CNN Notices That Wireless Personal Digital Assistants Could Wreak Havoc on Voting Machines...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2006, 1:57am PT  

Blogged by Brad from San Diego...

Just in from tonight's Busby/Bilbray Democracy Shindig in Oceanside. A great event with a lively turnout (including our old buddy Jim Lampley in da house.) As promised after last night's LA event, more as soon as I can catch my breath.

Until then, here's last night's Lou Dobbs, which I think was terrific. Be sure to watch it (or read it, transcript below the fold) until the end. Lou is gettin' angrier by the day...

I posted the results of the "Quick Poll" this morning before leaving Los Angeles. In case you missed it, the question was "Do you believe that e-voting machines should be disallowed until their integrity can be assured?" The results... YES: 97%, NO 3%.

Could America finally be coming to its senses?

Too exhausted to comment on this tonight with much detail, so please be my guest and "be the blog" for us here in comments. I will point out, however, that it's nice to see folks finally discussing the threat of Palm Pilots and other PDA's (personal digital assistants, as opposed to Progressive Democrats of America) and their wireless capacity posing a threat to these stupid systems as well. Kitty Pilgrim broaches the topic in this report from Tuesday which covered the release that day of the new NYU Brennan Center report on E-Voting security. We orginally discussed the alarming possibility of a voter with a PDA when we ran an exposé on the wireless Infrared (IrDA) port we photographed on one of the older paperless Diebold touch-screen systems.

Video in Streaming Flash format...
Video in Windows Media format...

The complete text transcript follows...


Aired June 27, 2006 - 18:00 ET

DOBBS: More evidence tonight that an increasing number of elections in this country can be outright stolen. And no one would ever know. It's incredible.

Most Americans will be casting their ballots on electronic voting machines this November, but a new report has found widespread problems with these machines, problems that are placing our democracy at risk.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This year, the majority of the country will be using electronic voting machines. But a new report says the three main types can be hacked.

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: All three voting systems have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities which pose a real danger to the integrity of national and state elections.

REP. TOM DAVIS (R), VIRGINIA: Several years ago I realized that new machines purchased by Fairfax County, where I live, were vulnerable to electronic problems and would make it impossible to conduct an effective recount.

PILGRIM: The NYU Brennan Center report took more than a year to study the issue and found 120 potential threats to e-voting systems. Experts found an attacker could tamper with the software before Election Day or even on the day of the election with a commonly used handheld PDA device, like a Palm Pilot. That kind of wireless attack, a so-called "Trojan horse," impersonates the benign program already in the machine.

The report reads, "... an attacker aware of a vulnerability in the voting system's software... could simply show up at the polling station and beam her Trojan horse into the machine, using a wireless enabled personal digital assistant."

Some scientists say the e-voting machine vendors have not put in routine safeguards found in other interactive computer products.

DAN WALLACH, RICE UNIVERSITY: Gaming systems like your Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony Playstation 3, or what have you, are engineered to resist a wide variety of tampering attacks because they want to make sure that every game that you're playing is legitimate and, you know, not pirated. That level of engineering is entirely absent from voting machines.

PILGRIM: The study recommends paper records for each voting machine, as well as random audits to check the systems.


PILGRIM: Now, the report gives examples of three types of voting systems they studied and includes a list of the main manufacturers. Listing machines that are routinely used in elections around the country --- Lou.

DOBBS: I keep asking this. Where are the companies that manufacture these machines? Why aren't they on this broadcast telling us and you at home how great these machines are, how all of these concerns are misplaced as we move toward November? Where is that reassurance?

PILGRIM: We called three manufacturers today. Diebold did not return our calls. ES&S did return with a reply. They said they put in paper trails, they put in very secure systems. So they're defending it. And Sequoia said they were not targeted exclusively in this report, so they just basically backed away.

DOBBS: And the American people are supposed to take these as reassurances that everything is just fine and that our democracy is not at risk? I mean, this is as feeble a reaction as I've ever heard from a group of companies or any organization that is circling under direct assault on the very essence of their product.

PILGRIM: And this is a very comprehensive report. They should have something a little bit more to say about this report because it took more than a year and it was a very wide panel. So they should have something to say about it.

DOBBS: Or inversely, the American people should be thinking about what we want to say about these e-voting machines. This is --- the level of concern here is so high that something has to be done.

PILGRIM: The more we get into it, the worse it seems.

DOBBS: Oh, gosh. All right.

Kitty, thank you. Appreciate it.

Kitty Pilgrim.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Straightforwardly, do you believe that e-voting machines should be disallowed until their integrity can be assured? Yes or no?

Cast your vote at We'll have the results coming up here later.