Diebold Machines Malfunctioning in Florida

It seems that voters casting early ballots using the Diebold machines in Florida already have reported persistent bugs and glitches preventing them from casting their votes correctly. Apparently most of the faulty machines would assign the votes cast for Democratic candidates to Republicans:

Mauricio Raponi wanted to vote for Democrats across the board at the Lemon City Library in Miami on Thursday. But each time he hit the button next to the candidate, the Republican choice showed up. Raponi, 53, persevered until the machine worked. Then he alerted a poll worker.

Heh… How convenient. But you know what is really scary? This is apparently a very common issue, and the poll workers are actually expected recalibrate these machines on the spot to realign the screen and correct these issues:

Broward Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney said it’s not uncommon for screens on heavily used machines to slip out of sync, making votes register incorrectly. Poll workers are trained to recalibrate them on the spot — essentially, to realign the video screen with the electronics inside. The 15-step process is outlined in the poll-workers manual.

So let me get this straight. The Diebold machines are so unreliable that their touch screens go out of sync all the time, registering the wrong votes. The poll workers are expected to frequently reboot and recalibrate them when the voters complain… But how many voters will notice these glitches? How many will bother to stick around and wait while the machine is calibrated? These machines are crap! Why the fuck do people insist on using them?

Besides, you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to notice that this flaw could be abused. After all, if you want to install a stealth vote stealing program on one of these machines you simply need to insert a specially prepared memory card into the slot on the side of the machine and reboot. Loading malicious patch takes 20-30 seconds tops, not counting the time to open the lock protecting the card interface. Of course we now know that the key used in Diebold machines is a standard office furniture key design used in mini-bars and desk drawers. You can buy Diebold compatibile keys on ebay or from your local office furniture store.

So, in order to rig a machine a poll worker simply needs to “notice” that the screen sync is out of whack, and then simply slip a card carrying a vote stealing code into the machine using a key purchased on ebay, and reboot while pretending to do the calibration steps.

Logistically speaking, rigging elections in Diebold districts is easier than ever. It is relatively hard to loose or destroy hundreds of paper ballots without anyone finding out about it. It is extremely easy to do the same with electronic votes, provided that you can prepare a vote stealing patch similar to the one Ed Felten and the Princeton crew developed during their testing projects.

In other words, if you live in a Diebold district, cast an absentee vote instead of using the machine, just to be on the safe side…

[tags]voting, diebold, glitches, bugs, security, politics, elections, rigging elections[/tags]

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