December 2015

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Will encryption save us? No, “It’s Saturday Night!”

Last Saturday, some may have been channel surfing and mistakenly thought they were watching Saturday Night Live.  As one the 2% of voters spending last Saturday night intentionally watching the debate between the Democratic candidates and two ABC hosts, I was not the only one that noticed the flaws in one candidate’s claims for encryption that went unchallenged.

Fortunately, Jenna McLaughlin of The Intercept articulates the issues and the faulty assumptions of candidates and pundits: Democratic Debate Spawns Fantasy Talk on Encryption <read>

During Saturday’s debate, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton said the U.S. should commission a “Manhattan-like project,” a reference to the secret World War II-era atomic bomb endeavor, to address the alleged threat encryption poses to law enforcement. She also admitted she doesn’t actually understand the technology.

Does All Mail Voting Increase Turnout?

In the long run, apparently Not or Not Much.

Article from the Washington Post, from researcher Elizabeth Bergman: Voting only by mail can decrease turnout. Or increase it. Wait, what?

My research found that when you can only vote by mail, voter turnout actually drops by about 13 percent. I examined what happens to turnout if voting by mail is compulsory. I studied more than 90,000 voters who could vote only by mail across four elections from 2006 through 2008 in five of the most populous urban counties in California. (In that state, if a precinct has fewer than 250 voters, elections officials are allowed to forego a polling place and accept ballots only by mail.)

That decline may seem counterintuitive. Presumably voting by mail is easier and more convenient than going to the polls. So why doesn’t turnout go up?

What if we used computers for voting, not just driving?

From OpEd News, Interview with Barbara Simons: What the Heck Does the Recent Volkswagen Scandal Have to Do with Our Elections? <read full interview>

Since the Volkswagen hacking was disclosed we have been using that to highlight the potential of rigged elections as we have for earlier, more dramatic, vehicle hacking demonstrations.

Any large software program contains undetected bugs. That’s why software vendors such as Microsoft and Apple send out frequent software updates, many of them to fix security holes. Likewise, it also can be very difficult to detect cleverly hidden malware.Computers can greatly facilitate both car performance and ballot tabulation. But just as laboratory tests are not adequate for testing pollution controls in the presence of malware, so too we cannot depend solely on voting system “certification” to verify that our voting systems are accurate and secure

Iowa Caucus: Democrats to vote by “Magic Pony” Express

Des Moines Register: Democrats abroad can phone-in caucus votes <read>
No matter how much we warn about Internet voting, it seems nobody learns. In this case it is telephone voting, just as insecure. These days the phone goes over the same paths as the Internet:

Voter or Voting Fraud? via AB, immune to Voter Id

Many believe that stronger Voter Id would prevent voter fraud. Actually who would risk going to the polls with the risk of strong penalties if they are caught when there is an easier alternative, absentee voting?  This case from Wisconsin shows how easy can be, yet also that sometimes you can get caught. In this case only because there were two votes from one person.

A Shorewood man has been charged with more than a dozen counts of illegal voting, accused of casting multiple ballots in four elections in 2011 and 2012, including five in the 2012 gubernatorial recall.