Cake
  • Log In
  • Sign Up
    • My town of less than 2000 people still uses paper ballots. These are then counted by volunteers on election night. I often have volunteered to do the counting along side about 30 other townspeople. It is a nice way to feel a part of a (more or less) democratic process.

    • Exactly my thoughts. This post made me think. Does it really help to go back to the past when technology has made us more efficient? No, i don't think so. We should come up new security systems that meet the challenge, rather than avoid it.the challenge could be an opportunity to make us more resourceful.

    • I don't doubt that Republicans are willfully looking the other way because they think it's in their interest. But I do wonder, is Putin reliably Republican? If his agenda is to sow discord, wouldn't it make sense to favor a Democratic House this time, thus ensuring political paralysis and further weakening of the American presidency? Now I realize there's not the slightest bit of evidence to support this idea, but it doesn't seem totally outlandish. Russians are chess masters, after all.

      Regardless of the partisan consequences, the US can only be harmed by a loss of confidence in the integrity of elections. This might be a more important goal of the Russians than the outcome of any specific race. Governments fail when they are no longer seen as legitimate--that's what happened to the Soviet Union, as Putin knows. Anyone who would endanger legitimacy for partisan gain is either a revolutionary or a traitor. </rant>

    • I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not, but...

      Blockchain has useful properties for validation and tamper prevention after votes are logged, but it can't prevent tampering elsewhere in the stack.

      If an attacker is able to inject malware that can change what vote gets logged (such as by modifying the UI to record a vote for Candidate B when the voter taps on Candidate A), then the vote logged in the tamper-proof blockchain will be fraudulent and the blockchain will hurt more than it will help because people will trust it more than they'll trust the voter who swears they voted for Candidate A.

      Blockchain won't help prevent side channel attacks like this, even if we assume that the blockchain voting ledger is implemented perfectly and that the electricity and time required to verify the blocks won't make it impractical to use.

    • I saw this morning the results of an interesting experiment at DEFCON, the annual hacker convention. Fifty children between the ages of 8 and 16 were given the chance to hack replicas of state voting websites. Thirty succeeded in under half an hour. An eleven year old managed to hack a replica of Florida's site in under 10 minutes. Story here. While it isn't clear that this demonstrates that any bright kid can change election results (the devil is in the details, which I haven't seen--it could be much less significant than it sounds), it is still a confirmation of the vulnerability of our current technology. Maybe an eleven year old really isn't much of a threat, but sophisticated hackers certainly are.

      It's all well and good to try to improve security, but as several people have pointed out it's easier said than done. In the meantime, however, it makes little sense to use technology that we know is insecure, especially when there is a simple and safe alternative.

    • The headline in that article is incorrect and deserves to be retracted with a written apology. No results were changed. The contents of website that reports the results was changed. That is a different animal. The article even states:

      “While it is undeniable websites are vulnerable to hackers, election night reporting websites are only used to publish preliminary, unofficial results for the public and the media. The sites are not connected to vote counting equipment and could never change actual election results.”

      Edit: Paper ballots are good and possibly necessary. However, even when in use the above vulnerablity -- hacking result websites -- is still in play.

    • Right--the devil is in the details, so it doesn't surprise me that this story was misleading. But the vulnerabilities of the overall system are well known and paper ballots are still a safer option, especially when compared to electronic systems with no audit trail.