Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Friday, December 16, 2005

Hacking the Vote

    This is big: "Top computer scientists and voting experts said Thursday that Florida must re-examine the way it tests voting machines and needs to verify claims by a Tallahassee elections official who said hackers could alter some computerized election results." However,
    acting Florida Secretary of State David Mann, whose office oversees the state elections department, said Thursday that he has such "confidence" in his agency's certification process that he has no intention of doing any double-checking right now.

    At the center of the controversy: Leon County's elections chief, Ion Sancho, a nonpartisan maverick who's determined to avoid the 2000 Florida elections' debacle that led lawmakers to mandate the very computerized voting systems he is now questioning.

    We're talking about it over at FLA POlitics.
    Over the past six months, Sancho gave two computer hackers access to his optical-scan voting machines, in which voters cast fill-in-the-blank ballots. Attacking different parts of the system from the inside, the hackers said they were able to easily bypass security codes, make losing candidates win, add or subtract voters -- and do it without leaving a trace. ...

    The reports from the Leon County hackers, especially the most recent from Finnish computer scientist Harri Hursti, raised red flags in the small world of computer-security and voting experts.
    "Voting machines won't be retested, state officials say". Here's what happened:

    The Elections Office held a mock election where eight voters were asked to answer "yes" or "no" to the question "Can the votes on this Diebold system be hacked using the memory card?" Testers inserted a memory card into the Diebold machine that included a program designed to alter votes and leave no trace of tampering.

    Two people marked their ballots with "yes" votes, while six marked "no." The ballots were fed into the machine and, when final results were printed out, they showed that seven people voted "yes" and one voted "no." The false results were accepted by the Elections Office's main computer, and no evidence was left, Sancho said.

    "This is significant," Sancho said, "because this shows that Florida's voting machine certification program failed to identify critical security and design flaws in this voting system."
    "Sancho to scrap voting machines". See also this AP wire story: "Elections supervisor: Some Diebold voting machines can be hacked" and "Voting machines faulty, official says".

    Editorial comment from the Miami Herald:
    Some people will think that the Tallahassee election supervisor's experiment of hacking into his voting machines was just a bit of grandstanding. But even if it were -- and we don't think it was -- anyone responsible for, or interested in, accurate election results should pay close attention. The tests by Leon County election supervisor Ion Sancho showed that even voting equipment believed to be secure can remain vulnerable to a determined hacker.
    "No excuses for gaps in election security".

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