More questions on the reliability of voting machines

October 23, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

Sequoia voting machines has been troubled by allegations of vote irregularities before.  (see here, here, here and here for typical examples).  Now Slashdot is reporting that a new analysis of the computer code used by these machines indicates there is probably some truth to the allegations.

The existence of such code appears to violate Federal voting law: “Sequoia blew it on a public records response. … They appear… to have just vandalized the data as valid databases by stripping the MS-SQL header data off, assuming that would stop us cold. They were wrong. The Linux ‘strings’ command was able to peel it apart. Nedit was able to digest 800-MB text files. What was revealed was thousands of lines of MS-SQL source code that appears to control or at least influence the logical flow of the election, in violation of a bunch of clauses in the FEC voting system rulebook banning interpreted code, machine modified code and mandating hash checks of voting system code.”
Of course, this barely rises to the level of news in the formerly democratic USA.  It’s certainly not the only company to fail these sorts of tests. (See here also)   When asked, the 54% of the American public that still votes responded that they were too busy with football season and prime-time TV to care.   The remainder was too turned off by rampant corruption and sickened by close ties between government and large corporations to participate in sham elections anyway.

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Category: computers, Fraud, Politics

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is a full-time wage slave and part-time philosopher, writing and living just outside Omaha with his lovely wife and two feline roommates.

Comments (2)

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  1. NIklaus Pfirsig says:

    There are several things in the voting machine design that I find unassuring.

    First, there is no proof that the machine actually records the vote as it was cast. This could be simply remedied by giving the voter a printed receipt.

    Second, there is absolutely no audit trail, so it is impossible to recount the votes. In the case of the Diebold machines, they appear based on an embedded system design which includes internal printer ports, so adding a journal journal tape and receipt print would be a minor expense the would garantee accountability and make recount possible.

    Third, the use of operating system and applications software that is well known for it lack of security, particularly in networked environments(Windows) is reason for some concern. Qnix or RTOS, are more secure OSes, each with a proven record in ATMs and POS terminals, using custom applications would be a better choice.

    It seems to me that the systems are designed to allow easy manipulation.

  2. Brynn Jacobs says:

    NIklaus Pfirsig said:

    It seems to me that the systems are designed to allow easy manipulation.

    That's the conclusion that I think we are forced to come to, given that they've had years to fix these easily fixable problems and have made no attempt to do so.

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