17 December 2005

Voting machines hacked, Leon official says

Palm Beach Post - December 17, 2005

TALLAHASSEE — Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho asked state elections officials Friday to reexamine their voting machine certification program after computer experts conducting tests in Sancho's office hacked into Diebold machines and altered the vote count.

Gov. Jeb Bush, despite calling Sancho as a "maverick" who uses "unorthodox" methods, said earlier in the day that incoming Secretary of State Sue Cobb should "carefully" consider Sancho's complaint.

Sancho, who has been a frequent critic of the Secretary of State's Division of Elections, said that the tests exposed a serious flaw with the Diebold Accuvote 2000 optical scan machines.

"They've obviously missed the basic element of what they should be testing for — whether or not you can steal the election," Sancho said after sending a letter to interim Secretary of State David Mann requesting an investigation into the certification process.

Sancho said he will no longer use the Diebold machines and is seeking $1.2 million from the county to purchase new voting equipment.

Sancho said that Diebold officials were uncooperative and refused to admit that there was a problem with the Accuvote machines.

"When confronted that potential anomalies existed, they denied that it was possible," he said.

Diebold Chairman and Chief Executive Walden W. O'Dell resigned on Monday.

Sancho said he was approached by Black Box Voting about the tests, in which a pre-programmed memory card was inserted into the Diebold machine. A "zero votes" test was run on the machine, indicating that no votes had yet been cast in the election. Tests conducted in March revealed the same problem.

"Our findings show that it is possible to put an executable file on its memory card which produces false results and leaves no trail that any violation of the system has occurred. Only the originally marked ballots show that the printed and computer-generated totals are incorrect," Sancho wrote.


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