John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Punch-Card System Isn't Looking Half Bad Now, Is It?

Ohio’s got election problems. So what else is new, right? A report commissioned by the Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has found significant flaws in all five of the electronic voting systems used by county elections boards. This, less than a year before the presidential election next November.

“The findings in this study indicate that the computer-based voting systems in use in Ohio do not meet computer industry security standards and are susceptible to breaches of security that may jeopardize the integrity of the voting process,” said Brunner. “To put it in everyday terms, the tools needed to compromise an accurate vote count could be as simple as … using a magnet and a personal digital assistant.”

A Treo and a magnet? That’s all you’d need to compromise Ohio’s electronic voting systems? All of them? Yes. “It was worse than I anticipated,” Brunner told the New York Times. “I had hoped that perhaps one system would test superior to the others.”

So what’s the solution? Brunner recommends Ohio’s electronic voting systems be replaced with optical-scan paper ballot machines. But that’s expensive, and, some say, unecessary. “Certainly this report … will just absolutely throw Ohio into a complete tailspin going into the presidential election,” said Hamilton County Board of Elections Director John Williams. “I don’t think there has ever been a documented case of that happening. There certainly has never been a prosecution. … If you gave me the keys to the bank and combination of the safe, do you think I could break in? I could. Those again are not real-world scenarios under which we operate.”

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