Bowen Decertifies Electronic Voting Machines

The Times reports that our electronic voting machines are all screwed up.

Finally, I am so glad that this issue made the headlines. Bowen did a good thing, bringing a lot of security issues to the fore.

The Times story did miss one thing, though -- when vote tampering happens on physical ballots, people have some ability to recognize it because people have to move the paper around or put it into the ballot box. With electronic fraud, it's impossible to detect unless you know what's happening.

The local officials are complaining, but a lot of experts, including many computer scientists, have been opposed to using computers at the polls. The risk for undetectable fraud are quite large, and given the high stakes nature of voting in California, with its enormous budget, even a tiny security hole can be a big risk.

Indeed, there was a security hole present in the InkaVote boxes that we used at the County around a year ago, and it's one that probably has been opened by regular voting clerks. If you neglected to follow the instructions provided on paper to shut off the machine at the right time*, and instead, initiated the regular shut down procedure from the computer screen, you'd get a complete count of the votes.

I should repeat this: if you ignored the printed instructions, and instead, read the buttons on the screen and went through the normal shut down procedure, you'd get a count of all the votes.

How many people followed the screen instead of reading the paper instructions? Probably some people who use computers without reading the instructions, and are used to shutting down the computer instead of unplugging it. I know, because that's what I did. It was just a couple of taps on the screen, and voila, a tally of all the votes was spit out.

Now, with those vote tallies, someone with a partisan interest in the election could have "lost" the ballot box if their candidate lost at that polling place, and deprived a candidate of votes.

I didn't do that, despite the fact that Schwartzenegger won in my precinct by one vote. We turned it in, fair and square, and Phil Angelides, whom I voted for, lost.

Bowen Decertifies Electronic

Rick Hasen links to a number of other articles on the voting machines here:

He also had an op-ed piece in the LA Times, which he links here:

And, finally, on an unrelated but humerous note, I'll link to his post on the VRA and the transliteration of candidates' names: