September 16, 2006  ·  Lessig

You might have seen the article by RFK Jr. in Rolling Stone asking, Was the 2004 Election Stolen? It is a terrifying but powerful piece that makes it hard to believe what we all want to believe about the 2004 election.

Now come three researchers from Princeton to demonstrate how one could hack a Diebold machine and undetectably alter the election results. This is a video of their results:

You can read the full report here.

(Thanks, Ken!)

  • Karl-Friedrich Lenz

    In an article about the 1948 primary between Lyndon Johnson and Coke Stevenson, the author says:

    “Johnson not only ordered his men to watch the voting stations but also instructed his men to outdo Stevenson’s men in accumulating fraudulent votes”.

    (Texas Bandits, by Jason Matheson, at

    Stealing votes might have become much easier compared to Johnson’s times.

    But just as then, close contests will be decided by which side is stealing more. At least, that will be the impression for neutral observers with a voting system wide open for anyone to hack at will.

  • John Dowdell

    There are reasons to be terrified, but not, I think, from this issue… the media campaign from the Kennedy machine hinges, despite its length, on the argument “final results differed from exit polls”. Democratic pollster Mark Blumenthal has the most extensive debunkings:

    The Diebold hacks seem less serious, to me, than the “dead people voting” problem, but I’m not losing much sleep over either.

    We *do* need to worry about being manipulated, though… this week’s rent-a-riots over what the Pope was *said* to have said join the debunked “koran desecration” story and the debunked “mohammed cartoon” story, and yet real people are coming to harm, and the actual facts — even in developed societies — do not raise above the level of the initial lies.

    There’s danger in how commercial memes are not sufficiently questioned. I believe we’ll rise past this stage, though.

  • angela

    350,000 votes (RJK Jr.’s claimed Ohio disenfranchisement) would not have gone only to Kerry in 2004, and actually even if they all did, that is quite a small number, considering the spread nation-wide was over 3 million in Bush’s favor. Along with worrying about dirty hackers, Dems need to stop crying and come up with something persuasive enough so they don’t have to care about the margins.

  • directorblue

    The RFK article was entirely unconvincing – a tiny precinct’s 98% turnout was cited as evidence of fraud. He didn’t mention, however, that the precinct was in the low hundreds of voters and it appeared they all _did_ show up.

    More concerning is what happened in Wisconsin, which Kerry won by a tiny margin. Mystery voters were bused in from Illinois to a state where no ID was required to cast votes. There is credible evidence that the entire state turned on this sort of “no ID required” vote fraud.

    If the Democrats really wanted to fight voter fraud, they would endorse the requirement for identification at the polls. Anything less puts our system at risk for rampant abuse.