Electronic Vulnerability

Georgia on my mind. Paper not on Georgia’s radar.

Georgia and Cobb election officials are rejecting calls from advocacy groups for voters to use paper ballots while the FBI investigates a data breach at Kennesaw State University.

Voters will continue to use electronic voting machines during upcoming elections, said Candice Broce, spokesperson for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The use of paper ballots is reserved as a backup system in case there is a problem with the voting machines, she said…

Earlier this month, KSU announced a federal investigation at the Center for Elections Systems located on the Kennesaw campus to determine if there was a data breach that might have affected the center’s records, according to Tammy DeMel, spokesperson for the university.

When will they ever learn?  We firmly believe that the days of paperless elections are coming to an end. It may take a few more years, yet we believe it is unlikely that any jurisdiction in the U.S. well make a major purchases of paperless voting equipment in the future. The useful life of most paperless equipment will end within the next decade or so.

Testimony on Early Voting and Registrar’s Bills

Yesterday, we submitted testimony on a number of early voting bills and a bill likely submitted by the Registrars of Voters Association.

The primary reason to avoid expanded mail-in or no-excuse absentee voting is the opportunity for and documented record of absentee voting fraud. There are other reasons:

  • Contrary to a touted benefit – early voting DECREASES turnout…

And a bill likely submitted by the Registrars of Voters Association.

As an election official, I am sympathetic to the wish of Registrars to make their jobs simpler.  Yet, my sympathy ends when it results in barriers to participation in democracy for candidates and citizens.

We respond to Secretary Merrill’s testimony opposing audit transparency bill

Last Monday we testified for S.B. 540, a bill that would increase audit transparency and public verifiability.

Later we noticed that Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, submitted testimony opposing one provision of the bill and therefor recommending against the entire bill. Her testimony misinterpreted our bill, recommending against it based on something we did not ask for and was not part of the bill.

In response we wrote a follow-up letter to the GAE Committee.

Election News Roundup

Several instructive articles and events this week.

  • Last week, Secretary of the State and President of NASS (National Association of Secretaries of  State) held a press conference discussing Donald Trump’s allegations of 3 Million “Illegals” Voting.  Secretary Merrill Challenges President’s Reported Claims of Illegal Voting
  • Meanwhile, at least, Connecticut is no Kansas: The Kansas Model for Voter-Fraud Bluffing
  • Here an article I generally agree with from Forbes: What The Election Can Teach Us About Cybersecurity
  • Speaking of attacks on voter databases here is a story from this fall: Hackers hit Henry County voter database

Video: The Story of the Attempted Presidential Election Audit

Recount 2016: An Uninvited Security Audit of the U.S. Presidential Election

Also, I’m not sure that we at the University of Michigan could hack into all the paper ballots across multiple states sufficient to change the Presidential election. But I’m pretty sure my undergraduate security course could have changed the outcome of the Presidential election this year. It really is that bad, – Alex Halderman

Connecticut pre-election voting machine testing now less reliable

Over the the last few weeks, we have learned that in the November Election, registrars have substituted a less effective form of pre-election testing that is less likely to catch errors in ballots or election equipment. There are at least two problems

Lessons from the “recount”. What would have happened here?

The Nation, hopefully, learned some lessons about our existing “recounts” after the November Election.  We learned some disappointing lessons in three states.  We likely would have learned similar lessons in the other states that have recounts.  Remember that only about half the states have recounts at all.  What might we have learned about Connecticut’s recanvasses?

We recommend three articles and comment on Connecticut’s recanvasses.

Our best guess is that Connecticut would rank close to Pennsylvania.  Observed variations and poor recanvass procedures, with courts sooner or later. stopping or blocking the recanvass.

An Electoral House of Cards – When votes are not publicly verifiable

An Alternet interview of Jonathan Simon: Something Stinks When Exit Polls and Official Counts Don’t Match – A discussion with an exit poll expert reveals an electoral house of cards. 

When their were claims that exit polls did not match in the Democratic Primary, I said that neither side made the case  saying, “I stand with Carl Sagan who said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Now a very thoughtful interview with Jonathan Simon who outlines the case that we should be concerned about the exit polls and concerned just as much that we cannot verify our elections

Could the election be hacked? Checking a “Fact Checker”

USAToday article: Could the U.S. election be hacked?  <read>

We add some annotations:  [Bottom-line there is a conspiracy in plan view.  A thinly disguised attempt to assure us that elections are not vulnerable and that any attempt to say otherwise is an attack on every pollworker.]

Ballots Still Broken: Doug Jones on Today’s Voting Machines

Broken Ballots co-author, Doug Jones interview on the vulnerabilities of today’s voting machines, the newer models available, risks of Election Management Systems, and Internet voting: Douglas Jones on Today’s Voting Machines  <read>

Fortunately, Connecticut has avoided the problem of corruption of the EMS by using a separate system from programming elections and using a manual reporting system to accumulate the results at the end of the night.  That does not mean our systems are safe from errors, hacking, and fraud.

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