Earlier this month, I told you about a University of Michigan team headed by Professor J. Alex Halderman that successfully hacked their way into a new electronic voting system launched by the D.C. Board of Elections. By altering vote counts, and having the electronic voting machines in D.C. play the Michigan fight song every time a ballot was cast, the U-M team not only exposed serious vulnerabilities inherent to the system, but, in the process, they discovered evidence that hackers in Iran and China were likewise attempting to manipulate the code. (It should be noted that computer programmers in the U.S. had been encouraged to hack into this particular system in order to prove its security.) Well, today, with our midterm elections less than a week away, the story was back in the news. Following is a segment that aired this morning on CNN, on the topic of electronic vote tampering. It features an interview with Halderman and video of his students.
And, while we’re on the subject of electronic voting, I just received the following invitation to witness Ypsi’s scanning vote tabulators in action tomorrow.
City of Ypsilanti
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Public Accuracy Test of optical scan voting tabulators, equipment, and accessible voting devices for the November 2, 2010 General election has been scheduled for Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. in the Ypsilanti City Council Chambers located at One South Huron Street, Ypsilanti, Michigan.
The Public Accuracy Test is conducted to demonstrate that the program and tabulators that will be used to tabulate the ballots of the election, and the accessible voting devices that aid in marking ballots have been prepared in accordance with the law (R168.778).
For further information, please call the City Clerk’s Office at (734) 483-1100 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
I’ve said it before, but our elected officials should, if they’re really serious about preserving our democracy, do two things immediately. They should get the money out of American politics by passing comprehensive campaign finance legislation that provides for the public funding of elections, and, at the very least, they should require that all electronic voting systems produce a voter-verifiable audit trail. These two relatively simple things would make a world of difference.