E-Voting Computer Scientists versus Diebold Reps/Flacks --- Who Ya Gonna Believe?
(Welcome Aboard the E-Voting Train Wreck, NY Times!)
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2006, 11:04pm PT  

At the same moment the Wall Street Journal jumped in, the New York Times finally gets on board the E-Voting Train Wreck with a much better piece, also for tomorrow's edition, covering the latest Diebold touch-screen security vulnerability (which WSJ didn't touch). The one that is now officially rocking the e-vote from coast-to-coast.

The Times coverage basically comes down to E-Voting Security Specialists and Computer Scientists versus Diebold Spokesmen and their Apologists who've put their careers on the line to support these machines after signing off on million dollar contracts for them.

Here's the scientists quoted from the article [emphasis ours]:

"It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is an examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania, where the primary is to take place on Tuesday. [ed note: Shamos has been an E-voting proponent in the past, and is the top examiner for the systems in PA]
"This is the barn door being wide open, while people were arguing over the lock on the front door," said Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, a state where the primary is June 6.
Aviel Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, did the first in-depth analysis of the security flaws in the source code for Diebold touch-screen machines in 2003. After studying the latest problem, he said: "I almost had a heart attack. The implications of this are pretty astounding."

And now, the apologists hoping to save their careers and livelihoods:

"For there to be a problem here, you're basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software," [Diebold spokesman, David Bear] said. "I don't believe these evil elections people exist."
"We're prepared for those types of problems," said Deborah Hench, the registrar of voters in San Joaquin County, Calif. "There are always activists that are anti-electronic voting, and they're constantly trying to put pressure on us to change our system."

Bear, of course, aside from being a liar, is obviously either living in a dream world or simply willing to say anything to delude himself and anyone who might listen to him. That, aside from the fact that it doesn't take an election official, nefarious or otherwise, to exploit these incredible security gaffes now confirmed in all Diebold electronic voting systems.

As to Hench, we'll remind you that she's the same one who said this to The Record of San Joaquin County on March 22, 2006:

"The state tested this system seven ways to Sunday," Hench said. "They didn't find anything wrong."

That astoundingly foolish statement was made by Hench a full month after "the state", in the form of CA SoS Bruce McPherson's own independent analysts at UC Berkeley [PDF], not only confirmed the danger revealed by the "Hurst Hack" in Leon County, FL as a "real threat", but also found 16 other bugs described as a "more dangerous family of vulnerabilities...that go well beyond what Mr. Hursti demonstrated."

Is Hench out of her mind? Or just hoping to save her own ass after convincing San Joaquin County to authorize her to spend $5.8 million on these crappy machines? Or is she just hoping for a better paying job at Diebold after she leaves the San Joaquin registrar's office? What a disgrace.

By the way, she's also quoted in another Record story as being "the only person to support Diebold's TSx [touch-screen] equipment out of more than 50 who spoke to a panel of Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's staff" last November when open hearings were suddenly announced by McPherson, as per state law, during the week of Thanksgiving.

So...computer scientists versus e-voting industry flacks --- now who ya gonna believe?

Glad to have you on board, NY Times! You've come along way since November 20, 2004 when you reported this stuff as "the conspiracy theories of leftwing bloggers."

Contact us for more info if you'd like to keep reporting responsibly on these "conspiracy theories"!

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