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Court Filing On How 2004 Ohio Election Hacked 504

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the still-not-over-this-yet-eh dept.
chimpo13 writes "A new filing in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case includes a copy of the Ohio Secretary of State election production system configuration that was in use in Ohio's 2004 presidential election when there was a sudden and unexpected shift in votes for George W. Bush."
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Court Filing On How 2004 Ohio Election Hacked

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  • Unexpected? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cmdr_klarg (629569)

    Unexpected? Really? When the CEO of Diebold was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @09:04AM (#36882300)

    Real Clear Politics poll aggregation showed that Bush led Kerry going into the election in Ohio, and had led nationally since the September before the election - it would have been surprising if Kerry won. Exit polling can be and has been unreliable - that's why it's only used as an indicator and not on it's own (precinct turnout is usually more indicative of who's going to win).

    Really, just let it go. Kerry just lost - sometimes that's all there is to it.

    • by rockclimber (660746) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @09:15AM (#36882410)
      But Thats the Problem with election Machines, or E-Voting.
      You can't know. You can't Recount. You don't know the source. YOU CAN NOT VERYFY.
      This is why e-voting undermines the base of democracy.
      What we need is a competition for voting macines, like for encryption http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Encryption_Standard [wikipedia.org]. To declare an open standard after the worlds brightest securtiy people tried 4-8 years to break it.
      Oh, and Voting over the Internet or by text messaging? I can think of so many things that can go wrong that it should be illegal.
      • by phlinn (819946) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @09:39AM (#36882716)
        Personally, I prefer human readable paper ballots. It's simply not as easy to fudge physical ballots as elecrontic ones.
    • Really, just let it go. Kerry just lost - sometimes that's all there is to it.

      Letting Bush-vs-Kerry go is easy. That's all done.

      Saying "that's all there is to it" is total bullshit, though. How many other races were decided by the same machines in the 2004 elections? How many other elections were these machines used for? Did you check the exit polls for all of those too?

      How do you feel about the next election, which is likely to be run based on identical policies, known to be vulnerable?

      If you fi

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @09:07AM (#36882330)

    Well, when the CEO of Diebold (the company making the voting machines), Walden O'Dell [wikipedia.org] is also doubling as a major Bush fundraiser and promising to "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President", is anyone really surprised that serious questions were raised about these e-voting machines--which were already controversial long before Wally O'Dell ever started fundraising?

    Some things are still best done the old-fashioned way. And voting is one of them.

    • Here's what's really annoying about that particular quote: I can't find the full text of it, least not in 15 minutes of noodling around on Google. There are tons of references to that quote, plenty of references to the responses to the quote, but nothing at all which could put that quote into context. I'm not saying it's a case of misinterpretation... but I am saying that we don't have the facts. What we have is a great soundbite.

      Then we have this FTA:

      Spoonamore also swore that "...the architecture further confirms how this election was stolen. The computer system and SmarTech had the correct placement, connectivity, and computer experts necessary to change the election in any manner desired by the controllers of the SmarTech computers."

      Which sums it up nicely. The filings show how it could have been stolen - but do not prove that it was stolen. It seems to me that the same can be said of any election using this equipment and architecture.

      In spite of that, I agree with your statement. The old fashioned way seems to be the one that is most foolproof. While that process can obviously be hacked as well, it typically needs to be done on a machine by machine basis and is quite a bit more traceable.

  • I wonder what it means if this suit succeeds? Does it mean that mean that all laws Bush signed after the 2004 election are illegal along with all executive orders from the same time period? Personally I doubt that will be the case but I do wonder especially since the article didn't go into what the suit was about. For those who would like to complain about the 2000 election that one already went all the way to the supreme court so we are kind of stuck with that decision.
    • Being someone who lives on an entirely different continent, I don't really care about this whole affair, but I am nevertheless curious as to what's going to happen if this suit ends with concluding that the elections were stolen.

      Maybe they will throw Bush into jail. So what? What's past is past, and having someone serve prison time won't help a bit. I mean, prison time is to punish someone for their deeds and hopefully teach them to not do it again. Bush won't do it again anyway, and punishing him could g
      • Well, it's not like we have more important issues to discuss, such as the impending default, or... oh wait...

      • Maybe they will throw Bush into jail. So what? What's past is past, and having someone serve prison time won't help a bit. I mean, prison time is to punish someone for their deeds and hopefully teach them to not do it again.

        Prison time also serves as a deterrent to prevent others from doing it.

    • It means all the laws stand, but we put an asterisk by his name in the history books. Other than that, we promise to try really hard not to let election fraud go unnoticed next time, and it is back to business as usual.
  • It was hacked? (Score:5, Informative)

    by KermodeBear (738243) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @09:08AM (#36882338) Homepage

    I read through the article and all I found was information that it was possible to do so - but we at Slashdot ALL know that all electronic voting systems are heavily flawed. I didn't see any evidence in the article that voter fraud actually did occur, only that it was possible.

    What IS mentioned is that an intermediate vote count was transferred to another server, but that just means that early vote totals were made available, not that fraudulent votes were cast.

    What is with Slashdot and the craptacular headlines lately?

    • I think you're referring to this:

      The filing also includes the revealing deposition of the late Michael Connell. Connell served as the IT guru for the Bush family and Karl Rove. Connell ran the private IT firm GovTech that created the controversial system that transferred Ohio's vote count late on election night 2004 to a partisan Republican server site in Chattanooga, Tennessee owned by SmarTech. That is when the vote shift happened, not predicted by the exit polls, that led to Bush's unexpected victory. Co

    • by phlinn (819946)
      Well, they copied the headline verbatim from a known partisan website. It's worth noting that truthout.org made a stronger claim than the actual legal filing did, as far as I can tell. Blame chimpo13, not slashdot.
    • Re:It was hacked? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nahdude812 (88157) * on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @09:53AM (#36882886) Homepage

      It says that they were set up to be a fallback authority with complete control to be able to modify votes in case the primary systems failed. Those who were responsible for overseeing the systems were sent home by agents of Blackwell, and during that time, control was sent to these fallback servers even though there was no evidence there had been any failed systems to spur it.

      They could only steal votes if they were granted the failover scenario, and the architecture made it easy to do so should that have happened - so easy in fact that it appears evident that it was designed with this purpose in mind. Then, private contractors take control of things late in the evening of the election, transfer control to the fully-falsifiable system, then transfer control back, all without any evidence that there had been failures to trigger the transfer of control.

      They had motive and opportunity, and the design of the system is such that any actual proof against tampering could be falsified without means of detection. You're right, it doesn't say "votes were tampered with," but the only remaining possible evidence would be a confession. The one man who began to disclose more details died in a mysterious plane crash shortly after.

    • Re:It was hacked? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:43AM (#36883582)

      Oh thank God, someone on Slashdot actually has some sens. All it takes is one quick visit to TFA to see that that news site is the most biased news outlet I have ever seen. Its literally more sensationalist than Fox News, just in the other direction. The people who wrote the article authored no less than 4 books like "Did George W. Bush Steal America's 2004 Election". The entire things takes "it might have been possible to hack the election" to "look! It was possible, so they did!" They don't say "reveals how it might have been hacked", which would be true, they say "was hacked", which they have absolutely no proof of whatsoever. Just suspicions, and their suspicions at that. And saying people died in "a suspicious plane crash"? Thats some nice inuendo right there. They are literally suggesting that Bush had a person killed for testifying against him. Over the top, much?

      • It's a liberal politial non-profit working on the side of the Democrats that mainly publishes liberal opinion pieces. They were rabidly anti-Bush during his term..

        These are the people who claimed Karl Rove had been indicted over the Plame thing, and when told it was false continued to press the claim. Rove was never indicted.

  • by snsh (968808) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @09:09AM (#36882348)

    Kerry's biggest problem in 2004 was not the voting machines in Ohio or Pennsylvania, but his inability to coherently and succinctly answer a simple question.

    In 2004, a ham sandwich would have out-polled George W, but the Democrats nominated John Friggin Kerry. Vote tampering in Ohio does not excuse the Democrats for losing that election.

    • by CraftyJack (1031736) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @09:26AM (#36882542)

      Vote tampering in Ohio does not excuse the Democrats for losing that election.

      No, but a weak candidate doesn't excuse vote tampering either. No matter which way I vote, I'd like to know that it counted. I'd like to know that it's not being tampered with for profit, malice, or mischief.

    • by phlinn (819946)
      Hey, but the ham sandwich didn't serve in Vietnam!
    • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @12:36PM (#36885320) Homepage

      Let's not forget how Bush became President in the first place. The Democrats nominated Al Gore in 2000. Everyone remembers how Florida results were within the margin of error for their stupid punch card ballots. But nobody seems to remember that Gore lost his own home state (Tennessee), which in my opinion should result in automatic disqualification. If your own state won't vote for you, go directly to epic fail.

      Bush was one of the weakest candidates in modern times. In a way, he was similar to Nixon. Both were weak candidates who enjoyed the benefit of weaker opponents. Nixon defeated Humphrey in 1968 and McGovern in 1972; Bush defeated Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. Obama might fit into the same discussion, having defeated the Republican throwaway ticket of McCain/Palin in 2008. It remains to be seen if the Republicans can nominate a weak enough candidate to give Obama a second term.

      • by Arterion (941661)

        As someone who lives in Tennessee, I don't really blame Gore for losing here in 2000. Gore's political ideas were far too progressive for this backwater hellhole. Mainly, he wasn't christian enough, in that he had respect for non-Christians, and in that he relied heavily on science for making decisions, rather than the bible. It really would have been wasted effort if he'd tried. I mean, the people here think that god punishes america with natural disasters because of abortions and gays.

  • How much of this is incompetence and how much is really malice? As much as everyone seems to like a good conspiracy I have a feeling that this is probably going to be more like the Sony PSN security breach and less like the Sony rootkit DRM fiasco
  • Exit polls are, frankly, more reliable then our actual vote tallies now. The Florida ballot was, quite clearly, confusing. Go look at it from a statistical perspective - Buchanan's results were clearly skewed, as acknowledge by everyone but Bush (Meaning, Buchanan agreed they were screwed up too!), because only Bush had soemthing to gain. Oh, and he was elected president without a plurality popular support. In Florida, back then, the Republicans clearly proved that they were in this to win the presidency, n
    • by phlinn (819946)
      Winning an election by the rules is not the same as winning the popular vote. The republicans proved that they were interested in winning an election, and they surely would have liked to win the popular vote too, but that wasn't as important.
    • Exit polls are very accurate if done properly, Ohio wasn't the only state with discrepancies in 2004 Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa exit polls all showed Kerry winning and none of them he did win. Either there was a fundamental flaw in the exit polls of those swing states or there was election fraud in many states.
  • by FiloEleven (602040) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @09:18AM (#36882432)

    By the time it comes down to actually voting for one of two "viable" candidates, the statist agenda is bound to be fulfilled. There are meaningful differences between Republican and Democrat, but on the whole they will both tend to do things that increase the role of federal government in our everyday lives and insidiously undermine our rights.

    Give me a third party with the size and principles to actually change the course of government and I'll care more about what happens in the final round of elections.

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:31AM (#36883416)

      There are no meaningful differences between Republicans and Democrats, unless you count their donors. It is, and has been for some time, a one-party system with the veil of "choice" pulled over the eyes of the voters. Both parties increase the power of the Federal government (against the constitution and the will of the people), and both parties want more of our money.

      The only difference (if you can call it that) between the parties (besides the mascot) is their stance on "scary social problems" like gay marriage and abortion. Both of which have nothing to do with governing and the federal government, if it were Constitutionally sound and legal, would not be involved in either item at all. The Constitution makes clear what the federal government can do, yet we keep electing these asspiles who ignore it.

      I wish there was enough outrage to give a third party support, but it appears the deck is stacked against any candidate that isn't an elephant or donkey.

      • "The only difference (if you can call it that) between the parties (besides the mascot) is their stance on "scary social problems" like gay marriage and abortion. Both of which have nothing to do with governing and the federal government, if it were Constitutionally sound and legal, would not be involved in either item at all. The Constitution makes clear what the federal government can do, yet we keep electing these asspiles who ignore it." A budding federalist, I see? "Nothing matters... except these sm
    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @11:32AM (#36884432) Homepage Journal

      Give me a third party with the size and principles..

      Maybe someone should give you a pony too.

      It's particularly disappointing that you want the size given to you. It sounds like you're saying you refuse to vote for real candidates (assuming someone else does the job of giving them to you), unless a bunch of other people vote for them first (of course, by then, it's too late and the candidate has lost, because you refused to vote along side them, since that candidate's victory had not already been assured).

      Your attitude is why we can't escape the Democrats and Republicans. You are the problem that you're complaining about.

      Imagine the world where Thomas Jefferson wrote:

      When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, we can only hope that someone gives those people what they want. King George is bad, and we humbly request him to appoint a new king. (We don't care who; that's not our problem.) If he refuses to do so, we will continue to recognize his authority but we'll be slightly irked.

  • You can hack mechanical voting machines

    But the problem with electronic voting is that your hack can happen in seconds, and do far more damage than an army of corrupt vote counters and ballot stuffers and truck drivers who get lost while delivering paper ballots. Plus your attack vectors are orders of magnitude more numerous, because you're dealing with a more complex systems.

    Democracy is about trust. Voting should not be a black box: votes in, sausage out. We on Slashdot are all technophiles: anything can b

  • Even if they prove this last time I checked George W isn't in office anymore and you can't go back in time.
  • Most of the accusations of voter fraud stem from one horrible shortcoming in American elections. Quite simply, it's a lack of transparency. If the election work was done out in the open for all to see, we wouldn't have so much fraud. But that's exactly why it's done in secret. Both sides WANT fraud. When things aren't going their way they want to have all sorts of leverage to shift the election to them. Ballot stuffing has a long and glorious tradition in this country. The Republicans are being accus

  • by wbav (223901) <Guardian.Bob+Slashdot@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:12AM (#36883126) Homepage Journal
    We have a different type of electronic voting. Oregon uses vote by mail, and each person fills out a scan-tron form (something a 2nd grader can do). Not only is there a paper trail, but it is proven technology.

    Voting intimidation is eliminated when you vote in your own home and you don't have to deal with crowded poll places. I don't understand why more states don't do this.

    And now for the tangent, more and more we are seeing the evil republican label. Similarly, it is the socialist, Marxist liberals. Both labels are hyperbole. The two parties aren't all that different really, they agree on most things. The thing that kills me is people don't realize that to make it to congress, you must be at least millionaire. You want to know why the Bush tax cuts haven't expired? Why the democrats haven't beaten the republicans over the head with it? They don't want to see their own taxes go up, just like the republicans. They just have to talk a good game to continue to be elected.

    It is only when their supporters really get pissed off that they do something, because they like their cushy job and free, government run health care.

    As for claims of vote hacking, neither side really wants an investigation. Think about it, right now the US is seen is fat, lazy and stupid. Do you really want to add slow to that mix? While it would make a lot of us feel good, from the outside, if a former president is put in jail, what does it look like?

    Probably something like, we're stupid, fat, lazy, slow and cannot properly investigate a crime. The last thing anyone on either side wants to do is suggest that our law enforcement is somehow inadequate, it would just invite others to exploit that. It is the same security theater as TSA, just on a different stage.

  • I wish more technical people would volunteer to work the polls, and could spread the word about the controls built into our voting process.

    The first thing they'd learn is that votes are counted at the PRECINCT level. There's no "master server" in the sky where votes can be manipulated. The real votes are counted machine-by-machine, under the eye of volunteers who swear under oath that it has been operated properly. The machines print out a paper receipt of the tally, and that gets backed-up on hard disk and flash. The paper tape total is called into the Registrar. The paper records of the vote are certified by a local Board of Election, the machines are sealed, and the paper and flash media is typically also sealed and sequestered under a local Court.

    The servers used at the state levels are merely there to REPORT the results of the counts made at each precinct. They are not the actual vote tally. If the database is wrong, the Board goes back to the paper trail and updates it with the correct tally.

    Paper receipts at the voting machines are actually NOT a good idea, IMHO. Paper is a horrible medium for conducting an election: it can get lost, smeared, ripped, crumpled, folded, etc. There's a reason we don't run our accounting systems using ledger-books anymore, but instead use a computer. Those reasons apply double for voting. A computer-based tally is a dream to manage compared to the nightmare that is paper.

    I would like to see better use of paper for making spot-certifications that a machine is operating properly, but I would never want to run a whole election using paper. The error rate of paper can run as high as 1-2%. The error rate of a computer tally is minuscule by comparison.

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