Tony Pierce, filling in for Andrew Malcolm (columnist and Laura Bush's former press secretary) at Los Angeles Times' "Top of the Ticket" blog picks up (with attribution, gracias) on our scoop earlier this week about the 100% unverifiable, yet highly hackable Diebold touch-screen e-voting machines out of Van Wert County, Ohio, now for sale, on the cheap, at eBay...
You really can get anything on EBay, even electronic voting machines proved to be easy to corrupt for purposes of voting fraud.
Brad Friedman of the Brad Blog first noticed that "more than 10" AccuVote-TS voting machines, built by Diebold, were being sold on the online auction site for the buy-it-now price of $1,200 (plus $50 shipping and handling).
The machines are used and don't come with user's manuals, power supplies, batteries or memory cards, which may explain their discounted price. However, for those who wish to rig elections, machines like these are priceless.
Friedman was contacted by the seller, who told him that he had more than 100 of the electronic voting machines that were originally used in Van Wert County, Ohio.
AccuVote-TS voting machines were also used in New Jersey, when a professor at Princeton demonstrated how easy the Diebold machines were to manipulate for nefarious means.
Pierce offers more information in his piece on that landmark Princeton hack from September 2006 and the hackability of these systems in general.
Long time readers of The BRAD BLOG likely recall the Princeton hack came about when VelvetRevolution.us (as co-founded by The BRAD BLOG) gave the Diebold touch-screen system to computer scientists there for the --- at the time --- highly secretive, first-of-its-kind examination, after we'd received the machine from a source of ours. We originally broke the story of that hack exclusively both here at The BRAD BLOG and in a slightly shorter version at Salon.
The alarming hack --- which demonstrated how a virus could be inserted into one of these systems and invisibly flip the results of an entire election --- received a great deal of attention from the mainstream media at the time, and was even covered in a live video demonstration on Fox "News". (See that video at right.)
Though the Princeton hack was on a Diebold AccuVote TS (with no so-called "Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail" printer) versus the TSX model (with VVPAT) being sold now on eBay, the many ways available to game them in order to flip election results with very little possibility of detection are essentially the same...
We're delighted to see "our hometown paper", the LATimes, pick up the Diebold/eBay story, since they haven't, um, exactly led the way in coverage of e-voting concerns over the years, despite the importance of California to the nation as a whole when it comes to setting standards and security procedures for these systems. Unverifiable, oft-failed, easily manipulated touch-screen e-voting systems identical or similar to the ones now for sale on eBay are still, incredibly, used by some 20 to 30% of the nation's voters, even after everything we've learned about them --- and the thousands of pages we devoted to those warnings here --- over the years.
The BRAD BLOG has contacted the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), as well as CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen and former OH Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner (who both commissioned landmark independent studies of these same Diebold touch-screen systems and strongly recommended against their use in any election based on those findings) for comment on this matter. We're curious if they are as concerned about the availability of these machines to the general public as we are, since we can think of a number of ways in which they could potentially be used nefariously in advance of the 2012 elections.
While we've been promised a response from the EAC (though have yet to receive it), we have not yet heard back from either Bowen or Brunner. If we receive response from any of them, of course, we will update as appropriate.