Sequoia E-Voting Equipment Allowed Thousands Of Fake Write-In Votes

from the don't-you-feel-great-about-our-upcoming-election? dept

Just this week, we pointed to a rather graphic demonstration of how easy it is to hack an election using Sequoia's e-voting machines. Sequoia's machines have been implicated in numerous problematic elections, such as vote totals in New Jersey that don't add up properly, or the discovery that with a little effort you can vote multiple times on some Sequoia machines. And, of course, Sequoia's usual response to these sorts of things is to deny any and all responsibility and maybe even threaten to sue those who discover the problems.

Well, here they go again. In a Washington DC primary election that used Sequoia's machines, election officials are trying to deal with the fact that the machines seem to have added thousands of votes for a non-existent write-in candidate. The election board is blaming a "faulty cartridge" (though no one seems to know what that means, exactly). Sequoia, however, denies a faulty cartridge or a faulty database and says that it must be human error or maybe "static discharge." You would think that a company like Sequoia would be quite concerned that its machines could change the course of democracy based on static discharge or basic human error, but it seems more concerned with avoiding any blame:
"There's absolutely nothing wrong with the database," said Michelle Shafer, spokeswoman for California-based Sequoia Voting Systems. "There's absolutely no problem with the machines in the polling places. No. No."
There. Now, doesn't that make you feel oh-so-confident in the ability of these machines to conduct a free and fair democratic election for President this November?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    drkkgt, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 4:22pm

    wow

    I had to read the article just to make sure you didn't' take a little poetic license and add the "No. No." to Shafer statement. You hadn't, which makes her response even worse. I would have loved to hear her voice when she said this. Was it a scolding No, No or a whiny temper tantrum No, No?

     

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    drkkgt, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 4:24pm

    wow again

    and love this line cause yeah it proves that their systems are just perfect. This obviosuly isn't an issue:

    "There are multiple possibilities for failure to properly read the cartridge data," according to Sequoia's statement.

     

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    Nick Stamoulis, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 4:46pm

    I bet Bush won in a similar way ;)

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 6:40pm

      Re:

      hey nick the dick -
      Bush won because Kerry was and is a turd and many people in the US are a hell of a lot smarter than you.

       

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    identicon
    Vaerie Voter, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 4:53pm

    I vote for the static canidate

    The benefactor of an election can be computed by Static Discharge? I think that's a first. How much do we know about these machines?

    This is scary.

     

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    wasnt me!, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 5:10pm

    doest it really matter what caused the "in accurate" results.

    bottom line those machines aren't reliable whether its human error, static discharge, bad faulty cartridges, human error or just plain bad code.

     

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    aardvark, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 5:13pm

    another excuse

    One would think that something as important as an election would receive additional design review to preclude any problems from simple and well known vectors. Static discharge has been known about for decades and designs have incorporated many different ways to combat this problem. So, why is it that these expensive machines designed for the sole purpose of tabulating election results are susceptible to a well known and easily avoided problem ?

    My guess is that the excuse is total bullshit.

     

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    Trvth Jvstice, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 5:20pm

    Why are Democrats so worried about e- voting equipment? I, as a Republican, am more concerned about Democrats (aka Geeks, Hackers, Anarchists, etc) hacking the machines than a Republican. Republicans are generally known to be honest, down to earth, good folks - except for a few extreme examples which I'm sure will be listed in the following posts - Hence the word generally.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 5:28pm

      Re:

      Oh please .... get real.

       

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      Jake, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 5:46pm

      Re:

      Come off it; you couldn't even reliably rig an election with those pitiful cheapest-bidder apologies for electronic voting machines.
      And are you implying that no member of the Republican Party has a high level of technological competence on purpose?

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 6:15pm

      Re:

      Trvth Jvstice -> "Why are Democrats so worried about e- voting equipment? I, as a Republican, am more concerned about Democrats (aka Geeks, Hackers, Anarchists, etc) hacking the machines than a Republican. Republicans are generally known to be honest, down to earth, good folks - except for a few extreme examples which I'm sure will be listed in the following posts - Hence the word generally."

      You are most likely a troll. If not, I feel sorry for you.

       

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      identicon
      JJ, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 6:20pm

      Re:

      >> Why are Democrats so worried about e- voting equipment? I, as a Republican, am more concerned about Democrats (aka Geeks, Hackers, Anarchists, etc) hacking the machines than a Republican. Republicans are generally known to be honest, down to earth, good folks >>

      Since when are geeks hackers and anarchists democrats? I would think that anarchists in many ways are the opposite of democrats. In my experience, most members of both parties are honest, down to earth, good folks. And there's also an equal number of dishonest win-at-any-cost liars in both parties. Saying that one is somehow more "honest" and "down to earth" is hard to believe.

       

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      mobiGeek, Sep 14th, 2008 @ 11:25am

      Re:

      Honesty and morality as a basis for where your vote is going? You do realize that we are talking about POLITICS here, right?

      If this is a back-handed comment on the religious stance of either party, then I'll bold my previous comment: we are talking about POLITICS here.

       

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    Robert (profile), Sep 12th, 2008 @ 5:22pm

    Add this to the list

    Add this to the list of made-up excuses to cover stuff up, right up there along with "thermal expansion"...

     

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    marka2k, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 5:33pm

    Another one with Sequoia voting machines

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 5:37pm

    Call me a luddite but why don't we just go back to paper ballots? That way you at least have a way to recount them in the case of snafus like this.

     

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      identicon
      George Washington, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 6:47pm

      Re:

      You're not a luddite. The concept of technology to be used in voting is an anethema to me, and I'm second to no one in my love of technology.

      Paper ballots have been used since the US was formed, and under the proper scrutiny, are much harder to beat than the very poorly designed e-voting systems. Must be a bunch of code jockeys from New Delhi writing the code for these crappers.

      Some things just don't benefit from whiz bang tech, and voting is one of them

       

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        Varun, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 1:25am

        Re:

        "Paper ballots have been used since the US was formed, and under the proper scrutiny, are much harder to beat than the very poorly designed e-voting systems. Must be a bunch of code jockeys from New Delhi writing the code for these crappers. "


        Excuse Me! India has a full-proof Electronic voting system for years, and It certainly hasn't malfunctioned....

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 7:06pm

      Re:

      I luvs me some pencil and paper.

       

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    Kent, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 5:55pm

    "static discharge" = the machines are taking over

    We don't know who struck first, us or them. But we do know it was us that scorched the sky.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 6:03pm

    In my opinion design documents and software source code of the voting machines should be publicly and freely available. And it should be required by law.

    But I don't think that small errors are such a big deal. If we have two leading candidates separated by let's say 10% either of them could end up in the office without being it a disaster.

    In my opinion democracy is not meant to decide such close competitions, its meant to exclude those guys with 5%.

     

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      identicon
      Karen, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 6:37pm

      Re: 10%

      So since the difference in popular votes between Bush and Gore was less than 10%, you think that it didn't matter which one became president?

       

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    crystalattice (profile), Sep 12th, 2008 @ 7:48pm

    Why not sue?

    Maybe it's happened and I didn't notice, but why doesn't someone just sue these evote companies for fraud or a similar charge?

    It's obvious the machines don't work as advertised. Hell, at a minimum someone should be able to sue for false advertising.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 9:14am

      Re: Why not sue?

      Voting machine contracts carefully avoid all claims of "merchandisability or fitness for a particular purpose."

       

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    ehrichweiss, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 9:54am

    slot machines

    Funny, if these machines are supposedly affected by static discharge then maybe they should seek help from the people who make slot machines since they are attacked on a daily basis by such "low brow" methods and have to show they are rugged enough to survive them. Hell, the elections are such a gamble anyway, we might as well turn them over to the Nevada Gaming Commission: they actually seem to have some integrity. Hell, my only issue with the NGC is that they won't hire known cheats to help them learn how to see what the next new cheat is going to be.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2008 @ 3:05pm

      Re: slot machines

      Yes, in all honestly, I would actually trust the NGC more then I trust Sequota and Diebold with my votes.

      I wonder what that says about me? I wonder what that says about Sequota and Diebold?

       

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    identicon
    Mike, Sep 14th, 2008 @ 5:55pm

    and?

    there are dozen of ways to cheat in an election and both paries have been guilty of many of them every single time, the problem is, NO ONE CARES! the republicans used illegal caging listed at the last two, and they were caught! what happened? NOTHING!... lol

     

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    number2, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 9:21am

    Options

    OK, enough of the "yeah, well your party sucks and mine doesn't". That's not helpful, plus arguments can be made that both parties suck...anyway, I think we can all agree something needs to be done to get these crappy machines out of circulation. So what are the options? Anyone have any initiatives to remove these things? Where are all the places they're being used?

    If we believe Varun that India has fool proof Electronic voting systems (I don't, personally...because if it's technological, and it's for a big enough election, someone is going to hack it) then what are they using?

     

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    nerd1951, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 10:06am

    Open Source Voting Machines

    One possible solution to this is to make the voting machines open source. We already do this with OpenSSL which is used for thousands of financial transactions and we know as Americans our money is generally more important to us than our vote.

    Everything would be open to public scrutiny. This way the best and brightest in computer and systems security and the worlds best hackers can have at it and find the flaws in the systems. When local jurisdictions find flaws, there would be no incentive for the vendors to hide design flaws.

    If one vendor is screwing up quality, you could take the open source design to another vendor.

     

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    john mccain, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 10:47pm

    there are other ways the election is being stolen

    Its funny how much people hate sarah Palin and they try to create sarah palin scandals and dirt just to knock her or boost the all the other Sarah Palin dirt on the web. I think mccain is gonna win and i was supporting obama till a couple weeks ago but no more. The fact that people troll through all this dirt on sarah palin as if its important for us to know and every media organization dumps dirt on her means they are scared of her, and I got the message. obama has something to hide.

     

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    identicon
    Norm Breyfogle, Sep 20th, 2008 @ 12:56pm

    Quacks Like a Duck

    The posted brain-dead right wing responses to this article bespeak a larger-than-normal % of secret propaganda agents. Gee, I wonder why?

     

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    Dan, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 11:19am

    nerd1951,
    I agree with you on open sourcing the voting machines but it is weird that you choose OpenSSL as an example because a major hole was found in it this year. Although to open source defense it was fixed promptly.

    I think that these electronic voting machines can remove some human error but are more exploitable. My proposal is to have open source electronic voting machines that print out every individuals vote so that they may review it before they hand it in. This way we can have recounts if needed and this system would be hard to exploit because of a clear print out. You can't hack dead trees.

     

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    Machines, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 11:33am

    So if it is a static discharge is no the machine the problem right? So who takes responsability for that?

     

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