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Ellipsis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-01-05 03:05 PM
Original message
Accuracy, Integrity and security in computerized vote-Tallying
Edited on Tue Mar-01-05 03:07 PM by btmlndfrmr
NBS Special Publication 500-158 Accuracy, Integrity, and Security in Computerized Vote-Tallying by Roy G. Saltman

I have been digging in old threads It was originally posted here by Merh, originally referenced by insane_cratic_gal.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

I know some of you have seen this but it deserves a revisit. The NBS Special Publication 500-158 is an essential read, germane to what we are discussing today and what was known in 1988. The report is rather unnerving as to how little has changed in 17 years.

http://www.itl.nist.gov/lab/specpubs/500-158.htm

Set the way back machine to the mid 80's, Sting was had just released the CD "Nothing like the Sun", hard drives were just beginning become commercially viable. In 1982 a 5MB HD cost $2000.00. I have included a history of computer storage link.
http://www.fortunecity.com/marina/reach/435/storage.htm...

As Mr Sting put it "History will teach us nothing"

....I hope not this time.

k


NBS Special Publication 500-158
Accuracy, Integrity, and Security in Computerized Vote-Tallying
Roy G. Saltman Institute for Computer Sciences and Technology National Bureau of Standards

<snip>

2.8 Texas Controversy, Hearings, and Legislation: 1986/1987

2.8.1 Controversy Over 1985 Dallas Mayoralty Contest

<snip>

Further investigations followed by both the office of the attorney general and the office of the secretary of state (the latter included Ms. Gladney's office). On September 23, 1986, the Dallas Morning News reported the following story:

"The state attorney general's and secretary of state's offices are investigating discrepancies found in the computerized voting records of several recent Dallas and state elections to determine if the results may have been obtained fraudulently...

"The probe centers on allegations that computerized voting equipment and computer programs used to tabulate state and local elections may have been tampered with to bring about 'preprogrammed results,' Mattox said....

<snip>

she said is a claim that there were more votes cast than there were voters' signatures.

<snip>

2.8.4 Revised Texas Statute on Electronic Voting Systems

A revised statute on the use of electronic voting systems was passed by the Texas legislature and was approved in June, 1987 <23>. It took effect on September 1 of that year. Some of the revisions concerned the following topics:

Auditing: A voting system may not be used unless it is capable of providing records from which the operation of the system may be audited.

Deposit and Comparison of the Program: Copies of the "program codes" and related documentation must be filed with the secretary of state. The secretary of state must periodically compare the materials on file with those materials actually used to ensure that only approved materials are used. The software on file is not public information, although it may be made available to the attorney general for investigation of irregularities.

Use of Remote Terminals: Computer terminals located outside the central counting station must be capable of "inquiry functions only" during vote tabulation, and "no modem access to the tabulation equipment" must be available during tabulation.

<snip>

3.7.2 Vulnerabilities of DRE Machines

While the DRE machine is an electronic implementation of the lever machine concept, there is a significant distinction between them, other than their use of different technology. To prepare for each election, each lever machine is separately and individually set up (although several may be set up by the same technician).

Centralization of setup: Each DRE machine in an election receives its EPROM for set up from a single central source (the same as precinct-located ballot-tallying machines). In addition, the instructions on the face of the machine may be similarly produced centrally by computer. This centralization provides the opportunity for added efficiency and elimination of errors in the manual production of large numbers of ballot displays. However, there is the danger that centrally-created errors that are not discovered will be propagated throughout the system.

No audit trail of voters' choices: There is, also, a problem with DRE machines that is not present with ballot-tallying machines. This problem is the verification that the voter's choices have, in fact, been entered for summation precisely as the voter desired. The fact that the voter can see his or her choices on a display, or even receives a printout of the choices made, does not prove that those were the choices actually recorded in the machine to be summarized for generating the results of the election.

<snip>

3.8.1 Vulnerabilities of Software

Vulnerabilities of software include logical errors, the possibility of "hidden code," and undocumented changes. No system type, punch card, mark-sense, or DRE, is immune from these threats. Protection against these threats requires implementation of effective management procedures that assure system integrity and security.

<snip>

The problem of finding hidden code is complicated when vote-tallying software is mounted on a general-purpose computer. Hidden code may have been initially placed in a support program of the computer, for example the compiler or operating system. Such hidden code may be activated when the support program is called from the vote-tallying program. If a clock could be accessed by the hidden code, activation could be arranged to occur at a particular time on a particular day. The identification of the presence of such hidden code could be difficult and time-consuming, and a deliberate search, without specific evidence that the code exists, could be impractical.


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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-02-05 12:55 AM
Response to Original message
1. Thank YOU! Stunning read.
I can't get over the 20 year old Times article and the quotes therein.


1.1 The review showed that the problems could be categorized as follows: there is difficulty in verifying results; there is the possibility of undiscoverable frauds; and election administrators lack some necessary knowledge and resources.


1.8.2 Audit Trails

Audit trails provide the supporting documentation through which the correctness of the reported results may be verified. Two types of audit trails are necessary to document operations and provide confidence in the results reported. One type records steps in the operation of the equipment, while the other records steps in the voting and vote-tallying processes.


2.6 New York Times Articles On Computerized Voting

A series of articles on computerized voting was published in the New York Times in 1985, commencing on July 29 of that year. In the first article, published on page one and entitled "Computerized Systems for Voting Seen as Vulnerable to Tampering" <6>, it was charged that:

"The computer program that was used to count more than one-third of the votes cast in the Presidential election last year is very vulnerable to manipulation and fraud, according to expert witnesses in court actions challenging local and Congressional elections in three states...

"The vote counting program that has been challenged in Indiana, West Virginia and Maryland was developed by Computer Election Systems of Berkeley, Calif. In Indiana and West Virginia, the company has been accused of helping to rig elections. The computer program has also been challenged in Florida, but so far experts have not been permitted to examine the program in connection with the challenge.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-02-05 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
2. kick n/t
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-02-05 07:49 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. 20 years now, where'd they go?
Same old same old. The newest laws being written say the same thing.

Only difference now? Millions more are quite aware.

Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights.
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WHAT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-02-05 08:44 PM
Response to Original message
4. Here's something else, 1987...
In Seoul, South Korea, in December 1987, after sixteen years of military rule, a general election took place. The results of this bitterly fought three-way contest were ultimately accepted and the country got on with its business. But in the immediate aftermath, political observers noted certain peculiarities in the balloting.

The winner's percentage of margin, established in the earliest returns, remained strangely unchanged throughtout the night and across regions. A highly popular opposition canidate cast doubt on the size of his own victory in Kwangju Province, saying he couldn't believe that he had actually garnered 94 percent of the votes. At best, he claimed, he should have won a maximum of 80 percent. The suspicion grew that somebody was tampering not with the ballot boxes, but with the computers that compiled the results.

...the preceding was excerpted from "Powershift" by Alvin Toffler published in 1990. I picked this book up about a month ago. It goes on to say...

This suspicion was never confirmed, as far as we know, but Maggie Ford, the Financial Times correspondent in Seoul, citing a Washington political analyst, pointed out that "it would be extremely easy to draw up a computer model of an acceptable decision result. This could be adjusted for people's perceptions of voter choice, regional, class, and age backgrounds, and events during the campaign. Such a model could design the size of a majority."

This excerpt is from pages 277, 278 of the above cited book. It contines in the same vein. I took the trouble to type it in because when I read it it just jumped-out at me as being so germaine with respect to our "modern" elections as your examples are.

another excerpt...

Give these speculative scenarios a further twist. Imagine what might be done if the computer were "fixed" by technicians, programmers, or systems intergrators working for a multinational corporation that wants a particular senator, say, driven from office.

OK...finished taking excerpts. All of these comments published in 1990 seem prescient. I conclude that if you can think it you can do it and that's probably what happened...

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-02-05 09:08 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Yes!
Your FT excerpt:

"This could be adjusted for people's perceptions of voter choice, regional, class, and age backgrounds, and events during the campaign. Such a model could design the size of a majority."

All that (and more) is among reasons why fraud would be attempted in many states, and not just the swing ones.
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WHAT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-02-05 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Or imagine (another excerpt)...
Edited on Wed Mar-02-05 09:27 PM by WHAT
that the electronic ballot box is under the indirect, secret control not of a party or corporation but of a foreign power. An election could be swung by adding or subtracting a tiny--unnoticed--number of votes from each precinct. No one might ever know.

Caveat candidate!

*************************

It seems like more people would be concerned about this being a national security risk! After all, Toffler is not considered tin foil and he wrote this more than 15 years ago.

on edit, fixed paragraph

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-02-05 10:01 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Well in South Korea...
the foreign country rigging the vote would probably be indicating the US.

In the US, a foreign country rigging the vote would probably be assumed to be China or Israel.

Entities that would do that don't strike me as being countries or corporations, just an enterprising group of creeps.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-03-05 02:15 AM
Response to Original message
8. NBS is now NIST. Why aren't THEY designing the voting machines? nt
Edited on Thu Mar-03-05 02:39 AM by Bill Bored
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