Friday, December 28, 2007

Belt-And-Suspenders Elections


It gets worse. According to an advisory posted by the Metro Election Commission, the laptops contained full social security numbers, not just the last four digits.

Thanks a lot, idiots.


Oh, great:
Thieves nab Nashville voter rolls

Laptop has data on about 337,000 people

Staff Writer

Thieves broke in to the Davidson County Election Commission offices over the Christmas holiday and made off with computers containing the names and identifying information of every voter in Nashville.

The missing laptop contained names, addresses, phone numbers and the last four digits of about 337,000 voters' Social Security numbers. It's the same information that candidates buy from the county when they're putting together mailing lists, said county Election Administrator Ray Barrett.

This is disturbing, to say the least.

If I recall correctly, Davidson County now uses the ES&S iVotronic voting machine, which has a history of problems and, inexplicably, does not provide a paper trail, which makes a manual recount impossible. Why, oh why, did anyone think this was a good idea? Why completely eliminate the option of a manual recount when recent history has shown us how important that can be?

And then there’s this new report:

They found that the ES&S tabulation system and the voting machine firmware were rife with basic buffer overflow vulnerabilities that would allow an attacker to easily take control of the systems and "exercise complete control over the results reported by the entire county election system."

Oh, even more great. So now thieves have stolen a computer that lists every registered voter, and I'm pretty sure it also lists what party they voted for; at least, back when I was a campaign volunteer, that's what the information contained. And we have new voting machines that have proven to be hackable.

You see where I’m going with this?

Yeah, the thieves probably just wanted computers. After all, they also broke into the Water Department offices next-door. But who knows? There’s been enough fishiness to breed doubt. We’re trusting the integrity of our elections to .. what? The goodwill of crooks?

The point is, whether this was just a case of thieves wanting computers or if someone let G. Gordon Liddy off his leash to reenact the Watergate burglary, we don’t have a backup! When we walk into the voting booth in February (or next November) we will have to take on faith that everything is going to be hunky-dory and no human is ever tempted to do something illegal and manipulate the transfer of power in America.

Yeah, right.

Would someone please remind me why we thought it was a good idea to have election machines that do NOT provide a paper receipt? Something I can look at in my hand and say, “yup, that’s how I voted.” And then allow me to deposit that piece of paper in a secure box, so if the election is disputed, or too close to call, or someone alleges dead people are voting, or any one of a number of things happens, we can go back and check something other than an easily manipulated computer hard drive?

You know, a back-up? Do we no longer believe in back-up plans in this country?

My dad used to say he was “a belt-and-suspenders man.” He checked and double-checked everything. He didn’t do anything without having a back-up in case plan A didn’t work. We sometimes called him a pain in the ass but you know what? Important stuff didn’t fall through the cracks.

I want a belt-and-suspenders election. Something this important deserves a back-up. I simply do not get the arguments against this.