Less than six months before its 2008 presidential primary, election officials in one of the country’s most important swing states admit electronic voting machines are seriously flawed and can be easily tampered with.A 35-page report released by Florida’s Secretary of State says that hackers can easily change votes without a trace in Diebold optical-scan machines used in 25 of the state’s 67 counties.
Conducted by Florida State University, the thorough study found that an adversary could easily use a pre-programmed computer card to swap one candidate’s votes for another or create a “ballot-stuffing attack” that multiplies votes for a candidate or issue.
The statewide investigation was ordered shortly after an election supervisor in Tallahassee’s Leon County conducted a test that exposed serious security problems with the expensive machines because they could easily be hacked.
In fact, a renowned nonpartisan election watchdog called the revelation the most serious hack demonstration to date because the Diebold machines succumbed so quickly to alteration of votes.
Florida officials spent millions to purchase the unreliable high-tech voting machines after its punch-card voting system attracted national attention in the 2000 presidential election. The controversial dimpled, pregnant and hanging chads held up a final count in the election and the U.S. Supreme Court had to actually step in.
Incredibly, the controversy continues in the Sunshine State as the 2008 presidential election approaches. Florida is a key state with an early presidential primary (January 29) that could dramatically alter both parties’ presidential nominating campaigns. Yet, even after spending millions of taxpayer dollars for new equipment, officials can’t guarantee that every vote will be accurately counted.
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