Monday, December 17, 2007

From My Tinfoil Files

Those of us who wrote a lot about the scope for election fraud in the 2004 elections got awarded tinfoil hats. (Tinfoil is supposed to keep the government thought reading rays off from your noggin, and given that those thought reading rays don't yet exist anyone with tinfoil for headgear has been labeled as a nutter.)

But sometimes a tinfoil is not a bad thing to wear. For instance, a recent study of the Ohio voting system reveals some really big problems. I don't want to say "I told you so", of course.

But the truth is that a person with minimal computer knowledge could rig up the results:

All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly swung two elections toward President Bush, have critical flaws that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election, a report commissioned by the state's top elections official has found.

"It was worse than I anticipated," the official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, said of the report. "I had hoped that perhaps one system would test superior to the others."

At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.

A similar study done earlier in Florida demonstrated similar weaknesses. Anyone thinking that these convenient frailties of the system will not be exploited by someone, somewhere, gets a lovely hand-knitted tinfoil straitjacket from me.

While we are on the topic of voting, may I ask why the voting days are not during a weekend? The current system means that some voters must lose income or pay for childcare in order to vote. I would think that everybody in a democracy should be encouraged to vote and that voting should be made as convenient as possible.