back to article US voting systems: Full of holes, loaded with pop music, and 'hacked' by an 11-year-old

Hackers of all ages have been investigating America’s voting machine tech, and the results weren't great. For instance, one 11-year-old apparently managed to hack and alter a simulated, albeit deliberately hobbled, Secretary of State election results webpage in 10 minutes. The Vote Hacking Village, one of the most packed-out …

  1. Herring`
    1. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory

      Also, always wear a condom while teaching...

      Another XKCD Comic

      1. BillG
        WTF?

        Security by Design?

        What does it take to put all external I/O ports under a secure, locked cover tied to an alarm? What does it take to make sure SSL certificates are up-to-date?

        How do you allow voting machines with such easy security flaws to exist, unless they were meant to have these security flaws?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Security by Design?

          They are implemented to save staff time counting ballot papers.

          The argument (flawed I know) is the human can't vote twice or write on the ballot paper to make their vote unclear (hanging chads anyone).

          Unforutnately the marketeers were selling an electronic voting machine...not a secure computing system.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory

      "At first I hoped that such a technically unsound project would collapse but I soon realized it was doomed to success. Almost anything in software can be implemented, sold, and even used given enough determination. There is nothing a mere scientist can say that will stand against the flood of a hundred million dollars. But there is one quality that cannot be purchased in this way - and that is reliability. The price of reliability is the pursuit of the utmost simplicity. It is a price which the very rich find most hard to pay." - C.A.R. Hoare

    3. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory

      To be fair to the issues raised in the XKCD comic, planes that have someone trying to make them crash don't typically fair very well. Nor, I think, would elevators that had a person knowledgeable about them trying to make them fall.

      But, yes, security on electronic voting machines is a joke. From what little I've seen of them (which isn't much because my state thankfully still uses paper) I've got better security on the wifi enabled light switches I built and scattered around my house.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Obligatory

        planes that have someone trying to make them crash don't typically fair very well

        "fare", not "fair". And actually they do generally fare pretty well, unless that person has access to the flight deck, which is much less common after 11 September 2001.

        Nor, I think, would elevators that had a person knowledgeable about them trying to make them fall.

        And that's even more difficult, even if you're knowledgeable.1 It's certainly more difficult than hacking one of these direly unsafe voting systems.

        1It's quite straightforward to make an elevator that can't fall without massive compromise of the car or shaft. For example, put an asymmetric weight on the car, so that if it's not under tension from the lift mechanism, it will tilt to one side. Then, if that doesn't provide sufficient braking force on its own, add a ratchet to the side of the shaft that the bottom of the car will press against when it's tilted. There are other purely-mechanical safety mechanisms that achieve the same result.

  2. mark 120

    Benedict Arnold

    I'd just like to point out that he was a patriot, unlike that Washington bloke.

  3. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    uh oh

    'one enterprising 11 year-old named Emmet managed to hack a simulated Secretary of State election results page in 10 minutes.'

    My smallest one is a little younger that that but his technical skills are quite impressive. Gave him an intel compute stick to play with and we were watching The Grand Tour via Amazon Prime within half hour on the family TV. I really should change that Amazon password.... no idea how he knew it, I don't even know it :o

    Besides we are totally safe, you can't vote until you are 18 /sarc

  4. nuked
    Mushroom

    Surely the chance of actual election results NOT being hacked is close to zero...

    1. Pete 2

      Old joke!

      Which could explain why the previous generation of voting machines the americans sold to Canada, just declared Obama the winner.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Old joke!

        "...voting machines....sold to Canada..."

        I've never seen a voting machine in Canada, but news reports indicate that they might have been used for the first time recently (Ontario provincial election in the Spring of 2018).

        We don't even use pens in the voting booth because somebody might swap them out for one containing disappearing ink. So it's short stubby pencils only.

        To date, elections in Canada have been explicitly trustworthy.

        1. steviebuk Silver badge

          Re: Old joke!

          Short stubby pencils here in the UK to. Why? Cause they don't run out of ink. If asked, people are told they can use whatever pen or pencil they like. Despite what the nut job conspiracy theorists during Brexit thought.

        2. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Old joke!

          "We don't even use pens in the voting booth because somebody might swap them out for one containing disappearing ink. So it's short stubby pencils only."

          Pencil marks are easy to erase as well. I always bring my own pen.

          1. Sam Therapy

            Re: Old joke!

            Ordinary graphite pencils, yes. Coloured pencils are more difficult, having a mixture of clay and wax in the core. That's the sort used in voting booths in the UK. It takes a bit of time and preparation to erase a mark made with one of those and, unless you're really careful, tampering is evident.

          2. steviebuk Silver badge

            Re: Old joke!

            No they are not. If anyone ever actually did election work they'd know. The stubby pencils leave a VERY clear mark that they've been rubbed out. When on election work you'd also know you don't even get time to rub any marks out. The counts are counted IN FRONT of councillors/MPs or whoever is standing. They can stand and watch counts and request recounts. The conspiracy theory nut jobs that claimed "Here's a video of election staff rubbing out votes" clearly don't understand how any of it works. The votes are counted, then put on a specific bit of paper that is then taken to the front where all the election staff (can't remember their specific names) are there to verify the counts match the tally they have. If they don't they are asked to go back and recount. THAT is the number they were rubbing out. The incorrect tally count.

            Simple when you've worked it and know there is no conspiracy. There are so many checks in place you'd easily get caught unless you paid off EVERYONE in the room which itself would be spotted.

            1. Gordon861

              Re: Old joke!

              I've worked on nearly every election in my area for the last 20 years and every year we get some nut coming in claiming that the whole thing is a fix or that we can change the votes if we want. It got even worse during the Brexit vote when we had a visit from the police to warn us that some groups were planning to follow staff when they left the station to make sure we didn't stop somewhere.

              Even if you could fix the vote in one polling station, which would involve a lot of work and chances to be caught, you would have to hit a lot of stations at once to make any real difference. On top of paying off the staff you'd also need a printer willing to spend some serious time inside if caught to print the papers, which would have to match the real ones accurately. All it would take is a candidate or agent to come in an apply their own seal to the box and you'd be screwed.

              The UK elections are about as secure as you can make them, except for the postal votes.

              1. steviebuk Silver badge

                Re: Old joke!

                Agreed. Postal Votes are where the flaw is, although still quite secure because there are so many people you'd have to pay off.

                You can have the Postal Vote scanner just reject the verification form (I think it was called), although the Postal Vote Scanner never actually sees the votes. Again, you'd have to pay off several people in the room. Actually you'd probably have to pay off the whole room including senior management. Everyone being aware if/once caught, they all will get jail time.

                Only election staff are allowed in the room. Then you have the people opening the votes. They count those and they go to the postal vote scanner. That person scans in and verifies by eye the scan matches what is in the database and that the scanner software read it correctly. The amount of mums and dads that sign for their kids because the kid is at Uni is mad. Do they really think we won't spot that? Anyway. That is the point you could just reject and those votes wouldn't then be counted. However, it is then up to a deputy returning officer/s to double check that they also agree with your rejections. A senior member of the elections team may also check.

                So even Postal Voting is quite secure. Not as secure as it could be, but still not as bad as people think. Blame the public for Postal Votes. It was them that wanted it.

                All these people would need to be paid off and you do get serious jail time if caught.

                https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/5259918/Six-jailed-over-election-fraud.html

                1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

                  Re: Old joke!

                  Mail-in voting fraud is rarely conducted after the ballots arrive. Lots & lots of fun is had, however, before then.

                  1. steviebuk Silver badge

                    Re: Old joke!

                    Not in the UK. If they were picked up before they arrived by the post office you'd notice. And they'd have to do it on a massive scale to make a difference.

                    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

                      Re: Old joke!

                      For example, a precinct chairman "helpfully" doing the rounds at an old folk's home with the ballots all filled out, "just sign here". Or a mailman "losing" ballots from a neighborhood that votes the wrong way.

                      There are a lot of elections that are decided by a few hundred votes. It's not easy to swing a state-wide or congressional election, but locals? Sure.

        3. Jamesit

          Re: Old joke!

          Where I live in BC the ballots are marked with a pen and scanned to count the vote, the paper ballots are available for a recount or auditing.

          Why aren't elections done that way in the US?

          1. sisk Silver badge

            Re: Old joke!

            Why aren't elections done that way in the US?

            They are in at least some states.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Old joke!

              They are in at least some states.

              Yes. And this is an important factor in the problem domain - the US is far from a voting-system monoculture. It varies from state to state, and often from district to district within a state.

              So on the one hand, it's difficult to hack enough votes to alter a Presidential election, or in many cases even one for the Senate or other office with a statewide electorate. The real payoffs are in House elections and others with smaller electorates, which are more likely to present a single target; and in general from sowing uncertainty and cynicism about the validity of the process.

              On the other hand, that makes it that much harder to get all of the vulnerable machines replaced, because you have to persuade many sets of election officials and the legislatures that control their budgets.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Only for purely electronic voting machines. That's why there's been a big move in the US generally away from those machines and back to ones with paper trails. Still won't stop vote cheating tho, but cheating will have to be done the old ways, here in meatspace, where we have a chance to catch them up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Still won't stop vote cheating tho

        I suspect a certain state official in charge of the voting process and who appears to be obsessed with voter fraud here has tampered with at least a couple elections. Sadly I've only suspicions - which I'm not alone in but am apparently in the minority in - and the people who would be in a position to investigate don't seem interested in doing so.

  5. a pressbutton

    It suits the current political agenda to have insecure voting machines.

    (easy to point fingers at the Republicans but Dems do not have clean hands)

    If you win, there was 'no significant' tampering and 'no evidence' of interference

    If you lose - we was robbed!!!!

    It is a symptom in the growth of distrust in the US and I can see someone just not accepting the result of an election over t he next 20-30 years

    After all the alternative facts are out there....

    1. Tom 35 Silver badge

      The GOP ran an investigation into voter fraud

      Because they wanted to learn how to do it better.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      easy to point fingers at the Republicans but Dems do not have clean hands

      True. Like gerrymandering and tampering with the franchise, this is a game that is enjoyed by whatever party is in power.

  6. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

    how about

    we return to the good old mechanical lever voting machines?

    One disadvantage is a delay in results because such devices cannot report results to an off-site governmental agency tasked with tallying the votes. This means that, GASP, a living breathing human must read the vote totals and report the results manually. The other disadvantage is the fact that these machines mostly no longer exist in this country. The advantages are that it's nigh on impossible to hack a non-electrical, mechanical-only device, and although slow it's still faster to tabulate than paper ballots.

    1. Thought About IT

      Re: how about

      They have their own problems, as Al Gore will attest after losing to George W Bush due to hanging chads.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: how about

        They have their own problems, as Al Gore will attest after losing to George W Bush due to hanging chads.

        Actually, no. The old mechanicals that the OP mentions had no paper at all. Some models did have a paper roll inside for a backup tally but they were rare. So no chads, just a very satisfying "clunk - clunk" as you pulled the lever to register your votes.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: how about

          And... I remember an investigation where someone familiar with the technology showed just how easy it was to "fix" the results on those mechanical voting machines.

          JUST SAY NO.

          If it's not fill-in-the-oval-just-like-you-did-for-twelve/sixteen-years-of-school, it's creating opportunities for fraud.

      2. Where not exists

        Re: 2000 election

        That was an example of user error.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: how about

      Optical paper ballots are becoming the norm. They are very easy to tabulate, and easy to deal with by voters, being similar to all those school tests we took in the same manner.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: how about

      As Claptrap314 and Big John wrote, mark-sense ballots (which are typically "fill in the oval" or "connect the arrow" or the like), while not perfect, seem to be the best compromise. They can be machine-tabulated and also manually verified; they are easy for voters to use, provided the ballots are well designed.

      Hand-counted paper ballots, lever machines, and mark-sense systems significantly outperformed the alternatives on fraction of residual votes (undervotes and misvotes) in the well-known MIT / Caltech Voting Technology Project study. Mark-sense has no statistically significant difference from lever in this respect. Mark-sense provides immediate visual confirmation of the vote for the voter, and unlike lever doesn't need a separate paper trail, since the voter is marking up a paper ballot.

      There's some thought that voters are more comfortable with mark-sense ballots than with lever machines, thanks to school training, as Big John suggested. The MIT/Caltech paper mentions this.

      It also notes that mark-sense optical scanning machines were somewhat more mechanically reliable. That may just be a fluke.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder which would be more damaging - hacking the actual voting machines or the results web pages; imagine a number of "I know we said A won, but actually it was B" statements, all favouring one party over the other...

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      If you hack the data behind the website, you hack the website "for free".

  8. Spacedinvader
    Trollface

    But but but but but

    It was the Ruskies wot done it!

  9. Terje

    I'm continuously amazed at how a system that is known to be broken so far beyond repair that it should just be tossed on the scrapheap is still used.

    While pieces of paper are nowhere near as fashionable they are as far as I know not prone to being hacked by anyone and his mother with a wifi bluetooth or other wireless device.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I checked, and only five states still use electronic voting exclusively, and some of the rest have a hodgepodge of paper/electronic voting, but the bulk now have paper only or paper-receipt machines.

      Overall, the trend has been away from, non-paper voting in the US. I mean, right?

  10. Jay Lenovo Silver badge

    Dry Erase Results

    So why aren't these machines using write once read many (WORM) media?

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Dry Erase Results

      So why aren't these machines using write once read many (WORM) media?

      There will be some, in areas where the Democrats have a chance of winning ... the election result, who voted etc will all be prepared prior to the election taking place ... ;-)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dry Erase Results

        > "There will be some, in areas where the Democrats have a chance of winning ... the election result, who voted etc will all be prepared prior to the election taking place"

        That's been SOP in Chicago for well over a century.

    2. Steve Evans

      Re: Dry Erase Results

      They'd screw that up and leave it sticking out the side.

      Write once, read many, removed once, swapped once.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why does it matter?

    Elections aren't there to choose a leader anyway. Elections allow people to think they've had a choice in order to stop them complaining later on. It's not like the US system is democratic anyway with all the money changing hands and "lobbyists" around the place. Regardless who's in office you can buy whatever laws you feel you need, or prevent them for that matter. Disney copyright laws and gun control for the NRA are just two recent examples of politicians "doing the right thing" aka $$$KERCHING$$$

  12. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Joke

    US Elections

    What elections in the US boil down to is which side has the better script kiddies.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: US Elections

      So it's a toss up between the Russians and the Chinese, then?

    2. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

      Re: US Elections

      I don't know about that. From the closing statements of the article, I just read that war is more of a priority than democracy anyway. Therefore election fraud is just a distraction, or indeed the US can have a Zimbabwe style election when the incumbent wins but no one is certain of the fairness of the votes and counting...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem isn't the voting machines it's the voters.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      The problem isn't the voting machines it's the voters.

      Dern' tootin'. Either side of the Atlantic.

      Even if somehow, the Election manages not to get hacked, and several lorries of votes don't get switched or dumped somewhere, the 'grass roots' nut jobs will have arranged buses for the paranoid extremists, headcases, to vote and hang around afterwards intimidating, fired up by a dollar-eyed politico spewing cliched empty promises. The masses will as usual buy into the promises of some coiffed up borderline preacher type charismatic or pig headed business nut and insist for several years afterward any day now everythings going to be wonderful despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      The problem isn't the voting machines it's the voters.

      The voting machines cause problems with the voters.

      Weaknesses in the voting equipment and process discourage voters, and reduce participation in the electorate. And that means most of the people voting are ideologues of one stripe or another, who will tend to favor single-issue candidates that focus on their particular fetish. That does not improve the quality of representation.

      Democracies do better when more people who aren't certain of their convictions come to believe that their participation is important, spend at least a little time researching the candidates and issues, and then vote for what they believe is the best (or least bad) choice. That tends to reduce relative support for fanatics and demagogues, and encourage the election of politicians who make an effort to compromise.

  14. Jemma Silver badge

    In other news

    The kid called Emmet was later identified on CCTV buying parts for a 1982 Delorean DMC12...

    Does it really matter anyway? The Russians are running the elections as it is, and I'm sure ole Vladimir would look great in Zeyd cloth.. The Drunk Lord of the Sith.

    Arguably the US is a failed state as it is, eco terrorist, arguably terrorist terrorist (what do you call invading Iraq after 9/11?, there was no way Saddam was involved, he hated the Islamic fundies more than the Americans did/do), run by the most dangerous idiot since Caligula retired and full of buck toothed retards who think cancer/hiv/sti's (and practically every other illness) is divine retribution for homosexuality and voting democrat.

    EARLY CUYLER FOR PRESIDENT!!!!! (oh wait, that happened...)

  15. msknight Silver badge

    Electronic voting in the US...

    ...should be like many US voters were reported to be... apparently dead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electronic voting in the US...

      Diebold Nixdorf sold off the US Elections systems Premier division of its business several years ago.

      They're still providing the infamous warsaw plugin, a POS software supposed to "provide trust in electronic transactions" that made several machines I've tested get very slow and crash constantly. Unfortunately this plugin is required by some banks, so I got an already old laptop to access those sites.

  16. The Nazz Silver badge
    Joke

    Of the 100 election officials .......

    98, allegedly, have decided to become candidates now that they realise they don't need to bother with that costly canvassing. Still seeking donations mind.

  17. Daedalus Silver badge

    System? What system?

    Yet again the lack of understanding. Each state is in charge of its own elections, period. The Feds have no business funding state election machinery. Results not good? Too bad. And note that "Secretary of State" elections are strictly for state officials, not Federal ones. Only a few states elect such an office anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: System? What system?

      Whilst individual States are indeed in charge of their own voting, there's a lot of logic in having a national response to a threat arising from the actions of another nation. To do otherwise dilutes resources, and is exactly what the attackers would want to see.

    2. FrozenShamrock

      Re: System? What system?

      And, the federal government could set standards for federal elections and since states would not want to pay for two different systems they would run the state elections using the same standards. And, actually, most states elect the Secretary of State (35 of the 47 states with the office). ISIS is a security threat, drug cartels are a public safety threat, but very few things are existential threats to a democracy. Compromising the democratic process so the governed no longer feel as if they are truly represented is the biggest existential threat to any democracy. Whether that be due to the influence of money, foreign interference, voter suppression, or insecure voting.

  18. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Important to note

    Some states (mine included) will have nothing to do with voting by machine, and use hand-marked paper ballots, which are optically scanned, and then saved in case a manual recount is necessary.

    Please note that technology is used where it provides a benefit (fast optical counting of ballots) and NOT where it is a significant risk (recording of the actual vote). Whether this seemingly obvious distinction is ignored due to malice or ignorance in other states is left for others to decide.

    https://ballotpedia.org/Voting_methods_and_equipment_by_state

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Important to note

      And all of the states sell the voter list details (name, address, party affiliation, and which elections you voted in) to anyone for 1c per voter .

  19. Cronus

    The real news of course is the stuff the adults did. The 11-year-olds hacking websites set up as replicas really doesn't show anything beyond kids can hack poorly secured web servers. It's not actually got anything to do with the voting results because they're just replicas no doubt with intentional not very hard to exploit bugs.

  20. Lt.Kije

    Engineers???

    It speaks volumes that the industry is so inept that it is unable to come up with a secure machine to expedite voting and counting.

    Dilettantes, the lot of them,without exception.

    1. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Engineers???

      Not really. It's mathematically impossible to build a voting machine that is more secure than pencil and paper Nothing anyone could invent will make it possible because the limitation is one of the universe, not one of technology. You can't blame anyone for failing. Continuing to try to do something once you know it's impossible, on the other hand .....

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Engineers???

        It's mathematically impossible to build a voting machine that is more secure than pencil and paper Nothing anyone could invent will make it possible because the limitation is one of the universe, not one of technology.

        However, these machines, unreliable as they may be, are very effective moneymakers for the manufacturers (who also charge to maintain and configure them).

        One might be forgiven for thinking that the whole "Help America Vote Act" nonsense, was merely a handout by Dubya's Republican administration to some politically well-connected voting machine manufacturers.

        I couldn't possibly comment.

  21. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    I wonder why it always comes down to money?

    Stalin was right insofar as sometimes it comes down to just bayonets and get a move on.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I wonder why it always comes down to money?

      Perhaps that's the answer for all elections, put all candidates in an arena with a bayonet each, by default last man standing is the new official. Isn't that how politics started anyway?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder why it always comes down to money?

      Doesn't Mao's Little Red Book say that "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun"?

  22. Borg.King

    1.21 Gigawatts

    Did Emmett arrive in a DeLorean, and was he wearing clothes from around the 1930's?

  23. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Voting needs to be Convenient, Accurate, and Fast ...

    Pick any two, you can not have all three.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Voting needs to be Convenient, Accurate, and Fast ...

      You can have all three.

      Paper ballots, optically scanned.

      Job done, now pay me my beellion dollar consulting fee.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Voting needs to be Convenient, Accurate, and Fast ...

        There's a constituency here in the UK that specialises in doing the paper count by hand, really quickly. It takes organisation, and plenty of volunteers. They're really good at it.

        There's a lot to be said for doing it this way. If an optically scanned result is challenged then you have to count it by hand, ultimately. If you've not got the organisation or people ready and practised to do that, you've got a disaster on your hands.

        Sometimes the old ways are the best.

      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Voting needs to be Convenient, Accurate, and Fast ...

        LOL, "optically scanned"? Just hack the optically scanners.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Voting needs to be Convenient, Accurate, and Fast ...

          Sure, you can hack the scanners.

          The point is that the ballots themselves physically exist and can be counted.

          If a result is very close, the candidates demand a physical recount.

          If a result seems odd, the candidates demand a physical recount.

          Random samples of ballots should also be counted by hand, and if the optical scanner gave a notably different result, the CEO of the scanner manufacturer is executed and the ballots are all recounted by hand.

  24. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    I heard that ...

    China hacked the voting system and downloaded all of next years election results.

    1. John H Woods

      Re: I heard that ...

      *uploaded

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: I heard that ...

        Downloaded first, just to have something for blackmail later, then uploaded.

    2. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: I heard that ...

      The British government did too - but they got left on the 10:18 to Swansea... And haven't been seen since.

      Does it depress any one else that despite the fact the uk is a dirty, garbage and pothole ridden*, conservative "voting" craphole - there are *still* worse places to live? It's the 21st century for heavens sake.

      *My parents recently did a 4200 mile journey across Europe to Russia and back - didn't see a single pothole outside of the UK and saw more roadside rubbish in the journey between Harwich & Colchester than in the entire of Europe including Poland, Lithuania, Latvia & Russia itself.

      PS : Getting a visa for Russia is *the* most deranged process on the planet. Think you're worried about Google snooping. They want the numbers and details of your kids and grandkids passports - even if they're not going and every single country you've ever even *driven* through or flown over..

  25. Kev99

    The US did just fine with paper ballots for over 200 years until the idiots in Florida couldn't figure out how to read a punch card. Now the idiots in Washington have foisted a solution that's worse than the supposed problem. Do a quick survey and see how many other countries use electronic voting machines, especially ones connected to the internet. Very few. Which is one reason why no one will ever hack into Russia or China's voting system. Their smart enough to still use paper.

    1. DryBones

      Yep. Buying typewriters isn't such a dumb idea for certain things.

    2. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      Paper, Pencil, Cross, Count

      not hard - nothing to hack

      it becomes a mamoth task to buy one constituency let alone the whole election.

      Polls close 7pm - Houghton & Sunderland South declare 11pm (the last 3 elections)

      (its become a competition in Tyne and Wear)

    3. Daedalus Silver badge

      Florida ballots

      The US did just fine with paper ballots for over 200 years until the idiots in Florida couldn't figure out how to read a punch card.

      To be fair, the notorious "hanging chads" were a very real issue, though the problem wouldn't have been nearly as bad if the paper ballots had been properly designed to fit into the holders. Or the holders had been made big enough to accommodate even the wildest of ballot papers. Let's be clear: the election officers are at the mercy of every interest group that can get enough signatures on a petition and pay the necessary fees. Anybody who thinks that the ballot consisted only of "Electors for Gore, Democrat" and "Electors for Bush, Republican" is severely mistaken. I wouldn't be surprised if some counties had "Cuban Exiles for Bush" on the ballot.

      Nor is it fair to disparage all of Florida's counties. Some were using the same optically scanned paper ballots that have been mentioned in other comments. One officer boasted that if required to do a recount, it would take a few hours at most and would almost certainly return the same result as was already announced.

  26. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Florida, still & again

    The problem was not "Florida". The problem was one specific county in Florida. The same county that had Federal indictments for voter fraud in 1996.

    Moreover, a statistical analysis of the "hanging chad" & multiple vote problems was strongly consistent with what would be expected if you took a stack of ballots that had already been voted and punched "Gore" through the stack.

    Like I said, anything beyond paper ballots (and by that I meant grease pencil marked) is basically a recipe for fraud.

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Florida, still & again

      If the PIC want to defraud the electorate, they will. Paper ballots are no defence. Many's the time ballot boxes have gotten "lost", and other boxes with carefully prepared ballots have been "discovered".

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