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.

See No Evil, Find No Monkey Business, ePollbook Edition

NPR All Things Considered Russian Cyberattack Targeted Elections Vendor Tied To Voting Day Disruptions

“Voters were going in and being told that they had already voted — and they hadn’t,” recalls Allison Riggs, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

The electronic systems — known as poll books — also indicated that some voters had to show identification, even though they did not.

Timeline: Foreign Efforts To Hack State Election Systems And How Officials Responded
Investigators later discovered the company that provided those poll books had been the target of a Russian cyberattack…

More voters than eligible adults? Group makes dubious claim

Our voting rolls are a genuine mess.  But that does not mean election officials are not trying. It does not mean that slews of individuals are voting illegally.

We cannot make a job impossible and then blame officials for not being able to accomplish it.

BradCast DefCon: David Jefferson on hacking of almost every voting machine

As Brad says

Hopefully, what happened in Vegas does not stay in Vegas

We are not so optimistic.  We have a long history of getting excited about voting irregularities and risks, followed by officials and the general public moving on.

CTVotersCount is 10 Years Old

BirthdaycakeToday marks the 10th anniversary of CTVotesCount. We had been planning the organization and the blog for a couple of months – we launched after the end of a summer vacation. We wondered if there would be any news during August?.  Coincidentally, the Top To Bottom Review commissioned by the Secretary of the State of California was just coming out – that was quite a start – the Top To Bottom Review remains an important landmark in voting integrity.

Our goals remain:

Common Sense: Limits on Testing From Turing to Self Driving Cars

At first this may not seem like Common Sense. We have the famous Turing Halting Problem which has some very important consequences for voting which may not, at first, make common sense:

The NEW Rob Georgia

While attention was appropriately aimed at FL and OH respectively in 2000 and 2004, Georgia perhaps remains as the most questionable state for voting integrity in the nation.  Many overlooked the questionable elections there highlighted by Bev Harris in Chapter 11 of Black Box Voting: Rob Georgia, Noun or Verb? <read>

Now we have the story on the vulnerabilities in Georgia in 2017 by Kim Zetter.  Here is her 20 minute interview on yesterday’s Fresh Air: <listen>

And her earlier extensive article at Politico:  Will the Georgia Special Election Be Hacked? <read>

“I was like whoa, whoa. … I did not mean to do that. … I was absolutely stunned, just the sheer quantity of files I had acquired,” he tells Politico Magazine in his first interview since discovering the massive security breach.

As Georgia prepares for a special runoff election this month in one of the country’s most closely watched congressional races, and as new reports emerge about Russian attempts to breach American election systems, serious questions are being raised about the state’s ability to safeguard the vote…

Be careful what you ask for. Georgia has gone from risky to even more questionable as the Secretary of State’s office is taking over the programming of the voting systems from Kennesaw State U. as the Secretary is running for Governor.

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