July 21, 2004
A little electronic voting paranoia

The MIT Technology Review Blog points to these two discussions of electronic voting by David Pogue that are worth reading. In the second piece, he prints an email from my buddy Dan Wallach that ought to curl a few hairs here in Houston:

“Here in Texas, where early voting lasts maybe two weeks or so, I’ve learned that the poll workers take the machines home with them at night. Imagine the opportunity, in the comfort and privacy of your home, to ’upgrade’ the software on these machines. The tamper-resistance measures they take (special tape or numbered tie-wrap seals) can be easily gotten around if you’ve got the time and privacy to work on it. Some election officials require that their poll workers pass basic background checks (i.e., they have no felony convictions), but that’s hardly reassuring.“

You know, I'd never given any thought to where the voting machines get stored during the early voting period. I suppose I'd always assumed they were kept onsite at places like the multi-service center on West Gray where I do my early voting, but that's not all that much more reassuring, and I don't know that any of those places would have suitably secure storage areas for them. Just another thing to get all paranoid about.

Unasked question: What did we do with the boxes of chad-punched ballots during the early voting periods of yore? Probably the same thing. Never forget the human element in data security.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 21, 2004 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack