Saturday, November 06, 2004

Avi Rubin, professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins, documents his experience as an election judge at a precinct with touchscreen voting:
The media was setting up the election as potentially marred by e-voting. There was a problem with this. The biggest threat posed by the current crop of electronic voting machines is a software problem, either malicious or due to an unintentional bug, that affects the outcome of the election in an undetectable way. The media, however, focus on detectable problems. To some extent, I felt that the election was going to be viewed as a referendum on electronic voting, despite the issue not appearing on any ballot. However, even if the election were viewed as "successful," it would not alleviate the vast majority of my concerns with the machines. Voting machines that are vulnerable to wholesale rigging can still perform perfectly normally. It is possible that nobody exploited the vulnerabilities this time around, and it is also possible that there was fraud or serious error, but that they went undetected. Electronic voting will be judged on the noticeable failures, and the unnoticeable ones are the most serious.

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