Hursti Hackz0rs. (aka Hack -- a little geek language for ya there).
In New Media Cultures , we’ve been discussing the negative connotations of advance technologies. One of particular interest to me being a Political Science student and a Democracy geek altogether, was brought in the form of a documentary called Hacking Democracy. Hacking Democracy documents American citizens investigating anomalies and irregularities with 'e-voting' systems that occurred during the 2000 and 2004 elections, with particular interest in Volusia County, Florida. The documentary investigates the defective reliability of electronic voting machines, predominantly those made by Diebold Election Systems (DES), and the film culminates in an on-camera hacking of the in-use / working Diebold election system in Leon County, Florida, using only the memory card (deemed impossible by Diebold engineers). This hack became renown inside the political arena – particularly to those activists skeptical of privatized voting companies.
The Hursti Hack, coined for its creator Harry Hursti, a Finnish computer expert, accomplished the task without being given any password and with the same level of access given thousands of poll workers across the USA. A variation of ballot box stuffing, Hursti pre-loaded the memory card giving one candidate 5 positive votes and one candidate 5 negative votes to create a true "zero report." This keeps the machine accurate in votes cast compared to number of voters. In a type of mock election, real paper ballots were used pre-printed with the following question: "Can the votes on this Diebold system be hacked using the memory card?" Then on video, with 8 voters present, 6 voted no and 2 yes. Therefore the election results should obviously read 6 no and 2 yes. The actual results produced by the Hursti Hack favored the yes’s to the no’s 7 to 1.
This an extremely dangerous exploit, because it changes votes in a one-step process that will not be detected in any normal investigative procedure, it requires just a single credit-card sized
memory card, any single individual with access to the memory cards can do it, and it requires only a small piece of equipment which can be purchased off the Internet for a few hundred dollars (easily purchasable/doable by party candidates, committees and supporters).
As a final note, this is particularly alarming. Until we can move from privatized corporate voting, how will we ever know if our votes actually count?