If the 2016 election is hacked, it's because no one listened to these people

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/12/if-the-2016-election-is-hacked.html

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The talk Appel gave a few years ago on this is a hoot. Not mentioned in the article: the keys used in the voting machine, which could be ordered on eBay, were hotel-room bar/fridge keys.


No, I see plenty of results and mainstream press around this issue. We’re talking about voter IDs, right? Those will take care of this, right?


It’s pretty maddening that mass voter disenfranchisement was sold as preventing voter fraud (like 3 cases in 20 years per state), and people actually bought into it, while this really serious problem gets a big shrug. I guess the Republicans pushing the “voter fraud” laws had some notion that if the voting machines were going to be hacked, they were going to be hacked in their favor…


There were some statistically weird results in Florida in 2008 and also in Ohio in 2012, but it is generally agreed it’s just one of those things and talking about it is Conspiracy Theory. Therefore, I am not mentioning it.


Lo-tech rules! In Canada, most of us still vote by marking an X with a pencil on the white circle; they’re counted by hand, with results available within hours of polls closing.


The not listening to these people is deliberate. In Oklahoma they’ve even been spuriously prosecuting these people.

The only reason anyone would ever consider using a voting machine without an indelible audit trail and source code subject to public scrutiny is if they intended to cheat. There is unequivocal statistical evidence both that past elections have been hacked and that this election has already been hacked.


Admittedly, we usually are making a single mark (two, if you count an X as two marks) on a slip of paper. Municipal ballots are slightly more complicated (I think my last municipal ballot had me voting for three offices: Mayor, Councillor, and Trustee), but not that much more.

The same U.S. ballot can contain a vote for:

A Presidential nominee
A federal House of Representatives nominee
Usually one, but up to two federal Senate nominees
A Gubernatorial nominee
A state House of Representatives nominee
A state Senate nominee
Other State offices (Board of Education, judges, DAs, etc)
Municipal offices (Mayor, Council, etc.)
Votes for/against Constitutional amendments
Votes for/against other legislation

Add to this the fact that there are an order of magnitude more people voting in the US compared to Canada, and a much more complicate electoral system (see: the Electoral College), and I wouldn’t want to count ballots by hand in a U.S. election.


Yes, it could be tedious to do that. Yet software that essentially adds either zero or one to one of a set of variables (in the case of most contests for a particular position) or adds one, zero, or negative one to a variable (in the case of a ballot question) has to be secret, proprietary software? An Arduino and half an hour of programming time could do that. :blush:

Even the more “complicated” choices (choose two or more from a set of candidates) is no more complex than ordering from McDonalds…

As far as the human interface, if McDonald touch screen kiosks can accurately tell a fish-fillet from a quarter pounder, voting machines shouldn’t have a problem.

Still, I wouldn’t trust one without a reliable human readable audit trail.

Which reminds me, there are companies hiring people on the Autism/Asperger scale to do tasks like debugging software and finding patterns in data. This might be another excellent opportunity.

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Don’t forget as many as 30 judgeships on one ballot too (no, I’m not exaggerating).


Over 70 million voters participated in the 1968 U.S. presidential election. We used hardcopy ballots. It went off without much of a hitch, despite having 3 major contenders and a very ugly campaign season.

There is no reason why we cannot conduct successful hardcopy-only elections today. The best practices are straightforward, and have been known for decades. If it takes >30 hours for NBC to be able to “call” the vote in, say, Alaska… oh well. Tough shit.


Beat me to it was going to link this in.

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Add to this the fact that there are an order of magnitude more people voting in the US compared to Canada

So you can also get an order of magnitude more people doing the counting? Guess how the ballots get counted in India.


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