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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » live by thge bold, die by the bold

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Author Topic: live by thge bold, die by the bold
kenmeer livermaile
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Uh-oh!

Diebold discs

"ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Disks containing what appears to be software code used in Maryland's touchscreen voting machines in 2004 were delivered anonymously to a former state legislator, raising fresh concerns about the reliability of the voting system.

+++

A statement issued by Diebold said it would "take years for a knowledgeable scientist" to break the encryption used on the software disks delivered to Kagan.

But Ari Rubin, a computer scientist at Johns Hopkins University who reviewed the disks for The Washington Post, said the data files were not encrypted on the disk containing the software that runs the machines."

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Matteo522
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What I don’t get is how the heck Diebold can make machines that live up to banking standards but are just so damn awful at elections? From what I understand, an ATM machine is so much more complex than an election machine. ATM machines need to have safe network connections, a transactional fail-safe database over the network, hardware to accept and spit out accurate sums of cash, and security measures to make sure you don’t smash into it and steal the cash. An election machine needs to do one thing – count. You push a button, it increments a counter for that button. It should spit out a printed, timestamped receipt for every vote into a magic black box. Optionally, if the person chooses, he or she can accept a printed receipt with the vote or a printed receipt simply stating that a vote occurred. It should have all the tamper-proof protections that ATM machines and slot machines have. It should *not* phone home or try to connect to other machines… just print out totals when finished. The election officials than do whatever they normally did with those totals – drive them out to central hubs, call them in, whatever.

Why is this so hard if we’ve already done this?

I am in favor of the concept of having election counting machines… so long as they still print out receipts in the event of hardware malfunction and that randomly selected machines are audited by counting the paper ballots against the electronic ballots and making sure it’s within a certain level of accepted error (all counting methods will have error… it’s the hope that machines can provide faster results with less of a margin of error than hand counting).

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Dave at Work
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I smell an inside job. If I am understanding this correctly, we are not talking about the compiled software, but rather the source code used to compile the software right? Presumably anybody that has access to the source code would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
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Dave at Work
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I agree that there should definately be a paper trail. Heck, the technology for the paper trail has been around for a long time. The simplest solution is to do exactly what a cash register has done for decades. Simply print a receipt on a paper tape that has two sheets one to take the ink and the other to take a "carbon copy". One of these would be cut and disbursed to the voter and the other would be wound on a takeup reel and serve as a physical back up and be used in any audits against the electronic record. More complex solutions are probably also possible, though I imagine that with added complexity would come added risks.

I wonder what the process of developing these voting machines was. Did Diebold start out to produce something on their own and modify it to meet the demands of various groups around the country? Did Diebold get presented with a specification list that required them to forego certain security measures? Perhaps they just dropped the ball on this product, and we should be looking for a new product.

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RickyB
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We all know that the owner of Diebold declared himself "committed to delivering Ohio to Bush" in 2004, right?

Just mentioning.

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Liberal
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The question is, given the myriad republican scandals, Bush admin. admitting defeat in Iraq (something unheard of before) and expectations for a massive Democrat takeover of Congress, can we really trust any outcome of this election that leaves the Republicans in control? This is not a matter of my personal bias and dislike for GOP policies, but more of my caution in recognizing that it is fairly easy to predict they will lose congress and my worry that out of the desperation they have already shown in Bush endorsing a liar and adulterer and the GOP leadership trying defend Cunningham, Foley, Delay and others just to keep power, what would stop them from falsifying election results? 6 years ago if anyone had told me that the republicans would get rid of habeus corpus I would have never believed it either, but now...
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kenmeer livermaile
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"6 years ago if anyone had told me that the republicans would get rid of habeus corpus I would have never believed it either, but now..."

Ah. The times they are a-changin'...

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Matteo522
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According to http://www.electoral-vote.com, a site that compiles public polls, it's 50/50 right now. Granted, they got the 2004 election wrong, but it's still an interesting site nonetheless, and I respect his work and methodologies (for the record, he's very pro-left, but he leaves that out of the math).

Anyway, to say that it's easy to predict they'll lose congress and any other result would be an indictment of wrong-doing is a bit off. It looks like the House is more or less lost... but the senate is anybody's game still. And three weeks is an eternity to change public opinion one way or the other.

Matt

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Liberal
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The house is most likely where any fraud would appear given the fact that there are so many different districts, all with different voting standards so irregularities wouldn't look uniform or connected.
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Matteo522
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Here's an interesting article:

http://online.barrons.com/public/article/SB116138396438799484-IdCXhh7Ie9DTbX74S9pa7pqHYY4_20061120.html?mod=9_0002_b_free_features

Instead of looking at polls, they're just comparing how much money each candidate has. It's certainly an interesting exercise at the very least:

quote:
Is our method reliable? It certainly has been in the past. Using it in the 2002 and 2004 congressional races, we bucked conventional wisdom and correctly predicted GOP gains both years. Look at House races back to 1972 and you'll find the candidate with the most money has won about 93% of the time. And that's closer to 98% in more recent years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Polls can be far less reliable. Remember, they all but declared John Kerry president on Election Day 2004.

Our method isn't quite as accurate in Senate races: The cash advantage has spelled victory about 89% of the time since 1996. The reason appears to be that with more money spent on Senate races, you need a multi-million-dollar advantage to really dominate in advertising, and that's hard to come by.

Anyway, they claim the Republicans lose 8 - 14 seats but keep the house and they'll have 52 senators.

Clearly the authors want the Republicans to win... but it's an interesting look at other numbers regardless.

Matt

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kenmeer livermaile
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From the blog of our good friend, William Gibson:

Easy Hacks on Diebold

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Matteo522
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quote:
An attacker could also create malicious code that spreads automatically and silently from machine to machine during normal election activities — a voting-machine virus.
What the HELL are these machines doing being networked to one another?! There is absolutely no reason for that... and on top of that.. why is the executable in anything other than ROM where it can't be changed.

They did say that this is just one kind of voting machine. Is this machine even in use in a real environment? I don't know... I was lazy and just read the abstract. [Razz]

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TommySama
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I think they should just do it the way the Greeks did.

Take everyone who is able to vote into a big grassy area. Then hold up a picture of one candidate, let the people who vote for him cheer. Then do it again with the other candidate(s.)

"Your vote is only worth how loudly you proclaim it." -Me.

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0Megabyte
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Networked voting machines... bah.

Let's take the example of Battlestar Galactica and NOT network such things, as everyone above has said.

Anyway, nothing to add but that silly refernce. But yeah, those things above make sense... and should be common sense.

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kenmeer livermaile
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Matteo:

when posting links, try using the 'full reply form' or 'post reply' button, then paste the link in the window (after deleting the 'http' text) then press enter. Then delete the text 'web page', then type i what you wish to name the link.

The text of the thread won't be stretched beyond the page margins.

Orneryans will thank you.

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The Drake
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Um, these machines are not networked. As usual, reading just the abstract is never enough detail.

quote:
In addition to our demonstration vote-stealing attacks, we have developed a voting machine virus that
spreads the vote-stealing code automatically and silently from machine to machine. The virus propagates
via the removable memory cards that are used to store the election definition files and election results, and
for delivering firmware updates to the machines. It exploits the fact that, when the machine boots, the
Diebold bootloader will install any code found on the removable memory card in a file with the special
name fboot.nb0 [14]. As a result, an attacker could infect a large population of machines while only
having temporary physical access to a single machine or memory card.

As to why firmware updates are necessary, I'm not sure. Maybe because so many different voting districts have so many different rules about ballots, initiatives, order of candidates, etc.
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Matteo522
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Woops. That's what I get for posting without reading TFA. Can you tell I'm a Slashdotter? [Razz]

As for the URL thing - I'll just us the UBB code. It didn't even occur to me that that was a long link. I keep my resolution at the insane 2048x1536. so everything fits on my screen. [Smile]

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kenmeer livermaile
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Wait till your eyes get old. Reality, one discovers, IS but an illusion...
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