Schneier on Security
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October 29, 2004
Mail-in Ballot Attack
Ampersand lives in Oregon, which does its voting entirely by mail. On Monday -- the day a lot of Oregon voters got their ballots -- someone knocked over Ampersand's "No on 36" sign and stole his mailbox, presumably hoping to get his ballot and prevent him from voting "no" on Amendment 36. In fact, he'd happened to receive his ballot the previous Saturday, but it could easily have worked.
From "Alas A Blog"
On Monday, someone came into our yard, knocked over our "No on 36" sign, and stole our mailbox (with Monday's mail inside it).
I doubt this was just random vandalism; Oregon mailed out voter ballots last week (Oregon does the vote entirely by mail), and a huge number of Oregonians got their ballots on Monday. So I think someone grabbed our mailbox and ran hoping that they'd get our ballots and thus keep us from voting against measure 36.
I doubt this was part of any widespread effort. Surely anyone doing it on a large scale would get tired of hauling off mailboxes, and just steal the mail inside. It's also hard to avoid getting caught, since you have to steal the mail during the day -- after it's delivered but before the resident comes home to get it.
Still, it is interesting how the predictably timed mailing of ballots, and the prevalence of political lawn signs, enables a very narrowly targeted attack.
Posted on October 29, 2004 at 2:12 PM
• 6 Comments
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I agree with davee that residential mailbox security is amazingly lax in the U.S. Most suburban mailboxes don't even lock, leaving both incoming and outgoing mail wide open to thieves (as far as I can tell, they basically are designed solely to keep the mail from blowing away!).
I was actually happy to live in a high-density residential area where we have a joint mailbox at the end of the street which is locked (the mail carrier has a master key that opens the whole thing to put in the mail, and the residents have individual keys that open up individual boxes). However, last weekend someone took a crowbar to the box, pried it open, and stole everyone's mail. The Post Office said there had been several similar attacks that morning, so evidently it was a ring of some kind.
It seems like the USPO is way behind the curve on this problem, and needs to be advancing both procedures and products (locking boxes for individual residences, e.g.) to secure the transfer of mail between carrier and recipient.
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