Monday, October 23, 2006

ABC News Covers The Possibility Of Vote Fraud In The Midterms

Last Monday, writing about the latest poll numbers from the district and state levels that showed the Republican party getting trounced on election day, I noted that after trying to run the national security/anti-tax/cultural wedge issues gameplan and failing, the only thing left for Karl Rove to do was to "cheat like a motherfucker" and dare the media to call him on it.

In the past, the news media wouldn't have called Rove on it, of course. Accusations of voter fraud, ballot box tampering or electronic voter machine manipulaton were "tinfoil hat" territory. But this year, given the coverage Lou Dobbs and Jack Cafferty have given to the issue on CNN and the frequency with which it shows up on the cable and network news shows, I'm starting to think that if Rove and Mehlman think they'll get away with massive fraud in 25-35 districts and a few close Senate races (which is probably what they will have to do to win), they might have another thing coming.

Just this morning, ABC News is front-paging a story about electronic voter machine manipulation on its website. ABC News tells how Cheryl Kagan, a former Maryland Democratic legislator, was anonymously mailed three computer disks with the secret-source code for vote counting on Diebold machines. Diebold told ABC News that the codes on the disks were unusable for vote manipulation because they were old, but

ABC News has obtained an independent report commissioned by the state of Maryland and conducted by Science Applications International Corporation revealing that the original Diebold factory passwords are still being used on many voting machines.

The SAIC study also shows myriad other security flaws, including administrative over-ride passwords that cannot be changed by local officials but can be used by hackers or those who have seen the discs.

The report further states that one of the high risks to the system comes if operating code discs are lost, stolen or seen by unauthorized parties — precisely what seems to have occurred with the discs sent to Kagan, who worries that the incident indicates the secret source code is not that difficult to obtain.

"Certainly, just tweaking a few votes in a couple of states could radically change the outcome of our policies for the coming year," she said.

The ABC News story then relates the Princeton University study that showed how votes on a Diebold machine - the Accuvote TS - could be manipulated within seconds by introducing a virus into the machine. Again, Diebold argues that they're machines have been updated and made more secure, but cybersecurity expert Stephen Spoonamore is quoted in the ABC story as saying that

Diebold's "system is utterly unsecured. The entire cyber-security community is begging them to come back to reality and secure our nation's voting."

ABC News says computer glitches also can happen on machines without any malicious intent by a hacker and notes how a 100,000 votes were added to machines in Texas and how memory cards went missing in Maryland. The story finishes this way:

Many are concerned about how the confusing technical issues will be handled by poll workers, who tend to be senior citizens and who are not necessarily tech-savvy.

Electronic voting machines were supposed to be the solution to the paper ballot problems from the 2000 presidential election. But to many critics, America's voting system has gone out of the frying pan and into the fire.

It sure sounds like allegations of electronic vote manipulation, voter fraud and/or voting problems have gone from tinfoil material to front page news. If Rove and Mehlman are counting on the Diebold Corporation (or one of the other electronic voting machine companies) to secure the election for them this year, they may find that some in the media - specifically Dobbs and Cafferty at CNN - are going to be willing to look into the matter and if there is fraud or manipulation, call them on it.

How different that is from 2004 when anybody who claimed there might have been vote-tampering in Ohio was treated like he/she had just defecated in public.

Without paper backups (and the political will to have them counted) I think that savy hackers will have a field day this year.

Imagine how many would manipulate the system either way just because they can.

The possiblities are mind-boggling.
praguetwin, you wrote:

"Imagine how many would manipulate the system either way just because they can."

In other words, is the outcome likely to change as a result?

It would take the election of several Republicans in Brooklyn elections to prove that voter fraud had actually occurred.

However, even then it wouldn't be clear because Democrats in Brooklyn regularly switch to the Republican party to get themselves on the ballot within their expected lifetimes.
ABC News reports that a non-partisan civic organization hacked into the Chicago voter database just to make a point that it can be done.
reality, Chicago is the town where the headstones are famous for their voting record. It is also a Democratic stronghold.

If I were inclined to worry about things like this, I'd worry about a Democratic sweep in Chicago, not the conversion of Chicago into a city of red voters.

The hysteria over voting fraud is clearly a preliminary action meant to support post-election claims of fraud in any close election going to a Republican.
I would agree that historically voter fraud in chicago has been a democratic endeavor. But really, I don't want to see either party engage in shenanagins. If Dems are cheating, then they need to be called on it just as much as Repubs. I would remind you, however, that the owner of the Diebold Corporation is a republican on record as saying he would do anything to help George Bush win Ohio in 2004. That sort of comment from a guy who owns voting machines without paper trails tends to make people nervous, you know?
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