[ISN] Report: ES&S Voting Machines Can Be Maliciously Calibrated to Favor Specific Candidates

From: InfoSec News <alerts_at_private>
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2008 02:02:51 -0600 (CST)

By Kim Zetter 
Threat Level
November 03, 2008

Touchscreen voting machines at the center of recent vote-flipping 
reports can be easily and maliciously recalibrated in the field to favor 
one candidate in a race, according to a report prepared by computer 
scientists for the state of Ohio.

At issue are touchscreen machines manufactured by ES&S, 97,000 of which 
are in use in 20 states, including counties in the crucial swing states 
of Ohio and Colorado. The process for calibrating the touchscreens 
allows poll workers or someone else to manipulate specific regions of 
the screen, so that a touch in one region is registered in another. 
Someone attempting to rig an election could thus arrange for votes for 
one candidate to be mapped to the opponent.

"If one candidate has a check box in one place and a different candidate 
has it in a different place, you can set it up so that if you press on 
one candidate it gets recorded for another candidate," said Matt Blaze, 
a computer scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who led one of 
three teams that co-wrote the report (.pdf) [1] last year. "But if you 
press on the other candidate, it gets recorded correctly for that 
candidate. You can make it work perfectly normally in most of the 
screen, but have it behave the way you want in small parts of it."

The report illustrates a shocking vulnerability in a charged race that's 
already seen voter-fraud allegations on both sides, and an ugly spate of 
voter suppression tactics targeting Democratic voters in several states. 
The behavior described is also eerily similar to problems already 
observed in early voting on ES&S machines and during a 2006 race in 
Sarasota, Florida.

[1] http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/upload/everest/14-AcademicFinalEVERESTReport.pdf


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Received on Wed Nov 05 2008 - 00:02:51 PST

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