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Sequoia Voting Machines Hacked to Play Pac-Man

Sequoia, Diebold... e-voting has a long way to go.
(Image is in the Public Domain)
This is your Sequoia touch-screen voting machine with Pac-Man hacked onto it without disturbing any of the "tamper-evident" seals supposedly meant to protect it from hackers...

Apparently, they put tamper seals on the ports and plugins, but NOT the case itself. Therefore, the university was able to just dismantle the machine and connect on the inside instead. Pathetic attempt Sequoia, just pathetic.


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DC Online Voting Halted Due to Hackers

(Image is in the Public Domain)

From the Washington Post:

Last week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics opened a new Internet-based voting system for a weeklong test period, inviting computer experts from all corners to prod its vulnerabilities in the spirit of "give it your best shot." Well, the hackers gave it their best shot -- and midday Friday, the trial period was suspended, with the board citing "usability issues brought to our attention." Here's one of those issues: After casting a vote, according to test observers, the Web site played "Hail to the Victors" -- the University of Michigan fight song.

Whoah! E-voting not secure? Where have we heard that before!? And the best part is that it doesn't even take the vile hacker underground to do it. It's the college researchers each time.

No knock against college researchers, but for e-voting to work, it should take a vast conspiracy spanning several continents and special agents who jump from helicopters in the night to break into buildings through air-ducts not some mostly-sober frat boy. They obviously have no idea what they're doing and should stop. Now.

About the only ray of light in this whole story is that they were smart enough to challenge the public to hack them thus making their failure obvious (and therefore correctable).

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Diebold Finally Admits Voting Machines Lose Votes

(Image is in the Public Domain)

Though they originally blamed it on anti-virus software on the machines, Diebold has admitted that it was coding error that leads its machines to drop votes. Hopefully that will help in the lawsuit against Diebold and encourage others states to recoup their losses as well.

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States Throw Out Worthless Diebold Voting Machines

(Image is in the Public Domain)

It's actually very encouraging that the same states that were originally duped into buying these machines despite the vast mountain of evidence of their general worthlessness have become smart enough to remove them in time for the upcoming election.

And about this:

"I have a huge inventory of machines that I am not able to use," she complained. "They are just sitting in our warehouse basically useless." Stacked to floor to ceiling are 4,000 machines purchased at $3,500 each. Total cost of that system: $16 million.

How exactly does Diebold get away with selling defective merchandise to the government without being forced to issue a refund?


Today Ars Technica also covers the story and adds some interesting details. For example, it turns out that in one case a voting machine company offered to buy back their machines from the state for $1 each (their original price was $5000 each). At least the state was smart enough to decline). Tags: ,

Diebold Universal Keys Easily Duplicated

(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

So not only was Diebold dumb enough to use a universal key for all their voting machines, and not only did they sell those keys off their website (though supposedly only to "authorized people" as if we could trust them to handle who's authorized or not), but they posted a picture of the keys on the Internet which allowed at least one researcher to make a perfect working copy at home with a key blank bought from the store and a file.

This story came to light a while ago, but there's been some updates such as:

In a classic Diebold bury-the-evidence move, they've now replaced the entire page in their online store featuring the mechanical, copyable key with a page featuring a "Smart Card, Security Key Card." A digital key card. Same link, different key entirely. Which can only be done, given the database they use for their online store, quite deliberately in order to try to fool folks again. Par for the course. And, of course, shameless.


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How to Hack a Diebold Voting Machine – Picture

(Image is in the Public Domain)

I found this picture on Digg.com that has an easy 5 step process to hacking the voting machines to do your bidding. Remember when you go to vote soon, to thank your state's voting commission if they are using these well known, hackable, substandard, and completely worthless machines. Better yet sue them for incompetence or corruption (or both).

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Diebold Election Division About to Push Up Daisies?

(Image is in the Public Domain)

The Register reports that Diebold has hurt its relationship with customers and election officials with their pathetic voting machine fiasco.

Negative publicity about the voting machines - such as the HBO documentary Hacking Democracy - has cast a shadow over the 150-year old company, analysts say. Until its move into e-voting, the firm was better known for its safes and automated teller machines.

Which, of course, anyone would now question the ATMs as well. The article goes on to speculate that Diebold may try to sell off the division… if anyone would buy it.

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NIST Recommends that E-voting Machines be De-certified

(Image is in the Public Domain)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is recommending that the 2007 version of the Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (VVSG) decertify direct record electronic (DRE) machines.

In the article, they explain how NIST has found that the machines have no paper trail, and that a single programmer could rig an entire election. Uh…hello? This is not news, this was well know for a long time before now. Hopefully now that NIST has said it, someone in congress will pay attention.

Also, for brilliant social commentary on the issue, please see this: Diebold Accidentally Releases Results of 2008 Election Early. Tags: ,

Voting not allowed in Maryland

Our most fundamental right as American citizens is being denied in Maryland. I went to the polls to vote today and explained that I wanted to vote, but would only use a paper ballot. While the check-in people suggested a "provisional ballot", the supervisor nixed that and showed me this nice large sign.

Barred from voting in Maryland

Why did I insist on a paper ballot? Perhaps it's because of the Princeton University Study proving the lousy security of this system (with instructional video).

For example, an attacker who gets physical access to a machine or its removable memory card for as little as one minute could install malicious code; malicious code on a machine could steal votes undetectably, modifying all records, logs, and counters to be consistent with the fraudulent vote count it creates. An attacker could also create malicious code that spreads automatically and silently from machine to machine during normal election activities — a voting-machine virus. We have constructed working demonstrations of these attacks in our lab.

Or it could be because of this study done by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

All of the most commonly purchased electronic voting systems have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities. All three systems are equally vulnerable to an attack involving the insertion of corrupt software or other software attack programs designed to take over a voting machine.

If you protest the e-voting, be prepared to give up your right to vote.

But that aside, forget studies and look at our own state's history:

As reported by the Baltimore Sun many poll workers did not show up for work this morning and when they did they many had no idea how to operate new voting technology called "e-poll books" which are a necessary part of the voting process in Maryland and many other Diebold states. The workers were not trained to use that technology because Diebold did not provide the technology to the state until it was too late to properly train the pollworkers.

It's clear that the e-voting system is unstable and NOT READY. The accounting and security, both hardware and software is heavily suspect and it's much safer to rely on the traditional method of voting rather than on the video-poker-like machines they forced on us. But if you try, you may be barred from voting as I was.

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