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Election Day was just another chance to worry about security

J.F. Rice | Nov. 7, 2014
We’re surrounding ourselves with devices that rely on software, but their designers never seem to take security seriously.

Electronic voting machines are another technology I have long been worried about. And for good reason. Voting machines made by Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold) and Election Systems & Software have had security flaws over the years, and as far as we know, those flaws are still around. We can't know for sure, since the manufacturers have not been forthcoming with information about their code or their security measures. Researchers have demonstrated that votes can be changed by inserting devices into the machine's hardware, as well as by modifying the software directly through physical access to the machines.

Because of my mistrust of such machines, I vote with an absentee (paper) ballot. The only way to keep systems secure is to constantly apply updates that the manufacturers release in response to testing that uncovers vulnerabilities in the underlying platforms. The problem is that the evidence of such testing and updating is largely absent in our electronic voting systems. This is a shocking neglect in one of our nation's most important functions. So I use paper, in an effort to safeguard the integrity of my vote. The problem, of course, is that as citizens, we need to be concerned with the integrity of all votes. Without it, the system falls apart.

In fact, of all the systems that are in dire need of better security, our voting systems get my vote as the No. 1 priority.


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