Thursday, October 20, 2016

Rigged US Elections: Hacked Voting Machines

15-yrs-old voting machines still running on
the Windows-XP the obsoleted O/S.
It's the old adage. It doesn't matter who votes. It matters who counts the votes. It probably was an infamous quote from late Venezuelar dictator Chavez who said that. CONFIRMED by Experts! Voting Machines in Maryland, Illinois Rigged to Support Democrats.

First, it was reported that a Republican candidate running in Chicago, Illinois tried to vote for himself… Only to have the electronic Diebold voting machine cast a vote for his opponent. Unlike paper ballots, computers are only as good as the programmers setting up software, and are always open to the possibility of hackers.

Now, there is more confirmation that Democrats are working with local, partisan board of election bureaucrats to rig machines in the same way. In Maryland, where far-left Gov. Martin O’Malley – a Presidential hopeful – is in charge, it has been comfirmed by experts that Democrats are getting a little extra “help” in the midterm elections:

Voting machines that switch Republican votes to Democrats are being reported in Maryland. “When I first selected my candidate on the electronic machine, it would not put the ‘x’ on the candidate I chose — a Republican — but it would put the ‘x’ on the Democrat candidate above it,” Donna Hamilton said.

“This happened multiple times with multiple selections. Every time my choice flipped from Republican to Democrat. Sometimes it required four or five tries to get the ‘x’ to stay on my real selection,” the Frederick, Md., resident said last week.

Queen Anne County Sheriff Gary Hofmann said he encountered the problem, too, personally. “This is happening here as well. It occurred on two candidates on my machine. I am glad I checked. Many voters have reported this here as well,” Hofmann, a Republican, wrote in an email Sunday evening.

Two other Maryland voters reported the same in Anne Arundel County on Friday. And local election officials are so quick to dismiss the serious concerns of disenfranchised voters: [T]wo voters in Anne Arundel County [, Maryland] experienced the same problem: A Diebold touchscreen voting machine switched their Republican votes to Democrats. The voters had to cancel their votes and start over.

Joe Torre, election director in Anne Arundel, called it a “calibration issue” involving a single machine. Hamilton said she notified officials of the problem she encountered at the Frederick County Center, where she voted. “I’m not sure what was done about it. If someone is not paying close attention, they could end up voting for the wrong candidate,” she said.

Isn’t it interesting that “calibration issues” never seem to favor Republicans? Also, “calibration” is more of a term for analog devices… When what we are dealing with here is an actual computer programming issue. But as a software developer and expert of on touch-screen technology used by the U.S. government told Newsmax, these stories of improper votes is alarming: “It’s a software issue, and it’s incredibly suspicious that a bug like that could slip through accidentally. It defies belief,” said Tony Heller.

He said that any expert trained in the technology could figure out within minutes whether the problem with the software was accidental and deliberate. “This is being used by the public for voting. Public trust is essential,” he said. “It’s completely unacceptable that an official waved it off as a calibration issue. It’s something that can be easily verified and should be.” There is no excuse for allowing partisans to steal the election this way. Is this a fraud, and are Democrats willing to break many laws to win elections?  

Hacker demonstrates how voting machines can be compromised

Concerns are growing over the possibility of a rigged presidential election. Experts believe a cyberattack this year could be a reality, especially following last month's hack of Democratic National Committee emails.

The ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee sent a letter Monday to the Department of Homeland Security, saying in part: "Election security is critical, and a cyberattack by foreign actors on our elections systems could compromise the integrity of our voting process."

Roughly 70 percent of states in the U.S. use some form of electronic voting. Hackers told CBS News that problems with electronic voting machines have been around for years. The machines and the software are old and antiquated. But now with millions heading to the polls in three months, security experts are sounding the alarm, reports CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.

For weeks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has told his supporters the outcome of the 2016 election could be out of his control. "I'm afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have got to be honest," Trump said to Ohio voters last week.

But for the hackers at Symantec Security Response, Election Day results could be manipulated by an affordable device you can find online. "I can insert it, and then it resets the card, and now I'm able to vote again," said Brian Varner, a principle researcher at Symantec, demonstrating the device. The voter doesn't even need to leave the booth to hack the machine. "For $15 and in-depth knowledge of the card, you could hack the vote," Varner said.

Symantec Security Response director Kevin Haley said elections can also be hacked by breaking into the machines after the votes are collected. "The results go from that machine into a piece of electronics that takes it to the central counting place," Haley said. "That data is not encrypted and that's vulnerable for manipulation."

Symantec's Varner showing CBS's Villarreal how easy to hack a US voting machine.
"How big of a hacking potential problem is this?" Villarreal asked him. "Well, there's a huge potential," Haley responded. "There are so many places in the voting process once it goes electronic that's vulnerable."

According to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice, one reason these voting systems are so vulnerable is their age. "We found that more than 40 states are using voting machines there that are at least 10 years" old, Brennan Center for Justice researcher Christopher Famighetti said.

Denise Merrill, president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, said the lack of funding keeps most precincts from updating their systems. But all machines have to meet specific government standards. "The idea of a national hack of some sort is almost ridiculous because there is no national system," Merrill said.

In fact, the more than 9,000 voting districts across the country all have different ways of running their elections -- down to the type of machine they use. But Merrill said there are checks in place to prevent fraud. "Our voting systems are heavily regulated. They're tested both before and after. There are paper trails in large, I would say the American election system works very well," Merrill said.

CBS News learned that only 60 percent of states routinely conduct audits post-election by checking paper trails. But not all states even have paper records, like in some parts of swing states Virginia and Pennsylvania, which experts say could be devastating. The Election Assistance Commission told CBS News that it ensures all voting systems are vigorously tested against security standards and that systems certified by the EAC are not connected to the Internet.

America’s Voting Machines Are a Disaster in the Making

Forget Russian hackers or Donald Trump's fear-mongering about voter fraud. This election could be compromised for another reason entirely.

Throughout the campaign, Donald Trump has issued dire warnings of foul play on Election Day. “I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged,” he told supporters in Ohio. “I’m telling you, November 8, we’d better be careful,” he cautioned Fox News. “I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us.”

Trump’s remarks might seem like a cynical ploy to mobilize his base, or to set the stage for an aggrieved backlash should he lose to Hillary Clinton. In fact, however, the U.S. election system really is vulnerable—though not in the way Trump claims.

In July and August, Russian intelligence services hacked voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona. But as menacing as foreign agents meddling with U.S. databases may seem, the biggest threat to the sanctity of the vote is the voting machines themselves.

Like so much of America’s crumbling infrastructure, the systems we rely on to tabulate our votes fairly and accurately are in dire need of an overhaul. In thousands of precincts, the outcome of the election rides on equipment that’s outdated, prone to errors, and difficult or impossible to repair.

Ironically, what’s broken about America’s voting systems stems directly from the last major attempt to fix them. In 2000, the high-stakes recount in Florida threw an embarrassing spotlight on antiquated punch-card voting machines. To avoid more headlines about “hanging chads,” the federal government spent $3 billion to help states upgrade to high-tech, touch-screen machines.

“People didn’t want that image of the guy with the magnifying glass and the chad,” says Pamela Smith, the president of Verified Voting, a nonprofit that monitors voting machines nationwide. “People were thinking: What’s the furthest thing away from a punch-card system?”

Almost from the start, however, the digital machines proved to be both vulnerable and unreliable. Many were built on 1990s-era software, making them easy targets for anyone who knew their way around computers.

To demonstrate the potential for vote tampering, a group of computer scientists at Princeton hacked the machines in their lab, reprogramming one model to play Pac-Man. After voting machine manufacturers dismissed their findings, saying would-be hackers could never gain access to voting machines in the real world, one of the Princeton researchers took photographs of unguarded machines at local voting halls and posted them to his blog—a tradition he has maintained in every subsequent election.

“When I go to vote, I realize that the people who most recently installed the software in that machine get to decide if it’s cheating or not,” says Andrew Appel, another of the Princeton researchers. “And the results may or may not have any relation to what the voters voted.”

Even worse, the new machines proved capable of screwing up elections all on their own, without any malicious tampering. In 2003, touch-screen machines in Virginia failed to record one vote out of every 100 for a school board candidate, reducing her overall tally by 2 percent in what proved to be a close race.

The machines also crashed at a library polling place, a malfunction thought to have been caused by interference from a smartphone. Despite such obvious warning signs, the machines were eventually rolled out to jurisdictions across the state. The glue in some models of touch-screen voting machines is so old it has led to instances of vote flipping.

Many of the country’s 8,000 voting jurisdictions still rely on antiquated machines, and the problems have only escalated as the machines have grown older. According to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, 43 states will use electronic voting machines this November that are at least 10 years old—and they exhibit all the issues you’d expect from decade-old computers.

The glue inside some touch-screen models is so old, it has led to instances of vote flipping, where a voter presses the name of one candidate and the machine selects another. In Wisconsin this year, nearly 100 machines failed a test in the weeks before the primary, forcing taxpayers to pony up $100,000 to replace them before the general election.

To keep old machines running, some officials have taken to surfing eBay to order replacement parts, or to stock up on custom-made hardware or older-model computers that are compatible with Windows 2000 or Windows XP, the operating systems most of the voting machines use.

Microsoft announced that it was cutting off updates for XP in April 2014, telling customers to either “upgrade” or “get a new PC”—an option unavailable to election officials dealing with strapped budgets. The aging systems, experts warn, are an invitation for trouble. “It’s like leaving your front door unlocked every day,” says Lawrence Norden, the deputy director of the Brennan Center. “Eventually something bad may happen.”

A typical US voting machine is just a very old computer on XP.
Perhaps most troubling is the fact that voters in 14 states—including battleground areas in Pennsylvania and Virginia—will cast their ballots this year on electronic machines that do not provide paper copies of the votes. That means there will be no way to audit the results should something go wrong.

“It will be technically impossible,” says Gregory Miller, a cybersecurity expert who focuses on election technology. “We can’t do anything but rerun the tally the machines provide. This is not a hypothetical, Y2K problem—it’s a real problem that already exists.”

Some election officials around the country have upgraded their systems and mandated a paper trail—either by requiring paper ballots that can be run through an optical scanner, or by outfitting touch-screen machines with a printer that can provide a receipt. But fixing or replacing the machines has proven hard, in large part because the voting system has been privatized.

Companies that control the market—including firms with strong ties to the Republican Party, like Diebold and Election Systems & Software—have fought to block reforms and silence critics who have exposed flaws in their machines. To truly fix America’s broken voting system, we need to make our technology as democratic as our political system: replacing privatized voting equipment with open-source software that is free, transparent, and easy to update.

The Open Source Election Technology Institute, a nonprofit research center founded by Miller, is currently developing a voting system that anyone with knowledge of code can understand—unlike the “black box” of commercial machines, which leave local election officials in the dark and require a maintenance person from the manufacturer.

What’s more, the open-source program can run on consumer tablets, laptops, and scanners—far cheaper than one-function voting machines. And as with any other piece of software, glitches or bugs can be fixed with new code that’s been rigorously vetted to prevent shenanigans. “The industry today is stuck,” Miller says. “In the time we’ve changed our cell phones five times, the same equipment is still running our elections.”

But moving to open-source software won’t do anything to help prevent trouble in this year’s election. In August, after Russian hackers planted malware on Arizona’s voter registration system and stole personal data for 200,000 voters in Illinois, the FBI put the country’s entire voting system on alert for cyber invasions.

Government officials insist that the hackers didn’t succeed in changing or deleting voter files in either Arizona or Illinois. But Miller, who was asked to brief the Department of Homeland Security on the state of America’s voting infrastructure following the hacks, isn’t convinced. “We don’t know what we don’t know,” he says. “That’s the problem here.”

But even with his insider knowledge about the cyber-attacks, Miller fears faulty machines more than foreign hackers. A buggy voting machine, for example, could cause long lines at the polls in a crucial swing state, or a faulty touch-screen could switch votes from Trump to Clinton. And even if such glitches don’t affect the outcome of the election, a snafu or two in traditional GOP strongholds will most definitely fuel the conspiracy theories.

Indeed, Trump’s comments on the campaign trail have already primed voters to believe the election will be a sham: According to the Pew Research Center, just 11 percent of Trump supporters believe their votes this year will be tallied fairly. It’s a recipe for a repeat of the Florida fiasco in 2000—except that unlike Al Gore, Trump is hardly one to bow out gracefully.

George Soros ‘Controls’ Voting Machines In 16 US States

George Soros has influential control over a company who will supply 16 US states with voting machines for the upcoming presidential election. Smartmatic Group, an electronic voting corporation whose headquarters are located in the U.K., offer support services to the Electoral Commissions of 307 counties in 16  States.

The chairman of Smartmatic’s board, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, also serves on the board of George Soros’s Open Society Foundation and has very close ties to the billionaire. According to Smartmatic’s website, they supply voting machines in the following States: Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Soros-Connected Company Provides Voting Machines In 16 States

Smartmatic, a U.K.-based voting technology company with deep ties to George Soros, has control over voting machines in 16 states including battleground zones like Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Other jurisdictions affected are California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.

Its website includes a flow-chart that describes how the company has contributed to elections in the U.S. from 2006-2015 with “57,000 voting and counting machines deployed” and “35 million voters assisted.” In 2005, Smartmatic bought-out California-based Sequoia Voting Systems and entered the world of U.S. elections.

According to Smarmatic’s website, “In less than one year Smartmatic tripled Sequoia’s market share” and “has offered technology and support services to the Electoral Commissions of 307 counties in 16 States.”

Among the “case studies” that Smartmatic lists on its website as examples of its work are Venezuela, where it has been facilitating elections since 2004 when it “won a bid to provide Venezuela with a reliable voting system.”

It also lists Cook County, Illinois as another success story, when in “in 2006, Smartmatic signed what at the moment was the largest election automation contract in US history.” Cook County includes Chicago and its suburbs, a geographic zone that has historically and lately been subject to criticism for voter fraud.

The chairman of Smartmatic is Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, who sits in the British House of Lords and on the board of George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. He was formerly the vice-chairman of Soros’s Investment Funds and even the deputy secretary-general of the United Nations when he worked as chief of staff to Kofi Annan. Malloch-Brown’s resume includes stints as vice-president of the UN World Bank and in British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s cabinet.

In addition to a close relationship with Soros, Malloch-Brown has worked with consulting firms that are well-connected to Bill and Hillary Clinton. He was an international partner with the Sawyer-Miller consulting firm and was a senior adviser to FTI Consulting.

One of Sawyer-Miller’s alumni is Mandy Grunwald, who ran the firm’s communication contract for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential run. She was also the head of communications for Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid. Jackson Dunn, who is a senior managing director with FTI Consulting, spent 15 years in Washington where he worked as an aide to President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hilllary Clinton.

Smartmatic has already encountered controversy in the ongoing presidential contest. It ran the online balloting for the Utah Republican caucus last March, when many critics said it was impossible to secure personal electronic devices that are used to register and vote.

Related posts at following links:
Rigged US Elections: 4 Million Dead and Illegal Are Voting