Voting machine hacked to run Pac-man

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22 Responses to “Voting machine hacked to run Pac-man”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Listen up guys. I work for a department of elections in Northern California that uses this machine. It is not a general purpose voting machine (although I suppose it could be). It’s primary function is to provide voting access for people with disabilities.

    I work for one of the larger counties in California, less than fifty votes are cast on it every election, and I can fucking assure you no one is tampering with them in this county.

    This machine, or a machine like it is required comply with the Help America Vote Act, which requires all people are allowed to cast a ballot privately and independently….. how can someone with limited mobility, sight, hearing impairment do that without a machine?

    As for California, we should be happy we have SOS Debra Bowen, who issued a temporary ban on voting machines in 2007 until they can prove compliance with a number of safety protocol.

    Also, the average age of a pollworker in the US is 72 years old. Believe me, we have a hard enough time trying to teach them to turn the damn thing on than we do with one of them possibly manipulating it.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Also, the average age of a pollworker in the US is 72 years old. Believe me, we have a hard enough time trying to teach them to turn the damn thing on than we do with one of them possibly manipulating it.”

      This doesn’t give increase my confidence that poll workers would be able to detect or prevent fraud.

  2. Toby says:

    It’s all well and good that everyone is allowed to vote by mail, but that’s cold comfort if almost no one actually does… That said, I’m writing from sunny Oregon, where we all vote by mail (which also gives us a nice two week period to return our ballots). Instead of non-advances like poorly-secured e-voting, I’d love to see the US try some real improvements to the voting process (like instant-runoff, say). Sadly, we’re more likely to combine these pathetically hackable voting machines with mandatory voting for 100% turnout by proxy…

  3. hallam says:

    What I like about the site is the way that you can tell the photographer who took the group shoot didn’t need to tell people to smile, he just had to wait till nobody was actually creased over laughing their ass off.

  4. caffeine addict says:

    Seriously America, what’s wrong with little bits of paper folded up and put into a big metal box? The rest of the world is quite happy with it.

    Hell, most UK districts manage to count their votes and have a winner declared before the electorate have woken up the following morning.

    The worst you can do on a UK ballot paper is have a very boring game of noughts and crosses. (boring, because you can only have one cross and no-one else is supposed to see your paper. I suppose you could play battleships though…)

    • oasisob1 says:

      “Hell, most UK districts manage to count their votes and have a winner declared before the electorate have woken up the following morning.”

      I’m pretty sure the beer has something to do with that.

      Just remember, in America, everyone is allowed to vote by mail. On paper.

    • grimc says:

      Frankly, because the manufacturers of little bits of paper and big metal boxes aren’t major contributors to one political party, unlike the voting machine guys.

    • Brainspore says:

      Hell, most UK districts manage to count their votes and have a winner declared before the electorate have woken up the following morning.

      Not good enough! We Americans demand to have a winner declared before most people even get a chance to vote. That’s what cable news is for!

  5. Brainspore says:

    Just imagine all those little dots are chads representing votes for Al Gore.

  6. Donald Petersen says:

    It would seem these machines could use a few more “tamper-evident seals.”

    • WiredEarp says:

      Excellent spotting Donald. I noticed this as well. Since they got physical access to the PC, of course hacking it is possible – but its not much of a hack if it can be beaten by a few more strategically placed seals.

  7. Doug Watt says:

    These are the machines we will be voting with in November here in Northern CA. Not good.

  8. Anonymous says:

    From the post:
    “The entire process took three afternoons.”

    From the original site:

    “The software can be replaced without breaking any of these seals, simply by removing screws and opening the case.”

    So, given that the machines are easy to acquire and tamper with, I want to know the following:

    1. Could you write software to tamper with a current election?

    2. Could a group of people queue early on election day and install the software without the election workers knowledge? In other words, how noisy is the process to replace the compact flash memory and what is the exact duration?

    I suspect I already know and don’t like the answers to the above questions….

    Thank goodness my state still uses a paper (mail-in) ballot that we seal and hand deliver to our election location!

    • codesuidae says:

      Could a group of people queue early on election day and install the software without the election workers knowledge?

      It has been suggested that such attacks would be more effective if performed by election workers, as they can arrange for access to more machines.

      In the US it is typical for voters to have to identify themselves to show they they are in the correct district before they gain access to the equipment. Modifying enough machines via voter-level access to affect national elections would require considerably more people than though other means (such as party-level sponsorship of the development of flawed-by-design machines), and thus would probably only be effective in showing that it was possible.

      Local elections, with their typically minuscule turnout, could probably easily be stolen via voter-level access.

  9. SkullHyphy says:

    Blinky 2012!

  10. Boba Fett Diop says:

    Don’t look at me, I voted for Clyde.

  11. SamSam says:

    Unfortunately, while emulating a PacMan machine was undoubtedly more challenging, the general public won’t get the connection between that and rigging the machine to steal votes.

    Who cares that you can play PacMan on it, ain’t no one’s shown me any evidence that someone could tamper this machine to rig an election.

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