How Can You Test An E-Voting Machine For Malfunctions If You Don't Get To Test The Machine?

from the just-wondering dept

Now that Florida's governor has admitted that e-voting machines without a paper trail are not such a good idea (though, the optical scan machines he wants to replace them with have their own problems), you would think that Florida would be all for a thorough investigation into the problems of the old machines. Perhaps not. Remember Sarasota, where a bunch of votes appear to have gone missing? In the lawsuit over this, the judge denied the request to see the e-voting software source code, saying there needed to be more evidence that the machines malfunctioned first. At the same time, however, the Department of State in Florida has been trying to commission an "independent" study of the e-voting software, and even spoke to Ed Felten about joining the team. He's listed as one of the investigators, though he actually declined to take part. Why? Well, it turns out that they want the investigation to take place without actually letting the experts view the working software or the e-voting machines. Instead, it only wants to give them the source code and let them comb through the source code alone to try to figure out where the malfunction could have occurred. It's great that at least some experts are finally getting a chance to look at the source code, but it makes you wonder why all of these e-voting security tests always have strict limitations on them. If they really wanted to know what the security vulnerabilities are, shouldn't they make the test much more complete?
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  1. identicon
    Jo, 7 Feb 2007 @ 12:41pm

    Re:

    First of all, the idiot that says vote counting isn't complicated is completely ignorant. Elections in the U.S. are more complicated and intricate than you could grasp. With all of the combinations of straight-party voting, pick-a-party, open, closed, and consolidated primaries, rank choice voting, candidate ballot rotations based on complicated algorithms, union rules, ADA compatibility, HAVA compliance, and all the little election rules made up in all of the little jurisdictions of the U.S., it requires very complicated and intelligent systems to accommodate. So no, you in particular, would not understand.

    The point people often miss, which is left off of the conspiracy blogs, is that all of these 'hacking' attempts that are requested are made to do so in some sort of vacuum. In some obscure room where a gang of hackers get together and try to penetrate the system with unlimited resources. In any election, paper or fully electronic, there are procedural and security measures taken that complement and supplement the security features of the system itself. This is in addition to internal and system-independent, pre- and post-election audit features. Even in a hand-count scenario, the election is nothing without procedural security measures in place.

    Obviously anyone could hack a hand-count if no one was watching them and no one placed any security and audit measures on the actual count. A similar situation applies to electronic voting systems. Of course I could rip the guts out of any machine and make it work differently if I'm given unrestricted access for extended periods of time. These election companies, in my experience, are more than happy to put the systems to the test in the proper environment. Show me one case where an actual, real-life, electronic election was proven to be hacked. You can't, because it hasn't happened. All of you will say that the hackers just cover up their tracks, but take it for what it's worth: with all of the security and audit features outside of the system itself, it is next to impossible. Add the security features of the actual system, and it is impossible.

    The other thing all of you forget is that the companies that make these machines are companies, not charities. The knowledge of elections these companies have gained over the years is their primary asset. They're happy to let people test the systems, but if access is completely unrestricted, who's to stop people from copying the system, and essentially the knowledge? Let alone taking the system out of the context of an actual election?

    The fear mongering movement has obviously worked on many of the people on this post, in addition to many people throughout the U.S. This is exactly what they want you to do, doubt a reliable system, so that you feel like your vote counts even less. The election companies don't have some hidden agenda, they want the same thing the American people want, a trusted system; that way people would buy more of them, it's business, and many people like those on this post just don't get it. You should be supporting these election companies because they have the same goals as you and I. It's the crazed power junkies that know if they spread this fear around, the average Joes out there like all of us will be less likely to vote on election day, and they will remain in power by making all of you feel democratically worthless, and creating your self-fulfilling prophecy. So far, it's worked on most everyone on this post.

    Elections throughout this country, and the systems they are conducted on, are extremely scrutinized and very reliable. It is the people in power that need to be scrutinized. I know my little opinion won't change your minds and ease all of your dark fears, but maybe it will make you think twice when you read your next 'conspiracy' blog....

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