----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, October 29, 2006 12:10 PM
Subject: EJF election news - Diebold review 10/29/06
A Computer Expert's Explanation of
Electronic Voting Machines
and Why We Can't Rely on
Let me see if I understand the current situation with
regard to using Diebold electronic voting machines and central tabulators in the
November 7, 2006, election:
- Many of the hard drives and apparently all of the
motherboards of the voting machines are Made in China. China is known to be
attacking Department of Defense, Commerce Department, and other government
computers. Since the motherboard controls the voting machine, and hiding a
malicious program in the boot sector of a hard drive isn't much of a trick,
one has to assume that some or all of the Diebold voting machines are
potentially, even probably controlled by China (Security 101). The only
remaining question is whether they have exercised that control yet?
Personally, if the option were mine, I'd wait until the 2008 elections.
- Diebold voting machines are all based on one variant
or another of the Microsoft Windows operating system. No other computer
operating system in the world is subject to so many viruses, trojan horses,
hack tools, worms, rootkits, or other attacks as Windows.
- The voting machine does not have to be
connected to the Internet to become infected with these agents. For one
example see Tom Clancy's novel The Bear and the Dragon.
- Diebold programming is primarily done in Vancouver,
British Columbia, Canada, by individuals of unknown allegiance who are
certainly not citizens of the United States or loyal to it.
- Diebold has established a reputation for selling
- Diebold treats all software and hardware as
proprietary so that it is impossible to determine what is actually used in an
election to tabulate votes.
- Logic and Accuracy Testing (LAT) is done in "Test"
mode, not "Election" mode.
- Central tabulation software, GEMS, is widely available
on the Internet and step-by-step instructions on hacking the vote are posted.
Whether this is the actual software used in a given election is impossible to
determine as Diebold requires a non-disclosure contract and regards their
software and hardware as proprietary.
- Diebold uses Microsoft Access database to store
election results with basically no security on the database.
- There are no meaningful standards in place and the
so-called "Independent Testing Authority"
that "certifies" the voting machines is paid by Diebold and only tests what
Diebold wants tested. And, if problems are found, they may or not be
- What standards do exist permit wireless communication
with the voting machines and Diebold is known to have implemented such methods
in their voting machines in the past. A wireless link would be easy to include
in the motherboard when Made in China.
- Diebold has repeatedly used uncertified and untested
software and hardware in elections, making a mockery of even the weak
certification and testing procedures in place.
- Diebold voting machines do not meet HAVA requirements
for handicap access. The only handicapped they even try to assist are the
visually impaired. Diebold paid one association of the blind $1 million to
promote their voting machines. But when blind voters have used them in
elections they haven't been real happy and to hell with any other handicapped
- Diebold voting machines have failed every independent
security test ever undertaken by a number of nationally-recognized
- Diebold has repeatedly failed to correct known
security flaws and software bugs.
- Attacks by a variety of experts have shown Diebold
voting machines are easily hacked.
- Standards for security of these machines has been
demonstrated to be completely inadequate and unaffordable even if required by
court order. So the argument that election processes and procedures "protect"
them is fallacious. For example, every vote counting machine used in a
precinct is sent home with an election judge from one day to a week before the
election (known as "sleepovers").
- Diebold hires technicians to support local elections
off the street, does no background check, provides minimal training, and gives
them unlimited access to the voting machines in most jurisdictions.
- In many election jurisdictions Diebold personnel
actually run the election.
- Diebold TSx DREs with paper ballots must have the
paper roll changed by a technician, not an election judge, every time 60-75
ballots are cast. The ballots are on a continuous roll and make a potential
hand recount very tedious and time consuming.
- "Programming" and machine errors have been exposed in
every election cycle Diebold
voting machines have been used in for the past ten years. Note that it is
virtually impossible to distinguish "programming" errors from deliberate fraud
- It has become easy to determine that a Diebold
representative is dissembling. His, or her lips are moving.
With the exception of the motherboard, the
other issues listed above are documented in the EJF book on Vote Fraud and
Election Issues. Pictures of the Diebold
motherboard and details on the Hursti hack can be found at
The truly frightening thing is that
Diebold may not even be the worst of the electronic voting machines in use.
While I have painted China as the villain in the above synopsis, Sequoia Voting
Systems is owned by a government-controlled Venezuelan company. Venezuela hasn't
been notably friendly to the U.S. lately, either.
Our forbearers developed a
working solution for elections. Voters go to a local precinct, hand mark a paper
ballot and put it in a locked ballot box. At the end of the day the ballots are
counted in public view by at least two election judges of opposing parties
before the ballots ever leave the polling place. That is as safe, secure, and
accurate a method as has been devised for voting. It is also considerably
cheaper than electronic voting. Why don't we use it?
Before you dismiss the above
as the paranoid ranting of one more radical, consider the following listings
from my curriculum vitae:
Who's Who in the World, 16th through 24th
Who's Who in America, 53rd through 61st
Who's Who in Science and Engineering, 4th
through 9th Editions, 1998-2007.
I began working with electronics in 1957
and with computers in 1960 on flight control and guidance systems for Atlas and
Centaur missiles. In 1976 I earned a Ph.D. in geophysics that was largely
supported by the aerospace engineering department at Texas A&M. Much of my
career was spent in such institutions as Scripps and Woods Hole. I also served
on the IEEE Voting Equipment Standards
committee for virtually its entire duration from 2001 to 2006.
So when some election official
claims problems with electronic voting machines don't exist, ask them for their
credentials and educational background. Pay particular attention to their
computer experience (most don't have any).
As a Marine, I took an oath to
defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I still take
that oath seriously.
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