Howard Dean Hacks GEMS System (Topic A )

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CNBC Announcer: Up next-- how easy is it to rig a national election?

Bev Harris: We just edited an election, it took us 90 seconds.

[end station break]

Dean: If you think the 2000 Florida election was a big problem, you ain't seen nothin yet. The 2004 elections promises to be a nightmare for a lot of voters, and it all centers around electronic voting machines.

Dean's Voice, Narrating: Maybe you're used to pulling a lever, or punching a card when you cast your vote. The odds are getting better, (that) come November, you'll get a taste of a new and controversial trend-- electronic voting.

In 1998, only 7% of all U.S. counties used electronic voting machines. Then came the 2000 Florida fiasco, and in its wake, the so-called Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Now, in order to qualify for millions of dollars in Federal funds, states are pinning their hopes on electronic voting machines, manufactured by private companies like Diebold, ("Dee-bold") and Sequoyah. The result-- in the next presidential election, roughly 1 in 3 of us will use one.

But critics have found all sorts of flaws with these machines, from software security concerns, to the complete lack of a paper trail to verify votes. These machines cannot be recounted.

In Riverside County, California, an incumbent mysteriously pulled ahead after the voting machine company employees stopped the tally to tinker with the machines.

In Iowa [graphic shows "Allamakee County, Iowa"], machines in one precinct returned 4 million votes-- when only 300 actual voters turned out.

In San Diego, election officials reportedly turned to teenagers to reboot their malfunctioning machines.

Woman to Man, both huddled over a Voter Card Writer: I think we're on the wrong screen.
I know what happened! I know what happened! -- Crocuta

And in Florida, a computer crash erased the records from Miami-Dade's first widespread use of touchscreen voting machines-- all data from the the 2002 gubernatorial primary is gone.

[end Video]

Dean: There are two problems. One, there's no paper trail which means you can't verify your vote, and it can't be recounted. The other potentially serious problem: tampering and rigging of elections. We asked Diebold, one of the companies that makes these machines, and Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood to appear on this program. They both turned us down.

But Bev Harris is here. She's a crusader who thinks this is a disaster waiting to happen. Bev, you've made a potentially blockbuster statement. In under 2 minutes, you can hack into an electronic voting system, and change the results of an election with almost no chance of being caught. Bev Harris, how did you discover this?

Bev Harris, Executive Director of 'Black Box Voting': Well, I found the software that they were keeping secret, as a proprietary trade secret, and I found it on the Web quite by accident, and I worked with several different computer scientists who were very helpful in terms of analyzing the weaknesses. One of them had designed accounting software before. And of course, counting votes is just a form of bookkeeping. And right away he could see the weaknesses in it, and he kind of walked me through it like an AOL tech might walk you through something on the phone, he showed me how to rig an election.

Dean: If this is so easy to do, what in the world are we doing relying on this technology all over the country?

Harris: We need to get in there, and we need to actually demonstrate to some of the officials who are making these decisions, how easy it is. Because they're really relying too much on the vendors.

Dean: Bev sat me down, and in a few short seconds I was amazed at what I could do.

[Begin video:]

Dean: All right, Bev, show me how to do this.

Harris: Well, What we have here is the central tabulator computer. Now in a voting system you have all these different voting machines at all the different polling places, sometimes, as in a county like mine, there's a thousand polling places in one county.

All those machines feed into the one machine so it can add up all the votes. So of course if you were going to do something you shouldn't, to a voting machine, would it be more convenient to do it to the 4000 machines or to just come in here to one machine and deal with all of them at once?

What surprises people is the central tabulator is just a PC. It's like you and I use, it uses Windows, it's just a regular computer.

Dean: So anybody who can hack into a PC, can hack into the central tabulator.

Harris: The GEMS program is the program that is the central tabulator program. And I'm going to put in a password here. OK, we're in. Now this is the official program that the county supervisor sees.

Dean: Is this the Diebold program?

Harris: Yes, this is a Diebold central tabulation program.

Dean: OK.

Harris: And then go to 'Election Summary Report', It's gonna-- we're in spin for a minute, while it adds up all the votes from all the different precincts.

And as we can see here, Howard Dean has a thousand votes, and Lex Luther (sic) has 500 so you're beating Lex Luther and we're--

Dean [gleefully]: --Two to one!--

Harris: --Yes, and Tiger Woods unfortunately doesn't have any votes yet.

Dean: All right.

Harris: All right, let's close this out. I was just showing you the legitimate way to go in and look at votes, which of course--

Dean: --All right--

Harris: --you can't tamper with.

Go to the Start Menu, and I'm going to show you something tricky. And I want you to go to 'My Computer' and just click that, and you're going to see something come up, go to...

Harris: ...'Local Disc C:' and go to 'Program Files'. And on Program Files we're going to go to 'GEMS', which is the name of the Diebold program...
We're going to go to 'LocalDB', which stands for 'Local Database, that's where they keep the votes. And by the way, this has been out on the Internet for ages now.
Harris: Go to 'Central Tabulator Votes', which is the database we just looked at...
...and then go to the 'Sum of the Candidates', which is that table.

Harris: You see we have 800 votes here for you, and 400 for Lex Luthor-- Let's just flip those. We'll make that 400... and we'll give a hundred votes to Tiger.

Harris: Let's just see what happened here. We'll go back into GEMS the legitimate way, you're the county supervisor, you're checking on the progress of your election, and as you can see now, Howard Dean only has 500 votes, Lex Luther has 900 and Tiger Woods has 100 votes.

Dean: Hm.

Harris: We just edited an election, it took us 90 seconds.

[end video]

Dean: Bev Harris, this really points out why it's important to have a paper trail-- so people can't alter the results. What is being done around the country to deal with this?

Harris: Well, there are some places where they are working on it. Kevin Shelley's had some real backbone and he's been fighting the battle in California. In the state of Ohio they have now mandated the paper ballot. But... not enough, and we've got an election coming up this fall where we may have as many as 30% of America voting on machines that can't be recounted or audited.

Dean: I'm glad you gave Kevin Shelley a plug. We have Kevin Shelley, the Secretary of the State of California. You're using e-voting in California. Why?

Kevin Shelley, California Secretary of State: In terms of California, Governer Dean, why we're doing what we're doing, you know we're the only state in the entire country right now that has standards in place for a voter-verified paper trail. I think it is absolutely essential that the voter have the opportunity to confirm his or her vote. Not only so it can be used for recount purposes at a later time, but also so that you know, and have-- the voter has the confidence, that their vote will be correctly counted as they intended it, as it was cast.

Dean: How are you going to prevent hacking and fraud, though. You saw what Bev was able to coach me to do in 90 seconds. How do you-- what-- do you have a mechanism in California to stop that?

Shelley: We absolutely do. As you may know, Governor, in a number of instances, we banned certain machines-- the Diebold TSX machine-- in a number of our counties, including San Diego, which was one of the topics of your piece. Beyond that, we've required very strict security measures. Not only, the source code be made available to us, by the vendor, and we've demanded it, and we've received it, the only state to do so, but also each voter having the option of voting on paper, as well as, security measures with the machinery itself. Two specific measures that would prevent the situation that Bev just was demonstrating to you-- we demand that, and require, that the results be posted at the polling place, so that you can't later change the results of that particular polling place when the officials at the master computer are counting them. Secondly, we also ensure that there is a paper receipt. Now, it's not a voter-verified paper receipt, which is what we would prefer, but a paper receipt that is immediately produced at the conclusion of the polling hours, so that before it gets counted at the main location, that can be referred to, that has the actual results on it.

Dean: Kevin, I spoke to Bill Bradbury, who's the Secretary of State of Oregon, and apparently, in Oregon they have a law that says you cannot use any voting machines, unless the voting machines can be recounted, which of course would cancel out any use of any of these kinds of machines.

Talk to me, and Bev, jump in here too, about states that you think are-- that either of you think are, at very high risk for a, "polluted" if you will, voting result, come November, and states that have really done their job and that are pretty good bets for when voters go to the polls, their actual votes are gonna be counted the way that they should.

Shelley: Let me speak to that, Governor, if I may, because I think we've taken very aggressive steps here in California, and I came very close, as Ms. Harris knows, to just banning all the machines outright, and we did ban them in certain instances, and in others we put in security measures. But I--

Harris:--But the security measures aren't really in. This is one of my concerns, is the exact hack that I showed Governor Dean, is still in place in the brand-new software, and in fact I had that demonstrated by a county supervisor the other day. And we found exactly that back door. So, we still have a ways to go.

Dean: All right, let me ask you both a very tough question--

Harris: --It's vulnerable.--

Dean: Do you, Kevin Shelley, and Bev, do you consider the election in two thousand-- November election in 2004, that's coming up, for President of the United States, do you consider that to be a safe election, which is unlikely to-- which is likely to give us the results that that indicate who the next President of the United States is?

Harris: Unfortunately, I think we have a high probability of Florida-style meltdown in multiple states, because we have not put the procedures in place that we need to have in place in all the states.

Dean: Kevin?

Shelley: You know, in your setup piece that showed that election official in Florida with the magnifying glass looking at that chad-producing punchcard ballot, I don't wanna see officials trying to hoist up an electronic voting machine on November 3rd, trying to look into the software, so I think that it's important that everyone take aggressive security measures, ban the machines where necessary. You never can have 100% perfection, but I think we need to take aggressive approaches. That's not being done now, I think we have taken a very aggressive approach in California, and we would call on others throughout the country to follow our lead.

Dean: Kevin Shelley, thank you so much, Bev Harris, thanks very much--

Harris and Shelley: Thank you.

Dean: Ask your local officials-- is your voting safe? The answer may surprise you.