Kentucky Election Officials Arrested For Changing Votes On E-Voting Machines

from the security... dept

While there have been plenty of conspiracy theories over the years concerning e-voting machines, none have been particularly compelling. The evidence looked like plenty of incompetence, with buggy machines that had huge security flaws that could be exploited — but we hadn’t heard of any cases of anyone actually being caught tampering with or trying to tamper with votes. That isn’t to say it didn’t happen. It’s possible that it happened and the perpetrators weren’t caught — but it’s a big leap from it “could” happen, to it “did” happen. So, most of our coverage here has been very much on the bugs and the flaws, rather than any of the conspiracy theories that floated around.

However, it appears that a group of Kentucky election officials, the circuit court judge and the county clerk, were arrested for changing votes in various elections between 2002 and 2006 on e-voting machines. The details suggest that there were two parts to the vote changing. First, there was traditional vote buying — where they paid people to vote in a certain way. However, the second involved actually changing voters’ votes on ES&S e-voting machines.

It didn’t involve any hacking or direct security flaws — but the elections officials made use of the confusing user interface and process of the e-voting machines to trick voters into leaving before their votes had been cast. That’s because there’s a “vote” button, that some people (silly them!) assumed meant they actually voted. Nope. It turns out that just gets you to a page to review your vote and then confirm it. However, these elections officials told people that once they hit vote they had voted — and were then able to go in and change the actual votes.

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Comments on “Kentucky Election Officials Arrested For Changing Votes On E-Voting Machines”

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NSMike says:


Our town uses similar ES&S machines. Thankfully, the people running the place were always clear that you had to confirm your vote before you actually finished voting.

Still, I don’t understand why these overly-complicated voting systems that completely counteract common sense make it through review and certification. Well, I suppose I do understand, so stuff like this can happen.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re:

Not really. With a paper ballet, once it’s punched it can’t be un-punched.

This is more of the end user not reading before they click (how most spyware gets installed). This time, they payed attention to the election officials (saying that it was done early) instead of their own eyes (reading a confirmation page and hitting submit). Usually a bad idea.

Larry Holmstrom (user link) says:

Vote Fraud

The problems that were exploited by the officials would not have existed if the County had used a voting machine that meets the 2007 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines where “software independence” requires two copies of the ballot to be kept – an electronic copy and a paper copy and the voter was to be given the paper ballot so they could deposit it in the ballot box. The County needs to update to a voting system which has been certfied to the full 2007 Guidelines….

Anonymous Coward says:


Just come up with a real system of machines to evote from. In the day of Open Source software and such there is no reason what so ever to have a closed system that no one else can inspect and help debug. Want to fix that problem, bring it to the open source community and all will be well. I can review your code.. All the bugs will be exposed and fixed in a matter of days.. So all the crooks that are in charge now can get the hell out! Term limits for everything dealing with public service!

We need a law that says all laws have an expiration date attached to them. If they are not renewed then your stupid law expires. Imagine that! I could ride in the back of a pickup truck in Kentucky with a sheep and not be worried about going to prison! YAY!!

Grae says:

Re: Or

Laws already do have an “expiration” it’s called a “sunset provision”, which means that the law has to be revisited after a set period and re-voted on.

Unfortunately, there is no requirement to actually _read_ any law being re-voted on. So what’s a politician to do when faced with a 6,000+ page bill that’s reached its “sunset”? Why, just hurry up and vote it through without reading it, of course! They’re busy people, and honestly, why should they bother actually representing the people that elected them? It’s not like it’s their _job_ or anything…

Mike (profile) says:

Re: What Is Missing In The Story you Linked to?

The fact that the elected officials (not sure on the judge) are all Democrats. Its just one of those little things that is always missing from a story about Democrats. The word Republican is always there when its a story about them however.

Um. No. We make a conscious effort to never name the political party of either side, because it’s usually irrelevant. I’m a member of neither party and dislike both parties. I dislike partisanship, and using the party affiliation distracts from the conversation… which is exactly what you’re doing.

Grae says:

Re: Re:

Treachery exists in all political parties in equal measures.

Perception gets warped when individuals hailing from a specific party are elected to (or maneuver themself into) very powerful positions, where their corruption is felt far and wide. Doesn’t mean there’s more corruption, it just means that more people notice it.

That you’re still (in this day and age) latched on to political labels shows you haven’t learned (politically) to think for yourself.

poegough says:

I live here, and RICO is the right charge.

While the confusing voter machine interface is an easy exploit, the underlying truth is that these guys would corrupt any system you put them in to the extent they could. I’ve been in Cletus Maricle’s courtroom, in a technology based case. You may have heard the phrase “home cooked”, simply put, the locals hang together to burn non-locals…and local here is about a 30 mile radius. If you read the indictment, the accused are charged with rigging votes in many races over many years, using various methods ranging from bribery to extortion. Senior Judge (and defendant) Maricle is reported as trying to find the home address and vehicle type of the person he suspected as the FBI informant…that certainly smacks of intimidation, if not intent to harm. My point here is that corruption can be exquisitely complicated and sophisticated. The indicted officials showed intellectual capacity and imagination in the number of ways they bent the system. It’s a bigger story than the voting machine abuse.

I was asked to audit an election in a county just east of the one reported here, and I believe I could have done a first rate job of spoofing the voting machine reports if I had any agents in the County Clerk’s office-what suprises me is that with all the complicty reported here (the Clerk & staff were party to the crime), that the machines were not more sorely perverted.

veevee says:

vote tampering

if you want relly compelling evidence of hinky voting machine hijinks, try or

Or, try figuring out what happened in 2000 when machines tallied differnt numbers for Gore in Florida-taking away thousands of votes (it’s why the vote was originally called for him, then against him in FL, people)

I remember seeing a an story about it late on election night, and making a bookmark for that page
Of course the page doesn’t exist anymore but thats not the point

and what about the couple of times (different dates)I voted for a dem only to have the vote switch in front of me to a repub? This has been seen in news reports over and over

Eleanor says:

Why are we saying it's the VOTERS who cheat?

In SC, with no proof of any person trying illegally to vote when they are not a citizen, the legislature is going to pass a photo ID requirement. Guess what voting machines SC uses? The same voting machines that were used in Kentucky.

Now that it’s been caught, how many thieves will try to imitate this fraud?

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