Is our election hackable or not?

We hear from Richard Clarke, President Obama, Pam Smith, and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.  We annotate Denise Merrill’s recent press conference.

Report: Secret Ballot At Risk

A new report from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, articulates some of the risks of losing the the Secret Ballot: Secret Ballot At Risk: Recommendations for Protecting Democracy <Exec Summary> <Report>

We recommend reading the Executive Summary and at least the section of the report covering the history of and the need for the secret ballot, pages 4-9 and the section for your state, e.g. Connecticut pages 54-55.

Our only criticism is that the report does not cover the risks to the secret ballot and democracy posed by photos, most often seen in selfies of voters with the voted ballot taken in the voting booth.  Nor does it cover the risks  to the secret ballot posed by absentee voting.

Book Review: Countdown to Zero Day (Stuxnet)

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon, by Kim Zetter covers in detail the discovery, exposure, and detailing of the Stuxnet virus.  It is a fascinating, educational, and important read.  Relevant to anyone interested in cyber security, war, foreign affairs, and election integrity.  There is also a new documentary, ZER0DAYS.

I read the book and then watched the movie.  I recommend the book over the documentary, although it is complementary.  The book covers Stuxnet and its discovery in much more detail.  Yet, the book is accessible to everyone. After reading the book, even the non-technical reader, will have an understanding of what Stuxnet could do, its wider implications for security, and foreign affairs.  I am not convinced those that watch the movie will have an anywhere equivalent understanding.

NPV Note: Trump and Hillary visit Connecticut

Donald Trump is visiting Connecticut tonight at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, while Hillary is visiting Greenwich on Monday for a fundraiser <read>

This provides a great opportunity to discuss a couple of points often touted in favor of the National Popular Vote.

  • That presidential candidates will never campaign in Connecticut until we have a national popular vote.
  • That candidates only come to Connecticut to take money out of the state.
  • And apparently we would benefit from the money they would spend here.

What Could Elections Officials Learn From the Delta Airlines Outage

  • System failures are generally explained away as accidents, usually unique and isolated ones.
  • Human systems are vulnerable to failure, especially those dependent on computer systems, especially when there is no manual backup.
  • If businesses like airlines, banks, and Federal Government agencies cannot protect their systems, how can state, county,  and local systems be expected to be reliable?

Connecticut is not the pick of the litter here, as we said last April:

We sadly await the Election Day when the Connecticut voter registration system is down, especially with no contingency plan for Election Day Registration. Don’t say “Who Could Have Imagined”, we did.

 

How to excite the public about electronic voting: “Russia Might Hack an Election”

Apparently Donald Trump and the media have done in a few days what computer scientists, security experts, and voting integrity advocates have failed at for at least sixteen years:  Excite the public about the dangers of electronic voting.

Apparently the threat of a sophisticated Russian hack is more threatening that an election being taken by the equivalent of amateur electronic ballot stuffing.

There are a lot of articles we could site, but one of the most comprehensive comes from Politico Magazine.  It is written from the prospective of Princeton researchers, with lots of history and articulated concerns, with relatively little red baiting.  How To Hack An Election In 7 Minutes

If Russia hacked the DNC? What me worry?

Did Russia hack the DNC, DCCC, and Hillary’s Campaign.  And does it only matter who the hackers are?

With little disclosed evidence, the prime story has been the question of who hacked the sites.  That is an important aspect of the news, yet there are other important issues obscured, perhaps intentionally by the focus on that one aspect of the hacks.

Warning: 15 states without paper records, half without audits

A Computer World article reminds us how much more there is to go to achieve verifiable, evidence based elections:  A hackable election? 5 things to know about e-voting <read>

Voting results are “ripe for manipulation,” [Security Researcher Joe] Kiniry added.

Hacking an election would be more of a social and political challenge than a technical one, he said. “You’d have a medium-sized conspiracy in order to achieve such a goal.”

While most states have auditable voting systems, only about half the states conduct post-election audits, added Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting.

Let us not forget that even states, like Connecticut, with post-election audits have a long way to go in making the audits sufficient to assure that election results are correct or confidence that incorrect results would be reversed.

Online Voting Is Risky, Riskier than Online Banking

My letter to the Hartford Courant today.

To the Editor,

The article in the Sunday July, 10 Smarter Living Section, “Democracy in The Digital Age”, is a one-sided disservice to readers. The article, abbreviated from Consumer Reports original, provides a one-sided case for online voting.  The article quotes the CEO of a company selling online voting at a huge expense to governments around the world.  She touts the benefits without detailing the risks.  The system she touts as secure, has never been proven secure. It has never been subjected to a public security test.  Unlike the printed version, the original article at Consumer Reports details the risks of online voting…

Skeptics Guide Part 2: Absence of Evidence is Not Evidence of Absence

A couple of weeks ago, based on claims that exit polls showed that the primary was stolen from Bernie Sanders, I said: “I stand with Carl Sagan who said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Now we have the reverse situation from the NYTimes: Exit Polls, and Why the Primary Was Not Stolen From Bernie Sanders <read>

I seems like a pretty good case that the exit polls do not prove  the election was stolen.

Unfortunately, the Times headline is incorrect.  This evidence in this article only claims  that the exit polls do not prove that Bernie won. There is no proof that the official results are correct.  They may be, they may not be.  We still need Evidence Based Elections, providing strong evidence that the results are correct.

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