Hearings on Electronic Voting Machines?

The State Elections Board will hold hearings on the security of Georgia’s voting machines in December:

State Election Board member Randy Evans asked for a series of public hearings on Georgia’s use of touchscreen voting machines, noting that leading computer security experts and academics have raised concerns about the ability to fraudulently manipulate election results.

Even as Evans sought the hearings on Wednesday, Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy released a report finding that the machines are “vulnerable to a number of extremely serious attacks that undermine the accuracy and credibility of the vote counts it produces.”

I’ve never bought into the argument that these machines are insecure, but then again, I’m not much of a conspiracy nut. We’ll see what the hearings turn up, but I don’t expect much.

11 comments

  1. ugavi says:

    Buzz,
    I have to agree with you. I don;t think the machines are bad. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not just the machines that determine security, it’s the entire process. I hope they look at the processes and the machines.

  2. kspencer says:

    SpaceyG,

    The comparison I use is it’s like having ballot boxes for paper that can be opened without breaking the seal.

    I think that the majority of precincts and their staffs do their best to enforce honest elections. I know – due to court cases – that the majority is not all. And that is why the current electronic voting system bothers me.

    Kirk

  3. CHelf says:

    It’s nice to hear the Board come out attacking the security of these but are they offering solutions to this? It would be nice to have a reply to resolve this concern. Anyone can make a complaint about an issue but if this is a legitimate concern we need the Board to step up and offer some sort of solution as well.

  4. buzzbrockway says:

    As I understand it, the solutions are not cheap. These machine cannot be retrofitted with printed receipts which some folks want. We may be faced with the choice of keeping what we currently have or spending millions to replace every voting machine in Georgia.

  5. Mad Dog says:

    While the subject is up, the people that are honest and hardworking at the polls on election days always deserve a thank you.

  6. pvsys says:

    Isn’t Georgia using the Diebold systems? Is so, I suggest paying attention to this post!

    I accept the possibility that non-paper trail electronic systems CAN possibly be safe, but I also know that Diebold system have been PROVEN to be too easy to hack with minimial access by just one or two lowly elections employees without the knowledge of superiors and without even a trace of the tampering.

    In fact, this is no conspiracy theory. It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by security experts and this is exactly why Volusia County (FL) and Leon County (FL) are dumping Diebold machines.

    MORE HERE:
    http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/15595.html

    These security holes are VERY serious and threaten our democracy if not fixed. I hope that Diebold has been working towards improving this, but I kind of doubt that any improvements have been made as long as anyone questioning this is considered a “conspiracy theorist”!

    Take a look at these quotes from

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diebold_Election_Systems

    In June 2005, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that when given access to Diebold vote-counting computers, Bev Harris- a critic of Diebold’s voting machines – was able to make 65,000 votes disappear simply by changing the memory card that stores voting results for one that had been altered. Although the machines are supposed to record changes to data stored in the system, they showed no record of tampering after the memory cards were swapped. In response, a spokesperson for the Department of State said that, “Information on a blog site is not viable or credible.”

    Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is a proponent of electronic voting and the examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania, stated “It’s the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system.” Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, stated “This is the barn door being wide open, while people were arguing over the lock on the front door.” Diebold spokesman David Bear decried the seriousness of the situation, asserting that “For there to be a problem here, you’re basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software. I don’t believe these evil elections people exist.”

    Are these people “conspiracy theorists”?

    Can any reasonable and thoughtful and intelligent person seriously research these things and then NOT come to the conclusion that a very scary and serious problem here?

    Keep in mind that if only 1 out of a thousand poll/election workers is corrupt, that might be all that it takes to alter Diebold machine tallys! The fact that 99.9% were honest wouldn’t make a bit of difference!

    –Rob McEwen

  7. Mad Dog says:

    Rob,

    The head of GE once said that he expected 3 percent of his employees to be dishonest. (Good ol’ Neutron Jack Welch).

    He went on to explain that no matter how good the employment screening process, supervision, and control systems, humans were just human. If the general population has a felony population subset of 3% (convicted, paroled, pardoned, time served, serving time), then 3% would be a good estimate of potential problems for a global corporation with 600,000 employees.

    Your one out of a thousand is a good conservative estimate. Most people involved in the political process as volunteers are good, honest, hard working people.

    I wouldn’t rate them a 3 out of 100, just that even 99.9 percent, like you said, wouldn’t be enough.

    Mad Dog

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