Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Diebold Optical Scan Vote Counters also manipulation-prone

According to a report by BlackBoxVoting, the widely-used Diebold version 1.94 opti-scan system is shockingly easy to manipulate. There are so many flabbergasting findings in this report that I cannot do them justice in a summary, and urge you to read the whole report.

Tallahassee, FL: "Are we having fun yet?"

This is the message that appeared in the window of a county optical scan machine, startling Leon County Information Systems Officer Thomas James. Visibly shaken, he immediately turned the machine off.

Diebold's opti-scan (paper ballot) voting system uses a curious memory card design, offering penetration by a lone programmer such that standard canvassing procedures cannot detect election manipulation.

The Diebold optical scan system was used in about 800 jurisdictions in 2004. Among them were several hotbeds of controversy: Volusia County (FL); King County (WA); and the New Hampshire primary election, where machine results differed markedly from hand-counted localities...

The testing demonstrated, using the actual voting system used in a real elections office, that Diebold programmers developed a system that sacrifices security in favor of dangerously flexible programming, violating FEC standards and calling the actions of ITA testing labs and certifiers into question...

None of the attacks left any telltale marks, rendering all audits and logs useless, except for hand-counting all the paper ballots.

For example, Election Supervisor Ion Sancho was unable to tell, at first, whether the poll tape printed with manipulated results was the real thing. Only the message at the end of the tape, which read "Is this real? Or is it Memorex?" identified the tape as a tampered version of results.

In another test, Congresswoman Corrine Brown (FL-Dem) was shocked to see the impact of a trojan implanted by Dr. Herbert Thompson. She asked if the program could be manipulated in such a way as to flip every fifth vote.

"No problem," Dr. Thompson replied.

"It IS a problem. It's a PROBLEM!" exclaimed Brown, whose district includes the troubled Volusia County, along with Duval County -- both currently using the Diebold opti-scan system.
Thanks to pointers from The Importance of... and Freedom to Tinker Dashlog.



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