State officials have concluded that electronic voting machines can be hacked:
With primary election dates fast approaching in many states, officials in Pennsylvania and California issued urgent directives in recent days about a potential security risk in their Diebold Election Systems touch-screen voting machines, while other states with similar equipment hurried to assess the seriousness of the problem.
"It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is an examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania, where the primary is to take place on Tuesday.
The new concerns about Diebold's equipment were discovered by Harri Hursti, a Finnish computer expert who was working at the request of Black Box Voting Inc., a nonprofit group that has been critical of electronic voting in the past. The group issued a report on the findings on Thursday.
Computer scientists who have studied the vulnerability say the flaw might allow someone with brief access to a voting machine and with knowledge of computer code to tamper with the machine's software, and even, potentially, to spread malicious code to other parts of the voting system. . . . .
As word of Mr. Hursti's findings spread, Diebold issued a warning to recipients of thousands of its machines, saying that it had found a "theoretical security vulnerability" that "could potentially allow unauthorized software to be loaded onto the system."
The voting machine manufacturer, Diebold, is attempting to downplay the risk, but what else would you expect? The risk is there, and it an opening exists to alter the outcome of an election with a little hacking, it will happen. Think about it. What's the easiest way to win an election? Spend millions of dollars and years of effort trying to win over a majority of voters, or just pay a computer hacker to go in and make sure you get the results you want?
We know that there are some very unscrupulous groups participating in politics in America, as well as in other countries around the world. There will always be some who will do anything to gain power. Their fervor will grow when the stakes in an election are high. And guess what? We're approaching a high-stakes election season right now.
If votes can be stolen, they will be stolen.
As I've written before, no system will be 100% foolproof, but we should make it very, very difficult to switch, miscount, or "lose" votes recorded by a voting machine. Unfortunately, I don't believe that current technology meets that standard in a verifiable way.
Even the term "electronic voting machine" is a misnomer. It's actually a "voting computer."
Why isn't the term "computer" used? Because we all know that COMPUTERS MAKE MISTAKES. OFTEN.
Voting computers must have not only a complete paper trail, but routine, publicly verifiable receipts and audits.
It should be possible for election officials to pull up my ballot from the system (only with my consent of course, using my ballot number that only I know) so that I can verify for myself that my vote was recorded correctly. It should then be possible to easily verify that my vote was fed into the vote totals correctly. This type of doublecheck should be repeated with the votes of a few hundred, a few thousand, or even more willing voters every election.
The system should not be too complicated for laypersons to understand and audit.
If a system is too complicated for laypersons to understand and audit easily, then it will soon be rife with fraud.
And when votes are stolen or lost, or fraudulent votes are added, that is the death of democracy.
This issue deserves very high priority attention. It is almost as significant as the war on terror because our very democracy is at stake.