of the public media gang are simply scared to death of uttering the book's title on the airwaves. They know that the neocons will jump up all over their asses claiming liberal bias. Maybe even launch one of their infamous letter writing campaigns. The Republican game plan of unrelenting bullshit, that steady grinding away day in day out -- it works. They have managed to wear down those media they don't already control from the top, make them either doubt themselves or make them damned afraid of repercussions. We can well imagine what the GOP assault on public radio and television has created around places like WHYY. Hell, if they can get Bill Moyers they can get anybody. Right?

    It's censorship by intimidation. Large numbers of people are never going to hear about htis book because they don't search for new books about election fraud or by Mark Crispin Miller on a regular basis. They rely on the mass media to keep them informed, and it isn't working anymore. I also agree with his suggestion to contact WHYY directly and let them know that their fear of 'conservatives' reactions will attract the wrath of lots of 'liberals' whom they depend on for their funding at least as much as corporations or the government:

    By the way, if you wanna give WHYY hell personally, the phone number is (215) 351-1200. Email is
  • by grumpygrodyguy ( 603716 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @07:50PM (#14535104)
    I just think this underscores that politics in many "democracies", but particularly in the US, is deeply corrupt...Oh, this is all about bribery and influence-peddling. We can do this.

    The US doesn't have a monopoly on bribery. After visiting Hong Kong my brother told me that 20% of the money spent on commercial projects like apartment complexes or office buildings goes towards bribes and kickbacks. They actually budget for bribes over there.

    America isn't perfect...especially over the last 5 years...but maybe the next revolution will end political corruption in the same way organized crime was curtailed in the 60s and 70s. Two of America's greatest senators...John McCain and Russ Feingold, nearly managed to push a campaign finance reform bill through congress in 2001. They failed, but it shows that some people at the top do care about making America a better place, and that they are working towards making it happen.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.