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BRING IT ON: Hacker Dare Accepted on Electronic Voting Machines

Roxanne Jekot, a 51-year-old computer program developer from Cumming, said she and a few expert friends could crack Georgia's $54 million touch-screen voting system in a matter of minutes.

Bring it on, said state election officials.

"If something can beat the machine, we need to know that," said Brit Williams, a retired Kennesaw State University professor who helped design the state's touch-screen security system. He put the odds of corrupting the software undetected at 1 billion to one.
machines are capable of showing whatever machines are programmed to show
machines are capable of showing whatever machines are programmed to show
Dare accepted on electronic voting machines

Programmer says she can crack system

By JIM GALLOWAY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In the end, Friday's two-hour discussion of whether computers should be the sole tabulators of Georgia voters' ballots came down to a challenge.

Roxanne Jekot, a 51-year-old computer program developer from Cumming, said she and a few expert friends could crack Georgia's $54 million touch-screen voting system in a matter of minutes.

Bring it on, said state election officials.

"If something can beat the machine, we need to know that," said Brit Williams, a retired Kennesaw State University professor who helped design the state's touch-screen security system. He put the odds of corrupting the software undetected at 1 billion to one.

The dare was made and accepted at the first of a series of seminars at Kennesaw State sponsored by Secretary of State Cathy Cox to defuse questions about the vulnerability of the statewide system she installed last year.

Jekot said she could be ready as soon as next week. She said all she wants to do is point out weaknesses so that they can be fixed -- and declares she can put an unauthorized vote anywhere she wants.

Election officials promised to provide a voting machine, and a computer server into which votes from the machine are fed.

The November 2002 vote in Georgia went smoothly. But with a federally imposed deadline to revamp the voting systems in all other states now approaching, concern over the corruptibility of computer-based voting has spread across the nation.

Last month, an associate professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University released a study billed as the first independent review of electronic voting. It found the Diebold Election Systems used by Georgia to be vulnerable to tampering by unscrupulous voters, poll workers and software developers.

Election officials in Georgia and other states dismissed it, saying it exaggerated the machines' exposure to hackers.

Furor over the report was partly defused when the lead researcher acknowledged this week that he failed to disclose that he had stock options in VoteHere, a company that competes with Diebold in the voting-software market, and was a member of VoteHere's technical advisory board.

But there remains a bill in Congress, introduced by U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), to require that all voting machines produce a paper ballot that would be used as a back-up system in all elections. In any dispute, paper ballots would become the final arbiter.

The seminar at KSU was a two-hour argument against the bill. Election officials argued that giving paper ballots the final say in an election would quickly render computer voting useless.

Moreover, they said, paper ballots can be tampered with more easily than electronic ones, and they're harder to tabulate.

Representatives from two U.S. senators and three members of Congress attended the seminar, but most of the questions were posed by Jekot, who describes herself as a political independent, and Hugh Esco, political coordinator of the Green Party of Georgia.

"It's our position that machines are capable of showing whatever machines are programmed to show," Esco said. "I'm not a Luddite. I have a couple computers in the trunk and I know how to use them. But I know that I can't trust them with everything."

Asked Williams, the computer security expert: "Are you saying there's no such thing as a secure and accurate computer? Do you fly on airplanes?"

"Actually, I don't," Esco replied.

homepage: homepage: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/0803/23voting.html
address: address: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

oh look. they're saying they don't care... 23.Aug.2003 13:15

this thing here

we want to ensure the integrity of all electronic, digital voting machines in america.

"they have no problems. they are perfect. there is no need to test anything. trust us."

look, what's wrong with insuring each citizen's right to vote?

"oh please. you don't need a right to vote. most of you don't vote any way. there's nothing to worry about. trust us. besides, we'd have to foot the bill for testing, and that would effect our bottom line. you see, money is more important than any so-called right."

there's nothing to worry about? this is a fundamental right.

"so what. so what if voting tabulations can be hacked. so what if election results can be changed. what does that matter? we, the u.s. government, county and state "elections" officials, ha!, and politically connected voting machine corporations will resist any attempt to improve the integrity of our products and systems. change for the better is impossible. you WILL accept that, and you WILL put it out of your mind. now, go watch t.v. and eat snack food, and take your damn concerns about democracy in america, of all places, somewhere else."

It's just an election.....no big deal....... 23.Aug.2003 13:56

mariposa

It's amazing the resistance from election officials. They must be getting quite a sweet deal in the whole thing.......

Anyone interested in all of this (and that should be EVERYONE) should spend some time at www.blackboxvoting.com

Lots of news, info on the hijacking of the American democracy there............

paper ballots easier to tamper with????! BS!! 23.Aug.2003 14:36

anon

I can't believe this idiot, this so-called computer scientist. He thinks it requires less effort to forge thousands of paper ballots undetected than it does to tamper with a single point of failure, the database system used on a paperless computer vote counter??! Anyone who knows the first thing about computers ought to know why that's absurd on its face!

There's no self-respecting computer security expert, no matter how much they love computers, who'd make such an asinine claim, unless they had a vested interest in trying deceive the public. I say that as a computer professional with bachelors degrees in physics and electrical engineering and about a decade of experience in computer programming, network and systems administration, database administration, and security issues.