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…

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

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

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: 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.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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!

Wally (profile) says:

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.

Wally (profile) says:

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.

Joshy says:

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

Wally (profile) says:

Re: 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.

hmm (profile) says:

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.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Austin (profile) says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...