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RESEARCH ON VOTING MACHINES SHOWS THEY ARE EASILY SABOTAGED
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 17, 2010) — In 2006, three researchers from Princeton University completed a study which concluded that the Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine is “vulnerable to a number of extremely serious attacks that undermine the accuracy and credibility of the vote counts it produces.”
The researchers stated that that particular Diebold model, along with a newer version, the AccuVote-TSx, were scheduled to be used “in 357 counties representing nearly 10% of registered voters” for the 2006 election. A one-page executive summary of the study can be found here. A video report from the Princeton team which demonstrates how hidden “malicious software” can spread viruses from one voting machine to another and can alter the results of the election without detection is here.
Originally known as Diebold Safe & Lock Company, Charles Diebold founded the company in 1859 as a manufacturer of bank safes and vaults. Today Diebold manufactures security systems, ATM machines with security and cash recycling technology. In September 2009, Diebold sold its elections division to a company called Elections Systems and Software, Inc., which states that it is “the world’s most experienced election management company — and the only provider of end-to-end, fully integrated voting solutions to support every phase of the election process.”
One blogger claims he had “exclusive access” to the three researchers involved in the study.
In 2004, CBS News reported that a Diebold executive, Wally Odell, had stated in a fund raising letter that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president” when George W. Bush was running for his second term. Whether or not Odell had the ability to do that is unknown.
In June 2007, Diebold had produced new elections software which reportedly provided “unmatched security and verification capability for large and small jurisdictions nationwide.” The company division which produced the new software, Diebold Election Sytems, Inc., stated that “It protects the integrity of the ballot and every single vote that is cast.” Less than two months later, Diebold announced plans to sell the subsidiary, citing “rapidly evolving political uncertainties” and “the recent downturn in the capital markets” as factors and lowered revenue projections for the division. It also stated that “several states have initiated separate, independent reviews of voting technology within their jurisdictions,” which impacted purchases of electronic voting equipment.
A computer programmer testified under oath that elections can be “fixed” by tampering with the source code in the software program before the election takes place, specifically in the case of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio and that results can be “flipped 51-49” in favor of either major candidate.
In 2007, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen “decertified” several types Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems made by Diebold, Sequoia, and Hart InterCivic. The DREs of Diebold and Sequoia “were recertified solely for the purposes of conducting early voting and to allow counties to have one DRE machine in each polling place on Election Day for the purpose of complying with disability access requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).” In 2006, Lou Dobbs reported on specific problems with Sequoia machines such as allowing a voter to vote multiple times. Sequoia is owned by Smartmatic, which is now owned 90% by Venezuela, which planned to send “activists” to observe the 2006 elections in the state of Illinois.
One unconfirmed report from 2006 stated that Diebold some touch-screen machines had a “perhaps-uncorrectable flaw” and that ES&S had failed to deliver the necessary voting machines, software and ballots prior to the election, which prompted counties in at least six states to revert to using paper ballots.
However, problems have been reported with ES&S machines as well. ES&S was the manufacturer of the machines which had produced the “hanging chads” in 2000 in Florida. Touch-screen and electronic voting machines were reported as vulnerable directly following the 2000 election, including the downloading of software and proper loading of memory cards.
One elections officer in California has concluded that “There is no perfect voting system.”
The state of Florida has certified ES&S’s “Voting System, Release 22.214.171.124, Version 1, for use in the upcoming 2010 elections after certifying in February that it “meets the applicable requirements of Florida Statutes and Florida Voting Systems Standards (FVSS).
Late in 2009, the New York State Board of Elections reviewed several voting systems, including ES&S and Dominion Democracy. Their report states that a “manual review” of the source code which resulted in “some minor formatting issues” but “While not conforming to all requirements, the ES&S and Dominion findings are not considered to impact the ability of NYS to perform voting using these systems.” The state elections board certified ES&S equipment and software after reporting it had passed several standards tests.
The 501(c)3 organization Black Box Voting lists numerous reports of lost ballots, possible bribery, lobbyist involvement and machine problems in various counties and states across the country and provides suggestions on things which citizens can do to prevent election fraud. A recent article recommends that volunteers supervise the counting of absentee ballots before Election Day in addition to monitoring polling stations.
Some locations are considering abolishing polling stations and turning to mail-in ballots only.
The state of Missouri utilizes a combination of Sequoia, ES&S, Diebold, paper ballots “with Direct Recording Electronic Devices” and paper ballots with with “ballot marking devices.”