Sequoia's Voter Consternation Drive

Published on October 24, 2008
by John Paczkowski

A man who reportedly believed Republicans were conspiring to steal today’s election entered an Allentown polling site, signed in and proceeded to smash the screen of one of the electronic voting machines with a metal cat paperweight, poll volunteers said.

‘He smashed it with the cat’s ears,’ said volunteer Jim Govostis.”

Morning Call, Nov. 7, 2006

Fantastic. Here we are, just two weeks before the 2008 presidential election and the integrity and accuracy of some of the electronic voting machines that will determine its outcome are in question.


According to new research from the Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy, the Sequoia AVC Advantage machines used throughout New Jersey and Louisiana, and in a few counties in Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as well, can be hacked in eight minutes to manipulate vote tallies.

From the Princeton report:

The AVC Advantage contains a computer. If someone installs a different computer program for that computer to run, it can deliberately add up the votes wrong. It’s easy to make a computer program that steals votes from one party’s candidates, and gives them to another, while taking care to make the total number of votes come out right. It’s easy to make this program take care to cheat only on election day when hundreds of ballots are cast, and not cheat when the machine is being tested for accuracy. This kind of fraudulent computer program can modify every electronic ‘audit trail’ in the computer. Without voter-verified paper ballots, it’s extremely hard to know whether a voting machine (such as the AVC Advantage) is running the right program.”

Damning allegations and ones which Sequoia categorically denied after unsuccessfully attempting to suppress them. According to Sequoia, its voting machines are vulnerable only in a classroom setting. In real-life election scenarios, they’re just fine. “…Simple, established, and previously used accuracy and security protections–removed from the Advantages studied in the report published by the plaintiffs–make the items in their report next to impossible,” Sequoia said in rebuttal to Princeton researchers’ claims. “In fact, many of the scenarios painted by plaintiffs depend on the existence of crooked, malicious, and corrupt pollworkers, while the success of some scenarios depends on both corrupt pollworkers and inattentive voters.”

How reassuring.

Well, at least they’re not switching votes between candidates like some of those touchscreen systems in West Virginia, right?


[Image Credit: Diebold Variations]

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