Monday, September 29, 2008

How to steal an election

Intuitively, you might think that e-voting machines should be good for technology industries; after all, if machines didn't replace paper, many of us in these industries would be out of a job. But have you noticed that technology professionals like those that hang around at Slashdot, the EFF and Ars Technica are the same people that loudly proclaim their distrust of electronic voting machines and want paper audit trails?

Click the headline to read all about the flaws in electronic voting systems that can allow votes to be stolen wholesale. As a Computer Engineer (in training) that started programming at age 11, I can vouch for the horrifying plausibility of this article.

By the way, the article talks about how it is possible for vote-counting software to be modified in such a way that the changes can't be detected. But if you take the time to read through the long account I linked to in my last blog entry, you'll note that many of the techniques used to shift the election results from Kerry to Bush in Ohio were actually very blatant and low-tech--such as voter caging, refusing to recognize voter registration cards that are not printed on very thick paper, not giving out provisional ballots, causing long lineups at polls, or declaring a fake terrorist emergency. While these techniques may have angered voters, they served their intended purpose just the same. Apparently, remaining undetected while rigging the ballot is merely a bonus.
The remedy to much of the above, by the way, would be not to put leaders of one party in charge of interpreting and enforcing election law -- duh. The electronic voting system, however, can be subverted even if those in charge of the election are fair and neutral.

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