But but but

You mean our elections might be stolen via electronic voting machines? Who would ever dream of such a thing?

Last week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics opened a new Internet-based voting system for a weeklong test period, inviting computer experts from all corners to prod its vulnerabilities in the spirit of “give it your best shot.” Well, the hackers gave it their best shot — and midday Friday, the trial period was suspended, with the board citing “usability issues brought to our attention.”

Here’s one of those issues: After casting a vote, according to test observers, the Web site played “Hail to the Victors” — the University of Michigan fight song.

“The integrity of the system had been violated,” said Paul Stenbjorn, the board’s chief technology officer.

Stenbjorn said a Michigan professor whom the board has been working with on the project had “unleashed his students” during the test period, and one succeeded in infiltrating the system.

The fight song is a symptom of deeper vulnerabilities, says Jeremy Epstein, a computer scientist working with the Common Cause good-government nonprofit on online voting issues. “In order to do that, they had to be able to change anything they wanted on the Web site,” Epstein said.

2 Responses to But but but

  1. Snarki, child of Loki October 5, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    Kudos for having the courage to actually TEST their system under hostile conditions.

    Onions for thinking that it had a chance of survival against the onslaught.

  2. pragmatic realist October 5, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    How about this: small precincts with paper ballots marked with a pencil? It may take a couple of days to get the votes counted, but what does that hurt, except maybe the gamblers betting on the election or lobbyists and office seekers who want a quick jump on the competition?

    I don’t understand the fascination with instant totals by technology. Here is a conservative, cheap solution to the problem. So what’s the problem?

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