In 2006, a group of computer hackers reprogrammed a Dutch electronic voting machine to play chess. The Dutch government subsequently imposed a moratorium on the use of electronic voting machines. In 2009, German Federal Constitutional Court ruled the country’s electronic voting systems unreliable to the point that their use was deemed unconstitutional. In June, Ireland paid a metal recycling company €70,267 to dismantle and recycle the country’s €55 million worth of electronic voting machines. In the United States, 35% of this year’s general election votes will be cast on electronic voting machines that, “in terms of effort required to compromise the systems, are in the same ballpark as the Irish voting machines,” according to Dan Wallach, a professor in Rice University’s Department of Computer Science and a computer systems security specialist. “The current voting machines were designed with insufficient attention to computer security.”
This week, stories appeared in several prominent publications, including The Washington Post and theAtlantic, documenting concern about electronic voting in general, and, in particular, a possible Mitt Romney link to voting machines used in Ohio. In brief, Solamere Capital, a private-equity firm run by Tagg Romney, one of the candidate’s sons, invests in HIG Capital, a private-equity firm whose principals include former Romney colleagues and current Romney fundraisers. Last year, HIG made what it terms a “significant” investment in Austin-based voting machine company Hart InterCivic. Hart machines are used in two counties in Ohio: Williams County, which has 25,000 of the state’s eight million registered voters, and Hamilton County, with 565,000 registered voters.