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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hacking Democracy

HBO aired a documentary regarding the ability of one to "hack" the electronic voting system in order to change the outcome. There are two different types of electronic voting.

- Electronic Counting Machines, these take paper ballots and count them via electronic means. Once done the machines store the results on a conventional memory card. They also print a receipt in the end based off what the memory card has stored. This memory card is then taken from all the different precincts in the county and tabulated on one central computer.

- Electronic Touchscreens, votes are cast via a computer interface WITH NO paper receipt declaring the computer understood what you voted for. So take the above process and replace paper ballot with touchscreen interface. The memory cards from all precincts are taken to one central computer to be tabulated.

This memory card process is used by 80% of the country. All one has to do is get hold of a memory card (which can either be done by the poll worker or a method called stealing). If you get a memory card before the election takes place you must enter a negative number for the candidate you want to loose, this insures that any vote cast for them is deducted out of a negative value therefore not giving the candidate a positive vote. If one gets hold of the memory card after the ballots are cast then one simply changes the amount of votes already cast; the downside being if you are using an electronic vote counting machine method the votes have a paper trail...but who cares to count by hand is another story. Either way the memory card is a problem.

What can one do to insure that memory cards cannot be tampered with? This is what Diebold, Sequoia, and ECS (or whatever the acronym is) should be asking themselves. Oh, here is damn easy answer. DON'T USE A CONVENTIONAL MEMORY CARD. This inhibits any persons from tampering with the result. Hell I can plug in one of these memory cards into my own laptop and make myself President.

The memory card is only one method of altering votes but it is the most direct without leaving too much evidence behind that you have done something illegal.

The GEMS software used by the central tabulator, and used by 40% of the country, can also be "hacked." However if one were to compare the central tabulator receipt to the sum total of the receipts from each precinct they would not match. Then again how people will care to do this...

The point being there are so many different ways, at so many different times in the election process, and at any day of the year to change the votes cast. I cannot comprehend why any human being would design a voting system that is designed to run perfectly one day of the year when it can't even run securely any other day of the year. Diebold claims that all the different hacks would be virtually impossible to carry out on election day. Well I have to ask wtf? I am putting the lives of millions of Americans, who died so I could vote one day of the year, on the line just because you say the machines will work on election day? Again WTF? A voting machine should be tamper proof, hack proof, and ultimately secure EVERY SINGLE GOD DAMN DAY OF THE YEAR. What part of that is so hard to understand?

Those to blame: The FEC, Diebold, Sequoia, ECS, and stupid Poll Workers/Election Officials.

I almost had a serious emotional response which may have involved the tear ducts when this documentary was done. I mean wtf...

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