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Diebold Voting Machines Can Be Hacked for $10, and How This Could Save Your Thanksgiving.

I roll over lazily, stretch, yawn, and open one eye…

I do a combined gasp/shriek, recoil a little, and bury my face in the pillow.

Yes, my strange bedfellow is still here. I thought he left after the 2010 election, but apparently not. Given that you all know how I feel about former U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller, that I agree with virtually none of his political philosophy, and that I am grateful every day that he is not in Washington, D.C., he does bring up an interesting point to the readers of his website.

The topic of the article is pretty much the only thing I agree with Joe Miller about, with the notable exception of the fact that I, too, would rather have had Scott McAdams as Senator than Lisa Murkowski. Miller’s website links to an article by a man many of you know from The Mudflats, one Mr. Brad Friedman. He is more used to having strange bedfellows than I am, and this is because the issue closest to his heart, and the one to which he devotes an incredible amount of time, is election integrity.

Election integrity simply means that your vote should count one time, and represent the actual way you voted. It means having confidence in the methodology and accuracy of the vote count. Seems simple enough, and most people just assume this to be the case. That’s what representative democracy is all about, right? One person, one accurately-counted vote.

The more you learn about this issue, the more horrified you will get. Not just in Alaska, but across the nation there are consistent problems with ensuring an accurate vote. Machines can be manipulated, numbers changed, ballots are kept in unsecured locations, results show that they were changed with no record of who did it or when…

Republicans are the main culprits suspected of the hinkiness, but there are exceptions. As it always is with the human beings, the people tempted to abuse power are the ones who have it. So, election integrity is NOT a partisan issue. It is amazing though, that when you stick up for the principle, how often you will be accused of being partisan. Just ask Brad Friedman who, depending on what side happens to be in his cross-hairs, has been accused of being a Republican hack, or a “Democrat” hack.

It should be said also, that The Mudflats got its share of grief by agreeing with Joe Miller that the Alaskan voting system is broken, and needs to be repaired. But we march on anyway, because in this case, regardless of how brutal the game is between the red shirts and the blue shirts, we all must agree on the rules or there is no game.

So what’s got Joe Miller, and me in knots today? I’ll tell you what. (my emphasis added below)

It could be one of the most disturbing e-voting machine hacks to date.

Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education, according to computer science and security experts at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The experts say the newly developed hack could change voting results while leaving absolutely no trace of the manipulation behind.

“We believe these man-in-the-middle attacks are potentially possible on a wide variety of electronic voting machines,” said Roger Johnston, leader of the assessment team “We think we can do similar things on pretty much every electronic voting machine.”

The Argonne Lab, run by the Department of Energy, has the mission of conducting scientific research to meet national needs. The Diebold Accuvote voting system used in the study was loaned to the lab’s scientists by, of which the Brad Blog is a co-founder. Velvet Revolution received the machine from a former Diebold contractor.

Yes, the Diebold Accuvote is subject to massive tampering from any Junior MacGyver with a paper clip, a wad of gum and a cell phone. Alarmingly, Dr. Roger Johnston of Argonne National Lab’s Vulnerability Assessment Team now believes they could use a similar method to manipulate the vote count on a paper-ballot based optical-scan system like the ones we use in Alaska as well!

So, in other words, the low-rent attack Argonne has demonstrated — requiring no knowledge of the voting system software, $10 to $26 in off-the-shelf computer parts, and little more than an 8th grade computer lab education — could also be implemented not just on touch-screen e-voting systems, with or without a so-called “paper trail,” but also on the paper ballot op-scanners used to count the majority of votes that will be cast in the U.S. in next year’s Presidential election.

But here’s the good news. You’ve got some homework that you may actually enjoy! You know your relatives that are the die-hard Teabagger conservatives? The ones that you’re already dreading having to talk to at Thanksgiving? The ones that, after you talk about the weather, and football, and the kids, you find yourself with nothing to say but “Pass the gravy”?  Well good news. Because now, you can send them to Joe Miller’s website and tell them to read the fascinating article there. You can tell them how right on the money it is, and blow their minds.

Here’s where you have to make a call. Depending on your relatives, you can do one of two things:

1) The Kumbaya Strategy – You can talk about the need for good people on both sides of the aisle to find issues on which they can agree, and that are important to the country, and point out election integrity as one of those issues.

2) The Cynical “Whatever it Takes” Strategy – You can withhold that information and let them believe that Joe Miller is a visionary reformer who is helping to bring an important issue to light. (Warning – Take care not to choke on your turkey)

Whichever strategy you choose to employ, encourage them to share the article and the information with all their Tea Party pals. The important thing is to make as many people aware of, and invested in this issue as possible.

You can read Joe Miller’s intro to the Friedman article, in which he asks questions regarding the Lt. Governor’s refusal to grant him a hand count even when he offered to pay for it,  HERE.

Or you can skip right to Brad Friedman’s article in its entirety at Salon HERE.

For hard-core election integrity junkies, you can read more at The Brad Blog HERE.



14 Responses to “Diebold Voting Machines Can Be Hacked for $10, and How This Could Save Your Thanksgiving.”
  1. Librul Redneck says:

    What really irritates me is the AK Democratic Party sort of blows this off with their nothing we can do about it attitude. It does not seem like they really try.

  2. Baker's Dozen says:

    Silly Alaskans. Voting is for Corporations!

  3. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    Lacy lady – well that “correction” took place during Bush’s first term under a republican congress and after 9/11/2001 sooooo…. even though the stated purpose of the act was to guarantee the integrity of the vote how many here think that was the end result?

    It is my opinion that there is nothing wrong with the concept of electronic voting and that the software and operating systems exist which could make it secure, accurate and much faster than any other methods, however, that all depends upon the assumption of trying to develop an honest system. From the beginning, Diebold has avoided anthing approaching what could be called an open system that can be independently verified. E.g. they refuse to release the “source code” for their systems. Well such systems are not exactly exotic so why is theirs so super secret?

    Another interesting line of questioning is the top level ownership of the Diebold machine makers and the spinoffs.

    And for those stout of will enough to bear the blow, just try googling ohio voter fraud 2004 and read up on that saga. In case everyone doesn’t know, Ohio was the state that handed Bush enough electoral votes to give him a second term.

    • mikefromiowa says:

      Lest anyone forget-nutters have an annoying habit of redefining well established words to match nutjob ideals and purposes. Conflict of interest is one of my favorite de-evolved expressions since it is defined by nutters so as not to include them. High crimes and misdemeanors is another good one for the party of NO. Why is tax-evasion a non-issue for Clarence Thomas-the other White Supreme Court Justice and such a bone of contention when 45% of America’s poorest are excused by law from Paying?

      • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

        MFI – Frankly I don’t understand your question. To my knowledge CT has not evaded any taxes, however he lied on his financial disclosure forms for 20 years in order to conceal the conflict of interest that his wife’s hefty income form supporters of citizen’s united constituted. Moreover, it appears as though as soon as the CU decision was handed down his plutocratic pals set up his wife in a very lucrative business funnelling money to right wing causes. Thomas needs to be impeached.

  4. lacy lady says:

    Something should be done about these machines. Also, It seems like some states are making it hard for a person to vote. If I remember there was a little screw-up in Florida when Bush ran for office. Instead of correcting the problem—-it seems to be getting worse.

  5. Sisuanna says:

    Be careful of the Norman Rockwell pic. The estate is very possessive. I agree with the post, though.

  6. Writing from Alaska says:

    Mudflats should never have to apologize or justify agreeing with someone on a universal principal such as voters rights. Thanks, AKM

  7. Madeline says:

    Guess this is a good reason to vote absentee on a paper ballot with a hand count.

  8. leenie17 says:

    Edward Felten, a computer science professor from Princeton, and two of his grad students showed how the Diebold machines can easily and quickly be hacked to flip votes by infecting them with viruses.

    “First, the CITP group discovered that not only could it install malicious code on the voting machine, but also that the code could easily be configured to “disappear” once its work was done, leaving no trace of tampering; the electronic and paper records produced by the voting machine would agree–and both be wrong.”

    And THAT’S why I’m so scared about the 2012 election!

  9. GoI3ig says:

    The division of elections never did answer for the fact that a few villages had 110% voter turnout a couple of elections ago. Or how entire towns voted for the same candidate. (that seems a bit unlikely) Both happened with the electronic voting machines.

  10. DuckDriver says:

    This should be shouted from the rooftops! I want my vote to count the way I submitted it.


  11. hedgewytch says:

    Even though I live in bush Alaska and pretty much have to vote by absentee ballot, if I lived in town, I’d probably vote that way as well. And until Alaska gets rid of its diebold machines, I would encourage others to do so as well if they are concerned that their vote is actually, accurately recorded AND PRESERVED.