Barbara Simons

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National: Claims increase of machines switching votes in Ohio, other battlegrounds | Fox News

Imagine going to vote for your presidential candidate and pushing the button on a touch-screen voting machine — but the “X” marks his opponent instead. That is what some voters in Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Ohio have reported. Fox News has received several complaints from voters who say they voted on touch-screen voting machines — only when they tried to select Mitt Romney, the machine indicated they had chosen President Obama. The voters in question realized the error and were able to cast ballots for their actual choice. “I don’t know if it happened to anybody else or not, but this is the first time in all the years that we voted that this has ever happened to me,” said Marion, Ohio, voter Joan Stevens. 

Full Article: Claims increase of machines switching votes in Ohio, other battlegrounds | Fox News.

National: Could e-voting machines in Election 2012 be hacked? Yes. | CSMonitor.com

Rapid advances in the development of cyberweapons and malicious software mean that electronic-voting machines used in the 2012 election could be hacked, potentially tipping the presidential election or a number of other races. Since the machines are not connected to the Internet, any hack would not be a matter of someone sneaking through cyberspace to change ballots. Rather, the concern is that an individual hacker, a partisan group, or even a nation state could infect voting machines by gaining physical access to them or by targeting the companies that service them. 

Full Article: Could e-voting machines in Election 2012 be hacked? Yes. - CSMonitor.com.

Maryland: Online voter registration vulnerable to attack, researchers say | The Washington Post

A voting rights group and some of the nation’s leading researchers on election technology are urging Maryland voters to check the accuracy of their online voter registration files after warning that the data had been left vulnerable to tampering. Researchers at the University of Michigan, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a former president of the Association for Computing Machinery wrote to Maryland officials late last month urging them to take immediate steps to better protect a new system that allows Marylanders to update their voter registration online. The letter warned that anyone with access to a Maryland voter’s full name and birth date could exploit a simple online tool to change the voter’s address, party affiliation or other information. Such changes, especially a change of address, could lead to a voter’s ballot not being counted normally on Election Day.

Full Article: Maryland’s online voter registration vulnerable to attack, researchers say - The Washington Post.

Maryland: Cracks in Maryland and Washington Voter Databases | NYTimes.com

Computer security experts have identified vulnerabilities in the voter registration databases in two states, raising concerns about the ability of hackers and others to disenfranchise voters. In the last five years, Maryland and Washington State have set up voter registration systems that make it easy for people to register to vote and update their address information online. The problem is that in both states, all the information required from voters to log in to the system is publicly available. It took The New York Times less than three minutes to track down the information online needed to update the registrations of several prominent executives in Washington State. Complete voter lists, which include a name, birth date, addresses and party affiliation, can be easily bought — and are, right now, in the hands of thousands of campaign volunteers.

Full Article: Cracks in Maryland and Washington Voter Databases - NYTimes.com.

Maryland: Cracks in Maryland and Washington Voter Databases | NYTimes.com

Computer security experts have identified vulnerabilities in the voter registration databases in two states, raising concerns about the ability of hackers and others to disenfranchise voters. In the last five years, Maryland and Washington State have set up voter registration systems that make it easy for people to register to vote and update their address information online. The problem is that in both states, all the information required from voters to log in to the system is publicly available. It took The New York Times less than three minutes to track down the information online needed to update the registrations of several prominent executives in Washington State. Complete voter lists, which include a name, birth date, addresses and party affiliation, can be easily bought — and are, right now, in the hands of thousands of campaign volunteers.

Full Article: Cracks in Maryland and Washington Voter Databases - NYTimes.com.

Editorials: Internet voting advocates ignorant of software, says computer scientist Barbara Simons | FierceGovernmentIT

Advocates of Internet voting typically form their opinions without real knowledge of how software works, said Barbara Simons, a computer scientist and board member of VerifiedVoting.org. She gave an Aug. 8 talk to the research division of Microsoft; the company posted a webcast of her presentation online. “They don’t understand why when we say you can’t find all the software bugs, you can’t,” Simons said. An analogous public policy example of how software can permit inadvertent flaws that enable later malicious exploitation is the U.S. tax code, she said. Congress periodically approves well-intentioned updates to that complex system which, once implemented, “turn out to benefit a single company in ways that have not been anticipated before the update,” she said.

Full Article: Internet voting advocates ignorant of software, says Simons - FierceGovernmentIT.

Editorials: Not Again! How Our Voting System Is Ripe For Theft and Meltdown in 2012 | AlterNet

The most fundamental of democratic processes has become more barrier-filled and error-prone than at anytime since Florida’s 2000 election, when voter list purges, flawed voting technology and a partisan U.S. Supreme Court majority ended a statewide recount and installed George W. Bush as president. This fall’s potential problems begin with a new generation of voter suppression laws and aging voting machines in a handful of presidential battleground states. And other important factors are in play, such as election officials curtailing voting options due to fiscal constraints, the increasing age of poll workers—volunteers averaging in their 70s—who must referee an ever more complex process, and the likelihood that close races will end up in post-Election Day legal fights. Voters tell academics they want consistency in voting. Yet emerging trends are poised to upend that hope in many states. This year’s big questions are: where will the meltdown—or meltdowns—occur, what will go wrong, on what scale, and, when it comes to computer failures or tampering, will we even know about it?

Full Article: Not Again! How Our Voting System Is Ripe For Theft and Meltdown in 2012 | | AlterNet.

National: Book review: Broken Ballots | ZDNet UK

Few people — the security expert Rebecca Mercuri being the notable exception — thought much about the mechanics of voting before the Bush-versus-Gore presidential election in 2000. A few weeks of watching diligent poll workers holding up ballots to look for hanging chads changed all that. The timing — coincidental with both the rise of the internet and the dot-com bust — suddenly put voting technology on everyone’s agenda. … A number of earlier books have examined computer-based voting and concluded that it’s a supremely bad idea. Primarily, these have focused on explaining the basic security issues and the contemporary context for the popular market. In Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?, Douglas W. Jones, a computer scientist at the University of Iowa, and Barbara Simons, a retired IBM research scientist and former president of the Association for Computing Machinery, have written the book that’s really needed: a comprehensive historical and technical account of just why it’s dangerous to place the control of our democracy in the hands of a few technology vendors. It doesn’t make for exactly light reading, and it’s definitely a US-centric account, but as a worked example of the interactions among technology, policy and security it can’t be beaten.

Full Article: Book review: Broken Ballots | ZDNet.

Editorials: Challenging the market power of one voting machine maker | Sean Flaherty/Iowa City Press Citizen

I am co-chairman of Iowans for Voting Integrity, a nonpartisan citizen group that works for voting systems worthy of the public trust. We have worked for six years for two reforms that both we and many of the world’s leading computer technologists consider essential to fair elections: First, we believe that all computer voting systems must provide a reliable paper record of every ballot cast, and Second, we believe that following every election, election officials should routinely conduct a manual tally of a sample of cast ballots to check against electronic tallies. This column revisits an issue well-known both to the small community of advocates and technology experts who work on electronic voting issues and to an untold number of conspiracy theorists around the nation, but largely unknown outside those communities. This issue is the centralized marked power of the nation’s leading vendor of election equipment and services, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), and the opacity of ES&S’s ownership. I’d like to share some highly judicious and disturbing comments about ES&S that I heard June 7 at a reading at Prairie Lights by University of Iowa computer scientist Douglas Jones. Along with his co-author Barbara Simons, Jones recently published an important book, “Broken Ballots.” The reading was livestreamed on the Internet, and and audio archive should be available soon.

Full Article: Challenging the market power of one voting machine maker | Iowa City Press Citizen | press-citizen.com.

Canada: Officials mum about source of cyber-attack meant to disrupt online voting | thestar.com

New Democrats remained tight-lipped Sunday about the cyber-attack that kept the country waiting for hours at Saturday’s leadership convention. Party brass refused to disclose the source of two Internet Protocol addresses that they say perpetrated an attack meant to disrupt its online voting system, as they tried to manage Thomas Mulcair’s first day as head of the federal NDP. The party is investigating the attack, in tandem with its voting system provider, Scytl, auditors Price Waterhouse Cooper and a number of “experts,” party president Rebecca Blaikie said on Sunday. “At this point, there is not a single point person,” Blaikie said of the investigation. “We’re going to investigate what (the attack) is, where it came from. . . As soon as we know that, we’ll be able to decide what to do next.” Blaikie said neither police nor Elections Canada have been contacted. The NDP identified the IP addresses, essentially identification tags assigned to web-wired devices, as perpetrators of a denial-of-service (DNS) attack. While the party insists the results were not compromised, some are questioning the integrity of the final, fourth-round ballot, which propelled Thomas Mulcair to victory after more than 12 hours of voting.

Full Article: Canada News: NDP leadership: Officials mum about source of cyber-attack meant to disrupt online voting - thestar.com.

Estonia: Tallinn Calls in Expert to Denounce E-Voting | ERR

Yesterday, July 20, the City of Tallinn bolstered its drive to bar the nation’s much-touted e-voting system from local elections, holding a press conference where prominent US computer scientist Barbara Simons said that such systems are inherently vulnerable.

The University of California, Berkeley PhD and former Association for Computing Machinery president spoke about risks such as malware, attacks on the server managing the election, insider threats and false websites.

Speaking in general terms, not about Estonia’s system in particular, she said that the nature of e-voting makes it impossible to audit or recount the votes. She also warned of the possibility of software viruses or worms that could infect a computer, casting votes without the user’s knowledge.

Estonia: Expert from USA: e-voting is not safe | bbn.ee

Barbara Simons, a reputable expert on IT-safety, who is visiting Tallinn, claims that as internet becomes more and more dangerous, most of the internet experts are certain that e-voting is everything but safe, writes Raepress.

Simons said that cyber criminals are able to gather all kinds of information and even attack different governments – as Russian hackers did with Estonian internet systems. Simons added that allegedly, the computer virus that attacked Iran was released by specialists from Israel and USA.

Simons was in Tallinn Town Hall yesterday, taking part in a forum dedicated to e-voting and today will hold a public lecture titled “Time is not ripe for e-voting”. On Wednesday Simons will give a press conference as well.

Full Article: bbn.ee - Expert from USA: e-voting is not safe.