Voting Machine Flaws Easy To Fix: So Why Aren't They Fixed?

from the just-wondering dept

If you read Techdirt regularly, you should be well aware of the problems concerning electronic voting machines. They're not secure. They're easily hackable. There's usually no verifiable paper trail for a recount. Yet another study has come out listing out all the problems with e-voting machines. That's not a surprise. However, the report also notes that many of the problems are easily fixable, but e-voting machine providers haven't bothered and election officials haven't pushed for the fixes. It's the same old story. Every time one of these flaws is pointed out, the companies make excuses or jokes, and say there's nothing at all to worry about. The evidence clearly shows that's false -- and the fact that many (though, not all) of the problems are easily fixable, why won't the companies make their voting machines more secure? Update: The report also found that it could just take one single hacker to change the outcome of an election.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    I, for one, 27 Jun 2006 @ 3:59pm

    doors to open doors

    Good question. Why would anybody allow a system used for an important function to have question marks hanging over its reliability?

    The only rational answer is, so that the result can be called into question.

    We all assume the obvious "conspiracy theory" (sorry I have to call it that to stay on a familiar tone) scenario, in which sinister organisation S , in league with party P1creates backdoors and loopholes in the system Y so that party P1 can can have it's votes rigged to beat party P2.

    Nonsense. That would be blatent fraud.

    System Y is full of flaws and backdoors so that when party P2 wins by a legitimate margin, S on the behest of P1 can claim there are irregularities. The pro rigour lobby (that's us) will be jumping up and down shouting "Told you so. Investigate. Investigate." Whereupon it turns out (from the easily manufactured and non-deniable evidence trail) that the irregularities favour P2 and the election decision goes to the judge already bought by P1.

    Just a conjecture mind you. I don't think anybody intends to use these back doors. But their presence opens up many other "politically useful" doors.

    In simple words, if the process was written in Z and VDM, run through theorem provers, implemented in ADA to the same military specifications that one might write, say a ballistic missile guidance system, published as open source and everyone including the independent computer scientists agreed upon its correctness and invulnerability.... well then nobody could dispute who won the election fair and square this time.

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

  • identicon
    BillDivX, 27 Jun 2006 @ 4:30pm

    Makes sense to me...

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

  • identicon
    zam, 27 Jun 2006 @ 4:40pm

    well put!

    what doesnt seem right is usually very very wrong

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

  • identicon
    Who Cares?, 27 Jun 2006 @ 7:32pm

    This is old news.

    Move on boys and girls.

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

  • identicon
    NSMike, 28 Jun 2006 @ 5:45am

    Stupidly stupid

    Interesting that the Diebold spokesperson said something to the effect that this is all hypothetical, hasn't happened yet, and would be very difficult to accomplish...

    That's almost an acknowledgement that it's not impossible.

    Not to mention the "hasn't happened yet" attitude is a major lure to those looking for a challenge. "It hasn't happened yet? Let's make it happen!"

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

  • identicon
    Franssu, 28 Jun 2006 @ 5:51am

    The US democracy is ill. Everything is rigged, twisted in favor of big money, so much they don't even need to hide their actions anymore. Diebold CEO even bragged he would give states to the Bush election. That guy is the head of a voting machine company, and nobody cares.

    The US democracy is dying, and nobody's doing anything. Oh, well, same ol', it's the same in other countries (France, Italy, England...) as well, so move on everybody.

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

  • identicon
    EverydayBS, 28 Jun 2006 @ 6:19am

    Mickey Mouse

    The day that the machines are hacked and Mickey Mouse wins is the day they will do anything about it.

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

  • identicon
    Sometimes I Wonder, 28 Jun 2006 @ 8:06am

    Voting Conspriacy

    You know, if all these electronic voting machines were as vunerable as the "experts" say they are, why have they not come out and specified HOW they are vulnerable? If you post the theory, post the proof! If it is so easy to hack a voting machine and "throw" an election, why hasn't proof been offered that it has happened? We know Microsoft is vulnerable because of the proof of concept exploits that are rampant. Show me the proof of concept on this conspiracy theory about voting machines!!!

    And, let's say there were no electronic voting allowed in this country. Would elections be safe and secure then? I would postulate that in any process where human intervention is required, the process is flawed. Politicians have bought votes for as long as there has been people voting, no matter on what type of device that vote was cast.

    All the crap about how insecure electronic voting is doing nothing to make it better. How about doing something positive and being part of the solution rather than part of the probem???

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

    • identicon
      EiderDuck, 28 Jun 2006 @ 9:14am

      Re: Voting Conspriacy

      "why have they not come out and specified HOW they are vulnerable?"

      Um... because anybody who posts specific details on their vulnerabilities will immediately get sued.

      I assume "Sometimes I Wonder" is a troll from Diebold or a flunky who works for Ohio's Secretary of State, because nobody else could possibly be stupid enough to make that post.

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

    • identicon
      jayrtfm, 28 Jun 2006 @ 3:50pm

      Re: Voting Conspriacy

      http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/2368.html?1144138741
      this is a video of a CHIMP hacking a Diebold voting machine.
      Is that proof enough for you?

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

    • identicon
      I, for one, 28 Jun 2006 @ 6:53pm

      Re: Voting Conspriacy

      "If it is so easy to hack a voting machine and "throw" an election, why hasn't proof been offered that it has happened?"

      I think there was proof. At least proof of a discrepency. I believe a machine card from the crucial Florida election didn't tally, which is kinda what set this whole chain of investigation in motion. No link. Anyone back me up here?

      "And, let's say there were no electronic voting allowed in this country. Would elections be safe and secure then?"

      No. But they would be safer because they would be more accountable.

      "I would postulate that in any process where human intervention is required, the process is flawed."

      You would be correct. Democracy is process that requires human intervention and is flawed. However an imperfect system is better than having an appointed dictator, or so many people believe.

      "Politicians have bought votes for as long as there has been people voting, no matter on what type of device that vote was cast. "

      Also true, However in the past it was more difficult. With real people there are witnesses. Only in 3rd world villages can you burst into the polling station with guns and threaten the lives of everybody and their families to silence them. With electronic voting fraud there are no witnesses.

      "All the crap about how insecure electronic voting is doing nothing to make it better."

      On what do you base that hypothesis? Do you have no faith in your fellows to act on their knowledge and suspicions? Do you believe that the people of your country are powerless?

      "How about doing something positive and being part of the solution rather than part of the probem???"

      That's an empty rhetorical question.

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

  • identicon
    ebrke, 28 Jun 2006 @ 9:58am

    If we ever learned for sure why the companies won't fix the flaws in their systems (aside from the impact on their almighty bottom line), I suspect we would be way more upset by the reason than we are by the wondering why.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2006 @ 10:33am

    Easy to Fix

    The politicians in power are interested in a different kind of "easy to fix": easy-to-fix elections. The voting machines are the means to that end. Say goodbye to U.S. democracy.

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

  • identicon
    Mousky, 28 Jun 2006 @ 10:57am

    Why not just stick with paper?

    Damn us simple Canadians with our paper ballots and results in about one hour after the polls have closed. Then again, at the Federal and Provincial level we are only voting for one person, unlike the US where your voting for the President, Senator, Judge and Dog Catcher with a Proposition added for fun.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2006 @ 12:11pm

    they HAVE you retard

    there is no doubt in my mind that the last two elections were rigged, making the country use electronic voting machines that are easily backdoorable just made it all the easier..

    anyone who steps up to say 'there could be a problem' is jailed/sued/ run out of town on a rail and NOTHING is done to fix the problem

    the diebold CEO (who quit amid several other indictments) personally garenteed bush the election if he used his machines...

    our country was taken over while we were all busy watching fox, and american idol..

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

  • identicon
    imfbsbn, 29 Jun 2006 @ 7:42am

    One Single [blank]

    Talk about hype. Did you also know that one single scientists could build a nuclear bomb? Or cause a blackout, or release ebola?

    Can the machines be better? Yes.

    But that does not change the fact that since the first vote was cast millennia ago that physical security is the #1 concern against fraud. Anyone with unlimited access to ANY voting machine can cause problems.

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

  • identicon
    TT, 29 Jul 2006 @ 5:51am

    Hacking machines

    I'm advocating the publication of how to hack these machines. If the repubs. know we know how to do it than the security will get in place. Pronto.

    Think of it - if only a few people know how to hack these things than we are vulnerable - if we all know something will get done.

    It's one way to fight the neocon terroists!

    TT
    "I wan my country back"

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


Add Your Comment

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.