Princeton: Diebold’s Newest Voting Machine…Sucks

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Talking of voting hiccups, the Center for Information Technology and Policy got hold of one of Diebold’s latest-model voting machine, the AccuVote-TS, and took it for a spin. What they found is not reassuring.

1) Malicious software running on a single voting machine can steal votes with little if any risk of detection. The malicious software can modify all of the records, audit logs, and counters kept by the voting machine, so that even careful forensic examination of these records will find nothing amiss. We have constructed demonstration software that carries out this vote-stealing attack.

2) Anyone who has physical access to a voting machine, or to a memory card that will later be inserted into a machine, can install said malicious software using a simple method that takes as little as one minute. In practice, poll workers and others often have unsupervised access to the machines.

3) AccuVote-TS machines are susceptible to voting-machine viruses — computer viruses that can spread malicious software automatically and invisibly from machine to machine during normal pre- and post-election activity. We have constructed a demonstration virus that spreads in this way, installing our demonstration vote-stealing program on every machine it infects.

4) While some of these problems can be eliminated by improving Diebold’s software, others cannot be remedied without replacing the machines’ hardware. Changes to election procedures would also be required to ensure security.

In the November 2006 elections, these machines are scheduled to be used in 357 counties representing nearly 10 percent of registered voters.

More on Diebold here and here.

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