California Voting Machines Are Totally Hackable

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State-sanctioned teams of computer hackers were able to break through the security of virtually every model of California's voting machines and change results or take control of some of the systems' electronic functions, according to a University of California study released Friday.

The researchers "were able to bypass physical and software security in every machine they tested,'' said Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who authorized the "top to bottom review" of every voting system certified by the state.

Neither Bowen nor the investigators were willing to say exactly how vulnerable California elections are to computer hackers, especially because the team of computer experts from the UC system had top-of-the-line security information plus more time and better access to the voting machines than would-be vote thieves likely would have.

"All information available to the secretary of state was made available to the testers,'' including operating manuals, software and source codes usually kept secret by the voting machine companies, said Matt Bishop, UC Davis computer science professor who led the "red team" hacking effort, said in his summary of the results.

The review included voting equipment from every company approved for use in the state, including Sequoia, whose systems are used in Alameda, Napa and Santa Clara counties; Hart InterCivic, used in San Mateo and Sonoma Counties; and Diebold, used in Marin County.

Election Systems and Software, which supplied equipment to San Francisco, Contra Costa, Solano and Los Angeles counties in last November's election, missed the deadline for submitting the equipment, Bowen said. While their equipment will be reviewed, Bowen warned that she has "the legal authority to impose any condition'' on its use.

Bowen said in a telephone news conference Friday that the report is only one piece of information she will use to decide which voting systems are secure enough to use in next February's presidential primary election.

If she is going to decertify any of the machines, she must do it by Friday, six months before the Feb. 5 vote.

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