Diebold - might be of interest (fwd)

J.A. Terranson measl at mfn.org
Mon Aug 1 16:16:14 PDT 2005

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 16:01:13 -0700
From: Lance James <lancej at securescience.net>
To: "cryptography at metzdowd.com" <cryptography at metzdowd.com>
Subject: Diebold - might be of interest

Hi all,

I don't know if this is appropriate on this list, but I know that
diebold voting systems have been an issue in the cryptography community
for a while now. Having said that, I'm pasting an article that I
received (from my parents actually) that might be of interest to this
group. If it is not, just moderate :)

*Subject:* Black Box

Darkness is settling over the election process in San Diego.  I say get
rid of anything electronic that has  to do with elections. Realistic


Jim March, a member of the Black Box Voting board of directors,
was arrested Tuesday evening for trying to observe the Diebold
central tabulator (vote tallying machine) as the votes were being
counted in San Diego's mayoral election (July 26).
(- online discussion: http:/www.blackboxvoting.org -)

According to Jim Hamilton, an elections integrity advocate from
San Diego, he and March visited the office of the registrar
of elections earlier in the day. During this visit, March made
two requests, which were refused by Mikel Haas, the San Diego
Registrar of elections.

1) March asked that the central tabulator, the computer that
tallies up the votes from all the precincts, be positioned so
that citizens could observe it. According to Hamilton, this
would have required simply moving a table a few feet.

2) March also asked for a copy of the ".gbf" files -- the vote
tally files collected during the course of tabulation - to be
provided for examination after the election.

During the tallying of the election, the Diebold computer
was positioned too far away for citizens to read the screen.
Citizens could not watch error messages, or even perceive
significant anomalies or malfunctions.

Unable to see the screen, March went into the office where the
tabulator was housed. Two deputies followed him and escorted
him out.

According to Hamilton: "He was not belligerent, not at all.
After he went inside the tabulator room he came [was escorted]
out and he said clearly 'I'm not resisting.' They handcuffed
him, took him out of the building. They put him in a squad car.
They're going to take him to the police station, book him and
take him to jail," said Hamilton. "He's getting charged with a
felony, 'interfering with an election official.'"

March's actions are the culmination of two years of increasing
frustration with the refusal of election officials to respond to
security deficiencies in the voting machines. The software that
tallies the votes in San Diego is made by Diebold Election Systems,
a company that has already paid the state of California $2.8 million
for making false claims, due to a lawsuit filed by March and Black
Box Voting founder Bev Harris.

On July 4, a report was released by European computer security
expert Harri Hursti, revealing that the Diebold voting system
contains profound architectural flaws. "It is open for business,"
says Hursti, who demonstrated the flaws on Leon County, Florida
Diebold machines. He penetrated the voting system in less than
five minutes, manipulating vote reports in a way that was

Despite the critical security alert issued by Hursti, San Diego
County sent 713 voting machines home with poll workers, increasing
the risk that the "memory cards" housed in the machines could be
hacked, and removing the argument that "inside access" was carefully

The arrest of Jim March underlines a fundamental problem facing
Americans today as, increasingly, they lose the ability to monitor,
verify, or watch any part of the counting process.

The San Diego registrar of elections knew of the security flaws in
the voting system. Diebold has never denied the vulnerability
identified in Hursti's report, found at

Despite knowledge of the increased risks, Haas made the decision
to create additional vulnerability by sending the machines home
with hundreds of poll workers.

While San Diego officials will no doubt point to a small seal on
the compartment housing the memory card (the component exploited
in Hursti's study), Black Box Voting has interviewed a former
San Diego poll worker, who reported that all that is necessary
to dislodge and then reaffix the seal is a small pair of pliers.


- The machines have been demonstrated to be vulnerable to
undetected tampering
- The San Diego registrar of voters chose not to take
appropriate precautions
- The main tally machine was placed in a location that was
impossible for citizens to observe
- Many voting integrity advocates have come to believe that
 voting machine reform now rivals the urgency of the Civil
Rights movement in the 1960s.

Jim March acted on those beliefs.

* * * * *

If you share the feelings that Jim March has expressed
about voting system secrecy, please forward this message to
your lists and to online blogs as appropriate. Permission
granted to reprint, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org.

* * * *

Black Box Voting

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