As election day nears, all the dirty tricks in political campaigns appear- from black propaganda to cheating. With the advent of automated elections,
a group of scientists have proven that they can hack and steal votes in an electronic voting machine.
According to Science Daily, a team of scientists from University of California, San Diego, the University of Michigan, and Princeton University hacked a Sequoia AVC Advantage electronic voting machine to turn against itself
and steal votes. Computer scientist, Hovav Shacham, who had no access to the machine’s source code, found a flaw on the voting machine software. They demonstrated how it can be controlled to steal votes by using
“return-oriented programming.” (read here)
They exposed the vulnerabilities of the machine by using a cartridge that changes the total number of votes by inserting into an unused port in the ma-
chine. The hacker then navigates the machine’s menus to let the malicious software control the machine silently.
Smartmatic, however, affirms that their machines are unhackable. (read here)
I’m excited! On May 10, 2010 marks my first time to vote since I was disenfranchised from the last elections in 2004 (I registered but I could not find my name). I was patient enough to go through all the hassles of lining up again last year just to be able to vote next month. There is a possibility that I may not be disenfranchised this time, however, my question now: Is my vote safe?
Last elections, the Philippine government used the caveman method in rigging the elections: Garci. This time, with the advent of automated polls, cheating can now go hi-tech.
I have been hearing rumors that the Philippine elections is over. There’s a ready microchip that says the winners are Villar-Roxas! (They can’t rig Legarda to win over Roxas, whose surveys show he’s a sure landslide) How can that happen when I haven’t even voted yet?!
In the documentary “Hacking the Democracy”, (watch documentary here) it shows how an automated elections can be hacked. Shown in HBO in 2006, it exposes the dangers of voting machines. It uncovers evidences from trash cans of Texas to the ballot boxes of Ohio, exposing secrecy, votes in the trash, hackable software and election officials rigging the presidential recount.
That happened in the US, how can it not happen to us? In my past blog post “Hackers join cyber competition,” (read here http://bit.ly/cADmnY) I discussed how the US government find these young geniuses and invite them to join their team. Since our ballot boxes are now made of microchips, how can we be sure that no 13-year-old computer whiz kid hack it?
Then again, since it was sold by a private corporation, don’t you think they already know how to use it in all aspects? And last question: how are we so sure that there won’t be any microchip swap on the way to the Comelec or to the Congress?
Hacking the polls, coming this May to the poll precinct nearest you!
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