At the Hadrian Hotel

At the Hadrian Hotel

Friday, September 22, 2006

On the Cover of the "Rolling Stone"

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has written an article for the October 5th, 2006 issue of "Rolling Stone" magazine, entitled "Will The Next Election Be Hacked?" In the article, he tells the story of Chris Hood, a former Diebold consultant who, along with other Diebold workers, installed a last minute patch before the 2002 election in Georgia. Here's an interesting quote:
Then, one muggy day in mid-August, Hood was surprised to see the president of Diebold's election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrive in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a "patch," a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. "We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn't do," Hood says. "The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done."
While Hood's story is the most detailed account of problems with electronic voting machines, there is some scary stuff about machines from the other 3 voting machine vendors and the companies' political ties. RFK, Jr.'s article puts together a number of frightening pieces to the current puzzle that is electronic voting in the United States. The only "good" thing I saw in the whole article was a reference to Ed Felten's recent work:
In a study released on September 13th, computer scientists at Princeton University created vote-stealing software that can be injected into a Diebold machine in as little as a minute, obscuring all evidence of its presence. They also created a virus that can "infect" other units in a voting system, committing "widespread fraud" from a single machine. Within sixty seconds, a lone hacker can own an election.
You can read more about Felten's work on this as well as other interesting stuff on electronic voting in his Freedom To Tinker blog.

In my opinion, the "Rolling Stone" article brings to light a number of things that every US citizen should be concerned about. Unfortunately, I feel that the reality of the situation is that only people with certain political leanings will take the article to heart. The rest of the nation won't be concerned until somebody from the "other side of the aisle" either writes a similar article or starts pushing legislation to fix this mess.

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