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01/24/2004 Archived Entry: "e-voting"
The article I cited yesterday summarizes many of the security problems with Internet voting. I've yet to read the full report, but even the summary mentions
Judging from the emails I receive every day, many Internet users still haven't learned not to open unsolicited attachments, still blindly follow links in email, and still believe that a deposed Nigerian dictator needs their personal help to move his millions of dollars.
On top of that, an estimated 95% of computer users are still running Windows, which is about as secure as a paper bag. Millions of personal computers currently host viruses and "spyware." Is this where you want to entrust your votes?
Right now, Internet voting is only being proposed for overseas voters. And it might be a red herring, intended to make non-Internet e-voting machines more palatable to the public. Given that the companies that make them have been hacked; that Diebold ATMs have been vulnerable to worms, their voting machines are insecure, and that they've reportedly changed software after it's been certified, I wouldn't be comforted. (And that's not to mention the fact that the US government itself routinely flunks computer security audits.)
Here's a chilling report from SecurityFocus that should give everyone pause. (If you don't follow any other link, follow this one.) The machines fail, they miscount votes, they're easy to hack, and they don't provide an audit trail. (Did I mention that Diebold is a big Republican contributor?)
I don't believe that anyone in D.C. is currently trying to rig e-voting machines. But I do believe that politicians are completely unscrupulous, and will do anything within their power to get in office and stay in office. Illegal and unethical means are fair game as long as there's no risk of being caught. So yes, I believe they will rig elections if they can, that secret and opaque e-voting software is just the window of opportunity they need, and that they're shrewd and duplicitous enough to put this window in place.
Now, there's a school of anarchist thought which argues that the more corrupt the voting system, the less will be the perceived legitimacy of the state, and that this would be a beneficial result. The problem is that this path leads to freedom via a long detour through totalitarianism, and I really have no desire to live in a totalitarian society. (Excuse me, I mean a more totalitarian society.) So I can't really cheer the circus which US elections are about to become.
If you thought Florida in 2000 was bad, you haven't seen anything yet.
P.S. I've just learned of a web site devoted to this subject: www.blackboxvoting.com. It might be worth a read.