A few years ago I took an interest in electronic voting machines. As a computer geek, it seemed odd to me that most fellow computer geeks were opposed to the idea. Computers make everything better and easier: why oppose them? I soon found the answer: what they make especially easy is fraud. Rigging a paper election is hard. (Although the frequency with which cases of marked ballots are “lost” makes me wonder…) Rigging a computer election is trivial: you just increment a counter.

We’ve known for a long time that something was up. Every time there’s a national election, there’s a flood of news about insane voting machine stories. Some precincts have one candiate getting more votes than there are voters. Some release periodic updates, and people have watched some candidates lose votes as time goes on. Others had thousands of votes cast before the election starts. And still others have concluded that some candidates got negative votes.

I wrote a paper on this once, and it’s even more insane than it seems. One major voting company employs as a head developer a person who was convicted of wire fraud and computer hacking. Another keeps running into trouble because it’s not a US-owned company. Another sued to prevent the disclosure of security testing results. Oh, and one of the biggest companies had a bunch of e-mails leaked in which developers and executives basically talked about how how they didn’t need security so that people could go in and change things in the backend easily.

The whole think reeked, but it was kind of like some politicians: you were never sure if they were ridiculously inept or if they were truly corrupt. But now it’s getting a little clearer: election fraud is rampant.

Okay, checking out the site a bit more… Diebold is one of the big voting machine makers, but also a prominent ATM manufacturer. This article is downright scary: Windows malware specificically targeting ATMs. The details are sketchy, but it sounds like it basically reads the data off of swiped cards and sends it to some nefarious entity. Instead of using a hardware “skimmer” on an ATM, they put a virus on the ATM to make the ATM itself the skimmer.

Some things aren’t meant to be computerized. I think voting machines are one of them.

One thought on “Voting

  1. I have trouble trusting software alone for voting. I like verifiable stuff. Stuff you can double check. I used voting machines in NY when I first started voting and I always worried that they could be messed with. Computers are the same but more so.

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