Bridgeport Newspaper up too late? Listening to voting vendor, suggests unsafe sophisticated voting system to Connecticut

CTPost article posted last night at 11:35 pm: Toward an end to long lines at the polls, miscounts and other election fouls <read>

Update: Stamford Advocate: UConn Professor suggests ATMs would be different but voters still need paper records. Legislator says he fought eliminating lever machines and now favors appointing the Secretary of the State. Election snafus may tarnish Bysiewicz’s stature <read> See after CTPost.

Connecticut Post

Here is their case:

We need a better method of casting our votes. Our system is antiquated. All of these optical scanners, which resemble clunky first-generation fax machines, are only slight improvement over the old lever voting machines. In Connecticut, you can pay your property tax bills on line, purchase beach stickers for your vehicle, and trawl through your kids’ test scores and attendance records at school. You can even pay your federal taxes this way, too. Why can’t you register to vote and cast your ballot online? The time is now for Internet voting. Seventy-seven percent of us have Internet access, and the figure is constantly climbing. Those who don’t have it at home can either access it at work or a library.

Thirty-three states permitted some form of Internet voting this electoral season. The Land of Steady Habits, as we are all aware, is not one of those states.

We point out that NONE of those states as far as we know are doing much other than a pilot for military and overseas voters under an unfortunate provision of an otherwise laudable Military and Overseas Voters Empowerment Act (MOVE) well implemented by Connecticut. As we have characterized this before, Damn the science, Damn the integrity, If it feels good do it.

And where does the paper go for unbiased information?

Degregorio is director of elections for Every Vote Counts, a California-based Internet voting firm. “Internet voting is being used every single day as it has been for the past 10 years, in the private sector,” Degregorio says. “Many boards of directors, unions use it for official purposes to elect their leaders, trustees and pension plan administrators. It’s been this way for the past 10 years,” says Paul for the past Security was on the minds of those overseeing Washington, D.C.’s election as it launched a pilot project to test the integrity of its new voting system for collecting overseas and military absentee ballots. The result? Within hours, computer students at the University of Michigan and their professors hacked into the system. The firm that developed Washington, D.C.’s Internet voting for overseas and military absentee balloting, is an “inexperienced outfit,” Degregorio says, adding that it used a flawed and “sloppy source code.”

As CTVotersCount readers are aware, computer scientists, security experts, and voting integrity advocates have long opposed Internet voting based on the theoretical impossibility of making it safe. As was demonstrated dramatically in the rapid, successful attack on the Washington D.C. test system by professors and students from the University of Michigan, followed by expert testimony regarding the general barriers to developing a successful system: Internet Voting Faces The Music: Hats off to D.C. and Michigan.

And the CTPost’s detailed rebuttal of the testimony in D.C.:

Should the District of Columbia’s experience discourage us from pursuing Internet voting as a replacement for the system we have? Absolutely not.

I have posted a short comment on the article to help edify the Post and the public:

The Help America Vote act was also designed to increase voting integrity. The safest most reliable means under HAVA is paper ballots and optical scanning. But that breaks down with poor chain of custody with a lack of security and not following election procedures.

Electronic voting over the Internet does not have the paper backup. No reputable computer scientist or security expert supports it, nobody has developed a safe system of Internet voting…and scientists have so far proven it would be impossible to do that.

What happened in D.C. in an Internet voting test was largely a result of very very poor security on the voting system and the D.C. Internet itself. An electronic version of the incompetence exposed in Bridgeport…what makes anyone think they can do better with a system that is scientifically proven risky and requires high technical expertise and flawless oversight just to make it moderately save[safe*], when they cannot even work the current system?

Also you have extensively quoted a voting system vendor without balancing information from mainstream experts who oppose Internet voting. Would you go to Blackwater to get advice on choosing between the alternatives of going to war vs. negotiation?

For more on the D.C. test and related testimony by scientists etc. see:

Luther Weeks

PS: I am certainly not defending the current state of voting laws and process in Connecticut.

(*) Maybe I have been up too late the last two days observing recanvasses!  As I have said before, I am human, far from perfect, and warn that I have served as an election official.

Stamford Advicate

Professor said ATMs would have eliminated these problems but voters need paper:

If Bysiewicz had purchased ATM-style machines after the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, instead of the scanning technology, the Bridgeport controversy might have been avoided, he said.

“But even those ATM-like machines have problems,” Moscardelli said. “Voters prefer to have some way of verifying the vote on paper.”

Legislator suggests appointing SOTS and that he was against optical scan.

McKinney remembered arguing with Bysiewicz over the HAVA voting systems. During the process of obtaining the equipment, Bysiewicz had to rebid the contract.

“I spent a year or two fighting the optical scanners,” he recalled. “We publicly cautioned her, warning that just because they weren’t manufacturing the old lever voting machines anymore, maybe we could bring some manufacturing back to our state, maybe to Bridgeport. She was more anxious to get the scanners.”

…McKinney said the Election Day debacle in Bridgeport may rekindle the issue of voting technology. He wonders if the secretary of the state, which was established in 1639, is an outdated job.

“The reality is she’s an extraordinarily ambitious politician who used her office as secretary of the state for higher office when she simply should have been doing her job,” McKinney said.

“I think her abject failure to do her job properly leads me to wonder whether or not we should elect the secretary of the state or have it as a position appointed by the governor,” he said. “If it’s appointed, we’re much less likely to have someone there looking for higher office.”


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