Stupid Terrorism Overreaction

Oh, the stupid:

State officials have decided not to publicize their list of polling places in Pennsylvania, citing concerns that terrorists could disrupt elections in the commonwealth.


“The agencies agreed it was appropriate not to release the statewide list to protect the public and the integrity of the voting process,” Amoros said.

Information on individual polling places remains available on the state voter services Web site or by calling the state or county elections bureaus.

A few days later the governor rescinded the order.

Posted on October 30, 2007 at 12:56 PM22 Comments


ROTFL#1! October 30, 2007 1:56 PM

Is it just me or is this on the verge of becoming far more comical than “Who’s on first?”

Bystander October 30, 2007 2:03 PM

Not sure this is such a bad idea (from a certain point of view). Fixing elections by making it hard to vote isn’t really new. What? did somebody Florida just then? Perhaps voting should be controlled according to state security measures … or are you with the terrorists?

Zizzy October 30, 2007 2:09 PM

As if terrorists would be too lazy to compile a list from the individual polling place information.

Pennsylvanians – remember it’s your tax dollars paying these imbecile bureaucrats’ salaries.

Joe Buck October 30, 2007 2:10 PM

And as a side effect, you make it harder for investigative journalists to uncover election fraud, since they’ll have a tough time surveying the polling places if they can’t find them. Just a bonus, I guess.

Anonymous October 30, 2007 2:12 PM

I’d like to believe that this level of stupidity in government is due to our inability to assess modern risk, but that would just be wishful thinking.

Kevin Binswanger October 30, 2007 2:13 PM

Anyone else wonder if they send people registered with the incumbent party to one location and everyone else to another location that drops, say, 1% of ballots?

CGomez October 30, 2007 2:20 PM

Again, you have a variety of state and local agencies spending federal dollars to conduct “security work”. In order to keep receiving the dollars, every single agency that receives such funds has to show they need the money. This office decided they should introduce some security related procedures. But come on, they are invented by bureaucrats. What do they know about it?

ROTFL#1! October 30, 2007 3:36 PM

A friend commented that this is an example of the limbo at work in a bureaucracy …

… who can lower the bar the most and still squeeze through.

Guess they got caught.

suomynona October 30, 2007 3:45 PM

“A few days later the governor rescinded the order.”

thus maintaining the current state of ‘democracy theater’

Nomen Publicus October 30, 2007 4:16 PM

Before Google (and the French selling SPOT photos to anybody who asked) the British government used to hide “sensitive” locations in official arial photographs by means of “clouds”.

You could always find the “sensitive” locations in the official maps of the country because they would appear as curiously empty areas in otherwise busy parts of the map…,,1838757,00.html

I’m sure that the Germans had no difficulty at all in locating sites worth bombing.

Deputycleric October 30, 2007 11:27 PM

If we keep making it harder to vote, and try to convince people voting is futile anyway, maybe they’ll finally give up on the whole irritating idea.

God knows, none of our politicians would want that to happen.

On the other hand, perhaps voting should be banned outright, since it can be influenced by terrorists irrespective of voting locations. Spain, anyone?

Ban voting now! It’s the only way to protect our democracy!

Ian Eiloart October 31, 2007 6:08 AM

The really stupid part of this is that terrorists would have no reason to obtain a state-wide list. A large coordinated attack would probably hit no more than a dozen or so polling booths.

bob October 31, 2007 7:00 AM

Remember – this is the same state where right after 9/11 they sent the national guard to the airports WITHOUT AMMUNITION in order to make sure that terrorists storming the barricades would have free access to automatic weapons as well.

Nick Lancaster October 31, 2007 8:09 AM

Is it just me, or is the individual polling place a low-priority and relatively worthless target?

I think a terrorist would pick the central tabulating location, and pursue a decapitation strategy – take out the registrar of voters, secretary of state, a mayor or two …

Oh, and not to mention it’s easy enough to find your polling place. Just drive around looking for someone with an open garage door and an American flag hanging out.

Jack C Lipton October 31, 2007 2:08 PM

@Nick Lancaster
“Is it just me, or is the individual polling place a low-priority and relatively worthless target?”

Terrorism is about manipulating people into feeling fear. A randomized strike on polling places will instill fear in those who hear about it– which our News Organizations are very good at, since fear sells— and have people avoid their own “for fear that they will walk into a trap”.

Heinlein once commented, in the Notebooks of Lazarus Long, “Never underestimate the stupidity of human beings”.

In truth, the best way to handle terrorists is to not take them seriously– but that won’t boost the viewership of CNN, Fox, etc… but might help the rating for the Comedy Network, which seems to be the least slanted (i.e. “if the news can be funny, it doesn’t matter who gets satirized”).

Srinivas November 5, 2007 6:51 PM

Most of us are on this site to learn and do computer security, not state security. Lets leave that subject to the state security experts, else this forum becomes just noise.

The reaction to terrorism cannot be an over-reaction, because it is THE question of life and death.

Leave a comment


Allowed HTML <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre> Markdown Extra syntax via

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.