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Diebold Patch May Be Evidence of '02 Election Tampering 526

An anonymous reader writes "Stephen Spoonamore, founder of IT security firm Cybrinth and former advisor to John McCain, claims he has new evidence of election tampering by Diebold in the 2002 Georgia gubernatorial and senate races. A whistleblower gave Spoonamore a patch that was applied to Diebold machines in person by the Diebold CEO. Spoonamore confirmed that the patch did not correct the clock problem it supposedly addressed, but contained two parallel programs. Without access to the hardware, he could not learn more. He reported his findings to the Justice Department, which has not acted."
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Diebold Patch May Be Evidence of '02 Election Tampering

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  • and (Score:5, Insightful)

    by omar.sahal (687649) on Friday July 18, 2008 @06:54PM (#24249481) Homepage Journal
    the worst thing is even if the next election was rigged no body would really do anything.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The worst thing is that the damage is done. No one you can vote for will ever restore the Constitutional rule-of-law and guarantee of due-process that are now in tattered, burning shreds.

      Obama is to the right of Nixon - and is considered "center-left".

      Once was America, now the Uber-Banana Republic.

      • Re:and (Score:5, Funny)

        by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:10PM (#24249641)

        Once was America, now the Uber-Banana Republic.

        Now is when we sing the UBR anthem...
        [hand on crotch] "Yes, we have no bananas. We have no bananas today."

      • Re:and (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rolfwind (528248) on Friday July 18, 2008 @08:48PM (#24250329)

        Obama is to the right of Nixon - and is considered "center-left".

        What the hell does that mean? These linear political spectrums are not only stupid, their single dimensionality eradicate way too many variables to reduce someone's position arbitrarily on the line.

        • Re:and (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dfetter (2035) <david@fetter.org> on Friday July 18, 2008 @10:54PM (#24251049) Homepage Journal

          Let's see...somebody, a libertarian propagandist no doubt, decided that the "social" and "economic" liberties were going to be orthogonal (ridiculous on its face) and equal in weight.

          Then we're supposed to go stare at the macho quiz that has questions of the form, "do you eat babies, or are you a libertarian" for awhile, and then put ourselves on this magical chart, and lo and behold, most of us come out as libertarians.

          This is some pretty crude propaganda, and if you're swindled by it, you need to wake up and smell the bullshit.

        • Re:and (Score:5, Interesting)

          by utopianfiat (774016) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @04:13AM (#24252239) Journal

          You just say that because you're a far-(right/left) radical NUT.

          Liberal and Conservative have no definition and are therefore useless as argumentation techniques. Watch:
          National Journal voted Obama the most liberal senator in office. This is bullshit on face, because Obama is still tied to the democratic party line; Bernie Sanders is probably the most liberal senator because, and get this
          Oh, but National Journal can place an actually fairly moderate senator (dennis kucinich and his friends were far more liberal than obama) on the "most liberal" side, because you can't argue with it. Most in the republican party simply call someone Liberal if they disagree with them, but then again, republican leaders inserted that definition into their heads [fair.org], so you can't blame them too much.

          National Journal, therefore, is a rag.
          Liberal and Conservative mean nothing.
          Left and Right are names for your arms and legs, not political associations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by operagost (62405)

        Obama is to the right of Nixon

        Oh, good! Maybe he could go to China too-- and ask them to stop polluting and burning so much oil.
        By the way: Nixon was a moderate. Sarcasm works better with extremes.

    • Re:and (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blair1q (305137) on Friday July 18, 2008 @08:01PM (#24250003) Journal

      that is because the people you expect to do anything are the ones that got elected so of course they won't do anything to themselves

      however, this is a democracy and you have the right to free speech and you can make sure that your voice is heard by every politician and journalist and ear in earshot

      and, in the end, if necessary, we can just start over from 1776

      but that means that YOU have to do what YOU are supposed to do, instead of sitting on your fat ass eating cheetohs and whining about how unfair it is on slashdot

      • But Remember (Score:3, Informative)

        by Digicrat (973598)
        " Remember, remember the Fifth of November, The Gunpowder Treason and Plot, I know of no reason Why Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot. "
  • Anybody surprised? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fluch (126140) on Friday July 18, 2008 @06:56PM (#24249495)

    Honestly? Surprised that there exists interests in changing the outcome of an election in a favourable way?

    • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:02PM (#24249545)
      Yes, Republicans. For all the screaming about we on the left have been doing about these rigged elections, the Republicans have largely blown it all off as a bunch of whiny, sore losers. And, I say this with actual understanding of their point (I'd be suspicious of our cries as well were the tables turned). I think if you could get Republicans to see how truly corrupt our election system has become, they'd be as outraged as well. But, it's hard to get a credible spokesman (read: a fellow Republican) to come out as vehemently against this as someone like Greg Palast has.
      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:52PM (#24249947) Journal

        I think if you could get Republicans to see how truly corrupt our election system has become, they'd be as outraged as well. But, it's hard to get a credible spokesman (read: a fellow Republican) to come out as vehemently against this as someone like Greg Palast has.

        I think you severely underestimate a *partisan's ability to write off information that could force them into a state of cognitive dissonance.

        Abu Ghraib was written off as "hazing" and "a fraternity prank."
        I don't really see that mindset getting too outraged over election fraud in their favor.

        *This goes both ways really. Anyone remember Dan Rather's fake documents?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2008 @06:57PM (#24249503)

    Were the Diebold voting machines Euclidean or non-Euclidean? Without this key bit of information, we can't know if these programs intersected or not.

  • Absentee Ballot! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CyberSnyder (8122) on Friday July 18, 2008 @06:57PM (#24249505)

    I think I'll vote via absentee ballot and send it via registered mail. Paranoid? Maybe.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fishbowl (7759)

      >I think I'll vote via absentee ballot and send it via registered mail. Paranoid? Maybe.

      Your absentee ballot is probably scanned on an ES&S (Diebold) tabulator.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2008 @06:57PM (#24249509)

    > He reported his findings to the Justice Department, which has not acted.

    Bush co already patched the justice dept.
    No worries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:00PM (#24249537)

    I live in Atlanta, and lived here in 2002. "King" Roy Barnes and Max Cleland didn't get "robbed" of anything. They lost their elections because they were both liberal Democrats running in a conservative state in a big Republican year. Barnes in particular had become so personally obnoxious that a good many in his own party crossed over to vote against him out of pure spite.

    Good grief, people. Put the tinfoil hats away.

    • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:19PM (#24249713)
      The point is not whether those who won the election would have won anyway even without tampering. Obviously, those who perpetrated the alleged act believed that there was a chance there might be an upset, and alleged act itself remains criminal.
    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:31PM (#24249807) Journal
      It seems there is an allegation of tampering that no one seems to be able to prove or disprove. Regardsless of who won or should have won, that fact alone should give anyone pause when it comes to voting by machine. With hand marked ballots counted by hand, there will be a representative of a party of my own conviction at most polling stations, who can tell me with conviction: "No tampering has taken place here". When votes are counted by hands in the presence of representatives of all partirs, I can be pretty sure that there is no widespread tampering, without having to take any expert's word for it.
  • Sure Sign (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:02PM (#24249549)

    The first flag should've been that it was the CEO who performed the patch. If a CEO _ever_ gets his hands dirty, you can rest assured that there is something illegal going on that needs to be covered up.

  • by JavaManJim (946878) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:03PM (#24249557)

    As an IT support person, the scope of the Diebold patch update is suspicious. Why just two counties? Why not the whole state? Why a special trip by the CEO? Too many bells are going off here.

    When I did IT updates. I would update a few test configurations and select users then let them run for a bit. Then roll out to the masses. About 2,500 PCs if you will.

    The justice department needs to begin investigating this immediately.

    This whole situation stinks to high heaven.


    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:57PM (#24249971) Journal

      As an IT support person, the scope of the Diebold patch update is suspicious. Why just two counties? Why not the whole state? Why a special trip by the CEO? Too many bells are going off here.

      Makes you wonder:
      Was the software previously on those machines certified by the State?
      Were the patches certified by the State?

      If the answer to either of those questions is no, you've got prima facie evidence that laws were broken and the CEO knew about it.

      • by JavaManJim (946878) on Friday July 18, 2008 @08:21PM (#24250159)

        Thanks for your reply there tublar.

        I am an occasional election judge in Texas. I see our Optical Scan and Touch Screen machines scroll their very old their Microsoft boot up messages we turn them on. Old software versions for sure. This is OK. If it works it works. My county election head is very very very conservative about updates. I cannot imagine a casual update like this CEO did. Now he probably had agreement from those two counties. Those counties should have asked some pretty hard questions if he was not giving any others those updates.

        The Diebold issues might be in three different places. I don't know how the machine is constructed. Here is a brief list for mischief; the OS, the screen display application on top of the OS, then perhaps something in any PCMICA cards. As the article author said, he did not have access to a machine and you really need the whole thing to see what it is doing.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:04PM (#24249573)

    Remember folks, Diebold is now known as "Premier Election Solutions" [wikipedia.org]--they changed their name to get away from the bad PR! So don't call them "Diebold" any more and don't forget!

    Just like MediaSentry becoming "SafeNet", we shouldn't be so quick to forget who the scumbags are!

    - I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property [eff.org]

    • by VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) on Friday July 18, 2008 @08:03PM (#24250021)

      So don't call them "Diebold" any more and don't forget!

      You're a little off. Diebold, Inc. still exists and is still called such.

      Remember back when electronic voting (EV) was the hot topic and people on Slashdot were complaining (and rightly so) about how sloppy and insecure Diebold's EV systems were compared to their ATMs, vaults, safes, and their other systems related to money? Diebold, Inc., the parent company, deals with much more than EV systems. It remains Diebold. Their link to EV systems is contained entirely in a subsidiary, formerly Diebold Voting Systems, Inc., a year ago renamed Premier Election Solutions. New great name, same red hands.

      It's a little confusing to distinguish, I know, especially when even the summary makes no effort to do so.

  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:04PM (#24249575)

    The head of a company vying to sell voting machines in Ohio told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

    The Aug. 14 letter from Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc. - who has become active in the re-election effort of President Bush - prompted Democrats this week to question the propriety of allowing O'Dell's company to calculate votes in the 2004 presidential election.

    O'Dell attended a strategy pow-wow with wealthy Bush benefactors - known as Rangers and Pioneers - at the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch earlier this month. The next week, he penned invitations to a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser to benefit the Ohio Republican Party's federal campaign fund - partially benefiting Bush - at his mansion in the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington.

    The letter went out the day before Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, also a Republican, was set to qualify Diebold as one of three firms eligible to sell upgraded electronic voting machines to Ohio counties in time for the 2004 election.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:06PM (#24249599) Homepage

    The story says "The computer patch was installed in person by Diebold CEO Bob Urosevich, who flew in from Texas and applied it in just two counties, DeKalb and Fulton, both Democratic strongholds."

    If that's accurate, that's astonishing to me.

    I don't know much about "The Raw Story," which describes itself as an "alternative" news source. If this had appeared in the mainstream media I would regard it as something close to a smoking gun. I hope this isn't the end of the story.

    • Mainstream? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by copponex (13876)

      And why would a huge corporate company make noise about criminal activity done by one of their possible advertisers, or someone with connections in Washington? They wait until the feds start busting them up. That way, you know they don't have any leverage inside the beltway, and there's nothing you can do to save them anyway.

      When the feds are bought and paid for, and the media is bought and paid for, mainstream media becomes an outlet for AP stories that don't offend anyone.

  • by grizdog (1224414) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:09PM (#24249629) Homepage

    The software engineers try to get a handle on how many bugs are left after a certain number have been found, but how do we get a handle on how many events like these might be happening after one has come to light?

    It has long been pretty clear that these voting machine vendors, Diebold chief among them, have had something to hide because of how cagy they have been about allowing people to examine their machines. It's very frustrating that their arguments seem to always win out - it makes you wonder how many Secretaries of State (for non-US readers, that is a state-level office that is frequently in charge of elections. Not to be confused with the Federal level Foreign Minister) want to know what is going on, or really d know what is going on, and just want deniability.

  • Karl Rove (Score:5, Informative)

    by farker haiku (883529) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:15PM (#24249679) Journal

    Interesting that he's not mentioned in the summary, but several [streetinsider.com] other [opednews.com] sources [bradblog.com] seem to indicate [epluribusmedia.net] that Karl Rove is behind this.

    Go ahead and mod me down, I've got decent karma.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:23PM (#24249739)

    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 two years[8]. In addition to Dean, GES employed a number of other convicted felons in senior positions, including a fraudulent securities trader and a drug trafficker.

    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."

  • WTF??? (Score:3, Funny)

    by dkeisling (1328667) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:45PM (#24249913)
    FTA: "he identified two parallel programs, both having the full software code and even the same audio instructions for the deaf." And I thought Braille on a drive up ATM was pointless.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fishbowl (7759)

      >And I thought Braille on a drive up ATM was pointless.

      Because you're not blind, and you've never had to trust a stranger to do an ATM transaction for you,
      and you've never done an ATM transaction from the back seat of a taxi.

      You are totally insensitive to the struggle of the visually impaired, and your joke is not funny.

  • by 99luftballon (838486) on Friday July 18, 2008 @08:00PM (#24249995)
    For hundreds of years elections have been held using paper and pencil ballots, and fraud was very difficult to get away with. This is because you have to employ large numbers of people to commit it.

    Electronic voting can be subverted very simply indeed, just by one person with the right technical knowledge. All electronic voting should be scrapped until a reasonably secure system can be organised, most likely by open source solutions. Even then there's no real reason for it.

    And what the hell was the CEO doing installing patches? Sounds highly suspicous to me.
    • ... is that computers cannot be trusted to process anonymous transactions. Particularly when the stakes are high.

      Digital electronic ballots can't be considered real, as they do not leave scads of physical forensic evidence the way a physical ballot would.

      Everything else we do with computers involving trust also involves personal identification and verification procedures (logging in, checking a bank statement, etc. for which there are no analogs in voting systems) and even that is problematic enough.

  • by DanLake (543142) <slashdot&lakepage,com> on Friday July 18, 2008 @08:06PM (#24250041)
    It looks like from older sources that the CEO was traveling with a technician who actually installed the patch. The technician has since thought that it was an unusual thing to be doing. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/11717105/robert_f_kennedy_jr__will_the_next_election_be_hacked/2 [rollingstone.com] "We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level."
  • by sycodon (149926) on Friday July 18, 2008 @10:07PM (#24250803)

    Because I wrote the patch and I gave it to him and I personally watched him install it.

    What? You don't believe me?

    Guess I should have posted anonymously.

You have a tendency to feel you are superior to most computers.