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Lunchtime listen: NPR on California Voting Machines

As you know, we’ve been tracking e-voting and the CA story for a while. Today’s lunchtime listen is from NPR’s Talk of the Nation, August 3, 2007. In this 17 minute segment, NPR interviews Matt Bishop, co-director, Computer Security Laboratory; professor, department of computer science at UC Davis, the leader of the hacking effort of e-voting machines certified for use in CA. His red team was able to compromise the security of all the systems tested! Particularly interesting was his description of “social engineering” which is sort of like phishing in which people are manipulated into performing actions or divulging confidential information. In other words, the *technology* can be easily hacked out of human or social weakness!

CA voting machines decertified

We’ve been tracking the continuing saga of electronic voting for a while. You’ll remember that last week, we posted about a report from two teams of researchers at the University of CA about the vulnerability of electronic voting machines. The latest news is that, on Friday, August 3, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen de-certified (with a path for conditional recertification) all the electronic voting machines used in California. Brad’s blog has the scoop:

Bowen announced that she will be disallowing the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems made by the Diebold and Sequoia companies on Election Day, allowing only one DRE machine per polling place which may be used for disabled voters. The paper trails from votes cast on DREs manufactured by those two companies must be 100% manually counted after Election Day. DREs made by Hart-Intercivic are used in only one California county and will be allowed for use pending security upgrades.

It’s Official: Florida voting machines can be hacked

Reversing an unofficial policy of denial, the Florida Secretary of State’s office has conducted an elections study that confirmed Tuesday what a maverick voting chief discovered nearly two years ago: Insider computer hackers can change votes without a trace on Diebold optical-scan machines.

See also
Lunchtime listen: “Hacking democracy”

Most vote machines lose test to hackers (California)

Lunchtime listen: “Hacking democracy”

This documentary exposes the vulnerability of electronic voting machines. The film follows investigative journalist Bev Harris as she investigates the security and accuracy of electronic voting systems. It’s 1hr 22 minutes so perhaps this will be 2 lunchtime listens.

Most vote machines lose test to hackers

Now are you worried? On Saturday, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer John Wildermuth, in an article entitled, “Most Vote Machines lost test to hackers”, described how teams of computer security experts (aka “hackers”) hired by the state were able to crack every model of voting machine that they tested — including Sequoia, Hart InterCivic and Diebold. The UC’s report/document dump is now on the CA Secretary of State’s site.

This obviously has national implications. Last week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey advanced H.R. 811, the “Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007,” which amends the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require a voter-verified permanent paper ballot.

State-sanctioned teams of computer hackers were able to break through the security of virtually every model of California’s voting machines and change results or take control of some of the systems’ electronic functions, according to a University of California study released Friday. The researchers “were able to bypass physical and software security in every machine they tested,” said Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who authorized the “top to bottom review” of every voting system certified by the state.

BlackBoxVoting.org posted an open letter to CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen in which BBV board member Jim March said, “Please consider taking more aggressive action. Decertify everything, citing the obvious failure of Federal oversight as the primary cause.” Feel free to contact California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen and let her know what you think of electronic voting machines.