Says Dobbs: 'Electronic Voting Machines Pose An Extraordinary Threat To Our Democracy...It looks like a complete nightmare'
Says Pilgrim: 'It's a bit of a mess. It's a lot of a mess...a bit out of control at this point'
By John Gideon on 8/14/2006, 5:58pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Tonight Lou discussed the fact that Diebold voting machines and parts can be purchased on-line and at least one of those purchases has revealed a vulnerability in the Diebold TS-R6. The only response Diebold had was that there are only a few thousand of those machines being used as they are being replaced. Diebold obfuscates the truth; there are over 40,000 in use in Georgia and Maryland alone.

Hat-tip to our friends at the Open Voting Foundation who not only purchased the machine at E-bay, but went on to use it to discover one of the "worst ever flaws found in a voting machine" (at least until the next one is found, anyway.)


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The text-transcript of tonight's segment on Lou Dobbs Tonight follows in full...

LOU DOBBS: There's new evidence tonight that electronic voting machines pose an extraordinary threat to our democracy. Computer experts say it's easy for hackers to tamper with the machines and to change voting results. It is also, as it turns out, possible for hackers to buy key parts of these machines over the Web. Kitty Pilgrim has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Voter watchdog groups report that in recent months, components for electronic voting machines and even an entire machine are regularly up for sale, even on E-Bay. A quick check on E-Bay found this Diebold motherboard for sale, listed as brand new.

Voter activists at Vote Trust USA say they lost a bid last week for a Diebold motherboard, but they scour the Internet regularly now to find any voting machines to run their own independent tests.

WARREN STEWART, VOTETRUST USA: I checked for all the other vendors because we know a lot about Diebold now. We'd like to know more about DSS and Sequoia and Hart InterCivic and the other vendors as well.

PILGRIM: A motherboard contains most of the core functioning of the voting machine. In essence, vital information on how the machine records votes. That can be valuable to activist groups who want to check the security of the system or hackers with an interest in tampering with the system.

The group Open Voting Foundation recently demonstrated that the Diebold TS machine could be tampered with only a screwdriver. It is one of the most popular voting machines. Tens of thousands used statewide in Maryland and Georgia, and in scattered counties across the country. The group says hackers could easily figure out the system and Open Voting bought the system on E-Bay.

ALAN DECHERT, OPEN VOTING FOUNDATION: Their programmers can figure out any number of ways to rig the vote with one of these machines. There are no tamper seals on the box at all. You can just use a screwdriver, open up the case. You can take it apart, put it back together and there's no trace.

PILGRIM: Voter watchdog group Blackbox Voting say they recently bought a Diebold optical scan voting machine, complete with memory card, from a bankruptcy sale. They're now testing those machines for vulnerabilities.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now we called Diebold to ask them about people selling these products online, they've not responded as of this broadcast. E-Bay returned our calls and says if a product is legally and commercially available, they don't stop the sale on E-Bay. But they do have a policy of monitoring any products that could be used for illegal activity. So, after we drew their attention to the sale of the e-voting machines, they said they'd check into their policy on that.

DOBBS: Well, I suppose if one has legal title to it, the idea that you can just sell these machines, you know, you've been reporting, as have our colleagues, for months now on what is going on with these things. I mean it is mind boggling. You can see these county registrars in small and city registrars in small communities all across the country trying to deal with this. The federal government endorsing it. And it just looks like a complete nightmare.

PILGRIM: It's a bit of a mess. It's a lot of a mess. And it really seems a bit out of control at this point.

DOBBS: Should we get into the bidding for those voting machines on E-Bay?

PILGRIM: I think we could quite easily. We were quite tempted today, I have to tell you.

DOBBS: Well, I might quite easily, we'll have to check the budget on that. Thanks very much, Kitty Pilgrim.