How to throw an election

Overthrowing the government through democratic power.

With electronic voting machine fiascoes tallying up quickly, I feel it’s appropriate to say a couple of words that may put me in the camp of felon or saboteur of the government.

I am completely in favor of using these electronic voting machines to throw an election. With little or no public source code reviews, known defects (like counting -16,022 votes for Al Gore in the 2000 election), and no audit trail, these machines are rife for hacking.

To be perfectly clear, I am suggesting that we get an electronic voting machine, reverse engineer it, then publicly announce an easily exploitable security flaw hoping that other people will abuse it on election day. I would love to see the looks on the election officials’ faces when one candidate gets ten million votes in a single precinct. If you invalidate enough precincts and choose those precincts well, you can selectively decide any election in this nation.

We need to do this at a critical point in time — the 2004 national elections. This way we maximize the publicity of the event and throw even more dirt in the faces of the government workers who thought this would fix the problems from Florida in the 2000 elections. At the very least, we can raise the question about how bad these machines are for democracy. At best, we can invalidate a national election. Quite frankly, I would be happy with either outcome.

This argument presupposes that these machines are bad. If you search the net for Diebold’s leaked emails and for analyses of their leaked software, you’ll see the serious nature of the problems with these electronic voting machines. The potential for electoral fraud has never been greater. Compared to electronic voting machines, dimpled and hanging chads are a good thing.

Also, the companies who make these machines have questionable ties to government. The C.E.O. of Diebold is quoted as saying he will deliver Ohio to George Bush in 2004. A senator is a major stockholder in an electronic voting machine company where those machines were used to elect him to office. Former government officials often work for these companies in a blatant conflict of interests.

To put yourself over the edge, you should seek out the leaked Diebold emails. If any of the other companies treat this exercise in democracy in the same way as Diebold, their abhorrent behavior alone should be enough to put them out of business.

For those of you interested in committing a major act of fraud against the single strongest embodiment of democracy — the act of voting — let me suggest the following. As a side note, this is extremely illegal and will likely get you and your conspirators thrown in prison. No amount of civil disobedience protections will save your ass here…

  • Get a voting machine

    Do whatever it takes. Pose as an election official for a county. Pay off a poll worker or electronic voting system company employee. Steal it. None of this works if you don’t have a machine to play with.

  • Get a dedicated team of workers

    You’ll need lots of people and lots of time to get this done. They will need to be smart, computer savvy, and they have to be able to keep a secret. Trust is the key word here. You don’t need a snitch in your group.

  • Hack the box

    Do whatever it takes. Find the hole.

  • Wait to announce your results

    You need to wait until about two to three weeks before the election. That way they can’t postpone the vote, they won’t be able to produce alternate ballots in time, and people who may be willing to commit the fraud still have time to register to vote.

Australia uses electronic voting, but the software is publicly available for scrutiny. Their method for verifying the software’s security is significantly better than any of the methods used in the U.S. (most of which are unknown or scripted (not using real people)). The problem, however, is in the very nature of electronic voting, not the method of doing it.

In Canada, they use pen and paper. Funny how we have to spend millions of dollars on electronic voting systems when millions of others worldwide have no problem writing down their votes.

That reminds me of a story… In the U.S. space program, we developed a space pen suitable for writing upside down and in zero-G environments. In the U.S.S.R., they just used a pencil. Sometimes the most appropriate tool for the job is the least technical one.

But I digress. What I am suggesting is the single greatest act of hacktivism ever conceived. This will make Y2K look like Christmas. Credit fraud? No way — stealing money is easy. In the past, stealing an election was much more difficult. Now, thanks to technology, stealing an election can be as easy as popping a smart card into a slot and touching the screen.

I just hope it never has to come to this…