Displaced NJ Voters Told To Email Ballot Requests To A Hotmail Account

from the you've-absolutely-got-to-be-kidding-me dept

The election day news is coming in rather fast today, but we're already seeing reports of voting issues. There's some viral videos floating around showing voting machines acting up. This, of course, can be added to the long history of voting machine nonsense we've written about in the past. But adding to the the confusion is that a great section of the East Coast is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

You may have seen the news over the past few days that displaced New Jersey voters are being allowed to (sorta) vote via email. Or, rather, they would be allowed to vote via email if the state's election officials could manage to act like they know what they're doing. Instead, reports indicate massive amounts of people have been unable to request ballots at the email addresses originally provided. This is causing frustration and confusion across the state, but the real absurdity shows up in Essex County.

Aware of the problems with the official e-mail system, Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin suggested an alternative option: “Displaced voters can email a request for a ballot at cj_durkin@hotmail.com,” according to a post on the Facebook page of the town of West Orange, NJ. Interestingly, security researcher Ashkan Soltani notes that Durkin's Hotmail address has his mother's maiden name as a “password recovery” question. This means that anyone who can figure out Durkin's mother's maiden name could seize control of his Hotmail account and intercept voters' official ballot requests.

I'll be clear in saying that I understand that the situation in New Jersey is a difficult one and I'm sure election officials there are simply trying to do their best under the circumstances. Unfortunately, Durkin's best appears to suck. You simply cannot put something of such importance (voting) in the hands of someone who cannot either provide a working and secure email address for ballot access or, at the very least, take the most trivial security steps on another email address. We all want every citizen to be able to have their voice heard, but not at the cost of massive security risks.

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Comments on “Displaced NJ Voters Told To Email Ballot Requests To A Hotmail Account”

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ricebowl (profile) says:

A fairly major assumption is being made...

While the password recovery question may, indeed, be ‘mothers’ maiden name,’ there’s no reason to believe the answer to the question is, in fact, his mother’s maiden-name. I know I have, essentially, nonsense (or at least non-sequitur) answers to email password-recovery questions.

Still, I can’t imagine any part of Hotmail (or any other webmail service) is inherently secure against interested parties.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A fairly major assumption is being made...

hey.. there are some kind of walls, or at least they pretend to be.

as someone wrote above the walls are made of tissue paper. At the first rain or if someone starts pissing on them, they tend to develop holes and in a short while they allow the liquid to pass through.

/ :p

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