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back to article Where were you when you learned e-voting was unreliable?

Applications security expert Hugh Thompson remembers his introduction to e-voting systems like it was yesterday. So do computer scientists David Wagner and Doug Jones. What made the experience stand out for all three was the machines' surprising lack of security. For Thompson, the epiphany came after a conference a few years ago …

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Bronze badge

Counting

I didn't think Americans bothered counting votes anyway.

On a more serious note, I can see the ID database being run along similar lines. How long before the government passes a law making it illegal to talk about security in the ID database? Seem to be their favourite response at the moment.

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Petrelli?

We saw in 'heroes' how easy this was...

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The only thing to do is...

fix some high-profile election so that somebody gets a thousand times as many votes as there are electors, with of course no hard-copy backup for checking. Would they take notice then?

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Dead Vulture

>systems that return a receipt that voters can use to verify that their votes were recorded as cast.

Yeah, and if the bitch doesn't come back with the right vote, she gonna get one helluva beatin'

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IT Angle

It's not who votes, it's who counts that matters.

I think Stalin said that.

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Silver badge

@ JonB

There are several proposed ways of doing the receipts that avoid showing exactly who was voted for, to get round that problem and vote buying.

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Alien

ANNOUNCEMENT: The 2008 Hacking Contest

There will be one team of hackers for each presidential candidate.

Whichever team hacks their candidate into the White House wins.

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Where I was...

when I learned e-votes were unreliable? At my desk at work, more than likely, while reading the first thing I had heard about e-voting machines. I mean, come on... what machine or process cannot be hacked or modified, with or without authorization, to produce a product which said machine/process was not originally intended to produce? I can think of none.

How does everyone not know this?

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Happy

@Nicholas Ettel

I think the thrust is to at least make sure you need some skills, privileged access and knowledge rather than wondering in off the streets with notepad.exe on a USB stick . . . .

The icon? So appalling it's funny.

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Anonymous Coward

@Christoph

All those receipts will do is show that the machine printed a receipt not that their vote was properly recorded..

I guess I mis-interpreted the phrase "recorded as cast" as meaning that their vote was recorded in the manner they cast it whereas what is being recorded is merely that they voted at all.

Paper systems don't do this though, if I cock up my ballot paper in the paper system, I have no record that my vote was cast, because basically, it wasn't.

What will you do with the receipt?

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Stop

NO ONE CARES

What is truly shocking is that no one cares. Democracy is being stolen by Diebold. Stop watching "Dances with the Stars" and do something before we attack and de-stabilize another world trade rival for the enrchment of the corporate welfare upper crust....

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Pirate

The Candidates are manipulated as choices. The votes are manipupated. What's left?

The Corporate owned and controlled media pushes candidates down the public's throats by marginalizing or denigrating those who don't tow the Party line (To wit the treatment of Ron Paul by the media along with Tancredo and every other candidate deemed not worthy as "second tier" candidates even before one poll or despite poll results.) Meanwhile, all we got is a huge dose of Obama and Hillary and the non-thinking American public buys it hook, line and sinker despite the fact that the rhetoric and promises being made today have historically been repeated and the promises never kept. (Personally, I think Obama has already been ordained as the next President by the controllers or "owners" as George Carlin likes to refer to them regardless of what else happens.)

Then, if you have done any research at all you would discover that the voting has been increasingly manipulated for a decade now. (I viewed the video "Uncounted" online which is available on YouTube I believe for more current facts on the vote fraud taking place in America or read Greg Palast "Armed and Dangerous" and "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" for the facts in the last 2 Presidential elections.) So what is left to the American public?

We're on a downward slide into a Socialist Oligarchy. The dollar is being engineered into a collapse. The borders are being intentionally left porous. Debt is being driven into a huge bubble that has no direction to go but POP! Goldman Sachs is predicting $1.2 Trillion (with a "T" folks) in losses by the end of the year. We've already spent $200 Billion bailing out the likes of financial firms which collapsed like Bear Sterns. The Bush administration continues to outspend ANY liberal administration ever. And Barack Obama with his spend and tax schemes is our savior?

My gut feeling is that unless the public wakes up wholesale and votes out almost every incumbant regardless of Party affiliation by numbers that are too far apart to be manipulated, no changes of significant help to stop our downward slide will be initiated. And when the you know what finally hits the fan, it will be "Buckle your seat belt Dorothy 'cause we ain't in Kansas any more."

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Flame

Yeah, and if the bitch doesn't come back with the right vote, she gonna get one helluva beatin'

I never thought of that one. A voting receipt would be a dangerous thing. Your vote should be counted anonymously and acurately. It should be possible to re-run the counting process.

I have read that one district wanted their machines checked by a computer expert. However the manufacturers used the law to block access claiming the machines workings were commercial sensitive.

We have all been deliberately distracted by The War Against Terror to notice what is happening. Howere there must be a massive number of people who can see it now, judging by the posts I am seeing not just here but on national news paper sites. Yes you get a few people demanding they remove peoples human rights, but mostly people believe we have been conned by the government.

Flame of death icon because we are heading for a bloody revolution if we can't sort our democracy.

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IT Angle

I don't know why the americans can't do it...

In Australia, there have been trials of electronic voting, first in the Australian Capital Territory elections (2001), and then for Federal elections. It's written by a local company and works on standard computer hardware, under a linux environment.

The software is open source, and the Australian National University found an error in one of the modules, which was corrected before the election. If you're really interested, you can download the source code for both the 2001 and 2004 territory elections here:

http://www.elections.act.gov.au/elections/electronicvoting.html

I'm not linked to the company who wrote it or any election authority - I just find it interesting that it's so hard to make a computer system that performs such a simple task reliably and securely!

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Anonymous Coward

Receipts

Surely the point of issuing a receipt would be for the voter to confirm that it corresponds to the choice that they recorded and then to (compulsorily) place the receipt into a ballot box so that it's available for spot checks, recounts etc.

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Unhappy

Open acCOUNTable govt.

Ireland recently trialed e-voting, but we gave up on it as it was unverifiable.

With pencil and paper you see your vote go into the ballot box, you can go to the count centre and you can observe the tallies as the ballots are counted. On the other hand with a closed source private firm providing the equipment you have no idea how the result was arrived at.

It was decided by the electoral review commission here that in order to have a transparent election process you would need an open source system and a paper trail, the marked receipt, after being checked by the voter would go into a traditional ballot box and random polling stations would be manually counted as a way of error checking.

Unfortunately the muppet in charge at the time bought the machines outright and hired safe storage for the next 20 years for them with very specific clauses on humidity, security etc... which is costing us a fortune for a system we didn't adopt.

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Thumb Up

Reliable receipts...

I can see two ways of doing this.

First, when a selection is made, print a receipt and show it to the voter. They then press another button to confirm or reject the printout. The receipt is then dropped in a bin for later reprocessing if needed.

Alternatively, have an "approve" button to show the vote and screenshot+print the vote screen when a vote is approved. Have the voting electronics made by a separate company to the snapshot software electronics, if possible.

...Ronny

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