[E-voting] Special Report: Black Box Voting Attempts to Penetrate The Leon County Florida Optical Scan Voting System.

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at eircom.net
Mon Jun 6 21:33:13 IST 2005


Wow. From the Supervisor of Elections, no less.

Have a look at his conclusions:

"Finally, the ultimate insurance that Leon County’s votes are counted 
correctly resides in the paper ballots of the voters themselves. If the 
public or election official has any question over the results of an 
election, a hand count of the optical paper ballot provides the truth. 
No internal manipulation of any computer or memory card can alter the 
votes on these paper ballots.

Based upon the data developed out of this exercise it is the opinion of 
the Leon County Supervisor of Elections that any effort to limit or 
remove the manual examination of paper ballots to confirm the 
correctness of election results is not in the public interest."

This shows how important it is to ensure that we've got a paper trail, 
and that the paper ballots are always used to confirm the correctness of 
election results.

Catherine
---------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.leonfl.org/elect/SpecialReport.htm


      Special Report: Black Box Voting Attempts to Penetrate The Leon
      County Florida Optical Scan Voting System

Ion Sancho, Supervisor of Elections
Leon County, Florida

In January of this year Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho 
was contacted by representatives of Black Box Voting .org, a 
non-partisan elections advocacy group, to see if their computer experts 
could successfully circumvent the security of the Leon County voting 
system. Supervisor Sancho agreed to this proposal and in three separate 
attempts over a four month period, computer experts Dr. Herbert Thompson 
and Harri Hursti visited the Leon County Elections Office in their 
efforts to penetrate the county voting tabulation equipment and alter 
election data.

The tests focused on two areas: outside or external hacks, specifically 
examining the modem and any lines going to the vote tabulation computer, 
and simulated inside or internal penetrations. The results were clear. 
No outside hack was accomplished. This was not the case however when the 
hacker was physically present at the vote tabulation computer terminal.

Granted the same access as an employee of our office, it was possible to 
enter the computer, alter election results, and exit the system without 
leaving any physical record of this action. It was also demonstrated 
that false information or instructions could be placed on a memory card 
(the device used to program the individual voting machines and record 
the voter’s votes) and create false results or election reports.

What conclusions can be drawn from this exercise? First, the optical 
scan voting system was resistant to external penetration, including 
using the modems which transmit election results from the precincts to 
the central vote accumulator. Outside hacking is seen as one of the 
greatest potential threats to undermining citizen confidence in the 
election process. The Leon County Supervisor of Elections is 
tremendously relieved that such penetration was not accomplished.

Secondly, the potential for internal sabotage does exist. It is 
imperative that security protocols be developed which limit access to 
the central voting computer and memory cards in election offices. 
Limited access, video surveillance, and tight controls on the use and 
distribution of memory cards, all practices currently in place in the 
Leon County Election Office, are vital to ensure unauthorized actions do 
not compromise the integrity of the elections process.

Finally, the ultimate insurance that Leon County’s votes are counted 
correctly resides in the paper ballots of the voters themselves. If the 
public or election official has any question over the results of an 
election, a hand count of the optical paper ballot provides the truth. 
No internal manipulation of any computer or memory card can alter the 
votes on these paper ballots.

Based upon the data developed out of this exercise it is the opinion of 
the Leon County Supervisor of Elections that any effort to limit or 
remove the manual examination of paper ballots to confirm the 
correctness of election results is not in the public interest.

111


For Comments or Suggestions regarding this page contact Elections 
Webmaster <mailto:electweb at leoncountyfl.gov>
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office
301 South Monroe Street Suite 301, Tallahassee FL 32301
Phone (850) 488-1350 - Fax (850) 488-1774






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