Monday, July 30, 2007

Voting Machines Have Failed The Hacking Tests...

..color me the opposite of surprised.

(View LIVE hearing now!)

A few months ago California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decided to do something strange and unusual: she kept her campaign promises and instituted a top-to-bottom review of California's voting systems. The results of her review - published on Friday - showed that every electronic voting system had security issues:
The report documents 15 security problems found in the devices. For example, researchers were able to exploit bugs in the Windows operating system used by the Diebold GEMS election management system to circumvent the system's audit logs and directly access data on the machine. They were able to get a similar level of access to Sequoia WinEDS data as well.

Testers were also able to overwrite firmware, bypass locks on the systems, forge voter cards, and even secretly install a wireless device on the back of a GEMS server.
Those in the election protection community have been decrying the probabilities of such security failings for years, as have computer experts who have studied the problem, some of whom have been working on alternative, non-proprietary voting systems. So it's rather gratifying to learn that we have elected a secretary of state who listens to the concerns of the voting public and experts in their fields and takes the appropriate steps to rectify the situation.

However, something rather disturbing has been revealed: ES&S - the company that provides to Los Angeles County its electronic voting systems (including the machines that tabulate the InkaVote ballots) - did not provide access to its machines until it was too late to be included in this report. Secretary Bowen has said that ES&S systems will be evaluated at a later date. It is uncertain at this time whether the evaluation will be done in time for the February 2008 primaries, which could leave LA County (the county in which your humble blogger resides and the most populous county in the country) without certified machines. And the chances are excellent that our Registrar of Voters, Conny McCormack (who never met Diebold sales literature she didn't like), will be amongst the Californian RoV's and County Clerks who may choose to ignore Secretary Bowen's findings and use systems currently in place, even should they be uncertified.

There's a tough fight ahead, my dears. Thank heavens we have Debra Bowen on the side of transparency and democracy.

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