Want To Examine E-Voting Machines That E-Voting Companies Won't Let You See? Do You Have $82?

from the that-wasn't-so-hard... dept

In the ongoing debate over the security of e-voting machines, one thing has stood out. The e-voting companies continually insist that they shouldn't let security researchers examine their machines, often claiming that these well-respected researchers would simply hand over the details to other irresponsible parties. In other words, they were basically admitting that their machines weren't secure, but were hoping that security-by-obscurity would protect them. Unfortunately, security-by-obscurity rarely works -- because the obscurity is never quite as obscure as people hope. It appears that a Princeton professor was able to get his hands on five e-voting machines from Sequoia by bidding $82 in a government surplus auction. He's now examining the machines, and while he says they appear more secure than Diebold's machines, there are still problems with them. Sequoia has responded that it doesn't matter, because any machine that was tampered with would have obviously broken seals. Unfortunately for Sequoia, it's already been pointed out that such seals are easily removed and replaced without anyone noticing, and it seems to happen quite often. However, the bigger point, that Sequoia seems to be ignoring, is that by relying on a security-by-obscurity policy, e-voting companies are assuming that no one with malicious intent would ever get their hands on these machines to inspect them. However, if all it takes is $82 from a government surplus auction (for five of the machines) it seems pretty clear that anyone who wants to examine these machines for vulnerabilities (for either good or bad purposes) can easily get their hands on one. That knocks out the obscurity -- and, with it, whatever "security" that came with it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Feb 16th, 2007 @ 2:57pm

    True Value

    Now we know how much approximately 40,000 votes are worth.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:04pm

    voting machines

    You wackos never quit, do you? The "well-respected" researchers would do anything for a buck, let alone a few million. I've met a few, and was quite surprised to learn exactly whose payroll they were on.

    All because your candidate lost. What a shame.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Jane Doe, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:13pm

    Re: voting machines

    Don't like it? Move to Canada.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Joe, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:35pm

    Heh

    That was possibly the worst comment I have ever heard out of any American mouth. I'm a first time voter, as I have just recently turned 18 and I'm glad to know that people like you will be dieing soon and not poisoning our country any longer.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    CaribbeanChick, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:40pm

    Re: voting machines

    I am an American living in the Caribbean, and living out of the US in 3rd world countries has helped me show how Americans will do or say anything just to get a stupid point through. You guys must have nothing better to do. Sign up for Care or the UN and do something useful. This article was pathetic and a waste of my time. Like Jane Doe said, if it bothers you that much, go to Canada eh?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:41pm

    Re: voting machines

    There is no merit to this comment at all. All they want is the machines that count to be inspected.

    Open Source the machine, software and process. All errors will come out in the open and will be fixed. Then and only then will democracy will have the best e voting machine.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    BalletDancer, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:48pm

    ARE YOU BORED?

    seriously, this should not even be POSTED! this is the most useless thing i've ever heard of in my life. what exactly is the POINT??? or maybe im just stupid?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:49pm

    Re: voting machines

    you're only ok with it because your candidate won.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Human Number 532-38-5594, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:50pm

    No Comment

    Looks like there might be a divorce in the Doe's future...

    Anyway, back on a real subject, these people really need to learn that they don't know how to make technology and they arent' going to be able to fix it themselves. Let's just have one of the researchers go to one of these auctions, buy a few, and then, because the company will not give them the current ones, assume all of the problem they find with the ones they bought also apply to the ones in use.

    John Doe, it's not the payroll they are on, or even if they are well respected. It's the fact that the company won't let the machines be tested by a source other than their own, which is probably inacurrate.

     

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  10.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:54pm

    Re: voting machines

    You wackos never quit, do you? The "well-respected" researchers would do anything for a buck, let alone a few million. I've met a few, and was quite surprised to learn exactly whose payroll they were on.

    Ah, yes, and you resort to name calling rather than giving an actual response. That seems credible.

    All because your candidate lost. What a shame.

    Talk about a non-sequitor. What do you mean my candidate lost? I've never publicly supported any candidate, and my complaints with the e-voting system have remained steady no matter who was in power, and will remain that way until the system is more transparent. It has nothing to do with who won or lost. It has everything to do with the system itself.

    And, I like how all of the comments that are trashing this post come from the same IP address...

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Jack Sombra, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 6:06pm

    Woooosh

    "The "well-respected" researchers would do anything for a buck, let alone a few million."
    Why would anyone pay them a few million? As this article proves it only requires $82

    But as the point of the article seems to have have gone over your head, will try explaining it a different way.

    Not allowing people to examine the machines because they might "reveal secrets" is a load of hogwash, because if someone wanted those "secrets" there are many ways they can obtain them...like the local Gov. surplus auction

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    vapiddreamer, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 6:13pm

    #2 and #3

    I think I think I have to agree with #4--- crawl into a deep dark hole and die you freaking artards. Remember #3, it's not that our candidate lost (thereby making us a nation of losers led by the King of the Intellectually efficient) it that the security testing on these machines never happened, meaning that for all we know the vote was more pointless than usual. Yeah, supporting the use of untested technology in choosing the leader of the most dangerous country in the world is a great freaking GREAT idea. I repeat, GO DIE you morons.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Roo, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 6:48pm

    Democracy

    How could anyone object to the taking of steps to ensure the integrity of the electorial process. The fact is that we have had proven anomolous results; such as the Florida precinct that reported a negative vote total for a candidate.

    Voting is what makes a country and it's people free. The Judicial, Legistlative, and Executive branches derrive their powers from electorial mandates. If that process doesn't work, then the society is not truly democratic.

    So why not have open source voting software run on standardized hardware? The best protection is to have lots of eyeballs keeping everyone honest.

    Roo

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Chris, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 7:02pm

    Glad someone finaly shares some of my sentiments.

    Yes for the great majority of people out there trying to act as though they're the authoritative entity in which all mannerism of related knowledge should be filtered through I highly agree you need to stop speaking, dieing is probably the quickest way to insure that.

    E-voting machines are trying to be pushed as the next implementation of improving the entire voting process. As it currently stands the popular vote hardly counts for anything, as the majority of voters today are bible thumping evangelicals told to vote on the basis of a religion that our four-fathers were smart enough to acknowledge has no place in politics. Even if that’s not the case when a court decides the final outcome of a vote, then why vote anyway? There's the fantasy world, and then there's the real world. If you want results you pay for them, and that's what's been happening behind the curtains for decades.

    So when you have investors who put billions into a product to get the result they want it's no wonder companies such as Diebold will not allow anyone to access their product. They think they should be protected under the same laws as any other business. Well when you make something for a nation that decides the fate of the entire world, Americans aren't going to be the only people who want some sort of insurance policy. So to have these companies subjected to certain levels of security scrutiny is a good thing. The harsher the more beneficial it will become. If you make something open-source then anyone who might care to could try to crack the system, and make such vulnerabilities known thus improving the overall quality of the system in place.

    …and to the person who said go join the UN to help the world, well that’s just laughable, not to mention the complete irony of your post. Then again you are a “chick,” and I think any woman would agree, you probably have difficulty seeing things from someone else’s perspective.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 10:00pm

    Re: Re: voting machines

    I like that point about the same ip address, if it's so fucking trivial to manipulate votes, don't you think a IP is too? I guess two of us are using the same proxy, ya think?

    I'm not name calling, I'm pointing out a fact. Just in case you are new to this thread, let me repeat myself.

    The voting machine wackos are on the payroll of the voting machine companies.

    All because your candidate lost.... so sad.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: voting machines

    Yep, 'cause it isn't like the UN has had any scandals recently....Their bright shiny image is as good as ever.

    Take the blinders off, the UN has become as useless and wasteful as any other bureaucracy its size.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Jim, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 8:57am

    The real world

    "Sequoia has responded that it doesn't matter, because any machine that was tampered with would have obviously broken seals. Unfortunately for Sequoia, it's already been pointed out that such seals are easily removed and replaced without anyone noticing, and it seems to happen quite often."

    I am an election judge. Not only am I an election judge I am an equipment manager election judge. My job during an election is to make sure the machines are running and fix common problems. We use the Sequoia touch screen machines. The memory sticks are in the rear of the machine with a seal on them. The thing that the so called experts claim that they can be tamperd with isnt reality. The machines are sitting in front of 4 election judges. Who are bored out of thier minds half the time because people dont vote. No one is going to be able to take off the seal, insert anything , then reboot the machines without taking a free ride in a police car. The machines have voter verifiable print outs that can be used if there is a suspected problem.
    The problem is some people think up all the problems, but most of them cant happen in the real world. Its like saying, watch out your car can get stolen. Well it can. But if the car is locked up and 4 police men are looking at it, it will be there when you return.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Mike, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 10:21am

    ok

    I'm trying to go to Canada but it's taking too long.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Michael O, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 10:54am

    heated "debate"

    okay mud slinging. whatever. the facts of the matter are such: diebold execs literally promised the elections to rebublicans. It's clear that they managed to "bend" the elections they were interested in by about 5-8% by a combination of things. only a small fraction of the bending of the vote was done using vote tampering directly. Other tampering was done by "oopsing" the election rolls and by making it difficult for voters in democratic areas to vote, requiring ID (once again ensuring that poor democratic voters would not be able to vote) and so on. However the republicans thought at that point they could get away with anything; and absolute power is the same as it ever was. So suprise, the voters voted them out so hard that even the bag of tricks wasn't enough.

    This isn't to say that democrats are free of corruption. They are at least somewhat less corrupt at this time. It's up to us to see that the election system is fixed.

    Audit trails (like, say, banking computers use). No security by obscurity (open source is good). If we use e-voting, then the ability for voters to take their paper recipt, enter the tracking info on line, and personally verify their vote even after they get home, this is a good thing.

    As Stalin said "it's not who gets voted for, it's who counts the votes" and it's up to us all to stop hating, and start working for our political future in which the rights of the majority and the minority are heard and respected.

    A functional elections system is of primary importance.

    By the way anytime someone tells you to ignore exit polls, be concerned. Exit polls are the best tool we have for showing corruption in the voting process.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    CaribbeanChick, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 1:56pm

    Hey Anonymous Coward

    Well obviously the UN has problems like ANY NORMAL ORGANIZATION OR BUSINESS. i have never heard of a company that has no problems...maybe in your little world, but as corrupted as they are, they still do something in the countries that they are in.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 17th, 2007 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: voting machines

    I like that point about the same ip address, if it's so fucking trivial to manipulate votes, don't you think a IP is too? I guess two of us are using the same proxy, ya think?

    Oh, of course. So you'd manipulate IP addresses of two separate people to make it so you'd appear as the same person? That makes a ton of sense...

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    JoshTB, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 5:14pm

    PaperSafe

    My state still uses paper ballots, I hope they never adopt this "e-voting" BS. Paper ballot is still read by machine, but there is a backup = Paper ballot.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    justme, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 9:19pm

    For a company that has done all they can to block anyone from examining their machines, it just strikes me as odd to how they allowed the machines on the auction block in the first place.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    DeQuincey, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 9:22pm

    @Jim

    Sure, it's probably very hard to tamper with the machines while they're actually being watched. But, what about incidents where the machines where left unattended for who knows how long?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Chris, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 11:41pm

    Learn to read for the love of god.

    "Well obviously the UN has problems like ANY NORMAL ORGANIZATION OR BUSINESS. i have never heard of a company that has no problems..."



    I didn't say the UN didn't have problems, as a matter of fact I didn't say anything at all about the UN. I said something about your comment on the UN, in which case you can make the argument I implied they have "problems" which really means they're a corrupt institution that tries to portray themselves as ALWAYS helping. In which case your response is completely invalid because you can't compare an organization that can impose sanctions onto a country that completely effects their entire government, society, and the general way of life. If you know of any one single company who has that type of power, let me know because I want a job. I’m sure the pay is phenomenal.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Chris, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 11:42pm

    can I buy a ?

    only bold word was supposed to be "corrupt" dunno what happend to the rest of the code.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    kneeL, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 2:18am

    Re: voting machines

    John Doe = another brainwashed fool who voted for Bush

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: voting machines

    Someone call the whaaaambulance.

    I don't support either the democrats or republicans entirely, I'm very neutral, but all these crying games have to stop.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Big Fear man, Feb 19th, 2007 @ 2:20am

    Their *real* biggest fear is themselves

    They have thousands of employees, there are billions of dollars at stake by rigging an election and many foreign powers who would jump at the chance. They have no way of ensuring every employee is totally honest and never taken a bribe. They're selling a complex product with lots of opportunities to rig an election.

    Their biggest fear is what's in their own product, because they don't know themselves.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Jim, Feb 19th, 2007 @ 4:45pm

    Re:

    You mean in the central warehouse, when they are locked up and guarded?
    But even if there could be a problem. Realize there is no such animal as a way to run an election that cant be subject to cheating. Even paper ballots can be forged.
    Thats why there is a voter verifiable paper trail. If there is any question as to what should have been counted we can go back and check the paper print out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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