Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rigged Voting Machines?


The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) dictated to many states and municipalities that old lever machines and other voting methods had to be changed and upgraded. I'm not sure I like the idea of the federal government writing such legislation. Here's more from wiki about HAVA.

There are some who say that these new voting methods - were put in place specifically to rig the upcoming elections. Frankly it really bothers me that we cannot seem to trust anyone, Republican or Democrat, about these matters anymore. I think that the people in general are very frustrated and angry about that most of all. But I digress...

Some are even claiming that the very recentIowa Straw Poll gave faulty results because of the use of Diebold electronic voting machines. There are those who claim that the Diebold machines are easily hacked into and a virus can be applied that can change or steal votes.

Researchers at Princeton University (and elsewhere too) have put forth that theory (with proof), and have written papers about it. They even produced a video:



Here in my state, the CT General Assembly in 2005 authorized Secretary of the State of CT, Susan Bysiewicz, to obtain voting technology to bring Connecticut into compliance with new federal standards set forth by HAVA. The old lever machines have effectively been banned and any primaries in the state of CT will have to use the new optical scan machines. I had a blog post about the old lever machines in CT being sold off.

Connecticut received optical scanner voting machines last year to replace the lever machines.
The secretary of the state contracted with LHS Associates to provide the state with 1,538 optical scan machines to replace all 3,300 mechanical lever voting machines by November 2007. LHS initially provided the state with 253 machines and 1,167 privacy booths. The state distributed these machines and booths to 25 municipalities chosen based on a survey. The 1,538 machines will cost the state a total of $ 15. 7 million.
CT's new machines are optical scan voting machines that officials say provide a reliable paper trail. I am not even convinced of the reliability of those. The old lever machines worked just fine and I am very angry that they were replaced by machines that I have not been convinced to trust and that will cost twice as much to operate. They require special paper and programming.

Read more about this whole issue of HAVA and rigged voting at the Cato Institute and Hacking Democracy as well as here about California voting machines failing hacker tests.

All I know is that I trusted the lever machines we used here in CT - as well as the same ones I used in New York state ever since I started voting over 32 years ago. There was never a doubt in my mind as to how my vote counted. Now I am not so sure with this new electronic and "tamperable" technology - and it isn't because I am not comfortable with change. Perhaps we should all protest and vote via paper ballots for a while.

If rigged machines are a reality because of HAVA - we have a very real problem at hand.

"Votes mean nothing; counting them
means everything" -- Joseph Stalin

1 comment:

P Henry said...

Judy,
This has been a huge issue in the on-line tech community for a while? ~3 years+?

From the sfgate article: "experts from the UC system had top-of-the-line security information plus more time and better access to the voting machines than would-be vote thieves likely would have....made available to the testers, including operating manuals, software and source codes usually kept secret by the voting machine companies"

What that means is the testers had time and schematics and software source code and unfettered access to hack or break in to the systems. Clearly a worst case test, but a very valid one.

The online community has been pushing for two things. 1) Complete publishing of all schematics and software so that entire tech community can analysis and suggest changes to make it more secure. I think this is a great idea. and 2) A paper trail that is saved and the individual can take home. Again I think this is a great idea.

I loved the old lever voting booths, never did I worry about fraud.

But the humans do make errors adding. Hard to believe and we all want our elections results 2 minutes after the polls close.