Index

Courant Editorial Misses the Mark on At Least Three of Five Points

On Sunday the Hartford Courant lead Editorial proposed fixes to its perceived problems with Connecticut’s election system: 5 Fixes For State’s Broken Election System. Note that all the statewide races were decided by 8:00am on Wednesday morning after the election.

To the Courant’s credit, for the second time in a row, they published a letter of mine criticizing an editorial.

Proposed Fixes Could Make Problems Worse

The editorial “Five Fixes for State’s Broken Election System” misses the mark on at least three of its five proposals

See a problem, propose a solution you want that might make the problem worse

There were long lines for Election Day Registration (EDR) and it took a whole 10 hours to count enough votes to determine the Governor in Connecticut. Our EDR is a problem, but waiting ten hours for result is just a concern hyped up by a overly impatient press and used as a opportunity by advocates to promote early voting as a solution.

As of this time the states of California, Colorado, Florida, and Georgia are still counting votes. They all have mail-in early voting.  California has a Friday deadline to receive mail-in ballots postmarked by election day and counts them for weeks after election day.  As of Friday all those other states were still counting.

There real are problems and there are reasonable solutions.

Georgia voter registration system crisis touches Connecticut

Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, just launched an investigation of the Democratic Party of Georgia, after their consultant pointed out a serious vulnerability in Georgia’s voter registration system/database: Kemp’s Aggressive Gambit to Distract From Election Security Crisis

This touches Connecticut because the vendor for Georgia’s system, PCC, is located in Bloomfield Connecticut and supplies Connecticut’s voter registration and election night reporting systems. It is not certain that the reports so far accurately portray PCC’s role in Georgia and if any of the same vulnerabilities apply to the Connecticut’s system. From our understanding Connecticut has paid a lot of attention to the security of our voter registration system and that PCC supplies the software by is not involved in its operation. We have reached out to the Secretary of the State’s Office suggesting that they address the relevance of the Georgia report to Connecticut.

The front line of election security in Connecticut has about 169 weak points

Last week, West Haven paid a $2,000 ransom to hackers to unlock its computer systems. In a statement from the city, the ransom was characterized as a “one-time fee.” The word-choice here reveals an oversimplified view of the reality of ransomware, a cyberattack in which hackers lock data and demand payment.

First, West Haven was lucky to regain access to its systems after paying the ransom. Fewer than a quarter of ransomware victims actually get their files back after paying up. More often, hackers pocket the money and leave the data scrambled.

The notion of a “one-time fee” also fails to account for reputation damage and loss of trust. A city like West Haven — which is already navigating difficult financial straights — needs to rally community support. A blunder like this undermines the momentum it was building…

 

Here’s How Russia May Have Already Hacked the 2018 Midterm Elections

New article from Newsweek: Here’s How Russia May Have Already Hacked the 2018 Midterm Elections  <read>

They are talking about PA, but the same could apply to Connecticut:

Even though Bucks County’s Shouptronics aren’t wired, hackers have several ways of compromising them. The most direct and effective way would be to replace a computer chip in the machine that holds instructions on what to do when voters press the buttons with one that holds instructions written by hackers.

Do Connecticut’s Tamper-“Evident” Seals Protect Our Ballots?

Experts and amateurs have long claimed that so called, tamper-evident seals are easy to defeat.

Email and Internet Voting: The Overlooked Threat to Election Security

New report Email and Internet Voting: The Overlooked Threat to Election Security

This report reviews the research that has been conducted by the federal government concluding that secure online voting is not yet feasible…

States that permit online return of voted ballots should suspend the practice.

The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies

Often, as a computer scientist, I forget that what a very small minority know that becomes almost intuitive, is far from obvious to others approaching magic, a deluded conspiracy, or amateur science fiction.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. – Arthur C. Clarke
This article from Bloomberg News is a case in point.

The Crisis in Election Security by Kim Zetter

The feature in the NYTmes Magazine by Kim Zetter:  The Crisis of Election Security – As the midterms approach, America’s electronic voting systems are more vulnerable than ever. Why isn’t anyone trying to fix them? <read>  The article is a sad summary of where are and how we got here.

Two years later, as the 2018 elections approach, the American intelligence community is issuing increasingly dire warnings about potential interference from Russia and other countries, but the voting infrastructure remains largely unchanged…How did our election system get so vulnerable, and why haven’t officials tried harder to fix it? The answer, ultimately, comes down to politics and money: The voting machines are made by well-connected private companies that wield immense control over their proprietary software, often fighting vigorously in court to prevent anyone from examining it when things go awry.

 

 

Merrill: “likely to increase audits”

Merrill said her office will likely also increase its audits. Currently it randomly selects voting precincts to have primary results audited following elections; five percent of polling places that use optical scan machines are subject to the audit, as prescribed by Connecticut General Statutes 9-320f. Those counts are then matched against vote totals from optical scan machines.