California Voting Machine Audit Results
The state of California conducted a security review of their electronic voting machines earlier this year. This was a serious review, with real security researchers getting access to the source code. The report was issued last week, and the researchers were able to compromise all three machines—by Diebold Election Systems, Hart Intercivic, and Sequoia Voting Systems—multiple ways. (They said they could probably find more ways, if they had more time.)
Final report and details about the audit here. Good blog entries here and here. We don’t know what California will do now.
This is no surprise, really. The notion that electronic voting machines were somehow more secure every other computer system ever built was ridiculous from the start. And the claims by machine manufacturers that releasing their source code would hurt the security of the machine was—like all these sorts of claims—really an attempt to prevent embarrassment to the company.
Not everyone gets this, unfortunately. And not everyone involved in voting:
Letting the hackers have the source codes, operating manuals and unlimited access to the voting machines “is like giving a burglar the keys to your house,” said Steve Weir, clerk-recorder of Contra Costa County and head of the state Association of Clerks and Election Officials.
No. It’s like giving burglars the schematics, installation manuals, and unlimited access to your front door lock. If your lock is good, it will survive the burglar having that information. If your lock isn’t good, the burglar will get in.
I have two essays on this, from 2004: “Why Election Technology is Hard,” and “Electronic Voting Machines.” This essay—”Voting and Technology“—was written in 2000.
EDITED TO ADD (7/31): Another article.
EDITED TO ADD (8/2): Good commentary.
Leave a comment