Local election officials are looking for some good hackers. As part of an effort to create a new voting system, Los Angeles County computer specialists are headed this week to Defcon, one of the world’s largest hacking conventions, where attendees will try to compromise a new target — voting equipment. County Registrar-Recorder Dean C. Logan said he hopes Defcon’s new Voting Village will give his staff more to worry about as they work to revamp the way Los Angeles County votes. Defcon, which draws 20,000 participants to Las Vegas yearly, has set aside a space this year for hackers to pick apart voting machines, assail voter-registration databases and carry out mock attacks on various voting processes from around the country.
… Security advocates are “very, very worried” about hackers’ next moves, said Barbara Simons, a prominent San Francisco computer scientist who leads Verified Voting, a nonprofit election-security advocacy group. Simons, who will open the Defcon event Friday at Caesars Palace, said she hopes to use the occasion to kick off her group’s national awareness campaign about “our broken voting system” and require voter-marked paper ballots nationally.
… In concept, L.A. County’s plans dovetail with what security advocates such as Simons have been calling for — in part because they preserve the paper ballot.
Paper balloting may seem anachronistic. But in the new world of rampant cyber-insecurity, paper is almost seen as cutting edge. “Paper is a very good thing,” said Simons, whose group also advocates mandatory audits of computer tallies.