Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Voting saved by paper backup

 Hackers install ransomeware on voter registration database; officials use registration cards to validate signatures:

The Oct. 7 attack on Hall County, in the northern part of the state, hit critical systems and interrupted phone services, the county said in a statement posted on its website. County spokeswoman Katie Crumley did not return multiple requests for comment from The Associated Press.

But according to a report in the Gainesville Times, the attack also disabled the county’s voter signature database. Crumley was also quoted in an online CNN story saying that the attack affected both the signature database and a voting precinct map.

Ransomware scrambles affected computer networks with encryption that can only be unlocked with keys provided once the victim has paid up. Deloitte analyst Srini Subramanian said ransoms local governments pay in such cases average about $400,000.

An update Thursday evening on the county website said “the voting process for citizens has not been impacted by the attack.” However, a county official quoted by the Times said signature verification was slowed because employees had to manually pull hard copies of voter registration cards in many cases.

Paper backups for the win.  There's a lesson here for electronic voting.

8 comments:

Unknown said...

"County spokeswoman Katie Crumley did not return multiple requests for comment from The Associated Press"

Well WTF did the AP expect, knowing that the poor lady has little or no means of checking voicemail or email via city systems.

Gorges Smythe said...

I believe the two reasons for going to electronic voting was to suppress the elder vote and make it easy to manipulate the outcome.

lee n. field said...

nothing like a good cryptovirus attack to test your backup and recovery.

JaimeInTexas said...

The only way I support electronic voting is when a combined with a printed card, containing a unique identifier and the selections made by the voter. The card can be verified by the voter for accuracy and then dropped in a ballot box. The voter can keep the valley's unique identifier and use it to verify his ballot record in election database. The rally of card and electronic ballots must match. In the event of discrepancies, an audit/investigation is triggered.
The current pure electronic voting makes catching fraud very difficult if not impossible.I

FWIW, I am a software/database designer and developer.

JaimeInTexas said...

The only way I support electronic voting is when a combined with a printed card, containing a unique identifier and the selections made by the voter. The card can be verified by the voter for accuracy and then dropped in a ballot box. The voter can keep the ballot's unique identifier and use it to verify his ballot record in election database. The tally of card and electronic ballots must match. In the event of discrepancies, an audit/investigation is triggered.
The current pure electronic voting makes catching fraud very difficult if not impossible.

FWIW, I am a software/database designer and developer.

PS: I apologize for not catching the auto corrected words.

McChuck said...

WE voted yesterday. It's our first election in our new home, and our first time using the machines here. They are touch-screen machines, which are fairly easy use once you figure out where the registration card goes. The best part is that once you're done with you selections, it goes through a thorough review so you can verify your selections. It also prints out everything on a paper roll that it keeps internally, and shows you through a small window. Simultaneous electronic and paper trails.

Incidentally, I was early voter number 4290 in our county. There are only about 35,000 residents in the entire county.

Eagle said...

We use a thick paper sheet with selection boxes. You use a supplied marker (or your own pen, pencil, or crayon) to blacken the boxes containing your choice. Then, you walk over and insert your own sheet into a reader (a poll watcher is standing there to assist ONLY if requested).

A few years ago, I was asked to be one of the people to examine Ward 3 sheets during a recount for one of the elective offices. A member of the city clerk's office held up the card, and the two "examiners" (I was one) declared whether it was "accepted" or "rejected".

The rules were simple and straightforward. If multiple boxes were checked, or if one box was crossed out and another filled in, or if the boxes were circled instead of filled in, the result of the ballot could be questioned. If EITHER examiner questioned a ballot, it was set aside into the "rejected" pile and not counted.

Then, the "accepted" ballots were separated into "yes" and "no" piles.

Then the "yes" and "no" piles were counted by the clerk while being witnessed by the examiners. The totals were written on a large whiteboard at the front of the room that could be seen by all of the ward recount tables.

The recount found only a dozen more votes for the loser, not enough to overturn the result.

Checks and balances. The ultimate paper trail is a printed ballot that is marked by the voter. I'm ok with electronic readers because a recount looks at the actual ballots.

(The Florida nonsense with "hanging chads" only became an issue due to an attempt to find additional votes, not to validate the ballot cards. If every "questionable" card had simply been put aside "because the voter's intent cannot be determined", the recount would have been quick and uneventful.)

JaimeInTexas said...

McChuck, I was unaware the system you mentioned was in used anywhere in these uSA.
Which State?