As Elections Near, Officials Challenge Balloting Security
In Controlled Test, Results Are Manipulated in Florida System
Not just once either, but over and over by different people
Washington Post: As the Leon County supervisor of elections, Ion Sancho's job is to make sure voting is free of fraud. But the most brazen effort lately to manipulate election results in this Florida locality was carried out by Sancho himself.
Four times over the past year Sancho told computer specialists to break in to his voting system. And on all four occasions they did, changing results with what the specialists described as relatively unsophisticated hacking techniques. To Sancho, the results showed the vulnerability of voting equipment manufactured by Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, which is used by Leon County and many other jurisdictions around the country.
Sancho's most recent demonstration was last month. Harri Hursti, a computer security expert from Finland, manipulated the "memory card" that records the votes of ballots run through an optical scanning machine.
Then, in a warehouse a few blocks from his office in downtown Tallahassee, Sancho and seven other people held a referendum. The question on the ballot:
"Can the votes of this Diebold system be hacked using the memory card?"
Two people marked yes on their ballots, and six no. The optical scan machine read the ballots, and the data were transmitted to a final tabulator. The result? Seven yes, one no.
"Was it possible for a disgruntled employee to do this and not have the elections administrator find out?" Sancho asked. "The answer was yes." (....)
"You have to admit these systems are vulnerable and act accordingly," Hursti said.
Diebold took a dim view of the experiments. On June 8, a senior company lawyer faxed Sancho: "You have willfully and intentionally allowed the manipulation of memory cards related to your elections. . . . We believe this to have been a very foolish and irresponsible act."
The response frustrated Sancho. "More troubling than the test itself was the manner in which Diebold simply failed to respond to my concerns or the concerns of citizens who believe in American elections," he said. "I really think they're not engaged in this discussion of how to make elections safer."....(more)
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