Soldiers’ Votes and Democracy At Risk In CT

Despite opposition in testimony by the Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz, TrueVoteCT members, CTVoters Count, and the League of Women Voters,  HB-5903 was as voted out of the General Administration and Elections Committee unanimously today.  The bill will allow members of the military to submit absentee votes electronically. <testimony>  Our testimony was not listed under the bill but is available online at <CTVotersCount Testimony>.  As covered by the Secretary of the State, the Department of Defense and Goverment Accountability Office have concerns with the security of internet voting.  Our testimony referenced the Technologists Statement On Internet Voting.

Because of the increasing frequency of proposals to allow remote voting over the internet, we believe it is necessary to warn policymakers and the public that secure internet voting is a very hard technical problem, and that we should proceed with internet voting schemes only after thorough consideration of the technical and non-technical issues in doing so.

Here is the critical text from the bill:

28        (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section,

29   the Secretary of the State shall work in conjunction with the Sta te

30    Elections Enforcement Commission and the United States Department

31    of Defense Federal Voting Assistance Program to ensure that any

32    absent uniformed services voter, as defined in 42 USC 1973ff-6, may

33    utilize a secure electronic transmission system for the transmittal of: (1)

34    The federal postcard application form provided for pursuant to the

35    Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, 100 Stat. 924,

36    42 USC 1973ff et seq., as amended from time to time, and (2) any

37    absentee ballot issued pursuant to subsection (a) of this section or

38    section 9-140.

39      (c) The Secretary of the State, in consultation with the State Elections

40    Enforcement Commission and the Office of Military Affairs shall adopt

41    regulations in  accordance  with  the  provisions  of  chapter  54,  to

42   implement  the  provisions  of  subsection  (b)  of  this  section.  Such

43    regulations, at a minimum, shall provide that an absent uniformed

44    services voter shall not be required to submit a paper absentee ballot in

45    addition to the electronic submission of such a ballot pursuant to

46    subsection (b) of this section.

Putting soldiers’ votes at risk threatens us and democracy as well.  The election results and our democracy depend on the privacy, security, and accuracy of every vote.

This not a wild theoretical concern: Ironically,  CNN has just reported that the Chinese or others have software they have used to infiltrate critical computers around the world: <read>

One report was issued by the University of Toronto’s Munk Center for International Studies in conjunction with the Ottawa, Canada-based think tank The SecDev Group; the second came from the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory.

Researchers have dubbed the cyber-espionage network GhostNet. The network can not only search a computer but see and hear the people using it, according to the Canadian report.

“GhostNet is capable of taking full control of infected computers, including searching and downloading specific files, and covertly operating attached devices, including microphones and web cameras,” the report says.

Hardly reassuring is that it might not be the Chinese Government, but could in the future be citizen hackers, the U.S. Military itself or Israel:

“Chinese cyber espionage is a major global concern… (b)ut attributing all Chinese malware to deliberate or targeted intelligence gathering operations by the Chinese state is wrong and misleading,” says the Canadian report, titled, “Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network.”

“The sheer number of young digital natives online can more than account for the increase in Chinese malware,” it adds.

But the report also points out that China is among a handful of countries, also including the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom, which are “assumed” to have considerable cyber-espionage capabilities

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