What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
As the elections draw near, voters should be made aware of the ongoing controversy regarding the Diebold Election Systems. These computers allow for electronic voting, but have been shown numerous times to be insecure and susceptible to hacking. One such example of hacking the machines to sway the outcome of the votes was presented on Fox News:
Diebold’s official web site states:
Diebold Election Systems provides accurate vote counting, extremely reliable security, and accessibility for voters.
Let’s break that media blurb down to what it really is.
Accurate vote counting
I think the video above pretty much disproves that statement. The wikipedia page provides another interesting morsel of information:
Jeff Dean, Senior Vice-President and Senior Programmer at Global Election Systems (GES), the company purchased by Diebold in 2002 which became Diebold Election Systems, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft for planting back doors in software he created for ATMs using, according to court documents, a “high degree of sophistication” to evade detection over a period of 2 years. In addition to Dean, GES employed a number of other convicted felons in senior positions, including a fraudulent securities trader and a drug trafficker.
Ah, nice. So the senior developer of these machines, which supposedly are supposed to provide “accurate vote counting” was convicted for writing loopholes and back doors in software? And we’re supposed to believe that he did no such thing in the DES machine code? Right.
Another interesting tidbit: As of February of this year, 80% of voting in the USA is being counted by two companies: Diebold and ES&S. These companies operate with no government oversight. And what’s more, the President of Diebold and the VP of ES&S are brothers. Find out more “fun” facts here.
Extremely reliable security
Ha! Anybody with access to some cheap, common keys can use them to gain access to the innards of the machine. Or, use a screwdriver to open the case and flip a switch that will change the program’s behavior. And not only is the physical machine not secure.. the software isn’t either. Again from wikipedia:
Avi Rubin, Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University and Technical Director of the Information Security Institute has analyzed the source code used in these voting machines and reports “this voting system is far below even the most minimal security standards applicable in other contexts.” Following the publication of this paper, the State of Maryland hired Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to perform another analysis of the Diebold voting machines. SAIC concluded “[t]he system, as implemented in policy, procedure, and technology, is at high risk of compromise.”
Needless to say, I don’t think that anybody can make the argument that these voting machines are tried, tested, and true. And whoever says that deserves a nice kick in the pants. Our vote is our power. It is how we become “we the people”. It is how we dictate how our country will run. These machines take away our power. They turn “we the people” into “they who run the Diebold machines”. As Josef Stalin said, “It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people who count the votes.”
Utah isn’t free from this atrocity. Last year, a mock election produced a 10% failure rate in the machines. Bruce Funk, Emery County Clerk, has been under pressure for a long time now because he decided to actually test (from an independent source.. whod’ve thought?) the machines he was sent to use. According to Barbara Bellows, “Lt. Governor Herbert’s Chief of Staff Demma, Utah elections officer Cragun and legal counsel from Utah Attorney General’s office flew into Emery, accompanied by a representative and a tech man from Diebold who threatened the county with punitive actions for testing their equipment.”
Lou Dobbs wrote an article today about this topic, and closed with a great question we should all ponder:
When voters lose confidence in our elected representatives, we can vote the bums out. But what is the recourse if American voters lose confidence in our electoral system?
Come voting time, who knows what I will do? If my vote won’t count the way I intend it to, then why vote at all?