So We're Just Supposed To Accept That Voter Databases Are Secure?

from the that's-how-it-works? dept

It’s amazing that, in the wake of huge government-originated data losses from folks like Veterans Affairs and the Navy, that anyone actually trusts government officials who claim their private data is “safe.” The latest comes after some privacy advocates are getting worried over the Help America Vote Act, which requires states to create a huge centralized database of voters, but doesn’t mandate any kind of security or protection for that data. The article quotes someone from the state of California insisting that everyone should just trust them that the system is adequately protected against unauthorized access or data theft. Of course, that’s easy to say now… but will everyone forget that it was said when the data is leaked and the best the state can do is promise everyone a year’s worth of credit monitoring?

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Comments on “So We're Just Supposed To Accept That Voter Databases Are Secure?”

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Sanguine Dream says:

Wait a minute...

No one has even come up with a safe method electronic voting and people already want to make a database full of voter info. Is there something wrong with the way that voter registration is kept up with these days?

And to any who say, “This database would allow people to confirm voter registration faster therefore leading to less time at the polls.” A big part of our society’s problems stem from the mentality of doing everything faster. Yeah it may take a while to vote but frankly I’ll take slow and steady over fast and careless anyday. Maybe a decade or two down the line when the data can be protected better but now is just too soon to implement this.

JR says:

too slow

First off, why do we need a data of voter info? All you need is my vote.

Secondly, voter turn out in the States is always pitifully low. I think we need to work on the larger issue of getting a better turn out at the voting booth.

And lastly, what would we do once we finally get the turn out that we want? There would be so many people there to vote (and many turned away) it would be crazy. Perhaps they should subdivide the precincts to better manage the numbers?

Wolfger (profile) says:

Re: too slow

First off, why do we need a data of voter info? All you need is my vote.

Now if that was true, I could just spend all day long voting, re-voting, and re-voting again until I virtually ensured my candidate’s success… Voter info is required to make sure that the person voting is:

A) eligible to vote

B) voting in the correct district

C) not voting multiple times

Roger McCook says:

+ and -

I think the database would be fine, and the use of computer technology certainly could make things work more accurately, though not necessarily faster on a voter-by-voter basis, but maybe faster overall. I just think they tend to ask for TOO MUCH information for those databases. When the personal information includes data that, if improperly disclosed, could result in identity theft, then the information is too much.

RealityChick says:


Though the idea is a good one and could lead to better and more reliable systems, the protecion just isn’t there. The computers and network themselves could be a Fort Knox, but when workers are taking home unprotected data on CD’s, DVDs, flash drives, etc…… The security measures onsite mean nothing. Not to mention so far there has been nothing done to actually penalize the government/company/organization that is responsible for protecting the data, should it become comprimised.

Lets get the appropriate policies and enforcement, and safeguards around before putting my personal information at risk.

Beck says:

Voter Data is Public Information

Voter data is not private data. Anyone can purchase the voter database from the state. The Democrats and Republicans have each created their own nationwide database of voters using data purchased from the states. (Democrats = “DataMart”, Republicans = “Voter Vault”). Thousands of people working for the parties and for election campaigns have online access to the voter data.

Anonymous Coward says:

Have you ever talked to a state employee? They're

You get what you pay for. I don’t know about the rest of the country but Louisiana only pays programmers about 24-30,000 a year. Until states actually care about security to spend money on competant employees this problem will never go away. I make twice that and only recently graduated. The only programmer that is willing to work for that little money probably only has enough skills to create a myspace web page.

James (user link) says:

I worked as a one day contractor for one of the companies that make the voting hardware and software. I had 2 hours of training 5 days before the election. I was sent 3 hours away to “man the polls”. There were election volunteers who actually helped the people vote I was there for support on the voting hardware and software. It was me and one other guy who only had the two hour class as well. So with us two noobs there they felt that the voting was totally secure??? Well it wasnt we didnt know what was going on and neither did the poll volunteers it was total craziness and complete krap. The system in this country is not monitored and could be influenced by any one. something needs to be done about it. Just makes me glad I dont vote!!!!

Sean says:

I do not think it would be to hard to secure the system if they put some good money on it not just throwing the money around like the gov normally dose.

If they used a custom version of WASTE to secure connections and data traveling only allowing the polls and servers to connect to each other. It would be encrypted and with the use of the newer Driver licence that have the bar codes on the back you will be able to scan it the server will see ID# 123456 voted at 1:00 in polling station 2 and then in a separate data base it will allow it to save the vote using a code that is only for that station and the timestamp so that the vote and voter will be separate and cannot vote more than once and they will be able to vote at any station so if you are in Hawaii during election it will not matter if you do not have that set as your polling station. Doing this they will know exactly how many voters there were per station and how many votes were cast so that there will be some thing to count against for a fake votes.

More than them working on this they need to rework the system so if Kentucky votes 50/50 each party will get 4 of the 8 votes of that state and peoples votes will actually count.

George W. Bush says:

Your vote counts...

and now we can identify which party you voted for, how many times you voted, which booth you voted at (and which urinal you used afterwards), so that we can adjust the social services you are entitled to, accordingly.

Dick and I really want to know everything about you all, so that we can identify terrorists….and by God we will find out or my name ain’t Gee-Duba-ya.

Thomas says:

Jobs could offer up surplus Macs. I mean, c’mon, those new “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials are proof enough. Did you see how sick that PC guy is because of all the viruses? He even falls down and crashes.

Send all the data to a Mac RAID server farm at Pixar. Then, run a commercial with the Mac dude voting Jeb ’08 – turnout and security all in one. Remember: Jeb/Jobs ’08.

John Q Public says:

For Sale...

I’ve never thought my vote counted for much — so I’m selling it, cheep.

It has very low mileage, and always picks winners (except for Perot, though he probably won anyway).

I’d be happy to trade my vote too, I am currently in the market for a corrupted soul, but not too corrupted, I still need room for growth.

in flames says:

This is just the beginning...

If you people think it is bad now, wait until AFTER the elections… This is just like everything else that is going on, too many huge changes happening too fast — and nobody watching over it. It took years to get an investigation into 911, how long do you think it will take to get an investigation into all the shady election winners when the numbers dont add up? Nobody knows, but we do know it will then be TOO LATE.

Just like the rest of the bs, electonic voting is already in effect (with disastrous results so far) and it is too late to stop it. We can only hope that a moral soul exists at Diebold or wherever and makes sure the machines are and can only be legit…

Basically, we couldn’t stop our phonecalls from getting taken. We couldn’t stop our bank records from getting taken. We cannot stop our votes from being taken and manipulated…we have control over nothing…

BillDivX says:


Maybe more people would vote, if we stuck to fixing the whole “voting machine” issue first? And left pointless (and dangerous) ideas out? Seems to me that half the people don’t vote because they can’t stand to stay up on politics and world events. It just makes them sick to see how f***ed it really is out there. My girlfriend falls into this category. She doesn’t watch news and she doesn’t vote. She just can’t stand so see how big a mess it is, and feels like her one vote isn’t going to help. And she’s pretty much right. With all the shady stuff going on, a single vote isn’t mattering much these days. If we want more people to vote, then how about we start by fixing the whole voting machine issue. Lets get real, high quality, standard machines, with laws that mandate that the machines must be subject to third party testing before they are approved for use. I mean, we are talking about a machine that is manufactured by a specific american company, yet it’s operation affects the entire world politics. Why would you NOT allow outside sources to try and break in? Anybody who doesn’t like that idea has GOT to be up to something, or else they just don’t understand the principles of data security (in which case, are we really trusting these people to build secure voting machines?)

Then maybe we should look at things like improving or eliminating the electoral college system, and maybe at redistricting and legislation to help breakup gerrymandering, which has gotten well out of control despite laws on the books to stop it. Do you know that our current rate of re-election is nearing 100%, because politicians have gotten around gerrymandering laws by gerrymandering for the other side? They discovered years ago that they could slowly gerrymander their way in to certain election, by gerrymandering in the favor of their competition. By giving a competing senator more votes in his side, you appear to be doing a generous thing, but in reality, moving more of his votes to his district, indirectly moves YOUR votes into YOUR district. Imagine that! What a convienient coincidence. I think that needs to be stopped if we want to have any chance of regaining control of this country’s government. We’ve got a lot of really important issues that affect this country, and some that affect the whole world, and every single one is getting mishandled, or ignored all together. Can we really afford to let our politicians play these silly games anymore. I get happy now when politicians go down, the abramoff thing for example. I’m not in favor of any certain politicians, or against any. I’m just hoping the sh*t storm gets big enough that the general polpulation is forced to take charge and make changes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wait, don't most states already do this?!

I know my state does. I was on the central committee for a political party in my home state for several years and we always had access to voter data. We would get a new CD with the info every 2 years, and any politician can purchase the data for campaign use. Heck, some counties even publish the data in PDF format on their websites, available to anyone. The data includes name, voter ID number, address/phone, precinct and districts, and voting records for the past 10 years or so. The voting data includes what elections were voted in and in primaries what ballot (republican, democrat, or non-partisan) was pulled by the voter. Obviously how the person voted is not recorded.

As someone has already stated this is usually considered public record and not private information.

Chris says:

Public Information

Why would you put security on information that is considered public. The voter file is free for anyone to see. Securing it absurd. Focus on what really matters, the faulty voting machines. Do you know whats in that file? I do because I’ve worked in IT for campaigns, you send away for the data, and they send it right back. (OK not RIGHT back, its the government) Its just name, address, and what elections you’ve voted in. There is no need to secure public information like this. It would be like encrypting a phone book.

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