« Decline And Fall | Main | Today's Bush Joke »

September 15, 2006

Game Over Vote Fraud

Computer researchers at Princeton have published a demonstration showing how easily Diebold "Accuvote" touchscreen voting machines can be hacked to steal votes from one candidate and redirect them to another.

They wrote a virus that can be installed on a voting machine in less than a minute. Once installed on one machine, it can spread to others, infecting them as well. The virus steal votes in such a way that all records — on the display screen, in memory cards, and in paper printouts — agree on the fraudulent totals. The virus can tell when the machine is being run in a mode used to test the machine's accuracy, and it will provide accurate results during the test. During an actual election, however, the virus steals votes. When the election ends, the virus deletes itself, removing all traces that it was ever there. Fixing these problems will require more than just a software change; the machines' hardware must be changed as well.

So democracy comes down to who's got access to the machines and who's got the better hackers.

Why is this state of affairs tolerated? Yes, people are cynical and people are lazy, but still. It's hard to escape the conclusion that these machines represent the culmination of an elite dream: take the rabble out of the equation without our even knowing it. Preserve the appearance of democracy, but reduce it to a made-for-tv charade.

The only thing that will stop it is public outrage. There are so many things to be outraged about, though, that it's hard for this one to gain traction. But this one is fundamental. If we can't vote, it's pretty much game over.

Details of the study are available here, along with a video that demonstrates the malicious software in use.

[Thanks, Maurice]

Posted by Jonathan at September 15, 2006 05:12 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Comments

This study makes you wonder if the hacking has already happened.

Will spread the word and ask people to report the hack to their local officials.

Posted by: bill at September 17, 2006 08:05 PM

According to the statistical analysis of National Election Data Archive it has.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death at September 18, 2006 05:33 PM