[Mb-civic] The perils of computerized vote counting...

ean at sbcglobal.net ean at sbcglobal.net
Sun Sep 5 09:40:54 PDT 2004

The below is the first of 4 parts....you can read the rest by going to the site 
below and clicking "go to Part 2" at the bottom.  Better for us to know than be 
in the dark...


Consumer Report Part 1: Look 
at this -- the Diebold GEMS 
central tabulator contains a 
stunning security hole
Submitted by Bev Harris on Thu, 08/26/2004 - 11:43. Investigations 
Issue: Manipulation technique found in the Diebold central tabulator -
- 1,000 of these systems are in place, and they count up to two million 
votes at a time. 
By entering a 2-digit code in a hidden location, a second set of votes is 
created. This set of votes can be changed, so that it no longer matches 
the correct votes. The voting system will then read the totals from the 
bogus vote set. It takes only seconds to change the votes, and to date 
not a single location in the U.S. has implemented security 
measures to fully mitigate the risks. 
This program is not "stupidity" or sloppiness. It was designed and 
tested over a series of a dozen version adjustments. 
Public officials: If you are in a county that uses GEMS 1.18.18, 
GEMS 1.18.19, or GEMS 1.18.23, your secretary or state may not 
have told you about this. You're the one who'll be blamed if your 
election is tampered with. Find out for yourself if you have this 
problem: Black Box Voting will be happy to walk you through a 
diagnostic procedure over the phone. E-mail Bev Harris or Andy 
Stephenson to set up a time to do this. 
For the media: Harris and Stephenson will be in New York City on 
Aug. 30, 31, Sep.1, to demonstrate this built-in election tampering 
Members of congress and Washington correspondents: Harris and 
Stephenson will be in Washington D.C. on Sept. 22 to demonstrate 
this problem for you. 
Whether you vote absentee, on touch-screens, or on paper ballot (fill in 
the bubble) optical scan machines, all votes are ultimately brought to 
the "mother ship," the central tabulator at the county which adds them 
all up and creates the results report. 
These systems are used in over 30 states and each counts up to two 
million votes at once. 
(Click "read more" for the rest of this section) 
The central tabulator is far more vulnerable than the touch screen 
terminals. Think about it: If you were going to tamper with an election, 
would you rather tamper with 4,500 individual voting machines, or 
with just one machine, the central tabulator which receives votes from 
all the machines? Of course, the central tabulator is the most desirable 
Findings: The GEMS central tabulator program is incorrectly 
designed and highly vulnerable to fraud. Election results can be 
changed in a matter of seconds. Part of the program we examined 
appears to be designed with election tampering in mind. We have also 
learned that election officials maintain inadequate controls over access 
to the central tabulator. We need to beef up procedures to mitigate 
Much of this information, originally published on July 8, 2003, has 
since been corroborated by formal studies (RABA) and by Diebold's 
own internal memos written by its programmers. 
Not a single location has yet implemented the security measures 
needed to mitigate the risk. Yet, it is not too late. We need to tackle 
this one, folks, roll up our sleeves, and implement corrective measures. 
In Nov. 2003, Black Box Voting founder Bev Harris, and director Jim 
March, filed a Qui Tam lawsuit in California citing fraudulent claims 
by Diebold, seeking restitution for the taxpayer. Diebold claimed its 
voting system was secure. It is, in fact, highly vulnerable to and 
appears to be designed for fraud. 
The California Attorney General was made aware of this problem 
nearly a year ago. Harris and Black Box Voting Associate Director 
Andy Stephenson visited the Washington Attorney General's office in 
Feb. 2004 to inform them of the problem. Yet, nothing has been done 
to inform election officials who are using the system, nor have 
appropriate security safeguards been implemented. In fact, Gov. 
Arnold Swarzenegger recently froze the funds, allocated by Secretary 
of State Kevin Shelley, which would have paid for increased scrutiny 
of the voting system in California. 
On April 21, 2004, Harris appeared before the California Voting 
Systems Panel, and presented the smoking gun document showing that 
Diebold had not corrected the GEMS flaws, even though it had 
updated and upgraded the GEMS program. 
On Aug. 8, 2004, Harris demonstrated to Howard Dean how easy it is 
to change votes in GEMS, on CNBC TV. 
On Aug. 11, 2004, Jim March formally requested that the Calfornia 
Voting Systems Panel watch the demonstration of the double set of 
books in GEMS. They were already convened, and the time for Harris 
was already allotted. Though the demonstration takes only 3 minutes, 
the panel refused to allow it and would not look. They did, however, 
meet privately with Diebold afterwards, without informing the public 
or issuing any report of what transpired. 
On Aug. 18, 2004, Harris and Stephenson, together with computer 
security expert Dr. Hugh Thompson, and former King County 
Elections Supervisor Julie Anne Kempf, met with members of the 
California Voting Systems Panel and the California Secretary of 
State's office to demonstrate the double set of books. The officials 
declined to allow a camera crew from 60 Minutes to film or attend. 
The Secretary of State's office halted the meeting, called in the general 
counsel for their office, and a defense attorney from the California 
Attorney General's office. They refused to allow Black Box Voting to 
videotape its own demonstration. They prohibited any audiotape and 
specified that no notes of the meeting could be requested in public 
records requests. 
The undersecretary of state, Mark Kyle, left the meeting early, and one 
voting panel member, John Mott Smith, appeared to sleep through the 
On Aug. 23, 2004, CBC TV came to California and filmed the 
On Aug 30 and 31, Harris and Stephenson will be in New York City to 
demonstrate the double set of books for any public official and any TV 
crews who wish to see it. 
On Sept. 1, another event is planned in New York City, and on Sept. 
21, Harris and Stephenson intend to demonstrate the problem for 
members and congress and the press in Washington D.C. 
Diebold has known of the problem, or should have known, because it 
did a cease and desist on the web site when Harris originally reported 
the problem in 2003. On Aug. 11, 2004, Harris also offered to show 
the problem to Marvin Singleton, Diebold's damage control expert, 
and to other Diebold execs. They refused to look. 
Why don't people want to look? Suppose you are formally informed 
that the gas tank tends to explode on the car you are telling people to 
use. If you KNOW about it, but do nothing, you are liable. 

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Action is the antidote to despair.  ----Joan Baez
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