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Diebold Quietly Patches Security Flaw in Vote Counting Software PDF Print Email
Diebold
By Kim Zetter   
August 12, 2009
This article appeared in Wired.com's Threat Level Blog and is rposted here with permission of the author.

Premier Election Solutions, formerly Diebold, has patched a serious security weakness in its election tabulation software used in the majority of states, according to a lab that tested the new version and a federal commission that certified it.

The flaw in the tabulation software was discovered by Wired.com earlier this year, and involved the program’s auditing logs. The logs failed to record significant events occurring on a computer running the software, including the act of someone deleting votes during or after an election. The logs also failed to record who performed an action on the system, and listed some events with the wrong date and timestamps.

A new version of the software does record such events, and includes other security safeguards that would prevent the system from operating if the event log were somehow shut down, according to iBeta Quality Assurance, the Colorado testing lab that examined the software for the federal government.

It’s not known if Premier will offer the more secure version to election officials who purchased previous software. The company did not respond to a call for comment Tuesday.
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EAC Certifies ES&S Unity 3.2.0.0 Voting System PDF Print Email
Election Systems and Software (ES&S)
By EAC Media Release   
July 21, 2009
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) today certified the Unity 3.2.0.0 optical scan voting system by Election Systems & Software to the 2002 Voting System Standards. It is the second voting system to achieve federal certification under the EAC Voting System Testing and Certification Program.

An EAC certification means that a voting system has met the requirements of the federal guidelines by passing a series of comprehensive tests conducted by a federally accredited test laboratory. Manufacturers of certified systems must also meet technical and ethical standards that ensure the integrity of the process and the system as it goes from the test lab to production and into the marketplace.

Laboratory test plans, test reports and related information about the Unity 3.2.0.0 are posted at www.eac.gov, along with an outline describing each step of the certification process.
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Report: Diebold Voting System Has 'Delete' Button for Erasing Audit Logs PDF Print Email
Diebold
By Kim Zetter   
March 04, 2009
This article was posted at Wired.com's Threat Level Blog and is reposted with permission of the author.

Following three months of investigation, California's secretary of state has released a report examining why a voting system made by Premier Election Solutions (formerly known as Diebold Election Systems) lost about 200 ballots in Humboldt County during the November presidential election.

But the most startling information in the state's 13-page report (.pdf) is not about why the system lost votes, which Threat Level previously covered in detail, but that some versions of Diebold's vote tabulation system, known as the Global Election Management System (GEMS), include a button that allows someone to delete audit logs from the system.

Auditing logs are required under the federal voting system guidelines, which are used to test and qualify voting systems for use in elections. The logs record changes and other events that occur on voting systems to ensure the integrity of elections and help determine what occurred in a system when something goes wrong.

"Deleting a log is something that you would only do in de-commissioning a system you're no longer using or perhaps in a testing scenario," says Princeton University computer scientist Ed Felten, who has studied voting systems extensively. "But in normal operation, the log should always be kept."

Yet the Diebold system in Humboldt County, which uses version 1.18.19 of GEMS, has a button labeled "clear," that "permits deletion of certain audit logs that contain – or should contain – records that would be essential to reconstruct operator actions during the vote tallying process," according to the California report.

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Insecurities and Inaccuracies of the Sequoia AVC Advantage 9.00H DRE Voting Machine PDF Print Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Andrew W. Appel, Maia Ginsburg, Harri Hursti, Brian W. Kernighan, Christopher Richards,Gang Tan   
October 18, 2008
The AVC Advantage voting machine is made by Sequoia Voting Systems and has been used in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and other states. Pursuant to a Court Order in New Jersey Superior Court, we examined this voting machine as well as its computer program code. On October 17, 2008 the Court permitted us to release to the public a redacted version of our report.

Public Report: Insecurities and Inaccuracies of the Sequoia AVC Advantage 9.00H DRE Voting Machine (click here) This report was originally submitted to the Court on September 2 in the form of an expert-witness report by Andrew W. Appel. The Court has released this redacted version to the public. The version we release here, linked in boldface above, is the same as the Court's redacted version, but with a few introductory paragraphs about the court case, Gusciora v. Corzine.

Videos: Videos will be available soon, pending approval by the Court.

Frequently Asked Questions

What you need to know:

The AVC Advantage contains a computer. If someone installs a different computer program for that computer to run, it can deliberately add up the votes wrong. It's easy to make a computer program that steals votes from one party's candidates, and gives them to another, while taking care to make the total number of votes come out right. It's easy to make this program take care to cheat only on election day when hundreds of ballots are cast, and not cheat when the machine is being tested for accuracy. This kind of fraudulent computer program can modify every electronic "audit trail" in the computer. Without voter-verified paper ballots, it's extremely hard to know whether a voting machine (such as the AVC Advantage) is running the right program.

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Rep. Holt Statement on New Jersey Voting Report PDF Print Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By U.S. Representative Rush Holt   
October 17, 2008
U.S. Representative Holt commended the New Jersey Superior Court for releasing today a redacted copy of the voting machine inspection report, "Insecurities and Inaccuracies of the Sequoia AVC Advantage 9.00 DRE Voting Machine."    

"As I indicated last week when the report was withheld at the request of New Jersey's voting system vendor, if it indicated that the voting equipment was reliable Sequoia would have been eager to see it published," Holt said.  "Now we know why the vendor wanted the report suppressed." 

Among other things, the report concluded that:

*    "Anomalies noticed by County Clerks in the New Jersey 2008 Presidential Primary were caused by two different programming errors on the part of Sequoia, and had the effect of disenfranchising voters."

*    "New Jersey should not use any version of the AVC Advantage that it has not actually examined with the assistance of skilled computer-security experts."

*    "The AVC Advantage's susceptibility to installation of a fraudulent vote-counting program is far more than an imperfection: it is a fatal flaw."

*    "The AVC Advantage is too insecure to use in New Jersey. New Jersey should immediately implement the 2005 law passed by the Legislature, requiring an individual voter-verified record of each vote cast, by adopting precinct-count optical-scan voting equipment."
    
"The State should take whatever action it can to detect and remedy these and other vulnerabilities and to provide back-up measures in time for the November election," Holt said.

Holt previously has urged the Secretary of State to deploy emergency back-up ballots to be used and counted as regular ballots in the election.

The emergency back-up paper ballots would be offered to voters if there is an apparent malfunction of the machines on Election Day. If an error is subtle and undetected, the voter would not be given the alternative
of an emergency back-up paper ballot. The voter can avoid using suspect voting machines by requesting and using an absentee paper ballot, by mail or in person, per regular absentee voting procedures.
UConn Report Shows Junk Memory Cards Direct From Vendor PDF Print Email
Diebold
By CTVotersCount.org   
October 13, 2008
UConn has a new report dated October 7th of the Pre-Election testing of memory cards for the August 2008 Primary, Pre-Election Audit of Memory Cards for the August 2008 Connecticut Primary Elections <read>

There was a different methodology used to gather cards for this report. Previous reports were of an incomplete selection of memory cards shipped to UConn by registrars — which should have been subject to pre-election testing before selection and shipping to UConn. Those reports demonstrated that many election officials failed to properly follow pre-election testing procedures. In addition there were questions about “junk” data cards that could not be read. This latest report avoids the embarrassing level of failure to follow procedures, while getting closer to the source of the “Junk” memory card problem — cards were shipped to UConn directly from the vendor, LHS:
Larger than acceptable number of cards contained what we describe as “junk” data. By saying that we understand that the card does not contain proper programming, and instead contains what appears to be random noise. When one puts the card containing the “junk” data into the AV-OS terminal it issues a prompt requesting to format the card. Thus such cards are easily detectable and cannot possibly be used in an election. It seems unlikely that these cards were (electromagnetically) damaged in shipping. Consequently, it appears that these cards were either not adequately tested by LHS Associates, or they experienced some kind of hardware/software failure at some point. Among the audited cards 5.4% of the cards contained junk data. This percentage is high and this issue has to be resolved in the future.

We performed pre-election audit of cards for all districts, and in this sense it is a complete audit. However the cards do not contain the results of pre-election testing done by the districts, and they were not randomly selected by the districts for the purpose of the audit. Instead the cards were provided to us directly by LHS. The results of the audit would be strengthened if it covered also the pre-election testing done by the districts. Our previous memory card audits in fact included this. However, our forthcoming companion report (to be available at http://voter.engr.uconn.edu/voter/Reports.html) will document the results of the post-election audit, covering most of the districts, and containing the observations about the card usage in pre-election testing at districts and in the election itself.
This is a useful report as it gets closer to the source of memory card errors and is an example of UConn’s excellent work. We must also recognize that none of the memory card reports accomplished so far have really covered a complete and random selection of memory cards.
Ohio Secretary of State Files Counterclaim in Lawsuit with Premier Election Solutions PDF Print Email
Diebold
By Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner   
August 06, 2008
Documents Equipment Malfunctions in Premier Voting Machine Counties

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner on Wednesday responded to a lawsuit filed by Premier Election Solutions against the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and the Secretary of State in which Premier seeks a court order that it has met its obligations to the State of Ohio under its voting machine contract negotiated by the former administration.

Secretary Brunner filed counter charges against Premier and urged the Franklin County Common Pleas Court to find that Premier has failed to live up to its contractual obligations.

She seeks damages, including punitive damages, against Premier for voting system malfunctions that have caused problems in at least 11 of the 44 counties using the Premier voting system and for Premier’s claims that warranties on voting equipment have expired.

The Secretary of State’s counterclaim is based in part on new findings that reveal sharing violations on 11 county servers using the Premier voting system. These malfunctions resulted in dropped votes when memory cards were uploaded to the server. The votes were recovered – many hours later, in most cases – thanks to the extraordinary efforts of county board of elections staff.
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New York: 50 Percent of Sequoia Voting Machines Flawed PDF Print Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Kim Zetter   
July 17, 2008
This article was posted at Wired.com's Threat Level Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

New York state is in the process of replacing its lever voting machines with new voting equipment, but the state revealed recently that it has found problems with 50 percent of the roughly 1,500 ImageCast optical-scan machines (shown in the video above) that Sequoia Voting Systems has delivered to the state so far -- machines that are slated to be used by dozens of counties in the state's September 9 primary and November 4 presidential election.

Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, expressed frustration with the vendor, saying it appeared that Sequoia was using the state's acceptance testing process to find problems with its machines in lieu of a sound quality-control process.

"There's no way the vendor could be adequately reviewing the machines and having so many problems," he told Threat Level. "What it tells us is that the vendor just throws this stuff over the transom and does not do any alpha- or beta-testing of their own before they apply for certification testing. Then they expect that we'll identify technical glitches and then they'll correct those glitches. But correction of those glitches is an extraordinarily time-consuming process. And its very disappointing that this equipment is not ready for prime time."
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Bizarre Undervote on iVotronic in France PDF Print Email
Election Systems and Software (ES&S)
By Andrew Appel, Princeton University   
April 30, 2008
This article was posted at Ed Felten's Freedom to Tinker Blog and is reposted here with permission.

In France, most municipalities use paper ballots in elections, but a few places have begun using DRE (direct-recording electornic) machines. Pierre Muller, a French computer scientist, has recently sent me a report of a malfunction by an ES&S iVotronic machine in a recent municipal election.

In this spring’s elections (and he believes this also happened last year), there have been some unexplained “undervotes” on iVotronic machines. Below is a printout from an iVotronic machine. There’s a line “UnderVotes For Above Contest: 1″. Since the voter is required by the user-interface to choose between a candidate and the choice “vote blanc” [none of the above], undervotes should not be possible.

This event is similar in some ways to the Sequoia AVC Advantage bug observed in New Jersey on February 5, 2008. In both cases it appears that the machine is producing results that should not be possible, and in both cases local election officials are unable to explain how these results could legitimately be obtained.

Click here for image of the full printout, annotated with my English translation.

NJ Election Discrepancies Worse Than Previously Thought, Contradict Sequoia’s Explanation PDF Print Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Ed Felten, Princeton University   
April 05, 2008
This article was posted at Ed Felten's Freedom to Tinker Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

I wrote previously about discrepancies in the vote totals reported by Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machines in New Jersey’s presidential primary election, and the incomplete explanation offered by Sequoia, the voting machine vendor. I published copies of the “summary tapes” printed by nine voting machines in Union County that showed discrepancies; all of them were consistent with Sequoia’s explanation of what went wrong.

This week we obtained six new summary tapes, from machines in Bergen and Gloucester counties. Two of these new tapes contradict Sequoia’s explanation and show more serious discrepancies that we saw before.

Before we dig into the details, let’s review some background. At the end of Election Day, each Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machine prints a “summary tape” (or “results report”) that lists (among other things) the number of votes cast for each candidate on that machine, and the total voter turnout (number of votes cast) in each party. In the Super Tuesday primary, a few dozen machines in New Jersey showed discrepancies in which the number of votes recorded for candidates in one party exceeded the voter turnout in that party. For example, the vote totals section of a tape might show 61 total votes for Republican candidates, while the turnout section of the same tape shows only 60 Republican voters.

Sequoia’s explanation was that in certain circumstances, a voter would be allowed to vote in one party while being recorded in the other party’s turnout. (”It has been observed that the ‘Option Switch’ or Party Turnout Totals section of the Results Report may be misreported whereby turnout associated with the party or option switch choice is misallocated. In every instance, however, the total turnout, or the sum of the turnout allocation, is accurate.”) Sequoia’s memo points to a technical flaw that might cause this kind of misallocation.

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