Recent Publications about Electronic Voting--Sept. 2016

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Deborah Sumner

Sep 12, 2016, 11:51:10 AM9/12/16

Excerpts and links:

1) The "Shocking" Truth About Election Rigging in the United States by Victoria Collier

"While most elections officials are decent, underpaid public servants with integrity, many in positions of power are not. Over the years they have enabled -- and sometimes profited from -- deep structural security breaches that are not going to fix themselves. 

"Widespread election rigging is possible at the county and state levels, by elections insiders or hackers who can penetrate their systems. This can flip state, congressional and even presidential elections.

"In most states public oversight has been curtailed or removed entirely, including the ability to witness a full, secure public tally of paper ballots; the international gold standard of democratic elections. 

The final, and possibly most dangerous myth to placate and mislead concerned voters, is that the Optical Scanners are safe. In fact, they are also computers that can miscount and can be secretly programmed or hacked to rig elections. The only difference in safety is that the paper ballots are available for hand-count audits. 

"Only a full hand-count of the paper ballots would definitively prove the veracity of the machine count.

"Apparently, in the United States, we can conduct multiple trillion-dollar wars around the globe, but counting our own ballots on election night is simply an overwhelming proposition.

"…the problem is that the press, the political parties, the elections establishment and even some fleeced candidates, have aligned in a policy of never questioning election results. Even when — or especially when -- all signs point to criminal fraud.

“…it’s not the responsibility of voters or candidates to prove a non-transparent vote count was fixed. It’s the job of legislators and election officials to provide transparency and uphold basic standards of democracy, and it's their failure to do so that's truly shocking.

2) To Avoid Vote Counting Fraud: Use Paper Ballots by Elizabeth Clarkson

"My conviction that our voting process has been subject to widespread corruption is based on statistical analyses, my own and that of others. I cannot expect non-statisticians to be as convinced as I am because the analyses require some complex math. But it shouldn’t require a PhD in statistics to spot a phony count. Faith in our voting system should not be based on a process that requires expert analysis to make a judgment about its honesty."

3) Distrust of 2016's Hackable Election Is a Media Landslide With Just One Solution: Hand-Counted Paper Ballots by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

"But the real threat to our election system comes from private for-profit corporations that register voters, control voter databases, then count and report the vote with secret proprietary software and zero transparency, accountability, or recourse."

4) ICIT Analysis: Hacking Elections is Easy! Part I

p. 9 "Now, consider that it may be even easier and even more anonymous to attack vulnerable electronic voting machines, but there is no foundational cybersecurity or culture of cyber- hygiene to build upon. Polling places are swamped with pseudo-anonymous voters and polling staff that make the locations ripe for insider threat and malicious activity. Combine this with the all-to-often dismissals of the threat as unlikely “because different states use different machines” or “because elections are not profitable”, and a manufacturer industry devoid of transparency, cybersecurity regulation, or proper oversight, and one can begin to understand why security researchers throughout the industry have been anxiously attempting to dissuade electronic voting adoption for the past decade. 

p. 18-19"According to Ron Rivest of MIT, the purpose of an election is to discover who won an election and to provide convincing evidence that the winner legitimately won. True democracy requires an end-to-end verifiable voting system that guarantees the integrity of votes as they are cast, collected, and counted. The fundamental security requirements of the election process are not complicated. Only eligible voters may vote, and each eligible voter votes at most once. Votes are kept secret and the sale or dishonest casting of a vote is prohibited. No parties (including but not limited to vendors, voters, election officials, candidates, spouses, etc.) are considered trusted because anyone can be an intentional or circumstantial insider threat. Finally, the final outcome of the process must be verifiably correct. The current culture and regulation surrounding electronic voting fails to meet every fundamental requirement. 

"…because neither the chain of custody, nor the system, nor the central tabulator can be trusted, an audit of paper ballots is a null and meaningless check….As a result of these factors, the final outcome of the elections that depend on electronic voting systems cannot be verified because voters can neither trust the votes collected or the system collecting the votes.

"As an exponential “security free” attack surface, compounded by the absence of cyber hygiene, black box technologies, and an expansive threat landscape, an adversary needs only to pick a target and exploit at will….Easily exploitable voting machines will continue to plague America’s democratic process so long as manufacturers are able to profit from and covertly obfuscate the vulnerabilities inherent within electronic voting systems.

5) Part 2 scheduled to be posted Sept. 12 (Note: not available as ov Sept. 14)

6) How Secure is Your Vote?

"County voters can rest easier because while electronic ballot scanning machines are used to record and tabulate the results of paper ballots, what distinguishes the polling process here is that in contested races every ballot scanned by the machine is also recounted by hand.

"Ms. Martin says the threat to the integrity of the system is not from some agents of a foreign government or any intentional attempt to skew the result of an election. The more likely culprit could be “non-malicious mistakes” caused by aging equipment that misreads or miscounts the paper ballot.

"She says that despite the potential for delays in obtaining official election results local voters seem happy with the commissioners’ decision to hand count the votes in contested elections because they can trust the results."

7) How Much Faith Do You Have in the Vote Counting Process interview with Jonathan Simon, author of Code Red

Simon makes a data-driven argument that our computerized voting system is frighteningly vulnerable to corruption and partisan sabotage — at a time when corruption and partisanship are rampant. He argues that we have sacrificed transparency for convenience and speed, and that nothing short of votes counted observably and by hand can undo the damage to democracy.

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