– Quincy News from Quincy Quarry News
Quincy voting machines are vulnerable to both hacking as well as gaming and are thus banned elsewhere.
It has long been a dirty little secret that voting machines are not 100% perfect in operation. Voting oversight entities thus tolerate modest fractions of percentage point error rates and manual recounts can always be sought if a particular election’s vote count is especially close.
Even then, however, hand counts are also subject to error as – after all – human error happens whenever humans are involved in the process.
Far bigger problems, however, came to light in the wake of the 2000 Presidential election when hanging chads of less than perfectly punched out punch card ballots gave rise to arguably the most legally contested national election in the history of our nation.
In wake of the upheaval caused by this election, all manner of reviews of voting machines occurred.
As it turned out, not only were punch card ballot voting systems confirmed to pose problems, so too were serious problems found with optical ballot scanning and touch screen machines.
Many of these vulnerabilities were the result of so-called Black Box Voting.
Problems with Black Box Voting are most simply viewed as caused by relying on proprietary design protocols (typically software, but not necessarily) which are not disclosed to the public.
External verification of the accuracy as well as the security of such proprietary designs are thus open to question.
Key problems are that independent review is not readily possible absent access to the design protocols – which does not happen as the designs are proprietary and thus often secret – as well as that hacking the typically primitive proprietary computing technology is readily accomplished by hackers.
In the case of Quincy’s reliance on formerly Diebold – but now Premier Election Services – AccuVote voting machines, these machines are specifically known to be vulnerable to the so-called Hursti Hack.
So vulnerable are the AccuVote machines used by Quincy that they have been banned from use in California, Connecticut and elsewhere around the United States.
Specifically, “California’s Secretary of State commissioned a Special Report by scientists at UC Berkeley to investigate the Hursti Hack. Page 2 of their report states:
Harri Hursti’s attack does work: Mr. Hursti’s attack on the AV-OS is definitely real. He was indeed able to change the election results by doing nothing more than modifying the contents of a memory card. He needed no passwords, no cryptographic keys, and no access to any other part of the voting system, including the GEMS election management server.”
The vulnerabilities of AccuVote machines found by Hursti include all manner of relatively easy ways to compromise its memory storage, ranging from changing vote tallies – including via ways remotely done – to creatively reprogramming AccuVote machines so that they would tally up votes differently from how votes were cast by voters on the paper ballots that are used to feed the AccuVote machine’s optical scanner.
Further troubling, online discourses on how to so rig AccuVote machines as well as lists of the surprisingly cheap parts needed for some of these vote rigging approaches can be online found if one pokes around long enough.
Even more disconcerting, however, not only did a team of University of Connecticut computer and electronics experts fully confirm the various vulnerabilities of the AccuVote machine’s memory system to manipulation – including pre-election day ballot stuffing as uncovered earlier by Hursti, the University of Connecticut team also found further problems, including that AccuVote machines could also be easily compromised with things as simple as paper clips and 3M Post-it® note stickers.
In short, one cannot help but have understandable concerns over the fact that Quincy continues to use machines that have been banned from use elsewhere as they are vulnerable to not only rudimentary technological hacks, but also mere paper clips and stickers.
Granted, the AccuVote machines are certified by the Massachusetts Secretary of State.
At the same, it is only fair to note that we are talking Massachusetts.
For example, Quincy Quarry is aware of how one local primary voter’s ballot was said to have been rejected three times by an AccuVote machine and then the ballot was grabbed by a polling place worker who – after perusing the oft-rejected ballot – suggested to the voter that the problem was that the voter was voting for the wrong candidate.
And for those who still think that elections are rarely rigged, just today the New Times ran a story on an apparently rigged national election.