Wednesday, September 13, 2006


To err is human. To really screw things up, use Diebold

I'm a technically savvy guy. I've had my own PC since the 8088 days when DOS was putting the final nails in the coffin of CP/M and Leading Edge was getting flak for cracking the compatible wars wide open. I was online before BIFF stole his brother's Commodore 64. Before spam. Before nuking. Before Gopher. I think UNIX is a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit. I even know the plural for VAX (hint:it's not VIXEN).

When it comes to computers, I know Jack. So trust me when I tell you, "To err is human, to really $#@#!!*& things up you need a computer." I say all that to underscore the fact that my discomfort with electronic voting machines is not borne of ignorance. My contempt is a direct result of my familiarity with the technology. The only reason I use Diebold machines is because I have no choice. In the last election cycle (2004) I screwed up my Diebold machine from the interface. No programming tricks, no hardware hacks, no wifi attacks... I found an "undocumented feature" on the touch screen. I'm not claiming any special powers, I used to get paid to crash systems from the screen (User Interface, or UI, to those in business).

I don't know who is blowing who, but someone is definitely trading favors when entire voting districts (and in some cases, entire states) are converting to a system that has documented security problems. Sure, folks can ignore this stuff as long as it is geeks and techies talking shop. Who listens to geeks and wonks? Well, I'm here to tell you there is new unambiguous documentation of how easy it is to hack these systems, implant malicious code, steal votes, and cover your tracks.

For all the folks who dismissed people like Bev Harris at BlackBoxVoting.Org, or The TrueVoteMD crowd, or the folks at VerifiedVoting at Stanford, or Rebecca Mercuri from Bryn Mawr, or Doug Jones at University of Iowa, or Avi Rubin at Johns Hopkins because you had to actually read what they wrote to realize how screwed up these systems are, things just got a lot easier.

The good people at Princeton's School of Engineer and Applied Science have taken their engineering expertise and applied it to these machines. Fortunately for you, they made a video!

All I'm saying is, if you watch that video and still don't see how the very foundations of our democracy are being threatened, then you deserve the gummint you git. For the rest of you, it is time to write your representatives, senators, local officials, and election boards to let them know Hell No! If you are still at a loss of where to start, remember Google is your friend. Try searching the keywords "local election boards list" and add your state's name to the search string. For example: local election boards list maryland.

What are you waiting for? It doesn't matter whether you are Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, Yankee or Southern Belle, metrosexual or Marlboro Man. If we don't demand reliable, verifiable, valid and accountable voting systems, this most fundamental aspect of our democratic process will be wiped from the face of the earth as surely as they can wipe out votes on a Diebold AccuVote running MS Access.

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