Re: How do you audit a GEMS machine?

From: Richard C. Johnson <dick_at_iwwco_dot_com>
Date: Sat Jun 18 2005 - 09:12:29 CDT

Hi Ed!
 
Hmmm. I do think it would be quite easy indeed to rig the GEMS machine. My follow-on thought was that it should be possible to simulate the vote with pseudo-voter inputs and observe what the GEMS did with known input. While not all rigging would be caught by this on-the-spot test, it is at least worth considering. To my knowledge, nobody is really doing any testing at all at the point where machines are installed and (we hope) locked down in clean condition. Why should not any poll watcher be able to determine the proper operation of the voting machine by simulating inputs and comparing the known inputs to what the machine puts out? A post-election test would also be interesting. The numbers must match or...Houston, we have a problem!
 
Next year, a fair and uncorrupted election!
 
-- Dick
 
 
 

Ed Kennedy <ekennedyx@yahoo.com> wrote:
Hello Dick:
 
I suspect it would be easier to rig the GEMS machine than you think. We've discussed on the list how a typical DRE can be easily subverted by having a time or event sequence dependent Trojan inserted into the software code. I don't see why a similar thing couldn't be done for a machine running GEMS. Based on Black Box Voting's description of the Acuvote scanner having memory cards with programs resident in the card memory, I think it would be even easier for some sort of vote shifting routine or just a trigger for a Trojan, be resident on the memory cards and picked up upon the necessary reading of the card by the GEMS machine. Upon the 'close out' of the voting aggregation the Trojan would erase itself leaving no trace. A check sum or other program modification check ran before and after the election process would not be likely to show up.
 
In my limited poll working experience, it not unusual for a polling place votes to not completely reconcile with ballot counts, scanner tapes and signature book counts. It is often only necessary for malware to just shift a few votes at each polling place to change an election outcome. Given the more or less inevitable level of errors in a process as complicated as an election, this sort of vote shifting could easily be nearly undetectable in the 'back ground noise' random errors of the election process and be very difficult to catch.
 
Call me discouraged.

-- 
 
Thanks, Edmund R. Kennedy
 
Always work for the common good.
 
10777 Bendigo Cove
San Diego, CA 92126-2510
USA
 
I blog now and then at: <http://ekennedyx.blogspot.com/>
Also, I've got a web site at <http://geocities.com/ekennedyx/>
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Richard C. Johnson 
To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list 
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2005 12:10 PM
Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] How do you audit a GEMS machine?
Ed,
 
This is a tough one, but if you can run sample memory cards with known content through the GEMS machine to verify that the samples register properly, well, that is better than nothing.  Anybody who seriously wants to rig the election through the GEMS machine would have to alter it in a way not detectable by processing sample memory cards.  Still, this setup is an abomination--I thought California law prohibited such things.
 
Best wishes for a clean election,
 
-- Dick
Ed Kennedy <ekennedyx@yahoo.com> wrote:
Hello:
 
Here in San Diego County we use Diebold GEMS machines to read the memory card from Diebold Acuvote scanners.  Generously assuming that the scanner cards generally reflect what went under the scan heads ,how would a Poll Watcher audit the aggregation of votes on a GEMS machine?  We've got a mayoral election coming up here in the City pretty soon so I'd appreciate some quick answers or at least pointers to where I might find this information.
-- 
 
Thanks, Edmund R. Kennedy
 
Always work for the common good.
 
10777 Bendigo Cove
San Diego, CA 92126-2510
USA
 
I blog now and then at: <http://ekennedyx.blogspot.com/>
Also, I've got a web site at <http://geocities.com/ekennedyx/>
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Received on Thu Jun 30 23:17:09 2005

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