Your E-Ballot Vote Is Not Private

Voting in this country is such a joke, but not a funny one — it’s run by unsecure corporate interests, and now according to Cnet’s excellent, thorough piece E-voting predicament: Not-so-secret ballots, it’s pretty easy to match voters with votes. Feel like voting now? Snip:

(…) Two Ohio activists have discovered that e-voting machines made by Election Systems and Software and used across the country produce time-stamped paper trails that permit the reconstruction of an election’s results–including allowing voter names to be matched to their actual votes.
Making a secret ballot less secret, of course, could permit vote selling and allow interest groups or family members to exert undue pressure on Ohio residents to vote a certain way. It’s an especially pointed concern in Ohio, a traditional swing state in presidential elections that awarded George Bush a narrow victory over John Kerry three years ago.
Ohio law permits anyone to walk into a county election office and obtain two crucial documents: a list of voters in the order they voted, and a time-stamped list of the actual votes. “We simply take the two pieces of paper together, merge them, and then we have which voter voted and in which way,” said James Moyer, a longtime privacy activist and poll worker who lives in Columbus, Ohio.
(…) David Wagner, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, said electronic storage of votes in the order that voters cast them is a recurring problem with e-voting machines.
“This summer I learned that Diebold’s AV-TSX touchscreen voting machine stores a time stamp showing the time which each vote was cast–down to the millisecond–along with the electronic record of that vote,” Wagner said in an e-mail message. “In particular, we discovered this as part of the California top-to-bottom review and reported it in our public report on the Diebold voting system. However, I had no idea that this kind of information was available to the public as a public record.”


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One comment on “Your E-Ballot Vote Is Not Private
  1. The machines causing the problem in Ohio were made by ES&S. Interestingly enough, the Diebold machines are not threatened by this particular attack.
    As the data analyst for the team which exposed this vulnerability, I’d like to invite you to our blog, The Public Ballot, where you can stay up-to-date on the progress of repairing the secret ballot.

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