Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hacking Democracy

The Voting Machine Documentary Diebold Didn't Want You to See…
And the Princeton, John Hopkins/Rice U. Studies on Machine Vulnerability Diebold Considers 'Unrealistic and Inaccurate'

How very telling it is that Diebold pressured HBO to cancel the airing of this documentary just days before tomorrow's midterm elections. Fortunately, subsidiary of mega-corporation Time Warner did not cave to the guilty psychology of the Diebold or other electronic voting companies pleading to hide just suspicion of the 'fallible' system behind our vote.

The documentary, Hacking Democracy, did in fact air on HBO Thursday, November 3, 2006. It is based on the research of Bev Harris and Black Box Voting (, as well as that of other entities.

While known problems with the electronic voting machines in 2000, 2002 and 2004 have been generically answered away with dubious ideas of 'incompetence' or 'confusion,'– when these clearly at least raise serious questions, the companies like Diebold who manufacture these machines (see also ES&S, Hart InterCivic and Sequoia, all linked to the GOP) seem to hold a converse and hypocritical universal dismissal of any inquiries, tests or evaluations.

Consider the Diebold response to a Princeton study that showed the machines could easily be manipulated with little chance of detection. The Princeton group specifically checked out the Diebold AccuVote-TS, the most widely deployed machines for use in the November 7 U.S. elections and found that they could be compromised through software written to steal-votes or modify records. The machines are vulnerable to physical interference wherein anyone with access to the voting machine install this type of software in less then one minute.

However, Diebold responded to the Princeton study only by calling it 'unrealistic and erroneous.'

But is that also true of joint-research efforts by John Hopkins and Rice Universities? They also found that electronic voting systems are 'vulnerable to tampering.'

A University of Iowa computer science professor warns of counties who rely on "inadequate security documents written by the voting machine manufacturers." The same article reveals another worried computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. He says, "With this technology, we cannot be certain that our elections have not been corrupted."

When Rolling Stone published an article written by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., on Diebold's role in delivering the Georgia vote to the Republican party, Diebold claims that the story "falls short of journalistic standards" and is full of "mischaracterization" and other flaws.

The Wall Street Journal layed out any number of scenarios which could make the midterm elections go wrong.

The SEC is also investigating accounting irregularies.

Yet, Diebold continues to act guilty, acting like it has something to hide and still pretending that it is some kind of upstanding, neutral corporation. Never mind that the owner of Diebold pledged his commitment "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year" in 2003.

But in the end, Diebold continues to operate much like any other arm of the Bush Administration– pretend any criticisms or charges are outrageous in the face of obvious criminal and/or unethical behavior that it rightly assumes no one will bring to a halt. How much longer can things go on like this?

Diebold Inc. sent a letter to HBO CEO Chris Albrecht, concerned about "Hacking Democracy" airing before elections and calling it– of course– "inaccurate and unfair."

"We believe the film contains significant factual errors and does not meet HBO's standards for accuracy and fairness," Byrd wrote in the letter sent Monday.

By all means, let us continue to take the word of a partisan company readying for its fourth run of smoke-and-mirrors for another stolen election who at a minimal have seriously questionable conflicts of interest.

Let us please put aside information in question of Diebold and other electronic voting machines developed through research and testing. Isn't it obvious that Diebold's credibility automatically outweighs Princeton University and Black Box and Rolling Stone's reporting, along with that of most– if not all– the network and cable news agencies, all of which have been investigating the many faceted problems we can expect to face with electronic voting through another high-stakes and untrustable election.

HBO and those involved with its decision to continue airing "Hacking Democracy" should be commended for refusing to be bullied by a criminal operation lurking just behind the shadows, all but out in the open.

People should be at least skeptical of electronic voting machines until they are thrown out for good or become somehow verifiably unbiased and no longer subject to malicious or even haphazard manipulation.


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