Publisher’s note: A hack like this could have easily swung Florida,
and the 2004 election.
Due to contractual non-performance and security design issues, Leon County
(Florida) supervisor of elections Ion Sancho has announced that he will never
again use Diebold in an election. He has requested funds to replace the Diebold
system from the county. On Tuesday, the most serious “hack” demonstration
to date took place in Leon County. The Diebold machines succumbed quickly to
alteration of the votes. This comes on the heels of the resignation of Diebold
CEO Wally O’Dell, and the announcement that a stockholder’s class
action suit has been filed against Diebold by Scott & Scott. Further “hack”
testing on additional vulnerabilities is tentatively scheduled before Christmas
in the state of California.
Finnish security expert Harri Hursti, together with Black Box Voting, demonstrated
that Diebold made misrepresentations to Secretaries of State across the nation
when Diebold claimed votes could not be changed on the “memory card”
(the credit-card-sized ballot box used by computerized voting machines.
A test election was run in Leon County on Tuesday with a total of eight ballots.
Six ballots voted "no" on a ballot question as to whether Diebold
voting machines can be hacked or not. Two ballots, cast by Dr. Herbert Thompson
and by Harri Hursti voted "yes" indicating a belief that the Diebold
machines could be hacked.
At the beginning of the test election the memory card programmed by Harri Hursti
was inserted into an Optical Scan Diebold voting machine. A "zero report"
was run indicating zero votes on the memory card. In fact, however, Hursti had
pre-loaded the memory card with plus and minus votes.
The eight ballots were run through the optical scan machine. The standard Diebold-supplied
"ender card" was run through as is normal procedure ending the election.
A results tape was run from the voting machine.
Correct results should have been: Yes:2 ; No:6
However, just as Hursti had planned, the results tape read: Yes:7 ; No:1
The results were then uploaded from the optical scan voting machine into the
GEMS central tabulator, a step cited by Diebold as a protection against memory
card hacking. The central tabulator is the "mother ship" that pulls
in all votes from voting machines. However, the GEMS central tabulator failed
to notice that the voting machines had been hacked. The results in the central
Yes:7 ; No:1
This videotaped testing session was witnessed by Black Box Voting investigators
Bev Harris and Kathleen Wynne, Florida Fair Elections Coalition Director Susan
Pynchon, security expert Dr. Herbert Thompson, and Susan Bernecker, a former
candidate for New Orleans city council who videotaped Sequoia-brand touch-screen
voting machines in her district recording vote after vote for the wrong candidate.
The Hursti Hack requires a moderate level of inside access. It is, however,
accomplished without being given any password and with the same level of access
given thousands of poll workers across the USA. It is a particularly dangerous
exploit, because it changes votes in a one-step process that will not be detected
in any normal canvassing procedure, it requires only a single a credit-card
sized memory card, any single individual with access to the memory cards can
do it, and it requires only a small piece of equipment which can be purchased
off the Internet for a few hundred dollars.
One thousand two hundred locations in the U.S. and Canada use Diebold voting
machines. In each of these locations, typically three people have a high level
of inside access. Temporary employees also often have brief access to loose
memory cards as machines are being prepared for elections. Poll workers sometimes
have a very high level of inside access. National elections utilize up to two
million poll workers, with hundreds or thousands in a single jurisdiction.
Many locations in the U.S. ask poll workers to take voting machines home with
them with the memory cards inside. San Diego County (Calif) sent 713 voting
machines/memory cards home with poll workers for its July 26 election, and King
County (Wash.) sent over 500 voting machines home with poll workers before its
Nov. 8 election.
Memory cards are held in a compartment protected by a small plastic seal. However,
these simple seals can be defeated, and Hursti has found evidence that the memory
card can be reprogrammed without disturbing the seal by using a telephone modem
port on the back of the machine.
The Hursti Hack, referred to as “the mother of all security holes”
was first exposed in a formal report on July 4. (http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVreport.pdf).
Diebold has insisted to county and state election officials that despite Hursti’s
demonstration, changing votes on its memory cards is impossible. (Public records
from Diebold, including threat letter to Ion Sancho: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/10535.html
On Oct. 17, 2005 Diebold Elections Systems Research and Development chief Pat
Green specifically told the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) board of elections during
a $21 million purchasing session that votes cannot be changed using only a memory
card. (Video of Pat Green: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/14298.html
) Over the objections of Cuyahoga County citizens, and relying on the veracity
of Diebold’s statements, the board has chosen to purchase the machines.
According to Public Records obtained by Black Box Voting, Diebold has promulgated
misrepresentations about both the Hursti Hack and another kind of hack by Dr.
Herbert Thompson to secretaries of state, and to as many as 800 state and local
Stockholder suit filed by the law offices of Scott and Scott:
Diebold CEO resigns: