Paper ballots

For some reason, people never seem to want to pay attention to the fact that maybe our votes don’t matter:

The Vulnerability Assessment Team (VAT) at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois has managed to hack a Diebold Accuvote touch-screen voting machine in what I describe at my exclusive today at Salon as perhaps “one of the most disturbing e-voting machine hacks to date.”

As noted by the computer scientists and security experts at Argonne’s VAT, largely all that’s needed to accomplish this hack is about $26 and an 8th grade science education.

“This is a national security issue,” VAT team leader Roger Johnston told me, echoing what I’ve been reporting other computer scientists and security experts telling me for years. “It should really be handled by the Department of Homeland Security.”

Johnston should know. While the VAT folks have been dabbling in the security (or lack thereof) of e-voting systems in their spare time of late, most of the work they do is related to issues like nuclear safeguards and non-proliferation.

What makes this hack so troubling — and different from those which have come before it — is that it doesn’t require any actual changes to, or even knowledge of, the voting system software or its memory card programming. It’s not a cyberattack. It’s a “Man-in-the-middle” attack where a tiny, $10.50 piece of electronics is inserted into the system between the voter and the main circuit board of the voting system allowing for complete control over the touch-screen system and the entire voting process along with it.

Add an optional $15 radio frequency remote control device, and votes can be changed, without the knowledge of the voter, from up to half a mile away…

6 thoughts on “Paper ballots

  1. In Germany they use paper ballots and human beings to count them. We, too, can afford to be labor intensive and retro in this one area of our society in order to ensure the validity of our elections.

  2. Didn’t we know about this in 2004? And no, clark, we’re not going to go back to paper ballots–way too expensive to steal elections that way.

    For the first time in thirty years, I’m seriously considering not voting in 2012. What’s the point? The banks will buy all the horses, so they’re going to be the winners no matter what. Maybe for the downticket races…

  3. That was the other galling thing about Bush V Gore: how they took the exact opposite wrong lesson from that fiasco. I was a little shocked they would try to get away with it, but very shocked at how easy it ended up being to get national legislation that effectively forced everyone to ditch paper ballots. I guess those lawyers like Roberts were traumatized by the prospect of fighting over every single paper ballot like they were fixing to do. Now they can steal an election in the last half hour and all we can say is “Hunh? That can’t be right”

  4. Another problem with computer voting is that the machines tend to need earlier replacement that the old work horse level voting machines AND the SW needs updating.

    Which more and more cash strapped municipalities CANNOT afford.


    This was part of report on how funding cuts have led to fewer poll workers, no sample ballots being sent out, fewer primaries, fewer early voting, fewer voting locations, longer lines. Crikey. Such a deal.

    Fighting Bob LaFollette said democracy is not cheap and people get the government they pay for.

    And I heard this…where?

    One article I just found:

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