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Utah Count Votes!

Information about Utah's process for selecting voting equipment to help you make sure that "Utah Counts Votes"

Utah is now considering proposals for DRE-style voting machines from Diebold and ES&S.

Voting Machine Testing by Michael Burkhart

The Utah Voting Equipment Committee and the public election officials they invite to the Mock Election are not qualified to test the voting machines because they won't try to break them. They will follow all the "rules" of voting, and that's not what "real life" will do to the machines.

I've beta tested before, and my goal was to do everything I could to break the system... and I was good at it. There was an occasion where I had the chief programmer leaning over my shoulder while I demonstrated how I broke it.

Voting systems are different. They're written by those who are paranoid about their code, but not about the results. The application can be hacked in a "real life" situation. As you've already pointed out, voters can go to the judge and have their vote changed or even nullified, there are issues concerning voters with disabilities, the current system up for consideration has no paper trail, and etc.

With regard to vote changing or nullifying, what is to stop a dishonest judge or voter from changing votes and possibly affecting the outcome of an election? Don't believe it can't happen? Kevin Mitnick ("The Art of Deception") and Bruce Schneier ("Beyond Fear" and "Secrets & Lies") would beg to differ. These authors come from polar opposites of the computer security spectrum (similar in some respects to Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks in "Catch Me If You Can", which, by the way, is another recommended title for research), yet they both come to the same conclusion: it doesn't matter how good the computers are, if the people running them are corrupt, then you have a corrupt system. I'm almost half-way through "The Art of Deception," and it has opened my eyes to many things, which include the fact that I know the voting system can be "socially engineered" (a term from the book), and I'm convinced it will be attempted.

Addressing the point of a paper trail: The ONLY way to eliminate a corrupt voting system is to have a system of verification, which includes (among other things) a tangible paper trail. In other words, we need printouts, and we need these printouts to go back to the "vaults" with the computers the same way punch cards are handled in our current system. If ever a recount is ordered, we will need that tangible paper trail to verify the votes.

We also need a voting system where the code is Open Source where everybody can review it. Its output will be more secure if people can have an honest opportunity to review the code. Consider, the encryption routines that go into PGP (one of the most highly respected encryption programs publicly available, and respected because it's so secure) are not only public, but published (Schneier, "Applied Cryptography"). (especially the exerpt link) (get the DVD and watch the extras, they're at least as good as the film itself)

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