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HBO: HACKING DEMOCRACY

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http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/hackingdemocracy/synopsis.html

 

Electronic voting machines count 80% of the votes cast in America today. But are they reliable? Are they safe from tampering? From a current congressional hearing to persistent media reports that suggest misuse of data and even outright fraud, concerns over the integrity of electronic voting are growing by the day. And if the voting process is not secure, neither is America's democracy.

 

In the 2000 presidential election, an electronic voting machine recorded minus 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Volusia County, Fla. While fraud was never proven, the faulty tally alerted computer scientists, politicians and everyday citizens to the very real possibility of computer hacking during elections.

 

In 2002, Seattle grandmother and writer Bev Harris asked officials in her county why they had acquired electronic touch screen systems for their elections. Unsatisfied with their explanation, she set out to learn about electronic voting machines on her own. In the course of her research, which unearthed hundreds of reported incidents of mishandled voting information, Harris stumbled across an "online library" of the Diebold Corporation - which counted more than 40 percent of the presidential votes nationwide in 2000 - discovering a treasure trove of information about the inner-workings of the company's voting system.

 

Harris brought this proprietary "secret" information to computer security expert Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins University, who determined that the software lacked the necessary security features to prevent tampering. Her subsequent investigation took her from the trash cans of Texas to the secretary of state of California and finally to Florida, where a "mini-election" to test the vulnerability of the memory cards used in electronic voting produced alarming results.

 

As the scope of her mission grew, Harris drew on the expertise of other computer- science experts, politicians and activists, among them: Andy Stephenson, candidate for secretary of state in Washington state; Susan Bernecker, Republican candidate in New Orleans; Kathleen Wynne, an activist from Cleveland; Hugh Thompson, director, Security Innovations, Inc.; Ion Sancho, Florida's supervisor of elections; and Harri Hursti, a computer-security analyst. Academics, public officials and others seen in interview footage include: Deanie Low, supervisor of elections, Volusia County, Fla.; Mark Radke, marketing director of Diebold; David Cobb, presidential candidate, Green Party; Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones of Ohio; and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California.

 

Diebold software, or other software like it, is installed in thousands of counties across 32 states. David Dill, professor of computer science at Stanford, says the problem is that there are "lots of people involved in writing the software, and lots of people who could have touched the software before it went into that machine. If one of those people put something malicious in the software and it's distributed to all the machines, then that one person could be responsible for changing tens of thousands of votes, maybe even hundreds of thousands, across the country."

 

In Florida, Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho presided over a trial "mini-election" to see if the vote could be hacked without being detected. Before votes were actually cast, computer analyst Harri Hursti "stuffed the ballot box" by entering votes on the computer's memory card. Then, after votes were cast, the results displayed when the same memory card was entered in the central tabulating program indicated that fraud was indeed possible. In other words, by accessing a memory card before an election, someone could change the results - a claim Diebold had denied was possible.

 

Ultimately, Bev Harris' research proved that the top-secret computerized systems counting the votes in America's public elections are not only fallible, but also vulnerable to undetectable hacking, from local school board contests to the presidential race. With the electronic voting machines of three companies - Diebold, ESS and Sequoia - collectively responsible for around 80 percent of America's votes today, the stakes for democracy are high.

 

One of the executive producers of HACKING DEMOCRACY is Sarah Teale, whose previous HBO credits include "Dealing Dogs" and "Bellevue: Inside Out."

 

HACKING DEMOCRACY was directed by Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels; produced by Simon Ardizzone, Robert Carrillo Cohen and Russell Michaels; executive producers, Earl Katz, Sarah Teale and Sian Edwards; edited by Sasha Zik. For HBO: supervising producer, John Hoffman; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.

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bump i seen that shit. fuckn crazy yea

and they said the election wasn't stollen.

the most interesting part i saw was how minority neighborhoods had very few machines and they were forced to wait hours and stand in the rain. and suburban areas had more than enough machines and staff. so fucked up. even our local election had some lack of staff and ballots. some polls were opened late some closed eearly. irratating stuff

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Voter smashes Diebold machine as e-voting problems crop up nationwide

 

With this being the first major election to see a significant portion of the population casting their ballots on electronic voting machines, you might expect some problems to arise with the notoriously buggy and untested technology -- and you'd be right. The New York Times is reporting that polling places across the country are experiencing difficulties with their voting equipment, and while we'd love to place the blame squarely on shady manufacturers like Diebold, Sequoia, and friends, it seems that the complications are actually due to human error as much as faulty hardware. According to The Times, Indiana appears to be the state having the most trouble today, with 75 precincts using incorrectly programmed smart cards and nearly half of Marion County's 914 precincts having trouble getting their machines to boot up in the first place. In New Jersey, meanwhile, Republican officials are claiming that Democratic Senator Robert Menendez's name was already lit up when some voters entered the booth, causing them to accidentally choose the wrong candidate. Other areas such as Cleveland, Ohio and Hartford, Connecticut were either unable to start their machines or found the touchscreens to be improperly displaying candidates' names, forcing election workers to move back to old-fashioned paper ballots.

 

The highlight of the day, though, has nothing to do with shoddy equipment and everything to do with a crazy voter who attacked a Diebold-brand machine in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Forty-three-year-old Robert Young, a registered independent, apparently believed that the e-voting machines had been deployed in a wild conspiracy by Republicans, and decided to make a statement by smashing the $5,000 device with a metal cat paperweight. A remorseful Young was quickly arrested by local police, and although the votes on the destroyed machine can still be saved, the feline paperweight did not fare nearly as well: officials have said that it will likely be impounded before being forcibly euthanized.

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bump i seen that shit. fuckn crazy yea

and they said the election wasn't stollen.

the most interesting part i saw was how minority neighborhoods had very few machines and they were forced to wait hours and stand in the rain. and suburban areas had more than enough machines and staff. so fucked up. even our local election had some lack of staff and ballots. some polls were opened late some closed eearly. irratating stuff

 

 

nah, not just minority neighborhoods and suburban areas, it was expected Bush areas that were stocked with machines and expected kerry areas that were understocked to deter voters in those areas.

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