Saturday, May 13, 2006

New Fears of Security Risks in Electronic Voting Systems - New York Times

I have a policy of not commenting on specific security vulnerabilities in products of customers or competitors. Fortunately my employer does not do voting systems so I can dump on the the Diebold guys who have screwed up again.

The real problem here is not malice, its culture. I do not believe that it is likely the Republican party is fixing the vote by tampering with the voting machines. You fix the vote by stopping the voters of the other side making it to the polls at all, most notoriously the old Southern Democrats whose 'litteracy tests' were really voter suppression. Today corrupt Secretaries of state such as Katherine Harris in Florida or Ken Blackwell in Ohio use subtler tricks to do the same thing. Harris hired a political aly to purge the voter lists of alleged convicts that just happened to disenfranchise about a hundred thousand black people who had never been convicted of anything. Ken Blackwell just happened to allocate voting machines in such a way that students were waiting to vote at 3am in the morning.

The problem for Diebold is that they are used to building ATM machines where the security risks are very clear and failures are easy to detect. If the money isn't there when it should be there is a problem. Voting machines are a much more complex problem because you have conflicting confidentiality and audit issues.

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