August 2016

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Is our election hackable or not?

We hear from Richard Clarke, President Obama, Pam Smith, and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.  We annotate Denise Merrill’s recent press conference.

Report: Secret Ballot At Risk

A new report from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, articulates some of the risks of losing the the Secret Ballot: Secret Ballot At Risk: Recommendations for Protecting Democracy <Exec Summary> <Report>

We recommend reading the Executive Summary and at least the section of the report covering the history of and the need for the secret ballot, pages 4-9 and the section for your state, e.g. Connecticut pages 54-55.

Our only criticism is that the report does not cover the risks to the secret ballot and democracy posed by photos, most often seen in selfies of voters with the voted ballot taken in the voting booth.  Nor does it cover the risks  to the secret ballot posed by absentee voting.

Book Review: Countdown to Zero Day (Stuxnet)

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon, by Kim Zetter covers in detail the discovery, exposure, and detailing of the Stuxnet virus.  It is a fascinating, educational, and important read.  Relevant to anyone interested in cyber security, war, foreign affairs, and election integrity.  There is also a new documentary, ZER0DAYS.

I read the book and then watched the movie.  I recommend the book over the documentary, although it is complementary.  The book covers Stuxnet and its discovery in much more detail.  Yet, the book is accessible to everyone. After reading the book, even the non-technical reader, will have an understanding of what Stuxnet could do, its wider implications for security, and foreign affairs.  I am not convinced those that watch the movie will have an anywhere equivalent understanding.

NPV Note: Trump and Hillary visit Connecticut

Donald Trump is visiting Connecticut tonight at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, while Hillary is visiting Greenwich on Monday for a fundraiser <read>

This provides a great opportunity to discuss a couple of points often touted in favor of the National Popular Vote.

  • That presidential candidates will never campaign in Connecticut until we have a national popular vote.
  • That candidates only come to Connecticut to take money out of the state.
  • And apparently we would benefit from the money they would spend here.

What Could Elections Officials Learn From the Delta Airlines Outage

  • System failures are generally explained away as accidents, usually unique and isolated ones.
  • Human systems are vulnerable to failure, especially those dependent on computer systems, especially when there is no manual backup.
  • If businesses like airlines, banks, and Federal Government agencies cannot protect their systems, how can state, county,  and local systems be expected to be reliable?

Connecticut is not the pick of the litter here, as we said last April:

We sadly await the Election Day when the Connecticut voter registration system is down, especially with no contingency plan for Election Day Registration. Don’t say “Who Could Have Imagined”, we did.

 

How to excite the public about electronic voting: “Russia Might Hack an Election”

Apparently Donald Trump and the media have done in a few days what computer scientists, security experts, and voting integrity advocates have failed at for at least sixteen years:  Excite the public about the dangers of electronic voting.

Apparently the threat of a sophisticated Russian hack is more threatening that an election being taken by the equivalent of amateur electronic ballot stuffing.

There are a lot of articles we could site, but one of the most comprehensive comes from Politico Magazine.  It is written from the prospective of Princeton researchers, with lots of history and articulated concerns, with relatively little red baiting.  How To Hack An Election In 7 Minutes