Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Only Way To Protect Against Vote Hacking: Paper Ballots

Image result for electronic voting machine images 

Yes, it seems backward and even Luddite to suggest, but the only way to really protect against outside interference in our upcoming elections is to use paper ballots.  The electronic machines simply aren't trustworthy. As a case in point barely a day or so after the WSJ reported (Aug. 13, p. A6) 'States Seek To Counter Fake Voter Instructions' noting:

"State officials say they have solid plans to guard election systems across the country from potential cyber attacks by foreign adversaries during this year's midterms"

We learned an 11 year old at this year's "hack-a-thon" (DEF CON 26) hacked a replica of Florida's voting system in ten minutes, e.g.

An 11-Year-Old Hacked Into a U.S. Voting System Replica in 10... - Time

Wherein we learned:

"Emmett Brewer, the 11-year-old who successfully hacked the replicated Florida voting site, wasn’t the only child who got into the election systems at the conference. In total, about 50 kids ranging in age from 8 to 16 attended the conference, DEFCON said in a tweet, and around 30 of them were able to hack into the imitation election websites."

A separate VOX report on the event added:
"The competition pitted 39 kids, age 6 to 17, against one another to see who could hack into replica election systems of six swing states across the US. Thirty-five of the 39 kids completed the “exploit” and “tampered with vote tallies, party names, [and] candidate names” within 30 minutes"
That news ought to shake the living crap out of any would be American voter.  Even before these alarming replica hacks were reported, one read in the WSJ (Ibid., 'Tensions Flare As Hackers Find Flaws In Election Machines'):

"In respect of the 2016 Presidential election, many critical eyes - not just on the left - have looked askance at what has transpired, especially in view of the Supreme Court's torpedoing of voter protections hitherto assured under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  But beyond those issues, there is the one that overshadows the use of electronic voting machines and whether, indeed, they can be trusted in giving reliable results."

For any who gullibly believe Diebold machines - for example- are as good as paper ballots, I invite you to take a gander at the machine below showing vote switching (from 2012) in action, e.g. at:

Arguably, if the total election results had been much closer, a much narrower margin for Obama, it is quite conceivable the 2012 election could have been stolen. The narrower margins would have made election theft more successful, effective.

The incident shown in the link was not unusual, or exceptional. On Nov. 6, 2012, at  precisely 8.30 a.m. Mountain time, wifey and I stared spellbound while watching local station KOAA-TV, as the newscaster noted two electronic machines in Adams County had 'switched' voters' choices for President - from Barack Obama to Mitt Romney! Like smart citizens who check their grocery receipts for errors after each purchase, the voters checked their paper printouts and sure enough.....there on the paper was 'Mitt Romney (R)- Paul Ryan(VP)' instead of 'Barack Obama(D)- Joe Biden (VP)'. The voters complained and precinct specialists attempted to replicate the errors, but to no avail.  However, they then performed the legit fail -safe action (demanded) of taking the machines out of commission.

Had the Colorado electoral vote total been determined by those voting machine differences, Colorado would have gone for Romney instead of Obama. THAT is why electoral processes need to be examined especially in close, nail biter elections.  Further, not all electronic voting machines will have an accurate record from paper printouts. Instead, a subset of machines will simply reproduce the electronic errors. This is why balloting independent of any electronic machines is the only way to safeguard all the voting.

As early as  April,, 2016, as originally reported by Bob Fritakis and Harvey Wasserman ('The Fix May Already Be In For GOP To Steal The 2016 Election') it was pointed out:

"There is no way to verify the official tally on the electronic machines on which the majority of Americans will vote this fall. Nearly all the machines are a decade old, most are controlled by a single company (ES&S, owned by Warren Buffett) and the courts have ruled that the software is proprietary, making the vote counts beyond public scrutiny. In fact, they are beyond all independent monitoring altogether. In many key swing states (including Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona) GOP governors and secretaries of state will have a free hand to flip the vote count to whatever they want it to be without detection or accountability. This could turn control of our government over to the GOP come November, as it did in 2000 and 2004."

Bottom line? It is utmost hubris to believe any number of poll workers- no matter how skillfully trained - would be able to stop a concerted hack effort, especially on vulnerable machines that produce no paper record. Or a hacked, machine- altered paper record.  Worse, there is no assurance of vote integrity even if no external hacks occur. For a subset of U.S. voters -  often in Red states - they will be hostage to the vagaries of ES & S and other machines in assorted locations.  The only way for states to avoid mishaps? Paper ballots, such as used in the recent Irish referendum on abortions, e.g.

See also:

You Know Election Systems Are in Trouble When It Takes an 11-Year-Old 10 Minutes to Change the Results


"The bad news is that the money wasn’t targeted to those states that need it most — those with jurisdictions that use purely electronic voting machines that do not print a paper record of a vote. The consequence is that there is no way of checking if the machine is recording votes accurately and no paper trail of votes. "

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