Hacking voting systems is/was easy

Article in the Atlantic summarizes some of the bad news from the last couple of weeks:  There’s No Way to Know How Compromised U.S. Elections Are <read>

So let us not be complacent. Just because you do not understand something, does not mean that hundreds and thousands of others can’t easily hack it.

If [Connecticut] Voting Machines Were Hacked, Would Anyone Know?

NPR story by Pam Fessler:  If Voting Machines Were Hacked, Would Anyone Know?   Fessler quotes several experts and election officials including Connecticut Assistant Secretary of the State Peggy Reeves:

Still, Connecticut Election Director Peggy Reeves told a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine panel on Monday that many local election officials are ill-equipped to handle cybersecurity threats.

“Many of our towns actually have no local IT support,” she said. “Seriously, they don’t have an IT director in their town. They might have a consultant that they call on if they have an issue. So they look to us, but we’re a pretty small division.”

Reeves said the best protection against hackers is probably the fact that the nation’s voting system isso decentralized, with different processes and equipment used in thousands of different locations.

We certainly agree with that and the cybersecurity experts quoted.

A cut below the rest: National beacon or bad example?

Every year Connecticut’s Citizen Election Program is under assault.  This year is no different.

Here is the bottom line:  The Citizen’s Election Program is a drop in the bucket.  A small percentage of what we pay for the General Assembly and its staff;  A smaller percentage of the state budget; $10 million a year compared to billions in the budget.  Just one bad decision against the people can cost us several times that $10 million.

Read more from the In These Times article: Ten Years Ago, Connecticut Got Big Money Out of Its Elections. Now Democrats Are Gutting the Program

Amid Charges Russia Hacked U.S. Election, Keith Alexander Encourages eVoting for Canada

Former NSA Chief and now CEO cyber security contractor says Canada needs more cyber security, cyber weapons,  and should deploy electronic voting:  Don’t let cyberattack threat deter Canada from online voting, says former head of NSA

foreign interference that may have influenced the U.S. election should not deter Canada and other countries from embracing online voting, says the former head of the U.S. National Security Agency.

Retired U.S. general Keith Alexander, speaking at a defence industry trade show in Ottawa, also said it is important the Canadian military have some kind of offensive cyber capacity, even if that ability is limited.

There is no going back to a manual voting system, Alexander said in an interview with CBC News following his remarks to defence contractors, in which he warned that both government and private sector networks are vulnerable to a rising tide of “destructive” cyberattacks…

The U.S. experience is something to learn from, he said, but it should not make countries like Canada leery of e-voting.

The United States should make ballots verifiable—or go back to paper.

Article in The Atlantic: The Case for Standardized and Secure Voting Technology 

It’s time to fix the voting process.

American voting systems have improved in recent years, but they collectively remain a giant mess. Voting is controlled by states, and typically administered by counties and local governments. Voting laws differ depending on where you are. Voting machines vary, too; there’s no standard system for the nation.

Accountability is a crapshoot. In some jurisdictions, voters use machines that create electronic tallies with no “paper trail”—that is, no tangible evidence whatsoever that the voter’s choices were honored. A “recount” in such places means asking the machine whether it was right the first time.

We need to fix all of this.

May Post-Municipal Election Audit Drawing

A few municipalities conduct elections in May rather than November. We joined Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates, Assistant Secretary Peggy Reeves, and SOTS Office Interns for the drawing. Sadly, due to last year’s reduction in the audit, only one district will be audited.

We strongly object to the official press release’s characterization of Connecticut’s Post-Election Audit as “Comprehensive”. A comprehensive audit would not exempt ballots from selection for audit, it would audit the totaling of votes, and include compliance audits of all aspects of the election such as checkin lists, voter roles, and ballot security.

National Popular Vote Compact fails 90 minute debate, sanity prevails for unknown reasons

It is rare that a bill is debated that has insufficient majority caucus support to pass.

 [Speaker] Aresimowicz said he’s heard from his constituents that they want the issue debated.“I’m saying let’s at least hear it out and have the discussion,” Aresimowicz said Thursday morning during a press conference in his office before the House debated the bill.

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said he expects the vote to be close and it’s unclear what will happen.

Here, we disagree with both sides.  We do not buy the Republican arguments against nor the Democratic arguments for the bill.  We would support a sufficient Constitutional Amendment.  The Compact approach is dangerous making, a flawed system worse. It will lead to increased voter suppression and skulduggery.v

Denise Merrill mostly right on Trump voting witch hunt commission

 

Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill , said,“The rationale for this commission was articulated in a baseless tweet from the president that claimed millions of illegal votes were cast. The facts don’t lie. Voter fraud is extremely rare. Yet time and again, the specter of voter fraud has served as an excuse to disenfranchise tens of thousands of eligible voters. I hope that this investigation is not a fig leaf for voter suppression and intimidation. In Connecticut, we will protect every eligible person’s right to vote. I stand by our process and our elections officials.”

This reminds us of the Bush era witch hunt in the Justice Department for voter fraud.  Several attorneys were let go because they could not find or refused to continue hunting for all but non-existent fraud.

We do question Secretary Merrill’s statement that “In Connecticut, we will protect every eligible person’s right to vote. I stand by our process and our elections officials.”

Random drawing issues in the Nutmeg State

Connecticut is known as the “Nutmeg State” based on the legend of Yankee Peddlers selling wooden nutmegs to unsuspecting New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians.  True or not, there is little reason to trust anyone here when it comes to random drawings.  Recent history leaves us with little trust in officials and random drawings.

The Secretary of the State’s Office has improved the integrity of the post-election audit drawing, yet two problems remain.

How easy would it be to rig the next election? Very Easy

Article at Think Progress: How easy would it be to rig the next election? 

In the popular imagination, this is what election hacking looks like?—?dramatic, national-scale interference that manually rewrites tallies and hands the victory to the outlier. Certainly these attacks may occur. However, they’re only one of a variety of electoral hacks possible against the United States, at a time when hacking attacks are becoming more accessible to threat-actors and nation-state-sponsored attackers are growing more brazen. Yes, hackers may attempt to change the vote totals for American elections?—?but they can also de-register voters, delete critical data, trip up voting systems to cause long lines at polling stations, and otherwise cultivate deep distrust in the legitimacy of election results. If hackers wish to rig a national election, they can do it by changing only small numbers on a state level.

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