New Reasons to Worry About Florida's Elections

Friday, December 16, 2005

New Reasons to Worry About Florida's Elections

A news report by A Florida TV station reveals that voting machines used in 26 of the Sunshine State's counties could permit computer hackers to change election results without being detected. According to WESH-Channel 2:
The supervisor of elections in Tallahassee tested voting machines several times over the last several months, and on Monday, his workers were able to hack into a voting machine and change the outcome. He said that same thing might have happened in Volusia County in 2000.

... when Ion Sancho, Leon County's Supervisor of Elections, tested the Diebold (voting machine) system and allowed experts to manipulate [a computer] card electronically, he could change the outcome of a mock election without leaving any kind of trail.

... Sancho began investigating the problem after watching the votes come in during the infamous 2000 presidential election. In Volusia County precinct 216, a memory card added more than 200 votes to George W. Bush's total and subtracted 16,000 votes from Al Gore. The mistake was later corrected during a hand count.

After watching his computer expert change vote totals this week, Sancho said that he now believes someone on the inside did the same thing in Volusia County in 2000. "Someone with access to the vote center in Volusia County put it on a memory card and uploaded it into the main system," Sancho said.

Sancho has been raising red flags about the system for months after other hackers were able to change votes during earlier tests. But Sancho said he's gotten nowhere with the company or with the Florida secretary of state's office, which oversees elections.

"This raises serious questions as to the state of Florida's certification program," Sancho said.

Acting Secretary of State David Mann defended the security of the machines. "Right now, we are confident that those machines will carry on an election when they're used within the context of the security parameters that all supervisors follow," he said.

... The concerns come on the heels of the resignation of Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell, a Republican fundraiser and staunch Bush supporter. Diebolds were used in Florida and Ohio in 2004, and skeptics are raising a lot of questions.
Talk about a useless reassurance. Florida's acting secretary of state is either terribly naive or just engaging in double-talk. When Mann says he's "confident" that voting machines will not be hacked so long as they're "used within the context of the security parameters," he's assuming that no one would dream of operating outside of those "security parameters."

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