August 31, 2004

Pushing all my armchair conspiracy theorist buttons

Black Box Voting has uncovered a very very disturbing security flaw in Diebold's vote-counting GEMS software. You know how we've all been worried about how individual voting machines are not secure and may be vulnerable to tampering? That's nothing compared to the central tabulators that actually count the votes. You'll be ever-so-reassured to know that the tabulators have a deliberately programmed ability to create a second set of files with altered vote counts.

It is never appropriate to have two sets of books inside accounting software. It is possible to do computer programming to create two sets of books, but dual sets of books are prohibited in accounting, for this simple reason: Two sets of books can easily allow fraud to go undetected. Especially if the two sets are hidden from the user.

The data tables in accounting software automatically link up to each other to prevent illicit back door entries. In GEMS, however, by typing a two-digit code into a hidden location, you can decouple the books, so that the voting system will draw information from a combination of the real votes and a set of fake votes, which you can alter any way you see fit.

That's right, GEMS comes with a secret digital "on-off" switch to link and unlink its multiple vote tables. Someone who tests GEMS, not knowing this, will not see the mismatched sets of books. When you put a two-digit code into a secret location can you disengage the vote tables, so that tampered totals table don't have to match precinct by precinct results. This way, it will pass a spot check -- even with paper ballots -- but can still be rigged.

Scary as fuck. You should read the whole thing.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Posted by Francis at 10:17 AM