Apropos the coming ballot meltdown, when it comes to electronic voting we already know to be afraid, very afraid. Now comes a report from NYU–by all accounts the most authoritative on e-voting to date–demonstrating that “it would take only one person, with a sophisticated technical knowledge and timely access to the software that runs the voting machines, to change the outcome” of a national election. (WP)
The report concluded that the three major electronic voting systems in use have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities. But it added that most of these vulnerabilities can be overcome by auditing printed voting records to spot irregularities. And while 26 states require paper records of votes, fewer than half of those require regular audits.
With billions of dollars of support from the federal government, states have replaced outdated voting machines in recent years with optical scan ballot and touch-screen machines. Activists, including prominent computer scientists, have complained for years that these machines are not secure against tampering.
Indeed not. And, as Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, tells the Washington Post, “It’s not a question of ‘if’ [somebody hacks an election, or at least tries to], it’s a question of ‘when.’ ”