I wonder how many articles will be published this year on how easy voting machines and, in this case, online voting systems, are to crack? We’re starting to rival other countries who barely pretend their elections are fair and voter fraud free.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have reported that it took them only a short time to break through the security functions of a pilot project for online voting in Washington, D.C. “Within 48 hours of the system going live, we had gained near complete control of the election server”, the researchers wrote in a paperPDF that has now been released. “We successfully changed every vote and revealed almost every secret ballot.” The hack was only discovered after about two business days – and most likely only because the intruders left a visible trail on purpose.



  1. Dallas says:

    Why is the election server connect to the internet again?

    • dusanmal says:

      Internet is just one possible source of trouble. To make it worse, most “easy modern voting” advocates cry how we must allow voting over the Internet. As soon as that is accepted, Internet connected voting servers are a must…
      True problem with hi-tech electronic voting is a high pace of technological advance and high payout/interest in breaking in (ex. if each Presidential candidate is ready to pour down 1Bil+ for it, what is some little money to pay for break-in development). What most forget is that technological advance can make even the system perfectly designed for its time – wide open just couple years later. And there is an example: there was a widely accepted voting machine (not connected to the Internet) designed in 2003. Designed with every security aspect both in software and hardware, from scratch. No one in 2003 could even imagine how to break it… By 2006 new size (physical and capacity wise) of memory and new software methods were invented, making it trivial (less than 10 s of unsupervised access) to own it in terms of results it would record/report. Because these were designed from scratch and for limited market, devices were extremely expensive. Made obsolete in just 3 years. No community has that much money to keep up. Every electronic voting device should be assumed hackable.
      But what about abuse of paper ballots? – Possible but lacking one crucial quality. You need time and effort for limited localized impact, easy to be caught for little advance. Electronic devices allow for small effort to receive a great payoff (millions of votes).

  2. NewfornatSux says:

    There’s going to be more stories to set up the reason why Obama lost. I’m sure Greg Palast is hard at work on the story right now, to be parroted by all liberal websites to keep the liberals frothing mad.

    • Dallas says:

      I think Obama’s chances look pretty darn good.

      The conservative lunatic fringe voting in the primaries have effectively eliminated those that are rational and with a brain (Huntsman and Ron Paul).

      The remaining bizarre right wing loons left to pick from, beginnin with Santorum is going to be tough to pass thru the general election.

      • NewfornatSux says:

        If Obama wins, then the stories will be shelved for the next time Republicans win.

        • Dallas says:

          I have no doubt Republicans will win again – when they get back to their fiscal responsibility roots, dump the Christian Taliban and begin to focus on the middle class.

          Until then, welcome Obama 2.0! Hail to the Chief

  3. Benjamin says:

    There has got to be a way to correct the votes from voters who mistakenly vote for someone other than Obama if there is going to be an election at all. I first thought Obama would suspend the elections, but hacking into the machines would be less likely to provoke a revolution.

  4. NewfornatSux says:

    The whole electronic voting thing is a waste of time. Have people fill out a paper ballot, maybe have a machine count the votes. In most precincts, you could probably count them by hand.

  5. Phydeau says:

    Online voting, like electronic voting machines, is a dream come true for those who don’t really like the will of the people and would like to see it circumvented.

    Left as an exercise to the reader which major political party that describes.

    • Dallas says:

      There’s nothing wrong with electronic voting. The idea of having the machine connected to the internet or having the firmware tampered with is the problem.

      Every voter should also get a paper receipt like you would when you buy a pack of gum.

      • Phydeau says:

        I disagree, Dallas. I don’t like the receipt idea. What good is that — if they are suspicious of the outcome, suspect the machine was hacked, are they going to ask all the voters to bring their receipts in to do a recount?

        Voter fraud can always happen, but it’s much easier to change a few numbers on a computer than mess with physical ballots. Regardless of whether the electronic vote counting machine is connected to the internet.

        There is no problem with physical ballots. The system has worked fine for centuries. They shouldn’t be trying to “fix” a non-problem with a “solution” that can be so easily hacked.

        • Dallas says:

          You put the paper receipt in a bucket for safe keeping. The Republicans can always go there if they want to challenge why they lost.

          I don’t buy the silly notion that one can willy nilly change numbers on a computer much less for a one time event or part of a conspiracy. Pahleez.

          • Phydeau says:

            I work with computers Dallas and it’s not silly. It’s just data stored in memory locations. It can be changed easily. Millions of votes reallocated in seconds. All it takes is a paid-off election official to look the other way for a couple minutes when someones in a room with voting machines and voila, massive voter fraud.

            And if they’re going to put paper in buckets for safekeeping, I say stick with the original paper ballots.

          • deowll says:

            You mean like Gore did? ?*^)

            Seriously sometimes your utter bigotry is a hoot!

  6. miamiandy says:

    This was originally happened two years ago. It was discussed then. It has come back up because they got around to publishing the paper on it.

  7. msbpodcast says:

    Even if it wasn’t so easy to rig it wouldn’t make any difference.

    Repubes or democraps, our politicians are equipped with the morals of gutter cats.

    The problem with republics is the same as with monarchies. After a while, the noble intentions at the start are as dead as the noble individuals which founded the kingdom or the republic. (The methods of creation for either are equally bloody.)

    If we want a representative government, we’ll have to RE-create it. (There were no parties in 1776.)

    If we want smaller government, we’ll have to take out the incentives for its growth too.

    The error of (y)our ways is that, despite the evidence of hundreds of years of history, you keep on electing self-selected, self-anointed members of the millionaires club, people who have no understanding of what the lives of the citizens of this country are like.

    That fits in with Einstein‘s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    Lets examine how the situation has really devolved since the founding of this country.

    We’ve become a government
    • OF the thousandaires (the 99%, that would be me and thee,)
    • BY the millionaires (the 1%, that would be the extremely insular privileged overlords and bosses,)
    • FOR the billionaires (the 12,400 individuals identified by the IRS as the people who count (though they don’t really count as they hire some thousandaires to run machines to do that.)

    How is this different than the political situation that led to the founding of the United States?

    It ISN’T really.

    One system had privilege being a condition of one’s birth.

    The situation in the United States is the (cess)pool of nobles has expanded to people that the corporations like and are willing to fund.

    The first thing we do is change from an ELECTED to a SELECTED form of government.

    Pick names at random out an eligible citizen pool and they’re stuck with doing the job for one, and only one, four year term.

    There could/should/would be no such thing as a career in politics. (The only thing worse than getting stuck with somebody who didn’t want the job is getting stuck with some idiot who did, figuring it was going to lift him a few rungs up the social/economic ladder.)

    And don’t give me that bullshit about average citizens don’t know enough about politics.

    Average citizens know right from wrong and are likely to at least read a bill before they sign and pass it on.

    Average citizens know enough to be suspicious and not so venial and blinded by the lure of undeserved re-election.

    Eligibility requirements are:
    • were you born here or are you a naturalized citizen?
    • are you a permanent resident in a village, town or city within our borders?
    • are you above the age of 25?
    • are you healthy enough? (you don’t suffer from any clinical health issue(s) or mental impairment(s) which would prevent you from fulfilling your duties?)
    • have you NEVER served on the government before?
    • have you NEVER been found guilty of a violent crime?
    • have you NEVER been found to be clinically insane?

    Answer yes to all of these questions, you’re eligible for selection.

    Don’t want to be bothered?

    Go live elsewhere or STFU!

    That would get rid of all PACs, K Street lobbyists, a lot of graft, waste and expense that WE’RE all paying for.

    • Skeptic says:

      What about IQ, competence, education, conflicts of interest, religious idealism, good looks?

      The only way you are going to get an unbiased honest and intelligent President is to raise them on a President farm.

      Grain fed, free range, and without any other belief system of a higher power or the supernatural… someone who won’t embarrass you.

      The top 3 students get to be presidents… as a joint effort. The rest of the graduates will run your financial institutions.

  8. Kent says:

    Hack it, make Ron Paul president. Problem solved.

  9. deowll says:

    Must agree that I think a simple paper ballot is the way to go.

  10. Glenn E. says:

    With all the telcoms being owned by Republican supporters, I wouldn’t trust them to not tamper with the voting system to their favor. If they can packet shape or steer, to bottle-neck traffic to a slower rate. They could alter vote counts in some way, too. Steer the Democratic votes into limbo. While doubling the Republican votes. Win the election, then apologize for the screw up later. Sorry. But the election stands, no retraction. That’s how it went down in Florida with the punch card recounts.

  11. HUGSaLOT says:

    why is anything like this on the internet at all? Why is anything that’s highly sensitive information on the internet in the 1st place? If you want to keep your shit safe from hackers, TAKE IT OFF THE INTERNET! Duh!

  12. Mike Strong says:

    Forget polling places as locations for vote fraud. Go to the servers receiving the data from the polling places. That is your “command and control” spot. Trying to setup fixing programs at the local polling station is the same problem as trying to pay off individual people to vote this way or that, too many footprints.

    The machines are already compromised in terms of being manufactured by Republicans, and in terms of having proprietary software (hidden procedures) rather than open source. By using proprietary software you immediately give control of the voting process to private companies and the individuals who control them, making those poll workers nothing more than useless window dressing and wiping out all concepts of public polling procedures ensuring private votes by individuals, votes which are actually counted.

    Really, the only good technology here is the old paper ballot and human poll workers as the vote counters. Too many of them to compromise so easily. This means manual transport of the vote tallies by paper document preceeded by a human phone call. Why do we think we need “efficiency” and just what do we really mean by efficient?


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