Playing Pac Man on a voting machine

I think this is just hilarious. Hooray for universal Turing machines!:

The story behind it is scarier, however:

Sequoia’s voting machines, used in some 20% of U.S. elections, employ Intellectual Property (IP) still owned by a Venezuelan firm tied to Hugo Chavez. Sequoia itself is now owned by a Canadian firm called Dominion. (Though Dominion, like Sequoia itself before them, lied about the continuing Venezuelan/Chavez ties in their recent announcement of the acquisition, as detailed exclusively by The BRAD BLOG, to little notice, in June.)

The Pac-Man hack onto the Sequoia/Dominion voting machine was revealed this week. It was accomplished without breaking any of the “tamper-evident” seals that voting machine companies and election officials claim are used to ensure nobody can physically hack into them without being discovered.

“We received the machine with the original tamper-evident seals intact,” the hackers from Princeton and University of Michigan report. “The software can be replaced without breaking any of these seals, simply by removing screws and opening the case.”

This particular Sequoia DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) voting machine model is known as the AVC Edge. It used to be described on the Sequoia website and promotional materials as “tamperproof”. It has been hacked previously and has failed time and again in recent elections, even though election officials continue to force voters to use them.

For example, the AVC Edge miscounted votes in New Jersey in 2008, the same election during which the systems also failed to even boot up when polls opened at a Hoboken precinct, forcing voters, including the state’s then Governor John Corzine, to wait some 45 minutes before they could cast a vote on it at all. Whether those votes were recorded accurately as per the voters’ intent, once the machines finally booted up, is scientifically impossible to know. Use of any touch-screen voting machine is the equivalent of a 100% faith-based election. No votes cast during an election — none — can be verified as having been accurately recorded on such systems. Ever.

My brother comments: “While our elections may not be safe, at least we’ll have retrogames when the hacker party takes office.”


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