In my community, we vote by filling in circles on a paper sheet that goes into a scanner — we have a paper trail. Can such a process still be hacked? Yes, though paperless voting machines can more easily be hacked. Professors Ronald Rivest of MIT and J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan explained on Sept. 13 in a session at EmTech MIT on how hackers can alter elections. According to Rivest, about 80% of voting jurisdictions in the U.S. have some sort of paper trail in the event of voting-machine hacks. If, however, you vote in Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, or Nevada, there is no way to hand-count the votes should the need arise; votes are electronically recorded. The map below reveals that many other states use a mixture of paper and paperless voting systems.
“About 55% of voters use paper ballots,” said Rivest. Another roughly 24% have paper records, even if initially counted by machine. But, some 21% have direct electronic vote recording only. Some areas may have electronic recording with paper to show the machine’s results, but Halderman demonstrated how those machines can be hacked.
“Voting systems should be designated as critical infrastructure,” said Rivest. “Laptops used to check in voters are subject to attack.” Rivest warned that even though scanners use paper for their input, they can still be hacked to produce wrong results, and their counts need to be verified. Yes, a paper trail exists, but most local authorities don’t conduct thorough audits of the results unless forced to recount in the event of a close race. “Computers need to prove that they give the right answer,” he said. “They’re great at counting but terrible at proving that they gave the right answer.”
Full Article: Voting Machines: A Weak Link | EE Times.