Hackable Irish E-Voting Machines That Cost 54 Million Euros Sold For Scrap: 9 Euros A Piece

from the buy-high,-sell-low dept

For years, we've been pointing out the massive problems of e-voting, and governments' general blindness to the security risks. Of course, beyond the basic fear of fraud, there should have also been concerns about wasting taxpayer money. Apparently those concerns didn't amount to much in Ireland. As Slashdot highlights, Ireland spent €54 million on 7,500 e-voting machines. However, after realizing that there was no way to secure them from being hacked, the government has sold them off for scrap for a grand total of €70,000, or approximately €9 per machine. On the bright side, at least they weren't completely worthless...


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    Jay (profile), Jul 5th, 2012 @ 7:20pm

    Now when can the US scrap their e-voting machines?

     

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      The eejit (profile), Jul 5th, 2012 @ 11:17pm

      Re:

      Shortly after Mitt Ronmey wins the Presidency via "technical difficulties".

       

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      DannyB (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 6:02am

      Re:

      The US won't scrap their e-voting machines.

      The US will buy these Irish voting machines at low prices and put them to use in our elections. Think of how much money this would save the US taxpayers!

      All these machines need is some dusting off with a damp cloth, a ROM upgrade, and a network connection and everything will be just great.

       

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      hmm (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 3:39pm

      Re:

      probably just before they scrap voting.

      Hey its because of 'terrorism' we..erm...we have to suspend elections for a day...or a week or thirty years....

       

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    fogbugzd (profile), Jul 5th, 2012 @ 8:09pm

    The decision about which voting machine to buy is often governed by campaign contributions. Little things like security, cost of operation, and reliability can easily be overlooked if a company manages to get its candidate elected. After the machines are in place, it is a lot easier to more of your people into office.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 5:26am

      Re:

      They should crowd source voting machines. Include two sets (rolls) of punch paper for the voting record on top of the computerized system, have huge waste containers for the chads, show both paper voting records to the voter for verification, and print out a receipt that shows who was voted for. After the election paper verification should be done on the rolls to make sure the system wasn't hacked.

       

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        mikey4001 (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 9:18am

        Re: Re:

        But how long would it take before a district or two "accidentally" counted both rolls?

         

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          hmm (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 3:40pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          they wouldn't bother, because in most areas they've decided who won the day before anyway....no need to waste time just throw the votes in the incinerator quick before anyone notices...

           

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        Chris, Aug 28th, 2012 @ 6:00am

        Re: Re:

        I always thought....if were spending millions on an electronic machine, how much more could a little thermal reciept printer be that spits out receipts for those who want one.

         

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    Atkray (profile), Jul 5th, 2012 @ 8:33pm

    Just shows how inept governments can be. If they had someone with even a little skill at marketing they could have sold them for much more on Ebay,

    Up for auction one hackable voting machine, like new condition.

    Tired of not being picked as captain of the team? Use this machine to guarantee victory.

     

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    gab4moi (profile), Jul 5th, 2012 @ 9:10pm

    Could they not have swapped them out for Jebs hangin' chads?

     

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    Joshy, Jul 5th, 2012 @ 9:10pm

    Somewhere there is a very happy dictator who will be soon showing how modern his government is. By implementing the latest and greatest something few other countries offer....Electronic voting machines.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 5th, 2012 @ 9:22pm

    So I'm curious, when will the US/EU be rolling out their 'new' voting machines, specially purchased for any voting on potentially unpopular topics that they might want a re-vote on?

     

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    Yartrebo (profile), Jul 5th, 2012 @ 10:41pm

    "A condition of the contract is that two electronic chips in each machine, which hold information on how the equipment works, are destroyed."

    Somehow I smell a cover-up here. If the systems are not fit for purpose and aren't being used any more, I can see no security reason.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jul 5th, 2012 @ 11:25pm

      Re:

      All e-voting machine companies guard their source code, they are terrified someone will find the bugs and exploits.

      Secret systems with no external review are always a bad idea. I am reminded of all of the lawsuits over breathalyzer source code, and a recent court ruling that even if they can sometimes be flawed they stand as being accurate.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2012 @ 2:25am

    Vote fraud: priceless

    For everythng else, there's Masnickcard(TM)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2012 @ 2:53am

    wow! that's more than the whole Irish government is worth!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2012 @ 4:06am

    The luck of the irish

     

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    Mega1987 (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 5:07am

    They should have put it in a quality assurance test BEFORE it was brought...

    At least they'll be assured that it won't be hacked or the data transfer will not be tampered by any means...

    Oh well... I just hope they learn from their mistake.

     

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      DannyB (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 6:06am

      Re:

      The best way to maintain quality is for the vote machines to have a network connection back to the manufacturer.

      That way more and better "quality assurance" can be uploaded into the voting machines right before, or even during an election.

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 4:28pm

      Re:

      At least they'll be assured that it won't be hacked or the data transfer will not be tampered by any means...


      QA testing cannot provide that kind of assurance.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2012 @ 5:11am

    Not just e-voting is dangerous for integrity of elections, but campaign contributions and other obvious signs of bias from companies that make voting machines are also a danger.

    Look at Diebold in the US, with owners who have a history of supporting republican candidates financially, and who threaten to sue anyone (even college professors) who dares even hint they want to view the software of their voting machines to make sure they're 100% accurate.

    That created a lot of internet conspiracies around 2004 that they stole the election for Bush. That kind of a suspicion isn't healthy for a democracy, it helps de-legitimize whoever's in power, and makes it harder for them to get things done.

     

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      Chargone (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 7:25am

      Re:

      ... not that that's a bad thing when they're Not legitimate and/or the biggest problem is them having far too easy a time pulling off a lot of crap they shouldn't. (which is also a common problem in 'democracies'. hint: representative democracy, isn't.)

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2012 @ 5:44am

    They could do the same here in the USA but I highly doubt it would matter.

    We have Team A and B.

    Team A want's to fuck us over with a sandpaper wrapped dildo dipped in hot sauce.
    Team B want's to do the same but scratch our assholes up with a Brillo pad then dip their shit in Turpentine before they rape us.

    Choices choices!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2012 @ 6:04am

    That's all fine and good, but it can't happen here!

     

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    Chargone (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 7:27am

    .... i knew there was a reason NZ still used paper ballots.

    this probably isn't it.

    oh well.

    (though there's talk of setting up ONLINE voting at some point... because THAT'S not open to rampant abuse :-S)

     

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    Wally (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 8:06am

    E-Voting Machines

    This is not the fault of all e-voting machines. Being from the the state of Ohio where we use electronic voting machines, I can assure you it's the method of how the machines are activated. In Ohio, you have to use a key fob that is actually put on a special place on the machine. To prevent tampering after you vote two things happen. The key fob is immediately and then gaused to a specific magnetic power by the machine; the machine records that specific unique gause rating and if it doesn't match exactly, no dice. To guard against tampering of the degaussing system, the fob must be placed exactly on the spot it needs to be, if it is off by a distance of a micron, no dice. Each time someone goes to vote, a helper will put the key fob in its spot and enter a code. Also once you are done voting, a QR code of your ballot is printed out where it gets placed in a box inside the machine.

    So given all that, if your Governtment doesn't do the research about it first, tampering can happen. Even in Ohio, it's still printed on paper. The point in the machines my state uses is that it allows you understand what you are doing and crwates an overall better way to interface with the voting machine. Some states still use scantron sheets to vote...which are a lot easier to tamper with.

     

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      Wally (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 8:09am

      Re: E-Voting Machines

      "The point in the machines my state uses is that it allows you understand what you are doing and crwates an overall better way to interface with the voting machine."

      * The point in the machines my state uses is that it allows you understand what you are doing and creates an overall better way to interface with the voting machine.

       

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    Joshy, Jul 6th, 2012 @ 10:37am

    Uh Wally some special magnetic doo-hicky isn't going to make Ohio's machine's fool-proof. Or work any better if the votes get lost in the uploading, or one-hundred-and-one other problems that pop-up. Some we know of and are easily found with a Google search. Others we may never know of until a whistle blower comes forward.

    Example one of hundreds:
    Ohio Voting Machines Contained Programming Error That Dropped Votes http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2008/08/ohio-voting-machines-contained.html

     

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      Wally (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 12:32pm

      Re:

      That may be true, but at least we spotted the issue and it got corrected. It was a software glitch by the original programming of the first machines going through. They use the same locking technologies at my local school district for getting into locked parts. To clarify my jumbled statement:

      1. You sign your name in on a physical piece of paper with photo ID in hand.

      2. Someone takes you to your booth and the machine logs in with the key fob in place, the helper enters your registry ID code which is unique and changes every time there is a vote going on.

      3. Following directions the directions on the voting machines here in Ohio are actually quite clear on how to work them at the voter level.

      4. Even if there is a dropped vote count on the machine, the QR print is still available to use and that's how Ohio votes are counted, QR scanning.

      Not to say the machines themselves are infallible, but the specific ones from my district tend to have a redundant backup of your vote.

      Now, my district got our E-Voters back in 2007, the article you mentions the problem only pertains to machines manufactured 10 years ago. The manufacturers acknowledged that there WAS a problem, but that doesn't mean they didn't fix it when the problem was discovered by them independently, they just publicly announced it after being enquired about it.

      The article states "The flawed software is on both touch screen and optical scan voting machines made by Premier and the problem with vote counts is most likely to affect larger jurisdictions that feed many memory cards to a central counting database rapidly," which means it affected those districts who failed to properly maintain the machines. It was a Softwear error yes, but note it says it happened when in transit.

      It also states "Riggall said he was "confident" that elections officials through the years would have realized votes had been dropped when they crosschecked their tallies to certify final elections results and would have reloaded cards so as not to lose votes. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has said no Ohio votes were lost because the nine Ohio counties that found the problem caught it before primary results were finalized." This means they had caught the problem, notified the right people for the correction, and everything was saved.

      Now it also states that the memory cards being used had to be put into our counter one at a time, larger districts wanted to rush things apparently otherwise we wouldn't be in this mess. So what seems to be a software issue, looks more like a rush job gone bad.

      Long story short: due to human error and not following instructions, there was a giant mess. The vote counters were not uploading the votes one at a time into the system, which as you know, can cause data errors. Unlike Ireland, we double-checked each vote in my district and everything turned out ok.

       

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    hmm (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 3:43pm

    simple code

    All the code pretty much has to be is:

    do
    if vote=person1 then votes_for_person1=votes_for_person1+1
    if vote=person2 then votes_for_person2=votes_for_person2+1
    if vote=person3 then votes_for_person3=votes_for_person3+1
    until time=midnight

     

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    hmm (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 3:45pm

    anyone that has a flawed voting machine is basically deliberately trying to game the system.
    the code required is simple and straightforward.
    code doesn't become "distracted" by women with enormous boobs and count the wrong voter, or decide you probably meant to vote for the guy with the nicest smile....it just does whatever is programmed for that selection.

    any system that doesn't count every single vote 100% of the time with a failure rate of 0% has to be deliberately designed that way.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Jul 6th, 2012 @ 4:35pm

      Re:

      While I do think that the evidence is overwhelming that voting machines used in the US are intentionally compromised and produce faulty result by design, this...

      any system that doesn't count every single vote 100% of the time with a failure rate of 0% has to be deliberately designed that way.


      is just untrue. A voting machine's software is nontrivial and any experienced developer will assure you that every nontrivial program (and many trivial ones) have bugs.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2012 @ 7:07pm

    The question is: Can they run Linux?

     

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    Austin (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 9:22am

    First Hand Experience

    Well...technically Second Hand.

    My mom was a district court judge in 1999. In 2000, she had to run for election (she was appointed to fill a vacant term by the governor.) As a friend of the outgoing probate judge - who tallied all the votes from the machines in an excel spreadsheet on his personal laptop (not even kidding) - she was able to get him to show her the exact voting results, precinct-by-precinct when she lost by only 0.4% of the vote. The results are frightening.

    According to both state and federal election law, if a ballot is marked with a straight party vote at the top - for example, Republican or Democrat - and then the voter checks the box for a single candidate of the opposing party farther down the ballot, that is a spoiled ballot, and the machine is supposed to reject the ballot, after which a poll worker is supposed to walk over and explain that you must manually check each candidate individually in order to vote a split ticket. This did not occur.

    After learning this, my mother had the newly sworn in replacement probate judge pull a random sampling of 1,000 ballots and count them. Out of these, 486 had checked the box for republican at the top, and then checked my mother's name farther down the ballot. These ballots, despite clearly being a vote cast for my mother, were counted as votes fer her republican opponent. The 486 votes from this sampling along accounted for over 0.7% of the total vote - enough to cost her the election. Needless to say, her true margin of victory was probably well over 20%. Sadly, with the bush/gore fiasco in full swing, no decent election law attorneys were available, and my mother basically gave up.

    On her watch, in a single year, she cleared a 13,000+ case backlog, with many cases dating back as far as 1986. Out of over 17,000 total rulings, she was appealed 3 times, and her ruling was upheld on appeal all 3 times. To date, she remains the best judge in the history of the state. Her replacement was court ordered to both drug and alcohol abuse treatment just 2 years before his election. On the day of his sentencing, having been fired from his law firm, he read a 2 page statement where he stated under oath that he was "not fit to practice law." We learned this only 2 days before the election, and believing that nobody in their right mind would vote against someone with my mother's record, we elected not to release the information (which was public record anyway, if the local paper had been interested to begin with.) Out of his first 9 scheduled court days, he locked himself in his office and refused to come out because he couldn't face a courtroom full of people.

    He has since recovered and does a pretty decent job running a fair courtroom. He does not keep as efficient of a schedule as my mother did, but he does seem to genuinely apply the law in a fair manner. Of course, it took him the better part of 6 years to get to that point. The fact remains that my mother won that election, and due to the lack of either oversight or understanding - and maybe both - of electronic voting systems, the citizens of our county were worse off for it.

     

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    Brent (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 10:53am

    Diebold FTW!

     

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