Monday, January 21, 2008

Trusting the Voting System in Rhode Island

This is excerpted from my previous posting.

1. Hacking Democracy by Harris & Michaels. Exposes the vulnerability of computer voting. You missed it! R.I. uses ES&S optiscan system (Eagle III-PE) and has regular problems with it every election. This is the purvey of the Board of Elections (appointed), not the Secretary of State- I do believe this is unique.
Think that it's reliability is beyond question- think again. A decision by Judge Fortunato states that the Board has ceded too much authority to ES&S optiscanners in deciding whether or not a vote is valid.
The Board still has not responded regarding questions that I asked almost 3 wks. ago- their software testing report, requirements for recounts, etc. They did give me the model info, though, but not as much as in today's Projo article.
Every election has seen problems with this system. Remember the last General Election when the system did not update with Little Compton votes (& others) until the next day? They weren't even posted for 3 days. Oops.
Here are the questions that I posed:
1. Who is the maker of our optiscan system? Answer rec'd. ES&S is the largest maker of voting equipment. They have had problems around the world, not just the USA. Plug their name into any search engine & be prepared to read problem after problem not just regarding their equipment but their management/ownership also.
2. Who does the pre-election certification of the software? Does the State have the choice to choose it's own certifier? Has it been reviewed for security? Can I have a copy of this document? No answer & now I know why. There is no certification process. Um, like, this is kinda important. How do you know this stuff does what it says? What about security?
3. Can the State use its own certification process for the memory cards involved? Also important to guarantee the status of these cards; e.g., no votes on it & no executable programs lingering. No answer. Also important. Ever have a bad disk/card?
4. What is the process for having a certified recount? Can all votes be reviewed for the asking or does a preliminary review have to be done first? No answer. For all that yakking about a "paper trail," in fact it's never been pursued. Everything just sits in locked up in warehouses & you are not welcome to review. Getting a recount is virtually impossible.
This from the R.I. Board of Elections Director Kando: “Our equipment is among the oldest in the nation,” he said. “I think it’s one of the most-tested systems.” Say what? Tested by whom? If it's old, don't you think it may need testing for its continued reliability? How do you know hackers haven't got this "old stuff" figured out? How about the memory cards? Do we use them? Who examines them before use?
Thanks to Rhode Island's Future for alerting me to Projo's article by Bruce Landis. This is a storm brewing. If you can't verify our elections system (and it appears you can't), then like, er, um, democracy & voting ain't worth much. Kinda gets you in the gut.
Is our system reliable? Prove it- every election, please. How about periodic, regular, random audits of the "paper trail?" I also want all hardware & software evaluated by our choice of certifiers. Sounds like a duh! to me.
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