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Engineers + politics = ...

08/26/2007 5:05 PM

A few months back I was up very, very late. HBO was airing a program titled "Hacking Democracy". The story goes that a political party may knowingly affect the results of an election using embedded programs that go undetected (they are contained within the machines master card) the general idea is that one candidate (or party) is assigned a value of one and the other a value of .5 (as I recall) So in the end the proper number of ballots show up in the count but the incorrect tally.

I encourage readers to read this and then spend a few moments researching. Or at the very least follow the above link, this link, this link, or even this one.

I think that HBO will be airing the documentary again. I have heard rumors of copies out there, not that I condone that behavior, rather that it is out there.

In the States, Diebold (the creator of AccuVote) is winning over government markets where a need is perceived (guess what party states). A search of Diebold can produce some very interesting results for those with a little time on their hands, but that is not the driving point of this thread.

Rather, embedded programs that offer erroneous results and the potential for horrific outcomes is alleged to have already taken place creating a false govt.

Please no knee jerk anti-conspiracy responses...do a little homework and then as you feel.

Sincerely,

Charles

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#1

Re: Engineers + politics = ...

08/26/2007 5:31 PM

Rather scary shades of Big Brother.... I s'pose one can factor in the possibilities for betting on the result too, Win the election and finance the campaign all at once!

Bit late now.. I shall have a proper look at those links tomorrow.

Del

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#2

Re: Engineers + politics = ...

08/26/2007 11:49 PM

If a computer program can be designed by someone, some can design a way to hack it.

I've read a lot of articles about IT (information technology) security and most, if not all, say that nothing is absolute. Just like the unsinkable Titanic, there's no such thing as "un-hackable" computers.

Then there's the problem with dishonest programmers.

I remember a guy whom I worked with once. He was assigned to program a PLC for a client that controlled, among other things, a matrix of 7×7 LEDs. After that project, he left the company.

We got a call from our client complaining that whenever they switched on power, my co-worker's name would be spelled out on the display, one letter at a time at one letter per second. Only when that sequence finished could the plant start to run.

They tried to remove it but...guess what? The system wouldn't run when that part of the program was removed! I found the bug easily but it caused us a lot of hard times with that client.

The only advantage that computerized voting systems offers is speed. It is not more accurate or more foolproof than a voting system that relies on paper. Just as you need safeguards for a paper type voting system, a computer system needs them too. You can make it more difficult to hack but, as I've illustrated, the safety system is only as good and honest as the programmer.

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#3

Re: Engineers + politics = ...

08/27/2007 10:57 AM

The simple solution to electronic voting machines is just to have the machine print out a copy of a voter's completed ballet. The voter checks to see if his votes were correctly recorded, and places the ballet in a lockbox where it becomes a public record to be used for audits after the election. Audit a statistically significant random sample of machines. If fraud is found, count the paper ballets by hand and sue the voting machine company back into the stone age.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Engineers + politics = ...

08/28/2007 12:39 PM

I completely agree with bhanki. A paper trail is required to insure honesty. If there is no way to check/verify the vote after the fact then any outcome is possible.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Engineers + politics = ...

08/28/2007 12:55 PM

Good answer! The other comments on this thread have been very good, too, but I really like the recommendations in this one.

As always, nothing is foolproof. Printers will malfunction, people will neglect to check, etc. but this recommendation goes a LONG way towards a system that is as close as we could hope for.

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#6

Re: Engineers + politics = ...

08/29/2007 4:02 AM

In my country, there have been several cases of electronic rigging of lotteries. In each case, the rigging was due to a programmer programming the computer so that his number and those of his relatives and friends would win all the prizes. And remember, these are lotteries, where the numbers are supposed to be generated at random by the computer, not responding to a keyed input. In the case of electronic voting, where candidates are assigned a code number or letter for voters to choose, it would be even easier to program the computer to give a false result. So the concept of a crooked programmer rigging an election for whatever reason is not beyond the realm of possibility. The real question is, has this actually occured already?

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#7

Re: Engineers + politics = ...

08/29/2007 3:37 PM

I enjoy the input and exchange. I encourage all who have not seen the documentary to check it out. It is very well done, in my opinion.


cr3

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