Thursday, November 02, 2006

HBO documentary: Hacking Democracy

This cautionary documentary exposes the vulnerability of computers - which count approximately 80% of America's votes in county, state and federal elections - suggesting that if our votes aren't safe, then our democracy isn't safe either. Premieres Thursday, November 2 [2006] at 9pm.


indirectly via Slashdot Diebold Demands That HBO Cancel Documentary /.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Time magazine on electronic voting machines

In one week, more than 80 million Americans will go to the polls, and a record number of them--90%--will either cast their vote on a computer or have it tabulated that way. When that many people collide with that many high-tech devices, there are going to be problems. Some will be machine malfunctions. Some could come from sabotage by poll workers or voters themselves. But in a venture this large, trouble is most likely to come from just plain human error, a fact often overlooked in an environment as charged and conspiratorial as America is in today. Four years after Congress passed a law requiring every state to vote by a method more reliable than the punch-card system that paralyzed Florida and the nation in 2000, the 2006 election is shaping up into a contest not just between Democrats and Republicans but also between people who believe in technology and those who fear machines cannot be trusted to count votes in a closely divided democracy.

Can This Machine Be Trusted? - Time - October 29, 2006

Dutch Minister bans some evoting machines

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands Voters in Amsterdam and 34 other Dutch cities may be using paper and pencil instead of computerized voting machines in national elections next month.

The government on Monday banned the use of one common type of computer voting machine, fearing that secret ballots may not be kept secret. It ordered a review of all electronic machines after the Nov. 22 election.

Government Renewal Minister Atzo Nicolai said the move was necessary after an investigation found the machines made by Sdu NV emitted radio signals that a technology-savvy spy could use to peek at a voters' choices from a distance of up to several dozen meters (yards).

"What can be detected is the image on the screen that's visible to the voter, by which his voting could be monitored," Nicolai said in a letter to parliament.

"In short, the machines made by the company Sdu can now be tapped, and there are no technical measures that can be taken before the upcoming elections that would prevent this tapping and guarantee the secrecy of the ballot."

He said he had revoked the permits for all the machines, about 10 percent of all voting machines used in the country.

A sample of the other machines used in next month's vote will be tested before the results are certified to ensure against fraud, Nicolai said.

The turnabout came after a group called "We Don't Trust Voting Computers" protested the vulnerability of electronic voting to fraud or manipulation.

Dutch government scraps plans to use voting computers in 35 cities including Amsterdam - IHT - AP - October 30, 2006

via Slashdot Voting Machines Banned by Dutch Minister /.

Monday, October 30, 2006

e-lect... ricity?

Daytona Beach -- Early voting was delayed in Volusia County for about an hour and 15 minutes Saturday morning after a transformer blew and knocked out power to the City Island Library in Daytona Beach.

Elections Supervisor Ann McFall said the polling place was closed after the electricity went out about 9:55 a.m. The power didn't come back until about 1:30 p.m. but residents were allowed to vote after about 11 a.m. Elections officials opened windows to let in light and checked voter registrations by calling the elections office in DeLand using cellular telephones. The site remained open later, as well.

Officials discovered another problem Saturday night -- the ballot count was off by 20 votes.

McFall said votes cast during the power outage were stored in one compartment of the vote-collection box, where they were supposed to be held until they could be fed into the electronic-vote counter. Twenty ballots likely spilled into another compartment, where counted votes are kept.

She said she plans to recount those ballots Nov. 5, when she also will recount ballots cast on Thursday at the DeLand elections office because the vote count there was off by one.

Now imagine a power outage say, in the middle of US voting day.
With thousands of people waiting to vote on exciting modern touch-screen electronic machines. None of which, I can pretty much guarantee, have power backup.
Plus which, I'm guessing the machines handle a sudden power outage with all the grace of most computer systems - damaged files, corrupted databases, errors on memory cards.

Power outage delays voting - Orlando Sentinel - October 29, 2006

Rolling Stone on Electronic Voting

as midterm [US] elections approach this November [2006], electronic voting machines are making things worse instead of better. Studies have demonstrated that hackers can easily rig the technology to fix an election - and across the country this year, faulty equipment and lax security have repeatedly undermined election primaries.

from Will The Next Election Be Hacked? by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in the October 04, 2006 issue of Rolling Stone (issue #1010).

Report on Quebec's municipal electronic voting disaster

On October 24, 2006 the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec released a report (in French only) "Report on the Evaluation of New Methods of Voting". In a press release, three root causes of problems with electronic voting machines in the 2005 municipal elections were identified:

* an imprecise legislative and administrative framework
* absence of technical specifications, norms and standards
* poor management of voting systems (especially lack of security measures)

He has recommended that the current moratorium on the use of these systems be maintained, and leaves it up to the provincial legislature to decide whether or not to use electronic voting in future.

(Above information copied from my additions to Wikipedia - Electronic voting in Canada.)

This was reported in the Canadian press starting on the 24th, see e.g.

RDI (French) - Des scrutins à jamais entachés - October 24, 2006 (includes links to videos)

CBC (English) - Electronic voting blamed for Quebec municipal election 'disaster' - October 25, 2006

In a new report on problems with Quebec's 2005 municipal election, chief electoral officer Marcel Blanchet targets the electronic voting system used to collect and count the votes.

The election was an expensive disaster marked by errors, which produced inaccurate numbers and unreliable results, the report said. And the new electronic system is to blame, it adds.

The full report (French only) is Élections municipales de novembre 2005 - Rapport d’évaluation des nouveaux mécanismes de votation (PDF, 3.2 MB). There are also Appendices (PDF: 3.4 MB / 120 pages).

There are more links at DGEQ News - Report on the Evaluation of New Methods of Voting.

November 27, 2005 Montreal's electronic vote: what went wrong
November 13, 2005 articles about the Quebec election / articles concernant l'élection au Québec
November 13, 2005 Electronic counting fails Quebec

Lou Dobbs - Democracy at Risk

Lou Dobbs has been doing a great job of reporting on the dangers of electronic voting. Unfortunately it's difficult to find most of the reports on CNN.com, but as luck would have it, the transcript of his one-hour special "Democracy at Risk" is available.


He and his team covered all the major angles, exposing the many risks.

I was interested to hear that Montana insists on either hand-counted paper ballots (the best option) or optically-scanned paper ballots (the second best option).
<- Older Posts - Newer Posts ->

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?