The Greatest Threat to Election Integrity Comes from Elections Insiders...Just Like the Ones Who Keep Telling Us Their Systems Are Secure...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2007, 9:55am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from somewhere in Texas...

If you've yet to find time to read the hundreds of pages from the landmark "Top-to-Bottom Review" of voting systems from California University, as commissioned by CA SoS Debra Bowen, we don't blame ya.

So after plowing through dozens of articles covering the reports, we'll make it easy for you, and recommend two short articles which will get you all quickly caught up with an overview of some of the most notable findings from all of the various reports as written in nearly human-being language.

As well, we're happy to sum up --- and destroy --- the pathetic, predictable, and lock-step Election Officials' and Vendors' response to Bowen's report in a few easy paragraphs....

Erika Morphy at TechNewsWorld does a fine job of giving a brief, to-the-point overview with some of the most stunning findings quickly explained. She also gives the response from vendors the time it's worth (very little, but a link to read more if you wish). The article also has the added benefit of a quote or two from yours truly.

Scott M. Fulton, III, at BetaNews gives a similarly informed, descriptive, and human-readable overview and goes into a few more details. He also points out what much of the media coverage of the reports has otherwise overlooked. Namely, that the greatest threat revealed in these reports comes from election insiders.

"Manufacturers may have been reluctant to cooperate fully with red teams, under the theory that 'hackers' may not themselves enjoy a similar level of access," writes Fulton. "Of course, that presumes that those seeking to actually break into a voting system to rig an election, and those who run the election, are in all cases different people."

That, of course, is a flawed presumption since the greatest threat to election security, in fact, comes from insiders such as Elections Officials, Voting Machine Vendors, and poll-workers who are allowed to take pre-programmed, election-ready voting machines home on "sleepovers" for days and weeks prior to the election.

Fulton points out one of the most troubling of the findings: "A close examination of Diebold's GEMS server revealed evidence that the company's own programmers created their own password bypass mechanism - a way to attain a Windows account with privileges without supplying a password."

Of course, even the compromised Baker/Carter National Election Commission was forced to admit that point, as they state in their final report: "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries."

For example, after years of Officials and Vendors telling us these systems were secure, the reaction of the shameful new Registrar of Voters in San Diego, Deborah Seiler --- a woman who had previously been a Diebold sales rep --- was reported this way in the Rightwing San Diego Union-Tribune:

The county's Registrar of Voters, Deborah Seiler, said election officials have known for years about the vulnerability of such systems. But she said the additional security measure makes it nearly impossible for someone to walk into a polling place, pull out a screwdriver, tamper with a machine and not get caught.

What Deborah forgets to mention is that she is allowed, every day, to walk up to her own voting machines, pull out her own screwdriver, tamper with her own machines at will, and never get caught unless she decides to turn herself in. And if that's not good enough, she can, like her predecessor Mikel Haas, just send hundreds of these machines home with Poll Workers for days and weeks prior to an election, where they can use their own screwdrivers --- figuratively and literally --- to mess with the systems without detection.

So when you hear these Elections Officials and Voting Machine Company spokesholes parroting each other with dog-don't-hunt lines like: "Bowen's tests were the equivalent of giving a burglar the keys to your house and seeing if he can break in," we'd respond, "No, the voting systems you keep telling us are secure, are actually the equivalent of building a house without locks and waiting to see if a burglar can find the front door."

Enough. You lose. The people win. And if you haven't yet heard from the people, we'll also strongly recommend Emily Levy's brilliantly detailed and comprehensive report from Bowen's public hearing in Sacramento yesterday.