Harry Hursti Takes Riverside Bet on Hacking Sequoia DRE

Original press article published at

Also: Paul Lehto offers Supv. Stone a "Counter-Challenge" (More Below)

By Kimberley Trone, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, CA

An international computer security consultant told Riverside County's Elections Review Committee today that the most secure system of voting would be a paper ballot.

"Paper has its own flaws, paper has problems, but we are better prepared to deal with those problems," said Harri Hursti, who was featured in the HBO documentary "Hacking Democracy."

Supervisor Jeff Stone has issued a challenge to anyone to try to hack into the county's electronic voting machines in a limited time. SAVE R VOTE, a Temecula Valley elections watchdog group, has accepted Stone's challenge but wants more time than Stone's 15-minute limit.

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Eva Marriott / The Press-Enterprise
Harri Hursti, a Finnish computer consultant, addresses the Riverside County Elections Review Committee Friday in Palm Desert.
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The group has enlisted Finnish computer security expert Hursti. Two years ago, Hursti uncovered severe flaws in a different electronic system used in Leon County, Fla., hacking into it in a test and changing the results.

About 40 people turned out to the election review committee's meeting in Palm Desert. The committee was appointed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to review issues related to last November's elections. The review has focused on problems with the county's electronic voting machines that led to long lines at the polling sites and delays in getting results.


A Counter-Challenge to Supervisor Stone

by Paul Lehto
As a fellow person of Finnish ancestry I took a nonverbal cue from Hursti and I also issued my own Counter-Challenge to Supervisor Stone's very restrictive challenge simulating a "voter fraud in the polling place" hack test.

My test focuses on the realistic conditions that insiders like elections officials enjoy, of great access to the computers--and who then purport to count (in secrecy of course) the votes that determine the power, legitimacy and taxing authority of the same government.

"Voter fraud" is highly risky and rare, whereas insiders have the ability to deliver the desired goods: the election RESULT.

Just like Supervisor Stone did initially, I am taking 1000-to-1 odds that Supervisor Stone will not have an adequate answer to this counter-challenge, much less take me up on the challenge. Anyone who wants to, keep faxing or emailing Stone and the local media until we have an answer to whether Stone accepts or declines the Counter-Challenge, and why.

(Hursti accepted the polling place challenge that Stone originally issued in December 2006, even under the unfair restrictions placed on it of only 15 minutes and under "voting conditions" with no tools that can't fit in a pocket and no disassembly of the machine in any way, and no reaching around to the back).

That last restriction prohibits a known way to enter administrative mode and vote multiple times--and that is the
"yellow button" that, pressed twice, puts the Sequoia Edge DRE machine into manual mode, allowing a person to vote repeatedly with no need for an access card.

Sequoia has known about this vulnerability probably since forever, but at least since I served them with a lawsuit containing claims about the yellow button's multiple voting function in April 2005.
See www.votersunite.org/info/lehtolawsuit.asp (complaint doc link near bottom of page).

Much more on the Counter-Challenge at

--Paul R. Lehto, Juris Doctor lehtolawyer[at]gmail[dot]com