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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Decertified voting machines were used in California 50th District election
Posted by Jill | 1:12 PM
Unless you're prepared to say that election shenanigans, ineptitude, and incompetence are OK as long as your side wins, what just happened in California's 50th district race to replace disgraced Congressman Randall ("Duke") Cunningham should scare the hell out of you.

Brad Friedman:

The electronic Diebold voting systems used in the special run-off election last week for California's 50th U.S. House district were effectively 'decertified' and invalidated for use in the election after massive security breaches in the storage of those systems were sanctioned by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, The BRAD BLOG can now conclude.

Based on the review of several different very specific state and federal requirements, laws and provisions, the unsecured overnight storage of Diebold voting machines and their memory cards in poll workers houses, cars and garages in the days and weeks prior to the closely watched election between Republican Brian Bilbray and Democrat Francine Busby violated several federal and state provisions which, if not followed, would revoke the certification of use for the voting systems in any California election.

In the wake of discussions yesterday with SD County Registrar Mikel Haas, who admitted to The BRAD BLOG that storage in poll workers' cars could not be considered secure, it has now become clear that several violations of certified provisions of use for Diebold voting machines — which have been found and confirmed in the past several months to be highly tamperable by dozens of methods and by the company's own admissions — occurred in last week's race.

When it was discovered last December, after a security examination of Diebold optical scan systems in Leon County, FL, that both op-scan and touch-screen systems made by Diebold could be hacked via their memory cards — due to the presence of so-called "interpreted code" which is banned by federal voting systems standards — both federal and California officials instituted new security requirements concerning their use in elections. The violation of those requirements, as has clearly occurred in the CA-50 race, would effectively nullify their certification for use in the state of California.

Adding fuel to the concerns of the incredibly cavalier statements about the security issues related to this matter by Registrar Haas (read on below) is the fact that just last week, two different elections in an Iowa Republican primary revealed that the popular incumbents — who had both apparently "lost" their races after paper ballots were optically-scanned — had in fact won their races after a subsequent manual hand-count revealed the scanners were programmed incorrectly. Those revelations, along with the details of CA-50 that we have been reporting here, have led non-partisan election watchdog organization VoteTrustUSA to join us in demanding that SD County prove their reported results are accurate by carrying out a full manual hand-count of all paper ballots and "paper trails" in the race.

The National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED) the national body responsible for qualifying voting systems for use on the federal level, issued a warning about the severe tamperability of memory cards back on March 22nd, 2006, after the issue came to light during the December Leon County tests which revealed that exploitation of this vulnerability could be used to flip an election on a Diebold optical scan system. If exploited, the tampering would not be visible to vote tabulation witnesses and no trace of the hack would be left behind save for counting the paper ballots themselves for accuracy.

In another examination by computer security professionals in Emery County, Utah in March, it was discovered that Diebold's touch-screen systems could have their entire election software, operating system and even computer firmware ("BIOS") overwritten in less than two minutes time — no password necessary — should a sing malicious user have unfettered phyiscal access to the system. Such access could then affect every voting machine used across the entire county.

The result of all of this would be that if there had been malicious tampering with these voting systems, no amount of observations of the tabulation would reveal the tampering that had occured inside the machines. Unfortunately, candidate Francine Busby's own statement in regard to this matter, seems to reveal that she is wholly unaware of the incidiousness and invisibility of the points in question here and, as we'll show, the fact that the voting machines, as used in her own election, were in clear violation of the law.

As a blood sample taken at a crime scene and then stored in someone's garage for a week before delivery to the crime lab would be considered "contaminated" on its face — even if there had been no actual tampering to the sample — so must the world's most easily-hackable voting machines be considered as contaminated when such a massive breach of security in the chain of custody has taken place such as sending machines home, unprotected, with poll workers.

More here.

Voting machines being stored at poll workers' homes? When changing the software is as simple as inserting a card into a slot?

Do YOU have any faith in elections conducted under these circumstances? I don't.
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