Re: Stealing an Election: What's it worth?

From: Richard C. Johnson <dick_at_iwwco_dot_com>
Date: Mon May 30 2005 - 09:41:27 CDT

There is something yet BIGGER.
Campaign contributions, the preferred American version of vote fraud, the mother's milk of politics.
Certainly, major campaign contributors want to get news as early as possible of the bang they got for their bucks. Add in gerrymandering (maybe Texas needs some fine tuning and a rereredistricting after the upcoming 06 elections), and you have the interlocking directorate of politcal corruption and vote fraud.
For example, if the drug companies spent big on a local election, backing Mr. Blackhat, the news of how effective they were could easily help the corrupt druggies short their own stock if they had not been effective in buying the election.
We must fix this broken system. Accurate, audited, and accountable elections are a start.
-- Dick

Jim March <> wrote:
Paul missed something BIG.

Stock fraud.

Even without actual tampering, early knowledge of election results could
be used as a form of "insider trading" as it relates to bond measures,
local races, even some national races when it relates to matters such as
defense spending.

The stock market is a giant gambling arena, with the odds arrayed *very*
tightly. It doesn't take much to swing it over.


Arthur Keller wrote:

> Crypto-Gram Newsletter
> April 15, 2004
> by Bruce Schneier
> Founder and CTO
> Counterpane Internet Security, Inc.
> A free monthly newsletter providing summaries, analyses, insights, and
> commentaries on security: computer and otherwise.
> Back issues are available at
> . To subscribe, visit
> or send a blank message to
> *Stealing an Election*
> There are major efforts by computer security professionals to convince
> government officials that paper audit trails are essential in any
> computerized voting machine. They have conducted actual examination of
> software, engaged in letter writing campaigns, testified before
> government bodies, and collectively, have maintained visibility and
> public awareness of the issue.
> The track record of the computerized voting machines used to date has
> been abysmal; stories of errors are legion. Here's another way to look
> at the issue: what are the economics of trying to steal an election?
> Let's look at the 2002 election results for the 435 seats in the House
> of Representatives. In order to gain control of the House, the
> Democrats would have needed to win 23 more seats. According to actual
> voting data (pulled off the ABC News website), the Democrats could
> have won these 23 seats by swinging 163,953 votes from Republican to
> Democrat, out of the total 65,812,545 cast for both parties. (The
> total number of votes cast is actually a bit higher; this analysis
> only uses data for the winning and second-place candidates.)
> This means that the Democrats could have gained the majority in the
> House by switching less than 1/4 of one percent of the total votes --
> less than one in 250 votes.
> Of course, this analysis is done in hindsight. In practice, more
> cheating would be required to be reasonably certain of winning. Even
> so, the Democrats could have won the house by shifting well below 0.5%
> of the total votes cast across the election.
> Let's try another analysis: What is it worth to compromise a voting
> machine? In contested House races in 2002, candidates typically spent
> $3M to $4M, although the highest was over $8M. The outcomes of the 20
> closest races would have changed by swinging an average of 2,593 votes
> each. Assuming (conservatively) a candidate would pay $1M to switch
> 5,000 votes, votes are worth $200 each. The actual value is probably
> closer to $500, but I figured conservatively here to reflect the
> additional risk of breaking the law.
> If a voting machine collects 250 votes (about 125 for each candidate),
> rigging the machine to swing all of its votes would be worth $25,000.
> That's going to be detected, so is unlikely to happen. Swinging 10% of
> the votes on any given machine would be worth $2500.
> This suggests that it is necessary to assume that attacks against
> individual voting machines are a serious risk.
> Computerized voting machines have software, which means we need to
> figure out what it's worth to compromise a voting machine software
> design or code, and not just individual machines. Any voting machine
> type deployed in 25% of precincts would register enough votes that
> malicious software could swing the balance of power without creating
> terribly obvious statistical abnormalities.
> In 2002, all the Congressional candidates together raised over $500M.
> As a result, one can conservatively conclude that affecting the
> balance of power in the House of Representatives is worth at least
> $100M to the party who would otherwise be losing. So when designing
> the security behind the software, one must assume an attacker with a
> $100M budget.
> Conclusion: The risks to electronic voting machine software are even
> greater than first appears.
> This essay was written with Paul Kocher.
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4507
> tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Tue May 31 23:17:49 2005

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