Saturday, December 6, 2003

More on the voting machine conspiracy ...
Pretty good piece in the Atlantic Journal-Constitution about the DRE touch-tone screen voting machines: ["Electronic votes touch off doubts"].

Tests of computerized systems in Ohio this week did little to reassure skeptics. Detroit-based Compuware Corp., in a technical analysis of the four major voting machine manufacturers, identified 57 potential security risks in the software and hardware tested. The findings prompted Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to delay plans for having a computerized system in place for the 2004 presidential election. "I will not place these voting devices before Ohio's voters until identified risks are corrected and system security is bolstered," Blackwell said.

Interesting. However, they then said this:

Computerized voting systems also may be vulnerable to hackers or scheming programmers bent on stealing an election, some experts warned. A hacker could add votes to an individual voting terminal and a programmer could insert a "Trojan horse" program with a hidden code that could change vote totals, then cover its tracks, it has been suggested.

Again, how? These machines aren't hooked up to the Internet. Anyone who has gone to the polls can see that the machines stand alone in the corner and are not hooked up to the Internet. So, how can a hacker get into the system? It doesn't make any sense.
However, there is another piece out there that does address some of the issues from an interesting angle. PBS's Robert Cringely takes the whole thing from an IT perspective: ["No confidence vote"]. I especially like this section towards the end which makes a hell of a lot of sense.

Forgetting for a moment Diebold's voting machines, let's look at the other equipment they make. Diebold makes a lot of ATM machines. They make machines that sell tickets for trains and subways. They make store checkout scanners, including self-service scanners. They make machines that allow access to buildings for people with magnetic cards. They make machines that use magnetic cards for payment in closed systems like university dining rooms. All of these are machines that involve data input that results in a transaction, just like a voting machine. But unlike a voting machine, every one of these other kinds of Diebold machines -- EVERY ONE -- creates a paper trail and can be audited. Would Citibank have it any other way?Would Home Depot? Would the CIA? Of course not. These machines affect the livelihood of their owners. If they can't be audited they can't be trusted. If they can't be trusted they won't be used.

Or, if they can't be trusted they shouldn't be used.

... getting play with the Dems
Off and on today, I have been watching C-Span which is broadcasting speeches from the Florida Democratic convention. Both John Edwards and John Kerry have raised the question of whether or not the voting machines manufactured by Diebold can be trusted. Edwards called on Bush to give back Diebold donations: ["Edwards blasts Bush on donation"]. Very interesting. This means that people are talking to them about this issue on the campaign trail because neither of them mentioned anything about this before and neither of them did anything to give teeth to the $3.5 billion Help America Vote Act legislation that they both, I assume, voted for.

Dean makes the move
Howard Dean's campaign is making its move: Setting course for their political game plan beyond New Hampshire and Iowa in an effort to clinch the Democratic nomination quickly, according to an article in the Boston Globe this morning: ["'50-state strategy' seen in Dean's TV ad push"].

Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, announced yesterday that the former Vermont governor will start a multimillion-dollar, nonstop TV advertising spree in South Carolina and New Mexico beginning next week and continuing through Feb. 3, when those states vote. The campaign expects to begin similar ad buys within 10 days in two other states holding elections that day, Arizona and Oklahoma, with plans still under development for a third ad push in Missouri, North Dakota, and Virginia, the remaining states whose elections immediately follow the leadoff contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. On Sunday, the campaign will also air a 30-minute Dean infomercial in Madison, Wis., that is heavy on the physician-politician's biography. His aides hope the extended ad will attract supporters in later-voting states, such as Wisconsin, Washington, and Maine. Dean was more sanguine, saying after a speech to about 100 people gathered at the Mason City Public Library: "This is really not something new that's being rolled out Monday; it's more of a public acknowledgment of plans that have been going on for several months."

Washington cancels primary Globe correspondent Eli Sanders updates on the latest in cancelled primaries: ["Wash. cancels presidential primary"].