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News :: Politics
Voting Machine Security for Diebold, not voter
22 Dec 2005
Posted: 12/17/2005 3:05:19 PM
Author: Arlin Briley
(AP coverage of a Leon County, Florida test of voting machine security was covered in the St. Petersburg Times and can be viewed at

Voting machines can be hacked? This should not surprise anybody. You cannot expect top performance out of an athlete that refuses every challenge. Each of the three manufacturers of voting machines certified for use in Florida (Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia) use the corporate, profit motive approach to their software: call it proprietary and keep it secret. But secrecy is no substitute for genuine security. Compare the robustness of a bank's on-line system; it's on the internet and has been probed by hackers many times. Success rate? Nearly 100% secure, proven by real-world exposure, and improved to become stronger after every detected threat.

By contrast, the voting machine companies develop their software in secret, and therefore are limiting the pool of talent and are not allowing the real world to show them where they are weak. Leon County Supervisor of Elections is doing America a service by testing the security of voting systems. He has shown that insiders can easily manipulate the election results, that Diebold software was helpless to detect the tampering, and that a rogue poll worker could easily substitute a wallet-sized memory card and introduce a hidden program to throw an election.

The Diebold official response: protecting their own security, threatening action if their proprietary code has been disclosed.

Pinellas County's Supervisor of Elections should perform similar testing to measure the security of the Sequoia voting systems. Action must be taken to restore voter confidence. In early 2005 the Election Reform Coalition of Pinellas County held public forums and lack of confidence in voting machines with no paper trail was the number one complaint. (

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