A prominent security threat facing the November 2018 midterm elections amid accusations of international meddling is linked to the vulnerability of voting machines. Many of the experts gathered at a recent DefCon hacking conference highlighted the vulnerability of voting machines and their human operators. Many remarked at how human error can easily affect the security of voting machines. A simple example is that often the default password on voting machines has often been found left as the default setting where the password is actually “password”.
Candice Hoke, of the Center for Cyber-security and Privacy Protection at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, is one expert warning that our current voting machines are insecure following several recent demonstrations by security experts on how voting machines can be hacked. In many machines a paper trail is absent, raising serious questions about transparency in vote counting, as Hoke explained in a recent interview with Marketplace Tech’s Molly Wood:
“We have not required voting systems vendors to operate under the same kinds of rules as, say, pharmaceuticals as to the safe and effectiveness of their products,” Hoke said. “So safety, privacy, auditability, transparency, whatever word you want to use, these are all marketing terms in the voting systems arena rather than reflective of some kind of standards that are actually being enforced.”
While other election security experts see reason for the return of paper ballot, Hoke sees a need for public funding and regulation of voting infrastructures. Though it would require lots of money from Congress, she backed her suggestion saying:
“The public utility model is one that we have used where the public is willing to trade certain kinds of protections for an industry in exchange for receiving certain kinds of guarantees from the industry itself,” Hoke said. “So for instance, we could guarantee them a certain level of profit in exchange for being able to assure that the system, the software, is secure.”
Is she correct or should voting machines be abandoned for a paper ballot only? Add your thoughts below.