Argonne Labs’s demonstration attack on a Diebold voting machine is getting a lot of press. The article above has the details, but briefly, what the Argonne team did was to insert some malicious “alien” electronics between the CPU and the touch screen. Unsurprisingly, that device can modify input from the touch screen and/or output to the touch screen, allowing the attacker to tamper with the election. To read the press coverage and the quotes given by the authors, you might get the impression that this was something new. For instance:
“This is a fundamentally very powerful attack and we believe that voting officials should become aware of this and stop focusing strictly on cyber [attacks],” says Vulnerability Assessment Team member John Warner. “There’s a very large physical protection component of the voting machine that needs to be addressed.”
These comments aside, there’s not really any new information here; rather, it was completely obvious that this sort of thing was possible to anyone who knew how the devices were constructed. It’s well-known that the only defenses against this were physical security of the machines itself (tamper seals, locks, custody, etc.) and that they were extremely weak. Indeed, Alex Halderman and his team demonstrated some not-dissimilar attacks a while back on the Indian Electronic Voting Machines. The EVEREST report described a man-in-the-middle attack on the iVotronic interface to the VVPAT vote printer. Indeed, the same team from Argonne demonstrated a similar attack on a Sequoia system im 2009.
There are a number of reasons why voting researchers have historically focused on informational attacks (as I’ve saidbefore, “cyber” isn’t the word that computer scientists would typically use). First, they’re easier to do wholesale. While it’s moderately expensive—though not that expensive—to reverse engineer the software and develop an exploit and/or replacement software, once you’ve done that you can make as many copies as you want. Moreover, if you have a good exploit (like many of the ones described in the TTBR), you may be able to easily install it with very brief physical access, without opening the case, and perhaps without even violating any security seals. For obvious reasons, attacks which can be mounted by voters seem a lot more interesting than attacks which involve semi long-term access to the machine. It’s not exactly likely that your average voter is going to be allowed to open the machine in the middle of the election.
Moreover, in some cases, informational attacks (i.e., viruses) have been demonstrated that only require contact with a small number of voting machines. The idea here is that you have temporary access to a given machine, infect it with the virus, and then this somehow spreads to every machine in the county. By contrast, a physical attack like this requires tampering with every voting machine. Read More
It has been a record year for new legislation designed to make it harder for Democrats to vote — 19 laws and two executive actions in 14 states dominated by Republicans, according to a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice. As a result, more than five million eligible voters will have a harder time participating in the 2012 election.
Of course the Republicans passing these laws never acknowledge their real purpose, which is to turn away from the polls people who are more likely to vote Democratic, particularly the young, the poor, the elderly and minorities. They insist that laws requiring government identification cards to vote are only to protect the sanctity of the ballot from unscrupulous voters. Cutting back on early voting, which has been popular among working people who often cannot afford to take off from their jobs on Election Day, will save money, they claim.
None of these explanations are true. There is almost no voting fraud in America. And none of the lawmakers who claim there is have ever been able to document any but the most isolated cases. The only reason Republicans are passing these laws is to give themselves a political edge by suppressing Democratic votes. Read More
At first glance, it had the makings of a spirited election: the leader of Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration facing off at the polls with an immigrant from Mexico who believed that the state had gone too far. But the immigrant, Olivia Cortes, a retiree who filed papers in July to challenge the State Senate president, Russell Pearce, disappeared from the political scene last week just as quickly as she had appeared. Ms. Cortes’s candidacy for a legislative district in this working-class community east of Phoenix, it now appears, had been a dirty trick.
Critics of Mr. Pearce’s hard-line approach to illegal immigration collected enough signatures to force him into a recall election in November. But allies of Mr. Pearce, who is one of the state’s most powerful politicians, did not take that humiliation lightly. They recruited Ms. Cortes in what was an effort to split the anti-Pearce vote, particularly among Latinos, a judge later found. Read More
A growing trend by states to restrict voters’ rights has brought a backlash in Maine, where an upcoming “people’s veto” referendum seeks to restore same-day voter registration. On Nov. 8, Maine voters will decide a very straightforward proposal: whether to repeal a new state law that requires voters to register at least two days before an election. Repeal would effectively restore same-day registration, a policy that’s been in effect in Maine for nearly four decades.
The law allowing people in Maine to register at the polls up to and including Election Day is strongly favored by Democrats, who say it encourages voter participation. But it’s opposed by Republicans who contend that same-day registration opens the door to fraud and abuse. Randy Spencer, a Maine guide who divides his time between rural Grand Lake Stream and Holden, near Bangor, says same-day voting saved him on more than one occasion. Read More
The Cherokee Nation Election Commission has adjourned for the evening and will reconvene Monday tomorrow at 8 a.m. to continue verifying absentee ballots. On Sunday morning the Cherokee Nation Election Commission began counting ballots cast during the special election for Principal Chief.
“We know this has been a long process and that our citizens are eager to know who will serve as the next Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation,” said Susan Plumb, chairperson of the commission. “The Commission has developed a plan and timeline to decrease the chances of human error and provide the Cherokee people with an election in which they can have faith.” Read More
Ballot counting in the special election for principal chief is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Sunday, more than two weeks after the original election day. The Cherokee Nation Election Commission announced on Thursday that the counting will not be a one-day affair.
“Because of the circumstances surrounding the special election for principal chief, the commission has established a three-day process for counting the election results,” said Election Commission Chairman Susan Plumb. “We know that this has been a long process and people are eager to know who will serve as the next principal chief, but the commission must remain focused on its responsibility of providing the Cherokee people with an accurate, fair and impartial election.” The commission will start Sunday with ballots cast in-person at the 38 precincts and during walk-in voting days. Read More
The village’s short-lived bid to appeal its voting rights case — undertaken despite a taxpayer outcry — has added $75,000 in legal bills to the million-dollar cost of fighting the Justice Department’s 2006 lawsuit.
The village also owes $125,000 in legal expenses for plaintiff Cesar Ruiz and an undetermined amount for his legal expenses during the appellate phase.
A divided village Board of Trustees hired the law firm Jones Day in February to appeal the 2008 decision that deemed Port Chester’s former trustee election system in violation of the Voting Rights Act. A judge had found the old system — at-large voting for two trustees per year — prevented the Hispanic minority from electing their preferred candidates to the board. Read More
It was the eighth day of ousted Afghan parliamentarian Simeen Barakzai’s hunger strike. Through chapped lips and in a rough voice, she said Sunday she would not drink or eat anything until President Hamid Karzai opened an investigation into vote fraud by the woman who has taken over her seat.
Her protest is the latest turn in a seemingly interminable dispute over who belongs in the Afghan parliament — still going on, more than a year after elections that were marred by fraud.
Fraud monitors discarded 1.3 million ballots from the poll — nearly a quarter of the total — and disqualified 19 winning candidates before results were finalized last fall. But many of the losers had argued that voters had been disenfranchised and pressured Karzai to revisit the results. Karzai eventually took the case to the courts, which ruled that 62 sitting parliamentarians should be removed, even though the court had no legal standing to change the results. Read More
The electoral registration updating process, being carried out until December, will cover prisoners, assured this Friday, in Luanda, Angolan Home Affairs minister, Sebastião Martins.
He made this statement after updating his electoral registration, being carried out at the Home Affairs Ministry, where is functioning a registration office for the workers. Read More
The protocols and the short-hand notes of Bulgaria’s Central Electoral Commission, CEK, are as secret as the X Files, according to the Bulgarian NGO Institute for Public Environment Development (IRPS). The Chair of IRPS, Antoaneta Tsoneva, says the analogy with the popular US TV series is more than obvious, pointing out the NGO, under the Access to Public Information Act, had requested from CEK the said protocols and notes because it wanted to use them to access the effect of the new Election Code.
CEK, however, sent a letter refusing to provide the documents, which, according to Tsoneva, is a mockery of IRPS and their work. Read More
The National and State Assemblies Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Kaduna weekend ordered the re-count of the ballot papers used during the last April 28 poll in the Kaduna North Senatorial District. The re-counting of the ballot papers followed a request by the petitioner and former Governor of the state, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, PDP.
Makarfi who alleged that the election was rigged in favour of his opponent, Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed, CPC, prayed the tribunal to order the recount to enable it discover the actual winner of senatorial seat in the district.
Makarfi had also tendered about 158 exhibits which included forms EC8 A, B and E and ballot boxes for 53 wards in seven out of the eight local government areas of the zone. Earlier, tempers had risen among the members of the tribunal when counsel to the Baba- Ahmed, Abbas Ibrahim accused the tribunal of trying to stop him from talking. Read More
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Filipino immigrants may soon be allowed to participate in electoral exercises in the country via the Internet. The proposal was raised during a hearing of the joint House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Suffrage and Electoral Reforms on the proposed amendments to the Overseas Absentee Voting law or Republic Act 9189.
Appearing before the House bodies, Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Armando Velasco said Internet voting will be a convenient system for OFWs and other migrants Filipinos.
Velasco said like the majority of the congressmen, he also favors Internet voting as a remedial solution but “it should be studied further particularly the security aspect.” Read More