By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2005, 3:46pm PT  

Excellent detailed coverage of the Leon County hack situation, as discussed in the previous item in reference to AP's coverage and the scramble by both Diebold and Florida to cover their asses. Had I seen the Herald report prior to AP, I would have pointed to it instead. Has been a busy day...

Please read Miami Herald's excellent article therefore, before moving to my analysis of Diebold/Florida's attempted ass-covering in the previous BRAD BLOG item. Here's some of the key points from the Herald [emphasis added]:

A political operative with hacking skills could alter the results of any election on Diebold-made voting machines --- and possibly other new voting systems in Florida --- according to the state capital's election supervisor, who said Diebold software has failed repeated tests.

Ion Sancho, Leon County's election chief, said tests by two computer experts, completed this week, showed that an insider could surreptitiously change vote results and the number of ballots cast on Diebold's optical-scan machines.

After receiving county commission approval Tuesday, Sancho scrapped Diebold's system for one made by Elections Systems and Software
...
''That's kind of scary. If there's no paper trail, you have to rely solely on electronic results. And now we know that they can be manipulated under the right conditions, without a person even leaving a fingerprint,'' said Sancho, who once headed the state's elections supervisors association.
...
When the debate hit fever pitch before last year's presidential election, many conservatives said questions about the machinery were a liberal ploy to undermine confidence in the voting system.

Sancho agrees that good security is key, but said he's not sure he won't also have problems with the $1.3 million ES&S system, which he'll also test.

That last graf is highlighted just so the folks at ES&S don't rejoice too much while Diebold is currently on the hook. Rest assured, ES&S folks, you are not off the hook by any stretch of the imagination...

(UPDATE: On the graf before that, in re: "many conservatives" and the "liberal ploy" please note the thoughts of real conservative John Cole on this same article...as opposed to the bulk of the phony "conservatives" littering the American political landscape these days.)

And then more actual common sense, spoken out loud by Elections Official (and American Democracy's latest hero!) Sancho:

Sancho said Diebold isn't the only one to blame for hacker-prone equipment. The Florida secretary of state's office should have caught these problems early on, he said, and the Legislature should scrap a law severely restricting recounts on touch-screen machines and equip them with the means of producing a paper trail.
...
''These were sold as safe systems. They passed tests as safe systems,'' Sancho said. "But even in the so-called safe system, if you don't follow the paper ballots, there is a way to rig the election. Except it's not a bunch of guys stuffing ballots in a precinct. It's possibly one person acting in secret changing thousands of votes in a second.''

And the heavens opened...and the light shined through...Is it morning again in America yet?