Monday, October 23, 2006

More Problems With Diebold

The Washington Post has reported on the latest issue with the Diebold voting machines, which we now know can be easily hacked.

A Maryland election official said yesterday that possibly stolen computer disks believed to be electronic voting software were "apparently produced" for use by a testing firm hired by the Maryland legislature in November 2003.

The disks in question contain two different programs that were used in the Maryland elections in 2004. What's worse is that, nobody really knows how many copies of this software are floating around at this time-- apparently enough copies so that someone at the Washington Post was able to get their hands on some. And since Diebold doesn't have a paper trail, there's no real way to make sure that something didn't go wrong in 2004 and that something won't go wrong in November.

[Edward] Felten, the Princeton computer scientist [who was able to hack the Diebold machine], said public disclosure of the core instructions or "source code" that powers electronic voting machines would enhance security by allowing experts to find flaws that could then be corrected.

Interesting, and he's probably correct. It would allow for flaws to be found, but you have to wonder about the person who finds it. Would that person seek to find a solution or use the flaw to hack the program? Then again, when a program is open source, problems in the source code would be reported to the public, and for every bad guy, there is usually a good guy who wants to fix the problem. It seems to have worked well for Mozilla. Still, I don't know how many people I feel comfortable with fooling around with my vote. Maybe we should just go back to paper.

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