The Trouble with Diebold and Electronic Voting

by Devanshu Mehta

First, take a look at this “graphic at Washington Post”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2006/03/16/GR2006031600213.html sensationally titled *How to Steal an Election*. It compares Nevada laws regarding slot machines with state and federal laws regulating electronic voting machines. The comparison is stark and eye-opening. For example, the Nevada Gaming Commission has access to all software for gaming electronics but the voting machine code is a _trade secret_. Yes, and so are the inner government workings of China.

And then there is the most famous of the voting machine manufacturers, “Diebold”:http://www.diebold.com. In addition to being a closed system that even the government is not allowed to know about, it is a company that fundamentally misunderstands electronic voting in particular and security in general.

For example, “this came from a Diebold spokesman”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/12/us/12vote.html?ex=1305086400&en=5b3554a76aad524a&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss [via Schneier]

“For there to be a problem here, you’re basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software,” he said. “I don’t believe these evil elections people exist.”

Ah yes, the head-in-the-sand form of security. I hear it is very popular in the real world and effective in utopian societies.

The fun and games do not end there. A “major vulnerability”:http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_3805089 was found in the voting machines:

This newspaper is withholding some details of the vulnerability at the request of several elections officials and scientists, partly because exploiting it is so simple and the tools for doing so are widely available.

Of course, the “report appeared later on”:http://www.blackboxvoting.org/BBVtsxstudy.pdf with parts redacted, and it is tremendous.

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