Rhode Island poised to lead New England in Post-Election Audits

Press Release:  Rhode Island Takes Important Step to Secure Elections with Post-Election Audits – Adopts New Procedure to Check Election Results as Threats Increase

“Post-election audits are the best safeguard to making sure that votes are being counted as cast,” said Representative Edith Ajello (D-Providence), the House sponsor. “My community saw a simple administrative error almost turn into an incorrect election result,” added Senate sponsor, Senator James Sheehan (D-North Kingstown), “and this legislation will help assure voters that a system is in place to catch and correct future problems.”

The audits will begin as soon as September 2018. Rhode Island becomes the 32nd state to require post-election audits, and only the second state to require risk-limiting audits.

RoundUp: Spy vs Spy, while Officials and Voters lose

Almost every day lately there is news on the potential of future and past hacking, including election hacking. Today we suggest three recent articles and a report.

The N.S.A. bans its analysts from using Kaspersky antivirus at the agency, in large part because the agency has exploited antivirus software for its own foreign hacking operations and knows the same technique is used by its adversaries.

If Russia can attack our election, so can others: Iran, North Korea, ISIS, or even criminal or extremist groups.

Exactly a year after U.S. intelligence issued a stern warning about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the Trump administration has failed to fill key homeland security posts responsible for preventing another Kremlin assault on the voting system…

It sounds like science fiction, or at least “Ocean’s 11,” but cybersecurity experts are frantically waving their hands, trying to get Americans to see that in foreign capitals, the American voting system just looks like easy opportunity.

Skepticism now, Skepticism tomorrow, Skepticism forever

Recent events are a reminder that we must be eternally skeptical. We need to be especially skeptical of the mainstream media as well as other sources.

Today we add the most recent flurry about the “21 states hacked by Russia before the 2016 election”, and more.  The story continues to fall apart, bit by bit. Yet, we suspect the truth is far from common knowledge.

And an Intercept story by Kim Zetter reviewing a report by Kaspersky Lab Masquerading Hackers Are Forcing a Rethink of How Attacks Are Traced. The title pretty much says it all.  Attribution is difficult, yet often possible.

We need recounts for more than fair elections, for more than Russian risks.

CNN:  For fair elections … can we get a recount?

We should not ignore calls for audits, recounts, and paper ballots just because the motivator for those calls may be simplistic.  There are a multitude  of risks beyond Russians, beyond foreigners, beyond skullduggery. Its not just fairness, it is accuracy and democracy.

Nonscience Nonsense, insults our intelligence and the Granite State

Coverage by Alternet: The GOP Is Plowing Ahead with an Audacious Effort to Hijack the Vote and Rig Elections   <read>

“Plowing” is apt. They are really piling it on.  It could be worse.  They may hide their emails, yet their agenda is transparent.  Instead they could have a hidden agenda and succeed in reducing voting rights by a thousand cuts.

The Republican Party’s efforts to disrupt voting and thwart representative government was on full display this past week, when despite ridicule in the press, the GOP’s leading proponents of undermining voters and rigging elections were unbowed and forged ahead.

States (and foreign governments) moving half way toward verifiable election results

From Governing:  After 2016 Election Hacks, Some States Return to Paper Ballots

The Independent, via VerifiedVoting: Norway: Votes to be counted manually in fear of election hacking

We applaud these developments. Yet, what is needed beyond paper ballots are effective post-election audits, those that verify result and can lead to changing incorrect initial outcomes.  Audits that also verify the accumulation of results across jurisdictions;  Audits that check other aspects of the process as checkin, checkin to ballots counts, and ballot security.

Beware the vendor/technologist offering a panacea

The general public, legislators, business people, and many technologists – all of us – often miss-estimate the potential and applicability of technologies.  I remember in 2004, my congressman, told an audience we did not have to worry about electronic voting because of encryption.

The latest “new” technology is Blockchains, the technology that underlies BitCoin.  It has some valuable applicability, yet I suspect  not that much.

Using blockchains for voting has been considered by academics for decades, but only as a thought experiment. If you ask any cryptographer who knows the basics of cryptocurrencies (remember, blockchains were invented by cryptographers) if elections should be conducted using blockchains, they would laugh and say, “Hell no, that doesn’t even make sense!”

Beware of the Watchdog that does not bark any details

NYTimes story that justifies our skepticism on NC ePollbook story:  In Election Interference, Its What Reporters Didn’t Find That Matters

Among other things, we learned that intelligence agencies had intentionally worded their conclusions to specifically address “vote tallying,” not the back-end election systems—conclusions that were not even based on any in-depth investigation of the state election systems or the machines themselves, but on the accounts of American spies and digital intercepts of Russian communications, as well as on assessments by the Department of Homeland Security—which were largely superficial and not based on any in-depth investigation of the state electionsystems or machines themselves.

As we said in our earlier post: See No Evil, Find No Monkey Business, ePollbook Edition

the simple case is that we now have no reason to trust the claim that it was all a simple software error, that the Federal and State Governments were actually protecting us.

Registrars mess up, City (taxpayers) pay fines, eventually

“Justice delayed is justice denied.” What could be worse?  Perhaps “Justice delayed and fines transferred to the victims.”

In 2014 the Registrars in Hartford failed to provide check-off lists to polling places in time for voting to begin at 6:00am.   From the stories of the public and explanations from officials at the time, it seems pretty clear it was not a simple error or comedy of errors.

Editorial
The pollbook delay went beyond incompetence. These conclusions and fines should not take close to three years.  The well-compensated registrars should be paying the fines not the City.

Why Signatures and Checking Them Matter

A vigilant Registrar in New Haven pursues suspicions.  From the New Haven Independent  Judge Hopeful Submits Forged Signatures <read>

Americo Carchia Wednesday said he’s considering whether to end his campaign for probate judge and vowed to cooperate with any potential criminal investigations after learning that he had submitted petitions with forged signatures to qualify for the Sept. 12 Democratic primary ballot.

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