Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quick, Someone Alert Jimmy Carter: Electronic Voting Not Secure

Can you believe it? Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez would actually tamper with voting machines?
The CIA, which has been monitoring foreign countries' use of electronic voting systems, has reported apparent vote-rigging schemes in Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine and a raft of concerns about the machines' vulnerability to tampering.

Appearing last month before a U.S. Election Assistance Commission field hearing in Orlando, a CIA cybersecurity expert suggested that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his allies fixed a 2004 election recount, an assertion that could further roil U.S. relations with the Latin leader.

In a presentation that could provide disturbing lessons for the United States, where electronic voting is becoming universal, Steve Stigall summarized what he described as attempts to use computers to undermine democratic elections in developing nations. His remarks have received no news media attention until now.

Stigall told the Election Assistance Commission, a tiny agency that Congress created in 2002 to modernize U.S. voting, that computerized electoral systems can be manipulated at five stages, from altering voter registration lists to posting results.
I'm sure Democrats would never try any such chicanery.
Stigall, who has studied electronic systems in about three dozen countries, said most countries' machines produced paper receipts that voters then dropped into boxes. However, even that doesn't prevent corruption, he said.

Turning to Venezuela, he said that Chávez controlled all of the country's voting equipment before he won a 2004 nationwide recall vote that had threatened to end his rule.

When Chávez won, Venezuelan mathematicians challenged results that showed him to be consistently strong in parts of the country where he had weak support. The mathematicians found ''a very subtle algorithm'' that appeared to adjust the vote in Chávez's favor, Stigall said.

Calls for a recount left Chávez facing a dilemma, because the voting machines produced paper ballots, Stigall said.

''How do you defeat the paper ballots the machines spit out?'' Stigall asked. ``Those numbers must agree, must they not, with the electronic voting-machine count? . . . In this case, he simply took a gamble.''

Stigall said Chávez agreed to allow 100 of 19,000 voting machines to be audited.

''It is my understanding that the computer software program that generated the random number list of voting machines that were being randomly audited, that program was provided by Chávez,'' Stigall said. ``That's my understanding. It generated a list of computers that could be audited, and they audited those computers.

``You know. No pattern of fraud there.''

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