Hacking Democracy

Election Day is around the corner and fears are rising! Who knows what is going to happen this time. Will Democrats retake the House and the Senate or will Republicans hold on? Only time will tell! More importantly, will your vote count? Not necessarily speaking in the way that every person's vote counts, but will the Diebold Voting Machine you use, actually record your vote accurately. Already several South Florida voters say the choices they touched on the electronic screens, during the primaries, were not the choices that appeared on the final review screen!

Is this a problem, were the machines hacked or were they configured to trick loyal Democrats into voting for Republican candidates? Hacked you say, what do you mean? I mean that, an intelligent individual or group of individuals accessed the tamper resistant Diebold machines, by physical or electronic means (i.e. your friend the Internet). Then maliciously altered the software on the machine to change the outcome of your vote. The hell you say? The government would allow a machine that can be tampered with collect your votes? Well the simple answer is yes! And this hasn’t been the first time something like this has happened.

For example, Bev Harris, who started the website Black Box Voting, found that by clicking on a web link for a file transfer protocol (FTP) site belonging to voting machine maker Diebold Election Systems, she was able to view and acquire about 40,000 unprotected computer files. The files included source code for Diebold's AccuVote touch-screen voting machine, program files for its Global Election Management System tabulation software, a Texas voter-registration list with voters' names and addresses, and what appeared to be live vote data from 57 precincts in a 2002 California primary election. And there is more, these devices, which produce no paper record of voters' choices, contain a switch on the internal motherboard that would allow hackers to toggle between the two pre-installed profiles and change literally everything regarding how the machine works and counts votes.

Even worse, the motherboard on the voting machine has a slot for an external flash memory card (yes, the same type of card your old pda and digital camera use) from which a third profile could be loaded into the Diebold voting machine in just minutes. This would allow a hacker to overwrite certified files with their own data before switching the machine back to its original state. And who would know?

Think this is crazy or a down right lie? Just search the Internet for examples on hacking e-voting machines the results are plentiful. And check out HBO’s documentary – Hacking Democracy.

Send us your comments!