Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Déja Vote All Over Again

Election glitches ‘could get ugly'
New voting equipment, lack of training feed fears
By Richard Wolf

WASHINGTON — Eight weeks before elections that will decide control of Congress, a rush by state and local governments to prepare new voting machines and train poll workers is raising the possibility of trouble reminiscent of the 2000 presidential election standoff.

Problems range from delayed delivery of new equipment to an insufficient supply of trained technicians to fix anticipated problems, voting experts say.

Already this year, glitches have occurred in Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. Maryland became the latest on Tuesday, when technical problems, human errors and staff shortages led officials to keep some polls open an extra hour.

The fall elections shape up as the most technologically perilous since 2000, election officials say, because 30% of the nation's voting jurisdictions will be using new equipment. They include large parts of Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, scenes of key Senate races. “If you're ever going to have a problem, it's going to be that first election,” says Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services.

Since 2000, nearly half of U.S. counties have switched from punch cards, lever machines and paper ballots to electronic voting or optical-scan ballots read by a computer. They continue to rely on poll workers who are on average 72 years old and lack computer experience.

Since 2002, the federal government has given states $3 billion to upgrade registration and voting systems. Some states, however, still don't have statewide voter registration databases or equipment that people with disabilities can use independently.

Among the other concerns:

•Demand for new equipment, produced largely by four manufacturers, has delayed deliveries.

•States, counties and manufacturers don't have enough technical support staff. Spokesmen for Diebold and Election Systems & Software, two major vendors, say they're continuously seeking people. States such as Maryland, Mississippi and Pennsylvania have advertised for help on the jobs website Monster.com.

“The vendors have done a much better job of selling the machines than they have of servicing them,” says Doug Chapin, director of Electionline.org, which monitors voting changes.

•Touch-screen machines with a paper backup for recounts have caused problems in primaries. Twenty-seven states require a paper trail, up from one in 2004.

“There are so many potential failure points this year that some of it could get ugly,” says R. Doug Lewis, executive director of the Election Center, which represents state and local election officials.

Well, it works for these guys. Just check out the video.

Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine

Ariel J. Feldman, J. Alex Halderman, and Edward W. Felten
Abstract: This paper presents a fully independent security study of a Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine, including its hardware and software. We obtained the machine from a private party. Analysis of the machine, in light of real election procedures, shows that it is vulnerable to extremely serious attacks. For example, an attacker who gets physical access to a machine or its removable memory card for as little as one minute could install malicious code; malicious code on a machine could steal votes undetectably, modifying all records, logs, and counters to be consistent with the fraudulent vote count it creates. An attacker could also create malicious code that spreads automatically and silently from machine to machine during normal election activities — a voting-machine virus. We have constructed working demonstrations of these attacks in our lab. Mitigating these threats will require changes to the voting machine's hardware and software and the adoption of more rigorous election procedures.

Link to the full .pdf here showing the windows in the software that make your vote moot.

Unless, of course, you vote Reptilican.

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