Skip to main content

Sequoia Voting Systems Wags Legal Finger At Voting Machine Hacker


Princeton (NJ) - A Princeton professor, known for hacking into voting machines, has attracted the legal ire of a popular machine manufacturer. Sequoia Voting Systems threaten Professor Edward Felten with legal action if he performed a security audit of its machines. The emailed threat has spread like wildfire on

You may remember Professor Felten as the voting machine hacker who could change the software and alter votes on Diebold machines. New Jersey officials were apparently impressed enough with Felten’s credentials that they offered him several Sequoia voting machines for a security audit. The officials were concerned about the machines’ accuracy when vote totals didn’t match up after a recent election.

Sequoia learned about New Jersey’s offer and sent Felten a nasty letter saying that such an audit would violate licensing agreements. In his Freedom to Tinker blog, Felten posted the entire letter saying, "I might as well publish it here. Yes, it is genuine."

Edwin Smith, Vice-President of Compliance/Quality/Certification at Sequoia Voting Systems, wrote the following to Felten, "Sequoia has also retained counsel to stop any infringement of our intellectual properties, including any non-compliant analysis. We will also take appropriate steps to protect against any publication of Sequoia software, its behavior, reports regarding same or any other infringement of our intellectual property."

Voting system security is a lightning rod topic among security professionals and hackers and copies of the letter have spread like crazy on blogs and Internet news sites. By Thursday, parts of Sequoia’s site had been defaced and taken down.