Could the vote be hacked?

by Michael Brewer

Related link: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1106-30.htm



Could people working either in tandem or alone alter the results of the election? Does this only affect people that voted on electronic voting machines or does it extend to more traditional paper-based methods? These are questions we all should be asking ourselves.

I've been reading Lisa Rein's personal weblog and she stated that the winners of the election (Republicans this time) did extremely well in e-voting districts. She even provided some Florida election result numbers that she thought would support her case. The only problem was the numbers didn't appear to support her case. They opposed it.

I sent her the following e-mail as a response to her post:
Lisa, doesn't [the] chart go against your hypothesis? I thought you said that e-voting had resulted in higher than expected votes going to Bush[?] This is plausible if you assume the e-voting machines have been corrupted which is easy depending on the e-voting machine used (Diebold is trivially easy).

However, if I assume that "E-Touch" machines are e-voting machines that are essentially a black box and "Op-Scan" machines are sheets that are filled out with pen, the numbers seem to counter the claim. Can you please point out what I am not getting?


One of her responses pointed me towards a very interesting article titled "Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked." It explains that in some cases even the bubble-sheet "Op-Scan" ballots are tabulated by Diebold's GEMS software which uses a MS Access database on the back-end to store votes and is easily altered without a trace. This is the same software that Diebold uses for their touch-screen voting machines. It's the same software that has had numerous vulnerabilities identified by Black Box Voting. Which means that Lisa's original claim still stands.

And that America has some very serious questions that need answers.

Do you have any answers? Or additional questions we should all be asking ourselves?


9 Comments

greenfly
2004-11-07 16:31:50
Maybe, but there are other considerations
It's definitely possible that the Diebold machines can be/were tampered with as certain aspects of their design show more a desire (complete lack of logging not to mention a paper trial among other things) to aid tampering rather than guard against it.


Another thing to consider is that disticts that have e-voting do tend to be well-to-do neighborhoods. Afterall, voting machines aren't free and the community that has fancy electronic machines have to be able to afford it. And, well-to-do communities do tend to skew conservative (with exceptions of course).

lolajl
2004-11-07 17:10:27
This Is Absurd
We have e-voting in Maryland and it went overwhelmingly for Kerry. She's looking for shadows where these don't exist,
philip_dye
2004-11-07 21:00:02
Anything but absurd.
Belief or even certainly that electronic voting worked perfectly in Maryland has no bearing whatsoever on wheither or not votes were manipulated in specific districts in Florida.


The follow article has more details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_U.S._Election_controversies_and_irregularities


In some places the voting machines reported considerably more votes than possible voters and all of these mysterious extra votes seem to have been for George W. Bush. Just a bit odd.

philip_dye
2004-11-07 21:03:41
'Other considerations' irrelevant
"Another thing to consider is that disticts that have 'e-voting do tend to be well-to-do neighborhoods". All of Florida's districts have either e-touch screens or paper with optical scanners. If you had read the articles you would know that the discrepancies were in the optical scanner districts.
joesulewski1
2004-11-08 06:55:27
What I find interesting
What I find interesting is that Mrs. Harris was able to get a copy of the GEMS software and system. I would think that the distribution of the software and system would be secure. Who else has the software?


I also find it interesting that the machine is connected through the internet and not a proprietary protocol. At least from what I understand.

flursn
2004-11-08 08:00:58
This Is Absurd
One might express the same case using something like, "We all know that Democrats piss holy water and shit communion wafers, so only Republicans could attempt on hacking the vote."


I know, I know, cool down. Of course, I safely assume that you folks would be investigating the results if Kerry had won. I have no reason to doubt it, given the past, strictly non-partisan attitude of O'Reilly's writers, bloggers, and commenters.


Nothing to see here, MoveOn.

flursn
2004-11-08 08:07:56
Anything but absurd.
Yeah, very, very odd.


"all of these mysterious extra votes seem to have been for George W. Bush."


"all"


"George W. Bush"


Very nice to see once again that you folks don't hold both sides equally accountable.


http://billhobbs.com/hobbsonline/cat_voter_fraud.html


And since you guys are still decent enough not to assume that more than half of all voters must be just dumb you take the other route - "I don't know, but this smells like voter fraud on behalf of Republicans" - which sounds as silly.

adamsj
2004-11-08 11:57:36
"Was the vote hacked?" versus "Could the vote be hacked?"
I agree there are suspicious signs something happened with the vote, but there isn't any hard proof. It's also unlikely that the popular vote margin could be attributable to a hacked vote.


So, was the vote hacked? Don't know. Can't say. Wouldn't be prudent.


Now, could the vote be hacked? Sure.


That's a question for the future--this one is decided, unless something spectacular happens. As Morris Udall said at the end of a losing campaign, "The people have spoken, damn them."


There's a lot more to electoral integrity and electoral fairness than e-voting questions, though. Think of long lines at polling places as a denial of service attack.

mbrewer
2004-11-15 08:10:38
"Was the vote hacked?" versus "Could the vote be hacked?"
"So, was the vote hacked? Don't know. Can't say. Wouldn't be prudent."


But it is a question that deserves an answer.