Testimony of Diana Finch


Governmental Operations Committee Hearing

April 24, 2006



My name is Diana Finch, I am a resident of the Bronx. I am a literary agent working with


·        Greg Palast, investigative journalist and author of THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY

·        Professor Steven Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania who is co-authoring a book on discrepancies between exit polls and official vote counts

·        Blair Bobier, whose legal pursuit of a recount after the 2004 debacle in Ohio will go to trial in August 2006.


Computer security is impossible to control.


The most secure installations in the world have been broken into, repeatedly.


·        American financial companies have seen millions of accounts compromised

·        Our Department of Defense has been broken into.

·        The FBI’s Computer Crime Survey of 2005 was deleted from their web site, leaving them with only a paper copy.


The FBI’s report said that nearly 90% of companies were broken into last year. 44% had intrusions by insiders.


How will our Board of Elections stack up against these computer industry statistics?


Insiders – who are they?


If bi-partisan staff do all the work, and look over each other’s shoulders every minute of the day, we might be safe on the insider-tampering threat. But the Harri Hursti Hack in Florida and the RABA Red Team test in Maryland showed that computerized voting systems were not designed for security, and in fact they have pre-programmed “back doors” that facilitate tampering. In all such tests, the tester has been able to alter tallies with a few seconds or minutes access to the system.


We should assume that if our Board of Elections has vendor technicians on the premises, it is predictable they will have unsupervised access to systems. That is called “no security.”


Our Board of Elections has already had to hire outside help, Gartner, just to get ready for computerized voting. No one believes that they can handle computerized voting systems solely with inside bipartisan staff.


Tampering via Communications Capability


Many break-ins are accomplished via the communications capability in the computers. This way, the insider or outside hacker doesn’t even have to be in the same room with one of the computers. He or she can be in another state, or another country.


Wireless communications used to require an extra card plugged into one of the slots on the computer. But now the same capability can be invisible – embedded in the touchscreen, or just one more tiny silver dot somewhere inside the machine.


Our Board of Elections is not taking the tampering threat seriously. This means two things, First, they will not take precautions against this kind of tampering. Second, even if they did, they would fall into those industry statistics from the FBI, nearly 90% broken into, 44% by insiders.


In the highly competitive atmosphere of electoral politics, we can’t just assume that everyone involved will always be a saint.  And it is foolish to use computerized voting, because the technology is too insecure to be suitable.


In contrast, the security of paper ballots is simple to ensure if we have the political will to do so.


I urge this committee to pass two simple resolutions:


131 -  to urge our NYC Board of Elections to switch to paper-ballot optical scan.voting systems, our low-tech, more manageable, more secure option


228 – to urge public Mock Election tests before purchase. If the systems work, let’s see it. So far our Board of Elections has had vendors come in and provide little demonstrations of non-working mockups. It is unclear whether or not working prototypes even exist.


Thank you.