Today I am releasing an in-depth study of the Sequoia AVC Advantage direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine, available at citp.princeton.edu/voting/advantage. I led a team of six computer scientists in a monthlong examination of the source code and hardware of these voting computers, which are used in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and other states.
The Rutgers Law School Constitutional Litigation Clinic filed a lawsuit seeking to decommission of all of New Jersey’s voting computers, and asked me to serve as an expert witness. This year the Court ordered the State of New Jersey and Sequoia Voting Systems to provide voting machines and their source code for me to examine. By Court Order, I can release the report no sooner than October 17th, 2008.
Accompanying the report is a video and a FAQ.
I. The AVC Advantage 9.00 is easily “hacked” by the installation of fraudulent firmware. This is done by prying just one ROM chip from its socket and pushing a new one in, or by replacement of the Z80 processor chip. We have demonstrated that this “hack” takes just 7 minutes to perform.
The fraudulent firmware can steal votes during an election, just as its criminal designer programs it to do. The fraud cannot practically be detected. There is no paper audit trail on this machine; all electronic records of the votes are under control of the firmware, which can manipulate them all simultaneously.
II. Without even touching a single AVC Advantage, an attacker can install fraudulent firmware into many AVC Advantage machines by viral propagation through audio-ballot cartridges. The virus can steal the votes of blind voters, can cause AVC Advantages in targeted precincts to fail to operate; or can cause WinEDS software to tally votes inaccurately. (WinEDS is the program, sold by Sequoia, that each County’s Board of Elections uses to add up votes from all the different precincts.)
III. Design flaws in the user interface of the AVC Advantage disenfranchise voters, or violate voter privacy, by causing votes not to be counted, and by allowing pollworkers to commit fraud.
IV. AVC Advantage Results Cartridges can be easily manipulated to change votes, after the polls are closed but before results from different precincts are cumulated together.
V. Sequoia’s sloppy software practices can lead to error and insecurity. Wyle’s Independent Testing Authority (ITA) reports are not rigorous, and are inadequate to detect security vulnerabilities. Programming errors that slip through these processes can miscount votes and permit fraud.
VI. Anomalies noticed by County Clerks in the New Jersey 2008 Presidential Primary were caused by two different programming errors on the part of Sequoia, and had the effect of disenfranchising voters.
VII. The AVC Advantage has been produced in many versions. The fact that one version may have been examined for certification does not give grounds for confidence in the security and accuracy of a different version. New Jersey should not use any version of the AVC Advantage that it has not actually examined with the assistance of skilled computer-security experts.
VIII. The AVC Advantage is too insecure to use in New Jersey. New Jersey should immediately implement the 2005 law passed by the Legislature, requiring an individual voter-verified record of each vote cast, by adopting precinct-count optical-scan voting equipment.