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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Electronic Voting Made Simple

I read a recent news article about how easy the new electronic voting machines are to hack, and I just don't get it. To me the solution is very simple to design and implement.

To quote Scotty in Star Trek III, "The more they overdo the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain." So here's what you do:

Make a simple voting program that is hardwired on an integrated circuit. You have a list of offices, and a list of candidates on a grid. You choose which one you want by hitting a button. Keep it as simple and obvious as possible.

Each machine at the voting place is connected by cable to one collecting computer. None of these machines or the collecting computer have wi-fi, Bluetooth, or any internet access whatsoever. This collecting computer has a bare-bones OS that can do five things. 

1- Record the results on the hard drive
2 - Burn those results to a DVD-ROM
3 - Copy those results to a backup USB stick.
4 - Print the results on paper.
5 - Reformat / fill random characters on the hard drive.

OK, now comes the human element, but there's always going to be a human element no matter what, right? The same way paper results would be transported by an official to whatever collecting agency currently collects them, the official physically transports the DVD, paperwork, and USB stick. Let's say to a county seat, once an hour.

The county seats compile and verify all the data it receives, once again on computers with bare-bones operating systems, with the paperwork. These computers do the same thing as their district counterparts, but the compiled results are transported hourly to the state capital.

At the state level, the results can be transmitted by secure internet connection to national data collectors as they come in. This data is verified over a webcam by an official, whose face must be verified by face recognition software. Sure, the line might possibly be hacked into, but while the data might possibly be found out, the results would be nearly impossible to change.

Feel free to poke holes in this, but I don't understand why something along these lines can't be implemented. Who in their right minds designs e-voting computers with wi-fi access and expects it to be secure?

TTFN
-Tony

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