News behind the news. This picture is me (white spot) standing on the bridge connecting European and North American tectonic plates. It is located in the Reykjanes area of Iceland. By-the-way, this is a color picture.
On Friday, One America News reported that some election battleground states are taking steps to avoid voter fraud in next year’s election. Obviously there are a number of types of voter fraud. Some states have passed laws requiring a photo identification to prove that voters are who they say they are. The current efforts are to combat electronic fraud.
The article reports:
A leg of the Department of Homeland Security recently announced its soon to be partnership with election officials and non-profit VotingWorks that would audit votes in 2020. Ballot box officers say the purpose is to prevent possible hacks and watch for faulty voting machines.
Battleground states, such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, have already embraced a voter monitoring tool known as Arlo. Four other states have reportedly adopted the tool as well. The VotingWorks sponsored tool is free for state and local election leaders, and would double-check all votes cast.
Arlo is a web-based app that uses a security method called “risk-limiting audit.” During this process, a small percentage of the paper ballots are taken at random to check if they match what the machines recorded. Although the method is simple, many places don’t use them reportedly because many states use direct electronic voting machines, which eradicates all paper trails.
This is a really good idea. We need to make sure our elections are honest. Voter fraud is a problem. Various voter integrity groups have found multiple examples of illegal registrations in various states in recent years. Voter identity requirements and spot audits are ways to assure Americans that their votes count and are not being cancelled out by illegal votes or electronic shenanigans.
Going back to paper ballots may strike many people, as it used to strike me, as retrograde. Isn’t it a lot faster to count electronic votes? Isn’t there a danger that paper ballots can be altered, defaced, and burned? Isn’t electronic voting cooler and more up to date?
As I have stated before, technical things mystify me. However, it does seem to me that having a paper record to verify voting totals is a good idea. It may not be necessary to go back to counting paper ballots by hand if we can scan them by machine and have the physical ballots to verify the totals.
The article concludes:
The fact is that sacrificing a bit of speed for reliability is probably a good trade. The strongest argument for paper ballots is that they can’t be hacked. The second strongest is that there is an independent record of each ballot cast, which some computerized systems lack.
It may take a long time to count ballots in some states where they include many offices and ballot propositions, but people can wait. And recounts of paper ballots can result in disputes over hanging chads and the like, but these are difficulties our republic has been handling for over 200 years. My vote is for paper ballots.
Yesterday I posted some audio from the Michael Savage radio show about a Spanish company that will be counting the votes in the 2012 election. I had no backup for the story, but also had no reason to doubt that it was true. Today I found the backup.
When the Spanish online voting company SKYTL bought the largest vote processing corporation in the United States, it also acquired the means of manufacturing the outcome of the 2012 election. For SOE, the Tampa based corporation purchased by SKYTL in January, supplies the election software which records, counts, and reports the votes of Americans in 26 states–900 total jurisdictions–across the nation.
There are a few very obvious problems with this. The article points out:
Though much has been written about the threat of nationwide voting by illegals in November, it is still true that most election fraud is an “inside” job. And there now exists a purely electronic voting service which uses no physical ballots to which an electronic count can be matched should questions arise. Add to this the fact that the same company will have “first count” on all votes made in 14 US states and hundreds of jurisdictions in 12 others, and the stage is set for election fraud on a scale unimaginable just a decade ago.
It is scary to think that there will be no physical ballots if the results need to be recounted. This could throw the American election in 2012 into chaos.
Yesterday a United Kingdom website called The Register posted a story stating:
Computer scientists have demonstrated a hack that uses off-the-shelf hardware to tamper with electronic voting machines that millions of Americans will use to cast ballots in the 2012 presidential elections.
I checked a few of the sites I use for fact checking and couldn’t find anything on this story. It could be that the story is too new or it could be that the story is true. I am hoping that the story is not true, but I suspect it is.
The article further reports:
In a video demonstration, researchers from the Vulnerability Assessment Team at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois showed how the card could be used to briefly kill the power to the voting machine’s touch screen to temporarily black out what’s displayed so voters can’t see their choices being modified. Using optional hardware costing about $15, they showed how attackers can remotely tamper with machines from distances as far away as half a mile.
The article does point out that in order to make any large-scale changes to the machines results, you would have physical access to the machines and you would have to change a number of them. Theoretically, if the machines are properly watched, hacking would not be possible. The form of attack on the voting machines mentioned in the article involved modifying the inside of the machines to allow the results of the machine to be tampered with. The video at The Register website demonstrates how this is done.
The article reports that the particular machine described in this report is used in several states:
The AccuVote TS is used in several states, including Maryland and Georgia, although voting officials in some jurisdictions have phased out its use because the DRE, or Direct Recording Electronic, voting system typically offers no print out. That makes it particularly hard to audit results.
Honest elections are an important part of our government. This is a something that needs to be investigated.